Or, why SEO must be part of your marketing strategy
In my Reality SEO series, I interview REAL LIFE HUMANS who’ve changed their digital marketing for good and used simple techniques to transform their business and brand.
These shorter episodes will include practical DOABLE advice and tips from people just like you.
Find out why Amy Annetts, already a successful business marketer, decided she had to learn SEO, what were her biggest learnings and her two top tips for small businesses.
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And big thanks to Shannon Morrison for his lovely review.
Amy Annetts is a marketing strategist who helps small businesses getting ready to launch, or grow.
She creates customised marketing strategies that are right for them. With 25 years of experience, she blends her corporate and traditional marketing background with the latest digital tools.
And she loves a challenge, evidenced by her mad interest in outdoor obstacle courses, where she’s happy to crawl under barbed wire and be covered in mud.
Connect with Amy
Kate Toon: In my reality SEO series, I interview real life humans who’ve changed their digital marketing for good, and use simple techniques to transform their business and their brand.
In these shorter episodes, we include doable, practical advice and today it’s coming from the amazing Amy Annetts, a marketing strategist who helps small businesses get ready to grow and launch. So, let’s get started.
Kate Toon: Hello, my name’s Kate Toon and I’m the head chef at the Recipe for SEO Success, an online learning hub for all things related to search engine optimization and digital marketing. And today, I’m talking to Amy Annetts. Hello Amy.
Amy Annetts: Hello.
Kate Toon: Now, I’m going to awkwardly read out your bio now. Are you ready? You just to sit there in silence and hear it. So, Amy Annetts is a marketing strategist who helps small businesses get ready to launch or grow. She creates custom marketing strategies that are right for them.
With 25 years of experience, she blends her corporate and traditional marketing background with the latest digital tools. She loves a challenge, evidenced by her mad interest in outdoor obstacle courses, where she’s happy to crawl under barbed wire and be covered in mud.
That sounds very unpleasant. Is this the mud run and things like that? Tough Mudder and things like that?
Amy Annetts: Yes, and Spartans. Yes.
Kate Toon: Spartans. I did set myself a challenge of doing that this year very publicly on social media, and then just never talked about it again. So, one day I will do it.
One day I will do it, and I’m going to do a really cheesy segue now and say that learning digital marketing and SEO can sometimes feel like a bit of an obstacle course with lots of challenges.
Kate Toon: So take me back a few years, before you started your SEO journey, where were you at? You’ve obviously got experience in marketing and digital and stuff, but where were you at back then? How did you feel about SEO and all the horrors that it entails?
Amy Annetts: Working with small businesses, developing marketing strategies, helping them action their tactical elements, and SEO was one of those things, at least in my mind, that was off to the side. It was a technical aspect to having a website or building a website, so I was really reluctant in the early days to get too far involved in it.
I thought it might be something that took me down a path that maybe I wasn’t really that interested in, but it became so much more obvious as I went through the course of things, that I really couldn’t ignore it anymore. I actually had to deep dive and learn about this thing because it just kept coming up in a lot of things that I was doing.
Kate Toon: Yeah, I think there’s two really interesting things I take from that. Number one is that many people think SEO is just the technical bit, and now we know that it’s super holistic, especially as SEO is changing, that it actually impacts all aspects of your marketing.
We’re doing SEO even when we’re at a networking event, eating a sausage roll because we are getting our brand out there. And branded search is a really important part of SEO. So I think that’s one thing.
And then also, I love the fact that you said that it just comes up and I don’t know if you can be a successful marketeer, even if you do a lot of print stuff, I don’t think you can do online marketing without some understanding of search engine optimization. I just think it’s impossible.
And yet, people are out there saying, oh, I do digital marketing, I build websites, but I don’t do SEO. What?
Amy Annetts: Yeah, exactly. It doesn’t make sense. And even if you don’t call yourself a digital marketer and you’re just sticking with the more traditional stuff, it still has so much relevance. And so, what I’ve found was the decisions I was making, in terms of offline marketing, was impacting their online world.
So the two completely are inseparable. They have to be front and centre of a plan. And when you’re planning a website, what are you going to call it? How you going to lay it out? Your lead generation activities, all of those things, yeah…
Kate Toon: They all feed in.
Amy Annetts: They do.
Kate Toon: Now we do reality SEO experts with non-digital people, non-marketing people, and it’s quite interesting what they take from their journey learning about SEO. But there’ll be a lot of people listening who are you, who work in marketing, who work in advertising.
What did you learn about SEO that surprised you, as someone who’s pretty au fait with the whole world of marketing?
Amy Annetts: Yeah, I think this idea around SEO being so integral to the customer buyer journey, which is so front and centre to a marketing plan, the online world gives us now this massive opportunity in terms of a platform to be able to support the buyer journey, which any good marketer knows and builds their plans around.
