How SEO can help you land new clients without lifting a finger
Whether you’re a creative entrepreneur or run a product-based business, you need one essential thing to make money: clients.
Without paying clients, your business isn’t really a business.
But finding great paying client can be hard, especially if you don’t like promoting yourself and are scared of sounding sleazy. And anyway, who wants to be on social media constantly promoting your products and services while life passes you buy…
When you decided to become an entrepreneur, it wasn’t because you wanted to spend all day in front of your computer. It’s because you wanted freedom.
And freedom SEO shall give you.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is basically the concept of making your website so awesome that Google wants to show it to everyone who has a question related to your niche.
Someone wants to find who the best photographers in your area is. Wouldn’t be awesome if the first answer was always you? Imagine how many clients you could get if Google decided to put your name first instead of your competitor!
That’s what SEO is about. But there’s also something you have to understand: SEO doesn’t happen overnight. Unfortunately, if there was a magic recipe to get to the top of all the Google searches, companies would have figured it out by now and it wouldn’t be a fair game. But Google is smart and keep their secret sauce secret.
But if you don’t know the secret sauce, how can you make something that Google is going to like?
There are a few simple principles that you can follow that will never change. As long as you follow those, you will always rank higher than those who don’t follow them. You can also search for the latest trick to game the system, but that will probably just get you in Google’s jail. So instead, follow these rules and be authentic.
And eventually, you’ll get rewarded.
Rule #1: Provide valuable content
Google absolutely adores blogs. They are full of helpful, valuable content. They show Google that you care about your website because you update it frequently. (If you haven’t touched your website since 2009, Google will think your content is as outdated as your website.)
But don’t feel like you need to post every day either. Once a week or twice a month is more than enough, as long as your content is valuable. Again, the key word here is value. Why? Because Google wants its users to get the answer to their questions, so you’ll never be #1 unless they are sure you’ll be able to do deliver.
Go for the longer (1000+ words), less frequent, more useful posts over the crappy, useless 300 words post that doesn’t help anyone.
Rule #2: Chill with the keywords
Find a specific topic you want to write about instead of a specific keyword you want to rank for. Talk about that topic in a way that makes sense too: don’t overuse keywords just because someone told you to do so.
Google is smart. They can detect keyword stuffing and will penalize you for that.
I’m not saying it’s bad to use keywords, it can actually be very helpful, but do it the right way. Don’t stuff your page to the point where it’s not even readable anymore.
This is an example you can find on Google: If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nobody wants to read that.
Instead, talk about something useful and related to your area of expertise and use the words you would use normally to talk about that!
Rule #3: Backlinks are your most valuable asset
Imagine there was a list out there with all the websites on the internet. Every time someone links to your website, you get a +1 vote and get higher on that list. That’s what a link to your website (backlink) does.
Who links to your website matters too. So let’s say J.K. Rowling gave you a +1 vote, it would count a loooooot more than if some random blogger who doesn’t have a high ranking does the same thing. Google values who endorse you (because that’s basically what happens when someone links to your website, they say that your website can be trusted and that is contains useful information).
You want to get votes/backlinks from people in the same industry as you (a link on a fishing website if you’re a cupcake bakery won’t do much) and from people that have a better ranking/are more popular than you.
And how does one get those? By referring to rule #1: provide valuable content. If your blog or your website is actually valuable, you will get people to share and link to you.
A few other ways to get links back is by writing guest posts (like this one!), being interviewed or featured on someone’s website, etc.
There are a lot of creative ways you can use to get links to your website; don’t fall into the trap of paying for them. That’s against Google’s rules and will only get you penalized. Don’t look for them too hard either: if you provide enough value, trust that it will happen.
The rest is just technical stuff you can do that will help you a little, but what you need to remember to most are the three rules above! The technical stuff won’t get you on the front page of Google by itself. You still need to provide useful content. When you do, adding the technical stuff on top will only make you slightly better than your competition (if they do the valuable content stuff too!).
- Make sure your website loads fast by reducing image size, adding caching, etc. Internet users aren’t very patient, and Google knows it.
- Have a responsive website. Half the people on the internet come from their phones these days, and again, Google knows it.
- Use pretty permalinks: example.com/?p=123 doesn’t mean anything to Google. Example.com/awesome-post-title-that-rocks does.
- When you upload an image to your website, make sure the title of that image represent it, and that you fill out the ALT TAG with a description too. ALT TAGS used to describe the image to visual impaired people, but they’re also a great tool for Google to know what’s in the image.
- If you use WordPress, download Yoast SEO and use it to guide you in the complicated world of SEO. Don’t take everything it says for granted, though, it’s just a software. It can be wrong.
- Send your sitemap to Google’s Webmaster Tool to make sure they check it out once in a while, especially if you just made a lot of changes or are just launching.
There are a lot of other small technical tweaks you can do to your website, but I believe that SEO is most valuable when you use it to improve your content!
But once you reach the first page on Google and get quite a bit of traffic from them, how do those visitors convert into paying clients? My favorite way is by using a passive funnel that you’ve already set in place.
Step 1: 1000 people come to your website a read a certain post.
Step 2: You have a content upgrade on that post that they can access if they get on your mailing list. 100 people decide to take it.
Step 3: You send them a series of emails building your expertise and trust, until one final email where you ask them to buy a low-cost to medium-cost (below $500) product or service from you. 25 people buy that product.
Step 4: From the 25 people that bought your low-cost product or service, 7 absolutely adored it and now want to hire you at your full price (over $500).
If you run a product-based business, those 7 are now repeat customers who talk about your brand to everyone they know.
To make something like this happen, you do need to put in the work though. SEO doesn’t happen on its own. You need a strategy to your blog. And if you want to turn visitors into paying clients, you need to demonstrate your expertise and make them trust you.
You’ll definitely need to work hard to get there, but once it’s set up you don’t have to touch it anymore! You can book clients while you’re taking a nap, sell your products while you’re on vacation, etc.
Freedom is in automation, my friends. Automation and SEO.
(PS: If you do optimize your blog for SEO and write super valuable content, you might want to give Pinterest a try! It can provide the same kind of passive traffic as long as you know how to use it!)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Virginie is the founder of CityGirl's Design, a web design company that helps thriving entrepreneurs grow their business by providing them with a website that converts hesitant clients and attracts new ones. If she’s not behind her computer, you can find her hanging out on the beach, either reading a good book or transforming into a mermaid!