Episode #059 SEO & Content Ideas for Humans Who Aren't Technical Whizz Kids with Kate Toon

SEO for Bookkeepers to help get your website seen

Have you ever found yourself wondering “Why do I never get any calls or new clients from my website?” or “How does SEO even work? Is it some kind of magic that only gifted people can perform? Or can I learn it and DIY?”

Amy Hooke asked herself those very questions – and in her quest, found answers from Writing Entrepreneur and SEO Wonder Woman, Kate Toon. And in this fun episode, Kate will share the answers with you.

Kate Toon's digital education businesses The Recipe for SEO Success and The Clever Copywriting School have helped more than 9000 small business owners grapple the Google beast and write better content.

Yes, it's over 9000!

Key Takeaway: “SEO is not magic, you don't need special juju. It's logical and anyone can learn it.”

Podcast Info

Episode: #059

Series: General

Host: Amy Hooke

Guest speaker: Kate Toon

Topic: SEO for Bookkeepers

Useful links

Kate Toon's Free SEO Nibbles Course
https://therecipeforseosuccess.com/seo-courses/seo-nibbles/

Kate Toon's Recipe for SEO Success
https://therecipeforseosuccess.com/

Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur by Kate Toon (Kindle eBook)
https://thesavvybookkeeper.com.au/misfitentrepreneur (affiliate link)

15 Min SEO Consult with Amy Hooke (Bookkeeping Business owners only!)
https://thesavvybookkeeper.com.au/freestrategy/

Read transcript

Amy Hooke:
Good morning everybody. Thank you so much for joining me today. Today I'm here, as promised, with someone very, yes, very special, someone who's really been part of my journey, which is Kate Toon. So thank you for joining me, Kate.

Kate Toon:
Hello. Lovely to be here, thank you.

Amy Hooke:
No worries, no worries. So just to give everyone a little bit of Kate's bio. So Kate, you're a writing entrepreneur. You're calling yourself a coach and speaker and author and podcaster as well, so you got a few things going on there. But you're running a digital education business specialising in SEO and copywriting, which is how I met you. And so, yeah, so basically I just wanted to get you on today and kind of boast about you a little bit. I hope you don't mind.

Kate Toon:
Oh, it's horrible. Please stop, no.

Amy Hooke:
That's so good. Yeah, so Kate, I came across you when you were doing your Recipe for SEO Success course. And I'd had my eye on that for a little while, and then the timing just became right to jump into that. But initially it was that I'd set up a website for my business and I started generating bookkeeping leads. Not that I called them leads back then, but I grew my business off of my own website. But it was a total fluke. I don't know how I did it. I don't know what I did to my SEO to make it work but people were calling me or filling out my contact form. And so I'd spotted you somewhere along the way. I don't even know how I found you. Maybe I googled something and a blog popped up and I thought, “Oh, this chick knows what she's doing in the world of SEO. I think I need some tips to figure out how to actually make the website do that on purpose.”

Amy Hooke:
And we'd started developing websites for bookkeepers along that road. And I thought, “Well, I can't make websites that don't actually help bookkeepers to grow their business, so if I can't figure it out within”… I gave myself a 12-month deadline and said, “If I can't get these websites bringing in clients, then I really don't have any business making websites and I'm going to get out of here,” sort of thing. So I came to do your course and that's where…

Kate Toon:
And the rest is history. And I love that because I remember, yeah, when you started. Your website had gone boom. And it was like, “How did I do that?” But I loved your honesty that you wanted to be able to replicate that for your clients, give them your success, give them your SEO success.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
Which a lot of WordPress developers, website…

Amy Hooke:
I love it.

Kate Toon:
Sorry. That's real life.

Amy Hooke:
Real life.

Kate Toon:
Sorry guys. A lot of website developers kind of say that they understand SEO but they really, really don't, and they're doing the absolute basics. And then people are coming on my course and going, “Oh, but I paid extra for that SEO package and there's nothing there.” So yeah, I thought that was great that you came and had that kind of ethical approach. It's very good.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, exactly. And I mean as soon as I got stuck into the course, I learned so much from that that I still use every single week. Yeah, so it's just, I don't know, very practical what I learned, but very insightful. It kind of joined a lot of the dots. Because for me, I thought SEO was like this completely mysterious thing. To me, SEO felt like something, it's sort of like almost like magic, like you need to know some secret formula, but only very special people can figure it out. And I didn't think I was one of those people. And so when I started to do your programme, I thought, “Okay, it's actually quite logical and there are things that you can do to influence Google.”

Kate Toon:
There are. There are. There's no magic juju. I think that's really important. I just want to apologise to your lovely listeners because you said it's like you're having a chat. And at the moment, everything is going on in my little Toon cave in my back garden. Doorbells are ringing, dogs are barking, phones are ringing. So I do apologise. If you just thought you heard your own doorbell ringing, no, it was mine. So sorry everyone.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, I did hear a little ping but I thought it was the message from the person that answered the call. So it's all good. It's all good because literally I think 10 minutes before we jumped on, these council guys who never cut the bushes outside, they just decided to come along. So there was like blowers and there was like a little bell ringing out there too. So all good.

Kate Toon:
Awesome. You got to love it.

Amy Hooke:
But I have checked now that my phone is on silent.

Kate Toon:
Okay. Mine is too now. I'm very sorry.

Amy Hooke:
That's really good. Really good. So I think probably a really good place to start would be just to kind of go back to basics. Because SEO, some people listening might not even know what SEO means. So we could just do a little bit of a backstory on that.

Kate Toon:
Yeah, let's start at the beginning. What is SEO? I mean the acronym stands for search engine optimization, which isn't particular helpful. But really I like to refer to it as kind of the art of making Google fall in love with your website. Think of it like the bachelor. He's got 20 different websites to choose from, what's going to make him choose your website to put at the top of the results when someone types in a relevant phrase. So someone's typing in bookkeeper Wollongong, you want to be the first person at the top of the results, what does Google want? And Google's fairly fussy but fairly practical. So it's got about 200 or so things on its checklist that it wants from a website. And that might sound overwhelming but most of them are common sense. And most of them reflect human needs.

