SEO Myths and Tips
Updated: Feb 28
In 2021, I was honored to be featured on an IGTV series my friend Cynthia at Cierto Creative was doing during the fall, called “Pumpkin Spice and Marketing Advice.” Cynthia asked me to help bunk some SEO myths, and give some of my best SEO advice to business owners that are trying to navigate their marketing themselves, and create a strong web presence.
This was such a fun collaboration, so I hope you enjoy! The transcript is below.
Cynthia: So I wanted to bring a fun collaboration idea together, so I’m calling this “Pumpkin Spice and Marketing Advice.” So I think throughout the whole month of October and maybe through fall, I want to collaborate with other people to bring some really good information to our community. My name is Cynthia, I have Cierto Creative Company, which honesty, has been primarily social media management, but is kind of evolving, and so on this episode, I have Angel, so I’ll let Angel introduce herself!
Angel: I’m Angel! I own Thrive Design Co. I’m a branding and web designer. I specialize in Wix and Squarespace websites, and SEO services, and brand design, logo design and things like that.
Cynthia: Yes— and she is amazing. So in this episode we’re going to go over SEO tips, and myths and advice that Angel can share. I found Angel on Instagram and she was offering an SEO report, and I wanted to take advantage of that because I had just put up my website, and I loved the report that she gave me. We went through it and it was so easy to digest, and it really gave me a lot of information so I always try to steer people Angel’s way if I can because she has so much knowledge. We wanted to talk about small businesses and whether they need a website. Something I hear a lot, Angel, and I don’t know if you hear this, but they’ll say that they don’t have a website and they don’t really think they need one.
Angel: Yes, I hear that all the time actually. Especially if I’m in a conversation with somebody that owns a small business and they say something like “Well I don’t think I really need a website, I’ve got enough business for right now.” And my usual response to that is “Okay, what about 6 months down the road, a year down the road from now. You may not have enough business at that point, and you may need more business.” It’s always good to have a website to help constantly bring in more leads. And as we all experienced yesterday, with social media completely shutting down on us, Facebook and Instagram, that can happen at any time. You had mentioned earlier today in another video, that it probably happen again. There could come a time where it just shuts down completely, and there’s no more Facebook or Instagram, its like, what do you do then do help promote your business to attract your ideal customer at that point? If you don’t have social media any more, and you don’t have a website, then what are you gonna do? You don’t want to have to scramble around to try and find somebody that can help you with your website. You don’t wanna have to throw one up quickly that isn’t set up for success from the start. So I always, always recommend that every business have a website, especially one with SEO because that’s how you actually get discovered by those potential leads.
Cynthia: Yeah I get the same thing. One thing I always try to tell people as well is that “your business isn’t necessarily open 24/7, but your website is.” If someone’s up at 10 o’clock at night and they’re like “you know what? I really need to get my gutters cleaned.” or something. Then your website is what’s going to answer their questions, and especially if you have a call to action link (CTA) on your website where they can automatically get an estimate or book an appointment or something like that, that gives them 24/7 access to your business. If you don’t have a website, your competitor does, and so your competitor is going to get that business, not you.
Angel: Yes! I use the phrase a lot “your website is your 24/7 salesperson.” Whenever you’re out of the office, your website is still there promoting your business for you and you’re not having to do any extra work to bring in those leads.
Angel: Yeah, absolutely! It’s always a great idea to have an email list. Whether you’re using the email marketing software that comes with your website builder, like Wix has one, Squarespace has one, I’m not sure about WordPress, but whether you’re using those, or ones such as Mailchimp, ConvertKit, or my personal favorite is Flodesk, I absolutely love it. I always recommend having at least one freebie or something of value on your website to help bring in people that want to sign up for your email list. Whether it’s a free guide, checklist, or a template of some sort. It’s always great to have at least one freebie on your website for people to access.
Cynthia: Yeah, absolutely I think that’s huge. You’re exchanging like, value for an email address, basically. I think that’s huge. For all those reasons, we believe that every small business should have a website (Angel: yes!). I think sometimes there’s a perception that it’s going to be a very costly investment, but I feel like software has come really far, and things have become more cost effective, and so it’s become more budget friendly than maybe 10 years ago.
