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TUNE IN TO HEAR ABOUT
- How Kate has grown her business
- Why SEO is like the Bachelor [#truestory]
- What impacts your SEO
- The role that the evolving Google algorithm has had on SEO
- How often you should update your SEO
- How SEO agencies and consultants work
- Whether you should do your own SEO
ABOUT KATE TOON
Kate Toon is a writing entrepreneur, as well as a popular coach, speaker, author and podcaster. Her digital education businesses The Recipe for SEO Success and The Clever Copywriting School have helped more than 8000 small business owners grapple the Google beast and write better content. Nominated as SEMRush SEO Personality of the Year and AusPod’s Business Podcast of Year, 2 years running, Kate runs Australia’s only dedicated copywriting conference COPYCON. She presents at events around the world and runs several hugely successful Facebook groups. Author of the Amazon Best Seller Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur: How to succeed in business despite yourself.
CONNECT WITH kate
Flori Pyke [00:01:23] Hello and welcome to Episode 61. OK. So, a huge warm welcome to all of our listeners today. You have got Flori with you today. And, today I get to talk with none other than the, I was going to say lovely but I feel like extraordinary is a better word, Kate Toon. Holy moly. Hello, Kate.
Kate Toon [00:01:41] Hello. I like lovely. I thought lovely was nicer but there we go. I'm happy to be extraordinary. I don't feel particularly extraordinary today but I will do my best.
Flori Pyke [00:01:49] Oh you're always extraordinary. I remember seeing you, what was it? I think it's a Mothers Den event. It's the first time I saw you present. And you were very memorable because you were very funny and on top of all the other incredible insights that you had to deliver. But extraordinary I think is a wonderfully descriptive word of you, Kate.
Kate Toon [00:02:10] Well, I'll take it. Thank you very much. That’s lovely.
Flori Pyke [00:02:13] And on that note I have to say, you're a bit of a big deal. Like I.. [Kate says "Oh gosh, stop it."] I know. For real. I was going through your bio and there's a bit of a lengthy list of accolades there, Kate.
Kate Toon [00:02:28] Yeah. Well I wrote it though, you see. So, you know I can put whatever I want. No, it's funny. I rewrote it recently for an event. And you know obviously it does get longer as time goes on and you stop mentioning the fact that you won an award for cross country when you were 14. [Flori laughs] And you move on and put better things on. But yeah. I think I'm not sure whether I’m at all a big deal.It's funny. It's a question I raised in a group the other day; how do you know if you're a big deal? But I just think I've been doing it for a long time and over a sheer volume of years means I've done a fair amount of stuff in that long, long time. So, yeah.
Flori Pyke [00:03:04] Yeah. But I mean perseverance and getting really good at doing stuff is also...
Kate Toon [00:03:10] It's a skill. [Flori says "That's what I'm saying you know."] Yeah. Sticking around when the time gets tough. It's what it's all about.
Flori Pyke [00:03:17] That's exactly right. Because you know what, when the going does get tough. And how many times are you like... Because I can say definitely there are those moments where it's like oh far out, just be a lot easier to just throw the towel in.
Kate Toon [00:03:31] And just get a job. But I don't think anyone would employ me now. So, I got to the point where that was no longer an option. I realised it's OK I can always get a job and now I'm not sure anyone would want me. So, I have to keep going.
Flori Pyke [00:03:43] I highly doubt that. But anyway, we'll move on from that... [both laugh] So, look. You're an award-winning SEO copywriter. You're an SEO consultant and on that note of experience, I have read here that you have got over two decades of experience in all things advertising, digital and writing. And you've written books. You've written courses. You've got a podcast.
Kate Toon [00:04:06] Got three, got three podcasts. I know nutter. I don't even. And you know, believe me, it is a big struggle and sometimes some plates don't get spun. I'm a little bit behind with my podcasts but I'm not a big believer in consistency you see. It's a big, it's real help when you just throw consistency out the window. I turn up but not consistently for the same things. And that's the key to my success. If I can't do a thing for a little bit I take the attitude of no one's going to die if I don't release a podcast this week [Flori agrees] so I'm going to take the pressure off and do something else that's more important, that's going to earn me money or that needs doing. Then I'll come back to the podcast and people will wait and most people won't even notice. So, I take the pressure out.
Flori Pyke [00:04:47] I think that's a very wise approach. And actually one thing that I wanted to talk to you about, so as some of our listeners might know I talk about I feel like my approach for this year having had, well he's now older, he's 10 months, but had a baby at the start of the year is very much about the 80-20 rule because it was like right, I really don't have time and I've got to make sure that I am spending my time really wisely. And like you said, if you don't record that podcast like no one's going to die but I have to focus on that 20 percent that's going to get you know bring in the money, bring in the revenue. So, I have a question for you on that note. Because I mean going through this lengthy list of accolades and I didn't even mention half the stuff she does by the way because she's also, do you have like a conference you run? I mean... [Kate agrees] I mean really
Kate Toon [00:05:34] Copywriting conference. Yeah. That is a big... I will agree with you. That is a big deal. That's a lot of work. So yeah.
Flori Pyke [00:05:40] Yeah. Like I mean [Kate laughs] planning my kid's birthday party just gives me like heart palpitations, let alone a copywriting conference. Like yeah, I can't even.[Kate laughs] So, can you just tell me like before we kind of dive into, because I want to pick your brains today a lot around SEO copywriting and how this all works but I'm really interested to know when you kind of sit down and look at your week ahead, what is your 20 percent focus, like what is that thing? How do you kind of ensure that you're doing that 20 percent that's going to build your business every week? Like what approach do you have? Do you have a rule of thumb? Do you have any like wisdom here for us?
