SEO for Rookies Day #2 – “What should I write?”

This is my second post in my series: Simplifying SEO for small businesses.” My first post is here.

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Most small business owners glaze over when asked to “write a blog post for their website.”  

Today I’ll make it easy to understand exactly “what to write.”

Quick review:

  • A blog post is like a magazine article that sits on your website.
  • If a person is searching for answers on Google, and your blog post does an excellent job of explaining the subject, Google delivers your blog post to the searcher.  This is much like when your grandmother snail-mails you an article she knows you’ll like.
  • Getting people to your blog is good because you now have a potential customer right there on your website (and not your competitor’s).
  • Google does not charge you to deliver your blog to searchers.  Google is in the business of delivering the best search results to their searchers; if your blog post is the “best answer” to a searcher’s Google query, Google happily offers up your blog post to the searcher.

Wait, if Google doesn’t charge me, what’s in it for Google?

  • Google’s “world-class search experience” keeps searchers coming back to Google and keeps them away from other search engines.
  • The more people who start their searches on Google, the more Google can charge for its paid-ads to small businesses. But remember, paid-ads aren’t what we’re talking about here.

But I pay a lot of money to my SEO agency, why can’t they just write the blogs for me?

You should write your own website posts and have your SEO agency edit your words to optimize them for SEO because:

1. You know your business.

2. You know the jargon, the vernacular, and the subtleties of your business and local area.

3. A writer without this knowledge is much less skilled in writing anything nuanced enough to rank high on a Google search.

4. The best a freelancer or SEO agency could do is re-write information that’s already on the web. And Google does not reward this type of writing.

Google rewards skilled and nuanced perspectives that offer a peek into the mind of someone out there grinding in the day-to-day of their industry.

So while a freelance writer at your SEO agency could easily rewrite information from other sources about upholstering a sofa, a person who actually upholsters sofas could write about the intricacies of the thread they use, the stitching they prefer, and how they like to finish off the underside of the furniture with a different type of cloth.

Upholsterer working on a chair
Google wants this guy writing about upholstery rather than “any old” SEO writer because he can offer a nuanced and authentic perspective that only a real-live upholsterer could offer.

Deciding what to write for your small business website:

Here are two rules of thumb I use when deciding on what to write on my website.

  • Choose a subject your customers ask you about over and over. Remember, if your customers are asking you questions, they’re also asking Google those same questions.
  • Prioritize subjects that are associated with your high-value products. For example, writing articles about painting epoxy floors in large warehouses is more lucrative than painting front doors. Eventually, you can break this rule when you’ve got a lot published, but start with high-dollar-value subjects first.

My next post will center on exactly “how” to write a blog post, especially if you “can’t/won’t or hate to write.”


You just read Day #2 in my series: “Simplifying SEO for small businesses.”

Day #1 is here.

Day #3 is here.

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SEO for Rookies – Day #1

This is the first post in my series:  Simplifying SEO for Small Business Owners.  

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As a small business owner, do you freeze or put your head in the sand when you hear “you should work on your website?” 

I did too.  So let’s simplify things.

What does it mean to “work on your website?”

By writing posts for your website that answer web searchers’ questions, Google directs searchers to your posts bringing free traffic to your website.  This is called, “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization.”

Bonus:  If searchers want answers in your area of expertise, they’re also likely in the market for what you sell. Getting them to your website allows them to get answers and (hopefully) buy from you.

What’s does it mean to “write a post” or “blog?”

Think of a blog post like a magazine article that sits on your website.

Let’s look at a real Google Search: 

 

But wait Paige, you said SEO was “old-fashioned?”

When I was small, my dad owned a tiny picture framing shop in our town. When customers would ask him, “Do you know a good painter in our area?” or “Who’s the best children’s photographer?” he’d pull out his Rolodex (now that’s old-fashioned) and serve up answers to his customers.  He did this as a way to provide an extra bit of expertise and service to his customers.  

Back in the 1970s, in his frame shop, my dad was acting as a “Human Google,” directing people to the businesses that could solve their problems.

So how do I know what answers people want?

Let’s go back to my dad’s frame shop. If my dad were working on his picture framing website, he’d be wise to write a post about what his customers were asking him in person.

