a graphic designer working on her brand’s color palette
5 Tips for Choosing Your Brand’s Color Palette
April 1, 2021
Zach Rayburn explains what it’s like and why it’s hard to be married to a creative entrepreneur so entrepreneurs can better love their spouses on the Priority Pursuit Podcast.
Episode 005: What It’s Like & Why It’s Hard to Be Married to a Creative Entrepreneur
April 14, 2021

April 7, 2021

Episode 004: Five Ways to Improve Your SEO for Free


Let’s be honest. As creative entrepreneurs, most of use chose our professions because of our passions. I mean, I was 100% that first grader going through disposable cameras like my poor parents couldn’t believe, and now, I’m a wedding photographer.

 As much as I love my job, there are parts of it that aren’t fun or glamorous. Whether you’re a photographer or another kind of creative entrepreneur, I’m sure you can agree with me on this.

But, just because I don’t enjoy these things or completely understand them doesn’t mean that I can ignore them. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to prioritize the things that move the needle in your business even when you don’t enjoy them—like answering emails, posting on social media, going to the post office, sending invoices, and managing your SEO. (Side note: You can outsource all of this, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

 

I’m passionate about SEO because I know how effective it can be for small businesses & creative entrepreneurs.  

Now, while a lot of creative entrepreneurs tend to be intimidated by SEO (search engine optimization), I’m a bit odd because I LOVE SEO.

What is SEO, & why does it matter for photographers?

In fact, when I worked in marketing, a big part of my job was making sure that our clients’ websites ranked well on search engines. When I started my photography business on the side, I optimized my website just like I did for agency clients, and it didn’t take long before people were finding my website on the first page of Google, my calendar was packed, and I was ready to make photography my full-time career.

I love SEO because I understand how powerful it can be for small businesses. Just to give you an idea, 40% of my clients find me through Google every year, and I firmly believe that I’m able to be a full-time wedding photographer because my website ranks well on search engines. 

 

You CAN handle your own SEO. 

SEO is absolutely something that you can outsource; however, here’s the thing:

  1. SEO isn’t as hard as you probably think it is. In fact, optimizing your website for search engines is really just completing tasks that make the powers that be at Google happy. 
  2. When you understand SEO, you’ll be able to optimize any content (such as blog posts) you add to your website moving forward, which will improve your search engine rankings even more. 

So, how can you improve your website’s search engine rankings? There are a lot of things you can do, but if you hone in on the five ways we’re about to discuss, I promise you’ll start to see your website move up the Google ladder within the next few months! 

 

1. Add great content to your website regularly. 

If you ignore everything else in this episode, please don’t ignore this tip! 

Regularly adding content to your website is by far the most powerful thing you can do to increase your search engine rankings. When you regularly add blog posts, videos, infographics, or other content to your website, Google basically says, “Hey. This website is active. We should rank this site higher.” 

Now, it would be easy to set aside 15 minutes every week to slap couple paragraphs of text into a blog post and think you’ve completed this step. But, Google is smarter than ever before, and unless you’re producing content that is helpful and valuable, Google doesn’t care how often you’re blogging or adding new content to your website.

 In order to improve your search engine rankings, your content needs to:

  1. Be helpful and relevant to your target audience
  2. Speak directly to your target audience
  3. Be evergreen
  4. Answer questions or provide helpful, relevant information
  5. Provide value to readers/viewers

Basically, in order for your content to improve your search engine rankings, it needs to be helpful, quality content that will benefit your target audience.

Now, I would argue that the easiest, most effective way to update your website with great content is to blog. And, I know what you’re going to say. “Nobody reads blogs anymore.” And, friend, I’m going to politely tell you that you’re wrong. 

In fact, according to Impact, 77% of people read blogs regularly, and if I had to place a bet, I’d bet that you clicked on someone’s blog post the last time you Googled something. I mean, just the other day, I searched for “best headphones for podcasting” and clicked on multiple blog posts. 

So, no. Blogging isn’t dead, and it can do wonders for search engine rankings. 

 

What should you be blogging about?

With that in mind, what should you blog about? I would argue that there are three topics all creative entrepreneurs should be blogging about regularly:

  1. Your work
  2. Education for clients
  3. Personal topics

Blogging Your Work

Within the photography industry, it’s become a pretty common thing to blog your photos from sessions and weddings. Photographers, if you aren’t doing this already, please start blogging your work. This is a great service to your clients and an excellent way to share your favorite images. So, after every shoot, blog your heart out! 

If you aren’t a photographer, you can still blog your work. Simply grab some photos and share about your work on your blog. For example, are you an artist? Great. Share your inspiration for a piece of work or a series on your blog. Are you a hairstylist? Perfect. Share a blog featuring your extension work. 

You have work to share, so share it! 

