Episode Transcript

Hey, y'all! Welcome back to another episode of the Web Presence Rockstars Podcast. I'm your host Mistie Smith of Powered by RIO.

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about some of the knowledge and tools that you need, in addition to the Google Search Console, in order to properly optimize your website with SEO best practices. I know I talk a whole lot about the Search Console, and I will continue to talk a whole lot about the Search Console, because, hey, that's who I am, and I love it, and it's awesome and great, and all that, but there's some other tools that you should understand. And when you understand these certain things, then it will help you to optimize your site a whole lot better.

So it's a lot more than just doing your keywords. And you guys know, if you've heard any of my past episodes that, you know, keywords, and key words, one word versus two words, just drive me crazy. There's a huge difference. And, you know, you can fall into a trap of keyword stuffing. And now with all of this artificial intelligence, I just really think it's going to get a whole lot worse. And I think people are going to continue to take shortcuts in order to get their rankings on their website up. And, you know, there's a lot a lot, a lot of things that go into search engine optimization, there's a lot of factors that are involved. So like, if you're not putting a lot of content on your website, then that's one issue that you have, if you just have the minimal content on your website, and you don't update it, you don't refresh in it, or you don't add more pages or whatever, your website, is just going to flatline I guess for lack of better word. I mean, it's going to be there. And based upon the content that you have, if people are going to your site, if you have the traffic, that's one thing. If you don't have the traffic, and you're not doing anything to update or refresh your website, then you're not going to get any additional traffic. And that's just factual. Some of you guys out there who just want the website for the presence of the website, just so that, you know, the legitimacy if someone says, Oh, what is this business and you have a website, okay, that's fine. And you're gonna get the minimal amount of traffic. And that's cool, if that's what you want. And that's what you need. There are people out there and there are clients out there who have that.

Now, sometimes, people have websites, and their businesses provide for tons of traffic just based on who they are, like, for example, golf courses. And I know this to be true, because I do websites for golf courses. And one in particular, it's a very popular public golf course. And we post things on there, like their memberships for the pool, and they have a player's card where you can get discounts playing golf and stuff. And they also have a pretty large email list. So you know, I can provide documentation firsthand on how a large email list actually helps with traffic to your website. And what you post on your website actually helps with your traffic and with your business. So I've seen it happen. I've seen it firsthand. And I guess that's one of the advantages of me being in my position where I spend more time with other people's websites than I do my own.

And I admit, my website has fallen short here. It looks cool. And if you go to the search console, I don't have any errors on it. Everything is crawled, everything is indexed. Everything is like green checkmarks, all the way down and got my sitemap, I got everything going for me. It's just I've not really added a lot of content on there in order for Google to serve it up in a search, other than for the name of my company. And that's my fault. I mean, I did that to myself. Because there's times when I have so many things going on that I don't focus on my own website. I don't focus on my own marketing. I get paid to do it for other people. And that's a drawback that I'm trying to fix. And I'm so hard trying to fix that. But yeah, the upside, the flip side of all this is that I get to see other people's websites and I get to see other people's traffic, and I get to see their marketing attempts and their email marketing campaigns and I get to see the traffic and how many people hit their websites and when they exit and all that. So I do have a ton of knowledge based on that.

You could have the best website in the world, and if you're not updating it, and if you're not providing original content, and you know, keeping it up to date, and it doesn't really have to be once a week, it doesn't even have to be, you know, once a day or once a month, as long as you are providing original content, you know, every once in a while, Google's still gonna crawl. And we're gonna get into that here later about how if you, if you force yourself, well, let's just talk about it now. Okay, since we've already started, if you force yourself to post and am talking, and well, this could go for social media, too, I think. But if you're forcing yourself on a posting schedule, like for a blog post, like if you want to do a blog post once a week, or if you want to post on social media, once a day, and you're short on content, and you've read to reuse your content that you've posted before, and you just don't know what to post, you could fall victim to just posting anything. And that's something that's a slippery slope that you need to be careful about. Because I mean, maybe do it once or something, and you should be fine. But the more content that you post, that really isn't original, or relevant or helpful to other people Google could think that that's what your site's about.

