SEO for Small Business [30 Minute Webinars]

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Welcome everybody this is Rich Brooks and you are watching another 30 minute webinar by flyte new media. The first of our 30 minute webinars with our new logo right up there in the top right corner, recently released, often it comes with the words ‘flyte new media’ next to it, but I’m keeping it nice and clean with this webinar. This 30 minute online training is going to focus on SEO, search engine optimization, or how you can rank higher in the search engines and drive more qualified traffic to your website or blog. Now SEO is a critical piece of digital marketing and for most small businesses it’s the number one driver of traffic. The value of good SEO cannot be overstated. Depending on your business it could generate tens of thousands of dollars in business this year for your company or more. So let’s dive in.

The BARE Essentials

First of all, here at flyte we have a formula, a format if you will, called the BARE essentials of digital marketing and it kind of orients everything we do when we work with clients. So I want to share that with you as it plays into today’s webinar. The BARE essentials is an acronym, it stands for: the B is for build and build is all about how do you develop a platform that turns visitors into customers, the A is for attract or how do we drive qualified traffic to that website and that’s where we’re going to spend a lot of our time today in drivin traffic, SEO is a big component of that attract section. Retain, how do you stay in front of your customers after they’ve left your website, and finally evaluate and that’s all about how you measure your results. Now we actually have a thirty minute webinar on demand available about the BARE essentials of digital marketing, kind of taking a look at that, but I did want to bring that up today.

Who is this guy, anyway?

Now many of you may know me, many more of you may not, my name as I mentioned is Rich Brooks and I’m the president of flyte new media. We are a web design and internet marketing company located here in Portland, Maine, meaning that we design and build websites and then we do SEO, social media, digital advertising, email marketing, and more. I also founded a conference called the Agents of Change digital marketing conference, it’s an annual conference here in Portland, Maine this year it’s on September 20th and it’s also streamed online and we also have a weekly podcast that you can check out for free on any one of your favorite devices. I’m also the tech guru on 207 which is the evening news program here in Maine on the NBC affiliates. I wrote a book called the Lead Machine: the small business guide to digital marketing. And I recently launched a second podcast and series of workshops called ‘fast forward maine’ where we focus on growing Maine businesses. So I’m kind of a busy guy.

Search Engine Optimization

So let’s talk about search engine optimization and the whole point of SEO is to rank higher for your ideal customers questions when they go to google, so overall how do we accomplish that? Well google, and really Google is the only search engine worth paying attention to right now because it has over 90% of search traffic depending on who you talk to, google decides who is going to appear on top of that page and who’s going to appear further down or not at all through a number of variables. The first one is relevancy.

So if you want to rank well for one of your specific keywords, you need to make sure you have one of the most relevant answers to somebody’s question when they get to google possible. In fact, you really want to be the most relevant answer in the entire world, which can be a challenge.

Another variable is quality. So if you’ve got two pages that are very relevant to somebody’s question, but one is a higher quality, and that could mean that they go more in depth, it could mean there’s more secondary backup information, it could mean that they talk a lot about related information as well that makes a lot of sense, these are all signs of quality and those will help your chance of ranking well.

The third are links, the number and quality of incoming links make a big impact on your search engine visibility.

And then some technical items also which we will talk about in a few minutes.

Why SEO?

Social media is obviously huge these days and a lot of people love promoting their business and engaging with their audience on social media and so a lot of people have been kind of not paying attention to search engine optimization. I still love SEO though, why do I love SEO? One of the most important things to remember is it reaches a different audience.

A lot of your social media posts will be seen by your fans, but not all of your potential customers are your fans or following you on social media. In fact, depending on your business, many of them may not be active on social media at all. SEO gives you the opportunity to reach a different audience.

Secondly, it addresses an immediate need. I love social, I love social ads, but the bottom line is, with those two things, what we’re trying to do is put together engaging information, or posts, and put it in front of somebody just because we think they might be interested in this. With SEO we’re putting together some of our best pages on our website and serving them up right when somebody needs them the most, when they’re literally at google asking a question.

