Imperfect Marketing

Episode 30: SEO Tips for a Winning Strategy with Stephanie Long

August 25, 2022 Kendra Corman Episode 30
Imperfect Marketing
Episode 30: SEO Tips for a Winning Strategy with Stephanie Long
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This week's Imperfect Marketing podcast is full of tips on search engine optimization tips from SEO expert Stephanie Long.

Whether searching for the perfect keyword ideas or understanding the technical SEO behind your website, this episode provides tips and resources.

As you may know, I can't get enough of Answer the Public! This tool is a great resource to help you find questions to answer for content. There are many more tools— I always seem to forget Ubersuggest—and we highlight many of them you can use to build your SEO.

You do NOT want to miss this episode!

Click here to access the transcript and follow along!

In this episode:

00:01:09
Why is SEO Important?
00:07:18 Keyword Research Tips
00:12:46 Black Hat SEO
00:14:59 Other SEO Tips—from voice to meta descriptions, title tags, and more

Related Links and Resources:

Stephanie's Agency: https://stephaniemariemarketing.com/
Answer the Public: https://answerthepublic.com/
Ubersuggest: https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/
Moz: https://moz.com/
SEMRush: https://www.semrush.com/
Screaming Frog: https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/
Voice Search Blog by Stephanie: https://stephaniemariemarketing.com/voice-search-optimization/
Black Hat vs White Hat SEO by Stephanie: https://stephaniemariemarketing.com/seo-videos/
5 Secrets to Generating Content Ideas by Kendra: https://kendracorman.com/5hacks
Click here to read my SEMrush review: https://kendracorman.com/semrush-review/

To learn more and sign up for my List Building 101 Course visit kendracorman.com/email

Kendra Corman:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of Imperfect Marketing! 

I am very excited to have Stephanie Long as our guest today. She is known as an SEO expert and media contributor. 

She has a master's degree in communications from the University of Washington, and she is a collaborative partner, bringing together the right resources to further her client's organization's objectives. 

She's led successful campaigns in numerous industries, including, but, of course, not limited to, health and wellness, SaaS—software as a service for those of you who don't know that one—e-commerce, food and beverage, travel, and entertainment. 

Clients enjoy her no-nonsense, can-do attitude, her commitment to driving results and highly responsive nature. 

Welcome, Stephanie!

Stephanie Long:

Hi. Thank you for having me!

Kendra Corman:

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us, because—

Stephanie Long:

Yes.

Kendra Corman:

—the world of SEO is just... It's booming right now. So I do appreciate it!

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

So, everybody always wants to know about SEO. I get questions about that all the time. 

And since you focus on it, what are your thoughts on why SEO is important for business owners to focus on?

Stephanie Long:

People are so competitive nowadays, especially online. Things are shifting from brick-and-mortar to online that you need to have a good online presence. And that entails SEO. 

So, an example I like to use is, I live in Seattle area, so if you're a Seattle coffee company, there is hundreds of Seattle coffee companies, right? 

And so let's say you're just working to get online now. You've been the brick-and-mortar. You want to optimize your website now. 

So "Seattle coffee," you're never going to rank for that. So that's why you need to bring in a SEO specialist to get more keywords.

"Seattle coffee" would be a seed keyword, which is just two keywords that you're probably never going to rank for, but it helps form your overall strategy. So if you bring in an SEO expert, they will know what other keywords you should branch out into. 

So let's say you are Seattle coffee roaster that's into Italian coffee. So then you'd want to get those kind of keywords so you can rank higher in the search engines when people are searching for Seattle coffee companies. 

So that's an example why you think you are, quote unquote, unique. Well, you got to show that in the search engines. Right?

And so if you're just getting started, you've got to build that domain authority, which means you've got to show Google that you have a strong Web presence. People are going to your website, not bouncing out, spending a decent amount of time on your website. 

And so all of that rolls into SEO. And so that's the content. That's the back-end SEO. So you need that, especially as a new business owner, because you're going to be competing with Starbucks, let's say, large corporations, which you'll probably never beat out, but you at least want to get into the search engines. And that's the important part for having an SEO specialist come in and help you with that.

Kendra Corman:

Yeah, that's great. And I think that, again, having an expert that knows the ins and outs.

So, for those of you who use Google, one of my favorite things to share about is that local map pack that's underneath the search results. You get that little map, and if you're a brick-and-mortar and you want to be online so that people can find you there, you want to be listed in the map pack if they're near you. 

Right? Because that's where people are looking for certain—

Stephanie Long:

Right.

Kendra Corman:

—businesses and things. And the rules are different to get listed in that map pack.

Stephanie Long:

That's the Google My Business.

Kendra Corman:

Mm-hmm.

Stephanie Long:

Right? So then that's the Google My Business, which is also a huge impact of SEO, right, too. So correct.

Kendra Corman:

Mm-hmm. So, I've had people talking about Google My Business or Google Business Profile, whatever they're calling it this week. I think most of us still call it Google My Business.

Stephanie Long:

I just say Google My Business. Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

Yeah. I think that's all anybody knows it as.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. I don't know.

Kendra Corman:

I was trying to use the new words one time, and someone was like, "What are you talking about?" 

And I was like, "Google My Business." They're like, "Oh, okay." 

But with Google My Business, let me just ask you a question about that, because—This is selfish—because I've seen a lot of people posting, or I come across a lot of ads, where people are saying, 

"Oh, you don't need to optimize for search or run ads. Just optimize your Google My Business profile." 

