There are many different versions of organic marketing; this is where you are organically found online without paying to be put in front of new faces.
This leads us into SEO, which is the practice of optimizing your site to rank higher in search engines. I’ll lay down the obvious right off the bat: if SEO confuses you it’s because it is complex and never straight forward. There are hundreds of factors and metrics to pay attention to when optimizing your site for search engines and we don’t even know what they all are! Google purposefully hides their algorithm so that people won’t be able to easily “game the system”.
The best way to think about SEO is to think, what would you do if you owned Google? It makes it simpler when you understand the motivations behind their hidden algorithms. The main goal of people at Google is to make their platform have the best user experience possible. Therefore, they created an algorithm to do that, to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. “Google” didn’t become a dictionary synonym for “search” because they’re bad at what they do.
Getting back down to basics, for anyone who has a question or something they want to find or learn, they type it into Google. Now, what is Google going to show them? They want to show them relevant content with a good user experience. To break that down farther, Google wants to show website pages that:
This is where some people might miss the obvious. For Google to show your webpage, you actually have to have a relevant webpage to show. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to invest in content and wants to have a super simple and minimalistic site, you may run into trouble here. When Google scans your site they might not find any words of relevance to the actual search terms that a person is typing into Google. So why would Google show your page? That’s why it’s important to have a content strategy that focuses on writing content that answers questions that people are actually interested in.
There are many paid (and very expensive) programs out there, but something like Google Keyword planner can give you some data on what people are searching for. Most notably how often it’s being searched for and how many other people are also trying to rank for that keyword. It’s helpful to think about basic supply & demand. Find the keywords that have tons of searches without many results. To do the research and use these tools you first need to do some brainstorming to come up with seed keywords, basic words that you think people are using that you will then test with these tools to find actual data.
We choose to use program like Spyfu, but there are many out there that can give you the same information. Here is a typical approach that we take towards Keyword Research
These will be your buckets for collecting different keywords. You have to start somewhere, and we think using your services is the best, focused approach. This can be done in many different types of programs that will help you collect keywords in lists. But you can also just create a Google Sheet (like above) and create a tab for each bucket of keywords you'll be collecting.
Now it's time to start collecting tons of data. This is pretty simple as well. Start by searching your guess at a keyword. All programs will pull up a table like this. Start collecting or pulling the data into your buckets, make sure to ignore or pass over keywords that don't apply to the service you provide. Do this with multiple different searches of similar keywords. For the example above I did "child counseling" but then I'll also want to try keywords like "teen counseling" or "child therapy" to get more and more data. Then you'll soon have a giant list of keywords, all applicable to your service in one sheet. Sort by Volume or Monthly Searches and you're on to the next step!
You'll want to look at mainly 2 factors, the "Volume" or "Monthly Searches" in comparison to "Difficulty". You could try to go after the top keywords in volume, but those are gonna be tough to get on the first page when you're going up against the big long-standing companies! That's what it's also important to look for "long-tail keywords" or keywords that are simply longer than the high volume ones. It's better to choose a smaller fight you can win, than a large fight you won't be able to. So as I scroll down, check this out.
This gives you insight into what people are really searching, but it also gives you some amazing ideas for content. This is where content planning is huge. Most people just think of blog topics in their head and start writing. Where it's much better to see what people are actually searching so here, keywords that catch my eye for good content are:
For all pages of website copy and additional blogs:
Google wants to make sure that they are responsibly showing information that isn’t just relevant but also comes from a good source. While we don’t know exactly how they measure it, here are some important tips:
Something you don’t have much control over is the age of the URL. So ideally if you’ve had a URL for a while that’s good. But the majority of pages that rank well are 3 years older or more. So start the process now if you haven’t already!
Most of this is standard and automatic, but is worth checking. Make sure when you visit your site you see a little padlock next to your URL showing you have SSL Security. Then make sure your site has a sitemap and robots.txt file created so Google can properly read your site (again, this is probably already done and each platform is different for finding it. Squarespace for example is automatic)
Google doesn’t look at just your website but at the entire internet as a whole to determine your quality. The umbrella this falls under is “backlinks” (or “inbound links”) these are links elsewhere online people are clicking on to get to your site. Think about:
Google likes it when people spend more time on your site. This is a metric called the “bounce rate”: how long does it take for someone to leave your site? The longer someone is on your page, the more likely they are enjoying the content you’re producing.
Yes, you might be tempted to think “with today’s short attention spans, my content should be short.” Well, that might not actually be the case. The highest ranked pages have lots of content, think 1500-2500 words. This means that the page does a good job of answering the question the person needs and providing additional, relevant information to keep them on the page for longer (Google likes that). Just remember to organize it well! So if someone wants to skip around to a specific answer they are able to do that easily.
Having photos, videos, quizzes, etc is not only more visually appealing but keeps people interested and on your page for longer. Just don’t forget this type of content can’t be “read” by a Google Bot, so if you create a new page for your video, don’t leave the page blank, transcribe the video, or at least write a description.
No one likes a page that takes forever to load, therefore, Google doesn’t like it either. So how do you make your site load quickly?
The biggest culprit here is image size, make sure that all your images that you use are just big enough to look good and no more. Something like under 250KB is great.
With 50% of traffic being on mobile, it’s obvious that your site needs to work well and look good on your phone.
Other than including local keywords like cities in your keyword strategy, make sure that you are taking advantage of local listing platforms like Google My Business, Yelp, etc. Not only is that good for SEO, it’s a great place to get leads in general!
With a free tool like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or other paid options with better insight like SEMrush you can get a good baseline for where you already are and the progress you can make over time.
How do you get found? Depending on where your potential client is on the client journey they will either search for specific issues they are having or specific services. And if you have a page or blog that answers this question, Google might show it in the search results. Potential customers will not put a lot of effort into finding you, but they will put effort into their problems. And if you can help them with that, then you could show up in the search results.