Whether you are somebody who already feels fairly advanced in their SEO knowledge or you are somebody who is still unsure exactly what it is, there is something in this interview for you. We talked about SEO for Showit specifically, and I believe it will serve you whether you already rank first on Google or you don’t even know what page you are on (or how to check).
I hired Sara Dunn from Sara Does SEO personally in my own business a few years ago (although it honestly doesn’t feel like that long ago) and I can attest, she is the real deal. Such a pleasure to work with and I learned so much about SEO in the process of working together. I can’t wait to share this interview with her today!
For those of you that don’t know - Sara is a wedding industry SEO specialist which means her (and her team) actively search for what engaged couples look for online every single day. She has been helping wedding pros everywhere get found on Google since 2017, and in today’s episode, she actually dropped that she will be launching something for website designers in 2023! Her background is in web development so I’m excited to stay tuned!
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE NOW:
Let’s start at the basics - can you explain in basic terms what SEO is?
Yes! SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s essentially the art of influencing Google to show YOUR website higher in search results for free. We aren’t talking about ads here. We are talking about the exposure you can get for zero dollars, just by doing the right things on your website to help Google understand your website or your content is exactly what your audience is searching for.
You can bring in so much traffic over multiple years for $0 if this is something you do well.
I’ve personally always cared about SEO and it’s so true how you worded that. It’s funny but whenever I get a sale from someone who comes to my website from Google or signs up for Booked Out Designer it almost feels “free” because I did a lot of the SEO work a long time ago. I didn’t feel like I had to pitch them on a webinar or batch a bunch of Instagram reels.
Absolutely. It’s kind of magical how the work you did from four years ago can be bringing you new sales today without you doing more work now. I always love the more passive work than the “active work” required from other platforms.
Should we update old blog posts that are ranking well? I feel like I can be scared to touch it.
Absolutely. It’s a GREAT idea to update and refresh your old content regularly. It’s very unlikely that you’ll change something so dramatically that will cause your post to dip in the rankings.
Should we change the date on the blog post after we update it?
As long as you’ve updated the entire post and it’s current for 2023, go ahead and change the date! That way, it gives you visibility at the top of your blog page too!
With that said, if you’ve only tweaked a few things and the post still kind of feels like “2018 advice” I would personally leave the date as is. It’s still okay to make those tweaks though!
Is Showit good for SEO?
People always ask me - what website platform is the best for SEO? It truly is whatever platform you enjoy using and will keep updated though - because one of the biggest things that will affect your SEO is letting your website go stale. One of the reasons I love Showit is it allows more creative brains like photographers and designers actually enjoy keeping their website updated, which in turn helps with their SEO.
Let’s Talk about the SEO Settings on Showit!
On the right hand panel, you’ll see the “SEO Settings”. The most important settings are the Page Title and Meta Description.
How do we write our Page Title and Meta Description?
First, I like to take a step back and remind people where this is actually showing up. When your potential clients type their search into Google, they see a list of blue clickable links and short descriptions below. The “Page Title” will often end up as the blue clickable link for your website or piece of content. Then, the meta description is the couple of lines of text that show up underneath and entices the reader to click.
With that context, we can then think about what we need to enter into Showit. The Page Title is one of the most important things that Google looks at to know what a page is about, so it’s important to include the keyword you have in mind for that page. Oftentimes, the best Page Title is “your keyword - the name of your business/brand”. So, for example, my home page might be “Wedding Industry SEO Specialist - Sara does SEO”
Do you need to include the name of your business in every page’s Page Title?
We do personally always end every page with a separator and the business name! It’s a common best practice and helps make sure Google indexes all of your content.
How do you keep that under the 60 character limit?
I don’t spend much time thinking about the visible character limit! Numerous studies have shown that even if your Page Title is wider than the viewable limit, it can still help your website rank on search engines. Ultimately, Google will choose the part of your Page Title to show. Sometimes - I will even include TWO keywords in the Page Title for a certain page.
What are some best practices for the meta description?
First, let me just say this: the biggest mistake I see people making is copying the same meta description on every single page. That’s not what Google (or your ideal client) is looking for. We don’t want to just describe your business, we want to tell people what they are going to get from that particular page.
The other thing to consider is that you do want it to be kind of enticing. This is not the place to keyword stuff or write four words and call it a day. This is your chance to sell someone on why they should visit your page so make it count. You don’t “win” by getting on page one of Google you “win” by getting them onto your website.
What about the SEO Image Setting in Showit?
This is more of a branding question because whether or not you have an image doesn’t necessarily make you appear higher in search results. From a branding perspective, these images are starting to show up on Google though so you definitely want to include something eye-catching if you have one! Ideally, that image will also appear on the page so there is some consistency between their Google search and landing on your page.
Personally, I prefer to choose a horizontal image, but it has to be something that looks good when cropped to a square. This is often the image that gets shared when someone posts your link on Facebook anyway, so that’s another reason to choose a horizontal image. I will rarely use a vertical image as they are less likely to look good once cropped.
