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EPISODE 45: Empathetic SEO for Content Creators and CEOs with Meg Casebolt

by Aug 3, 2021Content Strategy, Podcast

In this episode we will cover:

  • What SEO is and why it’s important
  • The benefits of strong SEO
  • Different approaches to SEO
  • Myths and expectations surrounding SEO
  • Turning audience research into opportunities for SEO
  • How to improve your SEO
If you build a website, they will come? As our guest Meg Casebolt explains, it’s actually a bit more complicated than that.

It’s not enough to just have a website or to post on social media. To draw in an audience, you have to take into consideration how people find your product or service online. That’s what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about!

We’re copywriting experts, but not SEO experts, so we’ve invited Meg of Love at First Search to join us as we break down the power of SEO for business owners and content creators. We’ve seen the magic of her work firsthand, and she’s got a ton of great insights to share about SEO.


In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What SEO is and why it’s important for business owners and copywriters
  • Myths and expectations surrounding SEO
  • How to turn audience research into SEO opportunities
  • Small changes you can make to improve SEO

If you’re ready to improve your SEO and start driving more traffic to your business, be sure to grab Meg’s SEO Starter Kit!

Ready to dive into SEO? Get your SEO Starter Kit here!

Plus, check out Meg’s business Love at First Search and get more SEO tips from her Instagram and YouTube.



Jessi: Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we’re digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I’m Jessi… Marie: …and I’m Marie. We’re the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy, where we support business owners in outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity. Jessi: Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates from the words you use to the stories you tell. So you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals. Marie: And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode. Marie: Okay! Welcome to another episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. And I am very excited about this one because we've been putting out episodes for nearly a year now, and this is our first time ever having a guest. And this guest is so spectacular. You're going to love her. I have loved her forever, and I can't wait to share her with you. So I want to introduce our guest today, Meg Casebolt! She's the founder of Love at First Search. This is a brilliant agency, really devoted to helping business owners specifically who are women and women identifying. These entrepreneurs really, you know, need help getting found in search results and SEO is Meg's love language, and she's amazing at it. I've had the chance to work with her and, um, you know, partner with her on behalf of clients before. And I've seen the magic of her work firsthand. And, I'm really excited to introduce you to everybody, Meg. Meg: I am honored to be your first guest and no, the pressure is not too big. And also SEO is not my love language. Chocolate is my love language. Number three on that list, I think. Marie: Okay. I have an important question then. Is it milk or dark or white? Meg: White chocolate is not chocolate. So do not have this heresy going on. Like if you have your, you touched on something serious here. Dark chocolate, but not too dark chocolate. I think sometimes people get so heavy into the dark chocolate that it's like actually chalk. Marie: Real bitter. Meg: So I would say like a 70% dark chocolate. I also have very strong feelings. I won't go too far into them about do not like mess with my chocolate by putting a nougat or caramel or anything like that. S'mores is the closest I get, or like a Reese's peanut butter cup. Anything else? Just give me the chocolate. Don't don't put anything else in there to make it taste worse. Marie: Right? Right. Meg: No peanuts, no almonds- [Inaudible] Marie: Excellent. We'll we were gonna ask a few questions just to get to know you better. So, I mean, we were going to ask around like favorite dessert is it a chocolate dessert that you love the most? Meg: Yeah, probably you know just ice cream. There's nothing, nothing that you can really hate on ice cream. And like, if you can go get like a DQ blizzard and throw in some extra chocolate into the chocolate we'll be in even better shape. Marie: Let me get some chocolate for your chocolate. Jessi: Before we started this episode, we were coming up with these questions and I was like, let's ask what her favorite ice cream is. And Marie was like, but some people hate ice cream. Let's just ask favorite dessert. Who hates ice cream? Marie: Not Meg. Meg: Those people are wrong. I don't know how to say it unless you have like a dairy intolerance and it's like, you need to go to baklava. And it's like, okay. Marie: Oh. Baklava is good. Meg: Yeah. I mean, I wouldn't turn down baklava. I wouldn't turn down anything sweet. I mean, let's be serious. Marie: Yup, same. Jessi: All right. We're already off to a great start here. Meg: I hope people just skipped over the first like three minutes. Jessi: No, this is good stuff. This is, this is like what people need to know. Meg: I'm trying to figure out I'm Jessie is going to be able to segue from chocolate into SEO. So if you're looking for good chocolate, where do you go? You go to Google. Jessi: Well, actually, you know what? I actually think a good part to start before we segue fully into SEO is just to define what SEO is in case anyone is listening and they're like, what are these letters that people keep just like throwing out? So could you start there maybe? Meg: Of course! So the official acronym SEO is search engine optimization. So when we think about search engines, the biggest one that comes to mind for most people is Google. And also Bing, Yahoo, any of, you know, Duck-Duck Go. Any of those search engines are kind of the more traditional style. Also YouTube, Pinterest, Amazon, Etsy. Those are all search engines where you can go look for something specific and have search engine results. Show up search engine optimization is getting your results to show up in those top results. So if we're talking about Google, we want to get people to find your website. If we're