An SEO Lesson I Learned From My 6-Year-Old Daughter
It’s too simple for adults—so children can explain it best
At the time of this writing, I have an adorable six-year-old daughter who blows my mind daily with her creativity.
I often have to insist that this girl stop creating art long enough to eat, she has dreams about crayons, and she’s already received an honorable mention in a statewide bookmark-making contest.
Last year we had a conversation about what type of dress she’d like for her Pre-K graduation.
Me: “Do you want a blue dress?”
Me: “How about a red dress?”
Me: “Or do you want a pink dress? Purple?”
Her: “Yes, Mommy. All the colors. I want a rainbow dress.”
Me: “Oh wow. Okay. We’ll see if we can find something like that … ”
But inside I was saying, crap. I was dumbfounded. Unlike my son, who almost always wears whatever clothes I pick out for him without fail or complaint (God bless you, child), I knew girlfriend and I would have a major problem on our hands graduation day unless she absolutely loved her dress (gets it from her Momma).
Good God, how will I ever find a rainbow dress?
Traditional retail was out. I couldn’t even begin to imagine walking into any of the local stores in my area to find something so specific. Could I find it online? I started Googling.
I quickly discovered that there are more hits than you might think for “rainbow dress”—230 million, to be exact—and they’re quite varied.
Everything from baby dresses to denim with rainbow embroidery to rainbow-colored tutus and ball gowns.
But I’m the mom of a preschooler, and good at this type of thing. I narrowed it down to two or three dresses, showed Miss Thang, and breathed a sigh of relief when I couldn’t have been more happy with her pick.
It was a cute skater-style dress made of an all-over rainbow-colored spandex with a subtle sparkle that neither of us could resist.
I was looking for a bargain but ended up paying slightly more for it than I’d originally budgeted when I discovered it was handmade by a woman-owned custom rave and festival gear company based out of Olive Branch, Mississippi.
Not only was the dress of excellent quality and made in the U.S.A., I felt absolutely great about supporting this small woman-owned business. The whole experience was a win-win, especially when my daughter was smitten with the comfortable dress and wore it for graduation, Easter, and that entire summer.
What’s Your Rainbow Dress?
People are incredibly honest when they come to Google with their heart’s deepest desires. Some say it’s the modern-day confessional.
Who actually types in the words “rainbow dress” or “shop rainbow dress” or “buy rainbow dress”?
Who searches this way?
Pay attention to how people describe what they want verbally, their vernacular. This is the type of mindset you need to have if you’re trying to sell a rainbow dress.
If you’re a therapist, for example, you know that people won’t often use clinical terms like “psychoanalysis” or “psychodynamic therapies” in ordinary speech when they’re looking for a therapist.
If they’re really having a relationship crisis or need career advancement help, they’ll probably type things into the search bar like:
- Why is my boyfriend ignoring me?
- Divorce lawyers near me
- Find a therapist in Washington, D.C.
If you’re selling a product, you’ll want to think about what problem that product solves instead of how you personally refer to it.
In my rainbow dress example, the vendor we ended up buying from used keywords like “girls party dress 5T” and “rainbow dress bright colors” in its description of the dress, page titles, and image titles.
You’ll need to think hard about all the possibilities, look at the data for the different keyword combinations, and consult with the professionals about how to infuse good, non-competitive keywords into your website for maximum impact.
Nobody knows for certain exactly what’s in Google’s algorithm, but the industry agrees broadly on what helps and hurts page rank.
Google is in the business of giving its users the best possible result to whatever they’re searching for, so its algorithm pays close attention to your behavior and interaction with those results. Google is constantly measuring:
- Number of clicks on any given search result
- What people do once they click on a result (duration of stay and whether they click around on the site at all or just leave)
- Duration of stay, which is greatly influenced by the load speed of your web pages
- Whether web pages have any inbound (referring) or outbound links (both add credibility)
- How old your website is and how recently it’s been updated
- Quality of content. How easy or hard is it to read the language on your web pages?
Isn’t it always better when our theories are verifiable by actual data and numbers? This is how Google feels about your website, too. You can have the prettiest website with the most amazing graphics, but if you’re dropping the ball on any of the above bullet points, you’ll get buried by your competition.
Competing on Google for placement is great because, in my opinion, Google’s organic rankings are still somewhat “fair.”
Platforms like Facebook are very “pay-to-play.” In other words, the typical business page on Facebook has almost no chance of its posts being seen unless the posts are “boosted” or paid for.
Since Google is in the business of providing great search results, there is still some room there to get what’s called organic traffic. Choose the right keyword combinations, and you can attract people to your content without doing much else.
Google of course also has a pay-to-play option, Google Ads. This—or Facebook’s version—are examples of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing, which can get quite expensive. Many companies that can’t figure out how to get organic traffic, or who are playing in a very competitive space lean heavily on PPC. These are the ads you see at the top of your Google search results, and they’re clearly marked as such.
Behavior flow once a user gets to your website is another thing you can study and manipulate once you get good at Google Analytics. Someone who knows exactly what their website visitors are going to want and how they will behave when they get there is light years ahead of someone who doesn’t.
Finding Your Rainbow Dress
Even if you don’t sell anything online, one of the simplest but most effective things you can do as a business owner is study how people are arriving at your website and what they’re doing once they get there.
What are your most popular pages? What is the typical behavior flow once they get to your website? When do they leave?
When I show my clients this data, they quickly revise their ideas about what content should stay or go. They also often get inspired about what new content would create more interest in their business.
If you’re stuck or can’t see the forest for the trees (which happens pretty much all the time to us as business owners!), there are many great online tools out there that will help you discover topics for your online content. These tools are based on real data, like how many times a particular article or piece of information has been clicked on or shared.
Frequently asked questions and testimonials are also great ways to speak to your target directly.
Website content can morph into social media content and vice versa. You can even encourage your followers and customers to create content for you themselves. This instantly creates credibility and helps you become more relevant.
One of my favorite ways to create new relevant content for a website is to conduct interviews of really happy, best-fit clients. Hearing about their experience in their words does so much to help create more clients just like them.
Just like my daughter and me and that rainbow dress.