Reduce Your SEO Fear – The Fundamentals Revealed…
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To get your hands on a copy of Gemma’s SEO checklist visit: www.workwifewinetime.com.au/seochecklist
Today, we’re touching on what many female entrepreneurs may put into the Too Hard Basket, and I have to admit, I’m definitely one of these, search engine optimization, or SEO. But just like your ironing basket, which you keep adding to, unless you invest in SEO it’s going to sit there as the pile gets bigger and bigger. Now you may find the idea of SEO confronting, confusing and not compelling, but think about this, you may have an amazing website full of helpful information. It looks amazing. It offers an excellent user experience. But if it’s not going to get found, then it’s wasted, right? This is where SEO comes into play. So today, I’m talking with Gemma or rather picking Gemma’s brain, about the importance and fundamentals of SEO. So to get an idea of what you need in place right from the beginning. So I suppose just to start with Gem, tell us a bit more about what SEO actually is.
Right, of course, so I know it’s terrifying, I know it’s the ironing basket of clothes that keep piling up, and you just want to leave it there. But it’s the process of creating your website in a way where it’s going to be found. So you need to optimise it for search engines. We know in today’s world, there’s competition everywhere. Everyone’s got a huge marketplace in the industry with thousands of competitors, right?
Of course, there’s always going to be the big ones, the big brands, the big knowns, everything like that. And yes, you are competing against them. Now, what brings SEO into play is, to find information now we use Google. So gone are the days of the Yellow Pages. You know, not happy Jan. We don’t do our searches for businesses through that anymore. We jump them to Google and not just to search for a business, but for any kind of information.
You know, and if your website provides that information, if someone’s searching something, and you’ve optimised that particular web page for the answer to that question, then Google will see your– or any search engine it’s just Google’s the big guy, yeah?
Hence the verb, Google it.
Exactly. I mean, it’s a verb now, so if anything’s actually an official verb, that means their pretty important, right?
Um, you know, so SEO is important, because if you have the answer to that question, then Google and other search engines are going to see that page on your website as relevant information. And they’re going to then display it in their search engine results page, otherwise known as SERPs. And you know, there is that joke in the SEO world that the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of a Google result. Because, who actually goes to page two? I do, but I’m an information searcher and I’m in that about 10% of people that actually do that.
I’m in that 10% too just for the record. Because I’m a tech geek and it’s like, ‘Surely there’s more options than this.’
Exactly. So unless you’re a tech geek or a word nerd, you’re probably not going to do that because of course you want the answer to your question now. We want everything now. So you’ll scroll down a little bit, boom, click on that one.
So the process of SEO-ing your website is to make it relevant to a particular search result. So Google will then display it in a search engine results page. And your preference, of course, is to push it onto page one.
So that’s in a little nutshell there.
So people other than you and I will see it.
Yeah! So today, we’re talking about the importance of it at that base level, that fundamental level that there are things in SEO, you need to do right, before you’re entering and beginning and SEO strategy. And the most important part is the tech side. So I guess this one’s, of course over to you. If you can give our listeners a rundown of the most important parts of the tech side of your website, because if there are faults there, then your strategy is not going to work. Google will pick up faults on your site, and it’s going to really block that strategy coming together.
Yep, absolutely. Okay. So from the tech side of things, the things that you need to really be aware of, that can affect your SEO. First and foremost is site speed. So basically, a site that’s slow to load is going to be overlooked by both potential leads, and by search engines. So if a user exits your site, which is also known as bounces from your site, within about the first three seconds, then Google considers that user to have had a bad experience. So if that site provides a bad experience for the user, then Google is going to overlook it in search rankings, because Google wants to stay popular, and so Google is only going to put on page one websites that provide a good user experience. So secondly, search engines have a budgeted amount of time in which they can crawl and explore your website. So I’ll talk about this a bit more in my next point, but basically, the more time it takes for a search engine to crawl your website, or to crawl a particular page on your website, the less time it has available to look over the rest of your website, so some of your pages and content might get overlooked. So related into that topic is Sitemaps. So Sitemaps, actually tell the search engines where to find the important content on your website. So that’s something that the search engine looks at. And then sends it’s little crawling bots out to your website to have a look through it. So there’s something that you need to actually create. And I recommend using something like Yoast for WordPress, or if you use another web platform, you can just google something, there’s that verb again, you can just Google to find out what appropriate plugin or something is that will help you generate a sitemap. And then you need to let Google search engine or sorry, Google Search Console know about that sitemap. And we’re going to come to Google Search Console in a minute.