Kate Toon:
So when I go to a website, would I rather have a website that takes three seconds to load or 30 seconds to load? Would I rather hit a webpage that's just full of big, heavy images and animation or a website that has an explanation of what services are offered? And it goes on like that. Do I want a website that looks really good on a mobile device? Yeah. Do I want a website that's secure and going to encrypt my information when I send it? Yeah. Well Google wants all those things too. So like you said, there is no magic juju, it's simply a case of understanding what's on Google's bachelor love list and checking those things off, and being aware that some things are more important than others. So, for example, speeding up your site, really important. It's going to have a big impact. It could move you from page seven of the results to page one. Updating the file names on your images, it's important but it's not going to move the needle as much. So there is method to the madness. There is a formula.

Kate Toon:
But the other thing that's really important to say right from the get-go to anyone listening that thinks, “Oh, it's just too overwhelming and I can't do it,” is that there are no secrets. Google tells us what they want us to do. And even the SEO people who are emailing you saying they've got this magic solution for X-amount a month, they don't know anything that is not freely available on the internet. It's just that they have studied it, they've worked out the way of doing it, and they're offering it to you as a package. But there's no secret that they know that you will never know, if that makes sense.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, that's so good. I mean as bookkeepers, we do love formulas,…

Kate Toon:
You do.

Amy Hooke:
… so that's good to hear. That's good to hear. And, yeah, so with, oh gosh, my husband William, so he works with me now. And I've sort of taught him a bit of what I learned from you. And he actually does the initial keyword plan now. We still use your template actually. So he does the initial keyword plan when we're putting together a new website. But he's obsessed with site speed. I remember when he first started getting into it and he'd always send me screenshots of different… He'd test out clients' sites and send them to me. And I'm like, “Oh my gosh, that's totally your thing.”

Kate Toon:
Yeah, that's right. I think it's a boy thing.

Amy Hooke:
It's a boy thing.

Kate Toon:
They love that. But also it's very black and white. And I know it's an accountant state of mind, you want all the figures to add up at the bottom of the column. And the good thing about technical SEO is it is very black and white. Either your site is fast or slow. It gets a bit harder when we move into more of the creative side of SEO, the content writing, the link building, because that's a bit more subjective. When people say, “Write great content,” what you think of as great content and what I think of as great content are very different. Whereas site speed, it's either three seconds or five seconds. You see what I mean? So it appeals to those left brainers.

Amy Hooke:
Left brainer, yes, exactly. Exactly. And so you actually made a good point there as well because you mentioned technical SEO. So I'm assuming that means there's other types of…

Kate Toon:
Yeah, there's like three elements to SEO. The first element is the tech. So that's what puts most people off and makes them think I can't do it. But it's in fact, A, it's very black and white, so it's yes or no. So there's no subjectivity. And B, once it's done, you never have to do it again. So it's a bit painful, you have to rip that bandaid off. That's things like where do you host your website? Is it a good host, good quality? Is it fast? What platform have you built your website on? Have you built it on WordPress or Squarespace or Shopify? Then it's things like how does your site look on a mobile? Is it responsive? Does it change? How fast your site it. Can you access all the pages? And there's a few more extra techy bits that we won't go into today like schema and AMP.

Kate Toon:
But the great thing about technical SEO is more and more it's being baked into the platforms. So what I mean by that is if you build a WordPress site, they have solved a lot of the technical SEO problems that five years ago you'd have to fix yourself. Because they understand that the average business person doesn't really want to be getting in there and fiddling around with site speed. If you buy a supposedly SEO-friendly website platform, you expect that to already work,…

Amy Hooke:
That's right.

Kate Toon:
… not that you then have to fix it. So technical SEO is getting easier to a degree. There's less for us to do. The other two parts of SEO are really content, so that's the stuff on your site, the words, the images, the videos, the audio files, the keywords that you choose, writing for your audience, all that kind of good stuff.

Amy Hooke:
And that's what you call on-page, right?

Kate Toon:
You can call that on-page, yeah. But content could be on-page and off-page.

Amy Hooke:
True.

Kate Toon:
Because it's also about content that you do on other people's site. So just producing content. And it could be content on socials, content in emails, but content. And then the third piece is backlinks. So backlinks are when this podcast goes live, Amy will put my bio up and she'll link to my website. And Google will look at that as a little tick of approval. It'll go, “Amy's website's pretty cool and she's given some love to Kate with a link, so I'm going to send a bit of that love down the link to Kate's site.” It's kind of SEO juice. So the more links that you have, the better. But they have to be from high-quality, relevant sites. There's no point getting links from dodgy Russian websites and dodgy Chinese blog forums. A link from one accountant to another accountant or from an accountant to a bookkeeper is going to be worth a lot more than a link from your mom's blog about cats.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, yeah. That's right.

Kate Toon:
So three elements really, technical, content and links.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, great. And so I think probably talking about content is going to be the most interesting for everybody. I mean it's good. I think bookkeepers, when they come to us to ask for their website done, they often will ask us, “Do you develop the content? Do you do the content?” They might say that, so they're down with the lingo now so they're referring to it as content, most of our customers are. I mean really bookkeepers, we always sort of joke about how copywriters are words people and bookkeepers are numbers people, and sometimes there's not a lot of crossover in both directions. Sometimes there is, thankfully. I don't know why I got the words and numbers both kind of in my brain. But what I try and do is help them to be able to write all of the things that they would love to be able to say but find it difficult to find the words.

Kate Toon:
Yeah, like themselves but better sort of thing. Yeah.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Kate Toon:
I mean, look, I think being very specific about bookkeepers, it's very important to understand who your audience is when it comes to being a bookkeeper. And to talk to your audience, not to talk to other bookkeepers. So one of the first things I do on the course, as you'll remember, is that I say, “What makes you special?” All bookkeepers can balance books. All bookkeepers can set up Xero. All bookkeepers can reconcile payments and raise invoices.

Amy Hooke:
Oh my gosh, you would be so surprised. But anyway, I'm doing a few rescue jobs at the moment. But in general, yep.