What does that do for businesses that aren't just looking to get listed in the map pack?

Stephanie Long:

So, that's, as well, part of an SEO strategy. Right? 

So, for instance, I'll give you an example. I worked for a boat company, and they had several locations in Washington State. So you want to optimize for all of those locations. 

And when I say that, you don't just write the same description for each of those. You want each description to be unique. And while they are all in Washington, you'll want to add in where they're at. 

So let's say they're in Tacoma, which is a city in Washington. You want that to be in your little blurb. And you also want reviews, right, and to make sure you respond to reviews, which helps with SEO too.

So any type of commenting people do, whether it's on your website, social media, Google My Business, you always, always want to respond to customers, good or bad, because if you just have a lot of comments sitting there, and you're not responding, Google doesn't look favorably on that. They want to know that there's a person there, and they're responding to customers. 

So Google My Business is very important to help with SEO. And maybe you don't necessarily want them to come to your business. Let's say you're trying to drive more online business. 

At least having that there shows that you're there, and it goes in line with search engine. Right?

Kendra Corman:

Yeah. And my understanding—And please correct me if I'm wrong, which is totally fine.

Stephanie Long:

Sure.

Kendra Corman:

—is that what they're calling "no-click searches" or "zero-click searches" are increasing, and that's when people are hitting like phone numbers and looking for hours. They're not going anywhere other than Google and pulling all that—

Stephanie Long:

Right.

Kendra Corman:

—information. Right?

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm. Exactly. 

Especially for restaurants, let's say. I Google restaurants, and I just want to see if they're open. That's it. 

But on top of that, you still want to optimize for it because that's still very important. But, I mean, restaurants, there's maybe the menu you want to look at, the hours. 

So nobody's necessarily looking at your description. But Google is. So remember that.

Kendra Corman:

Yes.

Stephanie Long:

If you don't remember anything else, Google is looking at your description.

Kendra Corman:

No, I think that's important. And Google is a robot. Google can only see your description and the words around it. It doesn't know you.

Stephanie Long:

Yep, exactly. 

And make sure it's all filled out, by the way. Don't leave anything in Google My Business not filled out unless you absolutely can't. 

But make sure it's fully filled out. And there should be a progress bar you can use to show that, but make sure you do fill it all out.

Kendra Corman:

That's great. 

So, let me ask about keywords. You started talking a little bit about seed keywords. We'll call them high-level search words. For me, one of my seed—or two of my seed keywords, I guess, are "email marketing."

Stephanie Long:

There you go.

Kendra Corman:

I'm not beating Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or—

Stephanie Long:

Never. Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

—anybody else with that.

Stephanie Long:

And you won't. Right? So it's not an expectation.

Kendra Corman:

I'm okay. I'm okay with that.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

But keyword research as to where you go from those seed keywords for what they call longer tail, again, adding more words, which are easier to rank for, that can be a little daunting to people who've never done it before.

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm.

Kendra Corman:

Can you tell us a little bit about your process when it comes to keyword research, and what you're asking your clients to help narrow down what they should be ranking for, or looking at to rank for?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah, sure. 

And I use a lot of paid tools, but I will give you some really good free tools that are good for looking at keywords. 

So, Ubersuggest is one of my favorites, and then there's, obviously, Google Keyword Planner. It's okay. 

But if I have to give you a free one to use Ubersuggest. And what I love about it is—Let's just use email marketing, like you mentioned, as an example. You put in "email marketing." It does give you more seed keywords, but it also gives you long-tail keywords. But it shows if it's high, medium, or low. 

And I love to go after low long-tail keywords. Why is that? There's not a lot of competition. And you don't want to sit there and try and rank for something that's really high. You're going to get frustrated. You're going to be upset with your SEO specialist. It's not going to happen. So, medium, sometimes. It depends on the keyword. But I love to go after low keywords.

And so, another great thing I like to do—so, we'll use email marketing. I'm just going to use that as your example. 

Google auto-suggest. 

So, somebody types in "email marketing." You can see there's like three to four questions that come underneath it, and you can see what people are asking. 

Maybe they're asking for the best email marketing services. Well, there you have a keyword, and you can write content around that. You want to write what people are asking for. 

So that's another great way to get keywords, is, "What are people asking for?" Well, you type that in. Google auto-suggest gives it. And you want to, hopefully, be that website that is answering that question. Right?

And there's another great tool for questions people are asking, is AnswerThePublic. So, that is you get two free searches a day. Otherwise, you do a paid plan. I don't do a paid plan. I think two free a day is fine. And I do use my two free a day. So that's a great one, too. It gives you a ton of questions.

Kendra Corman:

AnswerThePublic is one of my favorite sites. Yes.

Stephanie Long:

And Neil Patel owns that, as well as Ubersuggest. Neil Patel is a great guy to follow, too, for any SEO tips and tricks. So I do love him and his two—

Kendra Corman:

I like his podcast. Have you heard of that one?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. They're good—

Kendra Corman:

We'll link to that in the show notes. But they're like—

Stephanie Long:

Yeah, yeah—

Kendra Corman:

—five-minute little tip things.

Stephanie Long:

They're amazing. I watch them all. I watch them on LinkedIn, too. So those are two really great ones. 

There's also one called Moz I use as well. You can do a 30-day free trial. That'll give you some good data, and you can see how your competitors are ranking. So it goes a little deeper because it does give you a 30-day free trial. I do use that one. 

