Episode #13: All About SEO

In today’s episode, we’re talking all about SEO! Though we will keep the main structure of the show centered around mini series, we wanted to build in some flexibility when something really burning hot for us. SEO is just that!

Podcast Sponsors:

NTA | Podcast Sponsor | Driven Podcast

Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Cassy Joy: Today we’re bringing you a one-off episode all about SEO; that’s search engine optimization. And though we will keep the main structure of Driven podcast centered around mini-series, if you’ve been listening you know that we like to do three mini episodes; I guess they’re not mini episodes. But three episodes within a series followed up by a fourth Q&A all about that topic.

But Diane and I; we were chatting about SEO, and we just really wanted to go ahead and share some of our current lessons, the things that we’re learning, how the industry is changing, and how we think it really can apply across the board. So we’ve got some flexibility whenever something hot and one-off pops up like that; and SEO is just the ticket. And then we will finish the show with a weekly actionable tip about what you can do now.


  1. What’s on my plate [2:53]
  2. Shop Talk: SEO [14:58]
  3. Three things for SEO scoring [25:26]
  4. What to do first [32:46]
  5. Optimizing old content, new content, and mindset [43:27]
  6. Tip of The Week: Yoast [57:28]

Cassy Joy: Today’s show is brought to you by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners by focusing on bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes a whole-food, properly prepared, and nutrient dense diet as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s innate ability to heal.

Throughout their programs, students learn a wide-range of educational tools and techniques to identify and correct nutritional imbalances and deficiencies in their clients, and to launch a successful career in holistic nutrition. The NTA produces like-minded practitioners and consultants that we endorse and consider colleagues in the health and wellness space. Registration for the February class is now open through January 31st. And seats are already filling up quickly. You can learn more, and save your seat by going to www.NutritionalTherapy.com. Don’t forget to mention our name, The Driven Podcast, on your application.

1.  What’s on my plate [2:53]

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses and our lives this week. Cassy; what’s going on?

Cassy Joy: Well, my update was going to be all SEO {laughs}.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: And I guess it is. That was kind of it. I just finished this SEO submersion class; this course I just took. It was two full days. And those of you who are listening that own businesses, you’re busy. Maybe it’s a side hustle at this point. But pulling aside dedicated time to learn a new skill is hard. It is hard to set aside time to really focus. And I had been putting it off; I’ll share more about my perspective on it later. But jumped in; took a two-day full class. Blocked off my calendar, and it was really incredible. So I’m going to share a lot about that.

It is really cold here in Texas {laughs} which is unusual. And I’m going to share a couple of books that I’m listening to right now, because I have a couple of good ones. So a reader actually suggested on the business side a book called Know What You’re Going For. It’s by Jeff Henderson. And I am maybe 25% of the way through it, and I really like it! She sent me a note and she said; what he’s sharing about in this book, how you connect with your readers and my clients and how my business, Fed and Fit, is built centered around my readers; she said, you’re doing exactly what he’s talking about in this book. So I was like; I could use a pat on the back! {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Cassy Joy: So I downloaded it. And I really like it. And I’m learning some things as well. And then on the fun fiction side, I’m listening to a book by Liv Constantine, who wrote my favorite psychological thriller of all time called The Last Mrs. Parish. And if you need an incredible book to listen to, or read, if you’re more normal {laughs}. That’s a good one. But I’m listening to The Last Time I Saw You. And I really like it so far.

Cook Once, Eat All Week is holding strong, which is so exciting, you know, over 6 months in to the book being out in the world, it’s pretty unusual for it to really still hang in there at a really aggressive clip. Amazon is really the only day-to-day, hour-to-hour metric I have but it’s really fun to see the ranking. It’s been, I think, under 100 for two full weeks recently, which is just so incredible. So thank you again for keeping to share about the book, posting about it. That’s what moves the needle. In addition to it just being a great resource that we built. I’m really confident in it. But thank you for sharing. And then; yeah, we have more exciting plans for expanding Cook Once, so stay tuned for that.

And then, on the note of being pregnant, I’ve been eating a lot of bagels with cream cheese. {laughs} Diane, I don’t know what it is, but in the morning when I wake up, I’ve never been a carb-y breakfast person. I like eggs, lemony kale, a piece of bacon, and some coffee. And I have been; kind of minor nausea. I’m going in my 15th week. But bagel and cream cheese; gluten free. So, freezer section. I have Against the Grain gourmet, and then I’ve also tried Canyon gluten free bagels; I really enjoy them. Not sponsored. But that’s been sustaining me {laughs}!

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I mean, you won’t hear boo from me about it. Ah, ha, ha, we’re recording this on Halloween and you’re wearing a boo sweater!

Cassy Joy: {laughs} With my ghost.

Diane Sanfilippo: I grew up in New Jersey, so bagel with cream cheese is; I mean, until a certain age, I was probably 30% bagel and cream cheese, myself. You know what I mean?

Cassy Joy: {laughing} Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: So that’s where; you know, we have our bagel blend from Balanced Bites. And I call it bagel blend because, other people might call it everything, or whatever, but I’m like; this just tastes like bagel to me. So it gives me life. So I love that.

You know, I was going to throw in something. I was kind of laughing, or smiling along when you said; I could use a little pat on the back with a book that’s kind of affirming what I’m doing. I felt that way when I read Thank You Economy. And frankly, I listened to that, as well. And I think audiobooks are the best. Gary Vaynerchuk’s Thank You Economy, and Crush It!, or Crushing It. One of those. I don’t know if I listened to the other one, but I definitely listened to Thank You Economy, and it was like that for me. Where I was like; ok, thank you. I’ve been doing that. You know. So, it is nice to hear those now and then. And I think people would actually enjoy those books. Because if they like what we do, and they want to read something or listen to something that kind of affirms the type of approach that we take, I think that’s fantastic.