Of course you are.
Of course I am. So site speed, Sitemaps. The next thing is URLs. So a lot of people don’t actually know that it’s possible to change or manipulate the URL of pages on your website to make it SEO friendly. So adding your keywords in to your URL for a particular page can help increase the ranking. And then images is another really important thing to consider. So there’s two parts to this. So there’s the size of the image and the name of the image. So the size, again, affects your site speed, obviously, because larger images take longer to load, therefore, they slow down your site speed, which we already know is bad. And part two is if you include keywords in your image names, and including descriptive keyword-rich alt tags and alt tags are the texts that appear if an image fails to load, or if a visitor is using a screen reader. So if they have difficulty reading a computer screen, some people use a screen reader so, the alt tag or alt text it’s sometimes called, basically is just a text version of what the photo is. So it tells people what they would be looking at if they could see the image or if the image had loaded correctly. So it’s important to A, fill those in because a lot of people don’t do that. And B, to also use your keywords in that as much as possible. And they also allow your images to rank in Google Image searches. So that’s another way that you can bring people back to your website.
So the next thing is responsiveness. So this is how your website looks on a browser versus a tablet versus a phone. So again, this can affect your bounce rate, because if someone jumps on your website on their phone, and it hasn’t been optimised to be viewed on a phone, and it looks crap, they’re gonna leave pretty quickly. So again, bad user experience, Google goes, ‘No, we’re gonna penalise you for that.’ And I guess this then brings us to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. So these are two really great free tools that Google provides you and all you need is a Google account to sign up. So a Gmail address or you can use your business address and just use that to sign up for a Google account. And Google Analytics basically allows you to see how many people visit your site and how they interact with it. So you can drill down into user demographics. So, where they are, how old they are, male or female, all that sort of thing, their interests, their behaviours, and even what type of device they use to access your site. I found this one particularly interesting on my website, because most people actually view my website on desktop, very few people view my website on mobile devices. So that kind of helps me know my client avatar a bit better. And makes me really focus on the desktop version of my website, I still have it optimised for mobile devices. But desktop is where I really focus my energy. And Google Search Console lets you track your performance in Google searches. So you can see the keywords that you’re ranking for. And it’s also where you submit your Sitemaps to let Google know that your website needs crawling. So again, that just means that Google sends out little bots, checks over your website sees that, you know, what you say, your content is related to or what you do is related to is actually what is on your website. And, you know, hence it sets you up to appear in your search results. So I think I’ve covered everything there, Gem?
Yup! So that’s that important tech stuff you need. If you don’t have that right, you’re not going to get it right from the start, it’s going to create those faults, those blocks Google to look at your site and be like, ‘Nah,’ and go to the next site. Which brings us onto, SEO also really is all about the content. So this is where the words and the next part of the strategy really comes into play once your tech’s sorted. And keep in mind, of course, websites and tech, they’re going to have faults. So they are things you do need to be checking regularly as well, to make sure they are still working and things are still loading.
And again, when you’ve got your Google Search Console and analytics set up, they will actually send you notifications if something breaks from a Google perspective. So it does actually alert you when an issue arises and gives anything you need to fix that.
Wonderful! Then you call a tech gate like, ‘Help! Something happened, what do I do?’
You then forward the email to me.
