Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Akilah Thompkins, @girlgetvisible. Akilah is the owner of Girl Get Visible, Author of My SEO Workbook and the host of the Girl Get Visible Podcast. Using her 15 years of IT experience and over 10 years working with small businesses, Akilah has created a unique way for female business owners to learn and implement SEO. Akilah’s goal is to help women of color entrepreneurs get their business out there in a big way, even if they don’t have million-dollar budgets. Akilah uses her technical, marketing, and corporate experience to help make technical topics more accessible to the small business community. Learn more at GirlGetVisible.com.
SmallBizLady: What is SEO?
Akilah Thompkins: SEO is search engine optimization. It is the process of making your site look good for search engines so they will show your page to more people when they search for the products and services you offer.
SmallBizLady: If I already come up for my name, why do I need to work on SEO?
Akilah Thompkins: Your name is only a small part of what you want to show up in a search for. You want to show up for the services you offer, like “business coach in NJ” or “small business web designer.” You also what to show up for the people you help and how you help them, like “help female business owners get online.”
SmallBizLady: Is SEO only a Google or search engine thing?
Akilah Thompkins: No, SEO helps on all platforms that use search. We talk about Google because it’s the largest, but YouTube, Pinterest, even podcast platforms like Apple Podcast are all search engines.
SmallBizLady: What are 3 things businesses can do get started with SEO?
- Research the questions people ask the most about your niche. I call them beginner or basic questions.
- Create content and write a blog post answering those questions. These are likely the topics that are searched the most.
- Get on other sites sharing your expertise (podcasts, interviews, guest blog posts, etc.) and ask them to link to your site. Search engines like when you have other sites recommending you too. Unfortunately, social media links don’t count.
SmallBizLady: What are keywords?
Akilah Thompkins: Keywords are the words people type when they are searching in the search engine. They can be one word or a short phrase of words. Keywords are important because the more your site matches what people are searching for, the more Google will show your site to those people. Your site can rank for more than one keyword, so you have millions of chances to be number 1.
SmallBizLady: What is ranking?
Akilah Thompkins: Ranking is the order search engines put websites on the search result page. Example: when you search ‘dog walkers,’ on the screen you get 4 options, so they are ranked 1, 2, 3, 4. Rankings can be 1 to 1 million. We look at the top 200, and the goal is to be 1 or at least the top 10 (which is considered page 1).
SmallBizLady: How do you find the right keywords?
Akilah Thompkins: The goal of finding the right keywords is to find words that people are searching for (search volume), but a lot of people aren’t writing about (keyword competition). I use a method of keyword research called the R.A.C.E method. First, we round up the keywords you want your site to show up for and related keywords. Then you analyze to see if other people are searching for them and the competition is low. Next, you make sure the keywords with good numbers connect to your business (this is a critical step for business owners). And last, use them to engage with your audience to test them out.
SmallBizLady: What should a small business owner do to add in SEO?
Akilah Thompkins: First, look at your pages (home, about, services, etc.) and see if you are using the keywords throughout the site. If not, add a few of your chosen keywords on each page. Next, write 3-4 blog posts about those basic topics and incorporate your keywords. Then, look through old posts and pages to link to the new content.
SmallBizLady: Do I have to blog for SEO?
Akilah Thompkins: You don’t have to blog for good SEO, but it really helps a lot. Search engines help people find the content on your site. The more relevant content you have, the better your chances will be in the search engines, and the more traffic you have the opportunity to get. Blogging also gives you the chance to talk about different topics that are related to your niche and could be searched. If you don’t want to blog, I recommend creating resource pages, FAQ pages, and other helpful information pages on your site that will give search engines more content to work with.
SmallBizLady: If you have a YouTube channel or a podcast, do you need SEO?
Akilah Thompkins: Yes, even with video and podcasts, you still need text to makes sure that search engines can tell what’s in the video or audio. Videos and podcast are great, but to get the most benefit from them, you need 2 things. 1. Good show notes that use the keywords that you are talking about. And 2. Embed them on to your website, so they drive traffic to your website and not to other platforms
SmallBizLady: What tools do you recommend for SEO?
Akilah Thompkins: The two most important tools are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These 2 free tools give you an idea of what Google sees. Google Analytics tells you who is coming to your site, what pages they are looking at, and how they found you. Google Search Console tells you what keywords Google is ranking your site for, and who is linking to you. They give other information too, but this is what you need for SEO.
Some paid tools I like that make SEO easier and help you peek at your competitors’ sites are Long Tail Pro for keyword research, SEM Rush for site audits and SEO Analysis and Buzzsomo for content ideas and what’s working where
SmallBizLady: How do I decide if I should focus on SEO or social media?
Akilah Thompkins: SEO works well for just about any website. If you have a website and you have a niche where people have questions, then you will do well with SEO. The key benefit of SEO is you get targeted traffic – people who are looking for a solution. This is different from social media where you are giving information that people may not need just yet, and they have to remember you when they are ready. To make things easier, I always recommend focusing first on creating SEO content for your site. Then break that content down into shareable post for social media. This way, you get two birds with one stone.
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