What I learned from not blogging for two months as an SEO expert

It's quite ironic that I wrote a blog post about pushing my comfort zones in the summer and then I didn't blog for over two and a half months. When I did, I wrote a blog post last week where I was inspired to draw similarities between dating and SEO (yes, really) because you can't expect to get lucky on a first date if you want a long lasting relationship - you can read that here.*

Today I want to talk to you about what happened with my SEO rankings when I stopped blogging.

The reasons why blogging is good for business are vast, and I've even written a blog post with fifty two reasons (I originally wanted it to be ninety-nine reasons so I could make a pop culture reference)

So here's what happened. Bearing in mind I kept up with all other marketing activities, still launched two rounds of my SEO course Let's Get You Found i.e. directing traffic to my site.

Three major things happened:

  1. My traffic plummeted. I had stopped giving people much reason to visit my website and therefore felt disappointed when they weren't engaging with what I had to sell.
  2. My enquiries dropped. This could be down to the fact that I now have a Facebook group where people can ask questions and learn from me right there, but also I think it's because I wasn't giving them a reason to visit my site because I wasn't blogging. Whenever I blog I get messages which warms up my audience and then leads to enquiries.
  3. My keyword rankings went down the toilet. I've enjoyed being page one for my search terms for a little while now and I must admit I got cocky. Be ye not so silly. I am no longer on page one for many of my keyword phrases and it's going to take a while to get back there. Just because you've carved out a niche for yourself doesn't mean you get to stay at the top! Many competitors have emerged since I started this business, plus, of course, the competitors who were there before me, I need to keep that in mind always!

Now, I *could* have let the anxiety of this overwhelm me. However will I recover? What if people find out what a failure I am? I'm an SEO expert, I *should* be doing so much more. This was the perfect recipe for the panic attacks that used to frequent my life so much before. Indeed, the more I overthought about it, the less I wanted to blog. It's also the reason why I don't like to use the word 'should'. It adds unnecessary pressure which is unhelpful to all involved.

I'm really good at hitting myself round the head with a metaphorical sh*tty stick and this has only ever increased since becoming 100% self-employed four years. Luckily I have a great support structure in place thanks to a relaxation technique I've been learning for the past seven years and counting. With this practice, I have a personal mentor and a business mentor and a worldwide community who all remind me I'm doing just fine and to focus on solutions and gratitude. With their support I can stay accountable to what I want to achieve, which is quite a bit.

So why am I not just not hiding but actually blogging about it? Well it's because I care what happens to my site and it's SEO and I know you do too. That's why you're reading this. I see people complain about the fact that their traffic is rubbish but at the same time, they haven't made time to blog. They watch my free videos and go 'yeah but' and don't action them and still complain to me. I know this well because I've done it too! We all brush it off and push SEO to the bottom of our to-do list.

Perhaps the biggest shameful confession is this: I have over 116 unpublished blog posts and many more titles and topics to write about in my head, on various notebooks. I became stuck and didn't know where to start. I wasn't taking my own advice. My favourite excuse that I happily shared with people was "I'm a perfectionist". This is not an excuse. Perfectionism is socially acceptable procrastination.

I was so busy ignoring my own advice that my business suffered. Don't get me wrong, I've booked in some wonderful students on my Let's Get You Found course, and I've been busy streamlining my services ready into head into 2019 with a bang, but at the end of the day, I just had to start.

And now? My traffic is improving because of the blog posts, and I've already started to see changes in my rankings. I have more content for you to enjoy which makes you happy which makes me happy. I enjoy writing, and I intend to now write weekly.

So I call out to you - who's with me? Who's going to commit to blogging weekly again? We can always find reasons not to do something. It's never too late to pick up and focus on the longer-term health of your business. I know my life is made a lot easier when I just hit publish.

