1. Do a full SEO audit of your main business website.
The first and probably most important SEO task you can do during the Coronavirus Quarantine is to audit your website to understand a baseline of where you are. You can then easily make a list of things to fix, figure out which ones you want to do yourself and which you want to farm out.
Do it yourself SEO is not for the faint of heart, and if you don’t already have at least some technical foundation, the hill might be a bit too steep.
But let’s look and see what the landscape looks like.
Here are 5 SEO tools you can use to get a handle on the SEO health of your website. You can use these tools, though if you are not into current SEO, you really won’t gain a full understanding of what you are looking at. You can still get a lot done, because you can learn a little bit more about SEO in the process of analyzing your business through these tools.
If you don’t already have a good working SEO knowledge, this is a great time to gain some!
How does an SEO Audit help your SEO?
It tells you at a granular level what you need to improve, and errors that are hindering your SEO. It’s a black and white, easy to access guide for exactly what you need to do to improve.
Knowledge Level Needed (1-5): 4
To be effective, probably a 4. An effective and useful audit is about speed. Get the info fast, understand what’s important in that info, and execute fast. If you don’t have the time or expertise to do this, hire a pro. If you’re ok getting limited benefit as you learn, get after it!
2. Connect all of your Social Profiles to Your Website
One of the most common mistakes I see is social profiles are not connected, which is really silly, because it’s usually just a process of filling out a form on your WordPress website.
This is another reason to use WordPress, because WordPress makes it super super easy. Social profiles pointing the right direction are really important for SEO, but they’re even more important for customer retention, click-through rate, and social proof.
Social proof is the process of letting your prospective customer know that other people just like them have used your service and are happy with you.
It’s difficult to overemphasize how important clear throughput of social interaction on your website can be.
How does connecting your Social Profiles help your SEO?
One of Google’s top ranking factors is social signals, so when your social profiles are connected to your site, and you pass good info between them, it gives you some social signals. It’s not going to skyrocket your rankings, but you’re hurting yourself if you don’t have it in place.
Knowledge Level Needed: 1
Unless your site has no plugins that help you connect social profiles, this will be very easy. Install Yoast if you have a WordPress site. Connecting your website is far easier; just fill in your website on the social profile. Butter.
3. Optimize All Social Profiles.
Most social profiles exist somewhat in a silo. This means that they do not pass link juice we each other, they don’t pass link juice to your website or anything else.
That said, Google is smart.
You might have heard that before, but it’s true. Google can figure out that your social profile is pointing at your website. And it matters. It’s not a game changer, and it’s not going to completely change your SEO life, but it does matter.
And it has an effect. There are secondary functions within the SEO sphere, but that’s too complicated to go in now. Just suffice it to say that you need to be active on your social profiles, have them optimize, and make sure they are connected to your website correctly.
How does optimizing your social profiles help your SEO?
It’s another brick in the wall. Like most things, it’s not going to explode your rankings, but it helps your social signals be as strong as they can be.
Knowledge Level Needed: 3
You need to understand the value of the SEO assets you have in each social profile, but there are enough tutorials out there to tell you which profile has what value, you should be ok.
4. Write Blog Posts
This quarantine is a great time to start building the blog (or writing those blog posts) that you’ve always known that you needed to do but never had the time.
This is probably the most agnst-inducing word to the small business owner, but its a necessary pain!
Most small business owners don’t realize how easy blogging can be. Most of us feel like we need to be writing Shakespeare to blog, and if we can’t come up with the most unique, One of a Kind content there is, we shouldn’t blog.
“Everyone else is doing this already”, we say to ourselves. We don’t realize that we each have a unique take on things.
I offer an easy 5-step Quick Start Method to get yourself moving so you can blog THIS week. I’ve written entire blog post about it, (see what I did there?) that details exactly how to get yourself moving, and provide the unique content that is already in your brain.
So blog. Try to blog once a week.
Bonus points if you have a YouTube video that you can embed somewhere on the blog.
