“You do not need SEO. You need traffic. SEO is not a problem; it’s one particular solution to a problem” ~ Menekse Stewart
Menekse (pronounced Meh-neck-shh!) Stewart is an SEO specialist and a website whizz, so we spoke to her about SEO, generating traffic and the best ways to get people to your website.
Read on for her top tips on SEO to get your website in order:
Menekse’s top 3 immediate changes to make to your website to improve your SEO:
- Check your conversion rate – if you optimise your conversion rate you can DOUBLE your sales! You can go from a 1-2% conversion rate to 3-4%, just by improving the customer experience when they come to your website.
- Install Google Search Console – this is an absolute MUST HAVE! It only tracks your data from the point you install it, so it’s a great source of info, and shows your current ranking and flags up any errors. So useful!
- Check your site speed – Check Google Insights and see where your home page ranks for speed (as your main landing page will be your home page – this is where people go to first). Make sure it loads quickly – this is part of giving a great customer experience too! Whilst you’re looking at Google Insights, check your Instagram page too. Compressing your images can improve page speed greatly, so consider this.
Menekse’s blog on Marketing Metrics is an interesting read. Find out more here.
Google tools you NEED:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
These are vital tools for assessing where you’re at, monitoring your work in future, and seeing where you can go. You can connect them up too, so that you can easily see all of the info in one dashboard.
Look at getting them ASAP for your business!
Once you’ve done the SEO work, how long does it take for it to have an impact on website traffic?
It’s usually a minimum of 3 months before you see results, because Google wants to monitor your consistency and make sure you’re providing valuable information for your audience.
If your website is brand new you need to build trust and authority in the marketplace so new websites can take a little longer. Sometimes it’s faster to see the impact, especially if you install Google Search Console – this speeds up the process as it builds your trust with google a lot faster.
The earlier you implement SEO the better – it’s essentially a compound effect of traffic and visibility (it works just like compound interest – the earlier you start the more it builds up in the long term).
Be careful – you can get SEO wrong and be penalised!
There is no ‘checklist’. Don’t just Google an SEO checklist or ask a content marketer – SEO is more techy than you think!
You can also be penalised for doing it wrong – if you’re not seeing any increase in your traffic, use Google Search Console to check your manual actions. It may be that your site has been given a Google Penalty. If this is the case, it’s best to call an expert in!
The Google bots can’t read images, they read text only, so if your site has a high image volume with very little text this may be a problem. People attempt to solve this using ‘hidden text’, where they turn text the same colour as the background if their website, so that it can’t be seen visually but will be picked up by Google bots, with a view to heightening their search ranking. However, THIS WON’T WORK! Google will give you a penalty if they find hidden text. Avoid implementing advice on your website unless it’s from a verified expert like Menekse, as penalties can take months to work off!
When you’re looking for an SEO expert, advice or somebody to look at your website, make sure they don’t just seduce you with a load of marketing or tech jargon. It costs £500 per month for the average SEO retainer, which most small businesses simply cannot afford. It’s imperative to find a trusted source of support, don’t waste your money when the costs are so high.
If you don’t have your own website, can you still get a business listing to show up on Google?
With website SEO, you need to consider 3 aspects: on page SEO (where you talk about a certain topic on the page and give quality information), off page SEO (links from other sites – social links don’t count but website links do, so link to other good sites) and technical SEO (speed, security etc).
With websites like Etsy, Peddle and so on, we focus on ON page SEO – using keywords based around a certain topic (for example Pedddle’s markets and championing of small creative businesses). However, setting up a strategy for your Pedddle listing that doesn’t compete with your own website is important. Don’t use all the same keywords; optimise them. It’s far easier to get your Etsy page to rank in Google than your own website. This is because Etsy has authority in Google, as a trusted and very popular site.
Use Pinterest – it helps!
Pinterest is great! It can take months to grow your Pinterest, but do keyword research and use these keywords in your pins and tags.
It matters both what keywords you use and where you put them, but WHAT you say is overall more important than WHERE.
Make sure your pin design is clickable and optimise everything. Menekse uses Tailwind to schedule her Pinterest posts for the month and optimise them fully once she’s figured out the right keywords.
