beginner's guide to seo

Are you showing up when people search for your services on Google? If not, it’s likely due to a lack of optimization on your website for search engines.

Join me as I walk through a beginner’s guide to search engine optimization (SEO) in this episode and help you optimize your website for search engines. Listen in as I give examples and share a couple of my favorite tools for beginners.

Clocking In with Haylee Gaffin is produced and brought to you by Gaffin Creative, a podcast production company for creative entrepreneurs. Learn more about our services at Gaffincreative.com, plus you’ll also find resources, show notes, and more for the Clocking In Podcast.

Review the Show Notes

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? (1:29)

My Background with SEO (1:47)

Potential Leads from SEO (2:19)

SEO Data from gaffincreative.com: Q1 2021 (2:29)
# of times gaffincreative.com showed up in Google Searches: 12,900
# of times gaffincreative.com was clicked on from Google Searches: 295
Top Keywords/Phrases: Photography Studio Rental, Chattanooga Headshot Photographer, Photography Studios near me

Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines (4:59)

1. Use a Search Engine Optimization Tool (Like Yoast on WordPress)

SEO:Search Engine Optimization (5;35)

Metadata: The text based components of your website that communicate with Google (5:44)

2. Plan Out Your Keywords and Key Phrases (5:51)

What are your potential clients searching for on Google?

3. Update the Metadata on Your Website Pages (6:43)

Metadata: Title, Description, Alt-Text, Headers, etc. (7:00)

Title: The text that shows up in blue on google. (7:15)

Description: The text that shows up under the title and tells the reader (and Google) what your content is about. (7:22)

Alt-Text: The text that describes your images. (7:33)

Keyword/Key Phrase: The primary word or phrase that you’re trying to rank for. This component is used in your seo tool as a reference or indicator of how well you’ve optimized your page for it. (7:42)

Haylee’s Headshot Example: (8:33)
keyword/phrase: headshot photographer or chattanooga headshot photographer
Title: Headshots for Professionals in Chattanooga, TN | Gaffin Creative
Description: Headshots and branding photos are an important visual element to your personal brand! Enter Haylee Gaffin—a Chattanooga headshot & branding photographer!

4. Develop a Content Plan & Strategy for SEO Efforts (11:18)

What are your potential clients searching for or asking?

Determining Content Keywords: (12:38)
1. Talk to your potential clients about what they want to know.
2. Use Keywords Everywhere tool.

How I Titled Today’s Episode (13:14)
Initial Title: 5 Things to Look for in Your Website’s SEO (0 monthly searches)
Second Variation: Optimizing My Website for Search Engines (30/month)
Third Variation: Beginner’s Guide to SEO (440/month)
Final Title: Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines

Optimizing My Clients’ Ongoing Blog Posts and Podcast Episodes (14:31)

Women I’m cheering for This Week (12:41)
Myrna Daramy
Join us for Tech Translation Thursday, on 4/22 at 7PM EST

Other Episodes Mentioned in this Episode:
009: 3 Ways to Get Out of a Content Creation Rut

Blog Posts Mentioned in this Episode:
Three Reasons You Need to Transcribe Your Podcast


optimizing your website for search engines

Review the Transcript:

If you have a website, you’re likely familiar with Search Engine Optimization or SEO. It’s how you optimize your website to show up on search engines like Google. Now in today’s episode, I am starting at the beginning of optimizing your website for search, so if you already have tons SEO knowledge, this episode may not be for you, but it could be a great refresher if you’ve been slacking a little on your website’s optimization.

Hey y’all welcome to the clocking in podcast the podcast for entrepreneurs and professionals making their way in the working world i’m your host Haylee Gaffin this podcast is produced and brought to you by Gaffin Creative a podcast production company for creative entrepreneurs learn more about our services at Gaffincreative.com plus you’ll also find resources show notes and more for the clocking in podcast so let’s clock in and get to work.

We’re getting a little technical in today’s episode. We’re talking all about Search Engine Optimization. In this episode, we’re just covering the basics because there is so much more that goes into SEO than what i’ll be covering today. Now there are actually a number of tools I use in my business that I’m not going to mention in today’s episode because don’t want to overwhelm anyone. But if you listen to this episode and want me to dive deeper into tools and strategy, I’d love to hear from you and I can definitely work on a followup episode!

So what exactly is search engine optimization? Basically, it’s your website’s way of communicating what the content of your website is about to search engines like Google and Bing.