Now just repeat this five times, and you have five blog posts that you can share regularly as Evergreen content.
Here’s a pro tip: Voice-to-Text.
I am actually writing this using a voice-to-text transcription function inside of Gmail. It’s a great tool, and is pure gold when I want to get an idea out of my head.
Now, now that you blogged, you can take the next step. And that goes to the next phase.
How does Writing Blog Posts Help your SEO?
It’s powerful. Google is constantly looking for good content. The secret sauce is to make sure you’re answering questions that your customers have. You can even search Google to see if your questions are actually getting searched. If you’re a little more on the knowledgeable side, blogging is a great way to silo content. Don’t worry if you don’t know what that means, just start writing!
Knowledge Level Needed: 3
You need to be able to write cohesively, and you need to understand how to properly use keywords. Hint: not too many, but make sure you have a couple of mentions, direct and indirect, per 300 words. WARNING: DO NOT repeat the same keyword over and over unnaturally. That will get you a slap from Google.
5. Optimize Google My Business.
Google My Business is the “Home Base” for your local marketing through Google, and since Google is the heavyweight in local search, you may want to consider it THE center of your local marketing.
Google My Business is a powerful marketing tool, made even more so in the changes Google has made in their system in the last 12-18 months. If you’re blogging, you should be copying and pasting your blog, or a piece of it, over to a Google My Business post.
There are more optimization functions to be done here, but it’s too involved for one post. There are dozens of specific steps to take in your optimization efforts, so I’ll have to leave that for another post.
How does Optimizing your Google My Business Help Your SEO?
Impossible to overstate it: POWERFUL.
Google has made it their business to make it powerful, so take heed. Get on your steed. Proceed.
Knowledge Level Needed: 3-5
If you just show up every day on your GMB account and do something, you’ll be doing ok.
For the next level, you need some knowledge. Specifically, you need to know what NOT to do. There are a litany of actions you can take that will actually get your account suspended.
6. Optimize and “Syndicate” Your Reviews
Make the most of your reviews!
Don’t let those wonderful reviews just sit out there on those various review sites and social sites! Make sure you’re getting the most out of them. You already did the hard work to get the review, y providing great service; now get the most out of the payoff.
Here are a few ideas.
I go much deeper into about how to make the most of your reviews in another blog post, but for now let’s just quickly talk about how to use them.
First, have a central reviews or testimonials page. It’s a single page on your main website where your prospective clients can go and hear how great you are.
Then, sprinkle the reviews throughout your website.
Every page should have a review, even the about page.
Reviews are the most common way that a prospect interacts with you before the sale, previews your product or service, and samples your brand, long before they ever make a purchase.
Know, Like & Trust has never been bigger than it is now, even though it happens most often now in a virtual way.
How Does Optimizing and Syndicating Your Reviews Help Your SEO?
When it’s done right, your reviews tell future prospects exactly how it will be to buy from you. Syndicating your reviews means that the buyer journey, told by your current customers, is experienced first-hand. Since reviews are about your products and services, they are directly tied to your optimum keywords (or they should be).
Knowledge Level Needed: 2
You need to understand copywriting just enough to insert keywords in the proper places.
SEO Pro Tip: Blog Your Reviews as Case Studies or Use Cases
You can also write blog posts ABOUT your reviews. This is a longer process, and again, I go into this fully in a separate blog post, but suffice it to say here that you can create complete blog post out of single reviews. They’re very powerful.
7. Develop your brand story.
Why did you start your business? What’s your passion about what you do? What’s your favorite part of what you do? Wine? Who have you helped? What stories are there around that? How does tie into your core value proposition, and your brand byline? For me, Define the elements of a brand. Logo, colors, feel, byline Etc
Try this: think through your Brand Values, and then associate an image with each value. After that, associate a Value Proposition to those same values. Make a video on each Value Proposition.
Now, you have content associated directly with your Brand. The more iterations you run through with this process, the more honed your Brand Values will be.
