When I work with Shine clients, I always ask, have you submitted your sitemap to Google before? The question is often met with one of these responses:
- Yes, a long time ago I think it was done
- Isn't that the same as Google Analytics?
- What's that, then?
I then ask the same question but in another way:
What shows up when you Google your own business name?
Three things need to be showing up as a the very foundation of getting found online:
- Your website (ideally more than one page of your website)
- Your social media links
- Your Google Maps/Google My Business listing
Now, if you're not showing up when you Google your business name, it's almost certainly because you haven't told Google you exist.
How do you do that?
You need to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmasters. This includes whenever you make significant changes to your site, such as creating new pages, changing your menu, then you need to tell Google about it.
Fear not, I'm here to tell you what you need to do.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free online tool provided by Google. It used to be called Webmaster Tools and can still be found at that URL.
Why is it important?
The main reason you need to know about this tool is to submit your website to be read by Google so it will send over its spiders they look at the menu, the pages and posts, and what they're looking for is if your website is useful, is it a quick website, is it all seamlessly linked together- how useful you are. And then it will know about all the pages and posts on your website.
Google Search Console is needed because a) we need to tell Google we exist and b) we're human and we make mistakes. This handy free tool tells us where we've made mistakes and helps us fix them, and then helps us make sure our sites are as error-free as possible.
Google Search Console vs Google Analytics?
Google Search Console is different from Google Analytics but the two can connect smoothly. Analytics shows you a lot more information about how people are using your site, whereas Search Console shows you what people are searching for to find your site as well as tracking how your site shows up in search engine results.
OK, where do I start?
I'm so glad you asked. I've put together a PDF guide completely free with the step by step process on how to submit your sitemap to both Google AND Bing. Download it by clicking below!
Why is it that when we make the jump to be self-employed, we immediately assume the titles of marketing, HR, strategy, finance, as well as implementing the service / product delivery and expect ourselves to be expert at all of these things otherwise we are clearly failures?
This is the same story I hear from clients time and time again and I call it a line of BS. Since I began my business I've hired consultants in the form of business coaches, mentors, web developers, accountants, virtual assistants, and so many more. Sometimes it's required a leap of faith (because oh my goodness, shouldn't I know this already?!) and sometimes it's been quite a simple choice, but I've always learned a lot and seen huge benefits in my business, and they haven't always been what I thought they might be.
Sometimes these people can be called coaches, sometimes they're called consultants. I'm doing a course at the moment where the teacher says there's no difference between the two, they're all the same thing as the dictionary definition of a consultant is: "engaged in the business of giving expert advice to people working in a specific field".
Have you ever considered hiring a consultant for your business? I know that when I invest in my business in this way, it's an investment in me and I know my clients feel the same way, but there's more to it than that, so I've shared four reasons why I see working 1:1 with an expert is beneficial to your business.
1. They help you grow your business quickly
Of course, the main reason you hire an expert is to help you grow your business. You want to grow steadily as a business, you have goals (however unreachable they may feel at times!) The expert will not do the work for you, but they will offer you the expertise and wisdom you need to implement. With my clients, I ensure that I make time in my calendar every week to implement the advice my coach gives me so that I can actually see my business growing right through from setting goals, understanding who I want to target, through to actually finding those clients and booking them. I know that when I work with my clients it's the same way. Just look at Fairclough Studios, a husband and wife photography duo from north west England who shared their results of working with me:
"We have 100% got more bookings as a result of working with Maddy. We were getting bookings but rarely our target client and at a much lower rate. We have now increased our prices, so we are earning more from fewer bookings which is ideal and this year we were booked out by our target clients. We are earning approximately 30% more now as a result."
2. They help you stay accountable to what works
It's incredibly powerful to have someone to stay accountable to when you're running your own business. Heavens know I've gone off on plenty of tangents only to come back to what I know works. Working together with an expert really gives a sense of purpose and motivation to do the work. I love checking in with fellow entrepreneurs but there can be a sense of wanting to put up a front to let everyone know you're doing ok, which is simply impossible to do with someone you're paying to speak to. By working 1:1 with a consultant, you know that you're going to get more bang for your buck when you stay accountable to what you intend to do that week. When clients work with me on my VIP program, we meet every 2-3 weeks, but they send me weekly updates with goals they've met and goals they plan to meet.
