SEO: the Botox of Online Marketing?

Something’s different and you can’t quite put your finger on it. Suddenly she looks a little more alert . . . youthful and vibrant. Is it the green smoothies? A restful vacation? The fountain of youth? Or . . .is it Botox?

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Botox is used to treat certain muscular conditions and also cosmetically to remove wrinkles (thank you Google Dictionary). What you may not know is it’s made from the bacterial toxin Botulinum, which is the most acutely lethal toxin known.

Why am I, an SEO specialist, going on and on about Botox on my blog? Like Botox, many people want the end result of SEO a.k.a. “being more attractive on Google search” but are scared to death of the procedure. I am here today to unpack Search Engine Optimization’s mysteries, answer the question of “what is SEO,” and help you decide “Is SEO right for me?”

What is SEO Made Of?

What is SEO Made Of

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means getting visible on the web. There are many different ways to approach SEO. Some of them are bad—such as getting a bunch of spammy backlinks to your website. More details on backlink quality here. Think of these options as getting cheap Botox in a dark alleyway. A quality SEO implementation however, can do wonders for your Google search results and make you look amazing online.

Here are 5 Examples of SEO That the Good Guys Use:

1. Keyword Research

Spend time learning what your potential customers are actually searching for. Are they Googling “Best Tacos Portland,” or “Taco Stands Portland?” You want your website content to be optimized for the search phrases your customers are specifically using. My favorite tool for this is KW Finder.

2. Website Technical Optimization

Get Your Website Technically Optimized for SEO—There are tons of technical things that one can do to a website to make sure it performs at it’s best. Adjustments range from solid mobile response design to properly labeled images to the correct use of header tags and much more. Some CMSs provide a level of optimization out of the box but keep in mind that if your competitors are using the same CMS, they’re getting the same service so you’re not getting much of a bump from built in SEO.

3. Blog

Blog those key words! When I owned a small business before becoming an SEO ninja, I would spend time diligently blogging but I didn’t understand that there is a majorly right and extremely wrong way to blog. To blog in a way that increases web traffic and hopefully entices customers, think of your blog as an opportunity to thoroughly answer a question that your ideal customer has about the type of services/products you offer. Remember to hit on those key words as naturally as possible!

4. Find Links

Links to your website are super powerful for increasing the visibility of your website. Scoring a link from a highly respected website such as The New York Times or Harvard would be fantastic. However, links from valid websites that are more closely tied to your particular type of product or service can be equally powerful (and perhaps easier to obtain). For example, my alter ego as a professional violinist afforded me the opportunity to perform for an amazing wedding on Maui a few years ago. The event was featured in Martha Stewart Weddings later that year and they linked to my website.

While Martha Stewart Weddings doesn’t have the prestige as Harvard, it is a lot more relevant to the wedding industry and thus provided a very nice boost to Effesenden Music’s search results. Remember, search engines are always trying to serve people the content that they “think” is most authoritative for the search query. This principle should govern much of what you pursue when it comes to building links.

5. Get Data

Plug in the juice on analytics: If you do not already have your website connected to Google Analytics and Google Search console, run (virtually) don’t walk to get on it. Knowledge (or data metrics) is power and what you think is great about your website may not even be what your site visitors find attractive. Here’s a sad fact: the most frequent action a person takes on your website is to leave. Once you get Google Analytics set up, an interesting data point is the Bounce Rate—this is the percentage of users who visit your site and do not click on any other pages. Ideally you want that number to be as low as possible.

Is it Only for Supermodels or Can Small Businesses Benefit From SEO?

Botox I mean SEO is not just for supermodels or huge businesses. In fact, a great SEO implementation can allow the little guy to beat out the multi-national conglomerates if handled effectively. Google’s current algorithm favors local results. Here’s an example: if you need to find a new dentist, unless you are the aforementioned supermodel, you are less concerned with the “top dentist” in the whole world and more interested in someone relatively close by who can polish your teeth. Those savvy Google robots understand this and aim to please by providing you with a dental professional in your neighborhood. Large businesses can benefit from this knowledge as well by avoiding keyword combos that simply will not win. For example, under the current Google algorithm, Taco Bell will likely never score a #1 ranking for “Best Tacos Portland.” It pays to choose your battles.

How Frequently Should I Get SEO?

Search Engine Optimization encompasses many different actions. These actions are intended to bring people to your website who will become clients and customers. If your website plays any role in the success of your business then ongoing SEO is a smart and worthwhile component of your marketing strategy. The real question becomes not whether SEO is worth the investment but how much do you want your business to grow?

Professional Search Engine Optimization specialists generally recommend an initial optimization and then a minimum of 6 months of ongoing SEO. This monthly work tackles things like increasing links, addressing Google’s algorithmic changes, tracking and modifying keyword implementations and more. Benefit from your investment of time and resources by continuing to climb or if you’ve already arrived at a top search result, think big—how can you grow?