P.S. As much as I have mixed feelings about a motivational quote, I also think that I don't enjoy many of them because I don't identify with 95% of them. But then I've started creating a few on my Instagram this year and they seem to go down well. So I've made a few here - you may share them as you wish. If you don't, be like Thumper and don't say anything at all. #bemoreThumper

Perfectionism is socially acceptable procrastination1 

P.P.S. See what I did? I referred to other pieces of content on my website within a blog post - this is a good thing for SEO and that's just one of the tips I talk about in my SEO for beginners guide available here.

 

Why dating + SEO are similar a.k.a. why you aren’t making more sales

Putting the time in with your business is a bit like dating. You actually need to put in the work, play the long game, to get what you want out of it. Bear with as I share more about what I mean….

Every day I receive requests for guest blog posts on my site. Some more spammy than others, some wanting to buy a guest post spot. They’re just trying to get a link back to their site from mine so as to collect backlinks, clearly having ignored Google’s latest algorithm updates about relevancy and quality over quantity.

I have a template stored that I copy and paste in response to these requests which is essentially a polite but firm no together with some tips on how they might be more successful in their future link endeavours.

I rarely receive a response but when I do they fall into two categories:

1. IGNORE: They’ve ignored my advice and they’re still trying to go in for what they want out of the situation
2. YEAH BUT: They use the excuse ‘yeah but’ and try to make me feel sorry for them in some way

When I started to notice these two attitudes in link building, I started to notice it everywhere.

I see it when people complain about the follow/unfollow strategy adopted by some on Instagram
I see it when I have spammy requests on Instagram (why thank you, darling, yes I *am* a gift from God!)
I see it when people comment in my Instagram feed and try to make a sale right there

When they ignore my advice, they’re not just ignoring me, they’re ignoring everyone. They’re blindly moving on with asking for the sale because they just want the sale goddammit why aren’t you booking already….

And the second…they have a huge To Do list and getting through it is more important than getting results.

Now, I know I’ve found myself in these two camps many times before and I have to say that these two attitudes didn’t work in my favour then either.

This is pretty similar to turning down someone you’re just not interested in and actually, they’re not particularly interested in you either, they were just hoping to get lucky. It’s not a good sign of a lasting romance now, is it? I’m not saying I want to be sent chocolates by these companies, but I am saying I don’t want to feel used. I know I’m not the only one who receives these requests, and this definitely is not a “poor me I get so many emails” post, but it got me thinking.

It reeks of desperation, and no one likes a desperate date. You want to feel a bit special, right?

So what’s the solution?

Let me tell you a funny story I share with friends over wine…it’s where I say I’m going to write a book called “How to date” and it’s quite short.

1. Ask the other person questions
2. Listen to the answers
3. Ask more questions based on those answers
4. Remember the answers in future conversations

The end.

And this is how it is with getting more sales.

You have to warm up your audience…put out your work, listen to what the audience has to say about it (likes, comments, engagement, analytics) and drip feed them with metaphorical compliments, roses and chocolates and listen to them.

Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you spend more time thinking about yourself than anyone else. Therefore, it makes sense that people want to see themselves in what you do.

Make them feel good with Instagram photos and stories that speak to them, with blog posts that are helpful, that entertain, that provide value.

People buy from people they like. It’s why social media is so good for business. People want to buy into the idea of you because they think they belong in your lives, which is great! But so many people are scared that they won’t be liked. They’re scared that they won’t be accepted. I say embrace who you are, go for it with all your soul and be unashamedly you. Listen to what your audience likes - which photos get the most likes and post more of them! Which blog posts get more eyes on them - check your Google Analytics and share those blog posts more often.

Just like with dating, you don’t highlight the bits you don’t like about yourself, you highlight the bits you do. It’s not enough to just exist and be gorgeous like you are. You need to show off, but listen, and pay attention.

Maximise your best features and you’ll make more sales. But only if you’re willing to put in for the long game. Which I’m guessing you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be running your own business, am I right?

P.S. this was a bit different, wasn’t it? But I figure, I haven’t blogged in two months, it’s about time I put my money where my mouth is.