That's why it's important to know these tools that I'm going to go over. Because, I mean, just think about it, shoot, I've been there, too. It's like, when I was doing all those podcasts every day for like, six weeks, or whatever. I mean, oh my gosh, I was like banging my head against the wall. And you can look back at how many people have listened to the podcast, like, the stuff that had valuable, helpful information, has tons of listens, and some that, you know, are just like, let's say crap – no it's not crap - I mean, it was important to me, but it's not important to other people per se, they got less listens, right? There's those, you know, I don't want to call it fluff, but it's filler content. That is just to fill it to meet a quota or to meet the self imposed quota that you put on yourself to, you know, I've got to do this, I've got to do this, my website has to be this, it has to be this and it has to do this, and I have to use these keywords, and I have to do whatever. And especially with the increase of artificial intelligence, if you are using that, in a not so productive way that you're using it just for your post creation and content creation, and you're not really editing it out, or whatever, you know, it's going to fall flat of being original and not for the people. And you're just doing it just to get rankings, which as we know, if you're doing something just to get rankings, then it's going to fall short. You have to create your content for the people, for your customer avatar, for your target audience, for whoever you're creating the content for. I would say on any given day, if you're stuck about something, don't post it if you're stuck. And if you think that what you're about to post is just generic or not helpful or just for the sake of posting, then don't do it. It's not going to hurt anything. I mean, I know you probably have followers who look forward to your content all the time. But if you don't have anything new or exciting, or helpful or anything out like that to provide, like any type of value, then don't post it. And I think your audience will probably appreciate you for that instead of regurgitating something that you said, you know, two weeks ago or are talking about something that has nothing to do with what your business is about.

And I know there's a fine line between that, but I think you can, you can be the best judge of that. So just keep that in mind. Everyone's like consistency, consistency, consistency. But nowadays, it's not so much about being consistent. It's about providing valuable original information for people who are actually looking for that type of information, instead of what you think people are looking for. So it's a lot more transparent. It's a lot more real, I guess, instead of like, you're just saying things for the sake of saying things. Maybe that's why I go so long between podcast episodes, because I don't want to just say something for the sake of saying something because I kind of did that for six weeks, and I got burnt out on that. And I want to be able to provide some good, valuable information to whoever needs to hear it or wants to hear it or can utilize it. So anyway, just keep that in mind.

But also keep in mind it's not all about key words. What you're basically doing is you have a dartboard up on the wall, and you're throwing a dart at something that you think maybe people want to hear about. And you're using all the keywords in every which way format. And that I mean, yeah. Is it helpful? Sure. Is it more helpful to be yourself and use your own words? Yeah, that's what I think, that's my impression. That's my opinion, which is why I never really do a whole lot of keyword research anyway. I mean, back in the day, when you put keywords in the meta tags, and Google kind of kept track of all the keywords and stuff and on your website, I mean, yeah, I did a little bit of research. But I mean, come on, y'all, let's be original. I mean, people are going to follow you for you, and your knowledge, and what you have to offer, as opposed to you saying the same thing as everybody else. And while that may seem like a quick fix, it's not going to help you in the long run. So be original, be you, use your own words, and talk about topics that interests you. And maybe topics that you've had issues with in the past, or you've recently learned or, things that help you - things that have been proven to work for you and your business and all that. So do that. Instead, try that, like, do me a favor, try that for like a month, just a month, just throw away all of your keyword research, and do what I just said for a month and see what happens. Maybe you have to go longer than a month, I don't know. But just try that. Don't try to be like everyone else. Because everyone else is being everyone else, if that makes sense. And people want to hear refreshing, new, your spin, somebody else's spin because they might be thinking the same thing too, and nobody's really said it. So you know, if you say something that you think one way, and the popular opinion is another way, you may inspire someone else to do it a different way. And they're going to get great results, right? And that's what it's about.

It's, well, I know, it's about making money. But also you can't make money without people interested in your website or your product or your course or whatever. So just keep that in mind. All right, so that little tangent has been taken care of.