Kate Toon [00:06:19] Yeah, it's changed but definitely right now the 20 percent or maybe slightly more is always focused on people who've given me money. So, people who've given me money I feel you know obviously as you should obligated to deliver to them. So, I've got, I'll have maybe 80 or so people on my course at any given time. They are my top priority. They've spent a lot of money with me. I have three hundred and fifty people in my membership. So, they are my next priority and then other people who've bought incidental thing. I've got a shop. I've got templates. I've got mini courses. So, anybody you know then they'll be served. You know, people who can't download it or can't log in. So, it's always about those people and making sure that that's working well. And then, the next lumpis always about making all that work better. So, like automation processes, cleaning stuff up, fixing opt-ins and then the final sort of 20 percent is marketing. So, getting more people into all of that. But basically, I want to keep the people I've got happy. And then, I want to make what they've got better and then I want to sell more of it. So, does that make sense?
Flori Pyke [00:07:18] OK. No, I'm such a big believer of and we did a whole podcast episode around this. Like basically keeping your existing customers happy and coming back for more because they're the ones who are your advocates. They're the ones who are gonna be most likely to buy from you again. So I think that totally makes sense. Yeah.
Kate Toon [00:07:38] Yeah. And advocacy is a huge part of, it probably should be a part of my strategy but I'm not really a strategist. It's just a part of my business because I don't do any paid advertising that really most of my business comes through people recommended me through word of mouth. And a lot of those people are my customers. Again, volume helps. You know, I've had about 8,000 people pass through various courses. That's a lot of people [Flori agrees] to do word of mouth. But at any one time like if I’m launching something, I've got a little group of people who are very happy and that really helps me get the message out without having to spend a lot of money. But I am spending money because I'm spending it on them. But I'd rather spend it on them than on Facebook ads. Does that make sense?
Flori Pyke [00:08:16] Yes. No, it definitely does. And, actually on that note, when you talk to us through kind of your hierarchy of importance of what you spend your time on to make sure that you are spending your time on that 20 percent, you mentioned existing customers and then marketing and you also just said I don't spend money on marketing and that you rely a lot on word of mouth. Can you talk to me further around, so other than the word of mouth, because obviously you've grown a lot, your business and your brand, so what other strategies are you relying on from a marketing standpoint? I'm very curious.
Kate Toon [00:08:49] Well, we're going to talk about one of them in a minute I think which is SEO and I put the foundations down for that a long time ago. I did the hard yards. I wrote the blog post. I did the optimisation and that's the great thing about SEO which we'll talk about soon is that it is a bit of a learning curve and is tough but it does last a lifetime. So, that's still delivering for me traffic coming to my site every single day, leads mostly to my copywriting business which I don't really do much copywriting anymore. But then I've diversified and I send those leads off to other bits of my business. So, I convert them in different ways. Yeah. I mean it's funny I'm doing a training today on lead generation and I really had to sit down and think about BOFU, MOFU and TOFU and FU. [Flori laughs] I do an awful lot of TOFU stuff. [Flori says "I won't take it. I won't take it personally."] That's all right [both laugh]. I am a vegetarian so I should like tofu. I don't really. So, I do a lot of TOFU stuff. So top of the funnel stuff. You know I've got checklists. I've got a big Facebook group with about 7,000 people in it. Another one with about 3,000 in it. The podcast I would consider top of funnel. It's all about awareness. I've got a YouTube channel and I don’t pump stuff out on all these platforms every single day, but they are there and they're growing and if someone discovers the podcast you know if they like the first one,they go through and listen to a lot of them. [Flori agrees] That builds a lot of you know and eats a lot of expertise, authority, and trust. So, I do a lot of TOFU and then I do a little bit of MOFU which is kind of more, I've got some free courses, I do webinars and trainings and speaking at events. Probably TOFU-ey. And, last year I put it in hard. I think the last year was a bit of a tipping point in terms of awareness in that I did 37 events.
Flori Pyke [00:10:32] I saw that. That is admirable. [Kate says “it was mental”]I mean it was like more than two a month. And, can I just ask like are you, across those events, I remember reading this and I was like holy moly like were you presenting the same content every time? No.
Kate Toon [00:10:49] So, it was a mix. So, there was you know several conferences which were big presentations, big groups of people. I ran a lot of my own workshops which was really great. And then, I was presenting the same content and that was good. And, so what I would do is every time I would be booked to speak at a conference, I would run my own workshop because often when you're speaking at conferences when you're not well known you're not getting paid. Maybe you'll get hotel or whatever. So to cover the cost I would run a workshop which would make about five grand or something and that would cover my flight, my hotel and...
Flori Pyke [00:11:19] Ah, just to make your workload that much lighter as well.
Kate Toon [00:11:22] Yeah. But it is half a day. It is stuff I know really, really well. So, you know I wasn't going out of my comfort zone and then maybe whilst I was also in that city, I'd do a couple of meet ups. So, it's like these little blobs are doing like five events in a row then I have a couple of weeks off, then five events in a row then a couple of weeks off. And, it was intense but it's good for so many reasons. I got to test out my material. I broke my fear of speaking. I don't get nervous now public speaking. You see how your material works. [Flori agrees]. You talk about jokes and stuff. So many of my jokes fall so flat. And, when you see people's dead faces staring back at you, you know you have to change your material. [Flori says "I find that really hard to believe."] I think the thing for me is I speak very quickly and I move on from the joke without giving everybody the time. [Flori says "Like you think it doesn't sink in for them."] And probably still, I don't know. [Flori laughs] And also, I've got an odd sense of humour. But it was really, really good. I met a lot of people and that again as you mentioned, a lot of the people were already my customers. It's actually advocacy and you know I'm going up to Brisbane at the end of the month and having a get together and it's a free get together because I just want to meet my people. That sounds really... That sounds like that is the most pretentious thing I've said today. My people. But people who I like [Flori laughs and says "Your tribe."] And, people who have done my courses. My gang. It was more of a gang with like a little jacket and flick knives. [Flori laughs] Yeah. It was interesting. That's a lot. I wouldn't do it again. I wouldn't speak so much for free again but it served its purpose for me, I think.