Blogging Educational Content 

Next, you want to provide your clients with education. Educational blog posts simply educate your audience on topics related to your product or service. These posts are great for SEO and for helping you establish yourself as an authority figure that your target audience can trust.

When it comes to writing educational content, one of the most effective ways to decide what to write about is to answer questions or clients regularly ask. For example:

  1. Wedding photographers, your clients likely ask about whether or not they should do a first look. Write a blog post about this. 
  2. Hairdressers, perhaps your clients want to know if they should part their hair in the middle or what goes into extensions. Write blog posts about these topics. 

Educational blog posts are helpful to your target audience, will help you build relationships with your ideal clients, will establish you as an authority figure, and will improve your search engine rankings. 

 

Blogging Personal Topics

Finally, blog about personal topics that will be of interest to your audience.

I know it sounds crazy, but one of the blogs on my website that still to this day gets the most attention is from when I blogged our dog’s 21st birthday party. 

Blogging about personal topics will help your current and prospective clients connect with you. So, blog about life updates, trips, and anything else you want to share. 

How often should you blog to improve your search engine rankings? 

Now, like we discussed before, Google wants great content added to your website regularly. So, with this in mind, how often should you be blogging?

Basically, the more often you can add great content, the better. A good goal is to add a new blog post once a week or at least once a month. This might seem like a lot, but you can absolutely batch content ahead of time. For example, I write a lot of my education blogs during slow season (which in Indiana is November-March when few people are getting married) so I’m set for the rest of the year!

And, remember, blogging isn’t a one and done kind of thing. Once your blog post is live, you can share it again and again and get a lot of mileage out of it. For example, I share a blog post I wrote a few years ago about the pros of doing a first look on your wedding day at least six times a year on social media. New couples are getting engaged and becoming my ideal clients all the time, and they haven’t seen that blog post yet, so you can bet I’m going to reshare it!

To get the most out of your blog posts, you want to optimize them with keywords.

Just as a heads-up, to make your blog posts really worth your while, you will want to optimize them with keywords. In a couple weeks, we’re going to do an episode breaking that process down, but in case you want to get a head start, you can download a guide that explains exactly how to optimize your blog posts and other pages on your website with keywords here!

To our non-photographer friends, I’m really sorry, because this resource was created specifically for photographers. However, there is still a lot you can learn from the guide if you just ignore the photographer specific jargon. 

Photographers, learn how to identify & use keywords to improve your search engine rankings!

 

2. Submit your sitemap to Google. 

Another way you can improve your SEO for free is to submit your sitemap. As smart as Google is, it does need a little help. And, if you want to improve your search engine rankings, you have to tell Google that your website exists! 

Now, don’t panic. This is not difficult. You’re simply going to locate your sitemap on the backend of your website and share the link with Google. Your sitemap is more or less a list of all of the pages on your website, and when you submit your sitemap to Google, you’re letting Google know that your website and its pages exist. 

To submit your sitemap, the first thing you need to do is install Google Search Console. Simply click here, and follow Google’s instructions.  

After your Google Search Console account is set up, you’ll need to locate your sitemap. Here’s how you can find your sitemap on common website builders:

  1. ShowIt (If you use ShowIt, your blog is built with WordPress. This means you actually need to submit two sitemaps. Use these instructions, and then follow the WordPress instructions at the link below.)
  2. WordPress (If you use WordPress, you’ll need to install the Yoast SEO Plugin to your website.)
  3. Squarespace
  4. Wix
  5. Pixieset

If you use a web builder not listed, don’t worry! A quick Google search should help you find the resources you need. If not, contact your web builder, and they should be able to help you.

If these processes still don’t make sense to you after watching the videos and reading the instructions, don’t panic. Instead, contact your web designer, the company you purchased your template from, or your server. They will be able to help you with this or at least point you in the right direction. And, heck, they may have already done this for you! 

This is something you only have to do once, but submitting your sitemap is crucial to being found online, so do not put this on the back burner. 

 

3. Create consistent online directory listings. 

Friend, I know those first two points were pretty heavy, but I promise these last three are going to be much easier!

One easy (but slightly time consuming) thing you can do to improve your search engine ranking is to create consistent online directory listings (anywhere business’ information is listed online). When Google sees that your business name, phone number, address, email, hours, and other information are consistent across multiple online directories, Google basically says, “Wow. That business must be legit because all of their information is consistent.” Then, Google will move you up in the search results.

Some online directories require a fee, but there are several that are free. You have to decide which directories make the most sense for your business and budget (Example: If your ideal clients aren’t using Angi, you don’t want to invest in a paid listing), but here are a few common directories where you can list your business information for free:

  1. Alignable
  2. Angi
  3. Better Business Bureau
  4. Bing
  5. Facebook
  6. Google
  7. LinkedIn
  8. Yahoo!
  9. Yellowbook
  10. Yelp
  11. YP
  12. Industry specific directories (e.g. Wedding photographers, you can create a free listing on The Knot and WeddingWire.)