So, that really surprised me. The fact that it was integral, you can’t separate the two. And then, just by focusing on creating relevant content that supports each of those stages. SEO, at least the technical aspects of it, really just provides the framework to work within, so you know, okay, how do we place that, lay it out? How do we make sure that it’s tweaked in the right way so it can be found?
Kate Toon: Yeah, the customer journey thing I think is so important. People are quite shocked after they do the big course, because one of the first things I make them do is classic marketing.
Who’s your target audience? Not just the demographic stuff, but how do they feel about your product and how would you describe your brand?
And a lot of businesses have never sat down and thought, well, if I was to use adjectives, I do X, I clean windows. Yeah, but how do you clean windows? What’s your point of difference? Because that then makes it easier for you to do SEO because you’re not competing with all the window cleaners, you’re competing with the window cleaners who do this particular type.
You’re niching down, you’re understanding what makes you different. And that’s classic marketing.
Amy Annetts: Yeah, absolutely. And I suppose that’s one of the main things that did surprise me, that it’s all part and parcel. It is classic marketing. And when I did do the big course, it really was surprising. It was a refresher on all of the marketing aspects.
Kate Toon: A different approach. And another thing that we’ve talked about before is your shock, I guess now that you know about SEO, with how many small businesses just don’t even think about SEO at all.
Amy Annetts: Yes, so now a lot of my client conversations start with their website. Typically, they’ve just had a website built by their friend or their cousin, someone who knows how to build websites, but they’re wondering why there’s nothing coming, no traffic coming in. It’s not doing what they need it to do. It might look fantastic, but it’s not ticking all the boxes in terms of lead generation and supporting their overall marketing approach.
Amy Annetts: So, that’s where a lot of people tend to come in and say, well, okay, where do we start? So, you start at the start. And, again, you can’t separate the conversation about applying the optimization elements to it and saying, right, well, have you even thought about the pages that you’ve got on your website, and do they support what your visitors need to know at different stages of the journey.
Kate Toon: It’s challenging. Those cousins have a lot to answer for.
Amy Annetts: They do.
Kate Toon: The number of people who’ve come on the course, who’ve had a site built by their neighbour’s cat’s uncle, and it looks okay and then you lift the bonnet up, or the lid off or whatever, and underneath it’s like nothing has been done. Not even the most basic stuff, but you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know that you need to think about the pages that you’re having, and the architecture of your site.
And you don’t know about site speed, and you don’t know that that big image that looks beautiful is actually slowing your site down. You just don’t know, do you? I think that’s fascinating.
For you as a business owner and someone that offers marketing services, what changes have you made to how you help your clients now that you know more about SEO?
Amy Annetts: I suppose, apart from doing planning or marketing strategy and planning sessions, I also offer website audits, which are very, very popular because, like I said, there’s a situation where, typically, not always, the business owner will have a website, they’ve had it up for some time, but they need to improve it.
So, we’ve got to audit it, have a look at how it’s been put together, look at the back end, and look at the keywords and have they even got keywords and are they applying those in a clever strategic way across their website?
So, that’s definitely something that I’ve included in my offerings as well as keyword research. I found that for me personally, offering SEO as a service as such doesn’t really suit my model, but I can’t separate what I do as a marketing strategist from at least knowing how to perform website audits and keyword research. So, it just makes sense to have that as part of my offering.
Kate Toon: Yeah, and I think there’s a certain group of people who do the course who are trying to up their skills to offer them to clients. And some people do finish the course and become, I guess what you’d call classic SEO consultants, where they’re offering rolling services each month. But other people take elements of the course.
In week one, we do a site review that’s more UX and usability. And in week two, we do the tech review. And in week three, we do keyword research.
And those can actually just be bespoke package things. I’m not going to offer you ongoing, because I think a lot of people have resistance to the ongoing SEO model. But I’m going to tell you everything that’s wrong with your website, and you can fix it. I’m going to tell you everything that’s wrong with your usability and UX, and you can fix it.
And I’m going to look at what keywords you’re going after, and that’s going to inform your website, your Google ads, your Facebook, your marketing, everything. And those can be finite services. So, you will offer those as one offs, in a way, not ongoing I guess.
Amy Annetts: Absolutely, yes. Yeah, and then within the website audit, there’s a list of recommendations on what to do. And some of those are reviewing your marketing objectives because you need to get those clear so then you know what you’re going after.
Kate Toon: Yeah, and I think as well to take on someone’s marketing, you have to do that work to really see where they are. It’s the benchmark. It’s the place I always start if someone comes to me and they want help with their SEO, I have to do the audit first because, otherwise, we don’t know what we’re dealing with here.