Also, in looking at both our google analytics and our clients google analytics, SEO drives traffic, much more than social media and depending on how much money you’re spending on it, potentially more than paid search as well.

And lastly keyword research, which we’re going to talk about in a minute, is really just market research. So we’ll talk about the importance of keyword research and how it works for all of our different types of marketing.

What keywords?

A lot of people focus when it comes to SEO on keywords, what words are people searching for on our websites. And for a long time google told us ‘hey, stop paying attention to keywords, start making sure that you’re just providing the best possible information for your users’, which is fine that’s not bad advice, but at the same time we still try and focus a lot on keywords. So google started taking away some of our best research items, in fact this is a screen capture from a couple years ago of the keywords that were driving traffic to the Agents of Change website. As you can see, the number one keyword was ‘not provided’ and the number three keyword was ‘not set’, adding up to about 97% of all the keyword traffic, all the SEO traffic that was being driven to the website, google wouldn’t tell us what those keywords were. So you may be wondering, should we even worry about keyword research and the answer is absolutely. Because the funny thing about keyword research is that keywords are just a fancy word for words. And we always want to be using the words that our customers use because they want to see that we actually understand them. So keyword research is really critical, not just to your SEO but to your overall marketing, message, and copy.

Keyword Research

So how do you do keyword research? It’s not as difficult as this guy’s making it out to be. I look at it and I think that there’s three major components.

And the first component is that you brainstorm your keyword phrases. So you want to sit down, and I’ll show you in a minute how to do this, but you want to come up with all the keywords you ideal customer might be searching for. Next you’re going to use some software to test these beliefs. And lastly, you’re going to create the content that’s going to help you rank higher at the search engines.

Brainstorming

So the brainstorming process, when I sit down with somebody and I try to help them come up with keywords for their website, or keywords to research for their website I use five different perspectives. The first perspective is the most obvious one; what are the products and services that your company brings to market? Are you a Portland dog walker, are you a New York City dentist, are you an accountant, whatever it is, what are the products and services that you bring to market and write those all down.

Next, think about the problems your customers suffer from before they start working with you. Think about what are they suffering from, because a lot of people search from their pain points. So start writing all those down, all the things that you fix.

Next, flip that around because some people search on problems but other people search on solutions. So come up with all of the real or perceived solutions or benefits that people get from working with you.

The fourth is features. If you’ve ever taken a sales course you know you never sell on features you always sell on benefits, except on the internet where things are reversed, because the bottom line is people do so much armchair sleuthing on the internet that very often they know as much if not more than your best salespeople. If they’re asking very specific questions around features that your product or service might have that means they’re very close to making a buying decision, so those are the kinds of people we want to be in front of.

Lastly, competition. By competition I’m thinking about, not necessarily if you run a burger joint that all of a sudden you start using  a word like McDonald’s or Burger King. instead I mean that whenever you bring something to market, there’s very likely a product or solution that people could use to solve that same problem. So if you own a gym, why do people join a gym? For a lot of reasons, but one of them is weight loss, but is a gym the only way to lose weight? No, you could use diet pills or you could go on a fad diet, or you could use a thighmaster, these are all ways that people might try and lose weight, you then can write content around these keywords explaining why a fad diet is not a healthy alternative to a gym membership. You can kind of explain and bring those people in who are looking for those other solutions and show them why yours is actually the best solution through an article or blogpost that will ultimately end up on your website.