Menekse offers LOTS of wonderful FREE training – find out more here. She offers a course in keyword research too, which currently has a fantastic discount.
Do apostrophes and ampersands effect SEO? What if they are in your business name?
Machine Learning (ML) is getting better and better, so the bots find it easier to detect how we speak normally. This also means we can write naturally when it comes to SEO and website text – meaning if you do use ampersands and apostrophes, it will matter less and less.
Google’s main concern is the QUALITY of content. As a search engine, they essentially just want to provide people with correct information that is most relevant to them and their Google search.
Invest your time in Google more than Instagram! If you invest your time in getting Google rankings and SEO right, you’re essentially investing in the algorithm to make you and your business more easily found.
If Instagram is your primary sales channel, rather than a website, it’s harder, as Insta is there to create a social community, not help you to sell or find stuff.
Google therefore aims to reflect natural language and the way we talk, and they try and make it a good thing to use normal phrases and correct grammar.
Videos are so popular, voice searches are becoming ever-more popular too and overtaking text searches. If you include phrases based on the way we speak, it’s likelier to get picked up in future when the world becomes more voice-operated.
So in answer to this question – no, using apostrophes, ampersands and correct grammar won’t hinder you.
Will getting featured in other publications help my SEO?
Yes! Alongside providing great website and social media content, you could do a blog feature on it for your website and this will help your SEO too. However – if you do get any links e.g. if you get featured in a magazine, make sure to link to your website and NOT your Etsy shop, if possible. Otherwise you’ll be giving the publicity to Etsy and not your website – they already have a team of PR people and marketers helping them, they don’t need the help!
Is there a danger of Google controlling your business?
Using Google Analytics does not give Google control of your business or your data – it just gives you a report on the data collected in their search engine. It’s a tool which will help you.
How do I know what keywords to use?
Optimising a content website is different from an e-commerce website. E-commerce SEO is notoriously difficult, so it’s best to ask a specialist if you’re looking into this.
When it comes to optimising a content website, long tail keywords are best. For example, if you want a black dress for an office Christmas party, you’d perhaps Google ‘black dress ideas’, then maybe you’d search for ‘black dress for size 14 women’ and Google would show you more specific examples. Then after that you might search for ‘black lace skater dress size 14’ to refine it more, as you go through the customer journey. You’d therefore optimise the keywords in your product listing as ‘black lace skater dress perfect for Christmas parties’, as you’ve attached a specific outcome for that search.
Show Google that your product has a special feature or something that could benefit what the person is searching for, and communicate it. For example, Goap make handmade goat’s milk soap, and people searching for them might look for ‘natural soaps that are great to soothe skin from allergies and hand washing’. Keywords aren’t always single words, it can be a whole phrase – and this is what can set you apart in rankings and searches.
Are reciprocal links a good thing? We often suggest that our makers link to one another.
‘Meet the Maker’ stuff is great – people love reading about small businesses and getting inside a maker’s process that they know nothing about. Collaborations are also great – you could consider gift round-ups and interviews with other businesses to help one another and reach each other’s audiences to spread the word.
Make sure the content is relevant to your business – if you do textiles, you could interview other textiles-based businesses, or if you sell hand-made greetings cards then maybe interview some local illustrators.
This gives you great website and social media content, and helps your SEO. It also builds everyone else up too.
Get to really understand your USP and target demographic, and be confident in it so that you can champion others.
I’ve recently been looking at what brings us confidence as small business owners. People say that they get the most confidence when people like, comment on or buy our work.
If we create sustainable systems for creatives, they’ll create even better work – boosting confidence creates a circle of growth, encouragement & community.
Pedddle helps you to sell in person via markets and creates a community, to help you grow your business and be more confident in it, so that you can spend more time making the things you love.
There’s no such thing as a competitive market in the creative community – we all build each other up as a community, and together we can make the world a brighter, more beautiful place.
Marketing with Menekse
As a creative business you’re not necessarily a natural born marketer – luckily, Menekse is here to help! She works specifically with creative businesses, to ease your load and help you focus on the making. Find out more: https://marketingwithmenekse.com/