talking about YouTube, we want people to find your video. If we're talking about Amazon SEO, we're talking about having people find your product. If we're talking about apple podcasts, we want them to find your podcast, right? Like all of these different search engines have different types of results, but search engine optimization is getting your stuff to show up so people can find it. Marie: Yeah, we really wanted to have you on because, you know, SEO is a really critical part of content creation, but it is not our zone of genius. Meg: We'll that's good because I can't write. Marie: So like PB and J and yeah, we just know like, whether you're a CEO listening to this, or whether you're a writer listening to this, this is an important topic that a, you know, you need to know more about. And so this just felt like a really important first maybe only, I don't know, this is like how important this is interview to have on this podcast. No pressure. Meg: No pressure, no pressure. Yeah, I think it really is a big part of content. So whether you're, you know, a content creator and you're being hired as part of a team or an agency to create something by including some sort of SEO strategy or, and, or keyword research is a big part of that. If people are familiar with that phrase, we can talk about that more. But including that in your content strategy so that you know, that whatever it is that you are creating for your end client will help them get found. And it can add to the value that you're able to articulate to your clients. If you're saying not just, Hey, I wrote you a blog post, but Hey, I wrote you a blog post and 100 people found it and three of them became your clients and each of them paid you a thousand dollars. So the blog post paid itself off, it's much easier if you have that kind of return on investment number which isn't direct SEO, it's more conversion rate optimization, which we won't get into, but that idea of new people finding you, new people, discovering you and joining your email list and buying your products so you don't have to be as dependent on social media or networking or any other sort of outreach, but instead it's inbound people finding you. The same as true for, you know, a CEO. If you're hiring somebody to help you with your content, you don't want to be the sole person responsible for getting it in front of your ideal client. You don't want to have to pay for advertising to get that content in front of people. If there were ways that the content can generate leads for you, it will make the investment that you're making in that blog post or a video or podcast or whatever your content of you know, media of choice is, it will make it more valuable and will bring in long-term traffic for you. Because when you post it to your website or you put it up on YouTube, it doesn't just disappear in a week. It can continue to bring in traffic for you for years and years to come. Jessi: Yeah. You know, one of the things that I think is so valuable about this too, it's not just that ROI that you're talking about, but also the value of having someone in your corner who can provide those services and provide those insights. And I know as a content creator, there was a long time in the sort of early days of our business, where we sort of bought into this assumption that we had to do it all. We had to not just be able to integrate, you know, keywords and good at SEO into blog posts, but we also had to do the keyword research we had to- Marie: The analytics. Jessi: Right the analytics. We had to do all of the things and it wasn't until really we met you and worked alongside you, which as Marie mentioned, we saw amazing results with our that we partner with you on it. Wasn't until then where we realized, oh, we actually can stay in our zone of genius and let people like you, who are amazing at the SEO aspect of it essentially just give us the tools we need to do our own job. Meg: Yes. And I get to tell you what to do and then take the credit for it. So everybody wins. It's like I get to be the boss and be the one that puts it on my website. It's fabulous. I don't have to do any of the actual work. Marie: Yeah, no, I saw what you created. That took some work. Meg: Yeah. And a lot of it is, you know, it's very different sides of your brain that we're talking about here. You know, when you are a creative, when you're a writer, there is a certain amount of analytics and understanding of the client that goes into that. It isn't, I know both of you are novel writers, so it's a different part of your brain to write for business than it is to write for pleasure or for fiction or for something like that. But even if you're a writer, you maybe don't want to get into optimization and analytics and that side of things. Whereas there are the people out there, myself and others, I'm not the only one who we get lit up by coming up with a plan that's based in numbers. Where I can say, I know 500 people a month are searching for this. I can see that the difficulty of these particular keywords is something that your client can get into the top 10 search results for within three months. You know, we can kind of see the patterns. We can be able to project, not- we can't project actual outcomes, but we can get an idea of what's the benefit of this going to be. And then you can show up and shine. And actually you guys take the credit because it's like, you're actually turning those strategies into reality. And that's such a powerful skill that I don't have. And until I started teaming up with content agencies, I was in the same boat where I was trying to do it all and hire the writers and project management, the things, and it was such a difficult, it wasn't my zone of genius to be the project manager. And I would have had to hire a project manager and do all the things. And I'm like, why am I doing this? If other people already have fully functional agencies that have these amazing clients that have these trained writers. It's so much better to have these partnerships that we can tap into and you just call me in for, you know, a week really? And then you have the plan and you have the tracking and you have what you need to do to be more successful in your outcomes. Marie: Yeah, really, it's a really powerful partnership. And, I mean, this is just like a PSA FYI to anyone listening, like this kind of thing does exist, right? Like if you're noticing that, you know, your writing team