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Let’s be honest, SEO can be a pain in the butt. It may seem overwhelming, but our guest today is going to share why SEO is a critical element of your long-term digital product selling strategy. Make sure to take some notes, because today's episode is packed full of information that you definitely shouldn’t miss.
Social media marketing can be really helpful when you're pushing products out to your audience. But if you want to build your audience or get your products out to new customers, SEO can be a great way to find people interested in what you’re offering.
I’m really excited to introduce our guest today on the Rebel Boss Ladies Podcast episode 016, Meg Casebolt. She’s an SEO expert and today she’s going to explain why SEO is so important and how to build an SEO strategy that helps you market and sell more digital products.
Meg wasn’t always so focused on SEO. “I think that no one really starts as SEO because it's really nerdy and kind of boring, I'll be totally honest about that. It is not the sexy side of digital marketing.”
She started out as a web designer and focused on helping her clients build brands and websites, however many of her clients kept running into the same problem. Even though they had re-branded or re-launched a great website, they weren’t really finding a new audience.
Meg started looking into what else she could do as a web designer to help her clients get found more easily.
“As I started to dig more into search psychology and the ways that we can optimize our websites, I just kind of dug in SEO and I really started to enjoy it.”
Meg admits that SEO can be a beast. “It takes a full-time focus to do it really well.” She decided that instead of splitting her time between web design and search engine optimization, she’d focus fully on becoming an expert on all parts of SEO.
“It's not just getting the right content on your website. It's also making sure your website loads quickly, that it looks good on a phone or a tablet and not just on a big screen… Making sure you don't have too much of the same content, making sure that you have good links coming into your website.”
Once she made SEO her niche, she started telling her online network of people and receiving a ton of support. She built strong relationships with other entrepreneurs who wanted their websites to be found but didn’t have time to learn all the ins and outs of SEO.
“They were like: ‘Oh my god I've been waiting for somebody to do this. Thank you.’”
The term “SEO” gets thrown around a lot in the online world, but what does it actually mean? SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization,” and its all about strategies to make your content and site more visible on search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, and even YouTube, Pinterest, Amazon or eBay.
Meg explains it this way. “When we're talking about optimizing it, we're talking about finding the keywords, the phrases that people are looking for in a search engine when they're going to google something, and then aligning your content to be found for those topics.”
Meg says that the first step when you're selling a digital product is to sell it to people who already know you. She emphasizes that using your Facebook or Instagram account to get your product out there is a great way to reach your audience initially. “Social is absolutely the right place to start.”
Meg explains that one problem with social media is that you have a limited audience. “I think that it's really easy to hit a bit of a plateau with your social. You have a limited number of people who already know you.”
SEO is a great way to get past this plateau. It allows you to reach people who are interested in what you have to offer, without you having to constantly push out new content on social.
“You're pulling in people who are searching for what you're looking for and because they're Googling something and then you're answering their questions they already trust you.”
The best way to start with SEO is think about the problems that your audience may have and what they’ll Google to solve it. If your niche is decluttering your closet, for example, think about what people may search for on Google that relate to your product.
According to Meg, for Google searches “you want to create some content that is the kinds of things that people are struggling with.” Pinterest is a bit different, because you want to consider “the kinds of things that they're aspiring to.”
Once you identify your audiences’ problems, you can use it to create content that answers those questions naturally. “Show that you're an expert, be compassionate and say ‘I totally know, I've been there, here's my story,’ but also include some of those phrases that they're searching for.”
While social media can help you sell your product to an audience that already knows you, SEO can help you build your audience and grow your customer base.
Listicle articles, like “the 16 Reasons Why You’re Failing In Your Business” (or something similar) do well on social media because they grab your reader’s interest and push a pain point.
These types of articles don’t always do as well in search engines, though. “Nobody's going to Google and saying, ‘what are the business mistakes that I'm making.’ They're searching for ‘how do I make more money,’ not ‘what are the mistakes that I'm making.’”
When optimizing your content, make sure you think about the types of problems people may be searching for. The best way to do this is by putting yourself in the mindset of your ideal client.
Meg advises her clients to look at the product they’re trying to sell, and think through what a potential buyer might search for to end up on their site. “You want to be bringing people into your site that are having all the problems that you're going to address in your course.”
Once you identify the problems your clients may google, make sure you develop content that targets these specific problems. Writing blog posts, creating YouTube videos, or developing cross-platform content can be great ways to drive traffic to your site.
Meg emphasizes that you don’t always need to write 2,500 words on a topic, and not everything has to be a blog post. However, “if you want to show up in Google search results, long form blog post content is still the best way to do it.”
Meg recommends thinking about SEO and content strategy as a way to fill your sales funnel.
“If you if you have the course but you haven't quite figured out how to sell the course, sure you can absolutely be writing content. Sure you can be a shoulder tapping people and selling your course that way. But once you have that funnel in place then you just like think of SEO as your way to fill the funnel.”
Think back a few steps in your buyer’s journey and ask what questions people could search to get to your page in the first place. Meg recommends thinking about your content strategy as a long-form way to overcome objections.
“Before they get to the point of having their credit card out in their hands or probably more likely signing into their pay PayPal account, right before they get there they have to first know that they have a problem. And before they get it and they have to know what the problem is and the you are the solution to the problem.”