Angel: Yeah, absolutely. Especially for those who do take the DIY route and make their website themselves. Most domain names cost around $18-20 per year, and depending on which website builder you go with, and what your business needs are, like whether you’re e-Commerce or service based, there are different packages and stuff like that if you go the DIY route. And then if you go the designer route, if you go that route, you could pay anywhere from $300 to $5,000 or more depending on what your business needs, and what that designer offers and brings to the table. A lot of designers and agencies now are offering payment plans, because we know that investing in your website can be costly. Especially for a small business. Your website is a big investment, and we [most of us] understand that that’s something that you might not be able to afford to pay for all at once, and so a lot of us do offer payment plans or work with your website so that you can get the website you need, without it being a huge inconvenience to you.
Cynthia: That’s a really good point. So, for all those reasons, small businesses do need a website, for lead generation to your business. And kind of piggybacking off of that, I want to have Angel explain, what is SEO? Like, what does that mean to the flower shop owner?
Angel: SEO is short for search engine optimization, and that is basically the whole process of setting up the back end of your website to appease Google. Google crawls your entire website every time you update it. And that’s part of the reason why you don’t see results immediately with SEO, it’s more of a long-game. But it’s implementing things such as keywords, meta titles and meta descriptions, good alternative text descriptions for all the images on your website, and there’s a big, long list of other things that goes into SEO, and making sure your website is optimized on the backend so that Google can easily find it and crawl it and make sure it’s a reputable site that it wants to push out to people.
Cynthia: Yeah, exactly. That’s how I understood it after our conversation. At least for me, it’s not where I have my expertise, and so for the longest time it seemed overwhelming. Before I started my own business and I worked in a corporate environment, when we’d bring in SEO experts it always seemed so over my head. So that was one of the nice things about working with. It was so easy to digest and I understood, and I didn’t feel like I couldn’t tackle this or understand it. I was really able to understand it with your report and your suggestions and I love that.
Angel: That’s one of the things I love about that software that I use is that the reports that it generates, it breaks it down. Some of it still obviously sounds like a foreign language, but it makes it a lot easier to understand what’s what on the backend of your website, and it makes it a lot easier to understand “okay these are the areas I need more assistance with, with SEO, and I’m doing great in these areas.” You could have the best keywords on your website, but you might be missing meta titles and descriptions, or a favicon, whatever it may be and that could really be hindering your SEO on the other end of it.
Cynthia: Yeah that is so true. I think that’s one of the things you caught on my website, too. That was a semi-easy thing for me to go in and do, since my website doesn’t have a lot of pages, and it makes a huge difference and it’s something that I would’ve never even thought about! When you go the DIY route, you want a beautiful website, and so the functionality gets kind of put on the back burner.
Angel: Yes! That’s another thing too, not every web designer does SEO. Most web designers I know and come into contact with, more so these days than previous years, most people are just too intimidated by SEO so they only focus on the design portion. Which can actually hinder the whole reason you have a website (Cynthia: yeah!). It’s great to have a beautiful website, but if no one is able to even find your website, then you invested all that money in a website for no reason. If people are unable to find you on Google and you aren’t generating any leads from it, there’s no point in having it.
Cynthia: Yeah that’s a very good point. And I know you kind of touched on this a little bit ago, but like depending on the kind of website you need, like if it’s an eCommerce site, or it’s just service based like mine, and informational and you just want people to book an appointment, what kind of investment dollar wise are people looking at for a small business owner wanting to create a website? Or is that too broad of a question because every business is unique?
