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2023 Edition

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Search Engine Optimization

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The Ultimate SEO Guide for
Cookie Shop Owners

Do it yourself SEO for Cookie Shop Owners in 4 steps ... plus 6 steps to avoid. Learn how successful Cookie Shop Owners use SEO to get more Customers!

At the end I'll be busting a few myths about blogging, link building and content marketing that are often recommended by inexperienced search engine optimization agencies and contractors. Spoiler ... you don't need any of them.

Tim Hill SEO
If you would prefer us to just get on and do all this for you then....
Click here to see our SEO Services for Cookie Shop Owners

Otherwise sit back, buckle up and here goes.

Table of Contents
STEP ONE: Setting up a Search Engine Optimizable Cookie Shop website
STEP TWO: Search Engine Optimizing a Cookie Shop website
STEP THREE: Registering and Monitoring your Cookie Shop website
STEP FOUR: The wider web for Cookie Shops
What not do do with your Cookie Shop website

Search Engine Optimization is both an art and a science. We are dealing with search engines like Google and Bing who refuse to reveal exactly what it takes to rank in their top positions except for some vague advice.

Such murky indicators are then left wide open for interpretation and here you see claims like "you have to blog" or "you need to reach out to similar websites and get them to link to you".

I've been in the SEO business for nearly two decades and seen plenty of fads come and go. Much has changed because search engines have evolved so what you read on the internet can easily be out of date. There is also a whole lot of 'noise' out there from self proclaimed 'SEO experts' who often contradict each other.

Many of these 'experts', when you look a little closer, rely heavily on paid advertising for their businesses to work while claiming to their audience that their SEO is effective. If it was, why do they pay for clicks?

In Search Engine Optimization for Cookie Shops I'll share with you what actually works and how you can put it into action without needing any technical skills, without needing to blog and without needing to beg others for links to your website.

There are no "industry secrets" here because none actually exist, just a common sense approach to helping search engines list your business where it should be so potential Customers can find you. That means you help search engines provide a better user experience on their platform. A win-win.

I'll start from square one and I strongly recommend you begin there as well even if you have a website at the moment. It may mean you need to make some fundamental changes but don't be tempted to skip these or they will undermine all your future efforts.

Above all, enjoy SEO. With each task you complete you'll pass ever more clarity to the likes of Google and Bing and by the end you will have a robust web presence that will help your business grow.

The End Result

Before we dive into the detail it's worth taking a step back to see the big picture. We have two key aims here:

  1. Appearing high up in the search results of Google and Bing for relevant searches
  2. Keeping those rankings long term

You may well have read that shadey SEO companies can help you achieve Aim 1 fairly quickly but when the search engines spot their dodgy practices its 'poof' and you are gone but there are plenty of ways you can shoot yourself in the foot as well.

In this book I'll be showing you how to make it crystal clear to Google and Bing what you are and where you are.

Once search engines understand this they think like this: "OK, so this website says it is a Cookie Shop at location X ... but I'm only a machine so I need humans to confirm this"

The way they do this is to show your website high up in their search results now and then over a period of time and see how humans react to you. In SEO we sometimes refer to this as the Google Dance because where you appear in the search results 'dances' around.

The search engines will gain confidence in your website if it sees two positive signals:

  1. SIGNAL 1: People who see you in the search results click through to your website more often than they click through to the websites of your competitors
  2. SIGNAL 2: People who do click through don't click the back button too fast ... or too often

Signal 2 helps search engines remove spammers - those who pretend to be a Cookie Shop but theY ARE really offering something else like casino games, adult content or that "gadget everyone is going crazy for". You know the type of thing.

But there are plenty of other reasons people back out:

  • Your website looks like a high school project from the 1990s
  • It takes ages for your website to open when someone is using a mobile device on a slow internet connection and they don't want to wait.
  • Your content is difficult to view and read on a tablet or smartphone

So website design and technical performance are key to getting, and maintaining, high rankings and this book will show you how to avoid the pot holes of both.

But how can you win with Signal 1 and get more people clicking through to you than to the websites of other Cookie Shops?

Let's look at what we're aiming for and why with a search engine listing for a Cookie Shops called Preonus in the fictional town of Woodydale.

Preonus, Woodydale's Favorite Cookie Shop
At the Preonus Cookie Shop we've been offering baked cookies since 2012 and are proud to serve Woodydale. Call us toll free on 800-800-8000 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

OK, let's go through these:

  • 1 The domain name - it contains what you do and where you are. Search engines ignore this as a ranking signal but, despite the small size of the text, it's an important signal (often subcounciously) to humans
  • 2 The blue text - it contains what you do and where you are. Both Search engines and humans pay attention to this. Adding in a word like 'favorite' gives it a positive spin making it much more attractive to humans and giving them more confidence to click through.
  • 3 The description - it contains what you do and where you are. Search engines use this in their ranking decisions but it should also be inviting and attractive so humans want to click through.

You will have noticed that all three elements here contain what you do and where you are. This type of repetition is both a key part of SEO and effective ingredients for persuading humans to visit your website.

The listing as a whole is also 'beefy'. There is lots of information there which means you are taking up more space in the search results listings. In SEO we refer to this as 'taking up real estate'. If your listing is larger than your competitors then it is more eye catching and that is yet another factor that will win you more clicks.

