I’ve always had a crush on creative entrepreneurs—specifically designers. The first blogs I followed were written by designers and I modeled some of my own, horribly-made blog images after the beauty I found on their websites. (I am most certainly not a designer.)

I wanted what they had. I wanted my own business that allowed me to create things I love and get paid for it (what a fantastic idea right? Get paid for doing what you love!). But I was a writer and in my experience of freelance writing, no one paid serious money for words… or so I thought.

Besides, I was accidentally on a more techie track. I was working in the world of ebooks, which—you’re just going to have to trust me that the path made sense on this one—dumped me out into the world of SEO: Search Engine Optimization.

Search Engine Optimization is basically what helps you get found online through searches (on Google, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube…anywhere with a search bar) by your ideal clients. But the SEO world as I saw it was not a very creative world…and it was also a little bit sleazy. I enjoyed the idea of it, but I had a problem with the practice of it.

After working in the industry for a few years, I realized that I could work with my beloved designers and creatives of all types by offering SEO in this new, holistic, non-sleazy, refreshing sort of way—on my own terms.

Because here’s the thing: There’s a LOT of misinformation about SEO out there.

I read so many blog posts on “tips for doing SEO on your blog posts” or “Are you making these SEO mistakes?” They mean well, but they’re not the whole story, because SEO is always changing. It’s changing much faster than other online industries that so much of the information you read in those blog posts are actually pretty outdated. And that’s a problem I wanted to fix.

When Kathleen and Emily approached me about writing a blog about SEO tips for creative entrepreneurs, you can see where I took a moment to hesitate. Because my business—content strategy with an SEO focus for creative entrepreneurs—is all about not contributing to this mess of confusing, surface-level posts that are out there. Not that I would contribute something that isn’t valuable, but I wasn’t sure I could do it in a way that wasn’t a novel’s worth of information (we’re already at 420 words here).

But this is important.

So if you are going to apply some SEO tips to your website, here’s what you should actually do:

Get Inside Your Ideal Client’s Head to Say What You Mean

Think about how your ideal client would search for the solution that you offer if they didn’t know you already exist. Write a list of those terms and phrases down. My favorite example to use from this is actually something that Kathleen said in Being Boss Episode #43: Live from NOLA. She and Emily talk about how you need to “say what you mean.” And SEO is very much the same way.

The example is of someone who is a life coach, but is sick of the term “life coach.” So she’s trying to build a business probably saying something along the lines of “I help you build a vibrant lifestyle that so you can live life on your own terms.” If you go to that person’s website and read that, you might kind of know what they do. You’d probably guess that they’re some sort of coach.

But here’s the problem with that (besides the fact that it’s pretty poorly written and barf-worthy… I’m just spitballing examples here): I’m this person’s ideal client and I don’t this person exists. The outcome I might want is a vibrant lifestyle and I probably do want to live life on my own terms, but if I’m actually seeking a solution for that, I’m going to Google “life coach” or maybe even more specifically “life coach for creative entrepreneurs.” Because I know that’s the type of person who’s going to help me.

Now You Have Some Keywords

I think people get a little too analytic-y about keywords. Really, keywords are just main descriptions for who you are and what you do. And that’s why you need to get in your client’s head to figure out what sorts of keywords THEY would associate with you. These keywords are great for organizing your blog categories, coming up with blog/Periscope/podcast episode titles, and just getting straight about what you naturally talk about in the information you share.

This is my “holistic SEO” side coming out. SEO professionals will do more analytical research (I certainly do for my own clients), but I really think that for the creative entrepreneur who’s trying to DIY this, getting analytical = getting confusing, and it’s way too easy to lose site of your human audience when you’re focused too hard on the search engine bots.

But If You Want to Get Technical…

Those keywords/topics of authority are what you should be using in the following areas:

Image file names. This happens before you upload the file to your site. Name it something like BeingBossMiamiCreativeVacation.jpg rather than DSC_095.jpg

Image ALT & Title text. This can be the same set of keywords or different—I usually use the same. But this is a good place to describe what the image is or how it relates to the page it’s on, even if the post is about something more abstract. For example: if the image is a person typing on a keyboard, I’m not going to have “typing on keyboard” as the description in the alt text, I’m going to have “SEO tips for creative entrepreneurs” even if that’s not literally what the image is.

Post & page titles. Don’t stretch this here because you still want it to sound natural, but you can see how titling a page “Headshot photography for creative entrepreneurs” would be better than just “headshots” as a service page title.

Blog categories. Actually name your blog categories with your keywords/topics of authoriy and then use those categories as your content-planning guidelines. That way you’re being consistent in your message + gifts of knowledge AND you’re backing up each category—naturally—with more keywords. Win-win!

The MOST Important Thing

Write quality content that actually provides value. This is something I try to drill home all the time and the reason people don’t listen is the same reason why they ignore the fact that a healthy lifestyle takes exercise + healthy eating and run for the quick fix juice cleanse instead. THERE IS NO QUICK FIX.

SEO TIP: Write quality content that actually provides value. Click To Tweet

The search engines are constantly adjusting their algorithms to match what is pleasing to people – you know, like human people. If you write content that people love, then the search engines are going to take notice. Trust me. Stop posting meaningless link roundups and recycled “Top 10 Instagram Filters to Make Your Dog Look Cute” – unless you’re a pet photographer – for the sake of posting five days per week. Instead, focus on what actually adds value to your audience’s life.

What are common questions that people ask you related to what you do? What big lessons have you learned that your audience can learn too? That’s your SEO gold right there!

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Caitlin provides content strategy & podcast support, creating content that appeals to your audience on an emotional level and helps you get found online. Check her out at CaitlinBrehm.com.