So I was reading an article last night. And by the way, this kind of goes on what I just said, like I've been thinking what I'm about to tell you guys, I've been thinking this for a while. And I may have even said it a few times on my podcast episodes. I can't imagine not saying this, because I've always thought this but I was reading an article last night. And you know, someone validated what I had been thinking. And when I say someone, I'm talking about John Mueller, who is a Google search advocate, and he does all of these blog posts and podcasts and question and answer sessions and he's big on Twitter and you can ask him all kinds of questions and he can answer all the Google questions and SEO questions that you want, but, you know, he kind of validated the things that I've been thinking and talking about. And that's when you focus, or in order to focus on getting website traffic, organic website traffic or SEO based traffic to your website, there are certain things that you need to do and know and understand before you can do it properly. So it's not just about keywords. It's about knowing how a website works. So hopefully, if you are doing SEO, you've built website and you understand. But just because you've built a website doesn't mean that you understand the coding and the structure behind it. And that's another reason why some of these WordPress website builders, well, I mean, not just WordPress, but like Squarespace. And in Wix. And like GoDaddy, and you name your favorite one, I kind of looked into Webflow a little bit, and that too, I mean, anything that's a drag and drop, they're doing it to make it easier for you, but it's kind of taken all the technical stuff out of it. And that technical stuff is what you need to know, in order to properly perform SEO for your website, if that makes sense.

So the basic thing, and this is what John Mueller said too so yay me, you need to learn HTML, and you don't have to learn how to code, you just need to learn what HTML is, and, and how its structured and how a website is properly structured. So like, you have divs, and you have rows, and then you can have lots of divs within divs. And, you can have containers, and you need to understand how that layout is and like in a div, you can have your heading tags. So you have the H1s through H6s and how that plays into it and why it's important. And the reason that you need to know that is so that you can structure your website properly, so that Google knows how your website is structured and what your website is about. So if you're using h1 tags for everything, and then Google is gonna be like, What? No, no way, not everything is that important on this website, I can tell you that by right now. Because Google's algorithm, Google's a search engine, it doesn't have eyes, it can't see what your website looks like, but it can see how its structured and laid out. And it can also tell if someone doesn't know how to properly code their website, because it has a hard time indexing it. So you have the HTML so that it can be indexed properly. And Google can read it easily and index it easily. So if you're using the Search Console, you might be getting these error messages about you know, crawled but not indexed. And then it'll say beside it, the reason why or what the problem is, and if it's Google services, nine times out of 10, if you click on that, and you see the reason why it's not it's crawled but not indexed, it's crawled and not indexed, because the little spider bot things the crawlers, they got lost somewhere on your page, because you are bouncing around and jumping around and all that. So you want to make it as streamlined as possible.

So like just for an example let's go back to the h1 tag, and you have h1, and through h6. You don't have to use all six. I mean, just think of it again as an outline for a paper, right, like a term paper or research paper, whatever, paper thesis, whatever. And the h1 is the title, the most important thing on that page, not necessarily the title tag, even though Google can use your heading tags as a title tag if they want to if they feel like that is better than what you have put in for your title tag. But it's like the most important thing that you're going to talk about on that page, right? And then the h2 is like a subheading. So you can have h1 and h2. And then if you wanted to have an h3 which is another like a sub sub heading under that and you can have two or three under the h2 So you have h1, h2, h3 h3 And then all of a sudden you go back to another subheading of the main heading which is another h2. And you can go h3 h3, and if each h3 has something a value underneath that, you can go h4 h4, h4 h3, h4 h4, and then back to h2, if that's what you need to do to cover all the information from your website. These heading tags are not for design purposes. And I'm laughing because I've seen it happen. Because I've asked people why did you use an h5 here for when you don't even have an h2, you have all these H1s and you have an h5? They answer I liked the font. I like the font that it chose and the color. And I can't make the other ones look that way. And I'm like, Okay, so, which is another drawback of some of these Website Builder platforms, like Squarespace and Wix and all the ones that I just went through the whole laundry list of them. And you know, on some of these builders, you can choose which font and what color what size you want to use for each heading tag. And if not, you can write your own with a little bit of CSS, which is a cascading style sheet.

So basically what the CSS is, it's a separate file that loads. And it's a list of code that tells the website or the code, what color to make a certain ID or class. So you can have a class like an h1 class, which, if you have an h1 class that's called main or you can name it whatever you want, but it shows a class and it goes to the CSS file. And the CSS file says, oh, that's supposed to be blue, or lato font or whatever. So you can code or write the CSS that codes what your heading tags are going to look like. If all of that makes sense. I know I just got a little bit technical. And I'm very sorry. But some of these website builders have that option where you can choose but what happens when you want your h1 to look different on like a blog post page as opposed to your homepage. Probably most website builders do have the option to write your own CSS. So CSS would be a good place to start to familiarize yourself with how it works.

