Back 2 Basics: Search Engine Optimization
You might know that SEO is important, but understanding how to improve the SEO on your website can be a little harder. There are the basic tips, like renaming your photos, that are repeated everywhere. Today we're going to dive into HOW to optimize your site for search engines and WHY it's so dang important to do your homework first. Let's get started!
SEO stands for search engine optimization. You're essentially telling Google what you want to be known for! If you're in New York city and want to be the first one to pop up in google when someone searches "small business accountants in new york" - you're going to need to compete. How do you compete? You tell Google that your site is more relevant in that search than every other site like yours.
We do this by using keywords and key phrases throughout our content. Google is always crawling and indexing websites to figure out what is relevant to their users. You have the chance to take control of what Google sees when they look on your site.
01. Find Your Keywords
The following keywords are keywords we want NoraConrad.com to rank for on Google and Pinterest. That means when we share photos, social messages, and blog post we want to use these keywords as often as we can (without it being unnatural or repetitive). We pulled these from SpyFu.
- business productivity
- business productivity tool
- goal setting system
- goal setting action plan
- goal setting programs
- infopreneur business
- virtual assistant
- virtual assistant usa
- professional virtual assistant
- become a virtual assistant
- Business plan template
- Squarespace blogs
- mini business plan
SpyFu is a website that helps you determine the best keywords for your site by showing you how competitive the search terms are. For example, if you have a website about small business, you're going to have much more competition than if you had a website about learning how to build your own USB microphone.
You also want to look at how often your keywords are searched for. The reason small business blogging is a competitive field is because lots of people are searching for small business tips. Not very many people are looking for ways to build their own mic. The goal is to find keywords with low competition and high traffic.
When you're doing research on keywords, it's important to first make a list of 3-5 things you'd like to be known for. For us, we want to be known for productivity, goal setting, and virtual assistance. Most of our content points towards those general topics and we also have a high percentage of want-to-be VA's looking for goal and productivity tips to grow their business.
Your list should be broad enough to be able to write 100 blog posts about, but niched-down enough to target specific audiences. Finding this balance can be tough and it can take some trial and error to get things right. You're not going to rank #1 in google overnight. These tips we're talking about today need to be consistent work that you do every week in your business.
There are a TON of free tools you can use to research keywords. Below are just a few that I've used before. I recommend using a few to create your list, so you get the best variety and results.
02. Optimize Your Images
Your image file name is one of the few ways google can understand images on your website. Robots aren't smart enough yet to analyze and image and determine what it is about. Google doesn't care if you have beautiful graphics on your site. If they're names something like 01graphic.png google cannot tell what it is. Naming your image with descriptive names is a great way to combat this problem. Squarespace allows you to update the file name when you upload or edit an image. You can also add a hidden caption to your image to give google an even better understanding of what your content is all about. This is also great for social shares. When someone pins your image, you're boosting the SEO on Pinterest as well as on Google.
03. Create Smart Headers
The headers of your pages, blog posts and content (h1, h2 and h3) all matter to google. It can be fun to name your shop page "goodies" but google won't know how to rank and display your shop when you name it without descriptive phrases. In Squarespace you can use the page settings tab to change the name of your Navigation title (what you audience sees in your menu bar) and the page title (what google shows on their search results) to be different titles.
You can also use the URL to help boost your SEO a bit. Blog posts with descriptive URLS tend to do better on search engines. You can change how your blog post URL is automatically generated by going to Settings > Blogging and editing your Post URL format. You can also change each post title in the options tab of your blog post.
04. Plan Intentional Content
Planning blog posts ahead of time will help you make sure you're checking off every chance to use your keywords. Below is a list of all the places your keywords can be used in a blog post to help boost your SEO and make sure that your content is working along with your overall goal of ranking high in search engine results.
- Blog Post Title
- Blog Post Content & Header Text
- Image File Names
- Image Captions
- Featured Image File Name
- Blog Post URL
- Blog Excerpt
- Blog Tags and Category
05. Optimize Your Site
There are a ton of ways to boost your SEO on your site with some quick changes to pages, menu options and page descriptions. I'll list a few here and go over some bonus ideas in the live workshop.
Adding descriptive keywords in 1-2 sentences on all your pages will let search engines know what your page is about and how it may be relevant to search terms. For example my blog page description says "Business productivity resources & tools for bloggers, freelancers, and small business owners. Blog posts about business productivity tools, business productivity systems, how to reach your business goals and more."
To edit your page description in Squarespace go to Pages > Page Settings > Description
A site description works similar to your page descriptions, but this one is meant to give an overview of your site as whole. This one won't show up in the results of google searches as often as your page descriptions, but it gives google a look at what your keywords might be. Mine is "We help you get out of your own way and turn your dreams into actionable and productive steps. By teaching you the best tools, systems, and productivity hacks you'll become an automated machine."
To edit your site description in Squarespace go to Settings > Basic Information (under the Website header) > Site Description
This last one is the description that search engines will rank as most important when indexing your site. What you list here is what will show up when someone searches for your website name. For example my description says "How-to tutorials on the best productivity tools and organized systems to help your business run smooth."
To edit your site description in Squarespace go to Settings > SEO (under the Website header) > Search Engine Description
Once you've optimized your site and taken a few days to edit your content and add in your key terms, you'll want to have google re-index (or index for the first time) your site. This will update their view of your site. Submit your content to google.
- Research your keywords. Figure out what you want to be known for!
- Start optimizing your site for those key terms. Change your image names, update page descriptions, pay attention to your header content.
- Plan a month's worth of blog posts and social media content that will highlight your keywords. If one of your key terms is productivity, write a blog post about "Productivity tips for side hustlers". Use your keywords in the titles, headers and text.
By Nora Conrad
Nora Conrad is a collection of small business productivity tips and organization advice. We help you get your online businesses running smoother with well-designed workflows and automated systems. You can read more about us here. If you're an infopreneur or small business owner, check out our free goal setting guide to get your business on track.