017: Blogging for Business with Niki Robinson

In episode 17 of Women in WP, we talk to Niki Robinson about the business of blogging, copywriting, and content strategy for website owners.


About Niki:

Niki Robinson is a wild word wrangler, urban explorer, and overall nerd living and working in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has written and edited thousands of blog posts, articles, whitepapers, eBooks (and more) on a wide variety of topics, published all over the web and in print. As President of the growing team of talented content creators at Posts By Ghost, her passions have shifted toward content strategy, SEO/data analysis, and practical applications for artificial intelligence. She also serves as the Milwaukee StorySLAM Producer for international live storytelling organization, The Moth.

Find Niki: Posts By Ghost | Facebook | Instagram


017: Blogging for Business with Niki Robinson

 
 
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Show Notes

Tools, technical stuff, resources, and more mentioned in today’s podcast:

Transcript

Amy M:                                     00:01                       Welcome to women in WP, a bimonthly podcast about women who blog design develop and more in the WordPress community. Welcome to episode 17 of women in WP. I’m Amy Mason.

Angela B:                                 00:17                       I’m Angela Bowman.

Amy M:                                     00:18                       And our guest today is Nicki Robinson who is the president of post by ghost, a business that writes searchable, shareable blog posts, articles, website content and more to help companies gain more business. Welcome Nikki.

Niki R:                                        00:30                       Hi.

Amy M:                                     00:31                       So I’m going to start off our conversation today if you would by telling us what your path to WordPress was.

Niki R:                                        00:39                       So yeah. I want to say it was about 2007 or 2008 when I formed my umbrella company, which is Robinson Writers LLC. At that time I needed a website to promote my business. I was mostly doing freelance writing at the time and I was like, Oh, I need a website and I don’t know how to build a website and I don’t know what to do. And I stumbled upon WordPress and I was like, wow, this is so cool. It’s so customizable. At the time it was not as easy to use. But at the same time, it was a framework I could understand and work with them, but also, like I said, just I knew I could make it my own and I’m not a designer. I work with words. And so it was really important for me to be able to just have something where I could set it up, monitor it, manage it, and then learn about it and go from there.

Niki R:                                        01:33                       And actually that led me to building sites. So being somewhat of a WordPress developer when I started because at the time I dunno, I had kind of a lot of small businesses or people just getting like entrepreneurs kind of getting off the ground saying, “Hey, I need a website and I don’t know what to do.” And I said, well, “I just built a website and WordPress so I can make you a website.” And I started getting really into blogging and that was, you know, WordPress is a blogging platform. I had been blogging on different platforms myself, more, you know, for fun and, and what have you. And blogging kind of wasn’t what it is now of course. And so yeah, so I started building these little, you know pretty simple sites where you can kind of plug and play, put their logo in and, and what have you for some smaller clients.

Niki R:                                        02:26                       And I learned so much doing that, especially I’m so much about how to like blow up people’s websites by making a mistake and that kind of thing. But but yeah, the thing is is I was just so excited to see WordPress grow with me. I picked, you know, I picked a winner and I was just, it was just so cool to see how it’s changed and see how it has been updated and see everything you can do and watch the plugin library grow and watch, you know, so many more people get into WordPress and everything. And so yeah, so I’m just like, I’m really grateful that I kind of happened to, you know, find WordPress and the like, wow, this is the coolest thing. And then, you know, it really stuck around. People love the open source aspect of it and it’s just been, it’s grown from there.

Niki R:                                        03:15                       And I’d just, I dunno, now I don’t really build sites, although I maintain our site for the business for the most part. Again, not the graphics element, just like the structurally, that kind of thing. But being able to get into the back end of WordPress over time you know, now we do site audits for SEO and so when I go and dig into, you know, it’s always a prerequisite that I have access to the company is, or you know, the bloggers, WordPress, so that I can take a look at the back end and kind of see how things are structured. Having the knowledge and history that I’ve had has just really allowed me to give people a more, like a bigger picture view of what they need to do to kind of get their site, you know into better shape. So I guess that’s sort of long story, long ish.

Amy M:                                     04:13                       So when you got started, were you just doing writing or was it, did you start immediately with SEO writing?

Niki R:                                        04:20                       I’m just started with writing. I did not know a lot about SEO. I started writing probably in, gosh, I don’t know. I think I wrote for like my university newspaper and like when there was a newspaper, so that was like 2000 or something like that. So I knew, you know, how to craft good content and how to write well. Yeah, SEO kind of came with it. Blogging kind of exploded for both businesses and you know, bloggers making a living you know, running a blog kind of exploded. But that, that came much later. So once I kind of got in, once we started getting more writing clients, I guess the thing is, is SEO sort of naturally came about from it. And I have a I really liked data and working with numbers and spreadsheets and to set to an insane degree sometimes.