And again, often people who are offering copywriting services, how can you write the copy unless you’ve gone and done that work of understanding who their audience is, what keywords they’re going after, because that’s going to inform the copy that you write.
So, again, as you said, it’s all just inter-meshed. You can’t separate it out. So, we’ve covered this, but how has SEO changed your life? I guess I want to say. I want to say something dramatic. How has SEO changed your business life?
Amy Annetts: Well, I think from my client perspective, the way I approach things now is a whole lot more holistic. And so, I’ve got the benefit of the old school marketing foundations if you like, because I have been in the game for so long.
Now, with the up-skilling of the digital side, it does feel I’m in a pretty good place in that sense because I feel like what I offer from a digital perspective is underpinned by just a solid marketing foundation.
Kate Toon: It’s the whole pie, isn’t it? You can do the whole thing now and take that helicopter view rather than going, I can get you to this point, but then we’ll have to skip that bit because I have a hole there. So yeah, it’s the whole thing.
Amy Annetts: Yeah, and also the conversations where there might be an SEO agency in play with the business as well, it’s having much more intelligent conversations with the SEO consultant that might be sitting in the chair at the time as well.
Kate Toon: People can’t bamboozle you now. It’s the confidence, it’s an empowerment as well, isn’t it? To go, actually, I disagree with you on that point, and being confident that you have the knowledge behind you to say that, because I think a lot of people find SEO consultants quite intimidating and the language that they use and the jargon that they use, and you feel like you can’t question them because you’re going to look like a fool. But now, defooled
We like to, in these shorter episodes, pass on a tip for our listeners, an SEO tip, a digital marketing tip. What tip would you like to share with our listeners today?
Amy Annetts: Well, I’ve actually got two tips. The first one is to make sure, as a business owner, you really need to at least know the basics of SEO. You don’t have to certainly be an expert. You don’t have to invest a whole at a time and energy into it if you’ve got someone in your business managing that for you, but you do need to understand at least the basics so that you can have those conversations.
You can ask the right questions and you’re not a hundred percent reliant on an agency or an individual in your organisation. I just think that is incredibly, incredibly important.
And the second one is, once you start to dive into that a little bit, you’ll understand that Google offers some free tools that actually give you some really helpful information about what users are doing online, and supports your content strategy, your marketing strategy.
Things like a Google Search Console. It’s amazing that that’s free. The information you can get from there. Just even knowing that exists, how to read it, how do you use that data. It’s fantastic input to your business.
Kate Toon: Yeah, you don’t need to spend a whole lot on expensive, fancy SEO tools, especially if you’re just getting started and Google have actually started to release some education videos on how to get the best out of Google Search Console now.
As we know, in recent years, it’s completely transformed in terms of the way that it looks. I think it’s a lot more usable now. A few of the tools have gone, but they weren’t ones that many people are using.
So, I think, yeah, that’s a fantastic tip. If there’s one thing you take from this episode, I think it’s head over and check out Google Search Console. But I think the message that’s coming to me from you is this holistic approach that, not thinking of SEO as some checkbox to be ticked or something, but it weaves its way through everything.
Amy Annetts: Absolutely. For sure.
Kate Toon: Well, fantastic. Amy, where can we find out more about you?
Amy Annetts: Amyannettsmarketing.com.au. I’m also on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and I’m just starting to get a YouTube channel happening as well.
Kate Toon: Well, there we go. Holistic marketing, it’s everywhere. If you want to find out more about Amy, head to the show notes for this episode on the blog and you’ll find links to all Amy’s bits and bobs, and all her services and offerings as well. So, as you know, at the end of the show, we like to give a shout out to one of our lovely listeners.
And this week, it’s Shannon Morrison from Mighty Social World and he says, “Kate provides one of the best podcasts on SEO and digital marketing that I’ve ever come across.” That’s very nice. “She asks questions about guests that cut through industry jargon to help you truly get better results with your SEO. Her passion for her listeners is evident in every episode and I eagerly await each episode to be released so I can tune in” And I think that’s good because now we’re going to be a bit more regular. So, thank you again, Amy.
Amy Annetts: Thanks for having me, Kate. Enjoyed it.
Kate Toon: And thanks to you for listening. If you liked the show, don’t forget to leave a five star rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you heard the podcast. You’ll help other people find the show and learn more about digital marketing and SEO. And, as I said, you can find out all about Amy at www.therecipeforseosuccess.com.
Finally, before you go, don’t forget to check out my other podcasts, the Hot Copy Podcast, a podcast for copywriters, all about copywriting hosted with the lovely Belinda Weaver. So, until next time, happy SEOing.