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Don’t Fall For It – SEO is not a trap

“How can I start ranking for locations without making my home page look a mess?”

The question came in a Facebook group. The answers that poured forth ranged from lots of intensive work to, frankly, nonsense. Thinks like paying an SEO expert to get you there, and creating invisible pages on your site (don’t ever do this!). It seems there’d been some bad advice about the benefits of blogging, leading people to seek alternative solutions to a common problem. The whole thing was in danger of snowballing.

Thankfully calmer heads prevailed, and a few of us managed to speak sense into this void of understanding. I thought it’d be a good idea to pop over here and share some basic SEO tips to get your website game shipshape and shiny. 

SEO can be so mindnumbingly dull that understanding the basics can cast you as some kind of modern day medicine woman. It seems like for every one who appears to know what they’re doing on t’Internet there are 10 more people cowering behind their monitors wondering where on earth to begin. The fact is that there are a few really simple tips for SEO, and some things to swerve. Let’s chat about them.

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1.Think of your audience first

Make stuff people want to see! Create content that people want to read, watch and share. Content that is written to a good standard, that has a bit of personality and looks good on a phone or tablet is better than something incomprehensible that includes keywords.

The simple fact is that Google prioritises a good user experience above anything else right now. The real people behind the bots review stuff all the time, and they will increase the quality score of a website that has a defined purpose and content that an audience can value. 

Putting your audience first is key to sorting out your SEO. Write for them, not you. Add value, don’t just sell. When in doubt, think about your ideal client.

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2.Duplicating Keywords

Basically, just don’t do it. Each page and blog post should have its own unique keyword. This should be embedded in alt text for images, and ideally in your title and possible one subtitle. Using the same keyword on more than one page or post is just bad practice that gets you nowhere.

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If you reeeally want to be found for that keyword, set it to one of the cornerstone pages of your site, like a service page or your homepage.

3.Blog regularly, and blog well

Google loves websites that are regularly updated. It means they’re active businesses, so it makes more sense for Google to serve those sites in searches than ones that haven’t been updated in a year. 

Blogging is the simplest way to regularly add new content to your website. It doesn’t clutter your menu, it’s shareable, you can include all kinds of media and open the conversation. You can include a different keyword each time, and increase your visibility.

I can see that writing can be a pain in the ass, and it can take time to find your groove, but the more frequently you do it the easier it becomes. And there are loads of free resources to help you, as well as services like mine to simply outsource your blog and spend more time doing the stuff you enjoy.

If you’re going to start blogging, you really should commit to it. Be consistent, find your voice, and write for your audience.

4. Don’t go mad with your keywords

Can you remember what blogs and spammy webpages used to look like before content marketing became an actual thing?

They were awful. 

Using your keyword or phrase too many times in a single page or post is known as “keyword stuffing”. Pages used to rank well just by having the keyword stuffed in as many times as possible, regardless of how the content flowed (or didn’t). The internet has now moved on, and keyword stuffing is a great way to get your website penalised– even if you make the text the same colour as your background so it looks ‘invisible’.

So, how can you use your keyword without being in danger of stuffing?

It’s actually stupidly easy. Get it in your title, and mention it once or twice in the body of your text or a subheading. Stick it in the alt text you use to tag images, and try to find a suitable featured image that matches the content, and stick it in the alt text for that image too if it works for the content.

5. Sharing is Caring

What’s the point in creating a sweet space on the internet for yourself, if you don’t open it up to other people? If you never put yourself out there with a massive signpost saying “awesome things are over here– come and see!!”?

Frankly, it’s pointless to spend time and money on a website if it ends there. While so far I’ve been talking about harnessing the power ofGoogle to climb the rankings and get seen organically, there are faster ways to drive traffic to your site. (And in my opinion, you should do a mix of these things.)

Use social media. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest all allow you to have business pages for free. Algorithms get rejigged with small changes regularly, and sometimes there’s a fundamental shift, but generally social media is now, like Google, more focussed on genuine engagement. I wouldn’t rely on just one form of social media to get all of your paid business, because if that platform goes poof overnight you’ll be up the creek without a paddle. But you can absolutely use these platforms to shout about the things you’ve put on your site – and give yourself a handy backlink at the same time.

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6.Don’t Stop

Think of your website as the centre of your business. It’s the resource you send people to when they need to know something, it’s where you keep all the proof that you can do the things you do (ie it’s a portfolio), and it’s your shop front. 

Once you’ve risen to the top of the rankings, and you’re on page one, getting regular enquiries from people who love what you do (and have probably warmed to you too) you’ve got to work to stay there.There’s an element of running to stand still with Google, because so many markets are so competitive. Once you’ve found your place, there’s bound to be a whole bunch of folks looking to get there too, and that means the possibility of unseating you.

Turn up. Blog regularly. Collaborate with others and have something to share with the world. 

Tidy up your SEO game, and keep going with it.

Don’t stop.

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If you’re looking for some help to get started with your blog, or any kind of content, send me an email to caroline@bearfacedcontent.co.uk. A shop is coming very soon, but in the mean time email is best.