Niki R:                                        05:14                       And so the thing is is I wanted to work in that in the technical aspects a little bit more and I wanted to, and Google just totally fascinates me. And so the SEO did come later, but I’m completely obsessed with it. And learning how to integrate good writing and good SEO, which now come much more hand in hand than they did. Now they’re very, very hand in hand. But yeah, it’s there was a process over time, but, but I’ve been doing SEO now for, Oh my gosh, I don’t even know. Maybe, maybe five years, maybe more awhile.

Amy M:                                     05:52                       I love data. Data’s my favorite. I say that all the time.

Niki R:                                        05:56                       That’s awesome. I always, when I come into a do an SEO audit, I’m always, I always say, how do you feel about spreadsheets? And some people, like, there’s no happy medium. Everyone’s like, Oh, I totally love spreadsheets. Or like, Oh my God, they scare me actually like really bad. So then I color code them though. I think that helps.

Amy M:                                     06:15                       I literally have 10 spreadsheets open on my computer right this minute.

Niki R:                                        06:19                       Awesome.

Amy M:                                     06:20                       It’s pretty standard for my life’s really.

Angela B:                                 06:22                       Funny! What do you find when you do your site audits, what’s the most common technical issues that you see on sites?

Niki R:                                        06:32                       Ooh, that’s a tough one. I will say that being that WordPress has such endless configurations, I do find new things almost every time, which is amazing. But I will say that technically speaking okay. There’s one audit I’m actually doing later today and she’s her site’s been around since 2006 on WordPress. So, you know, it’s kind of been cobbled together. There’s plugins on plugins and things that have been layered on top of each other. And so kind of getting in there and trying to clear the clutter and figure out what’s going on. What I find is you know, it’s not always like the number of plugins that the problem, but what ends up happening is, I mean, you guys know, like a plugin will tell you if it’s out of, you know, if it, if it needs to be updated, but it will not tell you if it’s like out of date.

Niki R:                                        07:23                       So basically they’ll have all these plugins that never kind of, you’re already warnings at them. And I’m like, Ooh, this hasn’t been updated in like four years and I’m pretty sure it’s breaking something. So so yeah, so oftentimes, and sometimes I’ll, I’ll pull in a developer, a more of a developer partner to run like a more full kind of plugin audit. You know, make sure that those plugins aren’t eating up resources that are slowing down the site and doing or just doing weird stuff off or like, sometimes they’ll have performance plugins where the, the settings are like competing with each other and, or the, I don’t know. And so so that’s, that’s pretty pretty much a lot of what I’m looking at is digging through, you know, 37 plugins that are doing what are these doing or, and a lot of them like, Oh, I’m familiar with this. And then it’s like, what is this? I’ve never even seen this one before. So it’s fun like that. But yeah, I would say that that is something that’s pretty common. I’m sure there’s other things, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

Angela B:                                 08:25                       Yeah. I do site audits and that’s what happens for me too. It’s like, “Oh, you have three plugins that do the same thing.” They really need one of these and yeah. Yeah. No, yeah, I totally relate to that. Especially with those older sites, that’s really challenging.

Niki R:                                        08:41                       Yeah. I mean, sometimes we’ll have bloggers where we kind of fell into this interesting niche where we go strive for influencers, which is just, I, it’s so amazing and bizarre that we fell into this and I love it. I absolutely love it. But, but we work with sometimes what happens is, well, actually very often what happens is we’ll, we’ll be doing an audit for a blogger and they’ll say, okay, I started this in, you know, 2006 or 2010. And I had no idea what I was doing. And I was just like, writing updates about my family and whatever. And so when we come in you know, now they have all this really great content that people love. Like, you know, it’s recipes or it’s DIY projects or you know, just there’s a plethora of different niches that these these influencers fall into.

Niki R:                                        09:26                       And you know, we come in and we go, okay, people really love this, but you have this post about like, I don’t know your kid’s second birthday, but you wrote it like a long time ago, which, not that it’s not cute, but I just feel like it’s not jiving with what you’re doing right now. And so, yeah. So so yeah, you’ll have kind of this, this long history of like, okay, now we need to kind of clean this up. And you know, maybe less, no index, some of this stuff at least so that we can get it off Google’s radar because it’s not really adding to the quality of your content that you have now.

Amy M:                                     09:59                       Well, one of the things I wanted to ask you about, I know you talked about blogging a lot, being a blogger, the explosion of blogging. And I can say for a fact that when I started blogging back in 2014 when I started blogging regularly, it made a huge impact on my business and my traffic and my ranking. And I think the way that people consume blogs in 2019 is much different than how they consumed in 2013 and 14. What would you tell people about blogging for business? The benefits and even, you know, understanding that people aren’t just going to go and read their blog every day now.