is doing a great job of maybe nailing your voice, but like you're not really seeing any difference in terms of, you know, your blogging traffic or whatever. Like maybe you need to bring in someone like Meg or Meg herself. Meg: Or maybe your writing team is, is doing a really great job with their brand voice, but you're not sure what to write and that content generation piece can come out of conversations with the client. It can come out of, you know, really understanding the end user and, you know, having that client avatar. But in addition, it can also come out of what are the things people are searching for. And just, just as equally, what are the things my competitor is being found for that I can say in a different way, or explain in a better way for my audience, having that sort of understanding of what's happening in your industry is hard to get without being able to take a step back and being able to get kind of a 30,000 foot view of what's happening. And when you're looking for that 30,000 foot view, you don't want, you don't want to just go to your competitors and be like, so, Hey, what's working for you that I can steal. Marie: Not usually the nicest question. Meg: Not usually the best way to develop those industry relationships either, but you can have somebody go through and look at publicly available information and then come up with a plan for how it works for you and for your business. You know, I have actually just talking about this yesterday to an interior design business coach. I have four clients who are interior design business coaches. They help interior designers to grow their businesses and they've all hired me. And it's not because I just know what is the phrase Interior design business coach gets 390 people a month. And the keyword difficulty is blah, blah, blah. It's because each one of them knows that I'm going to find a different way to position them. One of those business coaches is a profit-first business coach. And so she's going to talk to you about your financials and your profit and loss. One of them is also a life coach, and she's going to make sure that the way that you set up your business fits in with your lifestyle, what, you know, like one of them is more marketing related and she's going to help you get more leads from it. And so, even though all of these people are competing for that one same keyword of interior design business coach, and I've got like three more out there that I'm like, I'm wondering how I can call them in. So if you're not my client and you're an interior design business coach, I would love to work with you because it's so much fun to find these different ways to position people, to say, yes, you all have this one keyword in common, but I can find a hundred different things that you can be found for. A content that you can write, or your writing team can write that can help you stand apart from those other people who may have the same title on their business card, but have very different target audiences, have very different approaches to doing things, have very different kinds of people that they want to find. Jessi: Yeah, it's that whole innovative angle, right? There's a million people out there who may do on the surface level, what you do. But when you dig a little deeper, everyone has their own unique way of approaching it. And that's really, it's one of the things that we do, we capture your voice. And it's so validating to see how it also can be applied to something that's more metrics-based. And I think that that's really valuable for clients, for the business owners themselves here, but also for content creators to hear, because it's such a great compliment to their business and to how they, you know, do what they do. Meg: Yeah. And I think even within my industry of people who do the keyword research and the search strategy, there are different approaches to it. And mine is very much empathy based, which fits into that idea of brand voice and knowing your client and understanding the way that they talk and who they want to reach. You know, mine's very much like who do you want to reach and what are their problems? It's very copywriting heavy. And so I think that's why I love working with content agencies is because you guys already done the half of the research and asked all the questions. And by the time I get the client brief, I'm like, oh, I can just go now because it's so clear to me when you have those brand voice pieces, when you have those kind of understanding of who it is that you're trying to reach the keyword research, isn't- it flows right out because you already have figured out the strategic direction that you want to go. Marie: I love this. So yeah, so I got to want to like take a trip down memory lane, right? Cause like, you know, when someone asks like five-year-old Meg, like, what do you want to be when you grew up? You were probably not like definitely SEO, strategist and researcher. Meg: Well, I mean, it was 1989, so I was really busy. [To her dog] Would you, would you be quiet? My dog is deciding now is the time that he needs to get up and shake around, obviously. Would you, I know you're an editing team, but come on bud. But, no, I would say in 1989 I was playing a lot of like Frogger on Commodore 64 and like the internet didn't exist yet. Right. So how did I get here? Yeah, I've always loved technology. My dad was an electrical engineer. We like had, I had my first email account in 1994 on Prodigy, like way back. Marie: Wow. Meg: Yeah. Being able to go with like HFFP, you know. Like it wasn't even like a name. So having grown up within this highly technical household and just always being kind of a little bit innovative, a little bit cutting edge, I think it, and then always approaching things from a place of curiosity and being trained in that idea of what are the things that we can figure out and what are the things that we can learn about the world. And then I went and got a degree in political science, obviously totally relevant to what I do now. I also got a master's in community development, use that all the time. And I worked at nonprofits in communication and fundraising. And nonprofits have very low budgets. I don't know if you know this, but when you are the assistant for the entire communication department, you learn to build a website yourself because you don't have the money to hire somebody to build a website. And so I just kind of figured it out as I went