3. They support you
One of the biggest qualities you get working with someone on a 1:1 basis is that you get support, and it's extremely important to me that I offer this to all my VIP clients. I am available for questions through the time we work together. You don't have to do this on your own, anymore! I aim to motivate and encourage my clients, just as I am motivated and encouraged by my own coach to do the work I feel passionate about. Working on your own, it can be lonely, and whilst your partner/significant other/WhatsApp group can cheer you on, they don't know your business like an expert does!
4. They help you get a clear head and provide clarity
An expert will be able to see things you just can't see around your business, the way you work and the way you promote yourself. I particularly focus on creating and developing a marketing and search engine optimisation strategy with my clients which can be so fun because it actually goes to show you how you can have fun with these supposedly dry topics! You need an expert in your life to say "Yes, that's how you do it and here's how you can do it even better." You don't want to spend hours doing this on your own when you could be spending that time with your loved ones.
"It’s gone beyond a purely “give me the information and I’ll do the work” relationship. It can be like that with other courses and experts. We have a lot of trust in you. We aren’t insecure about admitting when something isn’t working, we know we can work together a solution together. The value of that relationship is worth more than anything. If we didn’t hire you, we’d still be flopping around, with no idea what we were doing, lacking any structure." Fairclough Studios
Did you identify with this? If you're feeling ready to step up your game as we head into 2019 and develop a marketing and SEO strategy with me, come and check out my VIP marketing program. Through a series of six calls we grow your business together through marketing and SEO. It's currently on special offer to celebrate the holidays at £2200 rather than the usual £2400. Book a discovery call here to see if we're a good fit.
I'll be increasing the prices for 2019 so you best get in quickly! NOTE: You'll benefit the most from this program if you're not a newbie but rather if you have been in business for a while and you're ready to take that step up and invest in your business growth. Together we'll take your bookings to the next level (and have fun with it).This is your chance to see amazing results like these clients did. The sky is the limit, let's do this!
"We are the most successful we’ve ever been thanks to working with Maddy. We’ve attracted the most ideal clients ever." Fairclough Studios
“She is awesome! Signing up to Maddy isn’t and never was a "quick fix" but rather a process of guidance. It's changed the way I think and behave, and I'll be forever grateful.” Christine McNally Photography
"I love the way she delivers above and beyond what she promises. I particularly love her passion and dedication to each project, her enthusiasm and thoughtfulness around the specific marketing needs of my business. Every session with Maddy has brought value and in every direction!" Brighton Lace
"Maddy helped us to make our business shine, literally, translating to a huge increase in bookings in less than a month!" Tredudwell Manor
This week I had the great pleasure of being interviewed on The Flourishing Pantry where I was asked a fantastic question on the Live interview: why is blogging important for SEO? I realised then and there that perhaps you're persuaded that it's generally a good idea but not quite convinced of the SEO benefits of blogging
So, today I decided to share with you just how it helps specifically as I think it might help spur you on into blogging more often....!
SEO is not stand alone.
The first thing to note is that SEO is not a stand alone activity. It's not as cut and dried as that task is SEO related, that task is marketing related, it's ALL about driving traffic to your website. Once you have traffic on your website you then set up about converting that traffic into repeated traffic, and from there you have the opportunity to convert them into a sale.
Not every blog post is there to attract sales
People come to me all the time wondering why they didn't get enquiries as soon as they published a blog post, or an Instagram post. It doesn't work like that. This is the second key point. Not every blog post is written with the goal of attracting sales and therefore the social media posts that promote the blog posts should not have the goal of attracting sales. It's a rule of marketing (and therefore SEO) 101 that you can use the AIDA model: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. Most of the content you produce is there to create awareness and interest, in order to move onto the third and fourth stages of Desire and Action. I made a pink diagram to highlight this model 🙂
Create more content
The next thing to note is you are probably not creating enough content in order to get your audience to remember you and to buy from you. I get a lot of questions about blogging. People wanting to make sure they do it right. Guess what? Most of those people are using these questions as reasons not to blog more often. Create more content to get found by your audience. You need to constantly remind people that you exist. The easiest way to do that? Create more content.