Niki R:                                        10:36                       Right. Well, so that’s actually why we focus on search a lot of the time because that is the way to get people in the door. And yes, you need people, you want to grow your email list and you want to grow, you know, get those people hooked and looking at all that content. But the reality is most people are gonna look at one thing and leave. So you need to figure out how to get them engaged and or at least get them to sign up for something. So the calls to action are such a huge thing that I think people, I didn’t really feel, I mean the huge thing anyway, and it’s always been a huge thing in design and what have you. But integrating calls to a good call to action within your blog content is really important so that they don’t just, okay, I got my five tips on my mortgage or whatever and now I’m leaving instead of engaging with this bank that, you know, maybe could help me figure out our business mortgage situation out or whatever.

Niki R:                                        11:24                       So I guess the thing is, is what’s really interesting is that a lot of people say that you know, people don’t have an attention span anymore. We need all this bite-size content. And the reality of that is that a lot of that bite-size content isn’t necessarily helping anybody. I’m in search anymore. So the things that tend to rank more on search are more like 2000 to 3000 words, not just words to have words though. That’s where another misconception is. We need really valuable words that actually, you know, a guide to something we, we want, you know, people, people don’t want to have to go to six different websites. They might want to shop around or get some different perspectives, but they don’t want to go to six different websites for just a set of information. They want to know how to do something and they want to problem solve.

Niki R:                                        12:10                       If you think about like any time you Google something, it’s because you have a problem. Whether you need to know like what something is or how to do something or you need someone for something. It’s usually like, I have a problem, like, or even like what time is this movie? That’s still a problem. I don’t know what time the movie is at. So the thing is, is that we you know what we want to do is create really in depth content that keeps people, that gives people the answers, the full answer that they need and keeps them engaged. And the, Oh shoot, I was going to say something on that and I forgot. Oh, but yeah, the it’s just, it’s not the same in the sense that yeah, I think a lot of people like just shout out a lack of content to have content and that’s just not gonna do anything for.

Niki R:                                        13:00                       And there’s still that misconception like we need to blog, but we only would need, we only want to have like 300 word posts cause nobody has an attention span. And I always say, okay, you know what, put those 300 words in your email list and drive traffic from there to your longer, more in depth article. So but I will say in general that if you do put the effort into creating really great blog content yes, you’re going to get your cert, you know, your search engine engine ranks, they’re going to improve, your traffic’s going to improve. It can take a long time. Google themselves has this, frankly, it’s a really terrible video. It’s like 12 or 15 minutes long, but you came in there and it says how to like hire an SEO meaning an SEO like either a company or expert.

Niki R:                                        13:41                       And it says, you know, any good SEO initiatives gonna take you like six to 12 months to, to really see a good return. But but yeah, it can, it can certainly help you. It’s just about, you know, it’s, it’s about putting valuable content out there and instead of just snippets of stuff just to have stuff and, Oh, and I did want to say to that some, I like a lot of businesses shy away from the word blog cause it’s like, why don’t I have a blog? And I think the point there is that, you know, just having ongoing updated content, going back and updating old things and adding new pages and posts, whether you call it a blog or you call it an article or you call, call it your knowledge bank or whatever you want to call it, having that wealth of content is really going to help drive traffic to, to your website. That’s, that was kind of a sales pitch in there I think. Well,

Amy M:                                     14:32                       So I started blogging. I mean, we’d always had a blog on our website. But I went to her camp in 2013 and December. And one of the sessions we went on was blogging for business. And so, and I have a business with my sister and I said to her, I said, let’s do an experiment. We’re just going to blog every day. We’re going to alternate days. She took evens, took odds and we just started blogging and you know, at the conference, and this was, you know, 2013 so the rules were a little different. They, the, the stats they gave us were, you know, the optimum number of blog posts a week was four. You want to shoot for 300 to 500 words. And that was kind of the standard at the time. And so that’s what we did and we did every day for a month. And then it went so well. We ended up doing every day for six months and the traffic to our site and our inquiries and our leads just skyrocketed. But now the 300 500 words is kind of just like whatever, Google doesn’t care. So when you’re writing blog posts for your clients, what are your goals in terms of word count? And content.

Niki R:                                        15:35                       So usually we don’t recommend anything under about 1200 words. Because if you’re going to talk on anything and give people that fully formed answer, that’s usually kind of what it takes to cover that. That’s not to say that that type of content that you just described isn’t useful. That really depends on your niche and your market though too. But it’s like there’s so many markets that are still really underdeveloped where, you know, there’s less competition because a lot of what’s out there is like that blogging everyday thing and what have you. So now usually we say so we, we say a minimum of 1200, usually on average 1800 to 2100. And you know, making sure that you have like really nice in there that really break up the content and also just anything that you can get to make the content flow better.