In putting an effort into optimizing your website’s search data, you’re helping better tell Google what you should rank for.

With a background in the digital side of the ad agency world, I was able to learn a bit about SEO. I worked on content strategies and optimizations of websites and blogs for years. I didn’t necessary focus solely on seo, but I learn a ton about it, which came in handy when I was working on my own website.

Now many small businesses don’t take a ton of time to optimize their website for search because they do rely heavily on referrals or social media marketing to grow their business—which is totally fine. If this is you, I want you to consider how many potential leads you’re missing out on in your business because you’re not showing up when someone searches for what you do on Google?

Before I jump into the hows and whats of optimizing your website, I want to share a little data from my own website. Now I’m a small business that offers photography, studio rental, and podcast production for my clients. These are three very different services with different audiences and in addition to that, two of those services require my clients to be local and one is on a national level.

For the most part, the photography and studio content on my website does really well to drive traffic to my business. Since expanding the podcast production side of my business this year, I’ve been working on a content strategy to really hone in on the content I create to help improve my website’s seo so that I can rank for podcast related keyword searches.

So let’s talk about what my numbers look like for Q1 of this year. So from jan 1 to March 31 of this year, my website showed up in a google search almost 12,900 times. From that, 295 people clicked on my website from Google. That was 295 potential clients. 

So let’s talk about my most popular keywords that I ranked for:

Photography studio rental

Chattanooga headshots

Photography studio near me

If I continued down the list of keyphrases that I ranked for, most them are slight variations of these three and I ranked for all three of these based on my seo, but also based on where the searcher was looking – Chattanooga

When I launched the studio, I wanted to be number one in my area, which was slightly easy because there weren’t too many studios actively marketing studio rental to other photographers. 

Then when i started to shoot headshots and created my monthly headshots in the studio day, I knew I wanted to rank for headshots and branding sessions as well, so I optimized my website content for headshots in my area.

Now, I’m actively working to build out my podcast content to really rank up on GOogle, because on a national scale, there is more competition than trying to rank only on a local scale. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try. Since launching my own podcast and the blog content, I’ve already booked clients who found me on google AND downloaded my free resources.

So now, let’s dive into a few steps you can take to better optimize your website for SEO.

Use an SEO tool like Yoast. While some website programs have the placeholders for your website meta data built in, yoast is a tool that will help guide you. For example, if you use wordpress, Yoast is simple to download, install, and start using today. I’ll actually link to a tutorial video in the show notes to guide you through setting up Yoast on your website.

So before I lose anyone who is brand new to Search Engine Optimization, I want to review a few things I just mentioned.

The first is a reminder of what SEO stands for – Search Engine Optimization.

The second is metadata – these are the text based components of your site that communicate with Google.

The next thing that I want you to do is plan out what keywords and keyphrases you actually want to rank for. So for me, an easy one is Chattanooga photography studio or Chattanooga Headshot Photographer.

I know this because it’s what I would search if I was looking in my area for a photographer. But think through what your potential clients would be searching for if they were looking for your product or services.

Now write each one of the potential words down. 

Then let’s compare those to the pages of your website and what would work best for each, starting with your home page, services, etc. We’ll get into your blogs shortly.

After you’ve done a little bit of keyword planning, i want you to start updating the metadata within Yoast or whatever your website builder has incorporated. 

As a reminder, metadata is the text based components of your site that communicate with Google. So these include a title, description, alt-text and more, like header tags, but today we’ll focus on updating the title, description, and alt text.

The title is what shows up in blue on Google and is what most people read first in Google searches. The description is the text that shows up under that and allows both Google and the searcher to know what the page is about and if it serves what they’re looking for. The alt text is what describes the images on your page and is important not only for Google, but also accessibility for screen readers.

Now in tools like yoast, you’ll have a spot for a keyword or keyphrase. Google isn’t necessarily using this for ranking, but Yoast is using it to help you measure how well you’ve incorporated this word throughout your page. When you’ve completed, you’ll receive a ranking for that keyword or phrase and you’re going to want this to be green.

I recommend having that keyword somewhere in the beginning of your meta title and description. 

Let’s use my headshots and branding photos page of my website as an example. Most of my branding clients actually start as headshot clients and I give them the option of upgrading to a branding photo shoot. So I am trying to rank for headshot photographer or chattanooga headshot photographer on this page.

The meta title of this page is Headshots for Professionals in Chattanooga, TN | Gaffin Creative. This allows the focus to be on the service, while still including my brand name for potential clients to see in search rankings. 

