Simple Guide to Authentic SEO
If you want more people to find your website, you may have heard that you “must” do SEO (search engine optimization).
And when you start researching how, you become overwhelmed by all the technical aspects of it, or even some actions may feel disingenuous to you, that they want you to do things to “beat the competition”, rather than come from a place of service.
In this post I hope to de-mystify SEO for us spiritually-oriented small business owners.
Once you finish reading this, you’ll be able to take simple and genuine actions to improve your SEO without having to do much technical work at all, and without trying to “game the system”… but instead, simply doing your “SEO” from an intention of loving service toward your ideal audience.
To give you some context:
Search engine algorithms change very frequently. Every year, Google Search changes several hundred times in minor ways, and half a dozen times in major ways… how is a conscientious business owner, with an online presence, supposed to keep up with that?
1. You might think you need to hire an SEO firm. The problem is that there are a lot of SEO marketing scams out there, and a reputable SEO firm will cost you in the neighborhood of $1,000 per month.
2. You could try to keep up with the algorithm changes yourself, which is very exhausting… not at all recommended.
3. Or, here’s an authentic and service-oriented way to think about it:
The higher purpose of the search algorithm changes are to make the search engine work more efficiently for the user.
… so if we stay true to that primary intent, we will be fine — year after year — without having to try to keep up.
Google’s own SEO guide says:
“You should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what is best for the visitors of your site.”
If you’re a small business earning less than $10,000/month (an arbitrary number but I’m keeping this guide as simple as possible), I would recommend not hiring any person or company to do your SEO, and not worrying about the technical aspects of SEO.
By simply following the guidelines in this post, you’ll already be doing better SEO than most.
When your ideal customer is searching for services like yours, can they easily find you?
The Main Factors & Actions for Authentic SEO
…for whether your website ranks highly on search engines:
Factor 1. The quantity quality *and* quantity of content, on your website, that is relevant to the “keyword” (a word, phrase, or question) that your ideal client is searching. For example, if your ideal client is searching for the keyword “energy healing” and you have a lot of blog posts about energy healing, or even just a few high quality — helpful and entertaining — webpages about energy healing, then your website will come up more often in searches.
Create higher quality, and more, content on your website, relevant to what your ideal clients are searching for.
Factor 2. This means you should get to know what your ideal clients are searching for online. How do you find out? This is called “keyword reseach” and I’ll address this later.
Do some keyword research regularly (at least once a year).
Factor 3. How much online competition is there for the keyword that you want to be found for? I’ll address keyword competition below.
Choose low-competition keywords, that are also relevant to your ideal clients, and create helpful content on those topics.
Factor 4. Whether *other* relevant websites have linked to yours… this is called a “backlink.” For example, if another blog post has the phrase “energy healing” hyperlinked to your webpage, this tells the search engines that your webpage should come up when people search “energy healing”. Having other *relevant* websites link to your site is very helpful in SEO.
Share the best content from your website (e.g. the best blog posts or resource pages) with other relevant websites, and if they find it helpful, invite them to link to it.
Factor 5. Are you listed in relevant directories, especially listings of local businesses?
Search for directories of businesses like yours, and consider submitting your website link there. Don’t pay for any directory linkings unless you’ve heard from other people that it’s really helpful. The best free directory that can really make a difference is Google Business — go and set up your business listing there. If you don’t want people to knock on your door, then choose the “service area” checkbox.
Make your website a truly valuable resource for your ideal client, by creating helpful (and ideally, also entertaining) content on your website — that you *know* they are looking for — and sharing those pages with the world (e.g. on social media) so others can find and perhaps link to it.
Very Basic Guide to Keyword Research
Whatever your ideal audience is searching for — that you want to be found for — the words, phrases, or questions they typed into the search engine are called “keywords”.
Important definition — a “keyword” is not usually just a word. It’s often a phrase or a question. What is energy healing? is a keyword, just like energy healing could be, and of course, healing as well. It all depends on what your ideal audience is typing into a search engine. Each query they submit is by definition called a “keyword”… no matter how many words they use in the string.
If you can create quantity and quality content about those “keywords” that your ideal audience is searching for, then your website is much more likely to be found by them.
To find out what “keywords” you should create content on:
1. Ask your ideal audience.
For example, post these questions on Facebook, or send it to your email list:
“When you’re searching online for someone like me, or my services, what might you type in?”