So, I think I talked on a previous episode about the campaign that we’re working on for Balanced Bites meals, which is going to be an ongoing thing. I know I talked about redoing our website, and we have a lot of stuff in the works. But I wanted to give folks a little quick, I don’t know, a little quick behind the scenes. Pull back the curtain. Copywriting note.

Because copywriting is actually something that, for a long time, I have just kind of waffled on not wanting to do it myself and wanting to have someone on my team help with it, or feeling like; for whatever reason, it should be someone else. And when I took that ball back, and I decided, let me sit with this. And my team has come up with ideas of; here are different, you know, I’m calling them ads. They’re just kind of Instagram sharables.

So if you head over to Balanced Bites on Instagram, you’ll see we have; we call them, we’re just labeling this campaign the busy ads. And it’s basically; because you’re busy doing this other thing, let us help you with these meals. So they all kind of start out with this language of; when you don’t have time to cook because. And I’m going to just give you guys the example from Halloween, because we’re recording on Halloween. It will launch a little later. But the initial language said; when you don’t have time to cook because you’ve got a last minute costume change happening. Something like that. Which is great, right? That hits on something that people are experiencing.

But my team actually found an amazing photo in Stock photos that’s a little girl. She looks like she’s maybe four or five years old. And I only know how little kids should look at different ages from working at GAP kids when I was 16, and I can eyeball kids and be like; she’s about 5. Maybe she’s six. But I saw this photo; and I was like; but the real moment is not, I had a last minute costume change. It’s, my princess now needs to be a witch. You know what I mean? That’s the real, if I keep digging one layer further, to what is this moment.

And I literally posted this; and I shared it with Liz; Liz Wolfe, as you guys know, is my former podcast cohost and great friend. But I sent it to her, and I was like; this reminds me of your little one. And she’s like, “O. M. G. I’m not even kidding; she wanted to be Elsa from Frozen, and now she wants to be a witch.” And I was like; my work here is done! So, it was really funny. I was pretty pumped about how spot on we were with that. But that’s been really fun.

And it’s been a really fun thing; we’re going to be talking, I’m sure, in the future about delegating and building teams. It’s been really fun to have a team work on this. But also realize that as the owner of this business, and as someone who knows my customer base so well. And also just knows people, and how people think, that this was a task that I really needed to take back into my own hands. And it’s actually been a ton of fun. So I’m writing those long captions that you’ll see over on Balanced Bites. Where it’s full on. And I’ll read some of them in the future when we talk about copywriting and all of that.

But I just wanted to share that little piece of behind the scenes. Sometimes we’re trying to delegate, and we want to hand things to other people. But the reality is; often we’re the best one for that job. And it’s ok.

Cassy Joy: That is very timely for what we’re going to talk about today. {laughs} My experience with SEO. I love that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. It’s hard sometimes as a boss, when we have multiple people working with us. For me, it’s a balance of not wanting to take something off somebody’s plate that they can do an excellent job at, and empowering them to do that work. I don’t ever want to pull something back that I think they’re capable of and I want to let them shine, and let them do that work. And I’ve done that many, many times. Where I thought I had to be the one to do it, and then learned very quickly I did not. And that was great. But this was a moment where I’m like; you know what, I am the best person on my team for this particular job. And that’s ok. This is my work and that’s ok.

So that was an interesting little note; still loving my Peloton. My little personal update. And, one other personal update. I am #influenced by The Sill. I mean, their marketing; and I swear, they must email me every day. I know I’ve talked about it on this show before, and not sponsored, but please; can you sponsor us? Please?

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I went to a Kokedama class. If you don’t know what that is; I didn’t either. It basically looks like a furry pineapple type of plant. Anyway; Google it. K-O-K-E-D-A-M-A. And I learned what wabi sabi means. This is all very interesting.  But I’m having fun with it. And it’s one of my hobbies that I am not monetizing, and I will pat myself on the back for that, as well. Because it’s kind of a compulsion that I have; monetizing hobbies. So yeah, those are a couple of updates.

And then, very quickly, on the Driven Podcast Instagram account. It is currently @DrivenPodcast. I want to give you guys a quick heads up. Cassy and I; we originally, we were like; let’s just convert the Balanced Bites podcast account. We have a lot of folks following there. I know a lot of our old listeners from Balanced Bites would want to come over. So we just decided to make this the home. And it’s the account, obviously, when you scroll back, you’re seeing Balanced Bites content.

We had a change of heart, and we decided that we need to start this thing from scratch so that it really feels like our own, as something we’re doing, just the two of us together, from zero. So, while you’re hearing this episode, very likely, we need you to know that our home is actually @TheDrivenPodcast. Currently it’s @DrivenPodcast; no The. But we will be switching the account to @TheDrivenPodcast.

Eventually; when we are able to make a switch back to just @DrivenPodcast, we will. But there’s an Instagram change that happened over the last few months. Because previously this was not a thing. But you used to be able to literally within seconds change your Instagram handle, basically release a name, and someone could snatch it up right away. And, of course, it’s a safety net now, with all the people who are getting their accounts hacked. Like; I would hate for someone to hack my account, and then change the handle, and then squat on my handle some other way and I can’t get it back. Right? So it’s a great safety net. But you used to be able to just quickly change a handle and then change it back. Well, you can’t do that anymore.

So we can’t just quickly change that handle, because it’s already being used. So we will change to The Driven Podcast on Instagram. You will need to refollow it. So that’s what will need to happen. But once we change it again later, you won’t need to do anything. So, head over to @TheDrivenPodcast, make sure you’re following along. We will announce it all over. But I wanted to give you guys that quick heads up while you’re listening.

Cassy Joy: And, if you’re listening to this months and months from now, and years from now, and you’re like; “Where the heck is this thing at this moment?” You can always just pull up Diane’s profile or my profile currently as it is Fed and Fit. One day I’ll transition to Cassy Joy Garcia. And we’ll have links to the live show there, as well.

