What goes into Search Engine Optimizing a VO website? Part 2 of 3.
Dec 14 2015
In our last post, we introduced the subject of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for voice talent websites. Now that we’ve explained generally what “organic SEO,” is, why it’s important, why not to obsess over it, and things to watch out for, let’s look at specific concerns.
What are the elements of organic SEO?
Organic SEO rests on three legs:
- The content of your own website. How it’s organized, what it’s about (including the presence of keywords), and some of the content-laden HTML codes within its source code.
- Links to your site from other sites of value. Just having a fair number of legitimate inbound connections is probably of value to you – it suggests that other people think your site is important. But the focus of those other sites is also relevant.
- Social media. For example, you might regularly participate in forum discussions (if the forum is publicly accessible, a search engine most likely catalogs it). Or you might have a blog. Or you might have a professional Facebook page. Or you tweet, etc. Whatever works for you. If it relates to your voice-over services, it reflects on your site. And just as important, it makes you directly visible to prospective clients.
You can pursue these tasks in parallel, or you can do one, then start on the other. We suggest you first focus on your website, making sure it’s every bit as professional-looking and easy to use as it should be. If it’s not yet ready for prime time, attracting people to it via links and social media could be counterproductive.
As you get involved in SEO, you’ll find tons of other guidance on the Internet. (We’ll include some good sources at the end of Part Three.)
But don’t believe everything you read, especially if what you’re reading is more than a couple years old, or undated. Search engines constantly update their algorithms and other evaluation methods, and what was good advice years ago might be fruitless or even a bad practice now. For example, it used to be that a “content” page should have about 450 words on it, and should be salted with keywords to meet a certain ratio. But when word of that got around, sites came to be not only salted, but peppered, with so many gratuitous keywords that many seemed rather moronic. Google doesn’t care so much about those metrics now.
The more important thing now is (and always has been) simply to write honestly and meaningfully on whatever the page is about, so that it meets the needs of people who find it. Of course, include keywords and phrases, but if your writing is focused and reasonably robust, a normal number of keywords are likely to fall naturally into place as you write.
Rather than rehash advice that you can find elsewhere online, here are some pages from Edge Studio coaches. As of this writing (December 2015), some pages on the list are not fully up-to-date. In the rest of this article, we’ll mention things that have changed in the past few years, that you should be aware of. And see the end of Part Three for many more references.
How to Increase your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as a VO Talent
Voice artist Anne Ganguzza is an Edge Studio coach specializing in the Business & Money and in Marketing aspects of voice-over. Her extensive 4-part article starts from a basic understanding, speaking even to people who don’t have a website yet, yet her series includes great detail, and links to various SEO authorities and tools. It was published in 2011, and some aspects of SEO have changed significantly since then, so be sure to review the rest of our article here.
How’s Your VO SEO? (that rhymes!)
Voice artist Tom Dheere is another Edge Studio coach who specializes in Business & Money and in Marketing. This link is to a quick post where Tom notes the added visibility that blogging can give you, its SEO value, and the importance of treating your business like a business. Although you shouldn’t get obsessive about SEO, that’s not license to slough off. Spend the time required to enhance your overall Internet presence, and your other marketing, in all the ways that entails.
Not Your Grandfather’s SEO
Voice artist Dave Courvoisier is an Edge Studio coach specializing in Social Media. In previous blog posts at his site, he has gone into more detail than he does here. But as this post says, beware that some of the old finer points have changed, and will continue to change, so focus on the basics.
And catch up on the following. …
Site Content and organic SEO
Be professional, and trusted. Google has disclosed that, above all, it values sites that display expertise, authority and trustworthiness (“EAT”). Plan and write your content with that in mind.
Be mobile friendly. As of 2015, Google not only favors sites that are mobile-friendly, it penalizes sites that are not!
