SEO for Beginners: Where do I start?

In my role as an expert in SEO for beginners, I get asked a LOT “Where do I start?” so I thought it was about time I wrote this 2000+ beast to break it all down for you. I’ve linked to other content I’ve created so you can dive in deeper wherever you like.

This is written so you can do this yourself but if you’re thinking, wow, I really want to get stuck in with this but I’m worried about the tech then scroll to the bottom as I have a new Done For You set of options you can learn more about 🙂

SEO for Beginners Stage One: Foundation Work

You cannot draw attention to a business that isn’t clear on what it sells so you need to do the foundation work to figure this out. In my Visible Vibes community, I offer lots of trainings + resources to help you dive into this in a whole section called Visible Business

1. What do you want to sell?

You wouldn’t believe how many people come to me asking for SEO advice when they don’t know what it is they want to sell. Here’s how to figure that out first. What are your talents? What are you an expert in? Where is the demand for that? What does the market/world need? What do you not mind talking about for years to come? What is the overlap there?

By answering these basic questions you can start to compile a business idea of the products and services you want to offer (and you’re allowed to change your mind)

Related podcast episode: Building a strong foundation to be visible

Related blog: How to put yourself out there

2. How do you want to sell it?

This will massively affect how you market yourself and how you attract attention online so you need to decide on a few things about how you want to sell what you do. Do you want to focus on selling at in-person markets? Do you want to focus on selling online? Do you want to deliver by hand? Do you want to ship all over the UK, Europe, and the world? Do you want to sell via Etsy or your own website? There are lots of logistic questions to ask yourself and you have to be realistic. You cannot serve everyone if you have 1 hour a day to do this.

3. Who do you want to work with?

No, you cannot sell to everyone. It’s impossible. Not everyone will want what you offer and not everyone will need what you can give them. It’s up to you to do some market research, with questions 1 and 2 in mind and consider who needs what you want to sell. Not everyone wants hipster wedding photography or botanical lino prints. Where do these people live? What kind of lifestyle do they live? What else do they buy? Which brands are they fans of? What kind of music do they listen to? By tapping into these questions (and the answers can sometimes be made up at the start if you have no clue) then you can evolve as you go, and as you make more sales. Lord knows my own ideal clients have changed radically from when I started my business 10 years ago.

Related podcast episode: Does having an ideal client really make a difference?

SEO for Beginners Stage Two: Do the SEO Basics

Now that you have a semblance of a foundation, you need to begin your SEO basics. In my Visible Vibes community, I offer plenty of trainings + resources to help you dive into this in a whole section called Visible Google.

1. Research your keywords

Only when you know the answers (or a semblance of answers) to the first stage can you move onto the SEO basics. You will never figure out your keywords if you don’t know what you’re selling. Here’s how to figure out your keywords

a) Brainstorm a list of everything you sell and all the variations you can think of

b) Write down a list of every location you want to sell in (if it’s UK wide, just put UK, but if it’s certain towns or counties only, write those down)

c) Write down the adjectives like colours, or unique factors about what you sell e.g. colourful, alternative, luxury

These three lists can then be combined into a new list of keyword phrases e.g. colourful bath bombs, London brand photography, handmade lace lingerie, etc. You don’t want to target individual words, you want to target the phrases as that’s what people are Googling.

d) Use Keywords Everywhere to measure how many people are actually Googling each of the different combinations of phrases – try using locations, adjectives and variations to find the most popular.

It’s quite common to have a massive list, which is why using a tool like Keywords Everywhere is so useful to determine your focus. You’ll most likely have keyword phrases that apply to everything you do (what I call ‘broad’ phrases) and also more specific phrases that will only relate to specific services or products (what I call ‘niche’ phrases). Note that it’s usually harder to target broad phrases than niche phrases because there is more competition.

Related blog: How do I rank for this keyword?

Related podcast episode to check out: What do I say on my website?

2. Create your website pages

Of course, you can’t have a website without pages, but I often get asked which pages are necessary to have on your website. You’ll have a homepage by default, but you do need other pages to communicate what you offer.