Kate Toon:
Yeah, yeah. But those are kind of generic services that all bookkeepers offer.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
The main thing that you're going to have to try and do as a bookkeeper is to stand out, is to differentiate. What makes you special? So it's really important to… Because obviously if we go to Google and we type in the work bookkeeper, it's going to bring back thousands of results. We can narrow that down by adding location because a lot of people want a bookkeeper where they live. But these days, a lot people don't…

Amy Hooke:
Don't care.

Kate Toon:
… care where you are. So location doesn't become a niching factor. So then we have to narrow it down even further. Maybe we could talk about the type of platforms you work on. You're a Xero bookkeeper, you're an MYOB bookkeeper. But again, it's not that differential. So you have to go into adjective land. Are you an affordable bookkeeper? Are you a friendly bookkeeper? Are you an online bookkeeper? Are you a bookkeeper specifically for female entrepreneurs or for builders and tradies? Because that's the only way you're going to differentiate. Because every bookkeeper website… It's impossible. You know, you build lots of them. I help a lot of copywriters. There's a lot of cliches. They all look the same. They're all blue. They've all got a picture of a calculator and a hand.

Amy Hooke:
Calculator. Oh my gosh, yes.

Kate Toon:
Calculator and the hand.

Amy Hooke:
We are a calculator-free zone at Savvy. We refuse. We're like, “If you want a calculator on your website, you have to go to one of our competitors.”

Kate Toon:
Yeah, but it's the same cliché with copywriters. Lots of copywriters, they'll call themselves-

Amy Hooke:
A typewriter.

Kate Toon:
It'll be the typewriter, and their website will be like, “The right words,” or “Words for you,” or “Write for you.” And it's like the big thing that's really happening in 2020 in marketing and SEO is the move towards personal branding. Bookkeepers, even if they're introverted and like to hide behind their computer, they have to try and get their name out there. Because ranking for bookkeeper Wollonggong or even MYOB bookkeeper Wollonggong or even affordable MYOB bookkeeper in Wollonggong for tradies, it's still difficult to compete for that. But ranking for Amy Hooke, bookkeeper, is so much easier because your name, hopefully it's relatively unique. If you're called Jane Smith, you're in trouble. What I want is not for people to by typing in SEO course, I want them to be typing in Kate Toon or Kate Toon SEO course. And that's all about putting content out there that builds your brand and connects your name with what you do.

Amy Hooke:
Yep, that's so good. And so, yeah, well there was a couple of good points in there. I'm just thinking which path to take on that. So you mentioned a little bit earlier about good-quality content. Well actually, the funny thing… There was a couple of things that you were saying about differentiating yourself and that sort of thing. And I was thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh. I thought I was so original,” but probably a lot of the things I say to our audience or to our clients is stuff that I've learned from you. I'm like, “Oh my gosh, that's actually some of the things that I actually teach them.” And I love one of your sayings, it's to write for humans, not for Google. Humans first and Google second kind of thing. It's true.

Kate Toon:
Yeah, it's so important. I think often when you sit down to write “SEO copy,” and for those listening to the podcast, I'm doing air fingers, the little quote marks, “SEO copy,” there's a tendency to go, “Oh, well I need to shove the word bookkeeper in and I need to write in this oddly staccato, robotic way.” And you don't need to do that. Your first point, which is why it's useful that I was a copywriter in my previous life, is your first point should be think about what are the main pain points someone has when they're approaching for you? What pain points are you solving? And you need to reflect those back to the customer. So, “Are you tired of trying to balance your Xero? Are you confused about what,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah? Do you hate numbers and does math give you the heebie jeebies?” There'll be three or four things that all of your customers have, and then you just show that you are the solution.

Kate Toon:
When we talk about good-quality content in this day and age, it's content that solves problems. It's content that's conversational, so it sounds like something you would say. So the best tip I can give you is to read out your content. When we speak, we talk in long sentences that go on and on and on, and then we talk a short sentence, then a long sentence, short, whereas lots of web copy is just long sentence, long sentence, long sentence. When we talk, we talk in a way that's easy to understand. We often use plain English. But when we write, we can tend to make our language overly complex because we're trying to sound professional and knowledgeable. So things like readability. There's a great little tool that I recommend on the course called the Hemingway app, which is free, that just shows you if you've been overly verbose in your copy. And there's other tools like Cliché Finder, so if you find yourself using a lot of cliches.

Amy Hooke:
Oh, I love that.

Kate Toon:
Yeah, an idiom finder. Lots of people think that they're terrible writers. The goal at the end of the day is not to be Shakespeare or to be Don Draper who writes top-level advertising content. The goal is to be relatable and practical. I don't go to a bookkeeper expecting them to have the most eloquent, elegant copy on their website, but I want them to clearly explain what they do, who they do it for, how they do it, and why they do it better than anybody else. That's what I want. And I want to see a picture of the person I'm going to be working with.

Amy Hooke:
That's a big one, isn't it?

Kate Toon:
I want to know what their credentials are. I want to see who they've worked with before. And I want to see people like me who had similar problems to me that they solved. So if there's a person on there that's maybe a woman of my age, roughly, that's got a business that's quite like mine that came with a scrambled bookkeeping situation, and you fixed it, boom, I'm yours. Reviews are hugely powerful. We need to use those a lot as well. So, yeah, I don't think the goal is to be the next best writer. The goal is to just be practical and make sure your copy's readable and enjoyable.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, exactly. I remember when I was first making my website and I thought, “Well, I'll have a little bit of a sneak to see what other bookkeepers are doing on their websites so I can get some inspiration.” And that was actually what gave me the inspiration to start what I'm doing with Savvy because I saw the websites and I was like, “Oh my gosh, they're all the same.” What I started to notice is that, and I didn't know of it as a value proposition or any marketing lingo back then, but what I saw was this value proposition that's super generic which is, “We take care of the bookkeeping so that you can get on with your business,” or, “so that you can have your weekends back.” It was very broad and very overarching. And then once I started to actually do the designs for bookkeepers, they'd come in and I'd say, “Okay, so who's your target market?” And they'd be like,…

Kate Toon:
Everyone.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, like, “Anyone, as long as their turnover's between $50,000 and $10 million. Any industry, any age group.” And I was like, “Okay, so basically every business owner in Australia,” so that's not really…

Kate Toon:
Yeah, anyone with a credit card and a pulse, that's pretty much it.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, exactly. Exactly, that's the joke, isn't it? Yeah, and so from there it kind of evolved into I realised that I had to actually coach them through this process so that they can figure out who is this mysterious target market.