Dig Deeper

So very often that may be good enough, but I’ll want to dig even deeper. So what do I mean by that? I’ll take some of the keywords that I’m thinking about or phrases and I’ll go to google and I’ll start using the search suggest. So here I am, perhaps working on a vegan website and I write ‘how to cook vegan’ and I can see all the types of search people have already done; how to cook vegan food, sausage, collard greens, black eyed peas, so on and so forth. And these give me great ideas, especially for blog posts or videos or podcasts that I might want to do to help rank well at the search engines, I know that people are already searching for them. Further down the page on certain searches I might see the ‘people also ask’ box which gives me even more ideas for content. How much does it cost to hire a wedding planner, what exactly does a wedding planner do, how do I find a good wedding planner, those are all excellent questions that deserve to be answered on your website. Then down at the bottom of the page I can see searches related to what I was just searching for. So if I’m looking for or I own a men’s accessory department or building, I can see some other things that are related. I could write on classy men’s accessories, how to wear bracelets for guys, how much jewelry is too much for a man. These are all great content ideas that I can use on my website.

Test

Once I’ve got all these different keywords, it’s time to do some testing. We use, here at flyte, a lot of different paid and free services to help uncover this, but there is a great free one that you can use yourself and it’s google keyword planner. The nice thing about it is it’s free, you just need to sign up for a google ads account, which is free, but I will tell you if you spend a little bit of money on google ads they actually give you a lot better data. So if you’re only going to do this once or twice, just run ads for a day or two, do all of this testing, and then you can stop the ads but you’ll get all this great research anyways. Just a little protip for you. So this is a little research we were doing for autism centers; we’ve got autism center, autism treatment, behavior analyst, which is a type of therapist that works with autistic children, and we click on ‘get started’ and then google shows us in the left hand column wha we put in for searches, followed by a bunch of related searches, and that’s there in that first column. In the next column we see the average monthly searches, we certainly don’t want to spend a lot of time optimizing for keywords that aren’t getting a lot of search traffic. The next column over is competition, which shows us if there’s a lot of competition or not for that keyword. Now this is for paid search, not organic search, but there’s still a lot of overlap, so it gives us a sense of whether or not we should be going after this if we’re going to be  having a lot of competition. Then in the far right it will tell us the low end and the high end for bidding on this if we do decide we want to go the paid search route, but as we can see autism treatment has 6,600 searches a month, autism center, significantly less at 1,600, behavior analyst much more at 14,800. We can also see there are some other searches that get a lot of search traffic; including autism, asd, aspergers, now those may be challenging to rank well for because they’re broad, but it does give us some sense of some other things that maybe we should be targeting as we write up some of our content for our page.

Organize

Once we’ve done all this, I usually like to just organize this into some of the services and offerings that I have to start to clarify this.

Google trends

I also like a free tool called google trends. And google trends allows us to compare and contrast similar search terms or related search terms over time. So this was one where I was working on a wedding site trying to decide do we want to do it diy, do it yourself weddings, or do we want to talk about cheap weddings, or do we want to focus on budget weddings. Now of the three, I would have assumed cheap weddings was a terrible keyword to search for, but as you can see that’s the one that has the absolute most search volume. So if I want to get a lot of people to find my content, or if I want to get in front of a lot of people, I know that cheap weddings is probably the way to go. Further down the page, I can find some more ideas through the rising section as well. So I can see some of the rising keywords in this category are rustic weddings, rustic weddings on a budget, best destination weddings on a budget, so on and so forth, these may all be great content for me to try and attract those newly engaged couples. Once I’ve done all my content research, I’m ready to actually start creating that content.

Create content

So it’s important to know where on the page to put your keywords. We know which ones we want to go for and we know that each page is a new opportunity to rank well at the search engines, so every important page on your website deserves this kind of treatment where you focus on just one keyword or a couple of related keywords for a page. In this case it’s infusion therapy services. You can see that in the title tag of this page we’ve got something that says ‘infusion therapy services – New England lifecare’ which is the name of the company behind this. That’s probably the most critical place to put your keywords, not the only one, but the place you have to check off. This also becomes the big blue link on google’s search results page. We also want to use our best keywords throughout the page, especially in our header tags which tend to be our bigger bolder text on the page but also tend to be our H1 through H6 tags if you know your html. The headers, subheaders, also in the body copy, especially that first paragraph in the first one to two sentences. Make sure you’re getting your keywords in there. If you’ve got images on the page, and I recommend that you do, make sure your alt tags also use the keyword. Now here’s the tricky thing, at a certain point you can over-optimize your page; maybe you used the keyword too often, or it just doesn’t come off as sounding authentic. Google will penalize sites for over-optimization and they’re not exactly clear on how many times is too many times, but what I would say is make sure that it still reads like you would talk to another human being. One other place to put your keywords is in the meta-description. Meta tags haven’t been important since 1997, but meta-descriptions, even though it has little to no impact on your search engine rankings, I tend to believe it has no direct impact on your search engine ranking, it does have an indirect effect and this is because as people look through the top five to ten results on google’s homepage, if your meta-description which usually becomes that black text of descriptive text on the page and more people click it than the people above you google will start to reward you by moving you further up the search page. So having compelling copy there in your meta-description that’s keyword rich is a very important aspect as well.