Niki R:                                        16:28                       So, you know pictures, people like pictures and then, but you know, PR properly optimized. So, you know, you’ll have your, all your all tags on your, on your pictures and all that. But then, you know, you’re H choose, but then, you know, yeah, use lists, use bullets, you know, break up that flow of that content. So it’s not just like a big block, you know, nobody’s gonna really get through that. So that’s the thing is that we still have to keep in mind that we need to make it interesting to the reader because, okay, Google what Google wants and what the reader wants are becoming more and more close together. Like, and that’s really good. Like that’s what we want. I think Google, I think people have a misconception that Google is super, super smart and it’s really not, but it’s getting smarter.

Niki R:                                        17:13                       And so what we want is to create this really great content because we, you know, we’re giving it what people want and Google learns from people, hello, we all know what they say about average intelligence. So there’s, there’s that to work with, but, but yeah, so so that’s kind of the general guidelines I suppose, in terms of like, Oh, and then frequency. Usually if you can create you know, content that that’s that high quality. Usually we say once or twice a week at minimum. But here’s the thing, like I always say, you know, if gonna post, if you have a goal of like, okay three, four times a week, but you’re really just kind of like crapping it out and it’s just not, you know, it’s not good then you know, what then do you once a week and make something good just once a week.

Niki R:                                        18:02                       Make it longer, make it more in depth, interconnected with your other content. Try to really get that like cornerstone content nailed down, you know, do that instead of, you know, three or four snippets, it’s just doesn’t have the same effect that it used to. And to be fair, sometimes you will see like if you shoot out a bunch of little blog posts, you might see an increase over the short term, but longterm it’s just not gonna. It’s not going to continue to play out. Like it’s just your, you might shoot out the Gates with like a nice, you know, increase in traffic, but over time it’s just not gonna do you that much. Good. So at this point with how things have evolved. So that’s the thing is like it putting more effort into things that are really more robust is kind of where people need to be right now. And then you can go back and improve stuff too that maybe wasn’t previously robust. That’s always an option as well.

Amy M:                                     18:50                       Yeah. When we started we were really just, you know, churn and stuff out just to have it and it way we covered a broad range of topics, but at the time it was working, not a lot of people were putting out that much content, you know? And even though it was shorter, some of it was okay. And so that’s one of the things I do now instead of just producing new content, I also go back through my posts, what can be removed, what can be updated, what can be enhanced to try and get rid of the thinner content and have, you know, better quality blog posts. And I definitely am not blogging board to seven days a week anymore.

Niki R:                                        19:27                       That’s super ambitious though. I’m like amazed that you were able to keep that up for so long. But I really liked that you brought up the content cleanup because we actually do that as part of our audit. We do, we identify low performing content. We basically cross reference, like we use a few different tools like SEM, rush and screaming frog and some other things. And then search console and analytics and everything else. We basically just where my spreadsheets come into play. But basically what we try to do here is like, give you all the data that you need to determine like, does this post have potential or is it just like, no, let’s just, let’s just get rid of it. And that’s the thing is that we’ve seen a lot of improvement where, you know, people go back and really put some effort into like, okay, you know what, we’ve identified 20 posts that have like, you know, you’re floating on the page too with your best rank. This is good content, you know, like, what can you do to get this, you know, knock it up a notch. And so you know, we’ve seen bloggers and businesses have really good success going back and updating stuff. So that’s, you know, that’s a really great strategy at this point, especially seeing as how much stuff has changed. And yeah, like there’s tons. I mean the one, I’m like I said the one I’m doing this afternoon, I think she’s got, I don’t know, almost 3000 blog posts. So like a lot. Yeah.

Angela B:                                 20:44                       And it’s, it’s great that you’re working with bloggers. That’s what they do. They write and so you can just tell them how to write better, how to write more strategically, how to improve. Do you ever work with just your business owners who have more like the brochure, websites, the service industry, people who aren’t bloggers? I feel like that’s the harder, it’s harder I find to convince them of the return on investment and even to find the appropriate content strategy so that all these hours and hours of effort or cost put into writing this content is going to make a difference.

Niki R:                                        21:22                       Yeah. And you’re right. I mean, it is much tougher when you come in, it’s like a brochure type website and they’re like, what will we, we want to be the number one, whatever. And I’m like, well, you don’t have anything on the Internet though. You have like, you have like four things. And so, you know, we can do our best to optimize what they have and, and whatnot. But what we really try to do is build out, if anything, build out individual services and offerings so that we can at least say, okay, well there’s a page for each of these things. Optimize those. But yeah, the convincing someone who really hasn’t done anything is very difficult. However, I try to try to come in and see if they can make it part of their operations in how they do things.

