As a website owner, you might be interested in how to make your personal brand website rank higher on Google. And you’re probably wondering – does SEO, or search engine optimisation matter? Should you hire an SEO company to help you rank higher?
In this post, we talk about why SEO is important for personal brand website owners like you and give you some tips on how to increase your chances of ranking higher in search engine results.
But first, why does SEO even matter?
Why does SEO matter?
As consumers, whenever we’re looking to buy something (a product or a service), we tend to do our own research. And when we’re ready to make a purchase, credit card in hand, we head over to Google (or Bing or Yahoo) and check out the links for the top results.
So why does this matter to you as a business owner?
When your website appears at the top of the Google search results, you have an opportunity to drive more organic traffic to your website – i.e. traffic that’s not driven through paid-for advertising.
Search engine optimisation, or SEO for short, is what allows you to increase your online visibility, and, in turn, your sales. But in order for this to work, you need your website to come up in the search results on the first page of Google when someone types in a query that is related to your topic of expertise.
So what can you do to improve your chances of claiming those spots at the top of the search results?
User experience and SEO – is there a difference?
SEO can often become a technical and complicated topic. But it doesn’t have to be. When you focus on delivering a great user experience to your audience, you’re ticking most of the SEO boxes because great user experience is exactly what Google aims to deliver. Click To Tweet
So if you want to get into ‘Google’s good books’, adopt a user experience mindset. In other words, focus on what a great website looks like in the eyes of your users, and you’re already setting yourself up for success when it comes to ranking.
How do smaller, service-based business compete with big corporates to rank higher on Google?
If you’re a small business and worry about how you can compete with bigger companies with larger budgets and more ‘SEO power’, here’s the good news.
By focusing on a specific niche within your industry and concentrating your efforts on creating a website that’s interesting, engaging, and valuable, you’re more likely to rank on the first page of Google for the specific search terms (or keywords) that relate to your business.
If you create the right type of laser-focused content that is relevant to your users and your business, you have more chances of coming up at the top of the search results than some of the bigger companies that cover much wider areas and topics.
Let’s use an example to explain this. If you type a question into Google, you’ll want to find the best possible answer. Google wants to provide you, the user, with the answer that most matches your search criteria. So if a larger company doesn’t have the right type of content to answer that specific question but you do, your content may be picked over the bigger company’s.
Of course, other factors such as how old your website is or how much traffic you get also play a part. But ultimately, the best solution that Google finds is what gets presented first in the search results. This is why it’s much easier to think about SEO from a content perspective – always aim to answer your prospective clients’ questions in the best possible way.
There are things you can do to optimise your website and increase your chances of ranking on the first page of Google.
1. Treat your service pages like your homepage
A lot of business owners we meet make the mistake of putting a lot of effort into their home page, but then neglecting their service pages. But when you think about it, by doing that, you’re missing opportunities. Every single page of your website (and, specifically, your service pages) can be optimised for search. And so can your blog posts! If you want to know more about this, read our article How to Optimise Your Blog Posts.
So if you offer a range of different services, create one page for each of your services and optimise each page individually.
To rank well on search engines, you’ll need to think about the content on these pages. What would your user be searching for? Try to give as much information as possible about your service (while still keeping your writing succinct and clear). Examples of things you could include on your service page are:
- An overview of your service
- Who the service is suitable for
- The main benefits of your service
- How much it costs for your service
- Case studies and testimonials related to your service
- The process/how you carry out the service
- Frequently asked questions about your service
- Related content such as blog posts, podcast episodes, guides etc.
2. Don’t forget about longtail keywords on your service pages
When you create individual pages for each of your services, you get to include the relevant keywords in each of them. This isn’t just great in the eyes of Google, but it’s fantastic for your users too, as they get to only consume content that’s relevant to what they’re after.
As an example, let’s say you offer both editing and proofreading services. Having a page completely dedicated to your proofreading services allows you to include (and potentially rank for) different search terms or keywords, like ‘proofreading London’ or ‘proofreading service rates’, etc.
Including other, related and more specific keywords is a smart move because if you tried to rank for the search term ‘proofreader’, you’d struggle to get to the first page of Google. The term is too broad and generic, and too many other websites are ‘competing’ with each other to rank for that keyword. Plus, the search isn’t specific enough! What is the user trying to do? Find out what a proofreader is for a school project? Or trying to find a proofreader to hire?
So here’s where our advice of ‘niching down’ comes into its own. You might struggle to rank for ‘proofreader’, but you’ll have better chances of ranking for long-tail keywords (i.e. longer phrases or sets of words), like:
- How much does a proofreader cost?