I suggest you have at least:

(For Visible Vibes members, check out Visible Website section in your members’ portal to find templates, trainings + support on what to say on each page of your website)

3. Match your keywords to your website pages

Once you have pages and a list of keywords, now’s the time to start matching one keyword phrase to each page – what’s the most appropriate phrase you have for each page, looking at what you want to say? Keep the phrase quite broad for your main pages, and then get more specific depending on your services and products. You then need to add the matched keyword phrase to certain places on each website page

  • Your page title
  • The first paragraph of text
  • At least one subheading (known as h2 or h3)
  • At least one other place in your text on the page
  • Images (here’s a whole blog on how to get your images found on Google)
  • SEO title – this is what appears in Google search results
  • SEO metadescription – this is the text that appears with the SEO title in Google search results

To make life easier, if you have a WordPress website, you can use a brilliant free tool called Yoast – here’s a blog and podcast I created all about how to use Yoast for your website.

4. Tell Google you exist

Now we come to a really juicy part. You need to be using 3 of Google’s free tools

  • Google My Business

Google My Business literally puts your business on the map. You can hide your home address if you work from home, but you still need to get on there, and start collecting reviews. It really helps you get found in your chosen locations!

  • Google Search Console

Google Search Console is the tool to tell Google you exist. I’ve got a whole free guide on how to set it up which you can download for free here – Tell Google I exist.

  • Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the tool that tells you whether people are actually visiting your website, where they’re looking, which pages they enter and exit and all sorts of other useful stuff. I’ve got a blog post on how to set up Google Analytics here.

SEO for Beginners Stage Three: Create Content

Now with the work you’ve done in stages one and two (I hope you didn’t skip them as doing so won’t help you!) you now get to create the content to draw more people in and get them engaged. In my Visible Vibes community, I offer plenty of trainings + resources to help you dive into this in a whole section called Visible Content.

Why is creating content so good? It’s a free way to promote your business, but it’s really great for increasing that Know, Like + Trust factor that is all-important in building your business.

1. Write blogs

You knew it was coming folks, you need to be blogging to get your website found on Google. Your blog needs to be on your website set up as a page with posts that you add on a regular occasion. I’m so passionate about the benefits of blogging that I wrote a blog called – do you really need to blog – and I teach a 12 week program called Blogging for Gold which opens again on 28th September after a free taster workshop you can sign up to here.

Related blog: Why is blogging so good for SEO?

and How dating and SEO are similar

and How long should a blog post be?

2. Create social media to point to your website / blogs

I like to say that your social media is the flyer for the gig, and your website is the gig itself. Your website is not the place to be subtle about what you do. Sure, there’s tone of voice and language to be considered to fit in with what your audience want to hear, but you do need to be clear about how it is that you help, what you offer, why it’s different and be prepared to repeat this over and over again in different ways in order to attract those new eyes on your products + services.

There is untold benefit in finding the sweet spot where your audience really engage with what you do, but the funny thing about social media and indeed all types of marketing is that it is ever changing. As small business owners we have a huge advantage in this respect, as we can swerve with the changes and not be forced to get approval from boards and cronies in big corporate companies. We can test out whatever we like and see what works!

Here are a few ways you can promote your blogs on social media

  • Use an excerpt from a blog as a social media caption along with the link (if Facebook) or link in bio (if Instagram)
  • Create Reels using photos from the blog as a slideshow set to popular music
  • Use the link sticker in Instagram Stories (hooray for not needing 10K followers to get the swipe-up feature anymore!)
  • Write how you speak and share the main points of the blog in a social media caption along with the link (if Facebook) or link in bio (if Instagram)

Related podcast episode: How to find ideas for content

Related podcast episode: How to never run out of content ideas ever again

SEO for Beginners Stage Four: Keep drawing attention to your business

And now we’re jogging with Jesus, we’ve got a website that is optimised for Google, we’ve got pages full of useful valuable content and we need to keep drawing attention to what we do. In my Visible Vibes community, I offer plenty of trainings + resources to help you dive into this in a whole section called Visible Content.

1. Set up email list

Once you’ve got a business, the easiest way to keep your fans warm (whether or not they’ve bought from you) is to set up an email list. You can do this using email marketing software like Mailchimp or Mailerlite to keep costs low. Making sure you have a tick box to give permission on your Contact / enquiry page is vital so you have permission to email these leads!