Kate Toon:
And this huge range. I've worked with different bookkeepers and my business is quite, I wouldn't say necessarily unique, but I'm not a solo person. So you could niche with freelancers. They have their own particular challenges, lots of chasing up invoices, lots of small amounts. Someone like me, I need someone that understands Stripe and PayPal and how to integrate them with Xero. I have hundreds and hundreds of small payments going through that need to be reconciled. I have integrations with WooCommerce and ActiveCampaign. I have three different lines of business. And I'm very online, I'm very digital. All bookkeepers aren't going to be right for me. So they need to find the language and the words that someone like me would type into Google.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, exactly.

Kate Toon:
I might type in bookkeeper who understands online business, bookkeeper who's worked with people who have e-courses. You don't think that's a search term but what happens with search is that you type in bookkeeper, you don't get the result you want, you just keep on adding words to your keyword phrase until you find what you want, don't you?

Amy Hooke:
Yeah.

Kate Toon:
You don't click to the second page. Who does that? Nobody.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, that's right. Exactly. So, yeah, it's really good. I mean a few years ago I felt like I kind of looked at these websites and I thought, “Okay, well I've learned what not to do.” But I think since then there has been an improvement. And I'd like to think that we've played a part in that. And when I say we, I mean myself but also armed with the knowledge that I've learned from you. I definitely want to give you a little bit more credit there.

Kate Toon:
Oh, thank you.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah. Because I mean when I first started all of this sort of stuff, I didn't know what any of it meant. And also, I think even just looking at your websites and how you present your business, I love the way that you've branded yourself in that you show your personality and you make jokes and you relate to people. Obviously you wrote your book, the Misfit Entrepreneur, which I-

Kate Toon:
I did, yeah.

Amy Hooke:
I loved. And you're wheeling away somewhere. Where are you going?

Kate Toon:
I'm sorry.

Amy Hooke:
She's answering the door. Real life.

Kate Toon:
I have my dog in the office, my chief furry officer, my CFO.

Amy Hooke:
I thought, “Oh, someone's at the door.”

Kate Toon:
I knew he had to go out. Yeah, it's been a real journal for me to personal branding, especially in SEO. I've literally just seen someone today who's come out with an SEO course and they've used the chef analogy like I have. So they've literally… I mean I don't think that they couldn't have been aware of me. They were probably aware of me and they tried to emulate it. And it's really hard to differentiate in this market. I mean there are hundreds of bookkeepers, there are hundreds of people offering SEO. And at the end of the day, we all do similar things. I mean you talked about there's a huge range. Of course there is, but at the end of the day all you've really got is you, your quirks, your individuality. And the only part that you can show… Someone can copy the chef analogy, they can copy my colours, my brand, or whatever, but they can't emulate me.

Amy Hooke:
They can't be you. Yeah, that's right.

Kate Toon:
And the more that I use me in my marketing, the more I can relax because it's me. And either you like me or you don't. I mean not everyone's going to like you, and that can be quite difficult to get over. But, yeah, it just makes like a lot easier if you can use your personal self as your brand, you know?

Amy Hooke:
Definitely. Exactly. And I mean have you personally, in developing your online brand and your presence and everything, did you actually, I don't know… Yeah, I guess we're kind of getting a little bit personal here, but hat was the journey that you went on to kind of… Did you go through a season of finding your voice or having to get more confident?

Kate Toon:
Oh yeah, absolutely. So I've been doing this now for nearly 12 years. I started my business when my baby was in my tummy. I was five months pregnant. So the first three or four years, I literally was just trying to get through the day. There was no thoughts about branding and strategy. But through that, you're posting content. The more you write, whether you think you're a good writer or not, the more you get good at writing. It's like anything. So I was finding that certain posts were getting engagement and certain ones weren't. Certain jokes were resonating and some were falling flat. You start to kind of get used to your material like a standup comedian or something, what makes the audience's eyes light up and what makes them die inside.

Kate Toon:
So thereabout when my son was about five or six and went off to school, I had a little bit more time. I don't think you have any more time but there's a bit of a mental shift that you've moved to a new phase. And that's when I launched my two businesses properly, The Recipe for SEO Success and The Clever Copyrighting School. And I'd launched them as brands to keep them separate from me, which was a bit of mistake I realise now. And I'm kind of bringing everything back to the Kate Toon brand. But, yes, it took a lot of confidence to start marketing myself as myself, warts and all, flaws and all, to start sharing my bad stuff, because I do share my failures as well. but not to share too much bad stuff is allowed.

Amy Hooke:
That's right.

Kate Toon:
Yeah. And I've had my fair share of haters and trolls and nasty comments. And in the early days, each one would make me reel and loose a day of worrying about why this person in a garage in Woop Woop was writing this nasty comment. Whereas now, I just screengrab them and share them on social media and don't care.

Amy Hooke:
I love it.

Kate Toon:
But it does, it's been a definite journey, I'm going to use the word journey, towards having a personal brand that I'm confident about. And that's also been a journey personally as well. It's not just business. Because what I want to be is I want to be the same wherever I turn up, whether it's in the Google search results, on Facebook, or in real life, or here, now. I don't want anybody to be like, “God, Kate's really different when you talk to her in real life. She seems quite nice online and then you meet her and she's horrible.” You don't want that. So it's hard. And I'm sure there'll be people listening going, “I don't have a personality. I'm not funny. I can't think of things.” You don't need to be funny.

Amy Hooke:
No.

Kate Toon:
You don't need to be extrovert. You just need to be you.

Amy Hooke:
That's right.