2.  Shop Talk: SEO [14:58]

Diane Sanfilippo: Now it’s time for Shop Talk. It’s our favorite! {laughs} In this segment, we talk about topics that are on both our minds and yours. We’ll cover all sides of the issue, and hopefully land somewhere concise, actionable, and helpful. And this week we’re talking all about SEO, and mostly Cassy will be talking about it because she was just in a two-day immersion class, as you heard in our intro. So I’m pumped. This is the first I’m hearing this content. So, I’m listening for the first time with you guys. So, take it away, Cassy.

Cassy Joy: Oh my gosh, I’m so excited. So first;

Diane Sanfilippo: No pressure.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, right. This is like having somebody who just finished a course in anatomy turn around and teach it. I know enough to be dangerous at this point, right? I know enough to just kind of use the terms, and I’m definitely not an expert. And we’re going to give you advice on where to go for expertise later on.

But, I think I’ve got enough now. And having been in this industry for the years that I’ve been here, know enough about the importance to give you an overview. Because really what I want you to learn by the end of this; Diane and I both do. Because we did briefly chat about it. This is a real thing that you really need to consider for your business. If your business is online, and every business arguably has an online presence now, right? If you have a website, you have an online presence. Then this is something you need to wrap your heads around. You can tip your toe in the pond. You can put your foot in. You can put your leg in. You can jump. You can cannonball in. Whatever it is. I think it’s definitely something to be aware.

So what is SEO? We’re going to start to boil it down; very 101. I won’t get into a lot of the nitty gritty details; so if you’re hoping for a really high level, graduate style course, then there are definitely more educated and respected experts out there in the world for that, and you’re probably going to have to pay for those services. Which can be worth it; hopefully by the end of this will help you decide whether or not it is worth it for your business.

Ok, what is SEO? Search engine optimization is the industry term. And there are SEOs, as a job title. Those are search engine optimizers. And this has been around since essentially the internet started. What has happened, because this has been the wild, wild west; the internet. Nobody knew; if you think about the wild, wild west, it’s a great analogy for it. Do we need to pave roads? People are just going to go out and put their flag in the land and stake it? And that’s their land forever? How are we going to put up fences? How are we going to direct traffic? Who is then going to make sure that everything is flowing appropriately? Do we need to have police and fire fighters and all of these things?

So we’re trying to figure out; how do we colonize the internet? And that’s what’s happened for the last couple of decades. And what has happened is search engines are the highways to the internet. That’s how folks can find your website. Your home on the web; your home on the prairie. It’s how folks are going to find what you’re doing. And now at this stage in the game, decades in, we have the ability to know; what are the traffic rules? Who is out there policing? What’s the flow? And how do I make sure that the right people are landing on my page that I want?

So that’s why it’s important. Because you can; and I did, for years, wrote stuff, put it on the internet, and just crossed my fingers. And that’s how I optimized. {laughs} I crossed my fingers and I said; whoever is supposed to find it will find it! And I won’t lie; that’s still a big part of my makeup. But, I think it’s smart to at least tune in to some of these things.

Because what I’ve learned is; over the years, we’re publishing hundreds of articles on Fed and Fit a year. So at this point, I have over 1000 recipes, almost 3000 articles in total on www.FedandFit.com. And our traffic has not grown with the number of articles that we’ve written. And that makes no sense. It makes no sense. Because if we’re putting in more research; we’re writing better content, and we’re really answering the mail from our readers perspective, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be seeing exponential traffic come from that. And it’s not all just about traffic; it’s also about capturing the right …

Our traffic was not growing at the same rate we were putting more content on the website. So that told us we have to figure out what’s wrong; what’s going wrong. And what happened is our old content was definitely not optimized for new SEO practices. So even if I wrote an article that said; how to store bacon fat. I don’t have that, but what a good idea. How to store your bacon fat. Even if I had written that, folks couldn’t find it. Because I didn’t have the right boxes checked. So that’s essentially what SEO is.

And the things that you can do; it’s definitely gotten, I’m going to try to not make you feel like it’s complicated and overwhelming like I felt in this class. There was a moment where my husband texted me something funny in this class, and I was like; thank you so much for that, I was feeling overwhelmed! {laughs} Because it is; you can really get in deep. And there are people; there are bloggers, for example, food bloggers who have been blogging for years. Maybe they have 200 recipes on their website. And they will take an entire year off from creating new content just to optimize old content. And their business multiplies 5, 10X, just because of that effort.

And why; why does this matter to the bottom line of your business? There are two reasons. One; if you’re running ads on your website. If you do have a content website; so a blog, where you’re sharing your best thoughts online, then you are probably also running ads. And ads are monetized by number of site visits, normally, that’s how they’re monetized. So you get paid by the number of people who are visiting your website, and visiting a certain number of pages. So you have more page views, equals more money in your pocket. So for a lot of these folks, they say; why am I going to sit down and spend more time creating new content where I could just reoptimize the work I’ve already done, and make more money?

The second reason why you really want to get more traffic onto your website is so that you can put up an email capture and you can capture the emails of your visitors. Because traffic; and I’m borrowing these words from my instructor. The class that I took was through Everything Digital Marketing, also not sponsored. I paid him a bunch of money to be there. But, Everything Digital Marketing. Ty Kilgore was the leader there. He and his wife, Cammi, run the Everything Food Conference together. They’re just a really impressive pair.

But he said, essentially, traffic; I like how he coined it. Traffic that does not come through your email is borrowed traffic. So if you have not reached that person through an email address via a newsletter, it’s borrowed traffic. You’re borrowing it from Google search engine. You’re borrowing it from social media. You’re borrowing it from Facebook. That’s not traffic you own. But if you can start to create incremental traffic via emails that you have captured, that’s actually something you can control.