How Does Developing Your Brand Story Help Your SEO?
Now more than ever, branding is inseparable from SEO. In the past, you could operate your SEO campaign as some small part of your overall marketing campaign, or as some isolated effort that is short term, but not anymore.
The age of the semantic web and the BERT update in the Fall of 2019 means that Google is constantly in the business of tying brand facts to your brand as an entity, not just ranking a page.
And remember; your Brand Story is the aggregation of your Value Propositions plus your personal story.
Knowledge Level Needed: 1?
I said 1 with a question mark, because you should be able to tell the story of your brand. It’s ok if you don’t know where to start, but it really is the most important job you have in your small business. I think the argument could easily be made that it’s the most important place to invest.
8. Define your value proposition(s).
If you don’t understand what your value propositions are, this is a great time to really nail that down. We’ve already discussed Value Propositions in the previous section on branding, but it’s still valid to
In short, a value proposition is that phrase by which you propose value to your prospective clients.
What value are you proposing to me that your Product or Service has? That is your value proposition. How are you solving my problem? How are you making my life easier?
The more time you spend developing your Value Propositions, the more they will pay off.
How Does Defining Your Value Propositions Help Your SEO?
Easy. Value Propositions = Keywords. Value Propositions also produce solutions to problems, which yield more keywords.
Knowledge Level Needed: For SEO: 1 For Copywriting, 4
Working in the land between keywords and copy can be murky. The more work you do in this area, the better.
9. Deploy Your Value Proposition(s)
I know, I know, that sounds like what you’d hear on a military show on Netflix, but I promise, it’s relevant!
Once you have your Value Proposition defined, you have to deploy it. If you’ve been blogging and building pages o your website, then you have at least a dozen pages out there that need to be corrected to reflect your new VPs.
Don’t stop with just one, though; it’s almost impossible that you don’t have more than one Value Proposition, because if you’re like most small business owners, you have more than one product or service, and more than one product or service means more than one Value Proposition.
Every bit of effort you put into Value Propositions pays huge dividends, because they are the direct conduit in talking to your ideal clients….in their exact language!
Every ounce of energy you put into your Value Propositions, and then your Brand Story, is like super power juice for your SEO. Whether you realize it or not, Value Propositions and SEO
are inextricably linked, and one powers the other.
How Does Deploying Your Value Propositions Help Your SEO?
When you put your Value Propositions out into the Googleverse, you’re putting little spotlights and highway signs back to your website. By spaeaking in terms of value to your prospective customers, you preach the value of your service to them long before they ever come to your site.
Knowledge Level Needed: 2
A good mix of SEO for keywords and a little higher knowledge of copywriting, again, and you’re off to the races.
10. Raise your SEO Tool game.
Quarantine is a great time to go through different tool lists, try some, discard what you don’t like and keep the rest.
There are so many free tools out there, pick up some and start using them on your side. I’m including a video on how to use some of the tools that I really like out there, most of these are free.
I will indicate where there is a charge, but usually they are all free.
Using an SEO tool really develops your skills and understanding the SEO World from a technical perspective, and causes you to look at your site through a different lens that you had not seen before.
How Does Learning About SEO Tools Help Your SEO?
The better you know SEO tools like Google Analytics and Search Console (and others), the more time you save yourself, the more productive you become, and the more accurate your entire operation becomes.
Knowledge Level Needed: 5 (eventually)
Starting out at 1 is just fine, because that’s where we all start. Get out there and learn!
11. Reach Out to Your Network
Warming up your network is a great opportunity to learn what’s going on in the lives of your close business alliances, and you might even come across some business opportunities.
Of course, you don’t want to do this if all you’re looking for is a sale. This isn’t the time.
If you’re unused to networking, here are a few pointers.
First, bring value.
Just like a garden, you can’t expect consistent output without constant feeding, watering, weeding, and most importantly, FEEDING.
How do you feed your network?
