Recently I was asked, “is SEO worth it anymore?” by a newsletter subscriber. I’m sure this has crossed the mind of other coaches selling online services too (although I doubt it keeps you up at night!), so it’s a perfect opportunity to address the topic.
This particular solopreneur was “told” (I’m unsure of the source, perhaps a business coach) that SEO is not worth it. The perception was that there is too much noise out there so SEO is no longer relevant. Her hesitation? “I don’t know if SEO would help” when it comes to promoting her online service business. Fair enough.
Obviously, I’m biased on this issue since this is the work I focus on these days. As an introverted and sensitive person who can get easily overstimulated, I personally think there’s too much noise EVERYWHERE. So it’s a matter of working with your own personal preferences and what feels energetically best for you in terms of which noise you choose to deal with.
Because, as a business owner, you need to show up somewhere (not everywhere) to reach new potential clients.
Let’s take a step back and talk more about what SEO is, in order for you to decide for yourself, “is SEO worth it anymore?“
What is SEO? (in plain language)
SEO, short for search engine optimization, is ultimately about taking intentional steps to help your content show up in search results so more people discover your business when they are searching for answers/resources/support online.
Importantly, it’s about increasing traffic (viewers) to your website, reaching a COLD audience who was not aware of you or your business before.
All businesses need to reach new cold audiences. SEO is one way to do that.
What are the costs?
When we consider if something is worth it, usually we think of the cost and whether we believe that a return on our investment is possible. SEO can be as simple or as complicated as you choose to invest your time, energy, and dollars. And you can definitely learn to do it yourself if you have the time and inclination.
For a small online service business providing 1:1 services, I personally believe that simple and low-cost is good enough. It’s not necessary that you pay monthly for SEO/keyword research tools (the ones I recommend are good enough for what you need – and free). And there are plenty of free resources available if you want to learn that way.
When you’re working primarily 1:1 with clients, you don’t need thousands of new people to find your website every day in order to make a living.
You do need the ideal-fit people to find you. And you need to get good at converting those new people into leads (and ultimately, clients). SEO is a part of that, but not entirely.
The good news is that, once you do the work, you can continue to be discovered years after, with minimal effort.
Why use SEO? (as an introvert/HSP/empath solopreneur)
Perhaps you can relate to the frustration I share with my clients of “too much hustle on social media without much ROI”. Social media feels so overwhelming to me. That’s why I’m drawn to using SEO. It helps to become more discoverable online so I don’t have to feel as pressured to ‘chase’ people every day.
After all, I’m writing blog posts anyway. I might as well do it in a way that helps me attract new clients for free (the goal is organic reach versus paying for ads) without having to be online all the time.
In reality, I really have a hard time staying consistent on social media and am tired of trying to push myself to do it. So SEO feels like a better alternative for me. One that I can actually keep up with (no, you don’t have to publish new blog posts multiple times a day/week as an online service provider). I still use social media, but when I want to vs when the algorithm requires.
When it comes to return on investment, one of the most important factors for introverted and sensitive solopreneurs is ENERGY. For me, SEO can be part of an energy-friendly client attraction process.
It’s not enough in itself (you can’t just create a website and write blog posts and call it a day). But it can easily be combined with the other parts of your marketing and sales process to create a powerful combination that works for you and your business.
How can SEO help your coaching business?
There are different types of SEO, each having its own purpose. You do not have to become an expert or ‘do it all’ to see results. These include:
- technical (this is the technical set-up working in the background of your website, impacting structure, speed, mobile responsiveness, etc.)
- local (this is important for in-person businesses with a physical address where clients go)
- off-site (this is about link-building, the work done to promote your website/blog, earn backlinks, etc. to help improve your domain authority and rankings…things like guest posting, appearing on podcasts, sharing your posts on social media channels, etc. where someone else’s site includes a link back to your website)
- on-site (this is the optimization that takes place on each page and post to help it show up in search results for organic traffic)
My work focuses on on-site SEO. Why? Because each new post is an opportunity for the Google bots to make a match between what a person is searching for and the answers you provide. The bots seek to provide the best results to match the intention of a search. On-site SEO is about doing what we can to help the bot make that match to OUR content.
Without SEO, it’s still possible for your content to show up in search results. This is especially true if you are highly specialized and know your audience well.
It’s just less likely in a sea of global online competition where everyone is trying to break through the noise.
What to keep in mind when it comes to SEO
When we invest the time in SEO, we cannot control the outcome (this is important to mention and keep in mind when an SEO person is pitching you). Just like on social media, search engine algorithms change, and there is no one magic formula that works across the board. Results aren’t guaranteed. However, we can understand the steps to take and do our best to implement them, be open to learning, experimenting, monitoring, and tweaking.
It is also important to acknowledge that SEO does NOT provide a quick fix to finding clients. Remember that this is primarily about reaching a cold audience. For faster conversion, selling to people you know is always more efficient than people you don’t.
With a brand new website, for example, it can take 6 months to see a significant difference in traffic (probably more like a year if you’re not clear on what your niche is searching for, posting a lot, and investing a lot of time in link building through off-site SEO).
When you start adding SEO to an existing website with plenty of content that has probably already been shared, and you’ve been featured in front of other people’s audiences, it’s more likely that you’ll see the results of SEO faster. In other words, there’s no pressure to start using SEO when you first create your website. In fact, to me, getting super clear about your niche, message, and offers is a priority at that stage.
The good news is that, once you get SEO working, it grows from there. Google does the work of reaching your cold audience for you, even during the hours you’re not working.
Just like a savings account, bit by bit, it all adds up. With SEO, you’ll bring in a new cold audience while you nurture and convert your existing warm leads. When we figure out how to optimize each piece, it’s part of a self-sustaining cycle.
It all requires time, practice, and patience. Sorry, no magic wand here!
How to easily start trying SEO (if you decide to)
I have written several ‘how-to’ type posts to get you started (you’ll see them on the sidebar for easy access).
I think it’s always ideal to make note of your starting point so you can track your progress over time. This post shows you a simple method for seeing how your site is currently ranking. Further steps follow from there.
Of course, if you’re not the DIY type, I offer personalized mentoring over one month in my Blog SEO package.
It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing situation
It’s estimated that, in 2021, Google is processing “approximately 63,000 search queries every second“. So, is SEO worth it anymore? It may be for you. It may not be for you. It depends on how you want to invest your energy.
Personally, I’m already writing blog posts. It’s worth it to me to invest my energy into SEO (and I enjoy the challenge/research/strategy parts) with the intention of showing up on the receiving end of some of those searches. It’s that versus me being the one who is actively spending countless hours searching on social media. Even as I write, I can FEEL the difference of that energy in my body.
Still, I do post quite sporadically on my FB page and show up occasionally in other people’s groups when I feel like it.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, like money, I don’t recommend that you put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to marketing.
It’s about finding YOUR OWN right mix to do the marketing required to grow your business. Do it in a way that is aligned with your values, natural strengths, and personality preferences. And do it in a way that is sustainable for your energy so you can stick with it long enough to see if it actually works before you try something else.
We all have to show up to share our message. AND the good news is that we also get to choose how!
Do you want to hear more of my take on SEO for sensitive solopreneurs?
I send a monthly newsletter which you can sign up for here.
Answer some questions to help me understand your current situation. I’ll reply with a personal suggestion for your next step.
Let’s make SEO feel more doable!