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Demystifying SEO

Cindy Guthrie
Cindy Guthrie
Happy Sunday!
Today I’m going to cover a topic that people make more complicated than it has to be… SEO.
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
Credit: Giflytics via Giphy
Credit: Giflytics via Giphy
Back in the early days of the internet, SEO was sketchy.
  • People picked a keyword
  • Used it way too many times in sentences that didn’t make sense to humans
  • And they ranked high in the search engines
Eventually, the algorithms got smarter and penalized sites full of keywords written for robots instead of humans. With that change came a new era of SEO and new experts.
I don’t claim to be an SEO expert, but I’ve helped several small businesses optimize their websites for search engines with excellent results.
One of my clients went from getting a couple of leads every now and then to getting 400 leads per month, all from organic traffic (which is the goal of SEO.)
I didn’t buy an expensive course or software to accomplish these results. I optimized their website, had patience and created tons of content for humans, not robots.
Here’s my super simple SEO strategy
SEO starts with your website - make sure it’s optimized for conversions.
If your website is not optimized for conversions, in other words, if you don’t make it easy and obvious for people to become leads or customers, no amount of traffic will make a difference.
Credit: badcrypto via Giphy
Credit: badcrypto via Giphy
You should make sure people can convert in your navigation menu and at the bottom of a page as a rule of thumb.
Depending on the page type, you should also sprinkle ways for people to convert throughout your page either with buttons, images or via written content.
Speed up your website.
Website speed is a ranking factor that search engines use. Two simple ways to fix a slow website are:
Switch website hosts
If you’re using WordPress, use Flywheel (affiliate link) or another WordPress-optimized host.
I do not recommend GoDaddy as they tend to be pretty slow which can drastically affect your search engine rankings.
Optimize your images
You usually don’t need to upload a picture larger than 2048 x 2048px. You should resize your images before uploading them to your website.
In addition, you should also compress your websites using a service like Shortpixel, which does it for free. (I usually select the Lossy setting.)
If you use WordPress, there’s a super-easy way to resize and optimize all your images without having to go through multiple steps.
Just install the Shortpixel plugin. It’ll optimize each pic and make sure your pics don’t exceed a maximum size all in one.
You can optimize 100 images free per month but keep in mind that in Wordpress, one image is usually resized many different ways, and each size counts as an image. I usually stock up on credits during their Black Friday sale.
Credit: mavimedia via Giphy
Credit: mavimedia via Giphy
Optimize your website’s code
The way your website is coded can also slow it down and affect your search engine ranking. So my next step in optimizing a site for SEO is to optimize the code.
If you type in your URL in GTmetrix, it’ll tell you the optimizations you need to make.
It’s pretty easy to make those optimizations in WordPress using plugins. My personal favorites are WP Rocket (premium) and Autoptimize (free.) I’ve had excellent results from both.
The settings will vary for every website. I usually play around with it until the site is pretty optimized according to GTmetrix, but it still looks the way I want.
Other SEO factors
Naming your pictures
Another factor that helps with SEO is naming your pictures. I like to use keywords I want to target and related words when naming pictures. You also need to make sure to set proper titles and alt descriptions for pictures. Most CMS systems make it easy to set.
Keep your URLs short
It can be tempting to let your site URLs use your page title, but that’s a mistake that can hurt your rankings.
Credit: therocketpanda via Giphy
Credit: therocketpanda via Giphy
Make sure to keep your URLs shorter than 75 characters (including your domain name.) I like to use my keywords as the URL, but sometimes another word or two may be appropriate.
Install an SEO plugin
SEO plugins can help you optimize each page on your website. You’ll be able to set a target keyword, and the plugins usually tell you if your page is optimized for that keyword.
My personal favorite SEO plugin is RankMath. They have a free and paid version.
With RankMath, you’re able to set your keyword, optimize your title, description, URL, create a site map, and much more.
Speaking of site maps…
Submit your site map to Google via Search Console
Although Google will eventually find your site, it’s best to set up Google Search Console. It’s free, and will find any errors affecting your site showing up in search engines.
You’ll also see popular keywords driving traffic to your site, how many clicks and impressions your site gets in the Google search engine, and more.
Write for humans!
Seriously, the search engines will know otherwise.
Write content that’s helpful to your audience. There’s a lot of software you can use to help with this, including free and paid options.
Popular options for keyword research include Ubersuggest and SEM Rush. You can also use Surfer SEO which rates your content and tells you what you need to cover to rank for a specific topic. All three programs feature excellent documentation and Facebook communities to help you with your content.
Credit: target via Giphy
Credit: target via Giphy
Use Google My Business
If you have a brick-and-mortar business or provide in-person services to people, then you’ll want to create a Google My Business listing. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to publish your address, although they will send a postcard to your address for verification that you live in that area.
It’s essential to fill out your full profile in Google My Business and occasionally share your blogs and updates. Content you share is only live for seven days, so you’ll want to post at least once a week for maximum exposure. This can help you rank higher in local searches, as map results show higher in search results than websites.
And don’t forget to get your clients to leave you reviews as it helps boost your map listing.
In Conclusion
If you remember to put people first and provide them with a great experience, both with a fast website and with quality content, you’ll start to see a noticeable change in your website traffic. Once you’ve got those things covered, you can get more in-depth into the technical aspects of SEO.
Just remember, if it feels spammy or scammy, it’ll probably get your site penalized at some point, and you should probably NOT do it.
Credit: sigridbernson via Giphy
Credit: sigridbernson via Giphy
If you have any questions about anything I wrote in this post, please reply to this email (or comment on this post), and I’ll help as best as I can.
Until next week, Cindy
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Cindy Guthrie
Cindy Guthrie @thecindyguthrie

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