Paper Laundry

Musings From the Washroom

The misadventures of two creatives starting a small business.

SEO For Beginners—We All Have to Start Somewhere

Since we started working on our website we’ve talked about SEO like we knew what’s up. That is a lie. Know why? Because that is not what we do for a living, and the whole purpose of Paper Laundry is to let our talents shine and play to our strengths. This is why we bring on brilliant people—to whom SEO is on par with us chatting brand strategy—to help guide us and our clients. Without further ado, I give you Carly.

New to search engine optimization (SEO)? If you’re like many business owners out there, you’ve likely heard of the term and its importance, but have no idea how to approach it efficiently and effectively. Well don’t worry, that’s what the experts are for! And trust me, it’s not nearly as daunting (or expensive) as it seems and you can be up and running in no time. Let’s get started...

Search Engine Land defines SEO as the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial,” or “natural” search results on search engines (search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo). We all Googleand it’s your job as a business to adapt to the search landscape in order to be found online by your customers—aka to show up on page one of search results. Below are the top components of SEO, and how to get started, to increase your rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Understand Your Personas

A buyer persona “is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” You must know who these people are first and foremost so that you can understand their buyer’s journey and understand what they are searching for online. If you know this, you’ll be able to create relevant content for them and target the right keywords to include in your content. Speaking of keywords...


Keywords, or keyword phrases, are the terms people type into a search engine when they are looking for information online. Keywords should be at the center of your SEO strategy. It is imperative that you conduct keyword research and develop a list of core keywords, that are relevant to your product or service, that you can use throughout your site. Note, do NOT keyword stuff. In other words, don’t use keywords excessively just to get found by search engines. Instead, make sure they flow naturally within your website, otherwise you risk getting penalized from Google.

On-Page SEO

This is the practice of optimizing pages on your website in order to rank higher on SERPs. According to HubSpot, search engine results typically come down to two key drivers: relevancy and authority built through content on your website. When you’re developing copy for your website, be sure to focus on your keywords, as mentioned in the previous section, and include keywords that your audience is likely searching for. Make it clear that your pages revolve around those keywords so that it is easier for search engines to find your site.

When trying to optimize pages for search, there are a few key components you should pay attention to:

  • Title Tags
    • Your title tags are the first aspect of your page that search engines use to review and index website pages. Title tags should be less than 70 characters and should describe your page while also including your keywords.
  • Meta Descriptions
    • Meta descriptions are the paragraph of copy that show up below your listing on search engine results pages. People are more likely to click on your link if they can clearly understand what the page is about based off the description. Meta descriptions should be less than 150 characters so that they don’t get truncated in search results pages.
  • Content
    • Writing a substantial amount of copy on your website will help search engines get a better understanding of what your website is about. As mentioned, write copy about your products and services naturally, and include keywords throughout the pages where relevant.
  • Localization
    • Localization only applies to companies that are trying to focus on a certain geographical area. If you’re a local business, it’s important to include local keywords and information (such as your address and phone number) to help you appear in results for your particular area.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to the factors that impact your website in search engine results, that are not controlled by what you put on your an extent. Link building is extremely important for off-page SEO. It’s like a popularity contest. The more external links that drive to your site, the more important search engines think you are.

So, what’s the best way to get these links? By creating valuable content that people will want to consume and share by forwarding it to friends via email, promoting it on their social media pages, etc. In a nutshell, if your on-page SEO is on-point, it will be a huge asset for your off-page SEO.

A great way to increase links is to create a company blog that publishes frequent and helpful content for your audience (like this one you’re reading right now!). Promote posts on social media and email to increase the odds of people seeing it. If they find it useful, they will “like it” and share it. The more you publish, the more opportunities you give people to link to your pages.

When it comes to link building, avoid scams and “quick fixes” at all costs. Search engines are smart and know when you are trying to go around the system, and they will penalize you for it.

There you have! Those are the basics. Keep in mind SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. If you follow the rules above, your search engine rankings will increase over time, leading to more visits to your website, and ultimately more customers for your business.

What other questions do you have about SEO that we can help you answer? Let us know!


Guest Blogger

Carly Ries is the owner and lead digital marketer of CMR Digital Marketing. She works with small- and medium-sized organizations to help them navigate the digital landscape, build awareness around their businesses, generate new leads, and increase revenue. When not typing away on her computer, Carly can be found traveling, cooking, hiking, doing yoga, and saying yes to any and all social events in the area.



Advice, Small Biz, DigitalCara Moyle