Kate Toon:
If you're mad into hedgehogs, talk about accounting and bookkeeping, but also talk about hedgehogs. Show people some insight into your real life. It doesn't need to be deeply personal stuff.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, that's right.

Kate Toon:
It's just something. Give me something.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, exactly. Well actually, I mean I'm sitting here looking at the subtitle of your book, which is How to succeed in business despite yourself. And so I mean, yeah, I loved that book. It's very funny, very real, but also good to see. Obviously it wasn't and SEO book. It's a book about your journey as a business owner. I mean you're quite transparent about your journey.

Kate Toon:
What a muppet I've been. Yeah, it was a permission book really, because I've not done any of the things that you're really supposed to do in terms of being a grownup business person, business plan, scaling, hiring staff, getting a proper office, having strategy for my social media, developing a brand guideline. I made my logos on Carver in two minutes. Do you know what I mean?

Amy Hooke:
Yeah.

Kate Toon:
I made my first logo for Recipe for SEO Success in PowerPoint and then launched it. And it was imperfect and flawed, and I've improved on it. So the book is definitely about how you don't have to do what everyone else is doing. And it can be hard in our industry because we're all looking at the shiny example of beautifulness that people are putting out there. To see through it and know that person is in their undies behind their computer having a bad day just like you are, but they're just not showing it. I think there needs to be more showing of you in your undies, not literally but figuratively.

Amy Hooke:
But now literally.

Kate Toon:
Figuratively. #ShowYourUndies, or not.

Amy Hooke:
Maybe not. I love it. Yeah, I love it. Because I think, as business owners, there's so much pressure to be a certain way. I mean I guess it's like that in any industry, but as bookkeepers someone will say, “Hey, I just”… I mean our whole thing is, our shoes and handbags are the software platforms that we use, the different integrations and Xero add-ons. We get very excited about those. And so what happens is someone will come along and say, “Oh, I just set up this platform.” And everyone's like, “Ooh, ooh, do I need that? Do I need that?” And it's very tempting to kind of run off in all directions. But being able to, yeah, just slow that down a little bit and not have to have everything. And then through that, like you said, just learn… It's funny how being in business is sort of a journey of learning to be yourself. I don't know why.

Kate Toon:
That's the epiphany.

Amy Hooke:
It's weird.

Kate Toon:
It is. And the reason why a lot of businesses fail is because I think a lot of people are not comfortable with themselves. Especially if it's your own business, sitting on your own every day in a small office and motivating yourself to do the do, despite the highs and lows, is incredibly, incredibly difficult. And we don't give ourselves enough credit in what we do. That's why people go and work for the man, because you can just turn up and do your job…

Amy Hooke:
And go home at the end of the day.

Kate Toon:
… or not do your job and coast, and no one notices. So there needs to be more recognition of the challenges of running a small business. It's really, really difficult to continually put yourself out there, be inventive, stay across all the new developments but not get shiny-object syndrome, to stay true to yourself, to do the do. It's really, really challenging.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, it is. It is. So once you know who your content is for, so we call it a target market but it's really who are the humans or who are the people that are going on your website? I mean obviously all sorts of people end up on our website. But we don't want everyone who's coming on our website to actually call us, right? Yeah, there's some people you want to scare them off, you know?

Kate Toon:
Yeah. Good marketing is as much about repelling as it is about attracting. But you'll not do that if you're vanilla. If you just say, “I'm a bookkeeper and I work with anybody,” then you're not going to appeal to anybody. Because I don't want a generic bookkeeper. I want a bookkeeper that understands my specific problems and pain points. And the pain points and specific problems of a window cleaner who needs a bookkeeper are very different to an entrepreneur who needs a… They're very different. And I want to feel that you get that. So yes, it can feel scary to niche down with your keywords, with your content, with your brand, but we pay more for specialists. You don't pay much for a GP. But if you want to go to a brain surgeon, you're paying top dollar. You will wait, you will do whatever they tell you to do because you respect them for being an expert in their field. If you don't choose a field, how can you be an expert?

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
You have to choose that field I think.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think it's really good. I mean some bookkeepers just use their website as an online brochure.

Kate Toon:
Brochure.

Amy Hooke:
And some are actually looking to generate leads online. And I think, regardless, the content still matters. Because once they get on the website, you want them to be able to connect with you and see that you can do what they need.

Kate Toon:
It's quite an intimate relationship. I mean, really, a bookkeeper gets to see all your dirty financial laundry. They can see every transaction you made. And if you're one of these people who've got a messy account system where your personal and your business is all linked in or whatever, they're going to see that you bought this at Liquorland or whatever. So the know, like, and trust factor, which is huge in marketing, in SEO, we call it eat, expertise, authority and trust. Building that up is crucial. I want to see your face. I want to know who you are. Even if your website is a brochure, before I hire you, even if you've been recommended by someone I know, what's the first thing I'm going to do?

Kate Toon:
I'm going to google you. I'm going to google your name. If you don't come up on the first page, I'm going to be like, “That's a bit weird.” If I go to your website and it's out of date and has no new content on it, that's a bit weird. If I can't see your face, if your LinkedIn profile is out of date, if you're not on Facebook or… I want social proof. I want to know that you really are Susan Jones in Newcastle, not some front for some Indian Fiverr account. I need that social proof. And there's lots of touchpoints for that, not just your website but Google reviews, LinkedIn, True Local. And we we're going to talk about Google My Business, weren't we? We should probably cover that as well.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, that's right. And I've actually muted myself because those hedge cutters are back outside.

Kate Toon:
They're back. We can't hear them.

Amy Hooke:
They're making so much noise.

Kate Toon:
We can't hear them.

Amy Hooke:
But I don't know if… Can you hear it?

Kate Toon:
No.

Amy Hooke:
No. I'm hoping that I've got a good enough microphone that it filters it out.

Kate Toon:
It's working well, baby.

Amy Hooke:
So yeah, Google My Business, we can chat about that. And reviews is another good one to chat about. What did I… Oh my gosh, that hedge guy has distracted me.

Kate Toon:
Thrown you, thrown you.