But that doesn't mean get lost in creating a beautiful aesthetic on Instagram. That means providing valuable information that answers key questions that your audience has. For example, like writing a blog post about why blogging is important for SEO (see what I did there? ;o) )
What do you do with the blog posts?
You need to create content that attracts attention, that increases awareness of who you are and what you offer the world. You need to point this attention to your website. This is why LINK IN BIO is on Instagram posts (or should be!) and this is why people try to figure out the best way to post links on Facebook status updates (remove the image, post the link in the comments, the options seem to be endless don't they?)
On my last blog post I talked about what I learned when I didn't blog for 2.5 months as an SEO expert - talk about putting your money where your mouth is! This attracted a LOT of traffic. It piqued people's interest. It sparked people's motivation. It jolted people into action. It got people talking. The key thing was I tracked all this on my Google Analytics.
How did I get this traffic?
I posted the link on my email newsletter, I shared the link on Facebook page, personal Facebook profile, Instagram bio, tweeted it. I shared it via private message with a few people in my network. I can see from Google Analytics that people were sending it to each other too.
As a result, I watched my search engine rankings increase because more eyeballs were looking at my website.
But hang on I hear you question...if I have blog posts already on my site, can't people just see them and that will work for me without me having to focus on that for a while?
The short answer is nope.
Remember what I said earlier - people want a reminder that you exist constantly. Therefore, search engines LOVE regularly updated websites. The easiest way to update a website? BLOGGING. This is because you're much more likely to actually write these rather than update your main website pages. You're much more likely to attract traffic if you post a link to a new blog post on social media.
Every time you publish a piece of content online it creates a unique link. Search engines love websites full of juicy content with lots of pages and posts all linking to each other. Therefore, you need to create more unique links.
Don't try to shortcut this.
Don't get lost in creating hidden pages, black hat SEO techniques. Write more consistently on your blog. Publish the link to social media.
This is just the start.
There's much more to learn about SEO. SO much more. In fact I teach a whole course on this (are you on the waiting list?). But until you do this one thing of following my advice on blogging, you won't be able to grow your business and attract the enquiries you want.
So what are you waiting for? What will you blog about next? Come and tell me in my free Facebook group So Exciting Obviously SEO for Creative Women.
Photography is all by the marvellous Julia Gold
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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
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.
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!
- It's free
- It’s great for building your brand
- It gets you noticed
- It builds trust in your readers' minds
- It makes you stand out from the crowd
- It helps you grow in confidence
- It gives you content to use on social media and newsletters
- It ensures your latest work is always published
- It’s a chance to offer value to your clients
- It shows potential clients more in-depth information about the products you sell
- If the posts are engaging, gives people a reason to return to your website
- It’s a way of sharing helpful advice, tips
- It’s a source of pride in your website - you’re happier for people to look at it
- It’s great for getting found online by a new audience
- By publishing more, you improve and attract more
- It’s a great way to practice writing
- It increases your audience’s confidence in you
- It’s a way for you to express your creativity
- It brings traffic to your website
- It shows off your best work
- It establishes authority in your readers' minds
- It lets you help others
- It’s a way of sharing examples of your work
- It shows experience in specific areas
- It updates your website with new work
- It lets people know that you’re still here
- It’s a way to communicate your values
- It helps you guide them
- It’s a way of getting to know you, so they can proceed to the next stage of decision making
- It’s a great way to build relationships with others you mention
- It gives others content to share
- It gives your target audience content to share
- You can send specific posts to people who enquire to help them with their questions
- It provides a good reason for sorting the cream of the crop images to update my gallery
- It gives you content for sharing on social media.
- It challenges you, and being challenged is good, it stretches you
- You learn how to do a new thing
- When you monitor traffic coming to your site, it’s motivating
- It allows you to share your thoughts and develop them
- It has a higher reach than your website alone
- It creates new opportunities
- It documents your work and life
- It shows you care
- It sets the tone for what you’re like to work with
- It’s a way to share your expertise and experience
- It helps you stay in touch with your audience
- It keeps your shopfront updated
- It can be fun to share something you’re passionate about
- Readers can relate to you
- It shows off your ideal clients so you attract more of the same
- It gives you a voice
- 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.