I don't have a free trial, obviously, anymore, but that's another great tool to use to see what people are asking for as well, when it comes to your seed keywords.

Kendra Corman:

And when we were talking about domain authority, I believe Moz is the one that invented domain authority. Correct?

Stephanie Long:

I want to say yes too.

Kendra Corman:

I think.

Stephanie Long:

I don't remember off the top of my head, but I do believe that's the case. Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

Don't hold us to that, but—

Stephanie Long:

Don't hold us to that, either. But yes.

Kendra Corman:

They definitely will show you the—

Stephanie Long:

Domain authority.

Kendra Corman:

—the domain authority on all sites. And they'll do that in their built-in toolbar app, too.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. You can do that, too.

Kendra Corman:

This site right now has a 53. So—

Stephanie Long:

[inaudible 00:11:34].

Kendra Corman:

This site. Zencastr, where we're recording, is a 53 domain authority, just so you guys know.

Stephanie Long:

It's not that great.

Kendra Corman:

No.

Stephanie Long:

For a platform. Yeah. So it's 1 out of 100. Right? And it's hard. It's hard because there's a lot behind it. 

Backlinks are another very important thing. And backlinks are if you want people to link back to your site. 

So let me just give you CBS News. There are so many people probably linking back to their site. So their domain authority I have not looked, but it's probably very close to 100. 

Right?

Stephanie Long:

So, an example is you and I doing this podcast. I will link out to you, and you will link back to me. So there we go, is backlink. So that's a good example. 

And if you don't have any backlinks, I have no shame in my game. I will ask people, "Hey, I wrote this blog for you. Would you backlink to me? I have been on your podcast." 

Some don't always put it on their website. They just put it on like iTunes. "Would you please link to me?" 

So just ask. If you're a smaller company, just ask. The worst they could say is no. And then you're back at square one, but at least you asked. 

So that's a very good way, also, to get backlinks.

Kendra Corman:

So, one of the things, talking about backlinks and just building on that a little bit, is, I know back in the day, before Google was as smart as Google is, there used to be sites that would do backlinks. 

Google's not stupid anymore. So they know that that's a site that just does backlinks.

Stephanie Long:

Yep.

Kendra Corman:

And so they will actually consider that toxic, and it'll actually negatively affect your SEO. Correct?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. That's called Black Hat SEO. 

And that's funny you mentioned that, because I'm actually doing a tutorial on that. I'm putting it together. I was starting it yesterday. 

So yes, that's a Black Hat SEO. That goes along with keyword stuffing. So, let's use email marketing again, just to be simple. If you want to rank for that, that's fine. But if you put it more than three times in your text, keyword stuffing, Google automatically dings you. It knows. 

And then the meta description, right? The meta description's right underneath what your title is. When people see what to read about it. 

If you put that full of crappy stuff, and people click on it and then click out, Google will see that. So that's bounce. So you want to make sure everything's cohesive and in line. 

Google is so smart. So if you think you're going to fool them, you're not.

Kendra Corman:

So talking about that, talking about keyword stuffing, things like that, one of the things that I tell people is—They're like, "Well, I want to optimize for SEO. And so I want to write this for SEO." 

I usually tell them, "Well, first let's write it for people who want to read it because that's going to factor into it a bit." 

What are your thoughts on that? I mean, there's ways to optimize related keywords and things like that.

Stephanie Long:

Right.

Kendra Corman:

You don't have to call it "email marketing" the whole time. But—

Stephanie Long:

Right.

Kendra Corman:

What are your thoughts on writing for people versus search engine bots?

Stephanie Long:

You always want to write for people. That's one of my biggest things. And also, along those lines, for voice search. 

So what are people going to ask for, like Alexa, let's say? 

So voice search and people first are my go-to. You can pick your keyword, and then you need to write around that for people and for voice. 

That's big.

Kendra Corman:

So, that's interesting. So, talk to me a little bit more about voice. I haven't spent a lot of time researching that. I've got a lot more knowledge on the whole content marketing, writing meta descriptions, and Yoast SEO tools. 

Tell me a little bit about who voice search is really important for most. I mean, I would say everybody, eventually. It's growing. 

But what industries are you finding are really benefiting from voice search? What would you talk about when it comes to voice search SEO?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. I do voice search, obviously, because that's what I do for SEO. But I think what I've noticed that's benefiting most is e-commerce stores. 

"Alexa, where—" I hope my Alexa doesn't go off. 

But, "Alexa, where do I buy T-shirts?" Right? Something simple like that. I mean, I'm giving you a very basic thing. 

"Alexa, where are T-shirt stores in Seattle?" She'll give you T-shirt stores, and you want to be there because you've optimized your website for voice, which means you've written your content around that keyword, that term, and you've optimized it for a person. 

So my voice is ultimately a person. Right? 

So you want to make sure you're writing it for person, like we mentioned, which makes it writing it for voice. So that's very important. And I've noticed that the e-commerce clients I have are the ones that are benefiting the most from that, especially if you're on Amazon, which makes sense. Right? 

Alexa will pull up top-ranking Amazon. That's a whole beast in itself. But you want to optimize Amazon too, if you have an Amazon store, for Alexa.

Kendra Corman:

So, talking about optimizing for Amazon and other platforms and things like that, my question for you is, can we talk a little bit about platforms?

Stephanie Long:

Sure.

Kendra Corman:

I'm in a ton of groups on Facebook, and I'm always trying to give people advice, and help out where I can, and ask questions of other people. 