Talking about SEO for Showit, what should we be doing with our images?
Whether it’s an image block or a gallery, you’ll get an option to add an image description. What is the SEO title vs. the description box? The description is your alt text! That is the MOST important piece to fill out when it comes to your website's SEO (over what Showit calls the “SEO Title”.
One mistake I see people make is wanting to use the same keyword in every image. Ideally, you want to describe what is IN the image and include your keyword when it is natural. The more context the better! For example, in a photo with a group of bridesmaids, you could write “bridesmaids at a Nashville wedding.”
Then for the SEO title, I just copy what is in the description.
Do you need to rename your images before you upload them?
Yes, I spend a lot of time downloading, renaming, and re-uploading clients' images because they have file names like “IMG0846.jpg”. It’s not something you can do later, and the name of the image actually becomes part of the code on your website. In fact, the Showit webmaster guidelines, recommends you use image names that are short but descriptive of the actual image.
You can definitely batch rename and name all of the images “Nashville-wedding-photographer.jpg” but if you want to take it up a notch, you can rename each individual image to be even more descriptive.
Did you catch the dashes in that example? You do need to make sure to include dashes in between the individual words in the image name.
What do we need to know about SEO for Showit or SEO in general in 2023?
Google is making a strong push to prioritize content that is unique, helpful, and based on personal experience. What Google wants to do more than anything is help its users find unique information they are looking for, that they can’t find anywhere else.
Those days of writing basic blogs are over. You really need to find an interesting perspective or showcase your personal experience in order for Google to trust YOU as the source of that information.
Sharing an example of a bridal shop featuring Vera Wang
I worked with a bridal shop recently that noticed their rankings were decreasing. They wanted to be found for certain designers, and for the sake of example, we will use Vera Wang. When I went to their website page featuring Vera Wang dresses, I saw the same copy, images, and descriptions as every single other bridal store carrying Vera Wang. Nothing was of unique value. That is a perfect example of what is NOT working on Google anymore.
Instead, we worked on making those pages unique with tactics like:
- Unique photos of Vera Wang dresses in their store
- Quotes from bridal consultants who work at their store
- Reviews from brides who have purchased Vera Wang from them
- Embedding Custom Video
Let’s take a second to stop thinking about the Google robot for a second - how much more interesting is this new page to potential customers who may be looking for a Vera Wang wedding dress? When we think about the humans behind the screen, which is what Google wants to do as well, SEO makes a lot more sense.
How do we find the natural balance between including keywords in our copy and also writing naturally for potential customers?
First things first, Google really does understand synonyms now. You do not need to repeat the exact same phrase over and over again anymore. In fact, more synonyms might actually be a good thing! It helps the page read better and Google will still understand the page. I tell my clients that they do not need to think about keyword density (the number of times your keyword shows up on the same page) and they do not need to write like a robot.
Instead, make the topic really clear in the first paragraph and then write naturally for the rest.
AI talk is everywhere now. How does this affect your job now and how is it affecting search engines right now?
People love to make scary statements like “AI is the end of Google”. Ultimately, any time anything new comes out, it has the potential to change the way we operate online. But what I recommend is for anyone who hasn’t experimented with something like chat GPT (it’s free!), to go ahead and check it out. It’s absolutely fascinating. You can put together truly anything and use any prompt. My husband had it write me a poem the other day!
At the end of the day, we control the prompts and we also control the output. We just talked about how Google is prioritizing unique content based on personal experience. Why do you think they are doing that? Because then AI will have less of an impact. AI can only scrape what’s on the internet so I think we need to ask ourselves from a human perspective: what can we bring that’s truly unique?
Also, let’s think about how we can use AI to support what we do.
Here’s what not to do: Go to an AI tool, ask it to write a blog post, and then copy and paste it on your website. Everyone working in the SEO space believes that Google will try to suppress content that was obviously and completely written by AI.
But can we use the tool to write a blog introduction if we are struggling with that? Or, can we ask something like chat GPT to write an outline for us and bring points we hadn’t thought of to us? Absolutely.
We can use AI to jumpstart the content you will write as a person. Ask it to write a blog post for you and then go in and edit it. Add your personal experience. Add a human touch. Add internal links that are relevant.
As an SEO specialist, I am not against AI writing tools. But I don’t think we should turn our websites into content factories and put out a ton of garbage content.
I always love experimenting in my business. Now, let’s talk about plagiarism and intellectual property for a second. Is AI literally just going to be taking sentences from the top blog posts from a searched topic and rewriting them? It seems a bit problematic.
From a content creator standpoint, I’m pretty ticked off about it. It’s funny actually, my friend asked chat GPT to write a blog post on ranking for the top wedding venues on Google and the output had so much of what I had in my blog post that ranks number one for that search term.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer for this. AI tools are going to scrape public content that already exists and rewrite it as new. As a content creator, I don’t think there is anything we can do anything about it (but I’m not a lawyer!). I think we just have to keep reaching toward providing helpful first-hand content.