What I learned from pushing myself out of my comfort zone

Ironically, this blog post about pushing the boundaries of my comfort zones has been sitting in my drafts for some weeks because I've been waiting to feel comfortable enough to post it. I realised last week that I have accomplished so much from the place of not waiting for that thought to appear. I'm getting to used to this increasing ability to face everything as it is and use my energy to create rather than hold back, particularly as the post about my business story told in GIFs was the one of the most popular pieces of content I've ever written! So here we are...!

What I've really come to know and deeply understand this summer is that showing your vulnerability doesn’t mean you are weak. Indeed, it can actually help so much more than putting on a front.

Oh my I have fit a lot into this summer so far! If you follow my Instagram Stories you’ll have seen me getting involved with more women in tech events, and as a result, starting my free Facebook group "So Exciting Obviously: SEO for Creative Women".

Global Gender Parity Week

First up, I went to the Global Gender Parity event at Facebook organised by London Global Shapers and it was so much fun stepping outside my normal sphere of comfort to see what I could learn here. With an inspiring lineup of powerful speakers, I was reminded of the power of women coming together, indeed humans coming together because there were men in the room (we cannot have a conversation about gender diversity with only one gender in the room) to speak about their experiences and look at solutions, together.

I particularly loved listening to the founder of a company called Lensational shares about their business of empowering women all over the world through developing their photography skills. It was a powerful reminder that photography transcends cultural barriers and languages. The problems were widely shared - discrimination at every level for any kind of difference - gender, race, ability, class, culture. With thanks to my increased education in diversity (shout out to Nova Reid) I feel a little bolder in writing about it here.

I was particularly keen to hear about the solutions offered on the panel which I think can be applied to many situations in business and indeed, life:

  • Start with low hanging fruit - what can be changed easily, who is already open to educating themselves
  • To encourage more personal sharing in the workplace so we learn from each other's experiences
  • To actively learn about other experiences than our own
  • To write and share our experiences of diversity education (hello!)
  • To spend time on self-reflection and self-evaluation
  • Asking yourself on a regular basis "What is the cost of not taking this step for my business?"

I found the event quite emotional and hugely inspiring and now that I'm back in London, I've signed up to many more event mailing lists and I've had some very interesting meetings as a result already, the fruits of which I'll be sharing in months to come.

Ask yourself on a regular basis "What is the cost of not doing this for my business?" Click to Tweet

How Martha Lane Fox made me cry happy tears

June was also the month event Martha Lane Fox (founder of lastminute.com) speak at the Women of Silicon roundabout and how a large part of her pitch with lastminute.com was convincing people about the internet. I felt like, in 2018, I still witness this every day. Convincing people that this is the way to be more visible, to get more money so we can have the life we want (because that, at the end of the day, is what we want, right?)

Running an online business can sometimes make it all feel invisible, because the business is intangible - there’s no actual place to go into work, but this is how blogging and social media has changed the visibility of online businesses significantly. I actually started blogging back in 2004, when many of my friends at that time didn’t know what it was, and so I allowed lack of confidence to halt those dreams and stopped until 2012 when I started blogging for other people and fell back in love with writing.

But that's the key difference isn’t it - allowing something or someone to stop you in your tracks, or continue on, with what you want to achieve. It’s quite a luxury being an entrepreneur, and I do not take it for granted. We are our own bosses and we can do whatever we want with our days with no boss demanding that we work through lunch.

Martha’s talk highlighted this for me, and this is when she made me cry - she pointed out that people who would never have thought of starting their own business would be able to use the internet to do so. When I started coding in 1999 at the age of 16 then this was not going to be a job, let alone a career. I took endless Careers tests and the job I have didn't exist then so of course it never came up.

I adore that the internet exists and I am not ashamed to say it. I love that it connects people across time and space in a way that would never happen. I love how vibrant and dynamic the world has become because of technology. Martha also said something else which I loved - "I’ve been able to do my job way better because of Twitter" She was so humble, passionate and completely wonderful. You can find out more about her here in this candid interview about her extraordinary journey which is a few years' old, or you can follow her on Twitter here where she campaigns fiercely for more women in tech and for a more ethical internet.

