What is SEO and why do you need it? So you’ve probably heard that you need SEO, but you don’t really even know what those three letters really stand for. It sounds a little techie and a little scary, and you probably just want to put it at the bottom of your to-do list. It’s kind of like getting your taxes done or anything that involves legal. It’s probably one of those three things where you think, “Oh no, I’ll just think about this or I’ll do this later.” But SEO is really important for your business!
What is SEO?
SEO is search engine optimization. Put simply, it’s getting found in search results for what you want to be known for. We often make the mistake, especially when we’re putting our website together, of focusing solely on the aesthetics, which we should. You want your website to look professional, pretty, cute, whatever word you want to describe your website, but many entrepreneurs – and I’ve done this myself in the past – forget about how it’s going to be found online. For example, what would people need to type into Google to find your business and website? That is where SEO comes into play. Again, SEO is organic traffic. It’s not about paying for traffic, which is something completely different – hat’s pay-per-click Google ads. SEO is free and organic. It’s not a scam and it’s not against Google’s policies and procedures. A lot of companies rely on SEO, and you can do it too.
One thing to note, SEO is not fast. It is a work in progress and does take some time, but you will see results from optimizing your website. Make sure to check out my podcast SEO Your Site Now, where you’ll learn some tips and tricks that you can apply to your own website. I do my best to give you some bite-sized chunks that you can easily digest and apply to your own website. Listen, there are about 1.9 billion websites out there. It’s scary, yes. There’s a lot of competition, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of opportunity for you. You just have to think about it a little bit differently when it comes to your website. Just because you have a pretty website, or you had a launch party for your website doesn’t mean Google knows that you exist or your future customers or clients even know what you do and how you could possibly help them.
My Experience with SEO
Here’s some backstory on my experience in SEO and how I even got into SEO work. I was in the fashion industry in New York city for over 15 years. In 2009, at the start of the recession, I was a vice president of sales for a very large fashion company, and I lost my corporate job. I didn’t really know what to do with myself because I had always had job opportunities presented to me without even interviewing. It was that lucrative. We were in such a great spot with business that even though things didn’t look great for 2009, a lot of us chose to ignore it. I was one of them, and I found myself having to reinvent myself when I lost my job.
I was interested in e-commerce after helping develop the e-commerce side of department stores while being a vice person of sales. It was a little slow to adapt, definitely, but I knew that was going to be the wave of the future – I just didn’t know how large that would be. So I went back to school and got a digital marketing certificate at NYU and dove into SEO, and I really enjoyed it. I learned so much about analytics, data and why people search the way they do and how your website can affect the way people buy. So I decided to create my own fashion-based website on what people wore to work. It gave you outfit suggestions plus tips and tricks based on your work environment. It was an affiliate based website, meaning I did not carry any inventory, which meant I didn’t really have any overhead. The outfits that were shown were from data feeds from other large companies, like maybe Banana Republic, Gap, Nordstrom, etc. And if you liked something, you’d click on it and you would go to that particular website and purchase it there, and in turn I’d receive a commission of sales for that click. I thought it was a great idea at the time, and perhaps it was! It was innovative since there weren’t a lot of affiliate websites out there at the time. However, it was also the start of a recession, so it wasn’t perfect timing. But the experience I had with this website was truly invaluable.
Looking back, I can see how I made some mistakes because I was more worried about the aesthetic of the website than how people would find it on Google or any other search engine. I relied on Twitter, thinking that a large following would lead to tons of traffic. Yes, I got some traffic as well as some magazine opportunities and such, but it wasn’t necessarily the website traffic that I needed to make sales. That is where focusing on SEO could have helped me – really thinking about what I wanted to be known for in searches and applying that to my website. I ended up selling that site to someone else, and I’m still extremely proud of what I created.
After selling my site, I got an opportunity to work with Amazon writing product descriptions. In my time with Amazon, I created over a hundred thousand product descriptions that have been optimized for SEO. We all know that Amazon is not the prettiest website, but it works. We know that they are doing something right, especially to this day.
With my experience working with Amazon, I was able to help service-based and product-based businesses get found online, no matter what type of platform they might have been using – WordPress Squarespace, Shopify, you name it, I’ve worked on it and you can do it too.
Your first step to getting found online is to think about what you want to get known for in searches. Here’s a little homework for you – Research what is coming up on the first page of search results. For example, say you are a health coach, and you Google health coach. What do you see in search results, especially near the top? If you’re using Google, you’re going to see ads – so people are paying for the keyword health coach. You might also see a map that’s called the local map pack – meaning people are coming up in local searches. You might see some organic search towards the middle of the page and at the bottom, and you might see people getting ranked for online health coach certification. What people getting ranked for on the first page of Google specifically might give you some ideas of what you need to incorporate in your own website.
Don’t just stop at Google, try other search engines like Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, and Pinterest. If you’re a health coach, if you sell jewelry, if you are a grief counselor, no matter what you do, do a little research to see what is coming up on the first page of Google and other search engines. Now with Google, I’m going to be honest, no more than 75% of people go past the first page. So that’s why I want you to take a look at the first page of Google and see what’s coming up in search results. I might search something on Google and see something completely different than you just due to location, but try this homework out. It’s not too tacky. It’s not scary. It will just start to give you the foundation work of just starting to think about what you want to be known for.