It feels like every business owner in the world is concerned with SEO. Making sure their stuff is SEO friendly. Obsessing over keywords.
But Lorraine Ball is going to show us a BETTER way – a way to leverage the power of SEO while still entering the conversation your customers are having… using their language… connecting with them on a level that they understand… and combining SEO and the user experience flawlessly so your site does what you want it to do:
Bring traffic and convert them.
Lorraine’s website – All the spreadsheets, templates, and knowledge Lorraine has gleaned from running an agency for 20+ years
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Alyson Lex 0:03
We love it. When traffic comes to our website, cold. And people who don't know us find us online, we love that. And that is probably why so many people are up sassed with SEO, understanding the Google algorithm, and maybe the Bing algorithm. I don't know if that's still important. But SEO often comes at the expense of the user experience. And that is not what we're all about. And so marketing strategist, Lorraine ball talked to us before this recording about how she approaches SEO, and we knew that we had to have her share this with you. So Lorraine, thank you so much for being with us today.
Lorraine Ball 0:50
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really looking forward to the conversation.
Alyson Lex 0:56
So for the uninitiated, can we just talk about traditional SEO?
Lorraine Ball 1:03
Sure. So Google emerged on the scene, and I don't know, 20 plus years ago, whatever. And all of a sudden, because they became such a big search engine. And that's what people were using to find your website, it sort of became this pattern of whatever they said was important became important. It was about links. And then it was about keywords. And lots of professional SEO experts and less people spend a lot of time chasing Google running after them saying, Here's my keyword, here's my link, pay attention to me. The problem is that the last time I looked, Google wasn't writing me checks. And I can't completely discount them. But I have to remember that just pleasing search engines, at the end of the day is not going to drive sales.
Jennie Wright 1:59
So what is going to drive sales?
Lorraine Ball 2:01
What's going to drive sales is answering questions that real people have, making sure that when someone comes to your website, they find what they're looking for. Because if all you do is worry about the keywords and the inbound links and the rules of Google, you drive a lot of traffic to your website. And then they get there. And it's like driving people to a store. And when they walk in the door, there's nothing on the shelf, they're not going to stay, they're not going to spend money, they're not going to browse, they're not going to talk to salespeople, they're going to turn around and leave. And that's part of the challenge. And actually what Google started doing in recent years is saying, You know what? Keywords are important. Links are important. But if you're not creating a great experience for visitors, yeah, you're not you're not really that important. So we'll find someone else who will. And so the more you focus on creating the right environment, answering those questions, answering the right questions, the more people will come and the more Google will pay attention to you.
Jennie Wright 3:18
So what does that
Alyson Lex 3:19
great experience look like? I mean, and I love thinking about the entire journey of your person from the second they see something all the way through the minute they buy and beyond. But let's pretend that I've got a blog post that I did to answer a question, and it ranks really well, and it's driving traffic. So what does that experience look like? Beyond just answering that question? Okay,
Lorraine Ball 3:45
so we're gonna make the assumption. And we can talk about questions in general at some point, because that's one of my passions, but you will you Okay, good. But you you bring somebody to your website, they come because they have a question. The biggest mistake people make, and this is where user experience really falls apart, is you never think about what's next. It's kind of like those late night commercials if you watch them for ShamWow, or the veggie ematic or the knife thing. Right? When you think it's over, there's always and wait. There's more. As a business owner, a blogger, a web designer, you've got to have the added weight, there's more and it doesn't have to be obnoxious. But if I get to the bottom of the page, and all I have is Thanks for reading by now. You blown it. There should always be something for me to do next. Maybe it's sign up for your newsletter, maybe it's watch a video, maybe it's read another blog post, listen to a podcast. There's a million things you can do that are the appropriate, logical next step. But what you should should never do is leave me hanging. Because if you do that, I'm going to go, Oh, that was nice by now. And so all of the effort that you put into bringing me there is wasted. Because in a minute, I won't remember, even if I download something, and I give you my email address, I asked people after they download something, hey, you got this? Thanks. Have you had a chance to look at it? There are four choices. I loved it. I haven't opened it yet. I don't know who you are, you know, or it wasn't what I wanted. And I am amazed that email goes out 24 hours after they download something 25% Of the people though, I don't know who you are or what you're talking about. And they gave me their email address. So if you don't even ask for it, I can guarantee you, the visitor won't remember that they came.