And Diane; we’ve talked about this before. The social media landscape Instagram could go away tomorrow. And if your entire business is based on Instagram,

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Cassy Joy: And all of your traffic to your website comes from Instagram, your business is gone. So you really need to start capturing emails.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right. And that’s the thing, too. A lot of folks listening may not yet have a website. Right? They might thing; well, I started this business and I’m just on social media and that’s kind of enough. But the reality is, if you’re trying to build a true audience, a deeper connection, and you want to provide value for people, you need to have a home on the web that is not on social media. Because you do not control what’s happening with social media.

It’s hard enough to control making sure that people get your emails, but we do at least control the fact that we’re going to send it to these people, and if they have said, “I want to see it,” and they open our emails, they’ll continue to see it in their in box. The percentage of people who open emails versus who see and are exposed to content through social media; it’s exponentially higher. I can just look at those open rates, and I see how many more people are getting my content there, relatively speaking. The ratio.

One thing I wanted to reinforce, as well; the notion of reusing old content and optimizing it versus creating new. I think what’s awesome about that, and valuable for a lot of people, is recognizing the value of work you did one, two, three, five years ago that may still hold water. Right? If I wrote an article about healthy fats 5 years ago, I pretty much still think the same things. Maybe there’s some new information to share, but I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. I’m going to use that information.

And I think optimizing old content is perfect for that. Maybe you have a chance to reshoot a photo, and you just update the copy and all of that; with the advice that we’ll hear from Cassy. But I think also if your perspective on whatever it is that you write about has not had a major change, there’s no reason to be rewriting content when you have the same 20 questions that you’re always answering. So yeah, you might pepper in a little bit if you want to; but that’s just a maximizer approach, if there ever was one. Where it’s like; that’s the strengths finder we talked about. Don’t do more work if you don’t have to in that way. Because you’re going to create different work that will get more bang for your buck and will maximize what is being delivered. Honestly, the harder work is creating the content. Once you learn how to optimize, yes, it’s potentially tedious. But creation is really the hardest. It’s the blood, sweat, and tears, right?

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: Anyway. I wanted to throw that in there, because I love that. And a lot of the strategy that I’m going to be working on with my team; it involves a balance of optimizing old content and directing new content based on what we’re seeing in our search engine analytics.

3. Three things for SEO scoring [25:26]

Cassy Joy: Totally. That’s great. And you know, to riff off that; there are three things that go into, let’s say, if there were; there’s not. But if there were an SEO policing agency that could give you a score; now, there are all kinds of websites out there. I’m going to mention some of my favorite tools in a little bit. Where you can kind of see where you’re falling. But if you have multiple pages; dozens. Some of you hundreds, maybe some of you thousands, of pages on your website, then you’re going to get a score for each website. The only cumulative score you can have for your total website is going to be the number of monthly visitors in total, and then also your page speed.

But if there were a scoring agency out there, they would be scoring you on three things. There are three things that your SEO is rolled up into how well are you optimizing your website for search engines. Number one is your site speed and technical aspects of your website. And all of this, I did receive in the course that I just went through, but it’s not proprietary. It’s pretty industry standard. There are some things that are proprietary that I can’t tell you; you’re going to have to take the course for it.

Site speed and technical aspects; user experience of your website. If your website loads really slowly, that hurts you. If it takes more than three clicks to find any piece of article on your website, that’s too many. People should be able to find anything on your website within three clicks. If you are selling something, it’s a different experience; user experience, depending on if you’re a blog. Especially a food blog with ads, versus if you’re selling meals or if you’re selling a widget. The user experience is going to be very different. If you’re doing meals or a widget, you want it to be a very simplified sales funnel, where the option; you pull up the website and the option is; oh, buy widget. I see that as the most obvious option.

But on a food blog, or if you’re a nutritionist, then your website; we keep using these examples because that’s our background. If you have other examples you’d like me to remember, please feel free to write in. But if you have lots of content that you’re sharing, you’re wanting people to experience and learn and find the right content that they want for their website. But you still want to make it simple. So that’s it; site speed, technical aspect of your website. I’m going to tell you where to test your site speed in a second.

The second thing that gets rolled up into how well you’re doing in SEO is your quality of content. Just like what Diane said. And this is really where a lot of the heavy lifting comes in. Let’s say if it is a recipe. You put together a recipe for cornbread. {laughs} I’m making cornbread tonight. So it’s what came to mind. It’s chilly, so we’re making chilly and cornbread.

Diane Sanfilippo: Be right over!

Cassy Joy: It’s going to be so good. Lots of cilantro; you’d love it. Not in the cornbread, but on the chili. You knew what I meant.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’ll eat cilantro everywhere.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} I know. I actually thought…

Diane Sanfilippo: #Cilantrolover.

Cassy Joy: I put parsley in my green juice from Whole Foods today.

Diane Sanfilippo: Nope.

Cassy Joy: And I was like; Diane would hate this.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: So, let’s say you’re writing a recipe for cornbread. You develop the recipe. You put so much time and effort and energy into tweaking this thing. And we’ve all been there, y’all. You’ve put so much time and effort into developing this perfect cornbread recipe. You test it; you finally photograph it; you finally get around to writing the blog post for it and posting the pictures; and you rush it. You rush the blog post. You’re like; “Blah, blah, blah; cornbread good. Hope you like it.” I’ve been there! I will just hammer out some silly, whatever ramblings going on in my brain without putting in the same energy and effort that I put into developing this really wonderful, predictable cornbread recipe.

And what SEO; the change in SEO landscape is challenging us as content creators is to level freaking up. We need to pour energy and attention into sharing that cornbread content. Because what’s going to happen? We made the best cornbread recipe the world has ever seen, but they’re not going to know it, and they’re not going to find it if you don’t put in the effort to create copy that supports it. That actually answers the questions that people are looking for. That actually provides the tools. Maybe it’s a video. Maybe it’s stepwise photos. Maybe it is; can I use corn meal? Can I use polenta? The kinds of questions that our readers actually have.