Amy Hooke:
You just go for it. I'll just give it back to you.

Kate Toon:
Okay. Well, Google My Business, I think a lot of people might not have heard of it. But it's a free platform that Google provides you. So if you just go to Google My Business, you can set up an account using the details that you've used for Gmail or YouTube. And what it allows you to do is almost create a little landing page for your business connected with an address. Now, some people don't have a physical address that they want to share online. If you do, it's great. Try to have a physical address. People are like, “I don't want people showing up.” People won't show up. Or, “I don't want people to know where I live.” People can find that out pretty easily these days.

Kate Toon:
You put your address in. If you don't want to put your address in, you can say that you service particular post codes. You don't have to have you physical address on the internet. You'll have to put your address in to get a post card that comes to you, but you can choose whether that's displayed or not. And then you get a whole page where you can describe your services, show photos of your business, put opening hours in, and, most importantly, get reviews. See, if you go and type in copywriters Sydney or something like that, you'll see that I pop up. And I think right now I've got about 230 reviews. The person underneath me has about 30. Now, 30's pretty good. But if you could choose someone that's got 230 positive reviews or 30, which one are you going to choose? You're probably going to go with the one… And you're definitely going to read those reviews.

Kate Toon:
I will, before I do anything, before I book a hotel, I'll read the hotel's description, not believe a word of it, I'll jump straight to the reviews and I'll start to read them.

Amy Hooke:
I got to ask you this. I've always wondered this. I've never asked anybody. Do you read the five-star reviews or the one-star reviews?

Kate Toon:
I read the one-star. I read the ones and the fives.

Amy Hooke:
Same.

Kate Toon:
But the thing is, but I read them with a pinch of salt as well.

Amy Hooke:
That's right. It's the threes you want to maybe take a good look at.

Kate Toon:
Yeah. And also, you can click on the person reviewing. And often the people who leave one-star reviews always leave one-star reviews.

Amy Hooke:
They leave one on everybody.

Kate Toon:
Yeah.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, they just go…

Kate Toon:
But I do read them. And there's some stat that says 75 of so percent of people will believe an online review even if they don't know the person.

Amy Hooke:
Right, yeah.

Kate Toon:
And people are frightened of reviews and allowing that to be out there. The thing is, people are talking about business and your brand, whether you like it or not. And what you want to be is you want to be in the room when they're talking about it.

Amy Hooke:
I love it.

Kate Toon:
And by not having Google My Business, someone is leaving a review for you somewhere. Someone's on a forum telling people what they think of you. Google My Business gives you the opportunity to respond. And then they can't respond to your response. So even if someone on your bookkeeping page says, “This was the worst bookkeeping experience of my life,” this happened and this happened, you can respond to that in a way that really builds your brand. You can say, “Hey Sue, I'm really sorry that you had a bad experience. As you'll remember, we talked about it on the phone several times. I offered you a refund. You didn't want that,” blah, blah, blah. So you can tell your side of the story. But you can also finish off with, “But if you have any questions or problems, please call me directly on this number. I want to do everything I”… And people read that response.

Amy Hooke:
Well that's right, they can see that you're even showing respect to somebody who's just completely…

Kate Toon:
Being rude, exactly.

Amy Hooke:
… tried to rip you to shreds.

Kate Toon:
But what happens with Google, you know we know that we have an environmental footprint through the world. We have a Google footprint. Every time you are mentioned online, Google starts to build up a picture of who you are and what you do and what you're known for. So the name Amy Hooke, if I type it in, maybe there's a famous Amy Hooke who does this. But if I type in Amy Hooke bookkeeper, your name will be of… Maybe if it's not even linked to you. You might not even be aware of it. That's why we should google ourselves. You're being mentioned here, there, everywhere. You should be aware of that. You should set up something called Google Mentions so that every time your name, if it's a peculiar name, is mentioned, you get an alert for that.

Kate Toon:
And all of that is contributing to Google thinking, “If someone's looking for Amy Hooke bookkeeper, this must be the person they're looking for. This is the website I'm going to show.” And that's what we want. We're building up our expertise, authority, and trust. So it's really important to get your Google My Business set up. Get those reviews. They don't improve your ability to rank but they do improve people's likelihood to click through to your website, and relevant people.

Kate Toon:
As you said, we don't want any traffic, we want relevant traffic. We want conversion traffic. So this is the one most important question when you go and see an SEO consultant, if you decide to outsource, or a web developer. You shouldn't be going to them saying, “I want to rank number one for this phrase.” That's not the goal at all. The goal is, “I'm making this much money now, and I'd like to be making this much money. How do I do that? How many more people do I need to get to my site? What's my conversation rate? How can I get more relevant people, and then make them convert?” You could be ranking position four and achieve that.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
It doesn't matter.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, that's right. Exactly. I mean because engaging someone to do SEO is obviously a scary thing for any business owner. I guess because SEO providers, they do get a bit of a bad wrap because of there's lots of dodgy providers, especially overseas. I mean as soon as we set up someone's new website, the first thing that happens is they start getting all these spam messages from SEO providers saying, “I've looked at your website and it's really bad.” Or, “The content's wonderful. I'd love to help you get,” whatever.

Kate Toon:
It's important to know that everybody gets those.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
I get about 20 of them a week. But it can really throw people. Especially if someones, for example, just paid you to build their website, then they get an email from Sanjit saying, “Greetings of the day. Your website SEO is terrible.” And then you have to defend what you've done. The thing is they don't actually look at your site.

Amy Hooke:
No.

Kate Toon:
They send the same email to everybody.

Amy Hooke:
They send the same message to everybody.

Kate Toon:
So then you're going out trying to find an SEO service provider. How do you do that? Well, number one, you should never go to anybody who's emailed you. Number two, you should never get somebody off an Upwork or Fiverr site because they have no reputation to maintain. They can delete their Upwork profile and be gone with your money. So you want to find somebody that has an established business, has an address, has a client list, is maybe Australian based, has had clients like you. Trying to rank a plumber is very different from trying to rank an accountant. Very different.

Amy Hooke:
That's right.