But there's a lot of people that are like, "Wix all the way." "WordPress all the way," because I'm a WordPress fan. But other people are like, "No, Squarespace is fine, and then GoDaddy." 

And do you find that there's certain platforms that people should lean more towards?

Stephanie Long:

Well, from my experience—And I could be biased as well. 

I run a small T-shirt company on the side, and I had built my website on Squarespace, and it just was not cohesive for buyers. The checkout process, everything was very clunky. My opinion on Squarespace is it's very much a blog type of—I feel that way for Wix as well.

I have blogged on Wix, and I think Squarespace is for blogs. So I did export my website and put it onto Shopify. 

So e-commerce for Shopify. Personally, that's where it's at. You don't have to go to GoDaddy. When I was on Squarespace, I had it hosted on GoDaddy. So, Shopify has its own hosting platform, so it's super seamless and easy from there.

Now, with a tech company, a large business that doesn't do e-commerce—So I think if you do e-commerce, you should be on Shopify unless you're extremely good with WordPress. 

But everything else—My website's built on WordPress. They have so many plugins. And my favorite plugin ever is Yoast SEO. 

Shopify does have a decent SEO plugin, right, so you don't have to go and find a plugin. It's already there. But Yoast SEO for WordPress, that's where it's at, to me. So I'm a huge—

Kendra Corman:

Oh, yeah. I love it.

Stephanie Long:

I'm a huge WordPress fan.

Kendra Corman:

That's awesome.

Stephanie Long:

That's where I think it should be.

Kendra Corman:

I love it because Yoast gives me—They use the stoplight system with the red, yellow, green.

Stephanie Long:

Yes. I love that. Yes I hate—

Kendra Corman:

So I can look at a glance—

Stephanie Long:

—I hate anything that's not green.

Kendra Corman:

—and say, "Oops. I didn't do so good on that page."

Stephanie Long:

Yeah, exactly. So if you're new or just trying out SEO, I think that plugin is so helpful. And they have a paid plan. 

I've never done the paid plan. I think the free version is totally fine. I don't think you need to go into the paid plan.

Kendra Corman:

So I tested the pre-plan, or the paid plan for a little bit. It makes some things a little bit easier, like the internal linking and things like that. It gives you some suggestions of links that you can add in and stuff. It makes a few things a little bit faster. 

But I went back to the free plan because it is more than robust enough for what—

Stephanie Long:

Yeah, and I think so.

Kendra Corman:

—most people need.

Stephanie Long:

And that's part of what I do, internal linking as well. So I don't need the—

Kendra Corman:

You know what you want to internally link to.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

You don't need suggestions from Yoast, which I get. Yes.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

No. I think that that's a great point, and I definitely agree that the free plugin is more than enough for most everybody.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I think internal linking is—That's another thing that's very important to have, at least one internal link and one external link. 

So that's not backlinking. It's just an external link, linking out to another. You want to find a site that has a good domain authority, because Google looks at that favorably as well.

 And again, you mentioned Moz has that free domain authority checker, so you can always go and check what the domain authority is on that website.

Kendra Corman:

And if you're looking for Moz, Ubersuggest, Neil Patel, AnswerThePublic, all those links will be in the show notes for sure, and then also some resources that I'm sure Stephanie'll give us to link to, so that you can look her up and learn from her expertise, too. 

So be sure to check those show notes for the related links and helpful resources because that'll be chock-full of information based on our conversation today, which I'm super excited about.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

So thank you for that because, yes, I'm a big fan of WordPress. I have a friend that was talking to me about whether or not they should put their site on WordPress or Shopify. 

There's huge companies on Shopify—

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Kendra Corman:

—huge businesses. So you can really grow with Shopify, if you want.

Stephanie Long:

For sure. 

I think the one drawback to Shopify is you have to find so many plugins. And with WordPress, there's a lot that come built in that, as a very basic business, is totally fine. 

But for Shopify, I had to go and put in a bunch of different plugins. I think that's the only downfall. But if you are e-commerce, I think that's the best way to run it.

Kendra Corman:

Okay.

Stephanie Long:

For sure.

Kendra Corman:

That's great suggestion. Thank you.

Stephanie Long:

And I think with WordPress, it's built for SEO. So I just can't emphasize enough how it's really the platform you should do if you're not e-commerce.

Kendra Corman:

Agreed.

Stephanie Long:

So build on there.

Kendra Corman:

I'm a huge fan.

Stephanie Long:

I mean, they've built the best SEO plugin, in my opinion. So they've built their site for SEO. Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

And so I use SEMRush. I don't know if you use SEMRush, but I'll do some site audits and things like that for clients, especially for the content writing that I do. 

And when I audit sites, if they're in WordPress, they have a higher site health. They have less errors. All of it seamlessly works together.

Stephanie Long:

I use that off and on. Sometimes I really need it to go deep for content. So that's usually when I use it. It's great. I just go off and on with it.

Kendra Corman:

Yeah. It's not a cheap date.

Stephanie Long:

And it's not cheap at all.

Kendra Corman:

No. Definitely not. 

Okay. 

So, we probably have at least a handful of listeners, because, I mean, I'm always looking ways to improve my SEO and that of the sites that I assist with. 

What do you recommend if somebody's wondering how their SEO is or where they need to start because they haven't worked on it at all? What do you recommend that they start with?

Stephanie Long:

I mean, an audit would be a great place to start. That'll really show where your gaps are. 

