Reality SEO: Anthea Digby-Smith: Taking the time to revitalise my local SEO

Reality SEO: Anthea Digby-Smith: Taking the time to revitalise my local SEO
Reading Time: 20 minutes

 

Filling the appointment books by showing up in local searches

 

From feedback, I find the Reality Episodes are a crowd favourite.

Yes, it’s great hearing from super-duper SEO and marketing experts, but what about the real humans chipping away at marketing goals, trying to woo Google, slippery up their funnel, and smash their socials?

Is all this advice actually doable?

Well, today I’m chatting with Anthea Digby-Smith, a former student of the Recipe For SEO Success Course, a member of the Digital Masterchefs, and a hairdresser extraordinaire.

We’ll talk about how Anthea was able to give her online haircare business a total SEO makeover, and the challenges she’s faced along the way.

 

About Anthea Digby-Smith

 

Anthea Digby-Smith is a hairdresser and salon owner alongside her husband Brendon, with an online business that curates the best in hair, beauty, and wellbeing products.

Starting off her hairdressing career when she was only 13 years old (following in her mother’s footsteps), Anthea has spent over 30 years in the hair industry.

She is lucky enough to take her 2 springer spaniels with her to the salon most days.

Fun fact about Anthea: She hates washing her hair and hasn’t coloured it for over 8 years.

 

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And big thanks to Tidy Painter from Australia for their lovely review:

Best SEO podcast ever.

 

Every episode has useful info that I didn’t know about before.

 

Worth a listen no matter how large or small your business is.”

 

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Connect with Anthea Digby-Smith

 

Useful Resources

 

 

 

 

Transcript

 

Kate Toon:

From feedback, I find the reality episodes are a crowd favourite. Yes, it’s great hearing from super-duper SEO marketing experts. But what about the real humans, chipping away at marketing goals, trying to woo Google, slippering up their funnel and smashing their socials? Is all this advice actually doable? Well today I’m chatting with Anthea Digby-Smith, a former student of the Recipe SEO Success course, and a member of Digital Masterchefs, and a hairdresser extraordinaire. We’ll talk about how Anthea was able to give her online hair care business a total SEO makeover, and the challenges she’s faced along the way. Hello, my name is Kate Toon, and I’m the head chef at the Recipe for SEO Success and Online Teaching Hub for all things related to search engine optimization and digital marketing. And today I’m talking to Anthea Digby-Smith. Hello, Anthea?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Hi, Kate.

Kate Toon:

Very exciting to have you here. We had a great little chat about my frizzy hair before the podcast. So we may talk about my frizzy hair during this podcast, but we’re going to talk about marketing a bit more. Let me explain who Anthea is first. So Anthea Digby-Smith is a hairdresser and salon owner alongside her husband Brandon, with an online business that creates the best in hair and beauty wellbeing products. Starting off her hairdressing career when she was only 13 years old, following in her mother’s footsteps, Anthea has spent over 30 years in the hair industry. She’s lucky enough to take her two Springer Spaniels with her to the salon on most days. Fun fact about Anthea, she hates washing her hair, and hasn’t coloured it in over eight years. Well, we have to start there. So I wash my hair, now I try and wash it every four days, but I go swimming a lot, and now it’s every day, and it’s just wrecking my hair. So I’m thinking I might just have to shave it all off. What do you think?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Just wear it in a bun and just wash your fringe.

Kate Toon:

Just the fringe wash? You know what I do Anthea, I dry shampoo my fringe.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Game-changer.

Kate Toon:

And also this whole movement towards embracing the grey, right? You’re not grey, you’ve kind of got like white.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah. I don’t look too close. There is a bit of grey in there, but yeah.

Kate Toon:

I’d love to do that, but my hair isn’t a silvery kind of Gandalfy grey, it’s like dirty pigeon grey. So I’m doomed really, I think a buzz cut is the way forward, but anyway, let’s talk about SEO because does regrow the SEO, there’s grey hair periods. Sometimes you just want a buzz cut all to the ground. Let’s talk about you. So gosh, when did you do the course? Of course it was a while ago now. Was it June July last year?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah.