and I wrote grants to teach myself how to design and we would put them into, you know, various foundations that we were working with. We would put in professional development for my design skills. And then I was able to build the websites and learn the branding and teach myself, you know, illustrator. And when the time came for me to leave the workforce, because I had, I was married and pregnant and looked at my salary versus the cost of childcare and went Oh, this might not make sense. Thanks America. I decided to start a design firm because it was something that I knew. I knew how to build websites. I've been building websites. I taught myself HTML in like the late nineties, like a total nerd. And then it kind of just came back full circle there. And I was building websites usually for small businesses for entrepreneurs. It was just the space that I've always loved. And my clients were paying me for websites and then we'd launch them and they'd say, well, how come I don't have more leads? No, like, well, because you hired me to build a website. He didn't hire me to do lead gen. Right. I didn't know that there was this kind of correlation in their brains about if you build a website, they will come like very like field of dreamsy. But it isn't, it's like you have to figure out how to get people to find you and how to get them to come. And I hated this idea that people were paying me for websites that weren't fulfilling their even, unspoken outcomes that they were desiring. And so I started to teach myself SEO in the same way that I taught me myself web design and copy writing and all those things. And after a while, I started to realize that I liked the SEO pieces more than I liked the web design and that my friends who were in web design hated the SEO pieces. So it was a very clear cut, decision to, well, maybe not clear cut, but it was an easy decision to start partnering up with the web designers to offer SEO services. And then eventually just to phase out my own web design services and offer only SEO and then team up with other marketing strategists in general, not just web designers, but also content writers, copywriters strategists, social media people, even when they're thinking about what do they want to create for social media going and doing some keyword research for them, and then creating the blogs that can turn into social. Just being that kind of person in the pocket for all those different agencies has been such a powerful way of meeting new people, getting to try out industries and learning so much about SEO with boots on the ground, instead of just watching, unless you do videos, which I know is really overwhelming for a lot of people. Jessi: So you kind of touched on this already a little bit, but I want to go a little deeper into it, which is, I feel like there's a lot of misconception and myth around SEO. There's a lot of, you know, things that people maybe expect without thinking about how they're going to get there. Things like the, if I build it, then they'll come mentality. But also once they start like being like, oh, maybe I should look into this SEO thing, whether they're a business owner or a content creator who is running their own business. But also creating other clients, I feel like as soon as they started digging into that SEO, they bumped up against some other myths. So I I'm curious, what are some of the things that are like your favorite myths to bust, your favorite ways to like ease their pain and like remind them that, like this isn't as scary as you might think it is. Meg: Okay. Well, I think also, like it's hard to know where to start with SEO because there are so many different facets of it. Like sometimes I like to explain SEO as like a writer, a designer, a PR person, and a developer had a baby together. I don't want to think about the logistics of how that would actually work. It's kind of gross, but, you know, it's like, because Google is looking at so many different factors in its algorithm, it's got over 200 factors that it's looking at and some of them are, what are the words on your website? And are the words that Google needs to understand in the right places on your website. And some of them are, how does your website function? What's the page, the page experience, the user experience on there. So, a lot of that is, does your page load quickly? Does it look good on a cell phone? Is it secure and less likely to be hacked? Like all of those are factors in addition to the words on your website and the layout of your website and the pictures that you're using. And then also there's this piece of how many links are coming into your website and who's talking about you around the internet. It builds this reputation that can help Google know, oh yeah, these, this is a legitimate company that deserves to be profiled. And then also if you're running a local business, there's a whole nother set of rules about, you know, how do you show up on Google maps? And should you set up a Google my business listing? And do you want to include citations from your local chamber of commerce? And like, all of those are factors that go into this 200 plus point algorithm. So it's hard to know where to begin. And then also like the rules for e-commerce are different than the rules for service providers are different than the rules for corporations that have like big SAS companies. And then bloggers have kind of a different set of rules if they're monetizing through ad sense. And it's like, it can be really overwhelming. I just had like eight different things- business models and things to consider when you're doing web design and it's too much, right. So if you've thought about trying to get into SEO and you're like, oh my God, where do I begin? It's really, it's an overwhelming topic. And I think that's where a lot of the myths come from because it's really easy for people who are doing cold pitching, which we've all gotten those cold pitches in our inbox, including me when they're like, Hey, your SEO sucks. And I'm like, no, it doesn't. But I'm also in an incredibly competitive industry for SEO so I know it is. But you get these cold pitches that are like, we can get you to number one on Google. And all you have to do is, you know, change out this plugin, right? And it's so much more complex than that, but people want to get their foot in the door and they want to get you into a, you know, year long contract where they're making these little