[Editor's note: This is a guest post on SEO by Heart | Soul | Business mentor Sarah Juliusson. We are grateful for her expertise on the blog and in our Facebook group! I hope you enjoy learning more about search engine optimization — it's an important part of today's birth business equation. ~ Jessica]
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. My job as The Website Doula and a mentor on the Heart | Soul | Business Facebook group is to gently introduce doulas, childbirth educators and other birth workers to SEO with an easy-to-understand and creative approach. Each month I will publish a new SEO tip here on the Heart | Soul | Business blog, giving you a taste of the wonderful things that SEO can do for your birth business.
The first question I see repeated over and over again on various discussion forums for birth and mother/baby workers is “What is SEO?”
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 your website would is an ideal 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 80%? 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.
Let’s begin by breaking down the term Search Engine Optimization word by word to begin to understand the what, how and why of good SEO.
Search is what happens when a potential client types in one or more words into the search engine (such as google) looking for something. If you’re lucky, they are looking for your specific business because they have your card and website address, or they’ve heard about you from a friend. They might type in your specific business name or website URL, or perhaps some interesting variation if your business name is harder to remember or spell. For example, someone looking for “Mother Nurture Doula” might instead type in Nurturing Mother, or Mama Nurture, or if they know your first name perhaps “Kristin Nurture Doula.” Chances are good that they will find you online assuming they are using terms reasonably close to your name or your business name.
The majority of searches, however, involve either searching for a specific service or product, or looking for information about a particular topic. If someone is looking for information about water birth, for example, we will have a really tough time showing up in search because we’re competing with national and international level websites that Google will generally show first because they have so much great content. The local service or product searches such as “doula Denver” are the searches we are really hoping to be found on, as these represent the families who would love to work with us but have not yet discovered us.
When deciding to search for a business, service, product or information, we first decide where we will type in the search. While Google is of course the most common search engine, Bing and Yahoo also have a good percentage of the audience.
Each of these engines has a job to do, striving to link the searcher (i.e. your potential client) with the best possible website to match their search request. Basically each time we type in a term, anything from “pizza” to “placenta pills,” the search engine filters through all the data available online looking for the right mix of clues to indicate which websites are the closest fit for our needs.
I find it helpful to remember that the search engines have a truly positive intention. Their primary mission is to be as helpful as possible, ensuring that they sites they show at the top of search results truly do represent the best options for that particular client. Our task, then, is to figure out how to deliver our website content in a structure that the search engines can understand, leading to our next term…
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, or even if they do find you, they’re not sticking around to learn more. You have so much to share, and your website should be helping you support more families.
Optimization has two equally important elements to create a highly functional website. First, small changes to your content, code settings, and website structure together help to create a clear message to Google that you are indeed an expert resource in your community and should be included in the top local listings. Equally important, however, is to use your website appearance, content and flow in ways that encourage those who find your site online to click through your content to learn more.
This is just a small taste of the work we do together in the The SEO Birth Plan eCourse, providing birth and mother/baby workers like you with the core tools you need to market your business online. If you find the idea of learning SEO as a business tool intriguing, please do join us in the course and our private facebook support forum.
Heart Soul Birth Pros readers get a reduced price of $75 USD (regular price $99). Your special discount code is: HEART.