Kate Toon:

And so, where were you at with your digital market? You had your store, your store’s on Shopify or WordPress?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Shopify.

Kate Toon:

So you had your Shopify store. You’ve also got a real business, a Shopify business. Why did you want to dig into SEO in particular and what were you hoping to achieve?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Well, we’ve been online now for about seven or eight years and felt like we’d been getting quite good traction. And then probably the last two years and this isn’t COVID related just stalled. And I just ran out of options more than anything. And SEO was always something that was off to the side, always on my radar, but it felt like the only part of my business, I hadn’t truly tackled.

Kate Toon:

Yeah, that’s it, isn’t it? And I think often businesses find that like, if you’ve been around for a while for the first year you can survive. Well, I did. I remember when I started as a copywriter, the first year I could survive on friends, family, and friends and friends. It’s like that first degree of separation. First circle of Kevin bacon or whatever it’s called. And then you widen it out a little bit by doing a bit of Instagram a little bit of advertising and then widening it out to the third, fourth and fifth circles is really hard when you’re really talking who have never heard of you have no connection with you or even any of your customers. So, everybody who’s recommended you has, and now you’re completely cold audience. How do I find them? So, when you were working through the course, what were some of the things that surprised you about SEO or some of the things that you learned or stuck with you?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

In a way it’s quite easy, it does seem so overwhelming.

Kate Toon:

Difficult? No, I’m joking.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

It’s easy. But it’s just chunks, isn’t it? It’s like here’s a little bit, you can improve on fixed tweak. Here’s something else you can improve on fixed tweet. And even though you’re not getting necessary really quick wins, you do know that you are seat by step improving it as you go along.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. So it’s little changes. I mean, I think you were fairly lucky in that your site was pretty good to begin with.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah.

Kate Toon:

And some people aren’t, so some people make some changes to their site and suddenly their speed will drop from 10 seconds to two and it’s a dramatic change, but yes, you were at the point end and it wasn’t just SEO that we were looking at. We were also looking at usability and conversion optimization as well, a bit. You’ve got obviously combined local search as well.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah, definitely.

Kate Toon:

What have you been working on with your local search? Have you built up your Google My business page? What have you been doing there?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah, we have actually. Just because I’ve still got a couple of new stylists that still need to build up, so we’ve sort of focused on different services for them the straining products, the Olaplex in sell on treatments and just really been driving them. And it’s amazing how many clients are coming in. How have you come to us? Oh, I found you on Google, I Google my business and it’s really exciting. Those are the ones that have been really quick actually.

Kate Toon:

So do you have SEO software that you’re looking, are you monitoring your keywords or are you kind of not looking at that so much these days?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Definitely keep going back to ECM rush. And then I pretend I like Google console. It’s all very confusing, but yeah, I definitely keep an eye on that and not as probably as regular as I should. I sort of go through fits and stats, but-

Kate Toon:

I think we all do. I mean, one of the reports that I really like in Google search console, obviously you can only look at your own site, but is that keyword research or the keyword report, which shows what you are ranking for, what position you’re in and how many clicks you are getting. And I just think I’d be really interested to know from you, one of the cool things would be how many people are searching for an Anthea Digby-Smith or your husband? That would be really interesting to me. How many people are searching for the names of your staff, like they want to work with Maureen because they love Maureen? Then you mentioned as well, the different treatments you offer.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah.

Kate Toon:

Because generally, what would everyone type in to find a hairdresser? Hairdresser location. But then you get such a ream of results. And as you know, hairdressers, these days can be very specialists. So those modifiers are so important. So, if I’m looking for a hairdresser that maybe does extensions or we are just talking about the fact that maybe I should get some keratin or whatever, that’s what you’re typing in. You’re actually searching by service. Are you finding that when you’re looking at your reports?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah. Services and problems, as you say, like frizzy hair or more like and that specialist like curly hair hairdresser that’s becoming quite big these days. So it’s not about necessarily good blonde or good Bob haircuts. It’s more like I’ve got curly here who is going to be the right hairdresser for me?