tweaks on your website and trying to prove themselves in that way. And so it feels a little bit snake-oily as industries go, because it can be a little bit hard to track what's going on in some industries are more competitive than others. So a lot of the myths around it are like, you only need to make you, you need to do it once. And once you get the plugin on your site, you're fine. Now it's really is kind of an ongoing process where you're optimizing. It's not search engine creation, it's search engine optimization. It's this ongoing effort to know what's happening in your industry, in those search engine results and to try to find new ways to reach your potential clients. And then I think also there are people who are so technical that they can get a site perfect, you know, like it can load in nanoseconds and it can, you know, look great on a mobile device and have everything in the right places, but not have anything that people actually want to read. So it has to be this balance in terms of the time that you're devoting to this, that is, I need to make sure that this is something that Google actually wants to share. Both the content and the technical and the trust-building that goes along with it to say, you know, I don't have my site crashing all the time. I don't have hacks happening on my page because it's insecure. Like there's a lot of factors that have different levels of importance based on the type of business that you're running and what your competitors are doing. If your competitors are all ignoring SEO, you can probably get to the first page of SEO in a day because no one else is doing it. So knowing how competitive things can be, can also help you set appropriate expectations. Marie: Yeah. I mean, this feels like, you know, SEO knowledge, every one needs, whether I'm in, well, maybe not everyone in the world, but every business owner, every content writer needs. Right. And I mean, I really hear you kind of pushing back against these like quick fixes, like silver bullet one size fits all, because like you said, it's a lot more complicated. It's a lot more complex than anything like that. And, you know, if somebody is promising the world, like usually it's like maybe too good to be true. Right. And that's totally the case here. So, but you said something earlier, Meg, that was really interesting to me about like your approach to SEO is much more rooted and empathy and you know, relationships. Can you talk a little bit more about like, how, how do all these like 200 points and like all the like metrics considerations that you're thinking about? Like how does that connect with that piece? Meg: Yeah. So I like to think of your website as having three different key relationships. One of them is the relationship with Google, which is that kind of technical piece, does it load quickly and, you know, are all the content tags in the right places? And, there is that kind of robot relationship. And then you have relationships with other websites around the internet. And so, you know, when I talk about outsourcing content, I'll often link to your website. And if you're talking about SEO and trying to give resources that people can find about you'll link to my website, and if that's happening in a natural way that Google really understands that these are, you know, reciprocal links, but they're talking in a respectful way it's not just like a stack full of links that somebody bought for 50 bucks, that there are these natural links happening. Google notices those relationships happening between different websites. If you're guest posting on a site and you get, you know, if you get listed on Copyblogger and they link back to your website, Google's like, oh, Hey Copyblogger, that's a great industry website. And if they accepted a pitch from Jessi and Marie, they must be, they must know what they're talking about. So we're going to give Jessi and Marie's website a little bit more authority, a little bit more trust because Copyblogger has said, yes, we validate they know what they're talking about. And then that final relationship. So we have our relationship with the robots. We have our relationship with other websites, and then we have a relationship with our readers. And the relationship with the readers can only happen if Google trusts you and wants to share with you, but their relationship with the readers is really that empathetic what are the ways that I can help people? What are the problems that they're having? What are the questions that they're having? What are the things that they're curious about? Often, these are things where if you have somebody in your life, who's already a specialist in this, you just ask your friend, you ask your coach, you ask your colleague. And if you don't have that person in your life, you go to Google. And there are also, you know, specific industries where people go to Google because they're scared, or they don't want to talk to other people about it. You know, I worked with a financial coach who said that most of her inquiries came at two o'clock in the morning because people woke up and went, how am I going to pay my rent this month. Is my paycheck going to make it for me? Those are the things where you go to your friends and you're like, Hey, I'm bankrupt. Let's talk about it. You know, like you go to Google cause you're a scared to talk to people or you you're, you have shame around it. And so if there are any industries where, um, you know, you know, that people feel a little bit more hesitant to discuss it. SEO can be a great way to get clients without needing to go into a Facebook group and be like, is your husband driving you crazy? I'm the divorce lawyer, right? Like you don't, you don't want to have to show up for people on social that way you want them to be able to find you when it's appropriate for them. And to show up with compassion, if you're in those particular helping industries and healing industries, you know? Jessi: Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of our listeners will probably relate to that. Because it's something that shows up a lot in content creation is, you know, I, I often refer to building a bridge between yourself and your audience and making sure that that bridge is sturdy and they can walk over it and feel like they're not going to like fall into the rapids of whatever it is. That's frustrating them or scaring them. And this is another piece of that equation. I kind of