That’s where Mik comes in, just forward it straight over. But moving into the content, so why is this important? So if we think about Google as a business and not a verb, Google wants to give its customers the best possible user experience, right? As with all businesses. They want to present the best possible search results for what I’m looking for. Which means Google scans the whole world of the internet looking for that information. And you want Google to see your website as informative, and helpful, so it will then present it to the search engine searcher. Because if I’m looking for something, and Google returns a web page, that’s not quite what I wanted, that’s giving me a bad user experience and I’ll go, ‘Well that’s not what I wanted,’ you know? So Google does its best to keep its customers happy. And in this instance, its customers are generally almost the whole world.
Like literally. Which then that sort of leads me into what really is a Google algorithm? The word algorithm in itself is quite a scary word, right? Sounds like a big mathematical algebra equation, which I guess it technically is, because it is a complex system that search engines use to retrieve data and then present the best possible result instantly. It uses a combination of algorithms and ranking signals to present or deliver webpages ranked by relevance. So I guess, for example, if I need to Google how to plant tomato seeds, if Google sends me a page back, that’s how to plant a tomato plant already grown, that’s not what I wanted. Right? So that’s what it’s really, really searching for. So then, what’s relevant to Google on a website, this is where the SEO-friendly copywriting comes into play. My little gem, you know, having the content on your website in the right places, saying the right things, doing the right things, so that Google will pick your website up as helpful and relevant to me searching for how to plant tomato seeds. So this is really where the words come into play on top of the tech. And that’s keeping it friendly for SEO. And that, even like Mik said before, that goes into the images. So if you’ve got those relevant keywords in your images, you know, search engines are picking those keywords up as well. That’s part of the places you need to have the relevant words in there that Google’s searching for to present to its users. But then, you can’t just write a website for a machine, for a robot, right?
Yeah. Cause that would not provide a good user experience.
Exactly! Because yes, the robots are searching the site, but the humans are reading it, right?
And again, going back to Google wanting to return the best result to a human, you need to think about, ‘Okay, so I’ve landed on that page about how to plant tomato seeds. But will the page on that content, will excite me? Will I read it and be like oh, yeah, this is what I want. Will it engage me? Will it keep me on that website? Will it return results to me in a way that I want to consume it and read it and relate to it?’ So again, this is where it just becomes this comprehensive beast of are you writing for the right target audience? Are you writing it in that friendly way? If I land on the site, and I’m bored, I’m going to jump out, go back to the results page and look for another page more relevant to me, more user friendly to me, more engaging to me. So this is where it all comes into play.
And then, I want to touch on a title and a meta description because these are so important. So a meta title is a very important part of SEO and it’s the headline. So I’ve landed on a search engine results page, and it’s the actual headline of that web page. So it acts as a name tag, I guess for a web page. And it’s displayed on your browser tab. And it tells you what’s on that page, basically, you know, so it will say, ‘Inspired Office, about page, whatever.’ So I know the title of that page. I know what it is.
But what’s more important is the description. So I’ve seen that heading, and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, cool,’ but this is where the description comes into play. It’s an ad for that website page. So I think many people don’t realise that you can write them yourselves. And if you don’t, Google will do it for you, it will be a snippet from your site and populated in there. So it may not be compelling, it may not actually be helpful. So if you’re really putting a mini ad in there, you’re helping the engagement of me reading that and being like, ‘Oh, that sounds cool. That’s what I want.’ And then I’m going to click on that. So it really is an important part of SEO.
I have to say, I didn’t really recognise the importance of it until you rewrote my website. And I was actually putting these things in. So you know, you provided me with the meta titles and the descriptions. And after I kind of did all of that, and submitted my new sitemap, so my site was searched again, and crawled again. Like, I googled my website, and it presented completely differently in the Google searches. It’s like, you know, the way it all came up, and the way it presented it was so clear. And like, it was really clear what was on each page, and what you’d get out of visiting each page and what each page was, like it made such a difference. Because for me, I put in meta titles that were, I guess, descriptive, but it didn’t have like the Inspired Office part of it. Like I didn’t understand how it worked. And the descriptions, I just let Google do that, cuz I’m like, I don’t know. And so, you know, they weren’t good. But um, I can say from firsthand experience that I really notice the difference that that makes, when someone Google’s me and how I present in that search. Like, it’s amazing. It looks fantastic.