Flori Pyke [00:12:50] And, did you feel that off the back of that, you from a marketing standpoint in terms of welcoming you know new customers and students into your courses and what not, did you feel that there was a direct like surge and correlation in terms of seeing an increase in student base?
Kate Toon [00:13:10] I'm not much of a one for tracking anything which is terrible and I'm trying to get better at it. I'm kind of like good vibes man. People are coming. Yeah. I think you'll know yourself when you launch any kind of course or product. [Flori agrees] You first start selling it to your inner social circle people already know I can trust you. Then it goes a bit wider, then it goes a bit wider. Now there are people signing up to my course which is you know it's not cheap who I've never heard of. And they are a connection through connection through a connection. And people say I saw you once five years ago kind of thing or I saw you here. And, so yes, I mean it's not for me. Events are hard to do a measurable conversion. [Flori agrees] It's easy for my own conference. The thing for me this is my metric which is an appalling metric. I tried to book someone to do some Facebook ads for me. I thought I'm going to try Facebook ads. Everyone else seems to think they work and they were like can you tell us your conversion rate and I was like nup and then can you tell us how many people move from your free thing to your pay things then you know what's your shopping cart value? what's your average, I don't know. And they just couldn't because they were like well how we meant... I have no metrics. I said the thing that measures it for me is whenever I log into Facebook I've been tagged in about 20 posts across 50 groups with any mention of copywriting or SEO. Someone's like oh you should get in touch with Kate Toon. Get in touch with Kate Toon. And, sometimes it’ll be five or six people in the same thread saying Kate Toon, Kate Toon. That for me is my measure of awareness and whatever. It's a bit more squeegee but it works for me. So yeah.
Flori Pyke [00:14:38] Yeah well, I mean that's pretty impressive in itself. Yeah definitely. All right. Awesome. Well, thank you for that. I love learning what other people are doing on a marketing front and it's pretty impressive how much you've grown really through I mean SEO definitely and all these other things but a lot of it has been really organic like thanks to you putting your blood sweat and tears into this. It sounds like and that kind of grassroots approach is it's not easy to get right and it takes a lot of work and you've obviously, you're doing this right. And I think it's you. Yeah.
Kate Toon [00:15:12] Thank you. I must just say I keep forgetting we're on video so if I've been putting strange faces. I'm like pulling my hair. [Flori says "Oh don't worry I'm not even."] I'm like I keep forgetting and put myself like picking my nose or something in a minute so I apologise to anyone watching if I'm looking peculiar. I'm just not used to video.
Flori Pyke [00:15:28] Don't worry. As I said to you my office isn't... Like I'm on like scaffolding right now pretty much because half of it is deconstructed [Kate says "No judgment people we are just doing our best. Keeping it real."] And I have like paint fumes going through my head so who knows what I'll come out with. Yeah exactly. Anyway, so look I wanted to chat today with you about SEO because it's something that we haven't talked a lot about on the podcast. And for me personally I feel that I have a really baseline understanding about how SEO works and I want to learn more. And, so I thought who better to bring on the podcast than the extraordinary lovely Kate Toon. So, let's just like start really simply if you're OK with that, for our listeners let's just like what is SEO? Can you just kind of break this down for us so that we're all on the same page?
WHAT IS SEO
Kate Toon [00:16:23] Yeah I mean I'm just really hoping your listeners haven't switched off at the very mention of SEO. Because I think literally it brings a lot people out in a rash and makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up.
Flori Pyke [00:16:33] See I'm kind of one of those. [Kate agrees] So, I'm out of my comfort zone. [laughs]
Kate Toon [00:16:37] Let's see if I can convert you. So, you know if we throw the word SEO out of the window, I mean it means search engine optimisation which is equally as unhelpful as the acronym. If we think about it is making Google fall in love with our website. That's the way I like to do it. Think of it like an episode of The Bachelor. There’s one bachelor, he's got 20 bachelorettes to choose from or whatever they called and he's got a long list of what he's looking for but he can't tell them. He can't tell them what he's looking for. So, they kind of have to work out and guess. And you kind of see some women go by the wayside and you start to go oh well maybe he doesn't like blondes because he's not keeping any of the blondes around. Maybe that's a rule. Maybe that's a rule that we're going to add Google's check list of what it wants and what it doesn't. And that's how it literally was. It sounds ridiculous. So, Google has about 200 or so things we think on its list that it wants from us. Some of which explicitly tells us like hey I want someone with a good sense of humour. Hey I want a site that loads quicker than 20 minutes. You know I'm going to hang around. So, some things it tells us other things you have to work out and people like SEO consultants are literally trying to look for the signals and signs. If I do this, this happens so I'm going to guess that that's what Google wants. But if I do this, this negative thinghappens. So, I'm not going to do that again. So, search engine optimisation is about implementing those 200 things knowing what they are working through them in a logical fashion and understanding which was which ones of them are going to have a big impact and which ones are gonna have a small impact you know dying you'll have blonde big impact you know putting on a different dress maybe smaller impact. It's a silly analogy but it is that simple. It’s about a love list. You know making Google love you. That's what it's all about.