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Wow, You Have a Nice Face: Do You Do Botox?

You probably don’t assume when you see a gorgeous face that it’s the result of someone paying to have mankind’s most deadly toxin administered on a regularly basis. So it is with SEO. When done right, your website ranks high. It converts site visitors to customers. Your business grows. No one questions how you got to the top because you do such great work that you deserve to be there. You made this all happen by believing enough in your business to invest in professional Search Engine Optimization. And the best part? It’s completely toxin free.

Wendy Goodwin is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist and the owner of Portland, Oregon based SEO and Web Design agency, Starcatcher Creative. She adores music, people, coffee and does not currently follow a Botox regimen.

How to Make Them Stay: SEO, Avocado Toast and Growing Your Online Influence

They Came to My Website But Then They Left

How do you turn website visitors into customers? Search Engine Optimization is not just about getting your website to show up in a Google search result because Search Impressions are meaningless if people don’t visit your site. It’s almost as bad if people visit your site and then quickly leave. You need to lay out the welcome mat and then make it easy and inviting for visitors to take whatever next step is logical for your business. That could mean signing up for an email newsletter, booking a phone call, or following me I mean YOU on social media.

Right now your website visitor is not yet a customer. Your ultimate goal is to convert visitors to customers/clients who invest. If you try to force that step too quickly however, they will likely leave and not be back. What to do?

Don’t Be Creepy: a Conversion Case Study in Avocado Toast

If your SEO is working well, a website visitor has arrived on your site because search results suggested that your pages and posts could solve the problem or answer the question this person has. Let’s consider a cooking blog.

I Google “avocado toast recipe” and my attention is drawn to the website of a food blogger. So far I see the meta title (1), meta description (2) and perhaps a picture of the finished recipe.
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Hmmm… that looks like some delicious avocado toast. I click on the search result and am taken to the website of someone who nailed it in the first step of SEO–getting their site to show up well in search results–Minimalist Baker.

Clearly Minimalist Baker knows about more than just rockin’ avocado toast because there are 3 elegant calls to action on her site that in no way make me feel like I’m being backed into the corner at a party by someone a little too zealous to sell me insurance.

Number 1:
At the top of the page, a catchy question: “Need Dinner Ideas?”
Probably if I’m Googling recipes I do. Minimalist Baker has a solution for me: I can sign up for an eBook.

Number 2:
Next to that tantalizing image of smashed avocado is a button where I can subscribe for email updates. I like this approach because the button is easy to find but it’s not assuming too much– I haven’t made the toast yet. I don’t know if I want to subscribe or not.

Number 3:
More FREE stuff: an entirely free cookbook? 100% delicious? Cool. Even if I haven’t made the toast yet, maybe I’ll get this free thing while I’m here.

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increase-web-traffic-example

What’s in this for me? Well, I came for avocado toast and I’m leaving with a bunch of free recipes and more ideas delivered to my inbox. Probably I’ll be back too — it was so much fun. Thanks Minimalist Baker!

Lessons in Building a Brand from the Baker

Since this is an SEO blog and not a food blog, let’s talk about why this food blogger’s website is such a good example of converting visitors to customers/clients/followers. First, you can have more than one call to action. Second, calls to action can be small steps– notice in this example I was never asked to actually buy something. That could be too much too soon. Finally, I was invited in but never aggressively forced into a decision to commit. She invested in me, the site visitor by giving me something free. It wasn’t entirely free because I had to pony up my email address. Email addresses mean that she now has another way to engage with me where she can send me content. I’ve moved beyond anonymous site visitor. I’ve been “converted” and she’s building a brand.

Remember That Pioneer Lady?

There’s a long history of bloggers who leverage an impressive following into greater opportunities. Consider the brilliant blogging success story of Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman. Drummond started a blog back in 2006 about her life homeschooling on a ranch. She featured original content, photos and her own recipes. Today, she is a published author, photographer and TV personality. Her blog has millions of followers. More potent than any promoted flash sale, expensive Google adWord or stunning website image is a growing list of dedicated followers.

But Be Cool With Your Call To Action!

If you move in too soon on the Call to Action, you’ll lose me. Had Minimalist Baker chosen a popup that instantly blocked the recipe and asked if I wanted to join her email list, my answer would have been no. “I just got here, don’t rush me.” I’m all for Popups but when using these wonderful little nuggets of JavaScript, timing is key. You need to build some trust with your site visitor before asking them to take action. At the same time, make sure your call to action isn’t buried in several steps. It’s kind of like making a customer walk all over a store to find something they are looking for. They may become frustrated and just order it on Amazon.

It’s About Building a Relationship

With all of these websites, social media platforms and eCommerce sites, the internet is by default a pretty impersonal place. If your site is different– if it makes a visitor feel welcomed and engaged, you will set yourself apart from your competitors. You will build relationship and that can do amazing things for the success of your business. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make some avocado toast.