Inbound Links

Another important aspect, very important in the fact that your competition might not be doing this, or you may be in a competitive field where it’s very difficult to unseat somebody who’s been doing SEO for so long, is to get more inbound links. More links from other websites over to yours. You may wonder, ‘well Rich how do I know how many inbound links I have?’. There’s a great free tool by a company called moz, it’s a freemium tool like a lot of moz’s products, and by freemium I mean you can use it a little bit for free, but they’re going to limit the number of results you can get from this. If you’re just doing this for your own business you can probably get away with the free version, if you’re at flyte of course we pay for the paid version because we need to do a deeper dive, but if you’re doing this on your own feel free to start with the free version at least. You can see that you put in your URL, which in this case I put in our page, and then you get your domain authority and I think you’ll find that most websites are in the twenties, thirties, forties, it’s very difficult to get higher than say fifty or sixty, there’s certainly companies out there that do it. To get to ninety you really are going to be like apple or amazon to get that kind of domain authority. This is moz’s best guess at how much authority google is giving your website, but you can see I’ve got the domain authority, the number of linking domains that link to takeflyte.com, and also the number of inbound links, so all the links from all of those websites at 48,000 and you can see flyte has 4,700 ranking keywords as well. As we scroll further down the page we can also see who is linking to this page and you can see with social media examiner, cnn, new york times blog, so on and so forth and this is great because you don’t have to do this just on your own website, once you’ve looked at your own website you can look at your competitors. You can see how much domain authority do they have and how many people are linking to them. You find that the people who are continually beating you on google’s homepage also have more links than you, then that’s something that you need to work on. On the other hand, if most of your competitors don’t have as many inbound links as you, you can put your focus elsewhere. If you are looking to get more links, when you put in your competitor’s URL you can see all the people who are linking to them. Those might be some good people to go after to see if you can get links from their website to yours as well.

Finding Links

Once you know how many links and you decide that this is something you want to go after, there’s a number of ways that you can get more links. One is this manual outreach that I was kind of talking about where you literally just open up a google spreadsheet and start writing in the names of websites you want links from and then who you asked for, when you asked for them and it’s a grind, but you will get incoming links that way. One way that I like a lot better is guest blogging and this also works for podcasts too. Guest blogging means that you’re going to write an article for someone else on their blog, but in payment you’re going to get links back from that blogpost back to your own website. Usually better if you can work those links into the blogpost itself rather than just at the bottom in a byline, but not everybody’s going to be willing to let you do that, but guest blogs are a great way to do that. These days effective blogs, I don’t know about you, take me six to eight hours minimum to write and that’s a big time incentive. So one of the things I like doing these days is get on business podcasts because very often those podcasts include show notes which are basically blog posts, so for a twenty to thirty minute interview I can get the same valuable lnk from their website to mine. Also if you belong to any business or membership organizations, especially paid ones, very often they’ll have a website and they’ll link out to you and that’s a good one to make sure all of your paid membership websites are linking out to you. There are link building agencies, SEO agencies that focus entirely on link building. The only thing that I would say here is just do your research before you work with any because there are a number of bad actors in this space. Getting links from bad websites can actually be worse than having no inbound links at all.

