Looking to get on the first page of Google?
This is where inbound marketing and SEO come in.
As a coachpreneur and a small business owner, your goal is to be listed in the top organic search engine results because your coaching prospects only click on the first few results they see.
- 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. (MarketShareHitsLink.com, October 2010)
- 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results. (MarketingSherpa, February 2007)
Source: Neil Patel
In this post, I’ll cover the basics necessary to help you get up to speed on how to optimize your coaching content for search engines.
By the end of this post, you’ll be able to:
- pick the right keywords for your coaching site;
- ensure that search engines understand the content of your website pages;
- start earning links from outside sources.
All of these elements will help make a solid foundation for your search engine optimization plan.
For the purpose of our discussion, let’s define search engine optimization.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of improving your coaching website in order to attract more visitors from search engines.
With this in mind, SEO is considered an essential part of the Inbound Methodology.
To emphasize, SEO helps you attract strangers and turn them into your new website visitors.
In order to better understand SEO, let’s think about how your coaching prospects find information today.
A 45-year old woman is feeling lost. She is looking to hire a life coach to discover her passion and purpose.
How would she go about finding this information on Google?
Chances are she’s going to enter her query and probably be specific in her search.
She might type keywords like “best life coaches in Vancouver”.
What are Keywords?
Keywords are words your coaching prospects type into Google.
In order to attract those interested strangers to your coaching content, you need to do research to figure out which keywords relate to your coaching business.
Your research should always begin with your coaching personas. They represent your searchers who will become your visitors, leads, and ultimately, clients and promoters of your brand.
You need to figure out:
- who are your coaching personas?
- what are their goals?
- what problems do they face?
Begin to understand what your coaching personas are searching for.
Make a List of Targeted Keywords
While you’re brainstorming, adopt the language that your coaching personas would actually use in their searches.
To explain, expand your keyword list by searching the web for alternatives.
If you can’t think of any other keyword to add to your list, type one of your keywords into a search engine and see what the results are.
In this example, you’re looking at the keyword “health coaching benefits”.
When you type it into Google, it auto-completes for other popular keyword phrases, like “benefits of becoming a health coach”, “definition of health coaching”, “does health coaching work”, and “executive coaching benefits”.
You can add all of the alternatives to your keyword list, and even expand upon those keywords yourself, as long as it’s a topic that relates to your coaching business and persona.
Then figure out which keywords your prospects are already using to find your coaching website.
In fact, you can use an analytics tool like Google Analytics to get some insights.
Decide which keywords you have the best opportunity to rank for.
Remember, only 10 can make it to the first page of search results.
Some keywords are just going to be harder than others.
Use Long-Tail Keywords
Source: Neil Patel
A long-tail keyword is a primary keyword, usually 2-3 words.
Be sure that the keyword fits as a description of what your website page is all about.
In this case, your website page might be about life coaching or health coaching.
Selecting a long-tail keyword doesn’t mean that ranking high will be easy.
It’s important to understand the difficulty level for each keyword you focus on, regardless of length.
For this, you’ll need to drill down into your keyword analytics, researching your current ranking for that long-tail keyword and how often your coaching prospects are searching for it.
If you’re using a tool like Google Analytics, you can also see what the level of competition is like for that keyword.
Ultimately, you want to aim for keywords that have a higher search volume with less competition.
It takes time to develop credibility online and earn traffic you want to receive.
Every optimized website page is an investment towards your larger SEO and content goal.
If you’re consistent in approach, then overtime you’ll have the opportunity to become content wealthy and start ranking for more difficult keywords.
Essentials of On-Page SEO
You need to figure out what your coaching prospects are searching for to make sure they find your website.
How can you then increase targeted traffic to your coaching website?
There are many factors that search engines take into account when crawling your pages.
Let’s dive into some SEO strategy and best practices.
The first element of SEO to focus on, is your use of keywords.
First, optimize your website page around a primary keyword.
Be sure that the keyword fits as a description of your website page is all about.
Second, add the keyword to the page title.
The page title shows both on the browser tab for the page, and also as the link to the page in search results.
Third, add your primary keyword to the URL. This can also be seen on the page and within search results.