Flori Pyke [00:18:20] I think it's a great analogy. [Kate laughs] So, to bring that analogy back to kind of layman's terms like the dress, the hair, like how do, what are we actually doing at ground zero to get the right dress on, and to dye the hair blonde and to do those things that Google wants because my understanding and this is where I don't know much about it but I mean I hear a lot of talk here. Jo, you know Jo? She's taken your course. [Kate says "Jo did my course."] So she's our integrator over here and student liaison. And, she does a lot of our SEO and she's amazing. But you know it's like she's talking a different language to me when we started talking SEO. So, she's been telling me that it has a lot to do with like your copywriting in your keywords. Right? So that's [Kate agrees] like a dress and the hair.
Kate Toon [00:19:15] The best way I like to break it down is this three core things, three core groups of things. The first one is technical stuff. So, how your site is built and where you're hosting it, how fast it is, how quick does it load. Does it look good on a mobile device? And, can Google physically get to all the pages because sometimes there are blocks. There are things it can't access. So that's all tech stuff and that actually is the foundation. If you don't get that right, nothing else will work. And so, when you're doing this whole process of going through the 200 things, that's where you start. You start with those first. Once they're all fixed up and then it's very black and white, you know either it works or it doesn’t. It's fast or it's slow. Then you can move on to the next things which is a bit more ephemeral, a bit more difficult to work out. And that's really understanding what your audience is typing into Google. So, what key words and phrases and questions are they typing in and then looking at those phrases and going, well, how many people are typing that in and how difficult, what other sites are competing for it. So, you know if people were looking for you know business coach for female entrepreneurs, you know yeah that's a great phrase. It's exactly what you do. And, thousands of people are typing in but thousands of people thousands of websites that are much better and more established than yours are competing for it. So, while you would love to go for that phrase you can't. You have to go for something a little bit more obscure that still has some traffic but not as much competition. So that's the keyword research portion. And that's tied in with the copywriting. Because obviously once you've worked out what words you're going to go for then you kind of go well, hey you know we've found this phrase. It's pretty good. Where shall we use it? Shall we use it on our home page? Because that would be really good chance for us to rank and then it's about how you write your copy to make sure you use that word not in a kind of I must use it 7 percent of the time kind of way. [Flori says "Yeah was gonna ask you."] Yeah. That's nonsense [Flori says "what you do with that?"] It's just logical. So, you kind of want to try and use it in the title tag of your page which is the little blue underline link Google, in the meta description which is the little two-line phrase underneath, in your URL, the web address if you can. And then, on the page you know. But only a couple of times like maybe in the headline and in the body and maybe you've got an image you would call the business hyphen coach hyphen female hyphen entrepreneur dot jpeg and that's about it because then you move into well someone who's looking for a business coach for female entrepreneurs probably is going to use other phrases as well. They probably gonna use like business you know coach for women entrepreneurs. So, I don't have to keep saying female. I can use the word women. Maybe they wouldn't say entrepreneur. Maybe they'd say business owner. So, you start to come up with synonyms and you don't create a separate page for every single word you come up with. You basically think of it this way. You think as a user would I be happy with this page if I was looking for this phrase and this phrase. So, if say someone's looking for a video script copywriter and someone else is looking for a copywriter who writes video script, would they be happy with the same page? Yeah. So, we don't need to create two separate pages which is create one good page that has both those phrases on. So, it's all about search intent, understanding where your customer is at in the journey. Are they looking to buy right now? Awesome. They will tell you if they are because they'll use words like buy, affordable, price of, female business entrepreneur coach or are they in comparison mode then they'll use words like best, testimonial, review. "Who's the best female entrepreneur coach?" And then if they're not even in that stage, if they're still in awareness stage, they may not even use female business entrepreneur coach because they don't know that exists. Instead they'll be asking questions like "How do I start my business?" "What's the best thing to do with my website?" They'll be asking questions and then they'll realise that such a person exists and you'll be moving them down that ladder. So, yeah there's different keywords for different phases in the journey and then you have to implement on to your site. So, I'm still going. I've actually done two so far. Are you still with me? [Flori says "I'm still. So, I've got the tech side, keyword research and you said there are three things, keyword in copy. Yup."] Keyword and copy. And the last one is backlinks. Backlinks is all about getting a link from one website to another. So now I'm going to be on your podcast. It's gonna be amazing. There's probably a page on your website. It is amazing already. So amazing. There'll be a bio and there'll be a link from your site to mine and Google go oh hey you know they're pretty cool these girls at The Elevatory. These women sorry I apologise. Their site's pretty cool and they've linked to Kate so I'm going to take a little bit of the SEO love that I'm giving to them and I'm going to pass it on to Kate. And so, the more good quality relevant links you can get from high authority good websites the better. It's not about quantity. It's about quality. [Flori agrees] So, you know a great link for a really good website is going to boost your site because Google is gonna flow some SEO juice and love into it and it's going to help your chances of competing for that business coach female entrepreneur. Because the more links you get. You'll get as good as that site that was already at the top and maybe be able to knock them off. So, tech, keywords and copy, and backlinks.
Flori Pyke [00:24:34] OK. Love it. And, on that backlinks subject, I have a question. As part of your marketing, I mean do you actively make it like a prerogative say that once a month or something you're trying to I don't know like write a blog post or do a feature on a website with a lot of traffic that's quite established like does that thing constitute part of your marketing strategy?
