If you’re running a successful makeup business, if you’re just getting started, or even if you’re just thinking about how to become a makeup artist, getting your website right is often a big worry (and just in case here’s our guide to building a website for makeup artists). One thing that there’s often a lot of shouting about is the need for SEO, but this is rarely accompanied by much explanation about what it is (or indeed what it means – Search Engine Optimisation by the way), and indeed why you would need it. In fact, when we asked makeup artists what challenges they face while running their business, concerns about SEO came up time and time again – what is it, is it a waste of money, how much time should I be spending on it…?
Well let’s start at the beginning – why would you want to optimise you website for search engines? Well unless you’re doing particularly well off the back of referrals and word of mouth, then it’s likely that a portion of your business is going to come from customers finding you themselves. Many moons ago this would have been through telephone directories and adverts, but nowadays a majority of people will turn to search on the internet to find businesses.
If you want people to find your website through search engines (known as organic traffic), then you need to set your website up in such a way that when Google, or Bing, or Yahoo index it (that is to say have their search robots crawl over it and decide on where it’s going to rank in search results) they go away with the impression that it’s exactly the kind of site they want to help their users find.
So now you know the what and why of SEO, it’s time to start thinking about how...
A Bit of Research Can Go A Long Way
Unless you’re planning on building an online business in a very specific niche, you probably already have a rough idea of what search terms you would like your customers to find you by. It’s still worth devoting a bit of time up front to get these clear in your head though, and find out what the competition is is doing.
- Spend a few minutes jotting down the terms you would like customers to find you through a search engine. These can be very general (e.g. makeup artist), your location (e.g. Camden), your style (e.g. bohemian), your specialism (e.g. wedding), and any other keywords that you think describe you and your business.
- Do a bit of research on Google using combinations of these terms (e.g. Camden Makeup Artist; Camden wedding makeup). Have a look at who’s on the first page or two. What’s the competition like? What are their websites like (good/bad/shocking)? Who’s linking to them? (you can use MOZ’s open site explorer to figure this out). How well established are they?
- Consider how you might do a better job of ranking for these terms – can you write better content? Are you actually more local? Can you expect more sites or the same sites to link to you?
Keep your content (and your webpage) on topic
As you grow your site with pages and content keep your keyword terms at the front of mind. If for example you would like to rank for Camden Wedding Makeup Artist then consider blogging about what’s going on in Camden for brides to be.
The key thing to keep in mind is that Google is trying to serve its customers by helping them find the right web pages. The more you can do to make your site and any content on it totally relevant to your customers, the more you’re likely to start cropping up in their search terms.
You can go one step further and create a unique page (sometime referred to as a landing page) for each of your products or services and then write some unique content for that page (for example, you could have one page for Camden Makeup Artist, and then another for Camden Wedding Makeup). These pages can then link back to your main homepage.
Having great content on your site does more than just get people there – it keeps them there, and potentially gets them engaging. Google also measures something known as the bounce rate of your site – that is the times that people visit and then leave without clicking on anything else. The lower the bounce rate, the more the right people are ending up in the right place.
Monitor your progress
As you start to pay more attention to SEO, you’ll want to monitor how much success you’re having. There are two free tools you can use.
- The first is Google Webmasters. You can use this to check whether your website is throwing up any errors when Google indexes it. For example, Google will note broken links. This tool is worth checking periodically to make sure that your website hasn’t been causing Google problems (which in turn may mean it doesn’t get indexed properly)
- Google Analytics – you can use Google Analytics (or as an alternative Clicky) to monitor traffic to your site, where it comes from and how it behaves once it’s there. This will help you see whether things are getting better or worse, and which keyword terms you are ranking for. You can also monitor specific things such as bounce rate, or where your traffic comes from. That way if you find that something is working well you can put more effort into it.
Optimise your site.
Beyond having great content on your website that’s interesting to your customers, there’s a few behind the scenes things you can do to make sure your website is set up to succeed.
- Make sure any page on your website can be accessed in three clicks or less. This is really about the user experience – have you ever spent ages deep diving into a website, clicking link after to link to get to that one elusive webpage that has the information you need? No? Well then neither will your customers. Make sure thinks are easy to find!