And maybe they’re not your readers; maybe they’re Google’s readers. What are people Googling? Those kinds of things. And I’ll tell you what all that means in a little bit. So the quality of your content is the second thing.

The third thing is actually the thing that takes the longest to get. So site speed and technical aspect of your website; arguably you could hire that out. Right? You can find a developer to help you from the technical piece of your website to fix that. Which is a whole hill of beans, because my website site speed is in the gutter right now. But we’re going to fix it. I was like; “ah! Call the developer!” Quality of content; we’ve got it in spades.

Authority is one of the most difficult things to achieve, because what that means is how does Google recognize you? And I keep referring to Google because they really are king for the large part of our purposes. But how does Google recognize you as an authority on the subject? How is it that, let’s say the Kitchen.com, or Allrecipes.com can publish a brand new recipe, and immediately rank for it? Maybe the recipe isn’t that great. Maybe the copy isn’t that great. The photos aren’t that great. We don’t have a bunch of comments or reviews or ratings. But the reason they can rank sooner than later is because Google recognizes that they have authority in this industry, and that’s weighted.

So the way that you get authority is by having other websites link to you on the website. But it’s not just; these are called backlinks. And it’s not just about having 100 backlinks; it’s about where those backlinks coming from. Because you could have 100 backlinks from your best friend’s website, but Google only says that’s one link. Right? Because it’s coming from one source. And even then, what is the authority of that source? So they rank that as well.

So, ideally, you really want to have your brand and your business show up on websites that are very reputable. So, when we learn things; I hope this isn’t a proprietary thing. This is common knowledge to folks who know it. But websites that are really hard to get links on are dot edu’s. so if you graduated from a college or a university, go call up your college or university and update your alumni profile to say “I work at cutewidgets.com.” It’s your business, right? But put a link to your website on your alumni profile. And that is an authoritative backlink. Because dot edu’s are really tough to get. So that’s just one example.

Getting linked and included in roundups. Facebook are links, but they’re not ranked very high because you don’t really get credit for them. Social media doesn’t really count; you want to have links elsewhere. So those are the three things. Site speed/technical aspect of your website. The quality of your content. And then your authority according to Google.

4. What to do first [32:46]

Cassy Joy: So what do you do first? And this is where I goofed up, Diane; are you ready for this? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Ready. Because I’m taking notes.

Cassy Joy: Ok good. So you find out that SEO is a thing. You’re like; ok, I do want to sell more widgets. I do want to capture more emails. I do want to have more ad revenue on a monthly basis, or I want to sell more meals. Whatever it is. You want more people on your website that are good to be there.

So what do you do, whether you have a bucket of old content or you’re brand new; the number one thing you need to do is educate yourself. And this is where I slipped. Because I learned that SEO was a thing; I understood the gravity and the importance. So everything that I just went through; I really got it. I understood that. I get it. It’s a BD; a big deal. But I did not; I was on my high little horse, and I said; but I don’t have time for this! I don’t have time to go back to school, essentially, and learn a brand new skill. Surely, I can outsource this. because I also don’t have time, for example, to learn how to be a developer; a web developer, and build a website. Can’t I just outsource this like I did the other?

And the hard lesson I learned, and what I want to save y’all from; is, yes, there are third parties out there that you can, and I think you should use. If you want to do what we’ll call in a second is a content audit, if you want to explore an audit of your website, you’ll do that through an external firm. They’ll audit your website. But when it comes to making then all of the decisions, what do you do with that content, and how do you implement it; you have to have a grade-school/middle-school level working knowledge of SEO in order to actually implement. In order to show some form of strategy.

You’re a smart person. You’re a smart business person. You can learn this; it will be a pain, and humbling, because you will be like I was in this class. Everyone in this room; it was a pretty small class, which was great. But this poor guy is leading this class and he says; does everybody know, for example, what no-follow follow links are? And I understand how it works in my website. But I did not have any clue what he was talking about. {laughs} So I was like; I’m confused again. I was just that person that was constantly raising my hand saying; I don’t get it. I don’t get it; I need you to explain it again, I need you to just really, really dial it down and dumb it down for me. Which isn’t fair; anything new is hard to learn. So I just want to pat you on the back; you can learn this. It’s a new skill, like all things. It’s challenging and humbling, but it’s important that you get a solid working knowledge.

And the second thing you’re going to do, after you seek out education, and there’s lots of resources to do that, is you’re going to perform some sort of a content audit. If you have a wealth of knowledge and content that you’re currently sitting on. So if you’re like Diane, and you have been in this business for a decade, and you have a decade of incredible intellectual resources that are just hanging out. They’re just hanging out. They’re not working for you. They’re like; hey! I’m the world’s most amazing resource on healthy fats you’ve ever seen, but no one’s ever going to find me because X box isn’t really clicked right.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Cassy Joy: So, that is where a content audit can be really, really useful. Is because what they’ll do is they will, like it sounds; audit your entire website. All of the content on it. Tell you what’s missing. You’re missing these meta descriptions. You’re missing these image alt texts. You’re missing all of these, yadda-yaddas. Because there are SEO tools that exist now that didn’t when we were writing years ago. So there’s no way we could have checked those boxes.

Diane Sanfilippo: And that’s the place where, for those listening, 10 years into this business, this is where I’m at with my team. And we’ve had consideration for SEO all along, just like you have. We name a post a certain way so that people will find it. We’re trying to think of what people are searching. It’s not like this has never been considered; it’s a whole beast beyond; here’s what it’s like. It’s like you were taking photos with your iPhone for a long time, and they were pretty darn good. And they were fine, and they worked well for your blog. But then you’re like; oh, this is a DSLR. Here’s this other camera; it has a lot of settings, and all of them matter. And you will have a totally different book, you know, if you are shooting with a real camera versus a good iPhone. You know? It’s still a totally different world.