If you're technical, I would use Screaming Frog. That is really robust. It shows if your images are too large, too small. It shows many things that you need to fix technically. 

Another thing is Google's PageSpeed load time. It'll show you how your mobile site is doing, how your desktop site is doing, and then you can fix those, based off their recommendations. So those are two really good things for technical SEO that are free, if you want to get started that way. 

But I really recommend an audit. It's just going to show all your gaps. And there's free resources to do audits. Right? 

But you can always get an audit from a SEO specialist. They'll have all the probably paid tools to really go deep and see. But to get a baseline, you can use those other tools I just mentioned, see where you're at, so—

Kendra Corman:

Those are great resources and great information, so thank you very much for sharing all the free stuff-

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

—because everybody loves free, right?

Stephanie Long:

I mean, yes. Again, if you really want to go deep, though, of course you're going to need to pay.

Kendra Corman:

The paid stuff. Yes. Yes, I agree.

Stephanie Long:

But very basic, you can do those.

Kendra Corman:

So, talking about page speed, page speed is really important and has gained importance as we have become even more of—I like to call it almost like an Amazon culture. 

We expect our Prime delivery and same-day, next morning, even nowadays.

Stephanie Long:

Totally. Yep.

Kendra Corman:

It's crazy. Right?

Stephanie Long:

Yep.

Kendra Corman:

So when you're looking at that, if something's loading slower, how big of an impact are you seeing that on their site metrics?

Stephanie Long:

That's huge. A bounce rate is huge. 

I mean, take yourself as example. Really good with websites and searching. If your site is spinning, I'm out. So you've just lost me. Right? 

I can't imagine the patience of many people is high to wait for that website to load. So you're losing people. You're bouncing, and Google's seeing that. 

Google knows. Right? 

The PageSpeed is Google's tool. So it knows. 

So if it's loading too long, that is going to knock you in the search engines, and you're going to lose people. So you need to be very competitive.

And people have about a three-second attention span to get to that website. So if your page is not loading in about three seconds, you're pretty much screwed. So you need to fix that, which is why you need to check that page speed to see how it's loading. And mobile too. 

It needs to be mobile first. So if your mobile site is bad—not just the load speed. You got to make sure it's optimized for mobile, and it looks good. 

That's a whole other beast than desktop. So really, when you're building a website, you need to think mobile first. That my biggest recommendation to start building a website.

Kendra Corman:

Yes, definitely. So many people are doing so much more on their devices.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

Whether it's tablets or phones, it doesn't matter.

Stephanie Long:

Right.

Kendra Corman:

You need to be able to be optimized for that. I was actually just talking to someone the other day, and they're like, their designer was telling them that a flyer that they put up as a JPEG on their website.

So, they put an 8.5 x 11 flyer as a picture on their website, and it's got a bunch of detailed text. She's like, "They need to export that as a bigger file because the logo's pixelated." 

It was one of the things that their designer had said to them. And I said, "That's not the problem. The problem is we just put an 8.5 x 11 picture that nobody can read on a mobile device—"

Stephanie Long:

That's awful.

Kendra Corman:

"—because it's itty-bitty."

Stephanie Long:

Yeah, right? Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

I'm like, "Nobody saw the pixelated logo, because they can't see the flyer."

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

Because it's not responding, and going into a single column, they can't get the information and read it on their device.

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm. I think that's the one mistake people make, is they think how it's being shown on desktop is how it should be shown on mobile. 

And if you have to scroll to the right to find things, not down, there's a problem. So you shouldn't have people scrolling to the right, really [inaudible 00:27:36].

Kendra Corman:

No. I love that. I've never actually used that term. I'm like, "You have to zoom in to that."

Stephanie Long:

No. If I'm—

Kendra Corman:

If you scroll to the right, you're done.

Stephanie Long:

That's how I feel. I analyze everything. 

So I'm like, "Oh, nope. Yep. Shouldn't have me scrolling to the right. I got to go down."

Kendra Corman:

Mm-hmm. It's about the user experience, right?

Stephanie Long:

Yes. Right? So that comes with mobile first. 

Writing for people, you need to think a hundred percent about a person. And I like to give this example. How would you teach a first grader things? 

So make sure your website is very simple. I mean, for instance, when we do external links, make sure your link is linked externally right to that website. You don't want people to not find your—You don't want them to have to go back. Right? 

And I know you may think, "Oh, that's so intuitive. They'll just click the back button." No. Not necessarily. Don't think that. 

Think, "How would a first grader?" They wouldn't know, necessarily, to click back. So you just lost them. 

They went to the link you gave, which is great. You gave them more information, but they're not coming back to your site. So [inaudible 00:28:45]-

Kendra Corman:

So have it open in a new tab, so that that way they can find the other tab and still have your website open. So anytime you're going external, definitely do that—

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

—which I think is a great point. And yeah, you got to keep it simple. Right?

Stephanie Long:

Yep.

Kendra Corman:

Because again, that user experience—So StoryBrand, they've done a bunch of free webinars. I attended one of them, and Dr... I think his name is  J.J. Peterson or something like that.

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm.

Kendra Corman:

He said one day, he goes, "We only have so many brain calories we can burn in a day thinking."

And he goes, "And our body's all about conserving it, just in case we have to run from a lion later in the day and survival instinct." So your body's always conserving. 

So the more you make somebody think the harder it is for them to actually do anything. And then they don't do it, because they are conserving their brain calories in case they're going to need to run from a lion later.

