Darcy is the founder of Propel Marketing & Design. Propel is a full-service marketing agency located in South Florida that works with companies of all sizes. She is a recognized public speaker and educator on topics related to traditional marketing, content marketing, SEO, social media, WordPress, PR, and other digital marketing strategies. Over the past few years through online and in-person trainings, she’s taught over 17,000 small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Arlen: Welcome to the podcast Darcy.
Darcy: Thank you. I'm excited to be here!
Arlen: Yeah, it's great to have you and I'm super excited about the topic of the day, as we I mentioned prior to our recording we're going to be talking about SEO search engine optimization and it's really a big deal. We've been doing a lot of things internally in our company here OSI Affiliate Software with regards to SEO. It's a type of field that's really just changing all the time and you really got to stay on the pulse of things and so I'm super excited to pick your brain a little bit about. But before we get into all of that, why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and specifically how you got into what you're doing today
Darcy: Absolutely. So I started in Corporate America and I was there for about a decade working on marketing and I decided to make the leap or just seemed like the right time to use so I started Propel about eight years ago and as it has continued to evolve as companies do. You passion project has been our Ready Set rank program, which is designed to really help people who want to own their own SEO because as you know, we're all wearing so many hats and businesses today that people are taking charge of SEO when it used to be just for the techies and it no longer is.
Arlen: yeah that's interesting you mention that because I do recall
Let's continues ago. SEO was almost like a foreign turn to a lot of business owners. Like what's that? Huh? Yeah,
Darcy: like the pure coders you had to do all the digging in you had to do all the secret stuff and it's just not like that anymore.
Arlen: Yeah, it really isn't it and it's good to see that, you know, you've embraced that in or helping businesses be successful with it
So, you know the kind of kick things off. I was like to break it down really at the very bottom of you know, really? What is SEO. For those listeners that aren't really familiar with it. And why is it so important these days
Darcy: SEO is search engine optimization and it focuses on proven strategies and tactics to help you maximize the number of visitors to your website by positioning it high in the listing on organic the non-paid section of Google in those other search engines, and it's so important today because if they can't find you online
Your potential customers are probably going to go elsewhere leading them to your competition. And when it comes to SEO, there's really three main elements you have on page SEO which is actions that take place directly on your website to improve your website ranking. You have off page SEO strategies that take place outside of your website to drive more traffic to your site
And then you have the overlap those elements that are super important like identifying your audience and connecting with them and knowing your place in the market.
Arlen: Yeah, that's a great breakdown. I appreciate that one of the things that you kind of broke it down to those different categories of the on-page SEO and the in the off page SEO and I guess my kind of one of my initial questions
Actually now that I'm kind of thinking about it those things that a business owner or business that has a non line. Let's say e-commerce site or in e-commerce store those types of on-page elements versus the off-page things and then it's probably a common question. What do you think is more important or is it really hard to say
Is it the on-page SEO the off page is a mix of both like where do. Kind of spending your time mostly in I guess you could yeah,
Darcy: so they're all very important. But like when you're just getting started or you're like something isn't working here, like if you go to the overlap, it's really interesting because technology is evolving
So SEO is evolving, but it's really also this emerging technology meets with like good old-fashioned. Marketing tactics and if you really sit there and identify your target market and focus on how to connect with them the other stuff starts to come into place because then you're like, okay. Well, I know the words they're using okay great
Those are the keywords you need to use on your website. I know where they're hanging out online because I've done all of this research identifying who they are great. Then you know, what where you should be offline promoting your website to drive traffic or. Side of your website to drive traffic to your website
So I would almost even say it's the stuff in the middle that you need to start on first. Obviously like you got to make sure that websites Rock Solid that it loads quickly that it's mobile friendly that it's secure but once you have those bases covered because. Got to be these days then you just need to make sure also that you're really honing in on your audience and how you can connect with them And that is it more at the heart of SEO today than it ever has been before. In my opinion
Arlen: you're so right. I think you totally nailed it. And that's really what even Google says despite what people think about the whole, you know, the Google algorithm and how they it ranks sites. And how do you get ranked
Number one what they still say today is the main thing that they're looking for is making a the best possible user experience. And so what they want to always try to do is. Provide people with the best possible results based on what they're looking for. And in order to do that. You really have to make sure that you know, your messaging is communicating as clearly as possible on your site and into the right particular audience because if you are and you're doing all of the things
Right, you know at a bare minimum that's kind of really like you said the kind of the first things that you really should do is make sure you're communicating correctly.