Kate Toon [00:24:58] In the early days yes, it is. It's definitely something I teach on the course. I give everyone a roadmap and say this is what you should do every month. For every blog you post on your own site try and post two on someone else's. So, I think when you're starting out, yes it has to be a very conscious effort. You have to look for opportunities. You have to put your competitor’s websites into tools and see where they're getting backlinks from and make that your list. That's what I did when I started. I look to other copywriters, made a big list of all the sites that were linking to them and then went to each site and saw if I could get a link. Sometimes I couldn't. Sometimes I could but now I don't do that at all. And you know Google says you shouldn't try and build links. You should just try and earn links. What it means is it shouldn't be a conscious effort. You should just be so awesome and extraordinary and lovely. That people just want to link to which sounds like nonsense. But I guess it gets to the point where you built up a bit momentum you have people to say "hey do you wanna be on my podcast", "hey do you want to give a tip. I'm writing an article about this would you like to give a tip" and there's enough of that for me to just keep it bubbling along. And the moment as I said I'm very inward focused to my existing customers but if I ever get some time again then yes I would go out there and think who would be a really great site I could guest blog for that are going to give me the actual link because lots of these sites these days give you what's called a no-follow link. If the link is no-follow it means yes you get the traffic in the eyeballs. You just don't get that SEO love. Nothing flows through. So, sites like I used to write for Flying Solo and in the old days they used to give follow links but now they're no follow and whilst I would still write for them because it's a great platform with a huge audience I wouldn't be doing it for the backlink. I'd be doing it for brand awareness. So, and the best thing to do is you can get brand awareness and the backlink. [Flori agrees] Yeah. So, it's not a conscious effort for me now. And the problem for me is that a lot of my students have now started to outrank me. [Flori says "Are you serious?"] Yeah. Because you know I'll give it all away. I don't like to keep some secret sort... [Flori says "Yeah yeah. No. I mean that's wow."] It's good. But for me, I think its actually slightly better proof for me because look I can do it here. I've done it. But now so that I not only can I do it but the people I've taught have done it and I feel that that's a better proof but there's still a bit of ego there that goes I want my top ranking back. So I might have to do a bit of backlink building. I call it more relationship marketing and I guess this is something you guys advocate a lot as well like just being out in the world doing things, talking to people, helping people. You build relationships and then links and connections and opportunities just come up through that without you consciously going I'm going to target this site and I'm going to get a link off them. It just happens organically. It has for me. It's good karma marketing I like to think of it.
Flori Pyke [00:27:49] Yeah I love it. I think we should make that like a formal term. Good karma marketing.
Kate Toon [00:27:54] I actually have a course called Good Karma SEO. So, there we go it already is. So, do it man.
Flori Pyke [00:28:00] Problem solved. Now, you mentioned the Google algorithm and it's really interesting because I was, I can't remember who it was, I was chatting to another marketer and they were telling me how they felt that SEO had its importance and that it played a really big factor in terms of their marketing strategy. Rewind kind of two three years ago but then they said that they felt that today like the algorithm has gotten so smart at discerning different SEO kind of tricks and tools and I know there are a little kind of sneaky things you can do. But my understanding I mean he was saying that even the non sneaky things, like that algorithm is getting so good that it's becoming more and more difficult to really do any kind of optimisation with your website other than like definitely ticking the tech box and what not because that's just also from a user experience standpoint but I'd love to hear your view on that.
Kate Toon [00:28:55] Yeah. I think it's the wrong way round because, yes the algorithm has changed. It’s been changing ever since it was launched, changes all the time. But a site like mine have never been impacted by any algorithm update because I'm not trying to play Google, not trying to do anything tricky. Those tricky things you're talking about, Google tells us not to do them and then it brings our algorithm updates punish anyone who has done them. Because they're dodgy and what they're trying to do is they're trying to mislead the customers like false advertising. Like if you built 7,000 links to your crappy website that's got no content on it that's worthwhile having and it's ranking number one because of that. Well, that's not a good experience for the user who's searching because they're getting this bad site at the top. So Google doesn't want that because Google is about serving the customer not about serving the business. So, the point is you were never supposed to do tricky stuff ever. The algorithms don't affect people like that. And, at the end of the day, Google will always need to make a connection between what's typed into a search engine and what's on your website. It's not that smart. It's got an algorithm and a crawler. So, there's still that connection and the problem I find is that people don't do the tech bit which is huge.
Flori Pyke [00:30:07] Yeah I really... Can I just say sorry. Yeah, I'm gonna jump in there. You know having worked with so many business students ourselves and this is something that we teach a bit about just like the website, very basic kind of you know. These are the boxes you want to tick you guys and it's very much around that like making sure that your images are loading quickly. You know, that it's mobile optimised. You don't have a pop up that comes up right away. All these things but to your point Kate can I just say like the majority of people, they don't get that right.
Kate Toon [00:30:39] No. So, you know I have people coming to my course, they've had a site for two or three years and they haven't even got the basics done. So, and then you know you'd think again because you're a marketer and you understand it but it makes perfect sense that you would write content that's relevant to the audience and that you would think about what they're searching for. You would make it interesting, engaging and fun and good to read. But most people don't do that. And then, you'd think with your content marketing, your blogging that you would write blogs and they’d have a start and middle and an end andthen that actually solve a problem. And that you've put nice graphics in them. But most people don't do that. And then, you'd think that people would in common sense get other websites to link to them. For the number of people who get to weekfive in my course we do backlink audit and they haven't got one link pointing at them. Oh they've got Facebook and Twitter and Instagram but they don't count. They're not counted as links. So, your guy I guess is more maybe at the pointy end of SEO and he's saying that like the trickery and the black hats SEO trick doesn't work anymore. No it doesn't and good. I'm glad it doesn't. Because what Google just keep saying again and again and I was lucky enough to go to Holland this year and speak to some of the guys at Google. I got them on my podcast as well. That they are just saying that you know, just think about your customers. That's what we said at the beginning. Stop thinking about marketing so much and pushing out your messages and your sales objective and your ROI. Obviously, that's important but just think about how can you best serve your customers. And then, most of this is common sense. Humans hate pop ups. Humans hate slow sites and badly designed websites and crappy images and poor copy. We hate that. So, if you come from a human centric point of view, you will nine times out of ten please google and that sounds like common sense. But as you said most sites don't do that and they don't even take that step back and try and look at their site objectively. So yeah I think the algorithm is getting smarter but you know it's 10 years ago, people are telling me SEO was dead and they continued to say it and it doesn't die it just evolves. [Flori agrees] You just have to move with it. They're not after the likes of you and me if you see what I mean. We're not the bad guys. [Flori says "We're not wearing the black hats"] We're not smart enough to break the rules. You have to be super smart SEO consultant to navigate, know and break the rules. So yeah. [Flori says "So we're in the clear. OK."] This should be good.