This is an important point that’s worth repeating:  

The questions your customers are asking you, are the same questions they’re asking Google.

In my dad’s case, today he might write a post on the cost to frame a keepsake, how to frame a pair of leather gloves, or the role a mat plays in keeping artwork protected.

So start right there – writing the answers you’re asked over and over again by your customers.  

It’s really that simple.

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SEO For Rookies, Day #2 is here

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LuAnn, Pat and Bruce standing in front of picture framing corner samples
LuAnn, my mom Pat and my dad Bruce at the Frame Shop in the 1980s.

LuAnn, my mom Pat and my dad Bruce at the Mt. Kisco Frame Shop in the 1980s.  This shop was my home most days after school and on Saturdays.

So darn hard.

In the mid-2000s, car dealers often asked, “have I done everything to make this a 5-star experience?” I always felt put on the spot, and I hardly ever answered truthfully.

Assuming we only have a handful of genuinely 5-star experiences in our lives, getting my oil changed hardly felt like one of them.
As a small business owner, I never want to game the system and get flattering ratings without merit. I consider it my only job to identify the messy truth about the goings-on in my business and fix them, and so that’s what I’m going to share here in this blog.

I’ll do my best to get quite granular and not sugar-coat the truth for you, so you’ll understand why running a small business is so darn hard most days.

Jessica’s question: “How does your business serve your life?”

I quit my corporate job to start my first small business when I was 26 years old to have more time with my kids.

Mind you, this was a full 5 years before my first child was born, but I could read the tea leaves: If I stayed in my current career in corporate America, I’d never see my future kids.

I’m a bit of a planner.

My friend, Jessica, always reminds me that our businesses were started to serve our lives. Full stop.

In the 23 years I’ve been a mom to three boys, my business has allowed me to work from home 99% of the time. This meant I could “be there.”

And when they were younger, my kids needed me to be there a whole lot. This meant that I went to library storytime, volunteered in their classrooms, and could finish my work at 10 pm when they were asleep.

As they’ve gotten older (they’re now 23, 18, and 15)- it’s now super-easy to work “regular business hours” and not remember to stop and spend time with them.

Last week, my son Joey gave a presentation at 11 am to an organization in our town. I had to remind myself not to be frustrated that the 11 am start time would cut into my “normal working hours,” and I forced myself to stop, drive across town and go to his speech.

Joey’s leaving for college in 3 weeks so my chances to “be there” for him are now vanishing before my eyes.

Jessica’s words reverberated in my head the whole way there that THIS flexibility was THE reason I started my small business in the first place.

And if I didn’t take advantage of these now very fleeting times with my older kids, well then, shame on me.

Steno pad with red ink with motto "Your business was started to serve your life"

Decide Once.

Plinko game

Do your research, take your time, word-smith the heck out of your words. And then decide.

Leverage all of the time you spent deciding by then spreading your decision out over the next decade. 

For example, in our office we:

1.  Play a game of Plinko at our weekly meeting when it’s your birthday to win cold-hard cash. This prevents us from finding out it’s your birthday, spending time online figuring out what to get you, and doing a mad dash to the store to pick up a gift. It also frees up your colleagues’ from the mental load of deciding what to write when they sign your card.

2.  Use TextExpander software to pre-think our email responses, so they’re ready for action on Tuesday when we are too busy to think clearly. We have hundreds of TextExpander templates, including one for rejecting a candidate, saying “no” to a project, and scheduling a meeting – all composed to perfection a few years ago.

3.  Use “Subscribe and Save” for office snacks – nobody has any mental load deciding if we should get Swedish Fish or Wheat Thins (Swedish Fish, of course!).

4.  Ask each employee when they start, 3 sandwiches they like.  This makes ordering lunch for the team a whole lot easier on our Office Manager.

 

What have you handed over to the “Decide Once” gods in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exactly how?

You say:  “You need more online reviews.” 

They think:  “But how do I get them? 

You say:  “Ask for the order every time.”

They think:  “I’m not sure of words that would sound authentic.”

You say:  “You need to coach your staff.”

They think:  “But exactly how…?”

Telling people what to do is not always effective.  

For real results, focus on being incredibly specific and focusing on the “how.”