Darcy: Absolutely and you can even go back like I notice you know user experience is so important, right? So when somebody lands on your website, they need to know they're in the right place and that you offer what they're looking for, but
If you've really gone and honed in on that audience and targeting them, you should be using the right images which sometimes that's an issue for people. You should be using the right words which again you go back and if you really honed in on them, you're using the right words then. Of course, you have your SEO elements of internal links and meta descriptions title tags that you've got the benefit of Technology working for you in the fact that in this day and age most people can jump into their website like you couldn't do that years ago you had to have a programmer do it but today
These website Builders you're able to go in and you're able to kind of tackle these things on your own and drop content and change things around. Yeah,
Arlen: it's true. Whereas before you definitely you kind of had to be a coder. It wasn't so easy to modify or edit the meta tags in the site or just any type of description or any anything
Beyond just basic text. Yeah, you had to be really a programmer to do that. And so these days it's really kind of wide open for anyone to be able to do it with all of these types of editors and plugins that you have for WordPress. Yeah. It really it is amazing and it's a great opportunity for everyone or every business owner that has a website too
Make sure they do things correctly with regards to SEO. Now, you know, we kind of talked about, you know, the initial things that you want to do at the bare minimum is make sure that you're communicating your correct messaging and you're providing a great user experience for your users. Once that's done at the very starting point then really what's next as far as a business continuing on with
In SEO strategy,
Darcy: so one you want to take into consideration your content marketing and if we go back for a second because you did mention plugins and I think that there are amazing plugins out there right like yoast SEO and even some of these platforms are very SEO friendly. Bigcommerce Shopify, but just because you have a plug-in like Yost or you have Google analytics on your website
That doesn't mean you're doing SEO you've got to take these tools and then use them which sometimes when people are just getting started. They don't really realize they're like, oh I've got Yost on my website. Okay, great. But are you using it? So you've got to actually use that and then once you're ready to keep going you want to make sure that you're developing quality content that really will help you again connect with your user and then once you've got that quality content on your website, then you want to move into the off page SEO of driving traffic to your website and present that you've got your audience because you probably are collecting emails
You've got your social media. So all those are. Wound solutions to drive traffic to your website. Then you got other people posting about you or you doing guest post or gaining credit elsewhere to drive traffic back to your website. So once you've got the foundation in place and you're really sure that you've honed in on your place in the market and your target audience, you've got your foundation in place on your website, then you want to start to go off of your website
To bring traffic and because it seems like what people are doing has content marketing is growing. Is there either spending tons of energy creating amazing content and then not pushing it out or they're not really creating tons of content and they're just trying to drive people to their website and you've got to have a good marriage of the two of those
Arlen: That is so true. And I commonly see that on my end was we deal with e-commerce businesses, you know all day and yeah, it's one of the other it's either they there's so much Focus, you know, they got awesome website. The whole user experience is great. They answer their users questions so much positive things, but they're not pushing enough traffic to it
And so it's you know, it's kind of like that age-old saying it. You know if there's a tree in the forest that drops does it make a sound if there's nobody there to see it really does it really sound is just based on perception of these sound waves or whatever. So, you know, you gotta Wonder yeah, they can have the optimal saw some insight on the world
But if there's nobody there to view it and consume it then it's just not worth it. So definitely has to be a mix you've got to course have a great user experience, but. Same time you got to drive people into see it because unfortunately you can't just build it and they will come, you know, you got to promote it