I'm not saying you have to take a coding class. But nowadays, I mean, you can find information all over the place, you can go to YouTube, and it explains HTML and classes and IDs. And CSS usually is hand in hand. And sometimes it's well, no, I'm not even gonna go there. Because I can talk forever about this. And we're missing the whole point of the podcast. So yeah, learn HTML, and then learn how it works. I guess you could call it programming. I guess CSS would be considered programming CSS and HTML. I mean, I just call it coding. But it could be programming, basically.

You can also learn other features and functionalities of WordPress, like through PHP, like the functions. And if you're technically minded, just figure it out, go look at the code and see, you know, this does this and this does that. A really good place to start with that, just as a sidebar is on any kind of Genesis base theme. They have the framework, and then there's child themes that run on top of that, just like you know, most other themes do, but Genesis is super easy to follow with their child themes, because it adds like functions, the functions.php, and all that with it. So PHP is a lot different than HTML. But each page is structured, kind of like HTML, even though it's using PHP, and no, that doesn't make sense. But if you know, you know, then you understand what I'm talking about.

But what the biggest takeaway of what I'm trying to say here, is, if you understand the framework of how an HTML page in a website should be structured, then you're already ahead of the game, because the whole purpose of that is to make sure that your website is structured properly so that the Google bots can crawl it and index it. If your page is not indexed, your page is not being served on Google, which is why the Search Console is so important. I've seen so many updates with the Search Console recently, and there are pages that may have been indexed before, but when Google runs their updates in their core updates, and the helpful content updates, and all the updates that they run, that changes the algorithm, and your pages could go from being indexed to not being indexed based upon the structure of that page. So you can get away with it to a certain point. But then you're gonna have to go in and fix the errors and the Search Console is super, super helpful with telling you what the errors are, right? And, and it's so easy to find on your search console, which is why the Search Console is the best tool ever. And super important.

Okay, so I preface all this, I've said all this to say that, if you're like my golf course client, people are going to come to your website anyway. They just are. Especially I mean, if it's a great golf course. And if the weather's nice, or if you live in a place where it's golfing weather year round, and all that kind of stuff, they're going to come to your website, because they're going to want to know how to book a tee time, if they can book online, where you're located, what you offer about the course, everything. And it's just like a store. Like if you have a brick and mortar store that is super popular. And you have items, if you sell items that people want, they're going to come in, they're going to check it out. I mean, think about how you utilize the internet. And I know I've said this before, but think about how you utilize it, what you look up. So if you're a restaurant, like what are the hours, and you can go to the website to look at the menu, and not every restaurant website has a menu, which drives me crazy, because you want to know, like, especially if you're gonna order out and pick it up or whatever, you know, you don't want to go, you want to order it in advance. You don't want to sit there unless you want to sit at the bar and have a few cocktails or beers or something which is nice every once in a while. But if you just want to go and get your food and come home, you want to order it in advance. So you want to know the menu prior to, right? Or if you want to buy something at a store and you want to see if there's one particular store that carries something.

I mean, there's lots of reasons why people visit websites, without you doing any SEO at all. But if your website is not one of those, like if you're not a brick and mortar store that sells popular items, or if you're not a restaurant that you need to have a menu for or if you're not a golf course, or if you're not, you know, a business that provides information that you want to know like making appointments or whatever, like a spa, or a salon. I mean, there's lots of categories that that fall into this. But if you're a brand new website, and your domain’s brand new, and you're selling something and you don't really have a reputation, like you know, products, services, whatever, you're gonna have to rely on proper SEO in order for people to find you and to get traffic to your website. But also, in addition to that, you have your Google business profile, the Google My Business stuff, but that's a whole other conversation. We're talking right here about how about your website.

So if you want people to type in a certain search string or search query to find your website, then you've got some work to do. And it's not just putting those words on a page, like 12,000 times in different formats. There's some work involved on the back end, but it's also trial and error. So if you understand HTML, if you understand how programming works, if you understand how to create a sitemap or like WordPress, if you use Yoast, oh, actually, WordPress generates its own sitemap. And I'm not talking about the little link that you click and it has, like, you know, for people to look at to see like, you know, this is on this page, or this is on this page. This is a sitemap.xml that's for the Google bots to read or any search engine crawlers to read, because that tells them first of all, these are the pages on your site. And then you have the robots.txt, which instructs the little crawlers to crawl or to not to crawl. Okay, so you have a sitemap, and then you have the robots.txt. And that's what the crawlers look at first, because they're like, ooh, there's these pages here. What do I do? And so you tell it what to do, you tell it to crawl this page, index this page, but not crawl and index this page, because this doesn't have anything to do with whatever. So that's a follow versus nofollow. And that's in the robots.txt, which is generated by you - you create that based upon your Sitemap.xml. So once the little crawlers have those instructions, then they go to the pages. And if they get to your pages, and your page is a complete dumpster fire because you like the h3 better than the h1 so that your main title is h3, it's looking for an h1. So then it looks for an h2 and then all of a sudden, there's an h3, well, you're out of order. So what do I do with this information? So it's like, you know, garbage in, garbage out. So they might pick up on a few things.