Kate Toon:

Be quite interesting to go on something like Google Trends and see what’s changed over time because you know, in my youth it would’ve been best perm, hairdresser. Do people still do perms? Is that still a thing?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Oh, my husband’s still got one perm client.

Kate Toon:

I think I might just get a perm just for giggles. And then now, I think it would be a lot of extensions. The extensions seem to all over my Instagram at the moment everyone’s getting them and also hair products because you have products as well, right?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah. We have probably over 900 I think-

Kate Toon:

Oh my goodness!

Anthea Digby-Smith:

… products catalogues, huge.

Kate Toon:

So that’s an interesting question. We talked a bit about local and what people are searching for, but with your store, it’s such a huge range of products. Obviously on the course we teach how to optimise your category copy, how to optimise your product copy, that with so many products. How do you decide as a business owner which ones to work on and how many to work on? Because it’s obviously going to take you a long time to really write 900 smashing product descriptions. So how do you decide which ones to work on?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Well, after I had a bit of a cry about the thought of that. Just again, did the report started with our top sellers and the ones that I want to start moving them a needle ones that we might get quite a bit of money from review revenue from, and then I suppose which ones people are looking for. So I know products like Olaplex are really popular. So I also want to get a bit more of a chunk of that market. So it’s kind of got three different elements, the ones that are already winning the ones that are going to make me a lot of money and the ones I want to win for. So-

Kate Toon:

I love that’s exactly the right way to do it. And I love that you started with top sellers, because they’re already selling well then all you might need to do is make a few tweaks and you could like double the sales. If you manage to move yourself up, just one place in the search results, fantastic. But not just that, even if you stay in exactly the same ranking position, but you’ve written a much better title, much better, more inviting method description. And when I click through, it’s so much more engaging, then it’s staying exactly the same position and get more sales. I think this is what people underestimate that SEO brings people to your door. But then it is about that conversion optimization is the copy engaging? Have you got lots of great pictures? Is there maybe a video? Have you turned on reviews? This is another big, do you have your reviews turned on or off?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah, definitely on. And then we send out an email about every three or four weeks after each product’s received to be like, “Let us know what you think”.

Kate Toon:

I don’t because it’s free copy, right? They’re writing and they’re going to use phrases and terms and idioms that you would never have thought. And I often see, product descriptions, ranking, not because of anything in the title, the first 100 words, the image, but because of some words in the review. So, so many people are scared of getting negative reviews. How do you handle your negative reviews?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Well, my thing is with negative reviews is it’s not the product’s fault. It’s just not the right product for your hair. So if someone’s like, “This product’s crappy, it makes my hair feel like custard”, then it’s like going back to them and kind of being like, “Well what is your hair type? Oh, you’ve got really frizzy hair. Well, this isn’t actually the right product for you.” And sometimes just getting them into a little bit more of a discussion to describe their hair type. So with someone who’s got dead straight hair is reading a review from someone that’s really frizzy and curly and they don’t like the product, the dead straight head person might go, “That might be the product for me then because it hasn’t worked for the opposite.” Yes, it could be. So that’s, what’s one great thing about hair products. I never think it’s the product’s fault. It’s trying to get them to acknowledge that it’s not the right one for the hair type and what the hair type product is.

Kate Toon:

And I think that’s the challenge with great product descriptions these days is, yes we’re trying to sell the product, but we want to sell it to people that are going to be happy. And so you have to be super specific with our copy. And when I’m trying to write product descriptions, I always try and think, who it’s for? How does it work? When will I use it? How will I feel after I use it? Why will I use this rather than something else? And I try and address all those who, when, how, where, what? And most product descriptions, just focus on the what. They focus on the features. They don’t even go as far as the benefits and they don’t push it to the advantages, but it’s also really brave on a product description, say, who is this not for?