My recommendation is to pick a day to knock these all out at once. Grab a blanket, get cozy on the couch with your laptop, let whatever show you can watch on repeat play in the background, and knock out creating consistent online directory listings!

4. Get people to your website. 

Another easy, free way to improve your Google rankings is simply to get people to your website. If Google sees that people are regularly visiting your website and that your website is receiving traffic from other places on the internet (social media, email, etc.), Google will take this traffic as a sign that people are finding your website helpful and useful.

So, do whatever you can to get people to your website. A few easy ideas might include:

  1. If you write a blog post, post about it on social media.
  2. If you have a newsletter or active email list, include links to your website.
  3. Include a link to your website in your Instagram bio.

Basically, just get people to your website, but don’t be salesy. Get people to your website by enticing them with content that is relevant and helpful to them. This will be easy once you’ve created blog posts like we talked about earlier!

 

5. Ask your clients for online reviews. 

Last but not least, asking your clients to leave you online reviews can do huge things for your search engine rankings.

Online reviews serve two major purposes:

  1. They tell potential customers you’re great at what you do (assuming you have good reviews). 98% of consumers look at online reviews before making purchasing decisions. Therefore, you need reviews if you want potential clients to truly consider investing in you.
  2. They tell Google you’re a legit business with real, live customers.

Asking for reviews can be awkward, but if you serve your clients socks off, this shouldn’t be uncomfortable at all! To start building up your online reviews, I recommend doing two things:

  1. Start asking clients for reviews after you’ve served them. For example, a bride and groom would likely be more than happy to leave their wedding photographer a review after they’ve seen their gorgeous wedding photos! 
  2. Contact a few former clients you served really well and ask them if they’d be willing to leave you a review. In exchange for their time, you can offer them a $5 coffee gift card or something like that.

 

When you think about your own search habits, you’ll have no doubt that you should be taking SEO seriously within your business. 

Alright, guys. I know I just threw a lot of information at you, but I promise that if you commit to these five things, you will be able to improve your search engine rankings, book more clients, and see an increase in your profits—assuming your website is already serving your clients well. 

These results won’t happen instantly. SEO is a long-game strategy, and will likely take months before you see results, but when you think about your own Google habits, you’ll have no doubt that taking the time to optimize your website is worth the time.

I mean, imagine you’re looking for a product or service. Your friends and family don’t have suggestions on the topic, so you go to Google. You likely click on the first few links that address your question or offer the product or service you’re looking for. In fact, 75% of search engine users never go past the first page of Google’s search results, and 67% of clicks go to the first five results in a Google search.

So, what does this mean for your business? It means that you want your website to rank on the first page of Google—preferably within the first five links. And, if your website doesn’t currently rank well on search engines, you’re missing out on business! 

Even worse, you aren’t missing out on business because you aren’t great at what you do. You’re leaving dollars on the table simply because those looking for your products, services, and content can’t find your website! So, let’s fix that! 

 

Challenge: Put time on your calendar to optimize your website for search engines. 

Now, friend, listening to/reading this episode is only going to do you good if you take action. So, right now, I want you to look at your calendar and block out two to three days where you focus on nothing but the items we just discussed. Then, on those days:

  1. Plan create a content calendar to ensure new content is being added to your website regularly 
  2. Submit your sitemap
  3. Create consistent online directory listings 
  4. Create a strategy for getting people to your website regularly, which can be as simple as sharing one blog post on social media a week
  5. Send a few emails to ask your clients for online reviews

I promise that none of this is hard. It’s just time consuming. At first, SEO might feel like one of those not-so-fun business tasks, but when you start seeing how SEO can move the needle in your business and give you big results, I can almost promise that you’ll become an SEO nerd too!

Now, if you can, I want to encourage you to get through these tasks by the end of April 2021. Because, in May 2021, we’re going to discuss exactly how to optimize your website for long-tail keywords to improve your search engine rankings even more. (If you want a head start, download “A Guide for Photographers: How to Identify Keywords for SEO that Will Help You Book More Clients.”)

You’ve got this, friend! Now, get to work so your website can move up the Google ladder!


Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.Did you enjoy this episode? If so, pin it to save it for later! Follow me on Pinterest for more marketing, business, branding, and boundary-setting strategies! Episode 004 of The Priority Pursuit Podcast breaks down five ways photographers and creative entrepreneurs can improve their SEO for free

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

Is outsourcing key leadership positions something new?

What do fractional CMOs do?

Who needs a fractional CMO?

What are the benefits of hiring a fractional CMO?

When should you partner with a fractional CMO?

Are there limitations to a fractional CMO?

How do I find a qualified fractional CMO?

How much does it cost to partner with a fractional CMO?