That's the thing about search engine optimization and websites in general. Now, I know a lot of the businesses that are listening or the marketers that are listening are probably wondering. You know, it's definitely something that should be done. If probably heard it before they've listened to blog posts or another podcast and they're like, yeah, I'm a business owner
It sounds great. You've mentioned some really positive user-friendly tools that I've heard of before that should probably take advantage of but you know, that's not my forte. I'm just busy running my business. I don't know anything about this. Do you think it really is successful? SEO strategy can it be managed internally or should an e-commerce business really seek outside help from an agency which your take on it
Darcy: So I think obviously it can be done in-house. The thing is is that you know, your business who you're trying to Target and what you offer better than an outsider better than a copywriter better than a graphic design a web designer, you know. Yes you can. Definitely go to agencies, which I'll sit down with you and scope it out, but they're going to need your input which is going to take your time
So as you're scaling up, I suggest keeping it in-house and to you feel like you're at that point where you just can't anymore because your time is just fun too thin and when you do get to the point when your time is run too thin you need to make sure that whoever you do Outsource it to that what they're doing makes
Like we talked about SEO isn't like what it was years ago. When somebody was just in the back end coding things. These people are doing things that people should see on your website. They're taking actions to help improve your user experience. They are trying to connect with your customers. So you've got to make sure that whatever they're doing is seamless with the rest of your marketing initiatives
So if you're going to say that you're going to handle all of your marketing initiatives, but you don't want to handle this. Element of it. You got to kind of figure out what's the best way to handle that is it because you don't know you're a little too scared to get in the background and make some edits or is it because your time is limited and if your time is limited, which totally get that then I say look to Outsourcing it, but make sure it's done in a way that makes sense
Arlen: That's true in like you said, I like the strategy of what you mentioned were initially. You know due to the point where of course gives you as a business owner, you know your business, you know, what the objectives that you're trying to achieve are, you know, the type of customer you're trying to drive in
So therefore you were gonna be the best one to understand what type of accounting marketing you should do and what type of things on your website that you're going to need to optimize it totally makes sense. But I think you really nailed it when you said that yeah, it's got to come to a point where
Yeah, you can do that maybe at a ground level initially, but there will come a point where you know, you'll have to get beyond that and hand it off to someone else to be able to main to really maintain it because one thing that a lot of businesses, it's kind of a misnomer. They think SEO is a one and done type thing where you know, you could maybe hire an agency you to get a company to clean up your website
You do a bunch of content marketing for you do a bunch of promotion drive up your rankings. And that's it. You know, you're you're home free. Unfortunately, it's not like that. It is a definitely an ongoing process an ongoing strategy that. It's something really that you have to do it every day
There's got to be somebody really dedicated whether they're internal you have an agency that you're working with that are doing something related to your SEO strategy on a daily basis Sophia for sure.
Darcy: I want to just kind of hung it on that. We've seen such a surge and the term content marketing and content content content
You should be blogging and you should be doing this in content content content. And I think sometimes people are like, okay. Well, that means that we've got to get out a Blog once a week and no it doesn't mean that but sometimes they'll turn to a solution thinking they're picking it a good SEO solution and they look to people that
Are affordable and they'll put to get they'll come up with these blog posts and then you know, it goes back to that user experience and really honing in on your audience and it's stuff that your audience just it's not going to really interest them or they're not using the right words because they don't have the knowledge that
You have or that you know, they're just putting together content for the sake of content and it's just sitting there doing nothing because it's just an it can almost even hurt you. Sometimes if you're just doing content for the sake of.