Adding Video to your Content
I also want to make the point here that this makes more of a case for adding video into your content because video is harder to scrape/steal. If you can add a video component to your original content, you add a ton of value that can’t be as easily replicated.
How can we use video to help with SEO for Showit? What can we do to help video rank on Google?
Google is making a push to rank more video because it’s the type of content that everyone is consuming. Video can be a helpful result for a lot of searches. Personally, I don’t see it a lot in the wedding industry but if you are searching “how to do something”, video will often show up on the first page. That’s because we as searchers WANT a video.
One thing we don’t do enough as content creators is type into Google the keyword we want to be known for and see what kind of content people are searching. Analyze the current search results. If we want to be number one for a certain phrase, what’s there right now? Is Google including video in the results? Then you should make a better video than what’s available right now.
If there is no video, it’s a maybe. It might be that nobody has made a video on it (yet) or it might be that Google is not sure people actually want a video for that keyphrase. Ask yourself: would a video add value to the end user?
I also want to add - in terms of having video show up on Google, it does still usually need to include written words. I always recommend having a written blog post about something and then embedding video within the blog post. It’s not an either/or.
Such a good tip about analyzing current search results! Sometimes I will think about a keyword I want to rank and then when I search it on Google I realize that it’s not really a match.
Yes, and to add to that - I always recommend using Ubersuggest to confirm what people are actually searching for. It has a pretty generous free version, and you can type in the amount of times people search for a specific keyword. You’ll often be surprised to see how many times the answer is zero!!
I love using Ubersuggest too. Back to video, is there a platform that is “better” than the others for ranking on Google? Outside of SEO for Showit.
Youtube will always be first because Google owns Youtube. As much as possible, that’s where Google will push video traffic. That said, I do see Facebook videos on Google too so include a CTA in those Facebook descriptions too.
What is the most common outdated SEO strategy?
The idea of overusing the same keyword over and over again. People still believe SEO success comes from using their main keyword more than anyone else. That’s an outdated strategy. It doesn’t best serve the visitor on your website which is ultimately what Google wants.
It’s really easy to feel like your entire world would be solved if you could just rank for this one key phrase, but there are actually so many things people search for that could be relevant to your services, your business, and the advice you have to offer. Do not just focus on one keyword phrase.
Is there any new SEO strategy we should try in 2023?
Actually creating things that are unique and interesting and feature our personal experience. I think so many of us try to sound like a formal publication. We need to start adding our own opinions and perspectives in. It’s more work to create high-quality things, but it will absolutely pay off.
What’s an unpopular opinion you have about SEO strategy?
Consistency in blogging is overrated. I actually feel like this would be popular if people knew it. I hear all the time from clients that “I don’t have a blog because I don’t know if I could be consistent with”. NO! Just put one up, write two posts if that’s what you have time for right now. You can let it go stale, but whatever content you do have will at least start working for you in the meantime and you can come back to it when you have more time (even if that’s six months from now).
That’s exactly what I tell people about starting an email list. It’s like people don’t even want to make an opt-in or a nurture sequence because they won’t be emailing their list. I’m the first one to say: just put it out there so you can grow your email list and then use it when you do have the time.
Rapid Fire Questions for Sara Does SEO
What’s an SEO plugin or website you love for SEO in 2023? I love Ubersuggest. Honestly, for the price and the value it brings, it’s easily one of my favorite SEO tools.
What’s the best business book you’ve ever read? Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Daniel Meyer. He’s the founder of Shake Shack. It’s all about hospitality in business and going above and beyond in your business.
Where can people find and connect with you next? SaradoesSEO.com is where you’ll find all of the information on our services, obviously there are a lot of informational blog posts on there as well! You can also find me on Instagram and TikTok @saradoesseo
Ready to get to work and get your website on page one of Google?
My Showit website templates can help. One thing a lot of people don’t realize about Showit website templates is that if the designer set things up sloppy on the back end (even if they did not mean to), it can hurt your SEO.
I’m talking about things like your heading settings (called advanced tagging in Showit), the way your canvases are set up, the stacking order of your objects, how much opportunity there is for text on a page, and a lot more of that technical stuff that you probably don’t want to be thinking about when you’re building your website. That’s one of the reasons you chose Showit, right? I get it.
If you are in the market for a new website template, you can rest assured I’ve thought about it all (and have double checked everything multiple times) so that you don’t have to. You can find all of my SEO-friendly templates here. There are sales pages, landing pages, podcast pages, full website templates, and so much more waiting for you there.
Plus, as a podcast listener (or reader!), you can use the code BBPODCAST for 10% off ANY template. So go get your template, apply what Sara and I talked about here, and get set to sail to page one on Google. Also, if you’re new to Showit and want a FREE month of your subscription, check that out here!
February 14, 2023