Jennie Wright 5:58
I was looking at a blog this morning. And I sent it to Alyson as a hey, take a look at this. This blog had. So this person also has a podcast. And this this blog had I think conservatively probably about 20 different links, links to different podcasts, links to some resources. But all in all, there must have been about 20 links and Allison's immediate reaction was overwhelmed. Like, that's a lot of links. What is the what should like how many links should we have? I'd get like internal links and backlinks and all that kind of stuff. But how many links is good? And how many links is too many?
Lorraine Ball 6:37
Well, and it depends, you know, if it's if it's wiki, if it's Wikipedia, you know, as many links as you want to put in, I think, you know, two to three things. And again, it depends how long has that blog post. And there was an interesting, there was an interesting study done by Constant Contact, which is an email marketing product. And so an email newsletter and blog posts similar, there's an expectation, there's going to be more links in the email. But what they found was, the more links, the less action people took, because, and given the sample, the test was a florist. The first one was, hey, we've got all these different flowers for Mother's Day, pick one, and they were like six different choices. And the other email was these were the flowers mom wants for Mother's Day, and there was one choice. And honestly, they actually saw that you sold more and you had more direct action when you give people one choice. A lot of business owners feel like oh my god, but I've got to share this. And I have to share this. And I have to share that. And those links are great for for Google. But the user experience what happens is very similar to I think, Allison, your reaction, people are overwhelmed, and they don't know what they're supposed to do. And so they don't do anything.
Alyson Lex 8:09
When I if I was consulting with that florist, I would have suggested a third test, which would have been which flowers will mom like better? A or B? And the reason is psychological because now you're moving it from a yes or no choice to a which one choice, you're assuming the sale. So I like the idea of having two potential actions at the end of your post, hey, do you want to read this post or this post?
Lorraine Ball 8:41
And I think that is that's awesome. Because again, it's not overwhelming. You're not asking me 50 questions. It's a very simple choice A or B. But either one is going to be a winner for you.
And it's clear that both of those are good next steps. So I like I like that idea. And if a blog post is It depends where something is in your sales journey. If that original blog post is targeted at that entry level question that informational. I don't know what I don't know, having two blog posts at the end are appropriate. If the original blog post answers a question that's further down the sales process, that is people already kind of have the basics covered.
Then I might like to see a more specific CTA that is more set an appointment sign up for newsletter type of thing. So the appropriate next step is often tied to again that buyer journey which is driven by what kind of questions were people asking? So what were they looking for? So then you can then answer it that way. If that makes no sense.
Jennie Wright 10:12
Yeah, it does. And if we're not focused on the traditional method of using keywords, how are we going to come up with that content?
Lorraine Ball 10:21
So I have found that the best way to do it is going back to questions that real people ask and answering the way you would in conversation using the words people use. Because way back, I'm going to date myself the beginning of search engines, you went to Google and you typed in furnace plus repair. And you did a search, and the Google algorithm found everything that matched furnace and repair. But that's not how we search now how we searches Google, why does my furnace smell funny? Google, my air filter is making a weird sound every time it comes on. And so Google's got to deal with all of those words. And so if you're still doing furnace repair, and somebody else is doing a blog post entitled, Why does my furnace smell funny? And the first paragraph says, you may have noticed that your furnace smells funny. And here's why. And it's in need of repair. But you're going to win that more niche search that answers that question. And so the first thing you need to do is start creating that list of questions.
Alyson Lex 11:38
As you're mentioning this, I'm actually recalling a search that I did about a noise my furnace was making and why. And I am I am a bullying searcher because I spent so many years in school and so I do the furnace plus repair plus clanking noise or what have you. But I am starting to get more question based. And I've noticed it's when I use voice. Alexa, why is my furnace making a noise? Or I'm sorry for everybody who just had their Amazon's go off? I apologize. Or, you know, okay, Google, what's what's going on with my furnace into my phone? And so I see where that trend is coming from. But how do I figure out what questions people were asking? I mean, I've, I've done those posts on social. And I'm sure everybody's had this problem, like, Hey, what is the one thing you want to know about XYZ? Or what questions can I answer or whatever? And I get, like one or two responses. So how do I go from that? What do I do?