But, you know, do yourself a favor and make it easier for the crawlers to index your site. And then, once your site's been up, go to the search console. Because at this point, when you put your site up, you're going to submit your sitemap through the Search Console, right? Yes, say yes. Because that's what you do. Then after it's been up for about a month or so you can go back and see what pages have been indexed and which pages have not. And it'll tell you, you know, if it's mobile friendly, if people can look at it or see it properly on a mobile platform, and a lot of reasons why people can't read it on mobile platform properly is that the text is too small, or you have a huge image that you didn't size down for mobile, or your platform didn't do that for you so it's outside of the viewing area. And that's a whole other episode within itself. But you get what I'm saying, if you understand HTML, and CSS and programming, and how the back end of your website is structured, the better you're going to be able to create that and make way for Google to properly crawl and index your site. Which to me is a lot more important than the keywords, like one word keywords, because you can have key words and you can have keywords, but be careful with the keywords, because that's really something that Google does not measure anymore, that went away, oh, my gosh, at least four or five years ago, right. So don't do that, don't put a keyword meta tag.

And that's the other thing with the meta tags. If you understand the programming, and you understand HTML, you can understand your meta tags that go at the top, right? And all of this is like, you know, depending on what your platform is, which, if you're not technically based and you don't want to learn how to code, then it might be a better idea for you to hire someone who knows, instead of you just throwing spaghetti or darts at the wall, and seeing what happens because you can do more damage and put yourself in a hole that it's going to take a while to get out of because you're not getting the traffic, and then you're gonna get frustrated. And then you're gonna be like, Oh, this sucks and SEO sucks. And, you know, it's just going to be super, super frustrating.

But again, let's go back and preface this right now. Websites are hard work. And, you know, a lot of people don't understand that. And it drives drives me crazy. Like you spend all this time and effort to make a website look a particular way. And you add extra code to make it look better. And you know, because you don't like whatever template - you know what I'm saying you don't want your website to look like everyone else's. And you go through all this to create something that's different and new and does what you want it to do. And instead of the theme dictating you, you're dictating the theme, basically, and then people come along and say, Oh, well just give me the login. and I'll do it. Like, okay. So, you know, sorry, that was a little bit of aggression on my end, because that has just recently happened to me. But I digress on that one. I'm very sorry. Um, yeah, I mean, websites are hard. I'm sure you can build a website, you can do a drag and drop but until you understand how the site is structured on the back end, the harder time you're going to have with SEO, and especially if you are a new business starting out or your business has a lot of competition, or you're not a business where you have a brick and mortar, or that you're not super, super popular, and you don’t offer products that people are looking for, you're not doing a lot of marketing.

I mean, there's lots of factors involved, but we're just talking about the straight down and dirty - you should actually learn how a website is structured and make sure that you're following that because next time, I'm going to talk about how if your website isn't following specific guidelines as far as load speed times and the key indicators in the PageSpeed Experience in the Core Web Vitals, if your website isn't following those, you can do reports, run reports and see where to fix it. And if you don't understand that language, you can't really fix it. So that's coming soon. Yay. Stay tuned for that.

So alright, y'all. As always, it's been my pleasure to tell you about all this. If you have any questions, if you need any help if you have any comments, if you want to make any suggestions, you can leave a voicemail by clicking the link in the show notes and I will happily reply to you. Or you can contact me through my website or through Facebook or Instagram, Powered by RIO is my company. So yeah, just let me know what you think. Let me know what's worked for you. What's not worked for you. Any suggestions? Comments, questions? I mean, I could help everyone all day long. And that's what I would love to do. So just ask, and y'all have a great week and I will talk to you soon. Happy Web-siteing!