Once you’ve got an email list, start sending out emails with useful tips, blogs you’ve written, sharing your news. I started out with 12 subscribers, so it’s never too early to start doing this. That list turned into clients and in turn sent me referrals, so it’s highly worth it!

2. Create lead magnet to increase email subscribers

To grow your email list, set up a landing page on your website with a downloadable PDF, eBook, template or webinar they can watch. All these people have to do is give you their email address, and you email them with the goods, and follow up with a few emails showing proof that what they’ve downloaded works, and what you can do to help them more. Once you have proof that this works and people are downloading it, you can consider setting up Facebook ads to grow your list even more.

3. Find backlinks

You need to find other relevant quality websites to link to you such as directories, press, guest blogs (where you write blogs for other people), mentions (where you’ve contributed a quote). This is so that Google registers that you are a trusted website and will therefore show you more when people are Googling for someone like you.

Where do you start with finding places to get links from? Stalk your competitors using Ahrefs Backlink Checker (it’s free!) and plugin their websites to see who links to them, then see how you can get similar. In my experience, this is a wildly untapped market when it comes to small businesses, and the ones who are killing it at the top of page one of Google are going for it here.

Related blogs: The Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging

4. Create internal links

As you create more blogs on your website, you can find new ways to link your blogs together, so that people will stay on your website longer. This is fantastic as it helps persuade people that you’re the one for them. The longer they stay, the more persuaded they’ll be. This very blog is a perfect example of that as I’ve linked to other pages and blogs that are relevant to this content. (Another example of internal linking is my how to create your best of 2021 blog post)

5. Run promotional offers + campaigns

I think if you don’t have a launching kind of business (like I do with my courses) it can sometimes be challenging to consider how you continue to promote your wedding photography business or cake making business or graphic design business. You’re always open for business in a way, so how do you keep going with marketing without burning yourself out?

The easiest and simplest way to do it is to divide the year up into sections. You started your own business for a reason – to have independence over your schedule most likely being one of those reasons. So map out the next 12 months and see where you want to be quieter in terms of clients so you can have more time with your family / life / holidays. Then look to see what’s happening for your clients at different times of year, when are they likely to come to you more (for example if you are a product business you may well have Christmas / Valentine’s / Mother’s Day products where you’ll be busier, or if you’re a wedding supplier you may well be busier in January with enquiries and busier with bookings in the summer so your marketing won’t be as strong). Consider this when planning out your promotional offers and what you want to be sharing in each section of the year and you’ll find it much easier to sort.

Stressed about finding the time to do this? Check out my blog on how to make time to do your SEO

Stressed about Tech?

As promised, I now offer a new Done for You service called The Bundles where I can help you with many of these aspects for a special beta price of £150+VAT per bundle:

  • Google Wiz Setup Bundle

    This is where I set you up with Google Search Console (telling Google you exist), Google Analytics (so you can see if anyone’s visiting your website) and Google My Business (to put your business on the map – we can hide your home address if you are based at home). This applies to any type of website.

  • Keyword Wonder Bundle

    This is where I use my SEO toolkit to find you a list of keywords you need to be targeting. I’ll share these with you in a spreadsheet along with a video walking you through where to put them on your website. This applies to any type of website.

  • Broken Biz Fix Bundle

    This is where I examine any broken links within your website and leading to your website and fix them for you. This applies to any type of website.

  • Yoast It Up Bundle

    This is where I dive into your WordPress website and use Yoast to turn your pages + blogs green so you have the best chance of getting found on Google. This pairs nicely with Keyword Wonder as we can see which keywords you need to be targeting to get seen. This only applies to WordPress websites.

  • Blog Title Bundle

    This is where I use my SEO toolkit to create a list of blog titles for you to write the blogs. This pairs nicely with Keyword Wonder as you can create a targeted approach to get to page one of Google in front of as many people as possible. This applies to any type of website.

It’s in beta mode at the mode which means it’s not listed as a page on my website yet so if you’re interested in learning more, get in touch here.

Bye for now

Maddy x

Maddy x
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Maddy Shine - Visibility Expert