The meta description of that page is Headshots and branding photos are an important visual element to your personal brand! Enter Haylee Gaffin—a Chattanooga headshot & branding photographer!

I’ve included headshots, branding photos, personal brand, my name, and chattanooga headshot and branding photographer, all keywords that I would like to rank for.

Throughout the page, you’ll see these words also being used.

Then I’ve also formatted all of my images for web and titled them all with some variation of this phrase. In addition, I’ve also included alt text on all of my images that also include variations of this phrase.

Making these updates has brought me dozens of inquiries each month, allowing me to sell out almost every month for my headshots in the studio dates that I host each month and allows me to book a few branding clients each month.

I’m really not doing a ton of marketing for these sessions and they’re all coming in organically or through referrals!

Take this exercise and repeat it on each of the main pages of your website. 

Now, let’s dive into developing a content plan and strategy for your seo efforts. We’ll talk really high level here, as I don’t want to take up too much of your time or overwhelm you with too many tasks from this first episode on SEO.

Your blog content and podcast content can help support your efforts on your website’s SEO. That’s actually a main strategy point I explain to my podcast clients on why they need a section of their website dedicated to their podcast.

Creating content that helps support the messaging of your website as a whole is helpful to google’s website crawlers. Imagine your website like a spider web, where everything is connected in some way within your website.

You want Google crawlers AND your potential clients to be able to move throughout your website to find the content that will help serve your audience.

So consider what content you could write about or create on your podcast that will help pull you up higher on Google.

Many wedding photographers will highlight vendors or venues to help them rank when people are searching for wedding planning inspiration in their local market.

For myself, I’m creating content around common questions people wanting to start a podcast are looking for. I’m sourcing this content two ways;

The first is through talking to potential clients – what do they want to know?

The second is by using a tool called Keywords Everywhere. It’s a chrome plugin that allows you to see how much monthly volume a keyword has in your country, followed by related keywords and a section titled “People also searched for.”

This is also how I titled this episode.

My first variation of this episode was going to be titled something like 5 things to look for in your website’s seo. When I googled different variations of that, the number of searches wasn’t great.

Then I googled, optimizing my website for search engines, which had 30 searches per month. After planning out most of the content of the episode, I started looking through the the recommendations from this tool and playing around with different searches.

Then I came across Beginners guide to seo which had 440 searches per month.

So what I decided to do was title it Beginners guide to seo: Optimizing your website for search engines. This helps better explain to people aren’t familiar with the term seo, but also helps encourage better ranking on Google for the content of my episode.

Now what I typically do for my podcast and seo audit clients is help them navigate their titles based on this keyword research. 

Additionally, I ensure that when I’m uploading their website content, I’m optimizing all of the metadata for search engines, in addition to creating show notes that help guide search engines to better understand what the content is about. 

This is also a great opportunity to show how you can use your podcast transcripts to help improve SEO. I’ve created a blog post titled Three Reasons you should transcribe your podcast and I’ll link to that in the show notes.

So ask yourself today, what kind of content would m y audience be interested in learning about while also considering what they’re searching for on google.

There are so many strategies and ways that you can explore developing a content plan to improve your website’s SEO based on your services and what you do for your clients. Now that we’ve covered the basics, I’d love to hear what optimizations you may have been missing on your website that this episode helped with, but then I’d also love to hear what questions this episode encouraged you to ask about your own content strategies or lack thereof, because while I have worked in this space since 2013, I’m just now really optimizing my own website! It’s never too late to get started and test out new ways to grow your business while also servicing your audience.

I really hope you enjoyed today’s episode and I’ve love to know if you want me to dive deeper into this topic on future episodes! Make sure head over to Instagram and shoot a DM to let me know at @hayleegaffin.

This has been another episode of The clocking in podcast. You can find the show notes for this episode and more at Gaffincreative.com. Thank you so much for your listenership and support. If you love this episode, I’d be so honored if you leave me a review in Apple podcast app. Until next time, I’m your host Haylee Gaffin, clocking out.

This week, I’m cheering for my new friend Myrna Daramy, who is a speaker, educator and advisor on inclusivity, accessibility, and digital optimization. I was connected with Myrna through a dear friend and client when we hopped on an IG live room when it first launched. This thursday, myrna and I will going live for her Tech Translation Thursday talks on IG Live at 7pm EST and i would love to see you there! Make sure you tune in on Thursday and cheer us on!