Angel: It kind of depends. There are some designers that give a specific quote for each individual business and they get really down into the details and they’re billing for every tiny thing and it can add up quickly, or if you’re only getting a few things done it could be very cheap. But, a lot of designers, modern designers now, tend to offer packages and that’s what I do, and each package touches on what you’ll need. So if you just need a 5-page site, for example, right now I charge $1,500 for that (please note that my prices are subject to change at any time). So you get 5 full pages, like, a Home, About, Contact, Products or Services page, and a fifth page of your choice such as a blog, or a portfolio or something like that. But you get full SEO throughout the entire site, but you get the functionality you want, the design you want, and most importantly, you get the mobile optimization, which I think we’re going to touch on, where it’s easily readable across all devices, like computers, tablets and phones. And then I have a higher end package which of course is for over 5 pages, up to 20 pages, and then I do offer add-on services such as implementing e-Commerce, setting up Google My Business, integrating Google Analytics and stuff like that.
Cynthia: $1,500 is really reasonable from what I’ve seen like you said, other places that kind of nickel and dime all of the little things. $1,500 for a package to have a completely SEO optimized website, that’s really reasonable in my opinion.
Angel: Yeah, I tend to try and price myself— especially since I work with a lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs, price myself on the more affordable end, because I know some places will charge $3,000 or more for the same package that I offer, but at the end of the day, the whole reason I got into this business was to help small businesses, and not make them go broke trying to grow their business, haha (Cynthia: yeah!). But yeah, going back to that original question… It depends. I would say, most standard 5-page website packages that I’ve seen, for a standard 5-page website, start at around $1,500 to $2,000 and can go up from there. Of course if you DIY your site, it’s more affordable, but keep in mind you aren’t getting that extra set of eyes, you’re not getting that expertise and all of those added benefits to help you with your website.
Cynthia: Yeah, that actually leads into our next question: Should I just DIY my website? So I feel like we’ve kind of touched on reasons why it might not be in your best interest because even an investment of $1,500, like you said, when you’re working with small business owners, its like, I feel like that’s reasonable, it’s offering a service that other places might charge even double for, which might make that unattainable for some businesses even though its a really valuable tool. So, y’know, kind of going into that ‘should I DIY my website’, I think if you can find a designer like yourself that’s on the small business owner’s side and wants to make these services attainable for them, then no, don’t DIY yourself.
Angel: My answer to that, is if you have the budget for it, I absolutely recommend investing in it (your website) from the start, because first impressions are everything. If someone was to go on your website and saw that it was a DIY website that was just pieced together, or you threw it together quickly because you got way too overwhelmed and didn’t wanna keep working on it. People notice details. And it’s not just designers when they go to your website and go “Oh I can tell they DIYed their website.” Consumers notice the details too. If it’s not cohesive, you have a bunch of different fonts, and no theme to your website, it’s easy to recognize that. And if they have a bad first impression of your website, that’s probably the first impression they’ll get of your business, too and they may not even wanna come back and consider you. If you’re confident enough in your skills, it may be worth it to DIY your website, especially if you have some guidance from a web designer or someone that knows what they’re doing, but 9 times out of 10 I recommend working with a web designer to design your website for you that’ll bring your vision to life, help bring your ideal customers straight to your website, and especially one that offers payment plans and can help work with you on your budget.
Cynthia: I agree. That brought up a question as you were talking about that. Let’s say a small business did DIY their site, and they’re like “I need somebody to go in here and blow this thing up and start over or just go in and fix it, somehow” is that a service that you offer?
Angel: Yeah! I do offer website re-design services. For me, it depends on what platform your website was built on, for example, I’m not a fan of WordPress. So the price will depend on if you’re willing to redesign that website on another platform like Squarespace or Wix. Those are my platforms of choice, I’m more familiar with them, those are the platforms I recommend. So once we’ve talked about what changes you’d like made, and I look at your website, and if you’re wanting a complete overhaul to start from scratch I can give you a quote for that. Or if let’s say you purchased a branding kit from someone and you want to implement your new brand colors and fonts and everything and create a more cohesive look to your site, I could give a quote for that as well. For the most part I offer packaged deals for everything, but for redesign, I do more personalized quotes, since it’s based on what your needs are. On any website I redesign for someone, I always include SEO in the redesign, period. I wouldn’t not include SEO in a redesign.