Stephanie Long:

Exactly. Exactly.

Kendra Corman:

I love the survival lion thing. And I was like, "Yes, because I'm going to be running from a lion in Metro Detroit later."

Stephanie Long:

I love that because, again, that just ties into everything we talked about.

Kendra Corman:

But yeah, like what you're talking about, building for mobile first, making it easy for people to do business with you, making it easy for people to find information, to get back—

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm.

Kendra Corman:

—to you if it opens up in a new tab. It sounds overly simplified, but there's an extra check box that you have to do when you're adding the link, at least in WordPress, that says, "Open a new tab."

Stephanie Long:

Yep. So easy.

Kendra Corman:

And it's a simple step.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. Simple step. Simple step.

Kendra Corman:

But it's also simple to forget.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah, it is simple to forget, for sure. And just don't make people click too much. 

If you want them to contact you, make it one to two clicks at the most. Don't make too many clicks. 

If people have to click around, they're going to leave, too.

Kendra Corman:

Mm-hmm. Yeah. People don't want to work.

Stephanie Long:

What is your call to action? What do you want them to do? 

Put that in front of their face.

Kendra Corman:

So, talking about scrolling left or right and things like that, I always talk about above the scroll—

Stephanie Long:

Yep.

Kendra Corman:

—whenever I'm talking about websites, because you need to have that call to action above the scroll—

Stephanie Long:

Yep.

Kendra Corman:

—so before people have to scroll down.

Stephanie Long:

Yep.

Kendra Corman:

What are your thoughts on that?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. Well, I call it above the fold, but above the scroll, to each their own. Let's see. 

Don't quote me on this, but I think about 75% drop off if you have to have them scroll below the fold. So that's why in Google, you want to be in the top—I think it's three or four that are above the fold. 

People are not going to scroll down. And they are not going to go to the second page. So whatever you want them to do, make sure it's above the fold to do.

Kendra Corman:

Yeah. There was that quote that the one SEO expert said. Now, of course, I'm forgetting his name, too. The best place to hide a dead body was the second page of Google search results.

Stephanie Long:

That is Neil Patel. I just read that, actually. So yep, he said that. 

Yeah, for sure. And even, like I just mentioned, you want to be in those top searches. I mean, think about, how often do you go down, do you go to the second page? 

"Oh, that doesn't matter." But think about it. Do you actually do that? 

I personally don't very often. But I know there could be good things down, because I do SEO. 

But I won't go to the second page at all.

Kendra Corman:

Mm-mm. Yeah.

Stephanie Long:

And, right, the first pages are usually the best results. Right? They're what Google has shown to give you. So what I want is going to be on the first page.

Kendra Corman:

Yeah. The only time, I think, I go to the second or third page is when, clearly, my search is not clear, and I don't know how to define it more. 

And I'm top of the funnel on whatever it is, trying to get awareness. And it's like, "Yeah, that's not where I was going. Maybe we can keep going." 

So, let's talk a little bit about SEO mistakes. We've talked about non-optimizing for mobile. We've talked about huge JPEGs and scrolling right on your mobile device. 

What are some other mistakes you see people making?

Stephanie Long:

The title tags. So, a title tag is when you hover over right above the URL on a website. I see people that write pretty much paragraphs in there. That is not right at all. 

You want to keep it within 30 to 65 characters because after about 65, Google cuts that off. You might have said the most brilliant thing after that, but Google is not even going to look at that. 

They're only looking at the character count. That is what they have defined is what they want, which is 30 to 65.

And there's another example of keyword stuffing. People think they should just keep stuffing keywords in there. So you want to make sure that's very crisp, defined, because you can see that in the search engines, too. So it needs to be whatever keyword you've determined for that page. 

So I do see people, they don't realize that. Even though you can keep going and going—I'll use Yoast SEOs for example. You can keep going, going, going. It'll give you a red light, but you can put as many as you want in there. 

But you want to make sure it's not keyword stuffed, and it's very succinct, and it is what the page is about. And so many times, people don't put what the page is about in there, and that is negatively effective on search results. 

So keep that succinct.

Kendra Corman:

Okay. So title tags. Anything else?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. So also, with the meta description—I'll go into that as well. It's about 150 to 165. People write forever on that, but it's going to get cut off. 

So you could say, again, the best things after 165 characters. Google doesn't care. It's not going to matter. No one's going to ever see it. The only people that will see it is somebody like me, who knows how to look in the source code. 

Nobody's going to ever see that. It's nowhere to be found. So you need to make sure you write that succinctly as well. 

And I see so many people who just want to write a whole paragraph, and they're thinking they'll rank for that whole paragraph, and that's not accurate.

Kendra Corman:

So, one of the things that I've noticed, and it goes back to what you were talking about with the title tag—You said, "Optimize it for the keyword that you've identified for that page."

Stephanie Long:

Right. Yep.

Kendra Corman:

That's a mistake that I see often, is a lot of people identify many keywords or one keyword for like seven pages.

Stephanie Long:

Yep. About two.

Kendra Corman:

Google's a robot. You're going to confuse it, and it's just going to say—

Stephanie Long:

Exactly.

Kendra Corman:

—"I'm going home."

Stephanie Long:

Exactly. 

Seven pages, like you mentioned. It won't know which pages to rank for. So you're going to rank for none because it doesn't know which one is better. 

So that's another thing. Not to keyword stuff, and not to put the same title in every single page. That's not going to help you.