Thank you! So, yeah, very, very important. It really does make a massive difference. Um, so I guess now, we’ve got the title, we’ve got the description, and someone’s clicked on it, because it’s compelled them to. And now they’ve landed on that specific web page. Okay, so I guess this comes down, again, to engagement factors. You know, this is data that shows how the searchers interact with your site once they’ve entered it. But one thing to note, though, and it is interesting, engagement factors, they’re not actually technically classified as a ranking factor. But it does seem to qualify for better ranked sites. And I guess this sort of comes into that big secretive, that no one actually really quite understands an algorithm, unless you’re the owners of Google and the people in the big secret room. You know, that would have I don’t know what kind of confidentiality signed agreement factors, whatever. And of course, they are changing and that is a problem. This is why SEO is an ongoing thing the algorithms changes, the ranking factors change, they evolve, they shift, like anything.
So this is why it’s something you need to keep on top of, but a few sort of words that you may hear bouncing around that you’re not quite sure what what they are: clicks. Okay, so it’s how many people click on your website listing and visit your page. You have time on page, so that’s the amount of time a visitor spends on your website page before leaving it. Bounce rate is website visitors who only visit one page of your site, which I know is not quite what you think it would be. And then you have dwell time, which is when a user clicks on your website, from the search engine results page, and then quickly returns back so that’s actually known as dwell time on your site, not actually the bounce rate.
I didn’t actually know about that one. That’s a very interesting one.
I know, that’s where those two sort of get a bit confusing because you sort of say someone will land and then ‘bounce out’. But that’s technically actually the dwell time. So there’s a little interesting fact there for you, but they are actually really important things to know what’s happening on your website with those. So then, why is it so important? Why are engagement practice so important? And this all comes back to the SEO copywriting side of it. So it comes to the fact of clever copy, compelling copy, which attracts your target audience. So if you’re getting the right people there, if you’re speaking to them in the right way, they’re going to stay there, they’re not going to bounce out, they’re going to read the information, then they’re going to be directed to other pages of your website. So while you might be ranking for longtail keywords, which are, you know, keywords that are a sentence, ‘How do I do this? How do I find this?’ Which are easier to rank for than ‘Copywriter.’
Who’s going to rank for that, really? It’s too difficult. So, if your ranked–
that’s because of the amount of competition for that word?
Yeah. And that goes into all other factors of SEO, of your domain authority, of how authoritative your site is, how many backlinks you have, how long your site’s been there, how many people are visiting your site, so many different factors. You know, if you’re Coles or Woolworths, you don’t really need to worry about a thing, do you? So unless you are a big brand, you’re generally chasing those longtail keywords, the long sentences. But if you are getting people directed to the blog pages of your website, then it does give you the chance of directing people to other pages. And that becomes really, really helpful for you. Which then takes me to compelling course to action. Direct them to those other pages, keep them on your site for longer, tell them what else you’ve got there. So important. And if you understand your avatar intimately, then you’re going to give them a solution to the problem that they’ve gone to Google for. They’ve got a problem, they’ve gone to Google, they want an answer, and you’ve given them that answer. So they are going to stay on your website. They’re going to recommend your website, they might even share your website. And these are all factors that slowly build up your website as being an authority of Google saying, ‘Oh, hey, this, this site is informative. I’m going to push it up in the keyword rankings in the search engine.’ And that’s what it can do for your business. If you get these initial factors right, set them up in the right place. It’s really going to set your website up for future success. You know, it helps to build your business authority and it’s giving you another area and avenue to draw your clients in. You know, aside from social media, or ads or whatever you’re doing, if you can come up when you’re being searched in a search. It’s fantastic.
