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Chasing the SEO bogeyman away

Thursday, 2 May 2013 | By Cas McCullough

There are three little letters that can turn even the most confident entrepreneur into a quivering mess. These three letters are SEO.


SEO (or search engine optimization) has a bad reputation. Some think it’s a mystery. Some think it’s history and others just think “WTF?”!


Before I understood how SEO worked, I did think it was something that only an enlightened few understood or were privy to, like secret handshakes.


SEO seemed scary and confusing and every once in awhile, panic would set in over my websites’ ranking on Google.


So, in today’s post I want to flick the lights on and scare away the SEO Bogeyman for good, because he’s just not welcome in my entrepreneurial house and neither should he be in yours.


Firstly, if you believe that you need to spend thousands of dollars on SEO to rank well on Google, then you’ve been fed a big heaping pile of BS.


You have it within you to do your own SEO, you just need to start thinking less like an entrepreneur and more like a customer, and not just any customer - your customer.


As your customer will be different to everybody else’s customer, because you are unique and are meeting their unique needs, you should be able to find three or four words that you can smoosh together into a phrase that differentiates you from your competitors and colleagues.


As I mentioned in my article two weeks ago, what you’ll want to aim at is not a niche but a micro niche- a specific audience with specific needs.


For instance, there may be lots of t-shirt designers out there but how many t-shirt designers specialize in designer t-shirts for pregnant women featuring funny cartoons and quotes in New Zealand?


I only know of one and she’s ranking well for maternity tees in New Zealand (http://outie.co.nz/ if you’re curious).


Clever content creation aimed at the people you’re really passionate about connecting with can do well on search engines, but you might need to spell that out to the Google bots. Google is not a mind reader, so you need to be explicit in saying what your website is about and what your content is about.


Secondly, there’s this idea floating around the social media world that if you are not the first to get your content out there, and out there in a big way, you’ll struggle to rank well on Google. (Read social media author Mark Shaeffer’s take on this here… go on. It’s interesting, especially the comments!)


I say bollocks to the idea that you need to get in first and often to rank well.


My primary keywords are “content marketing”. With sites like Copyblogger and the like to compete with on that keyword phrase, if the above were true, I’d be dead in the water.


They’ve been around for years and I’m a new kid on the block with a blog that’s only one year old. So, how do I differentiate myself?


Again, it boils down to focusing on attracting my unique client set and not a huge audience.


When I add the word “women,” my business shows up on page one of Google (logged out of my Google account and on a different computer). Same when I add the word “entrepreneurs” or “health practitioners.”


Now I realize that a search result will look different for different people, regardless of whether or not I am logged into Google, but I feel confident that my ideal clients will be able to find me through a Google search, and because I also have a Google Author tag set up and an active social media presence both locally and internationally, I don’t feel I need to rely on Google organic search for my bread and butter.


The other thing to consider with Google search is that it can be notoriously unreliable.


For the most part, when I go looking for product info on Google, I find rubbish--rubbish websites and dodgy information. The only thing that enables me to make an informed decision is to take my questions to my peers on social media.


Now, I don’t know if you share my frustration with Google search, but if you do, you will know what I mean. I rely on Google search about as much as I rely on my sons to feed our chickens without being told to (sad, but true).


So, perhaps it’s time to stop worrying so much about your Google ranking and start thinking of unique ways you can reach out to and serve your very unique set of ideal clients. In my opinion, that’s really the key.


Rather than writing for SEO, write for your ideal clients and add a sprinkle of keywords into your content and website so that Google doesn’t get lost. If you write fabulous content that hits the spot with your unique set of ideal clients, you can’t go wrong.


Do you find SEO daunting?