have a two-part question based off of this, because everything that you just said is so important and everything you said right before it about all of the different moving parts to it, you're right. It can be overwhelming. So for someone who is looking to implement SEO in their own business, whether they're, you know, a content creator using it for themselves and their clients or a business owner, who's just using it for their own business, what can they do on their own that doesn't feel so overwhelming. And also the second part of that question is what should they absolutely not ever do. Meg: Okay. So start with what they do. So I love that you brought up that kind of metaphor is, am I using the right term? It's not really a metaphor. It's more of an allegory or something. Did not major in English, dropped that major after a semester. I was like, I cannot read the great Gatsby again. That one wasn't even the worst of them. They were, I think it was the Scarlet letter. That was what I was like. I can't, I can't, I can't, I'm so sorry Hester Prynne. So, anyway, we have this, this, uh, visualization, we'll say about, you know, building heavies, building blocks to build that bridge from your client, where they are, show your client where they need to be in order to hire you. And when you're thinking about what are those building blocks, you, you may have already sketched this out on your website, especially those of you who are already in that kind of content creation space of what are the steps people need to take in order to hire you and what is the information that they need in order to make that informed decision, or to be able to do that outreach. And the framework that a lot of people are familiar with already is that customer awareness spectrum, where people are going from they're completely unaware to problem aware, solution aware, to aware of you, to being ready to buy. And so when you're thinking about making your website, SEO friendly, every page of your website hits a different level of that content awareness or that customer awareness spectrum and different keywords can apply at every stage of that customer journey. So if people know that they want to, you know, if they already know about you guys, then they'll just go to Google and they'll type in North Star Messaging and your website will show up first and they will click through and they will hire you. So they are, they are ready to buy. They're aware of you, they're ready to go. So yeah, Google or SEO can help you with that point, but really the place where we're going to catch people as a stage or two before that in that problem aware solution aware phase. So some people might be solution aware and they might say, oh, I know that I need to hire a content agency. I just don't know who it is. So they might just go to Google and say content retainer or content agency, or, group of people that write people blog posts. They might not have the words yet. Maybe that's even a step before where they're like, I don't want to write blog posts anymore. They don't know that a solution existed a problem. They don't know that there's an agency that could do this for them, but they do know that they don't want to do it anymore. They don't have, maybe the, the search is don't have time to write blog posts or don't, don't know how to write website copy, or how do I learn to write website copy or website copy templates, right? Like people looking for some sort of fix, but they don't necessarily know what the fix is yet. Those people might be problem aware. And then the unaware people who don't know that you can hire a writer, you can't catch them. You can't make them suddenly be interested in you. That's where you would want something that's a little bit more interrupted in your marketing, like Facebook ads or something along those lines where you can target them directly and reach out to them. But if they're somewhat aware that there is a problem, then you can start to hone in on what are the things that they might be searching for based on their knowledge of what the problem is and what the solution is. And so when we're thinking about what you can actually do with that information on your website, this is a very long answer. Use those words, use those words in your website. If you are a content agency, but your ideal client doesn't know that you exist yet, don't worry so much about getting the word content agency on your website. Instead think about we our blog writer, outsourced blog writers, right? Like maybe find a different way to say it based on the words that your ideal client is using. And if you're doing voice of customer research, a lot of this can go directly into your keyword research. You know, if you know in your VOC that you go into your intake forms and you see that people are saying, I want someone to write blog posts for me, then use that and go do some keyword research and use the term, write blog posts for me, and then figure out how many people are looking for that. Is there a related term that's less competitive that has more volume, you know, maybe then people would look for blog writer instead of write blog posts for me. And you could put I'm a blog writer and content creator in a content agency, and you can kind of stack blog posts, or I'm sorry, stack keywords, almost like alphabet soup. It feels like sometimes where you're like, I'll sprinkle this keyword here and this keyword here and see what works, see what Google is figuring out that they know that I do. Jessi: Yeah. Yeah. It's so interesting because I think that a lot of people who run businesses kind of do this intuitively. You know, they're not necessarily going into a tech tool to do this direct audience research, but if they've been in business for any amount of time, like they've probably even subconsciously noticed the trends of what keeps coming up. Anytime someone submits an inquiry form or hops on a sales call or something like that. That's how we ended up becoming an agency that was known for brand voice. Because people kept coming to us and saying, I've hired out for content before. And no one could nail our voice. And that came up so many times. And then when they started working with us, they'd be like, you guys nailed my voice. That was awesome. I'm like, okay, I guess this is the thing that everybody wants that is coming to us. So let's, let's double down on that. Let's continue talking about it, not just in our sales