Flori Pyke [00:33:00] OK. Now another question I have for you because I hear this question come up a lot amongst our student base is obviously there are a lot of SEO consultants, companies, agencies out there who charge a like you know an ongoing fee, a monthly fee to do your SEO and I have a question here because unless you're pumping out blog posts every week, every day, what have you where you need to have your SEO optimised like keywords and whatnot, images. If you have just a plain Jane website and you're not doing too many updates to it, my understanding and this is where I want to tap into your wisdom, but once you do your SEO, if you don't make a change to the website and as long as you're kind of keeping abreast of exactly like any updates that the algorithm has that you don't want to step on any toes per say with your SEO like do you have to constantly work on your website's SEO once you've done it once? So, how does that work?
CHOOSING AN SEO COMPANY
Kate Toon [00:33:58] It's a valid point. Different ways of looking at. So, I like to say that SEO is for life not just for Christmas. [Flori agrees] So, when we talk about the tech stuff that is kind of set and forget. Once you built your website well, if you maintain it and look after plugins and keep it up to date, that is a set and forget. You shouldn't have to be constantly going back and tinkering with stuff like that. But the problem with keywords and content and ongoing is that keywords do change. So, for example, if you typed in Harry and Meghan into Google two years ago, what kind of results would you have got. You got nothing. But now Harry and Meghan, you know one of the most popular search terms in the world after their marriage and that kind of media interest in them. It's changed that keyword for life and you don't know what's happening with your keyword. So, there is a degree of every couple of months or three months really looking at whether people are still typing in the same things that you're typing in. For example, when I started out with SEO. No one even knew what the acronym meant. There was no point going after that. Things change. So, keywords evolve. I would say that copy styles evolve. If I look at the way that I was writing copy for clients five years ago it's much more formal. Now, it's conversational. Also, obviously now we have voice search. People aren't even writing into Google. Something like 70 percent of all search is done via voice search on a mobile. So, you know if you're looking for like where's the nearest whatever people aren't typing it into Google. It changes the way we speak.
Flori Pyke [00:35:20] Oh my God. I'm really like not on that bandwagon. So, what do you mean? Like Siri?
Kate Toon [00:35:23] Yeah. So, hey Siri. [Flori says "Oh she bugs me"] where's the best pizza parlor in Sydney. [Flori says "She gets it wrong"] She bugs me too. But we're not millennials. We're not the next generation. [Flori agrees] Maybe not. We are not necessarily our target audience [Flori agrees]. Voice search is changing things. But I'll tell you what the SEO agencies are charging you for. Let me very, very clear.
Flori Pyke [00:35:40] Yes, can I please? This is exactly like can we please address this? [Kate says "Break it down."] Yeah because you know what. They're not cheap. [Kate says "No, they're not cheap"] It's like Eight hundred dollars plus and eight hundred dollars is a steal.
Kate Toon [00:35:55] That is very low level. [Flori says "That's what I'm saying"] The average company like someone like you or someone like me would be paying at least fifteen hundred dollars a week. Well, let's break that down, I mean you know a good copywriter, a good graphic designer, a good SEO consultant will be at least one hundred fifty dollars an hour, something around that level. Yeah. So one hundred fifty dollars an hour is you getting ten hours a month of them. What could you do in ten hours of marketing? I could probably write a couple of blog posts. I could fix a few things and then if I want to get a back link on someone else's site I have to start a relationship with them. Email them back and forth. Get their editorial guidelines. Write the guest blog. Send it off. Maybe make edits. Put it up and I tell you that so that you think about the 10 hours to start off with, it's not as much time as you may think it is and then they got to report back to you and talk to you as well, so 10 hours, not that much. Then, if we break it down further and this is the other thing that people ask is why is it ongoing? It's because a lot of the work with SEO is done in that tech. Yes they do the audit. They fix all that stuff. That's a big chunk of the money and they could just charge you upfront for that but what they do is try and make it easier for you and break it down over the months. So you're not being hit with a big fee. Then they're going to look do your keyword research. That's a big chunk of work from which you get your keywords then they're going to optimise your pages. Maybe they've said they're going to try and get you to rank for 20 keywords. Maybe they'll look at 10 pages then rewrite the titles, the metas, the copy. Make sure they're fast and then that's all the hard work done and they've probably done all of that in the first couple of months. So, they could just charge you for that and then send you on your merry way. But what they do is they spread it out a little bit because also you don't see results with SEO in the first 1 month, 2 months, 3 months. It can take up 6 months but then moving on from that. Once they've done that stuff, all they are doing every month is building backlinks. The average cost to get a good quality backlink, I'm not talking about handing over cash, maybe I'm talking about effort and time, it's about 400 to 500 dollars a backlink. What do I mean by that? Well, if you have to pay a copywriter to write a guest blog you have to have the admin and back and forth. It's about three hours of someone's time. Hundred and fifty dollars an hour, 450 dollars. So, four backlinks a month is what you'll be paying for. And, the backlinks is what makes the difference because you can build the most perfectly SEO optimised site with useful keyword research. But, if you are not driving traffic to it from other sites, it's like having a beautiful island resort with all the amenities you can imagine. But there's no airport and there's no ferry service. So, that's what SEO consultants are doing. Now, do I advocate spending this money? Not necessarily. It's the same with anything in the small business, you have to