Arlen: Yep, definitely. There's got to be a rhyme to reason to it
You have to have some type of strategy with the content in the things that you're doing and that you're creating for sure. Now. I've probably already mentioned Google probably like 10 times already in this podcast and the kind of ties into somewhat of my next question and I guess it really comes down to
Really and I guess this is another question that's coming to died here. We all know of course. Google is really the main search engine. Of course, there's other search engines out there and with your experience. What do you usually do the things that you tell your customers as far as like should you be concerned about your rankings in the other search engines or do you just really focus all your efforts on Google
Darcy: you should absolutely be. And I think it just comes to an overall ranking. So when we've talked about a CEO a lot today, we talked a lot about it being on your website, but the true nature of SEO includes ecosystem. That's really evolving because you've also got like what company reviews that are on Yelp Google my business, you know other places that
Go into factor, you've got voice search and you've got technology evolving an evolving and evolving. So yeah, Google's the big player. And yeah Google's important, but you gotta also take into account that it's your overall strategy and your overall strategy against should go with your overall marketing strategy
So if you're doing good in one you should be doing pretty decent in the others because you're paying attention to. Going on
Arlen: definitely for sure. And I'm glad you mentioned that because to add on to that one of the things as a business owner you have to make sure that you're cognizant of is that you really don't put all your eggs in one basket and focus so much on Google because unfortunately Google is it's an algorithm on there and
There's sometimes for whatever reason they just can switch things up overnight. And you know one day you're listed number one on Google for a particular keyword that is driving. Let's say 90 percent of your traffic the next day you could be listed, you know 30 and you're just totally off the map
Darcy: Yeah. Are you hear about those companies where they just focus on Facebook or they just focus on Twitter and then. Goes down for a couple hours or Twitter goes down for a couple hours and they lost their whole entire audience. Like you can't put all of your eggs in one basket. You have to think about find abilities
So it again it goes back to your user. If you've defined where they are on online and where they go to look for information position yourself in those locations. Not just on Google.
Arlen: Yeah for sure and kind of the buzzword that I keep hearing these days amongst the. Marketing podcasts and blogs is the omni-channel approach.
Making sure that you cover your bases on all of these channels because these days there are so many channels and platforms online channels and platforms to find customers and to get up get your audience if I customers from a particular audience. So yeah, it's very very important to be diverse and use the omni-channel marketing approach now specifically with regards to Google
How does a business really stay abreast of the changes that they're making with regards to ranking? Because as I mentioned in my example one day you can be listed under one but let's say overnight Google make some radical change in their algorithm and then the next day your rankings number 30 and you're off the map
You know, how does a business owner somebody cognizant about SEO stay abreast of the rankings and the changes that Google has going on are there any resources that you can recommend?
Darcy: So I mean Google in itself is a resource, but you'll find or over time. Sometimes there have been times where Google's like
Oh, well, these are the changes we made and then you realize well those weren't the changes that affected me. It was something completely different. So there's one thing to what they say is what they do an update and they say we're focusing on this and you're like, but wait, that wasn't exactly
Doesn't isn't an alignment with what happened with my website. So going to your Google analytics seeing what's going on. Like, you know, was there a one-page that people were always going to and then all the sudden on one day they stopped and kind of you got to do your own a little bit of digging Google itself does offer information and if you are interested in staying up-to-date with SEO there are tons of websites and I can give you a couple examples, but I would say if you're not looking
Into be an SEO expert you're just looking to wear that additional hat. Sometimes it's better to get like the watered-down version of things. So you're not like dealing with all these words that you're like wait. There's another word. I got to look up. So we've got tons of resources on our website Propel your company.com
I would also suggest to people Maz Yost and backlinko as sites for them to go to for some real quality information that again just because there's an update that. It says Google ran an update and it said this is what it's going to be affecting in your like wait a minute that doesn't isn't aligned with the way it affected me
You've got to go in and do a little digging. It might not just be there might be additional reasons or there might have been some additional changes, but they aren't the ones that are necessarily noted. So there's some hidden factors sometimes.
