I am only two months in to this business, but I wanted to know how to handle SEO, keywords and marketing using the term Administrative Consultant. Is it difficult to rank or be found in searches? —DW
This is a question that is frequently asked. For example, here’s one I got from someone back in 2011 who was wholly misinformed how SEO works:
This is terrific advice (as always!), but here’s one problem: for the purposes of search engine optimization, the term “virtual assistant” is invaluable to attract people to your site. People don’t know to look for an admin consultant, so SEO advice says the VA terminology needs to appear repeatedly in out web copy. I’ve gone through my site (which already had an unfortunate domain name chosen before I found YOU and all your amazing insights) and I’ve taken out every instance of the word “assistant.” Now I feel better, but also utterly unsearchable. What’s a girl to do??
She could not be more wrong. Keyword stuffing has been poor website/SEO practice and obsolete for I don’t know how many years now, well before 2011.
Here’s how to understand this:
Your title isn’t for marketing (or SEO) purposes.
It’s for setting proper expectations, understandings, mindset and perceptions in prospective clients, which is a whole other topic that has nothing to do with SEO.
No one even needs to know your term/title to find you. (Remember, there was always a first someone in every new industry; how do you think they survived and succeeded?)
Because how they find you isn’t due to what you are called, it’s what problem, pain or challenge you can solve for them. Your title has nothing to do that that.
Marketing is about having a target market (which is simply an industry/field/profession that you cater your administrative support to) and then networking and interacting with the folks in your target market to create your own pipelines for those people to get to know and come find you.
People who randomly find you on the Internet are few and far between and rarely are they qualified, ideal candidates.
SEO is the least relevant, and poorest quality way people will find you (at least in terms of how the misinformed person above was advising).
SEO is also a highly specialized, sophisticated area of expertise. It most certainly cannot be reduced to merely “just add your keyword all over your website and you will be found.”
Most laypeople these days do not know how SEO works, and especially not now in the age of the Google Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird algorithm updates.
SEO simply does not not work anymore the way most people think it does. They’re stuck in outdated understandings from 5, 10 years ago.
If getting clients was as simple as slapping an industry term all over your web pages, everyone would be rich and overflowing with clients. (This is the erroneous logic of those who think the only way clients will find them is if they call themselves a virtual assistant.)
But that’s just not how SEO (or marketing, for that matter) works, and you’re not going to get found that way.
Plus, results are personalized these days. When you see these people crowing about how they’re on the first page of search results, what they fail to realize is that’s only because the search engines are smart enough to know they’re interested in their own website.
They might be on the first page of their own search results, but page 10, 20 or 200 for anyone else.
And, if your site is new, your site is going to rank even worse. No over-saturated industry term is going to change that; in fact, your results will be worse with an overused search term.
Forget SEO right now. It’s the least important thing for you to be focusing on.
Paradoxically, the less you worry about keywords, and the more you focus on simply writing like a real person specifically and conversationally to your target market and providing in-depth educational information for them, the better your site will fare organically in the search engines.
This is because search engines these days value high quality content written by people for people and the fact that those characteristics foster more and higher quality inbound links and referrals. They are that smart.
If you are going to worry about keywords and phrases at all, it’s your TARGET MARKET’S industry search terms and phrases you need to be focused on using, not ours.
Here again is where having a target market makes everything in business so much easier.
When you have a target market, you stop wasting time and energy trying to be found by anyone and everyone and focus instead on that just that specific group and where those folks are hanging out in large groups, online and off.
You should be networking amongst them, and if you are, then you should also be directing everyone you meet (through your signature line, through your calls to action, through your free offers, etc.) to your website.
When it comes to SEO for your website, stop focusing so much on our industry terms and focus instead of the industry terms and search phrases of your target market. What topics are they frequently conversing with each other about? What problems and pains are they trying to solve? How can you include or adapt your content on your website to address these subjects?
For example, someone in your target market isn’t going to set up Google Alerts for our industry, but they certainly are for their industry and the related kinds of things they do and are interested in.
Those are the kind of keywords and phrases you want to use in your search engine marketing and optimization.
But SEO is never the lead driver of traffic to your website.
It’s your networking and relationship marketing efforts that create the real and better qualified pipelines. You’ll get far better results placing your focus there.