Lorraine Ball 12:41
So I do several things. Number one, I, I keep a running list whenever I'm in a conversation with a client, because if or a prospect, because one person has that question, multiple people, well, if you're in a larger organization, talk to your sales people talk to your customer service people. Instead of asking the generic, I might do a quick survey to my customers something like if you could go back and do this whole thing again, what was the one question that you should have asked, before we got started? The other thing is, take a look at your customer journey from start to finish at the beginning, is that kind of informational people don't know what they don't know. And so think about that customer and make that list of questions that people would ask. In the beginning, I don't know what I don't know. And then look at that middle stage where they know a little bit and they're trying to figure out they've heard of this brand. So who carries this, and then they get so that's sort of that navigational, then you get into commercial questions that are really tied to is x better than y? And then the last set of questions, you know, how do I use this? And how do I buy? And so you have those categories of questions, and start writing down. And then this is my favorite. And somebody said, it's Google hiding the information in flames in plain sight. Take what you think is a great question and paste it into Google. And Google will suggest a whole bunch of other questions that people have asked, and it'll be in that heading. People also asked, open it up and start collecting those questions. So now you've got this robust set of questions. Now what I want you to do is I want you to go to your website, and in the search bar, type in what you think is a great question. And look at what comes up, is there an exact match or are there a string of you will look into kitchen floor, you're a flooring company, we found bathroom floor, we found waterproof floor. But we didn't find kitchen floor. Okay, guess what, that's a, you know, circle that one on your list. That's a great article to start with. And you can repeat that process over and over again and just keep that running list of questions. Two other websites that are kind of fun, little geeky. One is answer the public. And the other is asked Socrates. Answer the public. If you type in a phrase, what it will do is it kind of it gives you a mind map of other related questions and phrases. And if you're visual and you like that, it's fun. And then you can click on one of the related phrases and New Mind Map grows up. Ask Socrates actually, I think is pulling from the Google algorithm. So if you type in your question, it's going to do a lot of that same work. But it might surface some different questions. So that's, that's how I come up with the questions.
Jennie Wright 16:12
Those are really good resources to use. And we're going to note those in our show notes for this episode, Allison and I both also use Facebook groups. We're in multiple Facebook groups and with our where our ideal client is where they're asking the questions like, How do I write a good headline? Or, you know, how do I? How do I incentivize my speakers to promote, like things that are within our wheelhouse, and then we can write articles, actually, a lot of our episode titles have kind of come from these things. So that we could play into that, you know, into that a little bit more, which I think is really, really good. I remember back in the day, people used to hire people to do their SEO, they used to pay money for people to do their SEO. Can we get by now with you know, Yoast plugin? And a little bit of keyword searching? Like, what do we actually need to make this work?
Lorraine Ball 17:05
So I think, you know, part of it is you got to set your goals, what what are you going to consider when and successful? I think that for small businesses, and that, because that's always been my wheelhouse, if you are willing to commit the time that it takes to do this, you can, there is the moment where you have to decide whether you have more time than money or more money than time. And there is a point at which you have to decide, I know what needs to be done. I don't have the I mean, I could do it, or I could like sell something. So maybe I should go talk to a client or work on a project and hire somebody for this. But I think most businesses can get away with the basics if they're willing to do the basics and create a pretty good foundation. I have clients Wait, well, in my own website, we did extremely well. Doing it on our own. No, I you know, I mean, obviously, we studied this for a while. So we got really good at it. I like honestly rank math better than Yoast SEO, I like Yoast SEO, what I like about rank math is as Okay, the way of all technology. They create a product, it's free, then they start adding features and the features cost. And what I liked about rankmath Is there was more in the free version than there was in the free version of Yoast. I like some of the resources from rankmath Some of the, the articles that they share with you. So if you want to know more, you really can you can really learn more.
Jennie Wright 18:59
And I've been using rankmath on my website as a plugin. And every time I'm popping in a blog in there, I actually go into rankmath and it followed suggestions which you're trying to get a better score, and which is good. I think the latest blog I put up I got like 80 out of 100 I'll take that. Absolutely. So it's a in I got that as a resource from another entrepreneur. So I use that plugin a lot. And I think it's quite helpful to show you how you're, you know, cuz like, do you have the keyword in your title? You know, do you have the keyword and like somewhere in your blog, and I didn't like that stuff? So it's good. Yeah.