I'll be covering how to achieve all of this in this book but the key question before we begin is ... "Where is your Woodydale?".

Where is your Woodydale?

Let's start at the top. Someone looking for a Cookie Shop will type into Google things like:

  • Cookie Shop + [Location] - e.g. Cookie Shop woodydale
  • Cookie Shop Owner + [Location] - e.g. Cookie Shop Owner woodydale
  • Fresh baked cookies + [Location] - e.g. Fresh baked cookies woodydale

These are known as 'keywords' - the word patterns you want to rank highly for in the search results of Google and Bing.

There are two other common keyword patterns often used - 'near me' and 'best'

For example:

  • Cookie Shop near me
  • Cookie Shop Owner near me
  • Fresh baked cookies near me
  • best Cookie Shop near me
  • best Cookie Shop Owner near me

But this doesn't mean we add 'best' or 'near me' to our list of keywords we are trying to rank for because neither Google nor Bing take them literally. If you called your business 'The Near Me Cookie Shop' it wouldn't rank highly in the search results just because someone used those words.

Search engines understand the intention of 'near me'. They know the person searching is not trying to find a company by that name but a business close to them. They know where that person is located and so they can provide accurate results of nearby Cookie Shops.

It's the same with 'best'. The search engine doesn't look around for Cookie Shops that mention they are the best. Instead they use signals such as online reviews to decide which Cookie Shops are 'best'.

So, for the moment, ignore 'near me' and 'best' - I'll show you how to rank for these later. For the moment the keywords we need to focus on revolve around what you do and where you are located.

The most common mistake local businesses make is to cast the net too wide. A Cookie Shop based in Sandy Hill, Paterson, New Jersey (US) might think "Wow, there are nearly 9 million people in New Jersey - if I can rank high in the search results for 'Cookie Shop new jersey' I'll have it made!"

In fact that is how a lot of your competitors will think, they get dazzled by big numbers and chase after them. There are several reasons why this approach is doomed.

Firstly, the greater the competition, the harder it is to rank highly in the search results. Let your competitors cat fight it out chasing areas with large populations. It's a pointless cat fight as I'll show you in a moment.

Secondly, even if you were to get your website to rank for something like 'Cookie Shop new jersey' the majority of people who click through will soon realise you are too far away from them and they'll hit the 'back' button. As I've already mentioned, search engines recognise and monitor this action ... and it hurts your SEO!

Thirdly, anyone who searches 'Cookie Shop new jersey' quickly realizes they are seeing too many results and most are far from where they live. So instead they do a re-search. They rethink how they are looking and try something more accurate like 'Cookie Shop paterson, new jersey'

But even Paterson has a population of over 100,000 people so that's still going to bring up a lot of Cookie Shops, many of which aren't local to them so they refine their search even more to 'Cookie Shop sandy hill, paterson, new jersey'.

This process, in SEO, is known as the buying cycle because the user 'cycles' through ever more refined searches until they feel most of the results they are seeing are relevant.

This is where you want your website to rank highly - where the searcher thinks 'these are good results, I'm going to choose one of these'. So forget the big numbers of whole cities or states and focus on an area with a population of 10-30,000 people who are all within a 1 hour travel time.

Sandy Hill in Paterson, New Jersey has a population of 14,000 people within a quarter of a square mile so that is the geographical area to target in this example.

If you are in an area that's a bit more rural there's a different approach. For example let's say you are based in Homer, Alaska, a small city of 5,000 people. Well you might want to rank for some neighboring areas as well like Anchor Point or Fritz Creek. We'll get into how to do that later. For the moment just focus on your immediate town - in this case 'Homer'.

Keyword Tools

So we've used simple common sense to work out what you and to rank for in the search results. They come down to two patterns:

  • What you are and where you are - e.g. Cookie Shop woodydale
  • What you do and where you are - e.g. Fresh baked cookies woodydale

But if you are reading up on SEO you might find a lot of "SEO Gurus" are telling you to use 'keyword tools'. These offer estimates for how often a particular keyword pattern is searched. Funnily enough many of these "SEO Gurus" would like to make your wallet a little lighter because they just so happen to have a paid keyword tool service.

When it comes to Local SEO ignore these because:

  1. They are usually unreliable because they are just estimators. The only people who know how often a particular search is carried out are the search engines themselves.
  2. Common Sense provides the keywords as we've just seen, no need to pay anyone to see their guesswork.

If anything these tools can be dangerous to your SEO. They can leave you believing no one searches a particular phrase so you don't try and rank for it whereas in reality it could bring you really great business.

Now, OK, Google does offer a free of charge keyword tool and you would think that would be reliable but in my experience it also over promises on ome phrases and under states others. Some of my websites get great traffic from phrases Google says are never carried out! So let's stick with common sense.

Keywords and user intentions

Modern search engines today understand user intentions better than ever before. This means you don't have to worry too much about covering all keyword patterns. Search engines understand, for example, that someone searching for 'Cookie Shop woodydale' is very similar to someone searching for 'Cookie Shop Owners woodydale' or 'Cookie Shop Owner woodydale'. So if you rank for one, you usually rank for all.

Right - so we know what we want to rank for and how we want out listing to look in the search results. Time to get practical and make this a reality!

Check out my Really, Totally Ultimate SEO Checklist .... it's huuuuuuuuuuuuuge!!