- While you can’t have a link to every page on your homepage, it’s definitely worth having links to your most important content on your front page.
- For each page on your website you have the option to write a title and a description (often referred to as meta data). Don’t miss this opportunity – write a unique descriptive title for each page, as well as suitable description. This is the information that will appear with the search results. If you’re using WordPress there are plugins that can help you get all the right parts filled – these include All-in-One SEO or Yoast SEO
- Customise your 404 page – this is the page that users will end up if they follow a broken link or type in an incorrect address for your site. In most cases the next step will be that they simply navigate back to their search engine. However, if you include a search box, and even some links to popular pages on your 404 then this can sometimes be avoided. You can check our 404 page by visiting www.careerinmakeup.com/thisisntapage
- Make sure your website is fast. Often you won’t realise this is an issue if you’re visiting your own site, as your browser will have cached (or stored) a lot of the images and banners. Try loading it from another computer for the first time. Things you can do to improve your website speed include
- Using smaller images (especially for thumbnails) that are kilobytes rather than megabytes in size
- Using lazy-loading for your pages where images are loaded as you scroll (we use BJ Lazy Load for WordPress),
- Installing a caching plugin such (we use W3 Total Cache for WordPress)
Build your website’s credibility ‘off-site’
So far we’ve focussed on the things you can do on your website. However, there are a number of things you can do to help things along off your site. As with potential customers looking for endorsements of you from existing ones, Google looks for evidence that your business is legitimate. This means it is looking for any websites external to your own referring to you – known as a backlink.
- First of all make it easy to share your website and the content on it. This means allowing your vistors with a click of a button to post your page to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. That way even without your involvement links to your site will start appearing on the net. If you use WordPress you can use plugins such as Floating Social Bar and Social Media Feather to help you add the right buttons
- Register your business with Google Business Registration – increasingly the style of Google’s search results will be tailored to the nature of the search. In the case of makeup artists this will often mean it’s business directory results. Make sure your details are up to date. And while you’re at it it’s worth checking them on the other main business directories too such as Yelp and Yellowpages, as this will again allow you to link to your site and adds legitimacy. Even better, once you’re listed start reaching out to happy customers for ratings.
- As well as business directories you can also assert your brand using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest) and content hosting sites such as Youtube or Flickr (Google owns Youtube!). Don’t get carried away – pick the platforms that you think you’ll be able to maintain, but an active presence even on one again adds legitimacy.
- Reach out to your existing relationships in your industry and ask if they wouldn’t mind linking to you. You can always offer the same in return if it’s practical. Suppliers, other freelancers, friends, customers and venues are all a potential source of links.
- Start interacting with and expanding your network of other people working in your space. Get familiar with bloggers and if you like them link out to them – with any luck they will link back to you. Cultivating relationships with other bloggers, expecially those in slightly different fields (such as photographers, designers, wedding planners) may give you the opportunity to…
- Guestpost – offer to write articles for other peoples sites (or even go one better – do some research on their audience and then write them one before approaching!). Not only is this a great way to link out to your website through an authoritative article you’ve written, it can also expose you to a whole new audience.
Optimise for local makeup artist searches
As an independent, freelancing makeup artist – unless you’ve hit global success level you’ll almost certainly be operating within a defined location (usually defined by how far you’re prepared to travel). As such you should devote a bit of time to making sure your website emphasises your location. You can do this a few ways
- Make sure you have your address listed on your website. This can be in your contact page, your About page or even just at the bottom.
- This goes the same for your phone number – specifically with your area code. Your clients may never use it, but it should be there nonetheless.
- Have a map on your webpage with your location. This may sound a little odd as very often you’re the one travelling, but the map (potentially generated using Google Maps) again adds credibility.
Unfortunately with search engine optimisation (much like setting up your makeup business) you certainly won’t see results overnight, especially with a newer website, and in fact it can take months to climb the ranking in Google. Be patient however, build those good habits, keep thinking about your keyword search terms, write great content and most importantly make sure your site is one that your customers would want to visit if you were #1 in Google.
We’d love to hear how you get on with the above quick tips! Are you going to be trying any or all of them? Maybe you already are, or perhaps you think there’s something we’ve missed? Then drop us a comment below, leave us a post on Facebook or send us a tweet.