Technical

Now a few technical things I want to comment on before we move forward, one is that as google looks at your website, one thing that’s important to google is, is it mobile friendly. These days google has more of a mobile first approach to search. If someone’s doing a search on a mobile device, which is more and more popular, if your website is not mobile friendly and another website is and they’re of equal quality, google’s likely going to rank theirs higher than yours. And in this day and age there is no reason not to have a mobile website. If you currently don’t have a mobile website then you need to make that your priority because there’s so many problems you’re going to have if you don’t have a mobile website. Another thing is speedy, your website needs to be fast. Google even in its google analytics shows you the slower loading pages on your website and tells you what you can do to make them faster. So speed is also critically important. Also make sure that your website has an SSL certificate so it reads https instead of just http at the beginning because again, that’s another signal to google that your website is trustworthy and that’s going to help with your overall SEO.

Local SEO

Then we’ve also got local SEO and I’m sure you’ve seen this, you’ve done  a search, in this case beauty spas, and you get these results from google, this map. This is called the local pack. If you’re doing searches on the kind of things you want to rank well for and you’re seeing something like this, you know that you need to focus on local SEO, which is different than organic SEO. So I just want ot kind of hit on some high notes because we do have another online training just about local SEO, but if you are seeing something like this, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’ve got your citations in place and they’re consistent. And what that means is that your name, address, and phone number, your map information, is identical on your website, and across all the directories on the web. You also want to start getting reviews, getting a steady stream of positive reviews is really important. You don’t want to get a thousand in one day, but you just want to get a steady stream of people leaving reviews, they don’t all have to be five stars, but definitely good reviews are better than bad ones, no surprise there. But you do want to be getting real reviews from real people and it doesn’t even really matter where; it could be on google, it could be on yelp, tripadvisor or whatever the directory is, the review site is for your business. Also like with organic SEO you want some links, inbound links, but here you want to focus on local businesses, local organizations who are going to be willing to link from their website to yours. Lastly, just typical SEO stuff. So if you are geographically challenged and you are providing services for a specific town or a specific area you need to create a page that’s all about that geographic area. If you’ve got multiple locations you should really be creating a page for each one of those locations with unique information on that page about that area or about that city or town. And not just switching out the name, it should be unique content to that page, you should list your real world address right on that page, you should really use an embedded google map if at all possible as well. All those things can help your local SEO.

Paid Search

Another thing that we’re not really going to go into today but I do want to mention is paid search, we talked about it briefly earlier. If you’re doing a search and it looks like this, where I type in home inspection and the first one to four results above the local search are ads, you know that you’ll never be the number one results unless you pay Google money. That’s just how it is. So if you’re doing searches, searches you think are going to drive business to your business, and you’re seeing ads up at the top, don’t be fooled into thinking well just because you clicked on it no one else is. The bottom line is that people in need are just looking for the most relevant results, they don’t care if it’s an ad or not. So if you’re seeing this, be sure to talk to somebody, it could be flyte, could be whoever you’re working with now, but be sure to talk to somebody about starting to run some google ads.

Measuring Results

And lastly just to wrap up, I want to talk about how you measure these results once you’ve gotten started. The default way to do this is through google analytics. Google analytics is a very powerful tool and we have a couple different training sessions on those as well you can find on the website. But just as kind of an overview, if you go into the acquisition section of your google analytics, you can start to see how you are acquiring or attracting new visitors to your website. Here you can see that the top channel is organic search, followed by direct, social referral, so on and so forth and it kind of shows you where your traffic is coming from and what they’re doing. And if you’ve connected you google search console to your google analytics, which does not happen out of the gate you have to take this step to actually connect these two, you can start to get some of those search queries back so you can start to see what are those search queries that are driving traffic to your website you can see that hashtags and google slides and it looks like a lot of hashtag questions are all driving traffic to the flyte new media website. So that gives you a little sense of where our highest performing keywords are.

