SEO… Three little letters. They sound so harmless, but toss them into a chat about your website and suddenly your doula brain is thrown into a frenzy of panic and confusion.
Urgh! What on earth is search engine optimisation anyway?
Is it important? Do I need it? Do other doulas use it?
How can I get started? Can I do it myself or is it going to cost me a small fortune!
Don’t worry lovely doula. SEO sounds complicated, but in fact, it’s not really. And the good news is that with just a few small tweaks and regular updates to your website, you can totally optimise your website yourself in just a few hours. Hurray!
What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the technical, geeky term for the variety of little things you can do to help your website feature in search results. You see, billions of searches are made for services like yours on search engine sites like Google, Yahoo or Bing every day.
And if your website is featured in the top results it can make a real difference to the number of people visiting your website. Even (in fact, especially) if your local market is very small.
Did you know that…
- One third of all searches that people make online are for local products and services; and
- Almost half of people who make a local search on their phone will visit the website immediately after.
Which means that your potential customers could be online searching for someone like you right now!
So, how do you go about getting your doula website to feature well in search results? Here’s a quick guide to getting started.
Step 1: Find out how your website ranks right now
If you’re using the Chrome browser, start by logging out of Google, then open a new incognito window by clicking on the icon with three little vertical dots in the right-hand corner of your browser. The result ‘New Incognito Window’ should be the third one down.
If you’re using the Microsoft Edge browser, you’ll need to log out of Google and then click on the icon with the three horizontal dots in the top right hand corner. Next, click on ‘New InPrivate Window’.
Next spend 5-10 minutes using a variety of search terms that a customer might use to find your website and see where you come in the results. For example, if you’re a doula based in Bristol here’s a few examples of what you could use:
- Doula in Bristol
- Doula services in Bristol
- Doula UK doula in Bristol
- Pregnancy support in Bristol
- Birth doulas in Bristol
- Postnatal doula in Bristol
If you’re based in a rural area, try using your village, local town and nearest city in your research. If you feature on page one of results for most search terms then give yourself a pat on the back! If not, then you’ve got a bit of work to do.
Step 2: Pour yourself a cuppa and start SEO-ing your website
So here’s the super secret to simple SEO… search engines are actually looking at just a few vital things on your website and they’re all based around the same thing… Is your site easy for your customers to use?
- Does your website load quickly or is it slow and clunky?
- Can your potential customers find what they want quickly and easily or is your website confusing?
- Is your website interesting and useful, does the content interest potential customers?
- Does it look good on all devices? Including desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones?
Asking a friend or family member to take a look at these things and feedback to you is a great way to get started. There are also a few free online tools you can use too.
Use: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly to find out if your website looks great on mobile devices.
Step 3: Tweak the words on your website to get more Google love
In order to display your website to the right people, Search Engines need to understand three very important things
- Who you are
- What you do
- Where you are
If you want search engines to show you in relevant local results, you need to make these things crystal clear on your website. Avoid fancy schmancy terms and stick to simple, plain English language that’s easy to understand. And always have in mind: What would someone looking for this service type into Google to find it? So, for most of us you’ll want to have the phrase “doula in [insert your location here]” as well as any other services that you offer such as baby massage or hypnobirthing. The earlier these ‘key words’ or ‘key phrases’ are written in your text, the more important Google will thing they are so it’s great to start your website with, “I’m a doula in [your location] and I also offer hypnobirthing teaching”.
Step 4: Keep your website fresh and updated
Search engines like Google will come back to your doula website and check it out quite regularly. If it’s changed, Google will rank you higher than if it’s the same as it assumed that amendments mean that the site will be more relevant and up to date. Ideally go back and tweak it a bit once a month, and add content such as blogs whenever you can.
Step 5: Build backlinks to your website
A back-what now? A backlink is a link from another website (like this one) to yours. They are important because out of all the things search engines look at to rank your website backlinks are one of the most highly regarded.
You see when another website links to your site, it’s like a little vote for you. The more backlinks you have, the more search engines like you!
But… beware! Your links must always be relevant or natural. So don’t go running off to get your best pals veggie box business website to link to yours! Try to swap backlinks with other people in the same industry as you who appeal to the same audience. People like…
- Hypnobirthing Practitioners
- Pregnancy and Baby Yoga Teachers
- Independent Midwives
- Lactation Consultants
- Birth and baby photographers
One really important link is from your Nurturing Birth Directory listing at nurturingbirthdirectory.com. If you have trained with Nurturing Birth you get a free entry in the Directory so if you don’t have this already, let us know and we’ll get it sorted for you. If you do have an entry, keep it updated and change it every few weeks to keep it high in the search engines.
You can also regularly post your website on your social media to encourage people to visit it, and every time you update it make sure you link to it again.
And that’s it! Once you’ve followed these five simple steps you should start to see your search engine ranking improving. Give it a try and let us know the results you get.