Kate Toon:

This product does not suit curly hair. This dress does not suit you if you’ve got big boobs. If you’re short, this is not the best dress for you. I think it’s great to do that because then the person goes, “Okay, they’re taking the time to create this content. And they’ve recommended other things that do fit.” So, those not negative, but those opposing lines can be super helpful in product descriptions because essentially you’re trying to create the experience and you’ll know and this is a preconceived belief about hairdressers. Whenever I go to the hairdresser, I’m always terrified of the last five minutes when they come out, they come out with the six bottles of stuff, each of which is like $90 and say, “These are the products I use. Would you like to buy one?” And I’m like, “Oh my God, no!” But in reality we also want the advice of an expert. So it’s a different thing, isn’t it?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah, definitely. And I don’t know, it’s the thing that’s building up trust and also showing that you are knowledgeable. And I think we’ve really tried on our website to let people know that we are hairdressers behind the website because you’ve got competing businesses like a door beauty and hair products online in New Zealand and they’re just mindless warehouses selling the same products. So we’ve really tried to be like, “Hi, we’re here. Ask us a question”. Our review actually also says, ask a question. And we do get lots of questions and it’s again, that adds content to each product page because a person might say, “My hair’s short is it good for it?”, “My hair’s this is it good for it?” So again, they’re getting that chance to fill in the gaps where you may have not put it on. Or as you say, I haven’t got to all products yet as well.

Kate Toon:

Nine hundred.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

We’re still getting through them. So for somebody to again, write a review or even ask a question, it’s sort of helping me before I’ve got-

Kate Toon:

That draws attention to that product as well. And then they just go, “Well, people are really engaged with this product. They’re even asking questions.” Okay. Maybe that one’s, that’s one, so we’ve got our three prongs. We’ve got top sellers things you want more of a market share on. I can’t remember the third one now, but another-

Anthea Digby-Smith:

I say the one that makes quite a bit of money. 

Kate Toon:

Yeah. The high shopper value, that’s it? We always talk about this in Digital Master Chefs because we’ve got a lot of eCommerce members there and most people will say, 20% of the product line makes 80% of the profit. You can’t, everything you choose to stock is not going to fly off the shelves. And sometimes that’s to do with the fact that it’s just not a desired product or sometimes it’s due to the fact that it’s hidden and that having such a huge product range can sometimes be a disservice as well. Yours is right. But I’ve worked with some big e-commerce brands, who have tens of thousands of product lines and they’re actually reducing them down to have a smaller range because otherwise it’s overwhelming.

Kate Toon:

You go into a category there’s 700 things in that category. Well then it doesn’t really feel like a category. It just feels like as you said, a big warehouse and you’re just being flung in. I want there to only be 10 products to choose from because I can mentally compare 10 products, 500. It’s a bit harder for me. So I love that, that’s one of the great features about Shopify, right? That you’ve got categories, but you’ve also got filters. What are some of the key filters that you use? I mean, obviously price is a huge filter for you. What other filters are you using?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

We definitely do like the brands and each brand has sub-brands and then we do, obviously if you’re up to shampoo conditioner, so breaking them down into smaller chunks. And then also the problem solving ones. So the fine hair that care curly hair. And then we also sort of double a bit into scalp, more like problems. So, you’ve got fine here, but your problem might actually be breakage. So trying to break those up a little bit as well, because you don’t know why people are looking, they could be solving a problem or they just do have curly hair and just on a good curly hair product that’s when in their price range.

Kate Toon:

I mean, this is why keyword research is so interesting because I think you’re going to type in, you’re not going to type in shampoo, are you? I think especially someone who’s had hair for a while you’re going to be typing in a thought of all shampoo or shampoo for fine hair, but also have itchy scalp and curls and those long tail keywords are so illuminating for you for the store, but also for content with 900 products, one of the big challenges that eCommerce stores is, I’ve got all these products, I’ve got new content coming onto my site all the time. Do I need to write blog posts as well? For the love of everything, do I have to do blog post? What role do blog posts pay in your content marketing strategy?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Probably they need to play a bigger one, but it’s still my slightly overwhelming section. We’ve started writing a few. I do find that it’s probably my most challenging area to work on. Again, this is where SME SEM rush slightly does again, confuse me because New Zealand’s such a small market. So I’m searching in things and there’s, I’m getting a bit of dead results. So trying to look and see what Australians or Americans are asking, to try and figure out if we can kind of get a little bit more traction with things like that.