So that’s where I’m at with my content. And I actually have done a lot of things right in the last 10 years; {laughs} it’s fine. It’s all fine. But I personally have not seriously blogged in the last probably 5 to 7 years because for me, podcasting was; I’m just a talker. That’s just my avenue. And so we are going to be doing a lot more in the way of creating new content. So it doesn’t help in terms of the gravity of that authority and all of that, having that content that lived for a long time just get optimized. But, you know, it is what it is. We can’t beat ourselves up over it. We just have to start where we are. And whether you have a year of blog posts that exist, I actually think it’s great to be able to go back to your old content, optimize what was there, and then be able to do better going forward.

This happens, too, right? When you first start writing recipes for a cookbook, and you didn’t know the right way to write a recipe for a cookbook because it’s not as easy as people think. And then you have to go back and rewrite the first 100 recipes you wrote because you did not explain that process identically every single time. Or you did not call for the garlic in the right way. Or whatever it was. So we just have to be open.

This is a hard thing if you’re an enneagram 1, and you’re listening; this is especially hard for you. It’s really hard for people to feel like we did something the best we could at the time, and it isn’t good enough right now. That’s really hard for a lot of people. It’s hard for all of us in some ways. I think some of us can swallow that pill a little bit more easily than others, and say; well, I did do the best I could at the time. And when you know better, you do better. Right?

So that’s kind of the place where we’re all out. Cassy is giving this download because she realized she needed to go to this class and learn this stuff. This is what we’re doing with my team, as well. I just got an audit from one of my team members who has luckily a husband who is an SEO expert, and I’m like; yes, thank you! We have five websites, essentially, that we need to optimize. So I don’t want you guys to feel like; oh my gosh, this is overwhelming, and I’m all alone having to do all of this. We are doing it too. We’re in the trenches with you guys. And neither of us has done this perfectly for the last whatever; five to ten years of our own businesses. So there it is.

Cassy Joy: There it is. And what I hope is that a year from now, I’ll be able to say; hey, tune into that very humbling, scary for me at least. The shoes I’m in right now is scary, just looking at the mountain of work ahead of us. It’s also exciting. It’s a mixture; right? That’s the right kind of new adventure. Scary and exciting.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And I think also your personality; you love creating new content. And I’m like; actually, if I already did that, let’s just fix what I did. I actually really like iterating on stuff that was done before and adding 20 to 30% to make it better. I really like that process. Because it makes me feel like what I did before at least is useful now in some way. But I think that, just depending on your personality, that can be really hard because you want to freight train ahead with only new, and kind of leave it in the dust, right?

Cassy Joy: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: But it’s there, and it’s valuable.

Cassy Joy: It is. It’s there, and it’s valuable. And we found a way; I’ll share what our strategy is to blend old with the new in a way to make it new again. And how you republish with the dates. I’ll talk about that next. But yeah, it is. It is very humbling. And my hope is that a year from now, I’ll be like; y’all, we did it. The goal was to 10X our web traffic, and we did it.

So we’re currently sitting at; we’re going to close out October, because I’m always happy to share numbers. There are probably a good handful of y’all listening that have numbers that are going to crush what I’m about to tell you.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I basically have zero blog traffic. In case anyone is wondering. I don’t even know what mine is, because it’s so close to zero.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. Website traffic has not been a focus of mine, because it’s not my primary revenue stream. There are people that this represents half, if not more, of their revenue, is ad revenue. My ad revenue represents about 6% of my total revenue overall. But we’re going to close out October at our largest month ever, which is very exciting, pop the cork. We’re going to do, I think we’re going to finish right at around 350,000 page views for the month of October.

And I track page views. I know there are a lot of folks who track users and actual visitors. And some of the tools I’ll mention in a second revolve around visitors. But that’s the number we track internally, so we’re really excited. Our goal is to get over a million within the next; I gave myself 12 months to get a million. But I of course would love for that to be 3 million.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. I have no idea what our traffic is, and we don’t have ads on my websites at the current time. We only sell our stuff, you know; our own stuff. So I think that’s probably why I didn’t; I never dialed into it, you know.

Cassy Joy: It makes sense. And you know I was actually chatting with; sorry, this is a little shop talk-y side note. But I was chatting with Ty, the leader of this class, Everything Digital Marketing. Again, not sponsored. Just a fan of their work. And I said; this only represents 6% of our revenue, and if it’s slowing; if the ads are slowing down our page speed so much. Now, there are things we can do, they shouldn’t slow it down that much. But if they’re making that big of a hit on user experience, why don’t I just turn them all off? Turn them all off and hopefully the site speed goes up, more folks visit, and we’re able to capture more emails and bring them into this Fed and Fit family. So, it’s an idea I’m kind of flirting with.

5. Optimizing old content, new content, and mindset [43:27]

Cassy Joy: Ok. So what we’re going to talk about next is how do you optimize old content; how do you optimize new content; and then we’re going to close it out with a quick overview on mindset about SEO. Because I want to make sure that you walk away from this episode feeling empowered, not overwhelmed.

Ok, how do you optimize old content? Like I said, qualifying this. For those of you who have old content that you’re sitting on, tune in. If you don’t have old content, there are still things you can learn because I’m going to mention tools in this section that I’m not going to mention in the optimize new content.

Ok, so for the first thing; how do you choose what content to optimize is number one question. So I’m going to use Diane as an example. I’m going to make up some numbers. These are not real numbers. Let’s say Diane has 1,000 articles in the total history of her writing; recipes, nutrition articles, maybe even podcast content from the Balanced Bites podcast. If she’s sitting on over 1,000 pieces of content, how on earth is she supposed to figure out which one to optimize? Because it makes no sense to just chronologically go through and optimize. Because on average, I think what I heard was 10 to 15 articles are going to bring you 80 to 90% of your traffic. So those are the ones you really want to focus on.