Kate Toon:
Have they had other people like you? Can they show you results? Will they let you speak to some clients? How long have those people been clients? Because anyone can make anyone's SEO good for three to six months. But two to three years, very difficult.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, exactly.

Kate Toon:
Does the person making the recommendation actually understand SEO in the first place? It's all these factors. And that's why I've got a little, free course, which I hope you don't mind me mentioning, called…

Amy Hooke:
No, don't worry.

Kate Toon:
… SEO Nibbles. And it explains some of the basics that we've talked about today. But the end day, it gives you a questionnaire to talk with an SEO consultant about so that you can ask them the right questions and then know what they're answers should be. So if an SEO consultant's coming to you saying, “I can get you on the number one page, I guarantee it,” you go, “Uh oh, that's a flag. That's a red flag.”

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
If they're not talking about conversions, if they're secretive about their methods, if they pretend they have a special relationship with Google. All those things are red flags because they're all lies. And also, if they try to make you feel dumb. When I'm talking to a bookkeeper, I want them to… I know I need to understand BAS and revenue versus, this, that, and the other. But it's a foreign language to me. I'd rather you explained these things like lines of business, cash reconciliation versus whatever, what? I don't understand it. So you have to, yes, use the right language but expand the explanation. And some people are really good at that. They make you feel comfortable and you go away feeling calm. And other people, you get that feeling in your tummy. As with any supplier, I think if you get that weird feeling in your tummy, then it's time to not work with that person. Because it's not going to get better. It's probably going to get worse.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly. Exactly. And as you say, the Google rank doesn't actually mean anything. So if you say, “I can get you on page one,” it's like, “Well, on page one for what?”

Kate Toon:
Yes. How many visits is that going deliver my site?

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, there could be keywords that they might get you on there but there's no searches for those keywords. They're not relevant to…

Kate Toon:
They're not conversion. I mean this is the biggest thing. People get you on page one, then they get their money, but that keyword that they've chosen has no conversion intent. The people who type that in don't want to buy.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, that's right.

Kate Toon:
They just want information.

Amy Hooke:
They're looking for free information, exactly.

Kate Toon:
They're looking for free information. You don't want that. So I always said this and I've used this analogy with you. You've heard it a million times. But I used to rank number one for the phrase copywriter, which sounds amazing and was great for building up my ego. But somebody that types copywriter into Google isn't necessarily a potential client for me. So while that keyword term has loads and loads of traffic and is super competitive, it has no conversion intent. Something like financial services copywriter Sydney for website, yeah, might only get typed into Google twice a month. But the conversion intent on that is so high that if they hit my page and I deliver, I can convert on that every single time and I can make money out of it. So that, which has maybe traffic of two a month compared to traffic of 20,000, is a better keyword for me.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, that's right.

Kate Toon:
Because it's not about ranking, it's about conversion.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah. That was one of the things I love what you said in the course. Because you teach us how to understand all these different numbers. So in the Recipe for SEO Success, you do go through step by step and show how to research keywords and how to plan those keywords out and work out the value and all that kind of thing. But you said, “At the end of the day, the number one conversion to track is sales.”

Kate Toon:
Yes.

Amy Hooke:
Am I getting more phone calls that are resulting in somebody becoming a customer? That's the real conversion that…

Kate Toon:
That really is it.

Amy Hooke:
… you're looking for.

Kate Toon:
Totally. It's not SEO for sake of SEO. It's not vanity ranking. It's how much money are you making? Because if you're not making money, it's a hobby. Still, SEO is getting harder. More and more of the search engine results page is taken up with featured answers and videos and the local pack and ads. But it's still free to a degree. It's still this amazingly powerful platform. They say that 70% of all business transactions start with a Google search. More powerful than Facebook and LinkedIn and Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest and email and print marketing and sales advertising, more than all of those. SEO will deliver all of those together and more. And even if you only get a tiny percentage of that 70%, it's better than nothing. So the sooner that you start… You might think, “Oh, it's too late. I've left it too late. I'm never going to get there,” start.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, exactly.

Kate Toon:
Do something. Because the good thing about SEO is, although it's a bit of learning curve, once you start getting it right it can last a lifetime.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
I have posts that I wrote in 2009 that are still delivering two or three thousand visitors to my website every single month. Yeah, it's good.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, exactly. I love how it's much more permanent. Whereas you've got AdWords where you're putting the money in, and as soon as you stop it disappears. I mean you may have competitors come in and try and knock you out of your spot and things like that. But on the whole, you've got all of these different keywords that you're going to be ranking for, and it's going to be a much more permanent.

Kate Toon:
It's going to build, yeah. And that's an important thing to say as well. Many people are like, “Oh, I just want to rank for this one phrase,” and that's success. No, you want to rank for hundreds and hundreds of phrases and combinations. And Google's getting better and better at understanding the intent, the natural language processing is a big thing with Google at the moment. So, yeah, I think it's an exciting thing. It's not overwhelming. It's not overly technical and it's really something that anyone can do. And the thing is, you don't need to be a brilliant writer, you just need to know your subject matter well.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly.

Kate Toon:
So you just need to be a good bookkeeper.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, that's right, isn't it?

Kate Toon:
And then you can hire a good editor to polish up your writing and get rid of your typos. Even I, who I'm a professional copywriter, I have an editor who gets rid of my typos.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I mean obviously we've got bookkeepers who don't necessarily love to write. And I guess in that instance they can either engage a copywriter or they can try and brush up on their own skills. What would you suggest to somebody who's just like, “I'm not a writer.”?

Kate Toon:
I would suggest that if you sat down for an hour with a friend or somebody and just said, “What questions do you have about bookkeeping?,” and got a list of 20 questions, and all you did was try to answer those questions, not write beautifully but just try and write a 30-word answer for each of those questions, and then you took those pieces of content, those FAQs or such, and you shared them on social media just as they are, boring, they would work. There's a different example, but there's a really great HR lady that I follow, a lady called Karen Hillen. And all she does on Instagram is put a question. “Did you know that if someone works more than 38 hours a week,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. “Did you know”… And just a single line fact. There's not lots of copy, it's just, “Did you know?” But it's really basic. She turns up every day, posts one of this did you know. And what did I think? I thought, “Gosh, she really knows her stuff. Wow, I never knew that fact. Wow, that's really interesting to me.” I'm not really interested in HR at all but she just did it again and again. And then when I needed a HR person, she was the only person I could remember.