calls, but also in the content that we're creating. Meg: Yeah. And that can be so powerful if you can figure out, you know, at that customer level, at that one-to-one level, what is the thing that sets us apart and then have that zoom out conversation, and figure out how many other people are looking for that, but haven't met us yet. And what are some other related terms? Maybe people don't know the term brand voice, but they're looking for something like, how do I get a writer to sound like me? And you can write a blog post about it. And, and this is where I get really excited. You guys know this already. You can use this feedback mechanism from Google that once you create, and once you publish, Google will tell you within, you know, a couple of days, maybe a couple of weeks, what are the things that Google is sending traffic to that specific post or page for. So you could write a blog post about how do I get people to understand how I talk and just write it however you want to write it, write it, however it makes sense to you. And then you can use a tool that's free. It's called Google Search Console. I like to describe it as the stepchild of Google analytics, where like Google analytics will tell you what happens when people get to the page. Google search console will tell you how people find the page before they get there. And it will tell you, like, here are the exact words, word for word that different people searched for. How many people searched for them? What's your position? How many actually clicked through to your site? What countries are they in? What time of day were they searching? Were they searching on web or video or, you know, there's so many different factors at play there. And then once you have that information from Google, you can go in and update your content and say, the blog post was called, how do I get people to find, or to talk like me, or to write like me? And then you can go, oh, Hey, people are looking for this phrase brand voice. And so I'm going to update that blog post and call it, "Finding your brand voice: how to get people to write like me." And then you'll start to rank more for brand voice because the name of the blog post has that phrase in it. And so it can be very iterative of a process where every page on your website can rank for infinite number of things and can always be in fluctuation. And there are times where I'm like, all right, we've tapped out this blog post. There's nothing else I can get this blog post to rank for. Let's move on to the next one. So a lot of times, especially I'll start to work with people who have been writing for years and they have huge archives of content. And it's very much the 80 20 rule here where it's like the 20% of your content is bringing you to 80% of your traffic. Let's see if we can get that 20% to bring in more and just kind of leave the rest for a rainy day, but you don't have to go through and update every single page of your site to answer your second part of your question, sort of mostly 1A. If you want to update your website, you don't have to update every single page of your website, go into, you know, Google search console. Even Google analytics will tell you if you go into like the behavior and acquisition page or behavior, and then you can go to site content. I'm like seeing the report in my brain. But you can see your landing pages. You can see your top landing pages and then say, okay, what are my top five pages that are bringing in traffic? Whether that's from search or from social or from referrals, what are those pages that are working the hardest for me? And then I'm gonna to think about when I'm writing the content for those pages, what would people search for for this and put it in the title and put it in the SEO title, which is the part that shows up on the search results. It's not always the same as your headline and put it in the alt text. So that way people are looking for images, you'll show up in the images. You know, there are just these kinds of- it's called On-Page Optimization. But there's specific places that those keywords can go on your website and start there. You don't have to have the full ten-year plan, figured out. You can go do one page, two pages. Marie: I love that because it can be so overwhelming, like really any aspect of like a business marketing business, content creation, like any of it. And so I love that, like, you know, even just making one change to one blog post can actually create, you know, a measurable difference in terms of how things are performing and like what's happening. Like, what does it actually mean for the business? I'm also sitting here a little horrified thinking about like all of my, like 10:00 PM sloppy, like typos. Meg: People have a lot of, typos in their search terms. Marie: Yeah. Meg: There's a lot of people just like trying to figure out how to spell words and going to Google. There's a lot of fluff in the keyword databases, also a lot of porn. Like it's a dark dirty place sometimes. But there is a lot of gold if you're willing to sift through some of the, you know, the diamonds in the rough will show themselves. Marie: Yeah. So, let's say, you know, someone listening is a lot like Jessi and me, a writer who is really interested in this, but like, doesn't necessarily want to like take the time to sift right, to pan for gold. You know, and so what is a way that they could, you know, really leverage someone like you, or you specifically? Like, what is the best way to enter a partnership like that? Meg: Well, if we're talking about for their specific businesses or their clients, if you know that you have a client who may have a lot of gold that they're sitting on and you don't want to take the time to go through and sift through it for them, or if you just need some more support getting the right people to your website. I do have, usually what I do with you guys is my like one week sessions where it's like, we'll sit down and we'll talk about your website. We'll talk, we'll take a look at what's already ranking. And then within a week, I'll send back to you, okay, update this and this and this. And here are the keywords mapped out for each of these pages you already have. And sometimes I'll even go through and have my team who specializes in this optimization piece will like mark up texts for you and be like, here's where we want this to go. So that way you can see how it works. And then I usually also will put