“What topics would you most like to learn from me?”
2. Take each of the phrases or questions they give you, and put that into Google. Then scroll down to the bottom of the search results page and find the section that says “Searches related to…” and you’ll see other popular keywords people are searching for.
For example when I searched energy healing, in the related searches section are these keywords:
types of energy healing
energy healing techniques
energy healing therapy
how does energy healing work
energy healing definition
how to become an energy healer
energy healing near me
energy healing reiki
If you’re an energy healer, it would be a good idea to create articles or videos about any — or all — of the above.
Yes you could use many keyword research tools, one of the best being KeywordKeg, but I’ve found that for solopreneurs like us, we can waste a lot of time with keyword research… time and energy that could’ve gone into simply creating more content, and engaging more with our ideal clients to see what problems they have.
However, I do recommend that you install Keywords Everywhere, a free tool for Chrome and Firefox that will help you quickly see how popular keywords are, when you are searching on Google. Go here:
Very Basic Guide to Keyword Competition
…or “keyword difficulty”.
If you want to be found on search engines, try to “rank” for keywords that are less competitive.
For the less competitive or “less difficult” keywords, you’re much more likely to rank in the Top 10 search results — the first page on Google for that keyword — which is what really matters, because people rarely ever go to the second or third page of searches.
If you’re trying to be found online when someone types in the keyword “healing”, you’ll be up against very difficult competition in the Top 10 search results, by some of the most well-respect websites in the world.
It’s easier to be found with the keyword energy healing … but even then, there are still some very well-known websites in the top 10 of the search results.
It’’ll be a lot easier to be found for how does energy healing work? (which as we saw in our keyword research that it’s being searched for) because you will notice that the top 10 search results with that specific keyword are less relevant to what people are exactly searching for, and therefore, people are more likely to keep looking. So, if you create an article titled with that exact phrase, and make that article as helpful and engaging as possible, and then get some backlinks (see next section), then you’ll likely show up on the first page of google for that keyword!
Reminder: people don’t usually use quotation marks when searching online, so it’s best to leave them out, when you are researching keywords in the search engines.
Very Basic Guide to Backlinks
…otherwise known as “link building”
When another webdsite links to yours, that’s called a “backlink.”
Google really, really likes them. The more that other websites are linking to a particular webpage, the higher the search ranking tends to be for that page, and for that entire site.
7 steps for getting backlinks, or how to do “link-building” —
Step 1. First, do your keyword research, as described above.
Step 2. Choose a less-difficult keyword, as described above.
Step 3. Create a useful and engaging article that you believe will really help the people who search that keyword.
Step 4. Search that keyword on Google, and study the top 3–5 results, and see if you can make your article even more helpful and engaging.
Step 5. Then share the link to your improved article on social media, and encourage people to share it forward if they find it useful. Some people who see your article may also have a website, and may decide to link to your post.
In your share, you could even go as far as saying “I’d love for this article to be found when people search Google on [this keyword]… so if you decide to link to this article on your website, that will really help! I’d be so grateful.”
Step 6. Go to google and search a popular and related keyword and add the words:
tips for _____
Let’s say you wrote an article on a less-difficult keyword how does energy healing work?
A related and more popular keyword is energy healing. So therefore, you google energy healing resources or tips for energy healing (be sure not to use quotation marks, to get a more natural search result.)
Step 7. Look at each of the top 3 results for the above search, and reach out to each website owner and suggest your article as a resource they might find helpful, and wish to include on their site. To make it easier for them, you might want to give them the exact page or blog post on their site where your link would add value. Be mindful about reaching out to websites that might see you as a competitor. Focus on the sites that seem generous in linking to other websites.
Alright, this “simple” guide has gone on long enough.
If you really want to grow the reach of your website, then take the key actions suggested in this article.
And practice patience — SEO usually takes effect after doing the right actions for 6–12 months. However, if you are doing the actions I’ve mentioned above, you’ll be creating and sharing helpful articles on social media and with other websites, so even while you are waiting for SEO to take effect, you will be in useful service to your ideal audience.
That is really the bottom line for an authentic SEO strategy:
Create content that is useful for your ideal audience, and share it in places they’ll likely find it.
Some of you reading this are SEO experts. I welcome you to add your thoughts below on what you’d consider the most important and simple things that a busy small business owner should do.