Lorraine Ball 19:35
So So you you've written this great post and what rankmath does is it simply coaches you to go back in and tweak. So what I always say what I did is exactly what you describe. I write the post the way I think it needs to be written. And then I go back and go okay, what is rankmath say I can do better. And sometimes they want me to do things that I don't want to do and I'm Like, okay, I know I'm going to take a hit. But the post is better the way it is, from a human perspective. So if you can get it in that 75 to 85, range, beautiful. The other thing that I think we get into this trap of oh my god, I have to have new, I have to have new, I have to have another blog post and writing three to five blog posts a week, you know, for most businesses, that's crazy. And if you have any content at all, one of the best things that you can do is go back and re optimize those older posts. So you had something that was good, that used to get a lot of traffic, and maybe it's fading, or it really answered a question, go back and re optimize that post, add a minimum of 100 more words, so Google sees it as new content, maybe add, clean up your your next step, add a new next step at the bottom, add a photo, add an a little audio or a video, add things to it, maybe rework it, so your keyword is more prominent, the only thing I'm going to tell you to do is do not underline underline 25 explanations on an existing blog post, do not change the URL. Because it has been indexed. And even if it's not a great URL, even if rankmath is going, this sucks. Don't change it. Because that's, that's like moving. And unless you do a 301 redirect, with no forwarding address. And even if you do, even if you do the redirect, you're creating a two step process to find you. Google does not like that. So leave it alone. It's now you've got this new page, create a new social share, graphic, put it back out on email and back out and social, those reoptimize posts take a third of the time that writing a new post does. And if you want to get really geeky Google Search Console, you can go to Google Search Console, and paste in that URL and say, Hey, basically what you're saying to Google is, hey, I know you know where this page is. But we got new stuff, take another look at it. And that will reindex the page. It we actually had a spreadsheet that we kept in the office. I've been blogging since 2008. My agency website, we had over 4000 blog posts, almost eight years. Okay, eight years. And in the early days, I was blogging seven days a week, I didn't have any customers. So what the heck, right. But they were shorter. And that's the thing is they were good posts, but they were 300 words, because that was the minimum. So we just had this spreadsheet. And every time we re optimized a post, we added it to the sheet. And we checked off. What did we do new content, new photo, new social share? And then did we re index it and the date. So we had this picture, when we would plan our social media because we weren't writing as much new content. But it didn't matter. Because we had all of this content that we could get into our social media and be sharing that was updated and enhanced.
Alyson Lex 23:47
what it sounds like, frankly, we could probably talk for another 62 hours and get all of the advanced strategies and tips. And maybe you would share some more spreadsheet love because my ears perked up. I love them. But this is just a podcast. So where can our listeners connect with you to get more of that kind of information and more advanced stuff to help them even further.
Lorraine Ball 24:16
So I've taken all of the content, all the worksheets, everything that I developed over 20 years of running an agency and put it into the digital toolbox. It's digital toolbox dot club. And you can find all sorts of stuff there. I do have a podcast more than a few words.com. And so you can hear more of whatever this is. And LinkedIn, that's really the best place if you want to talk about business. That's where you connect with me.
Jennie Wright 24:50
Awesome, and we're gonna have all those links in the show notes for the podcast. So you're gonna want to head over to system to thrive.com You're gonna go to 168 that's going to be local arraign in our awesome podcast lineup, just to catch everything that she talked about here on SEO, all of the links that she talked about, including answer the public, you know, as Socrates, etc rank math and Google Search Console, which I was just checking out, so go and check those out system to thrive.com, check out episode 168. And get all that good information. Florian. Thanks so much for taking the time and being so generous with your help and support and resources and content. Well, thank
Lorraine Ball 25:28
you. This has been a lot of fun. Thank you for inviting me.
Jennie Wright 25:31
Absolutely. And if you want to hear more episodes, like Lorraine's, and also a multitude of different kinds, like Alyson I had some really great episode series coming up talking about content and sales. Check us out at system to thrive.com or wherever you're listening to your episodes and don't forget to like and follow. Thanks so much. We'll talk to you soon.