Niki R:                                        22:09                       Now. It always ends up being the last thing on everyone’s list. And I totally get that because that’s what happens with our blog, you know, cobbler’s shoes or whatever. But, but yeah, the, the thing is is, you know, I come into an organization, I say, okay, so when your sales people are out in the fields, what questions are they hearing? What are the most common questions they’re asked? And without, you know, giving away all of your proprietary secrets. Of course. How can we start to answer that question? Because you know what, they’re going to start answering theirs. They’re asking Google that question too. You know, they’re not just asking you and it’s more and more where they’re going to Google first before they even talk to you at all. So we need to know what the questions they’re asking. And then we want to answer them on your website.

Niki R:                                        22:54                       So at minimum, a lot of the time what we’ll start with is you know, like a built-out FAQ section. Google has that new kind of schema markup for FAQ right now, but it seems to be a little bit litchi yet, but I’m, I’m seeing some potential with that. So that, that actually seems like a really cool opportunity. But yeah, building out you know, if you already have a short FAQ section, can you make it longer? Can you make some of those questions, individual pages. And that itself is building out some more content that really answers those specific questions where, you know, they’re coming in, they’re landing on it and they’re going, Oh this is what I needed. Oh this company offers that. Great. So that’s, that’s kind of the idea there too. Or like, you know, if they’re out in the field or, or you know, the customer service reps on the phone.

Niki R:                                        23:41                       Okay. What are people calling about, you know what, what do you hear yourself saying everyday that you know, if you cause it, cause that’s the other thing too is it ends up becoming a sales tool and if you can sell them on the sales tool, that’s so great because it’s like, okay, so what if you could answer this question for them and then send them an article with like your email. Like, Hey, read this follow up and you know, like then give me a ring or you know, Hey, I can follow up. Did you read the article, do you have any other questions? You know, that kind of thing. And then that fuels more content development. So as much as they can integrate it into the like day to day stuff, which still, it’s still a lot of work. It’s still a lot of time. So it’s still hard to make that, that you know, to, to convince people of that.

Niki R:                                        24:23                       But at the same time it’s, so, it really is worth it. But it is an exercise in patience. And I always, I mean I try to be very clear about that when I come into a new business where it’s just like, okay, you’re going to have to do this and you’re going to have to, like, some people will say, well, we’ve been doing this for three months and it’s not working. And they’ll either have you know, either it’s just getting off the ground or they haven’t really been doing it. Like they’ve been doing some of it and it’s like, okay, but if you only do 10% of it, it’s not going to work. Like it really isn’t gonna work. So there’s, you know, there’s a lot of education there on what needs to happen to make it successful. And I think that’s a challenge too, where you have to say, okay, well here’s what does work and if I still find it amazing how frequently I’m convincing trying to convince people of like of the value of long form content for example. Because for me it’s like it makes all the sense in the world, but of course I work in this, you know, so I have to like take a step back. Okay. Understand you know, where the, where everyone’s coming from. But yeah, that’s, that’s my 2 cents on that.

Amy M:                                     25:28                       I work with a lot of companies that are like service based companies, you know, maybe like an exterminator or a home builder and it’s, I have a really hard time trying to convince them why they need to have these extensive FAQ is and what the value is, you know, Oh, well if I tell somebody how to do it, they’re just going to do it themselves. And you know, we all know how to mow the lawn, but lawnmowing companies are still in business. It’s a pain. So you know, just because you’re providing somebody your knowledge doesn’t mean that they’re going to just take that knowledge and never use you. And businesses, they just tend to not want to believe me when I tell them that. So what’s your response?

Niki R:                                        26:04                       Yeah, that’s such a, that’s such a great point because that’s the thing is that, you know what, I can spill all of my, and frankly I nearly do, there’s a few things that we don’t tell everyone, but I am on every audit call, I am doing some level of education. I am saying, here’s exactly how you do this. You know, here’s where you go, here’s what you put in this field. You know, all of that. And, but the reality is that sometimes people just go, I don’t have time or I just don’t want to learn this fully. And so I just need to hire you to do it. Just do it. You know? And so, and that’s the thing is that yes, those companies are in business because, you know, I, I might read something about how to yeah. Mow my lawn, but if it’s not on my priority list, then I need someone to mow my lawn for me.

Niki R:                                        26:46                       And that’s the thing is that that goes back to really understanding your audience. So it’s like, okay, you know, what do they want? Are they trying to save time? Then how are we writing to people who need to save time? You know? And you know, so there’s that. Yeah. That, that’s an I will say that you don’t need to give away. Yeah. You, if you have proprietary secrets in ways you do things in formulas about, you know what? Of course, you don’t have to give that all away. But the reality is that people are gonna learn about it and they’re going to go, okay. And they’re more often than not going to go, okay, I’ve, I now understand that this person knows what they’re talking about, so I’m going to let them do it. And so, and that’s the thing is that a lot of the time, you know, you’re, you’re selling your expertise. You know, you’re selling your authority and you’re selling your, you know, it’s that eat thing right. The expertise, authority, trustworthiness, you’re selling that so that people hire you to do the thing.