SEO can especially help you sell your digital products if you create your sales funnel first, and then create targeted content that ranks high on search engines. Your content should have a purpose, and bring people directly to your lead magnet or other way to engage with your product.
“I find with my clients if they start blogging extensively and then they create the product sometimes the blogs don't necessarily lead to the product.”
Make sure that if you start attracting traffic to your site, you give them a place to go. Even if you have great content, it’s not doing anything for you if you don’t have a lead magnet in place or a way for the audience to engage with your product.
Meg recommends that before you start creating blog posts and other content, you should create your product, figure out exactly what problem you’re solving and who you’re solving it for, and then work backwards from there.
“You want to know what it is that you are going to sell your audience before you build your audience because you can get all the traffic in the world to your website if you have pictures of cute cats. But if you're not selling them something related to cute cats then they're not going to buy from you.”
It’s also important to use that content to nurture your audience. Finding your blog through a search engine is the first step in your relationship, but you have to build that relationship before your audience may be willing to buy your product.
While SEO is an important part of selling your digital product, it’s just one piece in the overall puzzle. According to Meg, “you need to have that funnel in place, blogging and social media and search and all of these pieces are just ways to build the trust to get those people to know you well enough to want to buy from you.”
The first step to optimize your content is doing some keyword research. Researching and using keywords is a huge topic, but Meg offers a few specific words of advice for anyone new to SEO.
First, find a tool that helps you to research different keywords. Two great tools are ubersuggest.io and keyword.io, and both are free.
Ubersuggest is a great resource for Google searches and it shows both how popular and competitive a search term is is. Even though a search term may be really popular, there may also be a lot of other webpages featuring that content and it may be difficult to compete with that term.
Meg recommends finding search terms that are less popular but also have less competition. These keywords may be more specific, however “you're more likely to be found for it and those people, because they're being more specific in their search, are more likely to take action on it.”
If you’re looking for keywords that are popular on other search engines like YouTube, eBay, Amazon and others check out Keyword.io. It’s one of the best tools to use if you’re looking to optimize content for other search engines.
Once you determine your keyword, Meg recommends building content around that exact keyword. One of the best ways to do this is by writing blog posts that are highly specific and detailed. This will help sell your products, because you’re more likely to be found by your target audience if you’re highly specific in your expertise.
“You have to be granular almost to the point of repeating yourself in order to become an expert at it or to be seen by Google as an expert at it.”
It’s easy to feel pressured that you need to be everything for everyone, but this doesn’t help you in the long run. Being an expert in a niche market both improves your credibility and makes it easier for your audience to find you.
Meg also emphasizes the importance of how to position yourself to your audience. She was recently contacted by a client who was looking for an SEO specialist who’s also a feminist. “You have to be really tight on your messaging in order to be found for those specific things. And because I showed up in her search terms she reached out.”
When thinking about your branding and messaging, don’t worry about repelling people. Being specific on who you are and what your expertise is doesn’t repel, it just better attracts the people who you’re meant to serve.
Once you’ve researched your keywords and identify the one you want to target, you need to create content that utilizes that keyword most effectively.
What’s the best way to do this? Meg recommends creating a blog post that includes that keyword (or some variation on it) in 7 places in the post.
The first three places are in the headline, the URL, and the meta description. If you have the Yoast plug-in on WordPress, it checks these three things for you.
The other places to include your keyword are in the first paragraph of your blog post, in a subheading in the post, and in your images’ alt tag descriptions. Finally, you want to make sure to include the keyword about every 250-300 words throughout the post.
Make sure you include a description of each image you upload to your post in the alt text. This is important because this text shows up when the images don’t load and it allows Google to identify what is in the image.
The alt text can do a lot for your image. It’s what Google uses when doing image searches, and the alt text also automatically becomes the default description when the image is shared to Pinterest.
Meg recommends, “when you're writing that alt text, make sure that it tells the story of what's in the image and also gives just a little bit of a hint of click through to the blog post to find out more.”
SEO may not give you quick, immediate results, but it will help you grow your business and sell products in the long run.
It can take a while to start showing up in your numbers. According to Meg, “it'll pay slowly, a snail's pace that grows you know 1% every day for the rest of your life pace.”
The best part of SEO is that once you do it, it can help attract traffic for a long time. It can lead to big returns in the long run, because once you optimize your content you don’t have to keep pushing out new content on social media.
“SEO can't be something that you rely on as a magic bullet but it is absolutely part of a long term strategy for your business to get those leads coming into your website to get your funnel filled.”
It’s important to remember that if you’re not an SEO expert (and don’t want to put in the many hours of research to become one) there are many people out there who can help.
Outsourcing your needs and hiring someone to help with SEO can help you to save money and focus your time on more important things, like selling your digital product.
Meg works with a lot of clients who are overwhelmed by SEO and have no idea where to even start.
If you’re still feeling like you’re not ready to tackle SEO, Meg has some great resources for anyone that wants to try it.
Her 13-page starter kit is great because it walks you through the basics of keyword research and writing optimized content. It comes with a ton of great resources and checklists for anyone interested in SEO, whether or not you’re a complete beginner or have been doing it for years.
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Meg Casebolt is an SEO specialist, digital strategist and founder of Megabolt Digital.
She helps female entrepreneurs succeed online by helping them get found on Google then turning readers into customers, all by using custom strategies that fit them better than Catwoman’s suit (without the wedgie).