Let’s demystify the whole SEO thing.
Just the thought of doing SEO for your therapy or wellness business is enough to make most solopreneurs and business owners want to run for the hills.
But it can often make the difference between your website bringing in lots of aligned, ideal clients or gathering dust in some distant, hidden corner of the Internet.
So what even is SEO and why is it so important?
Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO for short) is all about getting your website to rank high in Google (and other search engines) search results so your website is easily found by potential clients searching for your services.
Most of the time, people searching for a specific topic or service will rarely go past the first page of results and often not past the first 5 results if what they’re looking for is right at the top.
Think about how you search on Google or Bing for example, do you scroll on to page three or four of the results? And even if you do, does your level of trust in the result being relevant to your search dwindle at least a little?
I bet it does!
So you can see how important it is to get your website listed on at least the first page, if not in the first five results.
First off, lets get a few things straight.
- SEO is a long game, don’t expect result from your hard work tomorrow,
- Location matters. It’s harder to reach the top if you’re based in a busy metropolis than if you’re in a small rural town,
- People have to be searching for your services. It’s no good ranking top of the list for a search term no one is looking for,
- SEO isn’t a magic bullet for getting clients, it’s just one jigsaw piece in your website marketing puzzle,
- Saying that, SEO can be extremely powerful when it’s done right,
- Unless you are a multi practitioner business, it’s probably going to be too expensive to buy SEO services in for the return you’ll get on that investment,
- Basic SEO for a solo wellness practitioner isn’t as daunting or as difficult as it sound at first.
With that out of the way, let’s clear up a few SEO related terms.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of SEO terms but it will help you understand some of the most common and important terms you’ll come across when delving into Search Engine Optimisation.
- SEO – Search Engine Optimisation, the process of helping search engines to understand what your website is about.
- On-page SEO – refers to the practices of optimising your website and pages to help them rank better.
- Off-page SEO – the activities you perform elsewhere online. Aimed at improving the ranking of your websites, such as link building, social media and email marketing.
- Keywords or keyphrases – words or phrases you use in your content. These specifically help search engines understand what your website and services are all about.
- Keyword density – how often a keyword or phrase is used on a webpage. Measured as a percentage of the overall words on the page.
- Keyword stuffing – adding irrelevant keywords or using words more than is natural for the content of the webpage.
- Search terms – the words and phrases that people type into the search bar to find something they’re looking for.
- Ranking – the position your website appear at on the results page for a specific search term.
- Algorithm – the computational programming that search engines use to filter & sort their database of websites. Used when delivering the results for a specific search term.
- Alt text – a text description of a photo or image that can be read aloud by a screen reader. It’s used to help blind and visually impaired visitors, also used search engine robots.
- Authority – a combination of attributes search engines use to decide how much to trust a particular website and it’s content.
- Black hat – techniques & tricks used to fool the algorithm. These are risky techniques as they can just as easily get you unlisted as listed higher.
- Bot – a computer program that visits websites to gather & store data about the site for the algorithm to sort & rank.
- Internal link – this is a link from one of your pages on your website to another page on your website. It’s internal to your site.
- External link – this is a link from your webpage or website to another webpage on another website.
- Inbound link – a link to your website from another website.
- Outbound link – a link from your website to another website.
- Link juice – describes the lift in status one webpage receives from another via an inbound link. The more Authority the the sending website has the more Link juice the receiving website gets. Disliked term by some SEO experts.
I could go on with this list forever but that’s enough to keep you on track for the moment.
It’s more than just content.
Obviously what your website is about is the most important factor when it comes to getting ranked in search results but it’s not the only thing that will effect your ranking or if your listed at all.
Here are some of the things search engines will be looking at and these are therefor all things which if you can improve, will move your website up the ranking.
This is all about your content. Is your website and content relevant for the person searching and the search terms they’ve used?
This relates to how much the search engine trusts your website. You can gain authority from several avenues but the most effective is to get links from other websites that already have high authority.
For example a link from your local news channel or a national magazine website is going to build your authority way more than a link from another practitioner or a directory.
Google is really hot on this at the moment as are many of the other main search engines. If your website isn’t considered to offer a good user experience then it’s not going to get to the top of the rankings even if it is really relevant.
Visitors won’t wait if your website is slow and search engines know that so they’ll dump your website on page 600 of the results becuase they don’t want to serve up an extremely slow website.
Visitors use all sorts of different devices to view websites including mobile devices, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Responsiveness refers to your websites ability to be usably and functional on all these devices but it especially on mobile devices as these are quickly becoming the predominant way many people view websites.
What can you do today to move your website up the rankings?
- Include a meta description for your webpage of between 120 to 158 characters.
- Include a meta keyphrase for your webpage. Include the same word or phrase in your description, alt tags, page name, link names and throughout your content.
- Make sure your webpages have descriptive names that are relevant to the content of the page. So don’t just name your contact page “contact”. Name it something like “contact-your-business-name”
- Don’t skimp on words. Google thrives on content and copy, that means words for people to read that are relevant to their search terms.
- Use one or two keywords for roughly every 100 words on the page. Using too many keywords is just as bad as not using enough.
- As much as is possible, use different keywords or keyphrases for each page.
- Have both in-bound and out-bound links on every webpage.
- Have both internal links and external links on every webpage.
- Add at least one image to every page.
- Change the names of images. For example change logo.png to breathe-web-design-logo.png
- Make sure to include both Alt tags and Description tags for all images.
- Use press releases to share information about your business and services with local news agencies. If they publish a story they will link to your website.
- Offer to write guest blog posts for relevant websites.
- Guest on relevant podcasts.
- Get listed in all relevant professional directories and on your professional bodies website.
If you’re diying your website, I hope you’ve found these tips helpful.
But what about Maps?
OK, we’re not gonna forget about Local Listings – which is basically the results given when searching in something like Google Maps – but I’m gonna save that subject for another post as it’s quite in-depth.