Note from Sarah: This article was originally sent via my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive essay style pieces like this before anyone else. Click here to subscribe!
We get a lot of inquiries about search engine optimization (aka SEO) and people continually seem overwhelmed and baffled. They feel like they should be doing something, but it all seems like too much. Sometimes, I talk to the potential client and I advise them not to focus on SEO, to instead ensure their website is technically sound, and think about their overarching marketing strategy. This most commonly happens when people do not have the bandwidth to focus on content creation. But there’s hope! Here’s what I usually recommend to those folks:
1. Build brand awareness with a low-dollar ad spend on Instagram (or wherever your audience hangs out). You can set a very very narrow audience (say 35-45 year olds in Tampa Bay who list “sewing” as a hobby and are a page admin) and spend $5 a day advertising. This will put your brand in front of that very narrow audience and bring traffic into your website. (Pro tip: I’ve found that Stories on Instagram have far better targeted reach than posts, including when you pay for placement.)
2. Speak at or sponsor a local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary meeting or similar event. Before I started this business, I worked in public relations and even though my focus was digital, my bread and butter for building awareness was getting out there and talking to groups. My go-tos were Rotaries and Chambers, but there are lots of interest groups out there: women in business organizations, affinity groups, alumni associations, you name it, there’s a group for that. (Joining one is also smart.)
3. Network with people who serve the same audience. No, not your “competitors” (though there’s value in that too), but people who are also working with “your people.” This is straight out of one of the books I recommend quite often, The Pumpkin Plan, and it’s a great one. We all know what other needs our audience has that we don’t provide, so getting to know people who can provide that is a win-win. They can refer people to you, you can refer people to them, everyone is happy.
My point is, people often think search is the only thing out there to get found, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s simply ONE WAY to be found, and you should likely be using multiple tactics in your marketing plan.
For me, it’s the easiest and I can control much of it, so I default to that, but I’ve also done all of these things, and likely will in the future as well. The reality is that being found is work, no matter which way you slice it—you’re unlikely to be that unicorn “if you build it they will come” type business. So, decide what seems manageable and the best use of your time and run with it.