make your choices. I now pay for an accountant and a bookkeeper and a graphic designer and a proofreader and a web developer. I have three VAs but when I started out I did all of it myself. And, I really looked at what I was good at, what I enjoyed, what I was struggling with. I will never be good at finance. I will always outsource that. And, for me, it's worth the money I pay to get the results. And that's the question that you need to ask yourself when it comes to SEO consultants. A) Can you afford two grand a month? If you can, pay it. Because even with DIY, it's very rare that anybody would be doing SEO at the level of an expert SEO consultant who's been doing it for 20 years. So, if you've got the money pay for it but then ask them about the return on investment. What you want to see. And, it's not ranking, you want to see an increase in traffic and you want to see an increase in conversions. And, if you can see that after three months you know if I'm paying two grand a month but I'm making 20 grand a month off the back of it, same as Facebook ads. Problem is I think a lot of SEO agencies aren't transparent about their methods. They aren't transparent about results. They bamboozle their clients and the clients are just handing over money without really understanding what they're paying for. [Flori agrees] Then it falls down the SEO company gets a bad reputation, maybe they are good, maybe they're not good. There's good ones and bad ones. But the final thing to say on that is SEO is not like advertising. You pay your money on Facebook ads or Google and you know you're paying ten dollars a click. You can work at your cost per click and you ROI it's easy to do. You stop paying, you stop getting your conversions. SEO is different. It's a bit like PR. So you know you go to a PR agency and they'll write you a really good press release and they will send it to the media list and they will hammer that list and say please publish it, please publish it. And, they just won't. Does that mean you don't pay the PR consultant? They still did all the work. It just didn't work. So, it's not as quantifiable. And, also one article in a newspaper, how do you quantify really... this is what we're talking about at the beginning. How much brand awareness that brings you? How many sales you get out of it? It's not as easy... [Flori says "I mean there are ways but I hear you. It's not as... Yeah"] There are ways as with SEO but I think people don't understand the ways [Flori agrees]. And they look at the wrong metrics. All they look at is ranking. And all I would look at is why am I on the cover of Marie Claire [Flori laughs and says "Vogue, darling. Vogue."] whereas I'm not looking at traffic, time on site, well you know what I mean. It is a fiddly one. But my main thing would be if you do not understand what you're paying for, do not be paying for it. [Flori agrees] I just think that that's true in all aspects of life. You don't have to be an expert but you have to be able to ask for something to be done, know when it's done, ask for something to be fixed and understand and be able to believe that it has been fixed. And I think that's the problem a lot of the time.
Flori Pyke [00:41:08] No, I think it's a really valid point. I mean even like Facebook ads is something I talk about a lot with our students even with our mastermind students, it's like you guys you need to learn how to do this first before you outsource it or at least know how it works because otherwise you don't know what questions to ask. You don't know what's a good benchmark. You don't know even like... It's like talking another language. [Kate agrees] So, if you don't know what language they're speaking, you're gonna have a really hard time communicating with each other even.
Kate Toon [00:41:34] Yeah. And, I think unfortunately that's why we do and you and I both in this space, we do see a lot of businesses who can't face learning this stuff so they hide on other platforms. They hide on Instagram. They hide in Facebook groups joining like ladders and writing inane comments. [Flori agrees] And, none of it's making any difference. And they're not making any money and they're feeling like a failure. And it's because that will never work because everyone can do that. If you want to make a difference you have to do something different and you have to do something a bit hard and it is a bit hard. I don't want to learn about Facebook ads. Like holy moly. But I know that, you know you talked earlier about my organic growth and whatever. I am literally a victim of that thing because I don't particularly want to pay for Facebook ads because I don't particularly understand them. I don't like spending money and it would be so much easier for me if I could get like 20,000 thousand people into my funnel with a few ads rather than speaking at events and writing content. Yes, because if the return on investment is right, then it's all good. But because I'm not 100 percent aufaitwith it I've resisted it for quite a while. It's worked out OK for me. But you see what I mean even I do this. So, I get it.
Flori Pyke [00:42:42] Yeah, I mean this is me and SEO. [both laugh and Kate says "I'll teach you SEO. You teach me Facebook ads.] Yeah, I think it sounds great. Let's do it. Let's line it up. All right. Awesome. Well, you talked about a bit about you know, if you are a small business and it is something that you want to tackle on your own. I would love for you on that front to tell us a little bit more because obviously I mean this is your jam through and through. I know you have a number of courses. Can you tell us a little bit more around where our audience can find more about you and perhaps like a couple of courses or a resource that would be a value to them?
Kate Toon [00:43:16] Thank you for letting me share them. I think that the easiest place to start is on Facebook. We often ask questions in Facebook groups about SEO but maybe we're not asking them in the right groups because people are trying to be helpful but it's like the blind leading the blind so I've got a big group on Facebook called I Love SEO. Obviously when you join, you probably won't love SEO but I hope you'll love it more when you leave. And, there it’s just like it's very gentle you know its tips that you could read a little article or watch a little video.You can consume it as you want to consume it and maybe that will warm you up and then I have a free course called SEO Nibbles. Again, a really stupid name because as you can probably guess I say SEO Nipples throughout the course by accident.
