SEO for Creatives
People tend to misunderstand SEO. It’s made out to be this big, ugly, complicated thing, but actually, it isn’t.
I think the misconception comes from the early days, when keyword stuffing was a thing, and SEO was made to feel complex by marketers who advertised themselves as experts in the subject.
Here, I wanted to simplify it a bit, and look at ways that creatives can utilise it in not just web copy, but also other areas as well. Because once you know what it is and how to use it, you’ll wonder what the heck all the fuss was about.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, which put simply is creating written content in such a way that search engines like Google can find it and rank it. It does this by looking at how the content is structured, and particularly by the key words and phrases in it.
I mentioned earlier an archaic practice called keyword stuffing – back in the day, users would try to outsmart the internet by repeating keywords as many times as they could get away with in everything they wrote in order to rank more highly on the search list.
Needless to say, that no longer works (although I did recently have someone email and ask me if I could adhere to their required keyword density on their blog posts. I declined). Nowadays Google favours more organic content. Keywords are still important, but the search engine can spot stuffing a mile off, and penalises for it.
Put simply, the trick is to know what words and phrases people are likely to be using to search for you, and using them in a natural way in your writing. There are certain ways of doing this effectively, which we’ll get into later, but all you need to know is that when you’re writing for any of your online content, you need to have your keywords in mind.
SEO and Social Media
You don’t need to use keywords in social media though, right?
Well, actually, while your social posts on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn don’t currently appear in Google, you still need to use keywords, it’s just a slightly different method. Let me explain how it works.
When someone searches for you in Google, your social media platforms might appear – but not from your posts. Google will find you from your profile, and so this is where you need to start with your key words.
The first thing you need to do is look at your title and description – this is particularly important in places where you have business accounts.
Let’s take LinkedIn as an example – and if you’re clients are other businesses you really should be on this platform. As well as the full name of your business, you should also make sure you describe what you do and who you serve.
In fact, on all of your platforms, you need to make the most of your profile description. If you just put something generic like ‘owner of mundane and boring photography studio’, no one is going to find you. Think instead about how they are likely to search for you. Are you a wedding photographer? Product photographer? Do you serve a particular area, or specialise in something specific? Say so!
How about these examples:
- Pet photographer, Birmingham.
- Photographer specialising in fashion and portrait photography.
- Wildlife photographer with experience in underwater videography.
You get the idea? Now if someone searches for ‘pet photographer’, who’s gonna come up?
The second element in SEO for social media you’ll need to consider is that many people will search directly from the platform rather than Google. Why? Because social media channels are search engines too!
Again, this is why having specific keywords in your social media profile is vital. Most social platforms have a search bar at the top where anyone can search for you under either your name, job title, or industry. That might mean they search for you as Joe Bloggs, Graphic Designer, or Website Design. If you want to get found, all of those kinds of descriptions need to appear somewhere on your profiles.
Take some time to look at specific platforms as they all have slightly different ways of doing things.
SEO and blogging
Now you know that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, let’s dig a little deeper into that. Really, when we talk about search engines, we’re focussing on Google, because that’s the search engine that most of us are familiar with, and the one that we most use.
When we look at how to optimise our content, what we’re really looking to do is make it so that Google will see it and rank it highly, so that people who search can find your content.
You might be looking to have your website, or a specific page of your website, to rank highly on Google (by this we mean that you want your website to appear on the fist page of a Google search). Unless you are a big corporate, or have done a heck of a lot of work in order to get your website optimised, it’s a pretty hard task.
There are a few ways in which you can get yourself Google searchable. The most obvious ones are:
- YouTube Videos
- Pinterest Pins
All of these are searchable vis Google, and in order to get ranked, you really need to be doing at least one of the above, more if you can.
In my opinion, blogging is a non-negotiable, and it’s the one that I believe to be the most effective, because you can weave in a lot of your keywords into it. So regardless if you choose to do any of the other three, you must include a blog as part of your campaign.
Google likes fresh content. And so it makes sense that it will favour those websites who post regular, well-written blog posts. The more quality posts you can write, the better chance you will have of being found on Google.
Remember though that this is a long-game. You won’t be fighting off new customers after posting one blog. You need a good number of posts, and you need to promote them everywhere, at least in the beginning.
This one is again focussing on social media – hashtags are often misunderstood. It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing a post and then adding a huge list of hashtags that you think sound like they should be there. But how much thought do you put into it, and do you actually know how hashtags work?
I’ll explain it as simply as I can.
A hashtag gets you put onto a searchable list. So if, for example, I was to post something about this blog on my Facebook Page, I could put the Hashtag #SEO. Now, everyone who puts #SEO in their Facebook search box will see my post, along with everyone else who has used the same hashtag.
How do you know which hashtags you should be using? The first thing to mention is please don’t just guess. Don’t be tempted to put random words or cute or clever phrases – they won’t work.
Probably the easiest thing to do is to go to your search box in whatever social channel you’re working on, and put a # and then start typing a keyword that you think is appropriate to your post. You will then be prompted to associated hashtags that other people are using.
Not all social media channels have the same number allowance for hashtags, so make sure you know what the rules are for the social platforms you are using, and experiment on what works. You don’t want to use the same set of hashtags over and over, but you can repeat the most relevant in many of your posts.
Vary it – try using just a couple, and then try using the maximum allowance. See what you’re getting searched on, and use it for other posts. Whatever you do, always use at least a couple of hashtags on each of your social posts.
I hope this has been useful for you. Feel free to drop me a comment with your thoughts and questions below.