Kate Toon:

That’s same with Australia sometimes the results are minimal and so you have to go and find the closest cultural match so maybe America is a good match in some ways, but England might be a great match and culturally for New Zealand and see the questions. But also things like answer the public or even just asking your audience most my blog posts, they don’t come out of QED research. They come out of going to my audience and say, “What would you like to know?” Or picking one of those questions that’s been submitted under a product and writing a whole blog post about it. If I can tell you the next blog post, how frizzy hair swimming, should you shave off? That’s a whole blog. And then, it’s that whole thing of curating content within there, swimming every day here are top 10 products for you to use and why you would use them and how frequently you would use them.

Kate Toon:

I think the thing is that people feel with content and blogs that they need to break new grounds all the time, they need to write a blog post that’s never been written on before, which is actually impossible. And I think people also think that blog posts are all about SEO optimization and of course that’s part of it. You want to be discovered for this phrase, how do I wash my hair after swimming, but equally it’s also to serve your existing audience because maybe I bought conditioner from you before, but I’ve never thought about your swimming products. So you are reselling there’s that loyalty thing as well. But I get you. It’s hard. And I often I do feel that these days blogs are a slow route to SEO success. And often these days, what I do is I take those questions and I’ll answer it in an Instagram post or live, or a story or a reel, and then bring the traffic to my site that way.

Kate Toon:

So there’s lots of different ways to peel an elephant, if not even afraid, we had questions, people that I’ve completely straight for. But I think this has been interesting. So we talked about what surprised you. And that was how simple it was. We’ve talked about some big changes that you’ve made. So focusing on your local SEO and also optimising your products, has learning about SEO, improved your business? I mean, what changes have you seen in your business since and it’s only been a year, but what have you seen?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Yeah, I definitely think it’s improved my business. It’s I don’t know if there’s so much a revenue side of it, but it’s really improved my streamlining of how I actually work within my business when, before you just get a product or just throw an image on it copy somebody else’s text because all our products, I mean, they’re not mine I’m using. So you just copy and paste. And so I feel like there are so many better processes in place now. And I mean, we’ve got a very small staff and it’s only really one receptionist who helps us on our online source. So imparting that knowledge to her. Now I know everything’s the same.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Then I started the course and reflected back over the seven, eight years. And how many staff had worked on my site? Oh my gosh! Like this one’s in this font that one’s in this italic, bold. Like it was just, I’m not shocking, but it was a real eye opener that too many people have worked on my site and there’s not been good processes. So over the last year we’ve streamlined things. So every time a new product’s written, it looks and feels the same. I’m now confident that we’ve done the best that we can do. And then we can just let go of it rather than keep revisiting.

Kate Toon:

I love a good process. I mean, that’s a lot of what we talk about in Digital Mask Chefs as well, we don’t have much time to spend on marketing. I mean, marketing’s all I essentially do, but still I don’t have much time cause I’m trying to make stuff in the background courses and whatever. So what’s the most efficient way for me to get a blog post on my site or to put a podcast out or to write an Instagram post? What tools should I use to schedule? How can I make the process six steps rather than 72?

Kate Toon:

I think that’s such an underestimated part of SEO and of running a bus online business in general. I think that’s a great point to make. So, hopefully now if people are finding you for your brand name, for your name, your local search is kicking off and your product optimization is happening, I think a lot of people would see you in a very enviable position to have a store shopfront and to have this kind of beast that you built yourself, what’s a tip that you would pass on to maybe a newbie store owner that you wish you’d been told when you started your store?

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Just get started on it. I think SEO seemed like there was a little bit of black magic around it. You really had to pay people. They knew it. It was a bit, I don’t know. It’s a secret.