Arlen: Yeah, that's some great advice and some great resources and I think one thing also to note that people have to be aware of is
Google is a business their company their for-profit company that you know out there to make money and whatever they do kind of behind the scenes as far as the ranking algorithm is concerned really all that is proprietary. They don't really have to tell people anything they do really certain things
Like you said after the fact they say the others change could affect such and such and things like that. But as far as their kind of Secret Sauce as to. All they really really rank sites to all of us is really still a mystery. I mean, of course, we know things we know kind of the best practices to improve rankings, but when it comes down to it, we no one really knows everything only the developers the lead search engine coders only they really know and they probably only know part of it
So all you really did probably the heads of the company at this point really kind of know. Really everything all put together. So yeah, I would just say they can't really necessarily rely on Google did to give them everything. So you definitely have to just stay abreast and just make sure you just follow the overall best practices that I would say now, I know at the beginning we talked about when you first starting off and starting off making sure that you've got a really solid user experience and you're communicating correctly with the user at a bare minimum
There's a lot of other things that you can do with regards to content marketing and driving traffic into your website. And we know with SEO, of course, you have to be really diverse in what you're doing, but would you say there is one important most important factor over all of the others when you're looking to improve your search engine rankings there something in particular that you think you need to do more of than anything
Darcy: again, it really goes back to your user
So when we talk about putting together content, it's what are the top. Things that they're asking you because obviously from your customers you're getting feedback you're getting questions and you want to make sure that you're answering and providing that type of content and you do absolutely need to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly that it loads quickly
Is that as soon as somebody's on their they can move throughout your site very easily to get to content that nothing's hidden and then you know, it boils down more to the on page like on every single page or you taking the right actions. So while if I had to boil it down to one thing, I would say user experience, but that covers so many things
Arlen: it does
But yeah, that's a great answer and I think it's that really like I said from the beginning it's really. That's ultimately right in line to what Google is saying that they're looking for all they really saying is that as long as you're creating a positive in the best user experience. That's what they're looking to do
They're trying to provide the results the best possible results based on people's particular queries. So yeah, if you're doing that on urine and providing content that matches up with particular queries. At a bare minimum that's you know, definitely what you should focus on. Well Darcy, it's been a pleasure having you on the podcast
I really appreciate all your insight into SEO as we know. It's such a wide open field these days and it's really great to see all of these different resources. Now that are available that at least make it possible for just about anybody to at least get in there make changes to their website and. Do things like they couldn't before so I'm really happy to see that and I just can't wait to see what's holding for the future
But before I let you go, I always like to close things out with one final fun fact question just to pick your brain in another aspect. Just wanted to see what is one thing that you think alright audience would be surprised to know about you one. Fun fact.
Darcy: Well, I find that people always kind of look at me a little silly when I tell them I've been a vegetarian since I was 13, so
Going on strong for many many years. But yeah, I guess that would be my. One fun fact and I wanted to thank you so much for our time today.
Arlen: problem. And then thanks for sharing that. Yeah, that's something to say as far as starting off as a vegetarian at that age. Is that something that your parents were or is that something you just decided to do on your own now
Darcy: Apparently when I was just a young teenager I decided that was my way so
Arlen: gotcha. Gotcha. All right, so you just definitely knew what you wanted to do and went forward with it. Yeah, that's awesome. It's good to hear. I'm a people that have particular goal, especially at such an early young age and then kind of go for it and continue through with it
Well Darcy, yeah, like I said again, it was a pleasure having you and finally what's one way for our listeners to get in contact with you. If you want to pick your brains any more about SEO,
Darcy: absolutely, so the website is propelyourcompany.com, and you can reach me at Darcy at Propel your company.com
And I think you'll probably have that all spelled out in the show notes. I'm guessing or if you need me to awesome.
Arlen: Alright, great. Well, thank you, Darcy for joining us today on the e-commerce marketing podcast.
Darcy: Thank you.
Darcy Sullivan, Founder of Propel Marketing & Design