Angela B:                                 27:46                       Yeah. Yeah. And that kind of brings up the question of local search because sometimes we’re not even talking about their blog content at all. It’s just people will click on what shows up in the Maps results and just getting them high up in the local search. That’s a whole other like almost specialty. Like if you’re an SEO person, you just almost want to specialize. You, you know, you have your local search specialist because it’s challenging and you need to get the reviews written and you need to have your nap, your consistency and all these crazy technical, the things that are, it feels so outside the control of your own website.

Niki R:                                        28:26                       Yeah. You know, and honestly we do a fair amount with local search, but I wouldn’t say it’s one of my specialties necessarily cause there are so many components and this, however, a lot of the foundational principles apply because the reality is that if you’re searching for [inaudible] my, I, I need a plumber or whatever, Google already knows where you are. So it’s showing you, you know, it’s showing you answers from local plumbers anyway. So the, the, the whole thing and talk about a really competitive industry on, on paper click, Holy cow plumbers are like, they’re, they’re, they, they have gone all in on pay for pay per click. Let me say that. But you know, a lot of the time Google knows where you are so it’s going to give you these local [inaudible] when it applies, it’s going to give you local results. And so yeah, we always encourage you know, if it’s a smaller, especially local service based business, building out location pages explaining where they service, you know, that kind of thing.

Niki R:                                        29:22                       It used to be more common to do more robust like sub build outs for like each city and all that. And I just, I think that’s getting really tedious in that working anymore. I’ve still had people come to me and want to do that and I usually try to talk them out of it. And I won’t say that. I guess some of that is still working, but I just really feel like longterm that is not working and that’s just not going to work. But making sure that your service area is really clear, you know, making sure, yeah, your Google, my business is set up that you have, you know a system of sending out you know, feedback, you know, even if it’s a one question, can you rate me kind of thing either. So that gets, you know, on whatever review system, but also, you know, on Google my business encouraging, you know, I’m asking for those testimonials and stuff like that, asking for testimonials so that people, we can say, you know, they did a great job from Angela B in you know, wherever you’re located kind of thing.

Niki R:                                        30:20                       So that, you know so that you, we have those little city tags. You don’t just that more information, but but local search getting real in depth and it is, is a, is a crazy, crazy animal. But, but a lot like, again, a lot of the foundational principles still apply. So I think it’s still, it’s still very worthwhile to, you know, apply those broader principles and then, you know, break them down into that local you know, that local element as well.

Amy M:                                     30:48                       So when you’re doing an audit for somebody and you’re looking at their site what’s the one thing, the most important thing that they take away from it? So they get your report, whatever you give to them. What do you think is the most common thing they ask after you after you give them that?

Niki R:                                        31:04                       Well, so the big thing that we provide as a plan of attack that’s prioritized because a lot of the time when people come to us, they go, I know there are things that need to be fixed. And I actually even know what some of them are. I just don’t know what’s worth spending my time on. First. I, you know, I have this glob of information. I don’t know what to do with it. So so we give them a plan of attack that’s literally like item one, item two, item three. Do you amend this order? Even if it takes you a year, try to do them in disorder. But we try to give everyone the tools that they need to fix what they need to fix. Now, some of that, you know, a lot of SEO ends up being DIY and that’s okay. It’s not impossible.

Niki R:                                        31:50                       So what we try to do is provide like a level of education and instruction. So we do provide kind of like a, you know, like a keyword checklist kind of sheet. And we have basically every line item has like a set of instructions that go with it and that kind of thing. And so the, you know, and if they have something that I would like, you know, if I, if I go in and I say, okay, the plugins are just, there’s, they’re all over the place and I’m kind of, it’s getting very muddled. You know, I might even recommend like, okay, I have a WordPress developer who you know, gets really into the nitty gritty. And so I make sure that they have the resources that they need to fix the things they need to fix. And then sometimes, yeah, they come back to us and you know, say we don’t have time to do this or can you just fix, you know, item number three, seven and nine or whatever.

Niki R:                                        32:41                       And so yeah, and a lot of the time it works really great when we’re able to partner with them and work toward improving their website over time. You know whether that’s like with a monthly retainer or what have you, where their teams working, we’re working, but we both understand where we’re doing and we’re both on the same page where we can communicate, there’s questions going back and forth and then we can both be moving in the same direction. Cause that’s the thing is that, you know, SEO is, it’s just not, it’s not a one and done thing. And you know, a lot of the time we recommend a new audit every three to six months, depending on the size of the site. Because, I mean, you know, like we just had one where we did, I dunno, we did the last, we did the last August audit in a, I don’t know, January or something.