In short, help your people. There are many ways to do it, but here’s a HUGE help: reviews.
Most likely, you’ve done some business with different people in your network. If not, you probably still know them or a service they’ve done for someone else well enough to give them a review. You may have even given them a review already. Here’s where you can really help:
Don’t stop with one review!
There are about a dozen major review sites, including Google, Yelp, LinkedIn, Manta, YellowPages and Better Business Bureau.
Go to each of these sites, look for your friend’s business, go to their profile, and tell their story. In less than an hour, you can make a massive difference for anyone in your network that has public profiles.
Google finds every one of these reviews that exists, and values them very highly.
How Does Reaching Out To Your Network Help Your SEO?
It seems counter-intuitive, but real world activity has never had more effect on your SEO than now. Here are just a few ways you can do this:
First, bounce your Value Propositions off your close network. They will tell you what resonates and what doesn’t.
Next, offer reviews and ask for reviews. Make sure you get keywords in your reviews, VERY important and very effective.
If you just do these two things, your SEO will get better, along with your Brand Messaging, your sales and your own presentation of your Brand Message.
Knowledge Level Needed: 1
Just get out there and do it! Even in Covid quarantine, you can still use the phone!
12. Develop Video in Your Brand Story
Video is important…when used right.
Before going any further, let me tell you what is probably the biggest waste of budget I see by small business owners: video.
“So why are you telling me to do video when it’s the biggest waste of money you see?!?”
Hold on, I’m talking about poorly conceived and executed video.
Now, here’s the good news: where it’s poorly executed is exactly what will benefit you the most: the money!
The mistake I see most often is small business owners paying thousands of dollars for video that looks great, but has no message. All the budget goes into the visual of the video, and while money might have been invested i copywriting, that copy is not wrapped around value propositions, but rather around some pet idea of the owner of the business.
You can make a video with your phone and a tripod that’s ten times as effective than a $5,000 video, and it won’t cost you any more than some of your time!
The next few items I list will revolve around video, and some high level thoughts about how to use it.
How Does Video in Your Brand Story Help Your SEO?
As you develop your Value Propositions, talk through solutions, answer common questions, then put all of this content in video, you are building a content empire. Take the next step and put relevant images throughout this content, and your SEO empire just keeps growing.
Knowledge Level Needed: 3
You need to have some knowledge of how to frame pictures and video, how to write video-friendly copy, etc… But hey, DON’T LET THAT STOP YOU. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of Good”. Starting beats perfect.
Just imagine a quote that totally inspires you to get moving, and then pretend you read that quote here, then pretend you thanked me.
13. Build a YouTube Channel
YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, after Google, and they are owned by Google, so you better know that Google values what’s on that platform.
This is where it has to stay high level for now, because there are you too many steps to fully setting up and optimizing a YouTube channel.
Try to use a keyword in the title of your username. There are tens of millions of YouTube accounts, so the likelihood of you getting exactly the name you want is low. Get as close as you can.
Next, be as descriptive as you can in your about section. See how we always get back to Value Propositions? Include them in your description.
How Does Building a YouTube Channel Help Your SEO?
Hard to overestimate the power of your own YouTube Channel. YouTube is owned by Google, and is the world’s second largest search engine, and there’s plenty of data that says Google loves YouTube content.
Secondary to that, but just as important, maybe more, you have a channel to tell your story in an organized way. Talk to your customers directly, and tell them your story.
There are dozens of technical ways you can either optimize YouTube videos for SEO or deploy it on your site, but that will have to be a different blog post.
Knowledge Level Needed: 3 eventually
Learn as you go. Get started, all the above inspirational, get off the couch quotes inserted here.
14. Shoot Selfie Videos that Tell Your Story
Talk about your service offerings, products, your back story (customers love to hear about how you started your business and what you’re passionate about), anything you can think of that would help your prospects make a better decision.
You may find this hard to believe, but in most cases, off-hand, self-shot, amateur video converts far better than well-produced video.