Moz

And then you can go on a higher level and use a tool like Moz, although there are also tools, similar competitors, like Ahrefs, SEMrush, so on and so forth that for a monthly fee will give you even more detailed reports. Tracking specific keywords to see if you’re going up or down month after month for those specific keywords. If you’re serious about SEO or you’re in a competitive industry, this really is a must.

Takeaways

So as we start to wrap up today, and I’ll take questions in just a minute, I want you to just think about the process of if you’re going to be doing SEO you need to do your research. That’s that keyword research, that brainstorming, that’s doing the testing and that’s writing that content that’s going to help you rank well at the search engines. You need to create your copy and make sure you’re putting your keywords in critical places; like the title tags, the headers, the body tags, the meta-description, so on and so forth. And then measure your results. I’m a big fan of the saying ‘best practices do not equal best results’. What I mean by that is everything I said today is based on twenty-two years of doing this and with a wide variety of different clients in all these different industries, but the bottom line is that we always have a plan and it always changes over time as the industry changes, the business changes, the customers change, and the platforms like google themselves change, so you really do need to stay on top of this and realize you’re not going to be perfect right out of the gate.

Thank You

That is the content I have for today. I want to thank you guys for sticking around and what I’m going to do now is just open it up for Q and A. I’ll stick around for a while or until the questions run out. We will have more content coming your way, I’m going to follow this in the next few days I’ll send you out a link to where you can download the slides. And we also have our annual Agents of Change digital marketing conference coming up and I’m going to send you some information on that as well so you can take advantage of some early bird discounts. But I do want to thank you guys for hanging out with me today and we’ll see if any of you have any questions and feel free if you had some questions and you didn’t ask them already, ask away and I’ll get to them right now.

Q: Are you saying that an embedded google map on the website will help with local SEO?

Yes, on your page, if you have multiple locations I’d probably put a google map of each location on individual pages. So if you had a little deli and you had five locations across the state I would probably have a page on each one of the towns and talk about things like the schools, or the local parks, or what you can do in that town, something like that and on that page I would imbed one of those google maps that shows where you are. Google tends to like that sort of stuff. Then the other thing I would think about is if you just have one page then you probably don’t need to do it like that, but on your contact page you should definitely embed one of those google maps as well.

Q: Do you recommend yoast or wordpress?

So wordpress is the platform here at flyte that we like building websites and blogs on and it is the world’s most popular CMS, content management system. And one of the reasons people like it is because there’s a lot of third party add-ons that you can use to improve the functionality of your website and one of them is a product called yoast. In fact yoast has a few different offerings but the most popular one is an SEO plug-in. There are a few different SEO plug-ins for wordpress, but yoast is definitely the one I like the most, it’s the one that by default we always install for people unless they want something different. I’m a big fan of yoast, I will say that I’ve never really felt the need to do the paid version. We tend to just do the free version and why don’t I just, while we’re here, just open up another page and I’m going to show you, so this is a typical post, this could be a page though, for your website. Yoast is a plu-in, so at the bottom of this post there’s a yoast SEO section. What this allows me to do is play around with my title and my meta-description as well, I can go in and edit this too, and I can put my keywords in the meta-description, that’s helpful,, it has a default title that’s being pulled from the article, but I can override it like I have. It talks about readability analysis and so it tells you is this easy to read, it does say that two of my sections are over three hundred words, which honestly I don’t care about, and my sentence length is a little long, but again, it’s good to get the heads up, not that bad. And then other positive things as well, you put in a focus keyword and it tells you how well you might rank for that and a lot of other things you might want to do too. So it helps on a post by post one and it also helps from a universal standpoint as well, so I would definitely recommend yoast if you’re interested in improving your SEO and if you’re on wordpress.

Q: What if you want to show up in 20 local towns but you only have one address?