Niki R:                                        33:26                       And you know, they fixed a bunch of stuff and they changed some things and then in, and then, you know, we came back, we ran a few reports and I’m like, okay, what happened in March? Because there is some weird stuff going on here. And you know, and then when we need to reevaluate, because you know, things change Google might have reevaluated how it reads your site. You might’ve added a plugin that doing something that you’re not even aware of that’s affecting how Google sees your site or even just how people, you know, user experience, just how people are you know, interacting with your site and all of that. So so yeah, so we just, we want to make sure that people have what they need, but it also, it still can be a lot. I mean SEO, I really try to make it as simple as possible, but there I can, I can make, I can make a full time SEO job out of any given client we come into. I swear like, like any one of them I’m like, I could do, I could do 40 hours SEO per week on literally any of these clients and it would be worthwhile and it would be a full time job. There’s always room for improvement.

Amy M:                                     34:26                       And probably all of your clients are willing to pay 40 hours a week for you to work on SEO for their websites. Right?

Niki R:                                        34:32                       Oh yeah, totally. Totally.

Amy M:                                     34:35                       But you know, one of the biggest problems I have is people come to me with this keyword in mind. I want to be number one for this. And then I go and I do my keyword research and I’m like, but there’s no search volume for that keyword. And even if I keep telling them that they don’t believe me because that’s what they want to search for. What’s your response?

Niki R:                                        34:54                       Well so, well lately this has been such a huge issue because I feel like people also just get really hung up on like key word. Like I really love this keyword. And it’s like, you know what? But what are you trying to do here? What are you trying to write about? What problem are you trying to solve? Let’s try. Yes, I completely agree. Like, yes, we want a high volume keyword. We want to look and see, okay, is this even possible to rank for? I will say that sometimes a low volume, but really niche keyword can work if that’s your niche. But people who are hyper obsessed with it usually are like, there’s a really high volume and I really want this. So yeah. So I often am just like, okay, so what are you trying to do with, what problem are we trying to solve?

Niki R:                                        35:39                       Let’s get away from the keyword and let’s dig into what your expertise is on this topic. Let’s get your knowledge out of your head so that we can write about it. So a lot of the time we’re trying to do these in depth interviews with the subject matter experts, you know, and then we can say, you know what, this lends itself to this keyword or it doesn’t, but you know, any, that’s the thing, if you’re really honing in on a topic that you know, your marketing wants to hear about the keywords and the semantic keywords and all that fun stuff, it’s usually gonna occur naturally in the text. Because if it doesn’t, then you’re trying to shoehorn something that’s, you shouldn’t try to shoehorn something into it. Like, then there’s no point, there’s no point in being like, well, this isn’t really what it’s about. We’re just gonna jam this in there 50 times and see what happens. So yeah, I try to get people to, I like when people are keyword aware, I just like them to be like hyper focused on keywords that it really distracts from creating really good content.

Amy M:                                     36:37                       Well, I find that they have a specific keyword they want. They have no idea if it’s worthwhile or if anybody’s even using it and they get stuck on it. Like, you know, I want people searching for this define me. And I say, well nobody’s searching for that. And then they’re like, no, but this is what I would search for. And, and I have to explain that their own expertise is getting in the way of what people that actually hire them would type.

Niki R:                                        36:59                       Oh, that is such a huge thing too where we say, okay, you are writing about this from a highly technical standpoint and I don’t know, I’ll, let me think of an example like that. We haven’t done, I’m thinking like paint colors for some reason. Like let’s say somebody wants to pick the paint colors and they go, well the technical composition of the paint is like what’s really the most important? And it’s like, yeah, they want to know that it’s going to stick to the wall and like work, but they don’t need to know like every chemical and why would I, you know, and again, depending upon the audience, but the thing is, is what I often find is, yeah, it’s like a person looking for pink colors and then the, the service provider is trying to provide this like technical breakdown on like the value of the certain paint structure.

Niki R:                                        37:45                       And it’s like, okay, but that’s not really what they’re looking for. So that’s like the number one thing. It’s searched your intent, like huge. And and yeah, we, I really, really try to work to get people in there, you know, in their client, in their customer head, you know, we got to get out of your, you’ve got all this great knowledge and that doesn’t mean that we can’t share it, but why are they coming to you for that knowledge and that, yeah, there can be a big a big gap there. But again, it comes, it just goes back to that education level, you know, just trying to say, okay, you know, this is fundamental marketing. Okay, we’re trying to reach somebody, you know, we need to get to them. So, yeah.