Kendra Corman:

Yeah, don't have the same title. Don't optimize for the same keywords just because your name is, for me, Kendra Corman, or my company, H2H Consulting. I don't optimize the About page on H2H Consulting.

Stephanie Long:

That's another [inaudible 00:35:50].

Kendra Corman:

Because the homepage is for H2H Consulting.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. And I think people think very highly of themselves, in the sense that people are going to search for their name. 

So they optimize for their name a lot. I mean, that's not going to happen.

Kendra Corman:

It's all about what's in it for me as the reader, as the consumer—

Stephanie Long:

Right.

Kendra Corman:

—what is it you can do for me. Right?

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm. Right. Exactly.

Kendra Corman:

Any other SEO mistakes that you want to mention or highlight?

Stephanie Long:

I think they kind of all go together. I like to mention this because people get confused. 

So the slug, which is—Like my name, stephaniemariemarketing.com/. We'll do About slash. The rest of that is a slug. Right? 

Let's say my About, I want to add some keywords on it. I just was talking to somebody. 

She had 90 keywords there. It a blog post. Her whole title was her slug. That is terrible.

 So again, that needs to be the focused keyword. And Google's going to cut that off if it's not within its character count. So don't make your slug your whole, entire blog post name.

Kendra Corman:

Mm-hmm.

Stephanie Long:

And it probably shouldn't even be your blog post name. It should be whatever keyword is related to that blog post. So that's another mistake.

Kendra Corman:

That's great tip.

Stephanie Long:

So that's another mistake.

Kendra Corman:

That's definitely a great tip.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

That's one that I overlook on a regular basis, I'll tell you that.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. And it was because whoever had done that post didn't know how to optimize. So it pulled that name into the slug and into the title, which, I mentioned, was a paragraph long. 

So the title will be whatever your post is about if you don't go in and optimize. Yoast SEO just automatically does that. So that's why you need to go make sure you optimize.

Kendra Corman:

So, let me ask you another question, building on that. So say I'm going to go in, and I'm like, "Oh, my title tags are too long. My meta descriptions—"

Stephanie Long:

Mm-hmm.

Kendra Corman:

"— are keyword stuffed. Oh, my gosh, my slugs are the title of the blog post." Let me ask you this question. 

What would you say if I go in and I'm like, "All right. This weekend, I'm optimizing my blog." 

How long does it take for Google to realize I optimized it and for search to change?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. So, I like to set this expectation. This is not overnight. This might not even be a month. I like to give a three-month mark to see how it's working. 

And then, from there, we can assess, "Is this really a good keyword? How's it ranking? Do we need to switch the keyword for that page?" 

But think about it. This is organic. This is not paid. This is not something that's shooting you right to the top. 

Anything organic's going to take a while because you're not paying for it. Right? And Google needs to figure out who you are. 

Other SEO experts may give different numbers, but my rule of thumb is three months to see how things are working. It could go faster, possibly, but that's the expectation I like to set.

Kendra Corman:

And I think it's the same thing for a new site. Right?

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

If you redo your entire site, so you get a new WordPress site or whatever it is that you're building in, and even if it's very similar content that what you had before and mobile-optimized, that's going to take another— I think I've seen three to six months— 

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

— for it to register with Google.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. Exactly. That's the same thing, as well. So it's a slow process. But again, you're not paying, so you've got to be patient. And I'm not [inaudible 00:39:40]— 

Kendra Corman:

And it does pay off.

Stephanie Long:

— this. For sure. It totally pays off. Google looks so favorably on that. Once you can start ranking. Yeah. And keep updating your content. 

Make sure it's fresh. Is it relevant? One of my clients, she had something about, "Top social media tools to use in 2020." Well, we need to do this for 2022. 

So, right, take that blog post, refresh it, and put it to the top. So always be looking to refresh your content. That is also really big for SEO and Google. 

I blog once a week. I recommend people blog once a week, new, fresh content. Go back and look at your post. 

For instance, I went and looked back to her post, and I said, "Let's do this for 2022." So always be looking at past blog posts, as well, to see if they can be updated.

Kendra Corman:

And we'll definitely link to some of your blog posts because I was reading them before our interview, and I really did like a lot of the content that you had in them.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. There's a one for voice search too. So make sure you link to that [inaudible 00:40:43]— 

Kendra Corman:

[inaudible 00:40:43]. We'll link to that one, for sure.

Stephanie Long:

— more in depth about voice search.

Kendra Corman:

Oh, perfect.

Stephanie Long:

It's all about— 

Kendra Corman:

I think there's a couple different schools of content. There's build podcast, videos, blog posts. 

Do you prefer one over the other?

Stephanie Long:

It's hard to say because I think they are each their own beast. I'm not going to choose one over the other. I think they're both very important. I have another post about podcasting and why it's good for SEO. So do both.

Kendra Corman:

We'll link to that, for sure, too.

Stephanie Long:

Do both. I'm not going to choose one over the other on that.

Kendra Corman:

Okay. Now, for timing and length, you're saying blog weekly. 

I know I read a lot of Backlinko and his blogs. He's of the school of thought of, "Just write the most amazing piece, and you can publish two to three times a year." Actually, I think he was up to four. 

But he would do the Complete Guide, and it's amazing, and it's super long, and it's all detailed. I find that both seem to work, but I find most people don't have the time to really do that complete guide. 

And so I find that the weekly posting seems to work better for people. The consistency is important. What about length?