- What does proofreading include?
- How does the proofreading process work?
- How long does it take for you to proofread my work?
Think of specific and targeted keywords that your ideal clients are likely to search for and build your web pages around those terms.
3. Get Good at Content Marketing
Can you use your blog content to help you rank higher?
Take us, for example. Over time, we’ve created blog posts that answer questions that our prospective clients ask us all the time. We’ve written blog posts, like:
- How Long Does It Take To Build A Website?
- Why You Need a Maintenance Plan for your Website
- Why New Businesses Shouldn’t Spend 1000s on a Website
By going deep into your content efforts and by creating regular blog content that is optimised for several keywords, you can increase the number of visitors that land on your website
How Do I Come up with Content Marketing ideas?
So how can you come up with ideas for content? Once again, think about your users (and user experience first).
Make a note of the questions that your prospective clients ask you on a regular basis and answer them through your content. If one person asks you, chances are that other people will want to know as well, so answer your questions ‘at scale’.
And if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure about what questions your audience might have, use Google! Have you ever noticed the section at the bottom called ‘Searches related to’?
Or you can use other free online resources to work out what keywords people are mostly looking for. A great tool (with a free trial) that we always recommend is KWFinder. You enter your chosen keywords and see how many people search for it each month.
Our top tip here is to create content for long-tail keywords that sound just like the questions your prospective clients may ask you. Things like:
- How much does a proofreader charge?
- What is included in a proofreading package?
Because these search terms are much longer and more niche, they’re likely to have less competition. In other words, less content has been written to answer those specific questions, which means that if you go after those keywords, you have a better chance of ranking.
Create in-depth content that answers your customers’ questions
Our most-successful blog posts go into a lot of details. And that’s not surprising, as, in the eyes of Google, longer pieces of content provide an in-depth answer to your search query. If you think about a topic from a user perspective and make a list of all the related and relevant questions someone might have on that topic, you’ll easily come up with a longer piece of content.
Also, in-depth content gives you opportunities to include more than just one keyword. And when the additional keywords are also terms that people search for, you have better chances of ranking!
Our most successful piece of content, (that gets more traffic than our homepage) is ‘Why Am I Not Ranking in Google, and How to Fix It’
This was as a result of constantly being asked this question. The blog post is over 3000 words, but it breaks the question down simply. 11 reasons why you’re not ranking in Google, with an explanation, then an explanation of how to fix it.
So think about the main question you want to answer with your blog post and then break it down, like the chapters of a book. You’ll then turn those related topics into sub-heading (just like we’ve done in this blog post) and include any related keywords in the sub-headings.
If you’re using WordPress or any other Content Management System, you can assign heading tags to these individual subheadings. These can be set as Headings 2, Headings 3, Headings 4, etc. And by doing this, you’re telling not only organising your content nicely for your users, but you’re telling the search engines how your content is structured, which can help you increase your ‘SEO power’. It’s a win-win!
If you want more details around how to optimise your blog content and your website pages for SEO, head over to our blog post: The Ultimate SEO Checklist for your Blog Posts.
Finally, Should I hire an SEO company?
And last but not least, here’s a question our clients ask us all the time. Should you hire an SEO company?
The answer is that it depends. If you have the budget and your business can afford it, you can. But it’s important that you first have a solid understanding of the SEO basics and are clear on what you’re paying for and what you want to achieve.
If you find yourself in a crowded market with a lot of competition and are struggling to stand out, hiring a good SEO company that helps you build high-quality backlinks to your website (through reaching out to influencers, guest posting, etc.) could work out for you in the long run.
But any good SEO company should either recommend content marketing or do it for you. By creating the right type of content (either as a page on your site or blog post) and optimising it, you will see an increase in website traffic.
Would you like some help with your content marketing and SEO strategy?
If you’re looking for some support with your content marketing or SEO strategy, why not join our membership, Make Your Mark Online?
In January, we’re starting our 90 Day Challenge, where you write one piece of content a week for 90 days and we’ll review it, telling you what you need to do to improve it for SEO.
What is the Membership About?
If you’re after an ‘agency-level’ website (but without the agency price tag) and want a WordPress website that ranks, gets you more traffic, and delivers you more sales, that’s exactly what we help our members do.
We offer video courses, weekly live Q&A calls, a private Slack group, and member-only resources which include a handy SEO planner. Come and check it out, and if you have any questions, just give us a shout!