Angela B:                                 38:29                       Yeah. And that’s, that’s hard. Like there’s the case that Amy’s mentioning where people just simply don’t search on that or the case where they do search on it, but it doesn’t match the intent at all. And having to get your clients to think, but that’s what we do. And it’s like, yeah, but that’s not what you do. You do something else and you refer to it like that, but that’s not what that means to everyone else in the world.

Niki R:                                        38:53                       Yeah. I mean, I guess going with like a plumber example, it’s like, okay, well you can talk about the value of like the shape of a pipe or the material of a pipe, but the person with the drain problem just wants their bathroom to stop leaking, you know, and they don’t care. They want to know that, you know, that’s good, but you need to say, well, why are they coming here? They’re not coming here to learn about pipes. They’re coming here because they have a leak and they need itself yes with the pipe. So we can talk about that. But we need to think what’s the actual problem and really get down to the fundamental no problem.

Angela B:                                 39:28                       So you are, you know, we’re Women in WP podcast and you have a woman-owned business and you have a lot of women on your staff. And maybe before we wrap up, I would love to hear more about just your, the, your business in terms of working with women and w how that’s come to be. And do you ever face competition from more male dominated SEO companies? And just what’s your experience as a woman in the SEO field? I just went to an SEO conference in May and it was predominantly men, and I don’t know if you go to SEO conferences, but it, it just is interesting cause I feel like SEO is fields that should be pretty gender neutral, but it’s not, and I didn’t know if that was also your experience

Niki R:                                        40:22                       SEO in particular is highly male dominated, dominated. I will say that being a female on the field I think has given me an advantage in the sense that, you know, if it’s a woman, if it’s another woman-owned business or a female blogger and they go, Oh wow. So you know, like the, yeah, sometimes they just want to talk to a woman about about it and they’re sick of talking to men about it just to be Frank where they go, okay, I just feel like, you know, I’m being told the same thing and I’d love a different perspective. And so we just, we really love working with women and

Niki R:                                        41:00                       A huge amount of the blog, you know, the blogging community is women. So, you know, when it comes to blogging SEO for bloggers that is a market where there’s a few men doing some really specific stuff and I’m working on getting some more authority in that field. I’m speaking at a conference next month on that and I’ve spoken in, wait, where am I speaking? I’m speaking in Atlanta next month. So what can Orlando last year? And that’s the thing, I’m speaking of bloggers, but I’m actually trying to get into more of those you know, more SEO does more SEO type conferences rather than just the blogging conferences, which are more, yeah, there’s a lot more men in the fields. But yeah, we we, I think that we’re able to give a different perspective and understanding like a lot of the times, you know I was just talking to a blogger who, you know, has worked in it forever and she’s like, yeah.

Niki R:                                        41:59                       And everybody goes, okay, so who’s your it guy? And she’s like, I’m not the it guy. And I think it works. The same with SEO is your SEO guy. It’s like, okay, well I’m not the SEO guy, but I am the SEO guy. But but yeah, so yeah, I guess it’s it’s really great. I love this. I love that you guys have this podcast obviously, and I love talking to women who work in the field and I think there’s a lot of opportunity here because there are so many, there are so many female owned businesses and I think a lot of the time they’d love a woman’s perspective and expertise and we kind of grew up in a differently and learned in it organically, a little bit differently than men have, I think in a lot of ways. And so I think that gives us an advantage in some sense to that, you know, large portion of the population who is, you know, also as women owned businesses. Yeah, no, totally agree.

Amy M:                                     42:52                       Well, it’s been so delightful to have you on today. Before we go, can you let everybody know where they can find you online?

Niki R:                                        42:58                       Yeah, so Nicki Robinson, I’m president at Posts by Ghost. It’s post plural, ghost singular. You, my website is postsbyghost.com and yeah, you can email me actually if you want to do my Gmails, if you, if you’re not trying to spelling, it’s niki333@gmail.com. Definitely recommend anybody who wants to shoot me an email. I love corresponding with people. Questions like totally hit me up. I love talking to new people and I love talking to other women who work in WordPress. It’s been so great to meet you. Oh my gosh. So great talking to you guys. Thank you so much for having me on today. I’ve been great.

Amy M:                                     43:36                       Thanks for being here.

Tracy A:                                    43:38                       Thanks for listening. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or join our Facebook group. Not already subscribed. Well, you can find us on Spotify, Stitcher, Google play, and iTunes. Did you know that you could help support the Women in WP podcast? If you head on over to our Patreon page, you’ll find additional content and some cool perks. If you want to set up a monthly donation of a dollar or more and finally you can find all show notes, links and transcriptions at our website at womeninwp.com. Until them next time.

 

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