These two events have caused a ripple effect in me which then coupled with the fact that I took the first two weeks of July off to spend on an incredible wellbeing retreat in Sweden, has meant that my willingness to take it all the way has stepped up quite a few notches. I'm thrilled that this has happened but it was only because I decided to do something about it.

So with that, I'm going to leave you with this thought today, what are you going to do to step up and push out of your comfort zone? Because you never know what might happen when you do....

Maddy x

All photography by Julia Gold Photography - we did this shoot in the Swedish countryside where I felt I was winning at life by wearing this sequin jacket :o)

52 Reasons Why You Need to Be Blogging

Did you know, one of my favourite things to do is listen and observe. That's probably a bit surprising to you, particularly if you follow my adventures on Instagram, because I'm quite loud and eccentric! But it's true. I love listening to the real problems behind why more people aren't feeling confident with promoting themselves online. Because that's all SEO really is, in it's broadest sense. Getting yourself "out there" so you attract more sales.

One of the key reasons why you're not getting found is because you're letting overthinking get in the way and you're just not blogging enough. There are a million reasons why (time, pressure, other things take priority) but I'm not interested in why you can't, I'm interested in why it's a Good Idea.

So, this week I launched a challenge in my Facebook group "So Exciting Obviously: SEO for Creative Women" to find out why they think blogging is a good idea and added these reasons to my ever-growing list of 52 reasons why you need to be blogging more.

Have a read, and let me know in the comments if you think of any others!

  1. It's free
  2. It’s great for building your brand
  3. It gets you noticed
  4. It builds trust in your readers' minds
  5. It makes you stand out from the crowd
  6. It helps you grow in confidence
  7. It gives you content to use on social media and newsletters
  8. It ensures your latest work is always published
  9. It’s a chance to offer value to your clients
  10. It shows potential clients more in-depth information about the products you sell
  11. If the posts are engaging, gives people a reason to return to your website
  12. It’s a way of sharing helpful advice, tips
  13. It’s a source of pride in your website - you’re happier for people to look at it
  14. It’s great for getting found online by a new audience
  15. By publishing more, you improve and attract more
  16. It’s a great way to practice writing
  17. It increases your audience’s confidence in you
  18. It’s a way for you to express your creativity
  19. It brings traffic to your website
  20. It shows off your best work
  21. It establishes authority in your readers' minds
  22. It lets you help others
  23. It’s a way of sharing examples of your work
  24. It shows experience in specific areas
  25. It updates your website with new work
  26. It lets people know that you’re still here
  27. It’s a way to communicate your values
  28. It helps you guide them
  29. It’s a way of getting to know you, so they can proceed to the next stage of decision making
  30. It’s a great way to build relationships with others you mention
  31. It gives others content to share
  32. It gives your target audience content to share
  33. You can send specific posts to people who enquire to help them with their questions
  34. It provides a good reason for sorting the cream of the crop images to update my gallery
  35. It gives you content for sharing on social media.
  36. It challenges you, and being challenged is good, it stretches you
  37. You learn how to do a new thing
  38. When you monitor traffic coming to your site, it’s motivating
  39. It allows you to share your thoughts and develop them
  40. It has a higher reach than your website alone
  41. It creates new opportunities
  42. It documents your work and life
  43. It shows you care
  44. It sets the tone for what you’re like to work with
  45. It’s a way to share your expertise and experience
  46. It helps you stay in touch with your audience
  47. It keeps your shopfront updated
  48. It can be fun to share something you’re passionate about
  49. Readers can relate to you
  50. It shows off your ideal clients so you attract more of the same
  51. It gives you a voice
  52. It reminds your clients you exist

So, what are you waiting for? Write and publish a blog post and share the link in the Facebook group! If you're looking to get to grips with blogging and need some help, then my SEO workshop on 11th October is perfect for you.

Talk soon!

Maddy