Stephanie Long:

Oh, I know I like to, about 300 to 400 words. 

And also, another thing... I'm writing a post on it right now—putting the estimated read time on there is actually going to help people read your blog through because let's say it's 20 minutes, and they don't have 20 minutes. But you put on there that it was 20 minutes. So that's helpful for them. 

My blogs are about three- to five-minute reads, possibly. But always put an estimated read time on there. That's really coming up now in Google that that's an important thing, and it helps people get through your whole, entire blog. 

And then they, hopefully, get to your call to action at the end. So make sure you always have a call to action. So very important.

Kendra Corman:

That's a great addition, the call to action. A lot of times, that's an internal link, so you're nice and easy.

Stephanie Long:

Always.

Kendra Corman:

You can link to the contact. You can link to— 

Stephanie Long:

Always.

Kendra Corman:

— another blog post. Figure out what you want them to do after that blog post. What's something that you like to ask people to do at the end of your blog posts?

Stephanie Long:

Well, I offer free audits, so I always like to link to my free audit page. And then, "Just fill out your information, and then we can have a call to go over that." 

So I always link to my free audit.

Kendra Corman:

All right. Perfect. We'll make sure we link to your free audit too, so that anybody who's interested— 

Stephanie Long:

And don't assume people— 

Kendra Corman:

— in investing in their SEO would be good.

Stephanie Long:

Oh, yeah. And don't assume people know where to go next. For anything in your whole website, as we mentioned, don't assume. 

Never assume. in general in life, never assume anything. So take them where you want them to go.

Kendra Corman:

Don't make anybody think.

Stephanie Long:

Yep.

Kendra Corman:

If they have to think, they're done.

Stephanie Long:

Yeah. Exactly.

Kendra Corman:

All right. 

So, this has been chock-full of information, and I am so thankful for all of the information that you're sharing. 

I do want to talk to you, though, quickly about, what is your biggest marketing lesson that you've learned, being in business and working with other businesses?

Stephanie Long:

I think setting expectations is the biggest one, especially as a new business. I've been doing SEO for about 10 years now, but I've just recently launched myself as a business about two years ago. 

Setting expectations and being confident. 

I've been doing this a long time. While I am confident in it, it's scary, right, to sit there and try and haggle finances or what have you. But set expectations. 

Right? 

And why I always say three-month mark on the keywords... I used to say, "Oh, I don't know," or, "Maybe a month or whatever." I'm very... if it happens quicker than three months. But I've learned that you need to set a benchmark.

If people say, "Well, you told me this," 

"No, I always said three months. This was three months." 

So make sure you are confident in what you say and do, and set the expectations up front, because I have had businesses come back to me and say, "You told me this." And I would think, "Did I? Did I not?" 

Well, now I do not say that. "These are my expectations." And I put that in my contracts, too.

Kendra Corman:

That's great.

Stephanie Long:

So— 

Kendra Corman:

And again, that whole three-month mark that you keep bringing up... I had a client. We redid their website, and I said, "Okay, it's going to take three, four, maybe even a little bit longer for Google to reoptimize." 

And I think it was at the two-and-a-half month mark, they called me, and they're like, "We're not getting as many leads as we used to on the old site." 

And we had to rebuild their site because they had a lot of old Black Hat SEO practices back in the day. So we had to really make sure that it was optimized for the user experience and everything like that. 

I think we hit the 10-week mark, or maybe it was a 12-week mark, and then they called me, and they're like, "This site's performing better than the old one did. We're getting more leads."

It is literally like you can actually watch it happen, when that clicks on. So I think that's great. 

And I think setting expectations is so, so, so important. And it's hard when you're starting out. It's hard to niche down to your target audience, because you want to do a lot of things.

But when you do that stuff, it works out better for you and your clients and the expectations that they have. That's a fantastic one. 

So, a question I always ask all my guests, is, "What superpower would you choose for yourself if you could?"

Stephanie Long:

I actually talk about this to my husband all the time because I wish I had it, is the superpower to fly anywhere. 

I don't have patience, and I would love to be able to fly everywhere. Even on a plane, I want to go as fast as a jet and get everywhere really fast. So [inaudible 00:47:00]— 

Kendra Corman:

Where's the first place you would go?

Stephanie Long:

I would go probably to Norway. That is where my relatives live. So I would jet myself out to Norway.

Kendra Corman:

Very cool.

Stephanie Long:

And then I could just land wherever I wanted. Right? I wouldn't have to find a airfield. I would just land.

Kendra Corman:

[inaudible 00:47:15]. In their front yard. "Hello. I'm here."

Stephanie Long:

Yeah.

Kendra Corman:

"Surprise."

Stephanie Long:

I would love it.

Kendra Corman:

Oh, that's fantastic. Okay. 

So, Stephanie, I cannot thank you enough for all of your time. You shared so many useful tools and information. Definitely a couple that I've forgotten about and a couple I've been lazy on, for sure. 

Again, I think that that happens a lot for all of us. So I encourage you guys to do a site audit. Check out Stephanie's resources. We'll have those linked in the body of the show notes. 

We'll also have links to all of the free and some of the paid resources that she suggested, because, again, SEO is just so, so, so important for all businesses now because you really do need to be found online and on mobile.

Stephanie Long:

Yep. Definitely.

Kendra Corman:

Thank you. I appreciate it. And I look forward to everybody tuning back in for another episode of Imperfect Marketing. Thank you.

 

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