Flori Pyke [00:43:53] Oh I actually thought, I mean I didn't even think about the nipples. I was like oh it's such a cute name. [laughs]
Kate Toon [00:43:55] It just came out after about the tenth time. I was like so in the SEO Nipples course and then I just left it in and I was like let's just let's just live with it, people. But that's like a 3-day beginner course which covers a lot of what we talked about today. In terms of those three pillars. It also has a great little thing on day three of how to evaluate an SEO consultant and decide whether they are the person for you with some questions to ask them. And then, it kind of goes up. I've got like a 10-day course which is low cost. I've got a course that helps you build your sites and then I've got the big cause which is kind of you know if you're really, the way I look at it and I'm sure you'll agree is that marketing is as much about repelling as it is about attracting. So, I don't want people on the course who are going to freak the hell out. I want them to have gone through the early steps because that will show you whether you are the sort of person who likes fixing problems and who likes this kind of work. I hate accountancy. You could make me do 100 courses. I'm never going to want to do it. So, I'm not going to pay two thousand dollars for a course. It's like paying for a running machine and thinking that you gonna get thin just because you've got the running machine and you have to run on it. I would never run on that running machine. So, my funnel is all about helping you decide whether this is something you want to take control of. And, even if you decide at the end of it that you don't want to, at least go out into the world feeling a bit more empowered and better able to have conversations about this without feeling like a complete noob and a complete numpty. You know you've got, as you said you've got the Lexicon, you've got the language, you've got the terminology to know what a search engine results page is, what a title tag is, to know what that is and be able to talk about it without feeling stupid. Because, I think that that's what holds a lot of us back. It's fear of being made a fool of and fear being taken for a ride. And, it's a real and genuine fear and fear we should have.
Flori Pyke [00:45:44] I was going to say I think it's a very valid fear like I can't tell you enough like how many we go back to the subject of Facebook ads but you know we've had the wool pulled over our eyes like rewind kind of four years ago when we started out, hired someone, spent over ten thousand dollars and didn't make one sale out of it.
Kate Toon [00:46:04] Yeah. And it's big money. [Flori says "like it's scary"]. It's the kind of money that can break your business. This is money that we put aside for our holidays, for our mortgages, for our kids. It is a big decision and it can have a big impact like if you do get the Facebook ads right, you get SEO right, it can be transformative. But it's about finding a good source of truth. And, I hope that I am one. I've got enough free stuff that I don't feel that it equals out my paid stuff. So come, take all my free stuff. I don't care as long as you go out into the world feeling good. Some percentage of people want to take next step. I'm good with that. But you know I think you need to find the source of truth. You need to stop taking advice from your mum's hair dresser's dog about SEO or like asking groups and people say yeah you need to publish a blog every single week because Google likes fresh content. No, it doesn't. Stop it. Move on. It's advice like that and I see people giving advice like that and it makes me cringe and sometimes I weighed in. But these days I'm getting a bit old and tired and I don't. So, don't take advice from randoms. Find a source of truth. Stick to one source of truth. There's a lot of conflicting opinions but just stick to one source of truth. It's not rocket science. It is a learning curve but it's entirely doable. I've had people who are like you know everybody from like eyebrow tattooists to vets to chiropodistsand funeral parlour owners do my course and see results. [Flori says "That's fantastic."] They're not technical. And, they have no interest in doing this kind of thing. They want to be doing eyebrows and burying people. They don't want to be peddling around in Google Analytics but you can do it or do something, make it better. It may not be stellar. But anything you do. You know if you increase your traffic by a thousand visits a month that's huge. So it's worth a pop. Be brave, be brave.
Flori Pyke [00:47:48] Yeah. I love it. Feel like I'm at Brene Brown right now. Come on. [laughs] Oh yeah. Totally. All right. Thank you so much, Kate. That's been really, like I've really enjoyed this episode and being able to pick your brains on all things SEO and I know that our listeners feel the same. I love all the analogies I feel like you break things down into you know [Kate says "The Bachelor. The Bachelor of SEO."] Totally. You had me at Bachelor. Absolutely. [Kate laughs] Now, for our listeners to get your hands on the show notes and learn more about Kate, you can head over to theelevatory.com/podcast. And, Kate I'm going to put you on the spot here but we normally end with a bit of a parting thought. So I'd love for you to share a parting thought. And just because I'm selfish, I want to learn a little something aside from SEO. But biggest business lesson to date. Can you share anything around that? I want to know. I mean obviously you've done extraordinarily well so here's me like give me all the wisdom.
Kate Toon [00:48:56] It's such a cheesy word but it's the one I still battle with. It's a lesson I'm still learning and it really is the comparison one you know. I think many of us use look at our competitors and think that we're doing competitor research whereas really we're just beating ourselves up about what we haven't done and what we need to do and comparing are our apples with their eggs, not our apples with their apples and comparing our journey with others. I still do it. I still sometimes fall down the rabbit hole. It is so unproductive. So, the biggest lesson I've learned is if I ever need to know what to do next, I don't find that out by looking at my competitors. I find out by asking my customers and they will tell me loud and clear and that to me has been the biggest lesson. Literally, what do you want me to do next? They go we want something like this and want this. And I do it rather than looking at another person who just launched this. I'm going to do that. So don't look out look in I think would be my biggest lesson.
Flori Pyke [00:49:49] Love it. OK. Thank you so much. It's been awesome. I really enjoyed [Kate says "Thank you and I'm going to put that session for you to teach me Facebook ads."] Yeah. And, vice versa. Get me on the SEO train.All right. Awesome. [Kate says "Awesome, Thank you so much."] Thank you. And to our listeners, remember to elevate your business game.
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