Before we even begin, please let me encourage you to keep reading. I know that search engine optimization (or SEO) is not a “sexy” birth business topic. It has a reputation as being boring, too technical, and out of reach to normal human beings. My job as The Website Doula and a mentor on the Heart Soul Business Facebook group is to gently introduce you to a new and creative perspective on SEO and the wonderful things it can do for your birth business.
SEO = Search Engine Optimization
Simply translated, SEO involves making changes to your site that will serve as clues to Google and the other search engines so that they understand that you’d be a great resource to share when a local family searches for your services. What would it look like if your practice had just one extra doula or midwife client a month? Two? If your childbirth or prenatal yoga classes were consistently 95% full instead of 75%? Good search engine optimization will help more fantastic potential clients find your site, and make it more likely that they will stick around to learn more and actually hire you. Learn more about SEO basics here.
It can be downright depressing to have a website full of great information about your services and know that very few people are actually getting to see your site. Yes, some will find you because they’ve been given one of your cards, or a friend shared the link, but there are many more who are missing out simply because you aren’t showing up in search. You have so much to share, and your website should be helping you support more families.
To help you take a few good baby steps towards understanding SEO, let's start with four common myths.
SEO is all about getting good rankings in search.
While on the surface this is true, good SEO is about so much more than that. I love seeing birth workers explore their ideal client, define their website voice, and create content that both google — and their ideal clients — will love. Yes, the changes you make on your website will lead to improvements in how you are ranked and therefore increase your traffic. Equally important, however is ensuring that new site visitors take the next step and contact you. All the traffic in the world won't do a thing for your business if they aren't inspired to learn more about your services.
I just need to fill my site with keywords.
Once upon a time, it did work to fill the keywords section on your website settings with a long list of terms related to your work and location. Those days are long past... We still use keywords, but their proper placement on the site is more complex, involving (on the page and behind the scenes) involves a range of small, but effective changes within each page on your website, all of them working together to communicate your value and expertise to Google.
Paying someone to do it for me is the answer to all my troubles.
There are plenty of companies out there offering to “optimize” your site and make you show up on top listings. Some of them are really good at what they do. Others, however, are using tactics that may result in short-term benefits but could cause trouble down the road with the search engines, such as using keywords and links that are not a true fit for your content. Before hiring someone to help you with SEO, be sure they are using good practice rather than short-cuts and tricks.
SEO is too technical to understand.
While most people think of SEO as a super-technical thing you that you kind of have to deal with, but of course won’t actually enjoy… I believe otherwise. Yes, there are some basic techniques you will need to learn and apply to your site, but the real heart of SEO is understanding how to make simple changes to ensure that your ideal clients will be able to both find your site online, and recognize you as a great fit for their needs. Whether you are a tech guru or tech phobic, if you have a desire and willingness to learn a new skill and dig below the surface of your website, learning SEO is a great business investment that will serve you for years to come.
There are no accessible resources to learn SEO.
You can find great general SEO resources on learning portal sites such as Lynda.com and Skillshare. Still, we’re not selling shoes or pizza, and our SEO focus is on a local audience. We need to adapt our SEO approach to the way our potential clients are using the internet to find us, and build a sense of connection and trust on our sites so that when they do find us, they will want to take the next step. If you want an SEO approach focused on birth and postpartum work, I’d love for you to join my SEO Birth Plan course. It’s self-paced, so you can take your sweet time with the content, and we have a private support forum where I will answer all your questions every step of the way!
Heart Soul Birth Pros readers get 25% off the SEO Birth Plan course and any of The Website Doula ebooks! Your special discount code is: HEART. >> Visit the shop to explore your options. (This is not an affiliate link, and we don't get any kickback if you sign up for Sarah's course or buy a book. We just believe in her work and love sharing with you all.)