together a brief content strategy that's like hear the next 10 blog posts. I want you to write based on what's happening on your website, where are the gaps that we're seeing in your keywords what's missing? What are other competitors talking about? And then we can kind of go from there and figure out how much support people need. Sometimes just that one session gives you enough to play with for a year. And then you start getting enough clients that you're like, okay, I can kind of ease up on this a little bit. And sometimes it's more of a long-term partnership where it starts with that one session. And then every couple months we get back together and say, how is it working? What else do we need to look at? What are the new pages on the site that are rising to the top that could use that extra bit of love? What are the videos? What's the YouTube keywords that we want to start pursuing for the upcoming couple of months of content, you know, and how do we get the YouTube keywords in the Google keywords to play nicely with each other so that, you know, the videos are supporting the blog content and so on and so forth. So, or podcast episodes, you know, having show notes that go with your podcast episodes, and then building some of your show notes after you have a certain amount of critical mass in a certain topic, building that into a cornerstone guide on a specific topic, and then driving people into listen to your podcast episodes, and then having a call to action from there. And so, having kind of an outsider's perspective on here's what the metrics say is working and here's how we can leverage that can be huge. Because I know so often we go into our analytics and we go, oh, there's a whole lot of data in here. Where do I start? And you're like, I don't really care how much of my audience is on Safari versus Chrome versus Firefox, but there's so much information in there that you don't know kind of again, to sift through for the gold. So having someone else come in and sort of do, I don't even like the word audit, but to do an assessment of what's working and suggestions of specific tasks you can do, can make such a huge difference. And really, you know, spend a small amount of time updating what you've already created to make it actually work for you. Marie: Yeah. I mean, firsthand we'll recommend this process. Yeah. And then I guess just for somebody who's just more interested in like, learning about SEO in general, like just wants to dip their little toe in a little bit more. Do you have a resource that you've created that you would recommend they check out? Meg: Sure. You can head over to my website, which is loveatfirstsearch.com. And that's where you can get the SEO starter kit. So it's a brief guide that I've tried to make as enjoyable as possible. I know SEO is hard to make fun, but I do have like Madlibs of where you can put your SEO keywords into your headlines to make them still fun to read. I have some flow charts with means from the office in there. I tried my best to make it really like down to earth and not hyper hyper-technical. And then also in 2021, I started a YouTube channel where I try to explain this with the visuals whenever possible in stories whenever possible, because I know that we forget things when we're just watching tutorials. But if I can tell you the story of not just here's the template, but here's how the template worked for my kid when he was telling me about who would win in a fight between a lion and a tiger, then that outcome will stick with you a little bit better. So I actually have video of him reading. It's so cute. But you know, having those stories and you, you, you know, I'm talking to copywriters and content writers, so you guys know that the story is what will help things sink in and remember, so if that's a way that you like to learn, also, you can head over and check out my YouTube channel, which is linked from my website loveatfirstsearch.com. Jessi: Awesome. Perfect. And we'll make sure to link to both of those in the show notes and everyone out there who has listened to any past episodes of ours, uh, you know, that we love to give out homework because we can't help ourselves. And so your homework assignment for today is going to be to grab that SEO starter kit and dive into it. Because I guarantee you in the time that we've worked with Meg and seeing the results that she's been able to produce for our own clients, I even just going with the kit, you're gonna, you're gonna think about SEO in a new way and how it can help you in your business. And we're really excited to get it in your hands. And on that note, is there anywhere else that your audience, that our audience and our listeners can go to find you? Meg: Instagram is probably the best place that's where I hang out with the most. I know I should be on LinkedIn, but I just don't want to just close down my Facebook group because I did the metrics and I was like, this isn't converting. So I have a whole blog post about that. If you want to read how to know whether or not your marketing is converting and whether you're spending your time on it accurately, but, yeah, Instagram @loveatfirstsearch. Definitely. If you guys want to take, you know, a screenshot of this and hit me up and tag all of us in that, that would be awesome. I would love to see that and hear your biggest takeaway. So you can just slide into my DMS and let me know. Marie: Look at that CTA. Meg: It's like I worked with copy writers. Jessi: It was so good to talk to you and dive into this, like where you said at the beginning, we were, we've been looking forward to this for ever since he got on our calendar, we were like, oh, this is going to be a good one. Meg:,/b> I hope I haven't turned you guys off from future interviews by just ranting on chocolate for 10 minutes. Marie:,/b> No, no, this has been awesome. So thank you so much Meg for taking the time. Really appreciate it. And I've, I mean, I'm thinking about SEO in new ways and I, I know that our listeners are too. Meg: It was my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. Marie: Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website, northstarmessaging.com, where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more. Jessi: If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you, and happy content creating.
For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging 

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