This may be a little controversial. I may very well get screamed at by some of my friends who run SEO companies.
My digital marketing company provides SEO services and training so hopefully that tells you I don’t have an axe to grind at all. If anything, I am un-selling my own services to certain businesses who really don’t need it yet. Instead, my aim is to provide some very important free advice.
Is this you?
This advice assumes you run a very small business and are doing your own blogging. This also assumes that you are wearing a ton of hats. You may even be a one-woman show and don’t have a lot of free time.
This comes from a real life conversation I had recently. This small business owner started blogging and she was doing great.
But then one day, the blogging stopped. So I asked why.
First, she got busy. That I understand. It becomes more difficult to blog when you’re doing everything else in your business and things are going well. I have shared (here, here and here) and will continue to share strategies for making blogging as easy as possible.
I reminded her that this is the time to actually blog more. When things are great and new customers are pouring in, business owners have the tendency to pull back on the marketing.
Why? Because they are busy of course. But also when things are going gangbusters we have the tendency to assume business will stay that way. That is more times than not a very false statement.
Without continual marketing, finding new customers becomes more difficult. Months later, the spigot runs dry and new clients stop coming in. The worse time to market is when you have no business coming in.
Then she told me something that blew me away. Another reason she hasn’t written any new blogs is because she’s been hung up learning and implementing the SEO (search engine optimization) she knows she needs to get found.
Hold up. Air brakes!
Have you ever run into this? You’ve written some blog posts. But you’re busy so you’ve fallen a little behind.
But now you want to SEO your blog. You’ve been reading up on it. You’ve installed an SEO plugin. You’ve run some tests.
Here’s my advice. STOP IT!
And yes, to be clear, if you are fighting for time to even write blogs as it is, I am telling you NOT to worry your pretty little head with SEO. If you have the bandwidth to do it right or the resources to pay for it, yes, SEO will help tremendously.
But if you’re in the same boat as my friend, what you should do is go write more blog posts. Job one is to create great content. Job two is to build your influence circles so you can get people sharing it (more on influence in future posts. You can subscribe if you want to know when they are published). Then, when we have all those things in place and either money to pay for it or tons of time and noggin space to learn it, lets worry about SEO.
SEO is simple, yet it is also dangerously complex
The basics of SEO are this: create great content that is targeted correctly. This means if you know your perfect client might use this search term: “How to clean my own toilet”, then write some blog posts about that.
Use that as a title. Mention your keywords in the body of the post in a natural way. And make sure above everything else you’re speaking to your human customer not Google. The end. Just go do that.
From there, you have onsite and offsite SEO. The onsite stuff is everything you do on your own blog and in the posts to optimize it. Offsite is everything you do out in the world like sharing on social media.
Here’s why I give out this kind of advice
There are hundreds of things you can do to improve the quality of your SEO when done on a regular basis. There are also things you can do to get yourself penalized by Google if they detect you are doing SEO.
And, to make it even more fun, these things change all the time. They are based on what Google says which some will argue is true and others will argue is propaganda designed to scare people.
Many experts will agree and disagree about what is working now, what isn’t and what can get you into trouble. The bottom line is there is a lot to know.
So unless you have the time to educate yourself, you really shouldn’t be doing your own SEO. And I mean really educate yourself, not just watch one video on Youtube. To really learn this stuff, at a minimum you would need to:
- Learn Google’s webmaster tools. There is a ton of information here.
- Study SEO from trusted sources. A great start would be the MOZ blog.
- Pay careful attention to Matt Cutts. He’s the head of the web spam team at Google. Read his blog, watch his videos and keep a close eye on the comments and discussions that rise from them.
- Join trusted SEO forums like: The MOZ community and Search Engine Land’s community
- Stay current. This stuff changes in the blink of an eye.
- Test and measure. You have to watch things like a hawk. Any dip in traffic can be a sign of SEO related problems.
If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. A real lot. For anyone who is not an SEO professional it is a triumphant amount of overkill.
You’ve got smarter things you can be doing. Like making sure your current, future and past customers are happy, coming back for more and giving you referrals. If business is completely dead, that doesn’t mean you have time for this either. It means you should go out and sell something… today.
But this is not an over exaggeration of what you should know if you plan to be your own SEO company. I have seen far too many businesses set themselves back a little, set themselves back a lot and in some cases, ruin their sites beyond repair by taking SEO into their own hands. Stop it!
Creating a new website is like giving birth. It’s a wonderful and joyous experience.
Fixing a website that has been penalized by Google can range from having to get stitches to having open-heart surgery. Both of which are not fun and one can end in your death.
Your businesses SEO will be better for not doing it at all unless you’re willing to go all in. And when you are, you should consider hiring a professional to do it for you so you can focus on what you do best.
And in case you’re still thinking of doing your own SEO, here’s a word from my therapist.
Does this help?
Let me know if you’ve wasted time and effort doing this, or anything else, in your business. Leave a comment below.