There are a lot of experts out there who will tell you that SEO is a formula that can be followed to successfully improve your page rank. They make big promises, like if you follow their 18-step blueprint checklist guidebook, you’ll be on the first page in a week.

That kind of talk is bullshit. Not only is it untrue — SEO is a long game, and unless you go insanely viral, overnight success is rare — but some of their tactics can make you feel dirty. (Spam tweet every major influencer in hopes they retweet? It’s a waste of your time & it’s presumptuous and rude to your audience.)

Instead of thinking of SEO as checklists & formulas, I propose an alternative: think that SEO is a relationship with Google, other websites, and your prospective clients. data-lazy-srcset=

Instead of thinking of SEO as checklists & formulas, I propose an alternative: think that SEO is a relationship with Google, other websites, and your prospective clients.

So instead of thinking of SEO in terms of checklists & formulas, I propose an alternative approach: as 3 relationships.

1 |SEO is a relationship with Google (and Bing, Yahoo, etc)

This is probably the first thing that comes to mind with SEO. If done poorly, this relationship can feel robotic — like you’re just choosing a word out of thin air & peppering it through your blog post in specific places.

But while those steps are, indeed, important, it’s not that simple. Google takes over 200 factors into account in its algorithm. Adding keywords to your pages can help google understand the topic, but if it doesn’t think you’re trustworthy or credible, it’s not going to show your page to searchers, no matter how great your keyword choice is.

So how do you make your page credible?

2 | SEO is a relationship with other websites

Google rates your credibility & trustworthiness through your relationship to other sites (and calculates their credibility based on their relationships to other sites). These relationships are called backlinks. When somebody links to your webpage or blog post, that’s their way of vouching for you. The more important the site is that links to you, the more trustworthy you are viewed.

Think of it like this … who would you want to set you up on a blind date: a coworker, a matchmaker, or your mom?

Well let’s rule out your mom, she’s just in it for the grandkids. Plus she doesn’t have a huge pool of candidates to choose from … it’s probably just her church friend’s son who’s totally awkward. Low credibility, low reach.

Your coworker knows you well enough, and runs in different circles, so she’s probably a decent option. Medium credibility, medium reach.

But the matchmaker would be ideal: she knows what she’s doing because she’s had many successes, and she has a list of bachelors to choose from. Big credibility, big reach.

Google wants to see the same thing from your backlinks: more high-quality backlinks lead to greater rewards.

3 | SEO is a relationship with prospective clients

Self-promotion can feel skeezy, and especially in female entrepreneurs, it can bring up a lot of doubt & fear. “What if nobody wants to hear from me? What if I don’t have anything new to say? What if they figure out that I don’t know WTF I’m talking about? What if I put an offer out there & nobody buys anything?”

Girl, I have been through all those head games. They are a huge mindfuck. There are lots of things I did to improve my mindset & feel safe to promote myself. You know the biggest change?

I got insanely clear about what I do differently & who I want to serve.

In other words: I figured out my brand. Which isn’t just to say that I changed my business name & my logo & my fonts and colors. (Although I did that too.) those changed because I had newfound clarify around my strengths, my goals, my audience & my approach.

Once I figured out that I want to help creative female entrepreneurs to present themselves professionally & confidently … BOOM! It was like my business suddenly clicked into place.

I knew what to write, because I had a person in mind.

I knew what to offer, because I knew what she’s struggling with.

I knew that I had to share, even when it’s scary, because she can’t find me & I can’t help her unless I push myself out there.

And there’s that 3rd relationship: the relationship with your future clients. SEO for business owners shouldn’t be about pushing out unlimited content to everyone the universe & aiming for millions of pageviews.

It’s about getting your message in front of people who would benefit from hiring you.

And when your mindset shifts from “omg I feel so pushy sharing this blog post that nobody wants to read” to “I can’t wait until my ideal client finds this because she’s going to be nodding and smiling throughout” … there is magic in that moment.