I am not an SEO expert by any means, but I have done my share of research, and over the past ten years with several websites, I have learned through trial and error how to tweak my sites in order to show up higher in search engine results. If you can do this one thing across all the pages on your website, you will very likely see your doula website rise in Google results.
SEO Basics – Keyword Magic
How do you search for something in Google? You type a question or a few words related to what you want to know, right? Let's look at the search results for the phrase "doula Chicago".
At the top of the search results, there is a box with a map and some doula businesses listed. You'll also notice that the locations of those doula businesses are noted on the map. These listings are FREE – You can register yours with Google My Business.
Below this box is the"organic" search results, which means that Google has found these websites to be highly relevant to the keyword search phrase of "doula Chicago." How does a site get to page one? It's a combination of factors, such as the age of the site (the longer it's been around, the higher it usually ranks), how often it's updated (one reason why blogging is good), and how popular it is, shown by traffic to the site and inbound links (links to your website found all over the internet). But one of the most important factors is that your website has a lot of words – keywords – that people are searching for. Even more importantly, these keywords need to be found naturally in the text copy (sentences that make sense) and they need to be strategically placed on your website, both where visitors can see them, and within your code that isn't seen by your visitors.
Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
Before we go further, I want you to look at the above Google search results again. The words plugged into the search bar were "doula" and "Chicago." What do you see in common with all the free listings on the map and the organic search results? Do you notice that every one of these listings has the words "doula" and Chicago" in them? And where exactly do you see those words? This is the #1 search result:
In this example, there are three distinct parts of a search engine result – the Title Tag, the Website URL (or Permalink), and the Meta Description. See how the keywords "doula" and "Chicago" appear in all three parts?
If you already have and love your website address, don't worry about not having prime keywords in it. You do, however, have a lot of control over the Title Tags and Meta Descriptions for each of the pages and posts on your website, and you'll learn the easiest way to add them soon. Let's look at a couple more things so you have a better understanding of the Title Tag and Meta Description.
Title Tag – As you might expect, the Title Tag is the actual title of the web page. The Title Tag "Chicago Volunteer Doulas" is the same title you see on the browser tab below. It is one of the most important elements for ranking in search results. In addition, within the title, the earlier your keyword appears, the better for search engine rankings.
Meta Description – The meta description can be one of two things: 1) it's the first sentence or two of the text on the web page itself, or 2) it's a description that is added in the back-end of the website. Using the same example, let's look at the first couple sentences of the Chicago Volunteer Doula site:
If you compare this to the search result's Meta Description above, we can determine that someone wrote one specifically for this page in the back-end of the website. Note the keyword used here:
- labor support
- pregnant people (and their families) in Chicago
- volunteer doula
If someone did a search for "labor support Chicago" or "pregnant Chicago" or "volunteer doula Chicago," this organization would very likely come up in the search results.
Go on, improve your website's SEO
Go and log into your website dashboard and take a look at your titles? Are they currently named "Home," "Contact," "About"? Do you have your website name in it? Your name? What you do? The city or area you're located in?
Think about how you would search for someone who does what you do. What do you type into the search field in Google? Here's an exercise to help you:
First, brainstorm some keyword phrases that you would use if you were looking for your services. To help you, think in terms of questions. Write down three keyword phrases.
Now, do a search for each phrase, look at the top organic search result and answer the following questions:
What is the title tag?
Does the URL contain the keywords?
Does the meta description contain the keywords?
What other relevant keywords are in the meta description
Click on the title tag. Does the meta description match the opening text of the website?
Is the page that you entered the site on the homepage of the website (sometimes it will be an About page, the Services page or even a blog post)?
The point here is not to copy these websites, but doing this exercise can help you see the role that keywords play in getting people to the top of search engine results, and how by tweaking the title tags and meta descriptions of your own website can help your site rank higher.
Search engine optimization is just one of the marketing games that business owners must learn and play in order to be found on the internet. What I've shared is just a tiny bit of what you can do to see big results. I encourage you to do more research to learn how you can optimize your website for the search engines.
Want to talk more about your doula website SEO with other doulas? The Inspired Birth Pros community on Facebook is the place to be to connect with other savvy birth professionals.