There are exceptions, of course, but not enough to stop you from shooting video today!
Few people are comfortable seeing themselves on camera, so just start. You’ll get more comfortable as you go.
How Does Shooting Selfie Videos Help Your SEO?
One word: Conversion.
Selfie videos just convert better than most other video types. If you can get an interview video to work like a selfie video, those will convert well, too.
Knowledge Level Needed: 2
In this case, it’s less about actual knowledge, and more about tools and tactics. Get a good selfie stick. Get a tripod. You can actually use a tripod as a selfie stick while it’s folded up if you want. Get a phone clip. Then, it’s all about trial and error. Get started!
15. Shoot Videos that Answer Common Product or Service Questions
Explanatory videos that help your customer make a better decision, navigate tough parts of using your product or service, or otherwise make it easier for your ideal prospect to do business with you.
The best way to target video like this is to walk back through your last 15-20 customer interactions. Interview these folks ad ask questions about how things went. If you have a customer service department, poll your team and dig into your most common questions or problems.
Then shoot video for that.
How Does Shooting FAQ Videos or “Fix My Problem” Videos Help Your SEO?
Again, Conversion. If you have any doubts remaining about how much answering relevant questions matters, note this: Google has recently added a “People Also Ask” section in organic search.
You can even get a leg up by polling this section regularly within the framework of your core keywords. Google thinks those questions are relevant, shouldn’t you? Check out the image below for further proof:
16. Seek Out Opportunities for Free Tutorial Videos
Tutorials are’t a good fit for every small business (for instance, you could not very well shoot a tutorial on how to remodel your house after a tornado if you are a disaster recovery company). Determine if they are, and if so, do it!
Free tutorials are great for establishing trust, because as a prospect, you’re helping me for free. If you can create one with enough value, you can offer it as a lead magnet to use on your website to collect emails.
Now that you’ve shot tutorials and product and service videos, let’s talk about the 3rd type of video before we move on to some technically helpful tips.
How Do Free Tutorial Videos Help Your SEO? Isn’t That Giving Too Much Away?
This might be the most important point in this entire blog post: Branding IS SEO today.
SEO was once about keywords. Now it’s about entities, and your Brand is your Entity.
Tutorial videos help you establish yourself as an authority in your space. When you take the next step and continually attach your tutorials to key questions and problems stated by your audience, that authority branding moves into higher gear.
Knowledge Level Needed: 3
Again, it’s about the intersection of writing good copy for your video, and the tactical aspect of shooting it.
One of the tools I talk about all the time is Screencastify, because any small business owner can shoot browser based tutorial videos….get ready for it….FOR FREE.
Screencastify is right up there with Google to me for value to the small business owner.
17. Shoot Videos that Tell Review Stories
You can super-power your reviews by telling the story of them through video. You can do this one of a couple of ways (I’m sure there are more, but these are 2 I really like).
First, just a regular off-hand selfie video, walking through the engagement on which the review was based. I’ll leave that, since we’ve already discussed selfie videos.
The next type of review video is a type that you can actually use across any of the types we’ve discussed before. I call it a slide deck video, but I’ve heard it called a Slideshare video, too. Either way, you simply use slides or images to walk through a scenario that reflects the review engagement.
There is a really great extension you can use to make these videos, called “Screencastify”. I talked about it in the Video Marketing section of my post on Digital Marketing Tools (linked above), I’ve talked about it in the section above, I talk about it in my workshops, I literally talk about it all the time. It’s just a stupendous value.
How Does Shooting Review Story Videos Help Your SEO?
It deepens your authority, your customer solution story, which all gotes to your branding, which again, is about entities and what SEO is all about today.
Knowledge Level Needed: 3
Same as above. The good news is, as you learn to do one of the above video shooting tasks, all those skills will apply across all of these, so it won’t be like learning to level 3 on several tasks, but rather all “the skill boats will rise”, meaning that you will get better at all of the video tasks at once.