If using a long-tail keyword, use dashes to separate words (companyname.com/long-tail-keyword-phrase).
When you are editing a live page, any change that you make to the URL will create a new page.
Make sure then to set up a 301 Redirect that will direct the old to the new one, sending people to the right page.
In the event of broken links, you’ll want to have a custom 404 error page.
Having a custom 404 error page will significantly improve your visitor’s experience, as it will provide the same look and feel as your website even if you’re on a page that doesn’t exist.
Page Headers and Content
In addition, add the keyword to the page headers and content. Use the keyword naturally throughout the page.
If there are any images on the page, add the keyword to the image alt-text.
Search engines can’t read images, so alt-text allows a search engine to understand what that image is about.
This also allows that image to get found in image searches. Next, add the keyword to the meta description.
Each of your website pages should have a unique meta description, no longer than 140 characters.
Though it doesn’t directly affect SEO, its optimization can improve the rate of people clicking through to your page.
Include Relevant Links to Improve Your SEO
Linking to relevant, reliable sources helps to build the trustworthiness of your coaching site.
- Link building shows that you’ve done your research;
- The process helps you build connections;
- It gives your readers more helpful resources.
For those reasons, outside links work best in your blog posts.
When you link, make sure to hyperlink text that contains relevant keywords that you’d like to rank for. This clickable text is what’s known as the anchor text.
Promote a Good User Experience
Search engines are also looking at the experience that your coaching personas have on your site when determining how to rank you.
Make sure your website is intuitive and easy to browse.
Don’t make your prospects hunt for what they need.
Show them the next step they can take with your business, and you’ll give your business the best chance at converting those visitors into leads, and eventually happy clients.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Over 80% of internet users own a smartphone and most are on it searching online more than their computer.
Whether you have a mobile optimized or responsively designed site, make sure that your website pages can be easily viewed on any screen size.
If your page isn’t mobile-friendly, you may be missing out on valuable search traffic.
Once you’ve created and optimized your content, don’t forget to promote it through social media and email.
The more that people see, share and link to your content, the more popular your site will grow and the more trust you’ll gain with search engines.
We’ve talked quite a bit about getting search engines to understand your pages.
Now let’s discuss how you can get search engines to see you as a trustworthy and authoritative site?
Well, much of this will come from your great optimized content, but some of it also comes from the number of links that are pointing to you.
This is a part of what’s called off-page SEO.
Links coming into your website are called inbound links.
Search engines view inbound links as a vote of confidence.
If a trusted site is linking to you, your website becomes more trustworthy. But not all links are created equal. Make sure that you’re earning high-quality links, and not focusing on quantity.
High-quality links come from existing authoritative websites that are relevant to your business or industry.
To figure out which websites are authoritative, use a tool like the Moz Open Site Explorer to see all of the websites who are linking to you and their authority.
It also really matters what the links says.
However, if you’re able to control the anchor text, try your best to match it with the primary keyword on the page it’s linking to.
This will help reinforce what you’re trying to rank for on this page.
While it definitely takes some time, building relationships with authoritative sites and industry thought leaders is one of the most effective ways to keep your company top-of-mind for people and their websites that could link to you.
Use social media, send friendly emails or comment on blog posts.
Or try good-old conversation: make connections at local meetups, conferences and in your day-to-day.
A good way to build those relationships and earn those links is to create content with input from those industry thought leaders.
- Conduct an interview with an industry thought leader and publish it as a blog post.
- Ask an industry thought leader to write the foreword or give a quote for an ebook.
Not only will these thought leaders help you write your content, but they’ll also share it, giving you new visitors and a new link.
Extra Off-Page SEO Tips
Set up a page for your business on the top online directories.
Directories are websites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and local chambers of commerce.
Having a page on a directory will increase the number of links and citations to your website. Citations are online mentions of your business name and address, even if those outside websites don’t link to you. Both will help with your off-page SEO.
Finally, if your business is location-specific, create a Google+ Local Listing Page. This will help tie your website to a specific location, which Google will use in its search results.
To sum up, you have now an in-depth understanding of the fundamental SEO strategy and best practices that you need to start improving the rank of your website pages and getting new visitors to your site.
Also published on Medium.