Cynthia: That’s super important. The appeal I guess of Wix and Squarespace, is that they’re supposed to be user friendly, like the interface is supposed to be user-friendly without necessarily taking into consideration you’re skill level is. So do you train the business owner on doing updates, or do you do it for them? Do you kind of have like where you’ll do maintenance for so long, or they can hire you monthly to do updates or maintenance?
Angel: Yeah! So with any web design package, Squarespace or Wix, you get a one-hour Zoom call (I’ve since changed this to a recorded screen video) or we can meet in person if you’re local, whatever your preference is, where we go in and I walk you through your website, how to make any edits or small-scale changes you can do yourself. Of course the bigger scale things are harder to do, and you’re better off letting your designer do those kinds of changes. But we’ll walk through the website, I’ll show you how to do things like adding or changing out photos, how to add sections, and things like that. And then for those that don’t want to have to keep up with their website after it’s launched, I do offer a monthly retainer where you pay monthly, and I can go in at any time and do maintenance or make updates and changes. This is especially good for business that are in the industry where things like their menu is changing regularly, or their business hours, etc. I’m working with a restaurant owner right now who was like “just go ahead and send me the invoice for the monthly maintenance because I don’t wanna have to even bother with this after we’ve launched.”
Cynthia: Yeah! And not break anything. That’s something I’ve seen with WordPress websites. Like they’ll wanna go in and change something but somehow some line of code gets fiddled with and it breaks the whole site. Or you scroll down their page and you see some big section of code, and no one knows how to fix it, or knows how it even got broken in the first place.
Angel: Yeah exactly, haha. That is huge. I’ve seen that a lot where someone that works in the business internally will go in and try to update the website themselves, without having any prior training or knowing what they’re doing and they just go in and suddenly they’ve deleted something and can’t recover it, or like what you just said with WordPress, a lot of small businesses have a hard time managing that platform themselves, and they’re not having someone manage it for them, it’s very easy to go in and mess something up, then you’ve got to hire someone again to go in and fix it for you. So it’s always a nice convenience to work with a designer that you can pay monthly and they’ll take care of everything for you, and you don’t have to even think about it.
Cynthia: Yeah, I hear you, that’s a great service to offer. It’s one of those things where you don’t even think about it until you need it.
Angel: There’s actually a local coffee shop I’ve been speaking to recently because I stumbled across their website, because I was going to go there to work one day, and when their website came up, they have WordPress, and it just brought up a blank page with nothing on it. I reached out to him, and he said he had no idea what happened, the site was just suddenly gone and he had no idea how to get it back up, and that’s a perfect example. That’s why I like working with Wix and Squarespace, because if someone wants to manage it themselves after the site has launched, I’m confident that they can make those updates and changes themselves, because they are so user-friendly.
Cynthia: Yeah, I think with some training, people would feel confident with going in and making little updates that they need to. And if I remember correctly, I think with Wix, you can actually go recover it up to like 30 days.
Angel: Yeah, it’s something like that, that timeline, yes. You can go into your edit history and restore your site back to a certain time where you made some edits, and undo everything you’ve done to a certain point which is so helpful.
Cynthia: Yeah definitely! You had mentioned earlier mobile adaptability. I heard a statistic that 80% of your website traffic coms from a mobile device. Is that statistic true, or is that number higher or lower?
Angel: That’s actually spot on, over 50% of all website traffic comes from a mobile device and that number is getting higher as time goes on of course, because more people are using their phone and tablets to access information that they need. I know I pull out my phone and Google something I need multiple times a day, to find out stuff I need to know. That’s one thing designers keep in mind, that business owners may not think about when designing their site themselves, is the mobile experience. Most of web design, of course it’s about trying to get your brand messaging across, but a lot of it is based off user experience. If someone’s going to your website, you know, what kind of experience are you trying to create for someone who’s coming to your website and they’re interested in your product or service, how quickly and easily can they find the information they need in order to take action and get ahold of you and take that next step? And if your website isn’t optimized for that, especially on mobile devices, people are just gonna click off your website, and you’ll have a crazy bounce rate, and people won’t wanna come back to your website if it’s not easy to navigate.