That’s a great question and the thing is, you’re probably just going to have, well I guess it depends how far apart those towns are, or if there’s a couple of big towns in there. I think what you’re saying, not knowing your business, is that you’ve got a service industry and you want to mention that it’s not just, say New York City, but it’s all the surrounding towns as well that you can service as well. This is more of a local SEO question and I would probably make sure I was in google my business and listed it and in google my business you can kind of say what your service area is. I might have a page on my website that talks about my service area and ‘here’s all the towns that we service and here are the kind of services we service when we service those towns’ and I’d have a map that shows my one location. Google’s getting better at understanding the difference between a physical location and a service area and so I think it will continue to improve, that’s the good news. The bad news is that if you’re outside a town, like if you’re outside Boston and you really want the Boston business and you have a competitor who’s directly in the center of Boston, it’s going to be very tough to compete with that person because they have that physical advantage over you. I would work on every other thing I could do and hopefully that will help out, but you may always be at a disadvantage not being in the town you desire.

Q: How long after it goes live would I even have enough info to look at google analytics and know that it’s meaningful?

Great question, so a couple things in there; one is get your google analytics installed from day one, the sooner you get it installed, the sooner it starts collecting data for you, it cannot go backwards in time and even though I’d like to see thousands and thousands of visitors a month so I really get some good data, the bottom line is if you only have hundreds of people coming a month then that’s all the data you have so get that recorded so you can make the most of it. The other part that I’m kind of reading into this is if you do your keyword research and you create this content, how long will it take you to start ranking well for some of these keywords and the answer is, unfortunately, it depends. It depends on how much competition there is out there, it depends on if you already have an established website where there’s some trust built up but now you’re really focusing on improving the keywords, or if this is a brand new website. Google doesn’t give a lot of trust to new websites; you don’t have a lot of history, you don;t have a lot of incoming links and that’s kind of problematic for google, so you’re going to have to work on a lot of other things and work on getting as many inbound links as you can to start to get google to take you seriously. They’re always going to be looking for people who’ve been around longer, with more inbound links, and more trust built up than the new kid on the block. It’s just the way the game is played.

Q: as a home based business, do I really need the map? What if I don;t want clients to know where I am? Clients will not visit me and I have clients all over the Eastern U.S.

I’m guessing then that you don’t have to worry about local SEO at all, then it won’t come up. That being said, if you do work out of your home and security is an issue, and I know it can be I worked in the wedding industry and I’ve worked with a lot of planners and officiants that do work in an area but they’re working out of their home, they don’t take clients there. If you don’t take clients there, google doesn’t want you to be found in local SEO anyways. I would just skip that entire step and focus on other elements of organic SEO and paid search as well.

Q: How would you recommend using video?

Good question and of course there’s a thousand ways I could take this question, but because we’re talking about SEO I’m going to talk about it and interestingly enough, tomorrow I’m dropping a new episode by the Agents of Change podcast, which you can find on iTunes absolutely free, where I have an expert coming on to talk about just this very subject, so I think you’d be interested in it. But this person basically makes videos specific to her industry, posts them on Youtube, then creates a blogpost that’s either about or sort of about that particular post, and embeds that video on the blog. That way she’s kind of ranking well for both, interestingly enough, videos that rank well for google don’t always rank as well on Youtube and vice versa, even though Youtube is owned by google. They each have their own search algorithm for relevance, so you might have a video that ranks really well within Youtube, but it doesn’t do so well in google search, or the opposite. What I’ve done when we do videos, and we do a lot of how-to videos showing people how to accomplish specific tasks in digital marketing, I create the video and there’s a number of steps of Youtube SEO that I go through including naming the name of the file with some keywords in it before uploading it, then making sure my title is good and my description is on target and that it’s long and in depth, using the tags on Youtube appropriately, and getting that up there and doing a few other steps, but then I will create a blogpost on the same topic. And whether I just use a straight up transcription or I write a new blog post on the same topic and embed the video, those are two ways I try to maximize the work that I do when I create a video.

Q: What are other ways to get backlinks other than guest blogs and asking?