So what you’re going to do; one of the first tools I’m going to mention is the Google search console. This is one I want everybody to write down; look up; remember for later. The Google search console is going to help you figure out what are your most popular articles. And you can look at it in different date ranges. I tend to look at it by month so I know what’s seasonal. But it’s going to tell you what’s trending on your website already. What are you already kind of accidentally optimized for? What are people already finding you for?

And then the second tool, which is another free one, is Google analytics. And this is where you’re going to figure out how many people are coming to your website. Between Google search console and Google analytics, you’re going to figure out; let’s say, using Diane and this healthy fat guide, for example. I don’t even know if that actually exists on your website. But let’s say you look in Google search console, and you say; ok, my top 40, 50 posts; however many you choose to export, are these. These articles are my top 50 articles. But, this healthy fat article, which you know is gold, doesn’t show up there.

You can then take that URL, pop it into Google analytics, and see how many people have visited that article over the last 10 years. What’s the total number of visitors, and it will be able to give you that information? And it gets complicated if you’ve ever transitioned from an HTTP to an HTTPS, but there’s a way to figure all this out. So you’ll be able to put together, again, your content audit might be able to do this for you. But you’ll be able to put together this list of; here are my most heavy hitting articles.

And then from there what you’re going to do is you’re going to work from the bottom up. You’re not going to start by optimizing and overhauling your best piece of work right now. Ok? If that’s bringing you the majority of your content, you don’t want to start there. Because you’re a fledgling. {laughs} You’re just learning. You’re going to make some mistakes. You’re going to learn. If anybody is listening that has ever taken photos for a cookbook, you know that by the time you finish that last photo for your cookbook you want to go back and reshoot the first ones. Because even in the span of a cookbook, even if you’re a confident food photographer, your skills have evolved, and you have a different eye, and you’ve really honed it. So start with the lowest, the number 50 post first.

What you’re going to do is you’re going to then start researching things like; things that start to weigh into old content. Keywords. You’re going to start looking up keywords. And this is where things can get a little muddied, and I’m going to try to not give you too much detail. But keywords are not; you don’t just choose one keyword that you’re trying to rank for. What is a keyword? Maybe I should start there.

If it’s Healthy Fat Guide is the article that you’ve written, the keyword that you might be trying to rank for. Let’s say if it’s just healthy fats. So that’s what somebody might Google; healthy fats. That would be a keyword. And what you want is for your healthy fat guide to be on the top; on that first page, one of the top 10 posts in Google. That’s the goal. And the higher you are towards the top, incrementally goes up the number of people who click on your website. So really what you want; and even if you’re on the first page for an article, you really want to be in the top four. Because that’s where the big numbers really roll in.

So, let’s say you’ve identified healthy fats is the keyword; the ultimately keyword you really want to go for. But your web traffic is really low. Maybe you’re brand new-ish. Maybe you don’t have that much authority. Maybe your site speed is really low. Overall, you’re pretty new in the SEO game and you’re not doing that great at it. I would encourage you to go for a slightly more achievable keyword. And the way that you’re going to figure out how achievable is this keyword; what’s the competition, what’s the total number of search volume this keyword generates; there are a bunch of tools out there. I’m going to mention one free and two that are paid.

The two that are paid are; the first one is SEM Rush. And the second one that’s a paid tool is AHRefs. Those are the two paid tools. I have a membership with SEM Rush because that’s just where we started. I poked around in AHRefs, and I actually think I like it better. But I have a membership with SEM Rush. And it’s not cheap. It’s at least $100 a month. So that’s definitely not cheap, especially when you’re starting out.

If you have some friends; I know people do this. If you have some friends and some fellow bloggers that you consider friends and colleagues and you all want to go in on a membership together; folks do that. You’ll share a log in. Just maybe don’t plug in all of your information into your profile.

And then the free resource that will do some keyword research for you is by this SEO guru, his name is Neil Patel. And his website is called Uber Suggest. And what I learned from the SEO that taught this class is that he actually likes to use as many tools as possible. He says it’s silly for any one person to pay for more than one paid tool, so choose a paid tool and stick with it. But also cross check it, maybe, in Uber Suggest.

So let’s say you’re searching healthy fats, and that’s the keyword you would look up. You would type it into SEM Rush. You would see; ok, it gets 20,000 searches a month. That’s a lot. The competition is very high. And the density of articles out there is also very high. So that gives you a little data point.

But if you typed it into Uber Suggest, Neil Patel’s website, you might find that he gives you slightly different information. Because it’s not an exact science. All these people are pulling from different data points. So you would do your research, you would figure out; which keyword do I really want to go for. And then you would choose and go from there. And that would change; maybe that becomes your blog title. Maybe that becomes something you mention in the website. If it’s old content, you don’t want to change the URL because then you would deal with the whole redirect situation. Talk to your SEO expert on that. If it’s new content then that keyword that you’re going for; the big-league keyword, healthy fats, becomes a part of your URL. You want to always go big with the one that shows up in the URL itself.

And then the other things that play into how well you do in SEO are the number of links on your website. The number of internal links. Are you linking to other pages? If you have; gosh it’s this whole game. But essentially, if you have a page on your website that does really well. Maybe you wrote a chocolate chip cookie recipe 3 years ago that for whatever reason still does well. Maybe you accidently optimized it for SEO. If it still does well, pull up that post and add in links to your other cookie recipes.

Use your top performing articles, so when you do that export of all of your articles, one through 50, the top ones. Your top 10; those are the ones that can help pull up the articles that you want to pull up. That you know are going to help convert visitors into clients and customers. So you would then add in 10 links to your 10 cookie recipes.