Cynthia: I agree. I feel like, when I look at a website, even if I do look at it on a desktop, I have probably, 95% of the time, looked at it on the phone first. And then walked over to my desktop to look at it there. But like you said, that initial “Oh I’m thinking of this right now, I’m just gonna grab my phone and look at it quickly first.” 9 times out of 10 I’ve looked at it on my phone first.
Angel: Yep, exactly. We’re constantly Googling things on our phone, like you said, “Oh I need my gutters cleaned.” We’re Googling stuff all the time, because of the convenience, so we have to make sure when we’re designing our websites we’ve got to keep in mind the mobile experience. Some sites have too much crammed on mobile view, or there’s no CTA, or somethings half-off of the screen, etc.
Cynthia: That’s a huge one I see a lot, especially on DIYed websites. The CTA (call to action) is missing and its like you get there, and it looks nice, but you’re like “What’s my next step?” and that’s huge. When you DIY it you might not even think of that. Like, what do you want people to DO? Do you want them to buy something, to call you, to email you, to book an appointment. What action do you want them to take— it needs to be front and center. Another statistic I’ve seen is something like you have around 8 seconds to keep their attention while they’re on your website before they click off and go to the next one.
Angel: Yeah, wherever they first land when they click on your website, you’ve got about 5-8 seconds to capture their attention, and that determines whether or not they want to keep scrolling, or if they want to click off and find someone else. You’ve got to captivate them, it needs to look nice, state what you do, in order for them to want to stay on your site. Especially for those that DIY their website, they forget that their needs to be some type of strategy for people to come in and follow on their website, in order to take this step, to go to this page, to take this action, whatever it may be. Sometimes when people DIY their website they get overwhelmed and forget that they need strategy behind their design.
Cynthia: Yeah I agree. I think that it’s absolutely, 100%, almost mandatory now for businesses to have a website. And I think the pandemic kind of showed us that too because everyone was at home, and people were ordering groceries and things like that, and people who had never bought anything online were forced to because stores were not open. So even if you were doing it at buy online and pick up in store, that’s an online purchase through your website. And so, I think it really hammered in that everyone needs a website, because whether it’s Instagram and Facebook going down, or there’s a pandemic and people can’t leave their house, you need a way for people to find you and keep your business going.
Angel: Yeah absolutely! I know when COVID first hit last year, there were so many businesses scrambling, and they didn’t know what they were going to do. Especially all the brick and mortar business that relied on people physically coming to their store. A lot of people had to make a big, quick, shift and get a website in order to keep their business at the forefront of peoples’ minds, because even though we’re stuck at home, we still need things. If you want to keep your business at the forefront of someone’s minds, like “Hey I want to have flowers delivered to someone but I can’t come in and order them in-person right now.” If you’re a florist, you need to have a website that’s optimized for people to find you if they can’t come in physically to order flowers. That’s just one of many examples to how people have had to shift their business to stay afloat during the pandemic.
Cynthia: Yeah, 100%. For sure. We’ve covered quite a bit in a short amount of time, you know, we talked about reasons people need a website, why SEO is so crucial to your website, we’ve talked about the costs, the pros and cons of DIYing your website, how mobile adaptability is so important. And we also talked about how important it is when we have those situations where social media goes down or a pandemic hits, to have an optimized website. I think that covered quite a bit. Obviously if anyone has more questions about SEO and web design, Angel is an amazing resource, and I highly recommend you contact her. She puts out really good content on her Instagram and Facebook as well. It’s a great way to get free advice as well, haha, so be sure to follow us on social media, and if you have any questions, we’re more than happy to help you out! Angel thank you so much for participating, this was really great information, and I was so excited to collab with you.
Angel: Yeah thank you so much for having me, this has been wonderful! I really hope that this was able to help some business owners and entrepreneurs who are really on the fence about whether or not they want a website, or if they need the extra push to take that plunge and invest in their business online.