Amy Hooke:
I love it.

Kate Toon:
Because she turned up again and again an again.

Amy Hooke:
That's right.

Kate Toon:
And she wasn't necessarily the best writer and she wasn't sharing this verbose blog post of 7,000 words. It was one tip a day. And it made me hire her, so it works.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah. I love it. It's a nice, simple tip. I think it's something that any bookkeeper can manage even if they don't feel that their skills are up there. I mean the scares me is that there's various providers who say… This does appeal to bookkeepers, but they say, “Hey, come and subscribe to this,” it's like a database where they can pick blog pre-written content.

Kate Toon:
Ugh, ugh.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, I know. I know. And sometimes people who work with us, they come to us and they say, “Oh yeah, I'm going to sign up for this.” And, yeah, to me that's a bit scary because not only is it not good for the SEO but the articles are so dull. There's nothing in there that can help the person to connect with you.

Kate Toon:
Well this is it, A, you're going to have what's called duplicate content issues, which could see you being de-ranked. And B, yes, they may get people to your website but they're not going to convert people on your website. People are going to read those articles, they're poorly written, they're spun, they're probably written by AI, which can sound reasonably good. But I'm going to get through the first couple of lines and go, “What?”

Amy Hooke:
This doesn't make sense.

Kate Toon:
Yeah, so there's this whole myth that we need to blog every single week to keep Google happy. We don't. Google doesn't reward the most consistent content, the most regular content. It rewards the best content. But also, blogging these days isn't the only route. You can use social medias to drive traffic to your site. You can use video if you're brave enough. Video's hugely powerful. There's lots of different routes that don't involve writing a 1,000-word blog post. And I'd rather you had no blog post on your site than a piece of spun content that you bought from some content farm…

Amy Hooke:
Oh my gosh, yes.

Kate Toon:
… that's probably on 50 other accounts in some bookkeepers websites.

Amy Hooke:
Oh my gosh, it scares me. I had to stop looking. Sometimes I would go, “Okay, I think this is a duplicate.” And then you have a look on Copyscape, something like that. There's apps where you can actually check to see if an article's already been published online. And you'll see, yeah, 20 copies of the same article on other bookkeeper…

Kate Toon:
Yeah, of course. How else could they afford to deliver it so cheaply. I mean it's common sense.

Amy Hooke:
Yes, that's right. That's right. Well, yeah, that's been so helpful. I mean I recommend for anyone to do your courses. I mean you've got your WordPress course for people that want to set up their website. Are you still doing that?

Kate Toon:
Yes, the first course is SEO Nibbles. That's a free, little micro-course that takes you through the basics. The next one is the 10-day SEO Challenge, you don't have to do it over 10 days, which is the first 10 things anybody should do regardless of what business they're in. Then there's another course which is about building WordPress websites in an SEO-friendly way. And then the big kahuna is the Recipe for SEO Success, which takes you to the level of being able to do SEO, a level that an SEO consultant would offer you.

Amy Hooke:
That's right.

Kate Toon:
Obviously, the price of the course is about the price of a month's worth of a professional. So it's an investment. It's not cheap.

Amy Hooke:
It's definitely worth it. It's definitely worth it.

Kate Toon:
Thank you.

Amy Hooke:
And you can upgrade to have a private… Do you still do the private, one-on-one?

Kate Toon:
I don't. I don't so much now.

Amy Hooke:
Oh.

Kate Toon:
But what I do have, which I think is even better, which didn't exist when you were around, is I have a membership afterwards, which is a small group membership where you pay $50, $60 a month to do coaching calls with me every week and ask questions. So it's not one-on-one so much but it's regular check ins to go, “I tried this. This doesn't work.” So there's a whole little flow there.

Amy Hooke:
Yes. Okay.

Kate Toon:
Just doing something is a start.

Amy Hooke:
Exactly. That's really good because I have had a couple of clients… Even though we do websites for quite a few bookkeepers but we don't do an ongoing SEO service for many. It's quite niche for us. And also, because of the price point, it's not really accessible.

Kate Toon:
Most people can't afford it, yeah.

Amy Hooke:
And I've had people coming to me lately saying, “Can you teach me SEO?” And I'm like, “Go to Kate.”

Kate Toon:
Aw, thank you.

Amy Hooke:
Because I could try to teach you, but I think if they go directly to you and do the programme, they'll get so much more than what they can learn…

Kate Toon:
I send my bookkeepers your way, you send me your SEO. The back-scratch economy, it's very important.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, that's right. So yeah, thank you so much for your time. And your tips have been really good. I love the way that you just explain things in such a straightforward way with no fluff…

Kate Toon:
Thank you.

Amy Hooke:
… so people can kind of learn something from that. And I'll pop links to your SEO Nibbles and the 10… What was the 10?

Kate Toon:
Yeah, SEO Challenge. I'll send you all my links.

Amy Hooke:
Yeah, send me all your links and I'll pop those in. And them, yeah, anyone who's thinking of brushing up on their SEO skills, I definitely recommend that you check those out.

Kate Toon:
Thank you so much, Amy.

Amy Hooke:
Thank you so much, as well, for your time. And yeah, I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. Hope you feel better soon.

Kate Toon:
I will. And sorry for all the disturbances and wiggling around.

Amy Hooke:
No, I don't think anyone heard it. So all good, all good. So yeah, thanks everyone for listening in again. And I will catch up with you next Friday. I have no idea what the topic is going to be but we've got a couple more guests coming up in the next few months. So we'll probably be continuing on our theme of being able to manage your time a little bit better. But we've got a few marketing sessions and marketing-related topics coming up as well. So have an amazing weekend and I'll see you next Friday. Actually, I won't see you but you'll hear me. And until then, stay savvy.