Yeah, you’ve just brought all of those things that we’ve talked about back together and created the big picture which, I have to admit until now I knew this was important, I knew that was important but, yeah, that’s really good. That’s a really good overall view of the importance of it and how and why it all works together. A lot to think about in there, Gemma.
It is and then this is why it tends to be the ironing basket, right?
Yeah, that’s true. I think that’s why it actually is important to engage someone like yourself to do it. Because like I said, I had a go and you know, I’ve got the tech know how, so I’m not like someone who’s just kind of fumbled around putting their website together. I develop my website myself. I’ve been doing this for ages. I know all that stuff. So even with the tech know how, I was still missing the mark by quite a lot. So it’s really important, I think, to educate yourself on this. And if it’s not your area of interest, to engage someone like you to do it, because it really is, and I mean in the online digital world that we live in, it really is so important.
Absolutely. But to still know that the tech side of it is important as well.
Oh absolutely, it goes hand in hand.
Yeah. But it is really, really important. But I think what people need to know as well is this is why it’s a very long process
It’s not something quick and easy.
No, and it does not happen overnight. And unfortunately, as SEO I think has is really negative connotation because you have, you know, SEO businesses, people out there saying, ‘I’ll get you ranking page one position one in a week!’ You know, NO! You’re not going to do that. Maybe you’ll do it a bad way–
Yeah, exactly! And then that is going to be absolutely drastic for your website and your business, as Google will find out and they can cancel sites, shut down sites or whatever, you know, you will get big penalties. So if you’re hearing that, then it’s just not true.
And I suppose too like if they are somehow driving traffic to your site in some sort of dodgy way whether they’ve got a network of people that are then going to visit your site to try and push you up that ranking. The point is that those people aren’t going to be your target audience finding you for the reasons that you want to be found. So you’re still not getting the eyes that you want.
Absolutely. Or, they will ranking number one super quickly for an obscure keyword or phrase that no one’s actually looking for. What’s the point of that? You know, ‘Oh, great, yeah, I’m in position two under this keyword, look what that’s doing!’ But no-one’s actually searching for that. But there’s just so many factors to really understand. And just to know that to do it correctly, it is a slow process. But if you do it the right way, it does set your business up for success long term.
Which is what we need.
So I guess some sort of final tips and takeaways, just a summary of everything we’ve said. Know the tech side of it, website fixes is really important. You need those issues, right from the start, you need to fix any problems you have, and then build on that. And really think about your target audience. Are you giving them what they want? on your website? Will they stay there? Will they read it? You know, it’s, it’s so important. Are you giving them what they want? As much as you might have all the right keywords, and you’ve been ranked and everything, that’s fine. But if you’re not actually supplying relevant information, it’s not gonna work.
Yeah, it really is pointless.
Excellent. Wow. I’ve worked with you on this before, and you’ve done mine, so I thought I knew quite a lot, but I’ve learned an awful lot from this episode, so thank you!
You’re very welcome!
Do you have anything else that you wanted to share with our listeners?
Yes, I do. I do have a downloadable available for an SEO checklist. It goes through the tech side of it, and the SEO side of it, and it’s very simple to use. Download it, sit down, take a break, go through your site and tick off what you have got there and what you don’t have and that will really help you to start the strategy and just break that overwhelm, break down the fear of SEO because simple fixes, they really do make a difference.
Mmm. And I guess then, once people have done the checklist, if they’re unclear on what any of it means, they can just come back to this episode again and listen through it again. So that will hopefully give them an idea then of the action that they need to take to fix up their website.
Absolutely! And you can find it at www.workwifewinetime.com.au/seochecklist.
Fantastic. Well, thanks for talking to us about this today Gemma.
Thank you to you too!
Well, like I said, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable on the topic, but, oh no, I’ve learned a lot more. Thank you for that! And I highly recommend everyone going and downloading a copy of that checklist. Because as we’ve pointed out in this episode, it really is important for building up your business and for ensuring longevity in what you do and what you provide to your clients.