Kate Toon:

It’s like there’s some magic. That’s what I always say. There’s some magic Juju. It doesn’t seem as transparent and as flat I say Instagram, it’s like, there is a secret, whereas there isn’t, there’s a methodology, there’s a process.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

No. And just start do your course early because then you don’t have to go back and re-edit thousands of products and getting those good practises in place more than anything. So-

Kate Toon:

It’s so it’s funny, lots of people come to me and say, should I do the course before I build my site or after? And I’m like both. Because it’s really hard because you know, everybody who comes on has to make some kind of level of change to their sites. It’s not, unless it was literally built by an SEO genius, every site has flaws. And even if it was built by an SEO genius over time, as you’ve just mentioned, things change, people swap in and out of the business. So there’s always going to be crinkles and wrinkles and things that need to be fixed.

Kate Toon:

But I do wish that people would at least understand the basics, have to structure a site thinking just as you’ve talked about there really working at your categories and your filters and how you upload a product and what are the essential items that are going to appear on every product so that they’re consistent and can be compared things like that, which people would take a step because once you’ve added 622 products, it’s such a nightmare.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Also, just to be yourself. We’re so quick to throw my money at an SEO company here, half thousands again and again and again, when the prize of your course was probably not even a month’s worth of beer, but I just felt like it was beyond my skillset or my reach but just backing myself. And-

Kate Toon:

It’s funny, the stories we tell each other things we say to ourselves we can’t do. I always compare it to me. Like I always said, I can’t drive. I’m never going to be able to drive. And so I just spent years getting buses and paying for taxis. And then I just took the time to take a breath and go, I can. And then learned. And now, it’s so silly stories that we tell ourselves and I think there is unfortunately still miss in the SEO industry, that it is a dark art. And of course some of the most brilliant SEO experts we’ve had many of them as guests on this show are operating at a level that’s way beyond anything.

Kate Toon:

My top course teachers spent years of experience working with huge brands where the tiniest of change could make a dramatic difference. Yes, you may not get to that level, but the majority of businesses don’t need to get to that level. You just want to sell more of what you’re selling and have a nice life. So I think that’s great back yourself and get started sooner. Anthea, that was amazing. Thank you so much. Where can we find out more about you? Tell us where your story is, where we can find you on Instagram and socials.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

Okay. So it’s www.co.nz, and Instagram is Cyber Boutique and Facebook Cyber find hair and we don’t have Twitter. So we don’t find us there. Tiktok-

Kate Toon:

We’ll see what happens with Twitter. I’m not sure Elon is that into hair care. But anyway, I’ve included links, Cyber boutique in the show notes, as well as Andrea’s Instagram or Facebook, I am going to be emailing a via Instagram DMing and sliding into the ends. I think that’s what we’re supposed to say and asking what products I should be getting for my hair. And I’m hoping that broad posts about swimming will come out soon product. But Andrea, thank you so much for sharing that reality behind your business today. I think it was really valuable. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Anthea Digby-Smith:

My pleasure, Kate. It’s been great chatting actually.

Kate Toon:

Yeah. So, that’s the end of this big show. If you have questions about SEO or digital marketing, head to my, I Love SEO group on Facebook and if you’re ready to get serious about DIY SEO, sign up to my recipe for SEO success course the next round launches next week. In it I’ve turned all the textbook jargon into easy to understand language with seven course modules served over 12 weeks. It’s practical, easy to understand SEO course that gives you the confidence to manage your own SEO without the need for expensive experts, places are limited. So sign up for the wait list now by heading to the episode notes on the blog or Google the recipe for SEO success. Now at this stage, I love to give a shout out to one of my lovely listeners. And today it is Tidy Painter, “Best SEO podcast ever. Every episode has useful info that I didn’t know before worth a listen, no matter how large a small your business is.” Now a lovely review.

Kate Toon:

Thank you very much. So thanks Andrea Digby Smith and thanks to you for listening. If you like the show, please don’t forget to leave the FiveStars or review or wherever you heard the pod. And you’ll get a shout out. As I said, head to the Recipe for SEO Success.com, where you can learn more about Anthea’s business, check out her store, see what changes she’s made from an SEO perspective. And hopefully coming soon will be the New Kate tune show, my personal podcast about living life as a MIS entrepreneur, there are two series already out, but the new series is hopefully coming soon, but until next time happy SEOing.