So guest blogs, podcasts, and asking are probably the three main ways you’re going to get them, I also mentioned membership organizations might give you one as well. The cheap answer is ‘create valuable content that people want to link to’, but it’s really tricky to kind of get people to link to that content. There are different ways that people have done it in the past, for a while creating infographics was a really popular way of doing it. Like I said, there are companies out there that will help you build these links. I was just talking to somebody the other day and the way they get inbound links is they actually ave a team of writers who write blog posts and then will mention your company in passing in neither a positive nor negative way, very neutral, but create a clickable link that then google sees and then says ‘oh this webpage is linking to this other webpage’ and yo pay them for getting your website mentioned in these articles. It can cost 300 to 500 dollars per link and you have to buy a minimum number of them, but if this is something that’s important to you, that’s definitely one way to get inbound links that google will see are legitimate inbound links, not just spamming.

Q: We are a startup, does your company help develop a marketing plan and budget?

Yes, we absolutely do, in fact it’s one of my favorite things to do,  sit down with people when they’re trying to figure out how do we get more people to pay attention to the stuff we’re doing, whether or not I’m doing it for them or they end up just doing it for themselves. People have certainly hired us to develop a marketing strategy for them.

Q: For someone who’s brand new to all of this, do you recommend they sit down with someone with expertise to review keyword info before they try and put their website together? Or do you think it’s possible for a newbie to do this with tips from webinars like yours?

That’s a difficult question for me to answer and I’ll say that I purposefully try and put these webinars together so that people who are do it yourselfers can take this advice and run with it and obviously there’s only so much I can teach in a 30 minute webinar, there are SEO conferences that have multiple tracks on multiple days, so there’s a lot of information out there and it is changing constantly. Some of this just comes down to budget. If you’re a brand new start up and you don’t have money to put towards hiring an SEO agency, then you’re going to have to do a little bit of do it yourself work on this and if you use this as a template and you do a little brainstorming and you use the free tools to do the keyword research and then you look to see what kind of results Google is serving up when you do the kind of searches you want to rank well for, that’s going to start you down the path. Maybe if you can’t afford somebody today, what that will do is help you rank well for certain keywords, which will them help you out and then all of a sudden you’ll be getting more leads, you’ll be getting more sales and then you can hire out that part of the business. I also know that most people who are really good at SEO didn’t start out that way. So they started off, very often the SEO experts I interview on my show were people who were doing something completely different, but they just knew that they had to figure out the SEO piece and then for some of these people they decided that that was either more enjoyable or more lucrative than what they were doing before and that’s how they became experts. Very few people go to school for this, so it very much is, you take a webinar here, maybe you take a paid course somewhere else, you play around with things, you see what works, you experiment. So it really comes down to your budget and at a certain part at your business you have a lot more time than money and in other arts in your business journey you have a lot more money than time, you just need to decide where to best put that time and effort.

Q: With a limited budget where would you put the money: facebook ads, google ads, SEO agency?

I feel like the answer to everything today is it depends. We’re not industry specific, we work with a wide variety of different clients and just the other day, last week, I met with somebody and based on the fact that they deal with municipalities and department on defense at a lot of things treating stormwater and other things I knew that facebook ads were a waste of money for them, but linkedin ads, which I almost never recommend, were exactly what they needed to get found and get seen, along with some paid search ads. For other people it may just be that they’re looking for a very local targeted audience, they don’t know who those people are, but they don’t think that those people are searching for what they have right now. So it’s about getting in front of them and in a case like that facebook and instagram ads would be much more effective. So unfortunately, there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ for that one.

I’m going to wrap it up today, I think I got to all the questions and my voice is going anyways, but I’ll be following up soon with links to this where you can download the slides or if you want to watch the video again you can do all of that. Also I’ll be giving you some information about the Agents of Change conference where we always have an SEO expert and we’re doing something on local SEO this year. That takes place right here in Portland, Maine, plus we have a livestream of it if you just want to watch from afar you can do that as well, so I’ll send you some information on that. I want to thank everybody for checking this out today, I really appreciate your time and feel free to follow up with any questions you may have. Have a great day.