What does “mobile friendly” mean? In Part One, we mentioned the possibility of serving mobile users your content in a different, mobile-friendly format. That used to be a common practice among sophisticated site developers. Not so much anymore. For one thing, unless you’re using a Content Management System that builds pages for you automatically, it requires you to maintain two versions of your site – twice as much ongoing work. For another thing, Google frowns on this sort of solution, preferring to see one site that works for all sorts of users. This accounts for the large number of sites these days that, to desktop users, have huge type and images, and very simple, fluid layouts. Style marches on.
Inbound links and other inter-site relationships
For example, if your site is about medical narration and a hospital’s site mentions you (with a link), their reputation rubs off on yours. If a site is about voice-over, their link to you confirms to the search engine that yours is somehow involved with that subject. On the other hand, if you have dozens or hundreds of links solely from content-less “link farms” and other sites that nobody visits, that tells the search engine that you might be more concerned with playing SEO games than with providing worthwhile user content, and you’ll be demoted.
In a world of lookalike websites (we mean that in terms of content, not necessarily graphic design), how do you differentiate yourself? Part of that answer is in your basic marketing plan – rather than being a jack-of-all-trades, your marketing coach (you have consulted a qualified VO marketing coach, right?) has probably advised you to focus on the one or several genres and/or niches that you’re particularly good at. By reflecting that focus in your website, that’s one way your site will stand out. Social Media is another. By posting thoughtful comments, advice, or even queries on social media, you’ll increase your visibility. And search engines will notice when your name or a link to your site appears in a professional context. Get yourself at least a free presence on LinkedIn, Facebook (a separate page from your personal Facebook presence), and whatever major social media you feel comfortable with.
You might even start a blog: It’s separate topic in itself, but deserving of mention here, because if your blog (or a blog you are mentioned in) gets a hit by a prospective client, that’s another way of landing that client. And blog posts about Voice Over, or about your subject specialty, etc., help mark you as an authority.
If you are not yet a blogger, four tips:
1. Don’t waste your time, or the readers’. Before you begin, think about what the nature of your blog will be, and plan it out well ahead. It would probably be good to write some trial posts, unpublished, and see how things go. If going well and not too much of a chore, then go live.
2. Be constructive. It’s easy to complain, about any number of things. But unless you’re an exceptionally insightful or lovable curmudgeon, it’s probably not what people are looking for. It could also cost you some prospective clients or friends. If you must complain and your views are valid, also be diplomatic, and whenever possible, include a solution.
3. Be aware of professional issues in the voice-over industry, and participate in the discussion. But be wary of what could look like obsessive involvement. Prospective clients might figure you’re just as resistant to direction.
4. Don’t make it all about yourself. At least, not obviously. Talk about others, about trends, about the business, about things that you’ve observed. Then, when you also talk about things that have happened directly to you (for better or worse), they will be read in a broader context, making you seem not like an egotist, but a person of the world. The world of Voice Over, at least.
Confirming this, a recent article in Website Magazine advises that a blog at a blog-hosting site (such as WordPress) should be both separate from your main site, and of actual value to your audience:
“You can still derive value from building out Web 2.0 sites. They can be a good source of traffic, can help you control your online brand reputation, and they can still be part of a good link building strategy. In order for them to have value though, you need to spend the time to create blogs that actually offer value to the reader. Every site should be set up as a standalone blog that people would want to read. Quality content, regular updates and ongoing link building to these blogs are a must if you go this route in 2016. … If you don’t have the time or resources to manage Web 2.0s properly, focus on outreach link building instead.”
Website Magazine’s advice that your blog be “standalone” is mainly a matter of practicality (it might take some special doing to integrate externally hosted pages seamlessly into your own website), and, we think, a matter of SEO link-building. But, as we’ve noted, links from a garbage or spammy site are less than helpful, regardless of who built it. And if you prefer to integrate your blog under your main domain name instead (we can imagine various reasons), that might make sense, too.
If you’ve done video voice-over work, consider putting it on YouTube, after getting the client’s permission (that is, the permission of the copyright owner). Be sure to include your primary keywords (the most relevant few of them) in each video’s title and description.
In Part Three, we’ll give you a checklist of many tasks you can do yourself. Over time.
Next week: A checklist for DIY SEO’ing your voice-over website.