The next thing you’re going to update is your H2. These are the subheaders; your H2 line, subheaders in your blog post. And it’s not just “Avocado oil” let’s say, this fake healthy fat article I keep referencing. Avocado oil is not your H2. It needs to be in the form of a question. Because Google has gotten smarter. They don’t just think; oh, she mentioned avocado oil, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil. They’re not looking for that. They’re looking for conversational; what are readers actually looking for and asking for. Is avocado oil a healthy fat? That’s probably what they’re asking. You want to answer as many googleable questions as you can find; which you can find by Googling something. Right; especially in a private window so it doesn’t have any kind of a bias according to you as a visitor. But see what people are actually searching for. Whey they search for healthy fats.  Scroll down and you can see other things people are asking, and those can be your H2s.

Resources; if you are citing scientific articles, you want to put them into your website, but you want to put them at the bottom. If you are added external links; let’s say in this healthy fat article, you don’t want to start off your healthy fat article within the first couple of paragraphs saying, “I learned everything I know from so and so doctor over on this website.” Because you’ve just confused the reader. They’ve come to you thinking they’re going to learn everything from you, and what you’ve just told them is; you know what, my stuff is here and it’s fine. But go learn from this guy first. So try to really prioritize your content first, and have some confidence in it.

And then, like I said, you want to answer as many user questions as possible. You want to walk them through; this is all about how to write content. But you want to walk them through an experience. You want to have a distinct perspective on your content. You’re not writing for an anonymous bot that’s scrolling your website. You’re writing for a real human being. And that’s the beauty of it. And I told Diane this before we started recording; but it’s actually good news. Because that’s the way she and I have always written. I would assume. I have always written to a person, and I’ve always written knowing that I want this to help somebody. I’m not writing this because I want to rank in Google. That’s not why.

Ok, so jumping ahead. And again, this is a really brief overview; if y’all want more, maybe we can do a miniseries on it. How do you optimize new content; like I said, you’re going to choose your keyword. You can look up and see what articles are already out there. This is what you really need to do, also, on old content. But let’s say if it is healthy fats, you’re going to Google healthy fats. You’re going to see what top 10 articles are ranking on Google, and what do those websites have.

What do they have? What questions are they answering? What resources have they provided? What downloads did they provide? Do they have video? Do they have a unique perspective? Write all of that down, and figure out what holes are missing that you can fill. That’s how you really start to climb the ranks.

Try to create some evergreen content; so a healthy fat article is a great example of evergreen content. Because as you’re, let’s say, developing recipes, or you’re writing about anti-inflammatory foods. This piece of knowledge gets to live forever, and you can constantly reference it from other articles.

And then mindset on SEO; just to close it out without trying to rush it too much. I want to give you guys, again, just enough to be dangerous to know that you need to learn more and feel confident that you can do this. But, looking at my own business, there’s no way I can do all of this. I’m not going to go through an optimize almost 3,000 articles on my website, because we still are working in new. I’m working on a book. We’re building an office studio. We’re going to launch an online television show some day. {laughs} Soonish. After I have a baby. We have so much stuff going on, we don’t have the luxury of shutting down and rewriting it all. And I don’t think that would be a good use of our time, anyway.

So I say; look at the biggest hitting areas. Site speed is number one; get your site speed up. Get user experience on your website up. And then start going through and assessing your quality of content. I believe that authority will follow. There’s a way that you can hack it, and SEO will guide you through it. And then, I just say; don’t worry about the rest, to Diane’s point. I think that there’s a lot you can do, but it is; you don’t have to do it all in order to do it well.

Diane Sanfilippo: Today’s podcast is sponsored in part by Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics. America’s leading purveyor of premium, sustainable seafood and grass-fed meats, and a certified B corporation. As the days begin to cool down, it’s time for hardy, healthy, high protein foods. Vital Choice specializes in superior, sustainable wild fish and shellfish, which offer unrivaled bounties of omega-3 fats and vitamin D. You’ll also find mouthwatering grass-fed meats, organic bone broths, and paleo friendly burgers, dogs, and bacon, crafted from wild salmon, free range bison, pastured pork, and organic grass-fed beef. Be sure to save 15% on one regular order with the promo code DRIVEN or get $15 off your first Vital Box with the promocode DRIVENVB from now through the end of the year.

6. Tip of The Week: Yoast [57:28]

Cassy Joy: Next up is Tip of The Week. In this segment, we’re going to give you one tip that you can take action on this week to move your business or life forward as it relates to SEO.

Diane Sanfilippo: So, my tip is to download and install the Yoast plugin. It’s spelled like toast, but with a Y. And you can use this alongside Google analytics. So analytics.google.com. you want to make sure that you have access to that. And I know for some of you, you’re like; yeah, duh. I’ve been using this. And some of you are like; wait, what did you just say?

So if you do not have either of these; Google analytics. Make sure you have an account for that. And you go through the process of learning how to get a pixel on your site, and get Google analytics working on your website. You’ll thank us later. You just want the information. And the Yoast plugin. The Yoast plugin is an SEO plugin, and perhaps we’ll cover this in more detail on a future episode. But it will give you some basics for optimizing a blog post. It is not going to take into consideration a lot of the nuance, detail, and updates that Cassy was talking about today on how to write content for a person and not a robot that’s searching. But it is a first step.

It is a way to put your attention on keywords and making sure that your content is at least not fully in the red {laughs} according to Yoast. They have a red, yellow, green light situation. With our blog, I don’t worry that every light on the Yoast plugin is green, because if I’m writing it the way I want to write it, it’s going to be there and it is what it is. But it is a starting point. And I think most folks are using this plugin who are interested in SEO; although we’re obviously going to be taking things further with nuance and all of that.

That’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Instagram @TheDrivenPodcast; or, it might be @DrivenPodcast. We’re not 100% sure. Either way, you’ll find us. We’ll link them back to each other. Cassy is over @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo.

Be sure to tune in next week for a whole new episode. We’ll probably be kicking off a new miniseries, so we’ll see you then.