Breaking Down SEO with Mariah Magazine: Taking Keywords to Conversions

April 9, 2024



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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

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How do we go from keywords to conversions? That is the infamous question. How do we rank on Google in a way that will not only get us found, but also get us paid? You guys know I am passionate about this, but today on the podcast, I actually have brought on someone who might be even more passionate than I am to start breaking down SEO.

I have brought you Mariah, an award-winning organic SEO consultant and online business educator for entrepreneurs. She covered so much and let me pick her brain about AI and Google, what we are supposed to do if nobody is searching for our keywords and so much more! She makes breaking down SEO sound SO easy. I am just obsessed with her. 

Mariah has been in the space for over eight years. She’s helped over 150 clients get their websites found on Google, and she’s actually just really cool. I’m SO excited to share this conversation with you all today!

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Who is Mariah Magazine

Mariah is an award-winning organic SEO consultant and online business educator for entrepreneurs. She’s a host of a top 10% podcast, Curiously Guided, and she supports business owners and founders in diversifying their online digital marketing strategies so that they can grow their brands in a way that actually feels good for them and aligns with their strengths. Mariah’s a firm believer that showing up on Google and organically marketing your business doesn’t have to be as difficult and overwhelming as everyone makes it. I love breaking down SEO in an actionable way!

breaking down SEO with Mariah Magazine

Can you start breaking down SEO and explain what SEO is for people that don’t know?

Let’s start breaking down SEO from the beginning. SEO stands for search engine optimization. This means your website is optimized to show up in search results like Google. When you optimize your website for search engines, it trickles into all other search engines, but we SEO people prefer Google because they have the biggest market share. SEO helps get free and organic traffic from those search results on search engines.

This is compared to paid ads. Paid ads are usually shown at the top. They usually say sponsored or ad next to it. That’s not SEO, that is Google AdWords. It’s all under the umbrella of SEM (search engine marketing), but Google Ads is different from organic traffic.

Those paid ads you see at the top are only clicked around 25% of the time on average, which means that 75% of the time people are clicking on organic search results. Those businesses paid to get there. Usually, it’s not the best solution to the problem where organic search results show up naturally and organically because Google thinks it best matches what you searched for. 

Do you think you need to have a blog to rank on Google? Is optimizing a website enough or how do the two work together?

We need to remember that websites don’t show up on Google, pages do. It’s always a page by page basis, your homepage, you can target a keyword and related keywords, each services page, you can target keywords.

Generally, in the interest of breaking down SEO, you don’t technically need a blog in order to show up on Google. And there are a few reasons for this. If you’re a local business owner, you can have Google My Business. So Google My Business is how you show up in the maps. That’s usually for physical businesses, so that’s one way, and you don’t have to have a blog in order to show up on there. 

So after that, your homepage is one of the best pages to show up on Google because it’s the perfect solution to a problem. If somebody’s typing in SEO consultant, for an example, we have to think about the intent of that keyword. So what are they looking for? Are they looking to become an SEO consultant? Maybe not because they didn’t type in how to become an SEO consultant. Are they looking to hire one? Probably.

If Google doesn’t know what they’re looking for, then they might have a combination of commercial keywords (somebody looking for a service) and informational keywords (usually blog posts). It depends on the keyword and what the intent is and what Google thinks the user is looking for. Another keyword, for example, is website wedding photography packages, that person is probably not looking for a blog post. They want a wedding photographer’s home page or services or about page to show up.

So, you can target keywords on your homepage, about page, and each service page. A lot of people like to throw all of their services on one page. It’s fine if your services can’t be connected to a keyword, but if you can connect each of your services to a keyword, then have them on separate pages. Therefore, these specific pages could be the best solution to the problem when people are typing in specific keywords to align with the pages that they want to show up for. 

If we want to be on the first page of Google, we have to be the best solution to the problem.

How do we avoid “cannibalizing our pages” by creating a bunch of pages that compete with each other, or should we be worried about that?

It takes a lot to cannibalize. You’re not going to get hit with an error if you have three pages targeting a similar topic. If every single page on your website, you’re targeting the keyword web designer, it depends how. Because if you are a web designer, you’re going to naturally use web designer on probably all of your pages. Is that cannibalizing? No. Because it gives Google an idea of what niche you are in, who you are in authority of, and topical things. 

There’s not a black and white answer here, but if you’re trying to target a keyword, like “how to hire a website designer” and “how to find the perfect website designer”, you’re probably going to be saying the same information. So pick one you think you can show up for, and then naturally use the synonyms in the content of the website. You can play around with that in the SEO title and the meta description throughout the content itself. It is going to be cannibalizing if the content isn’t different on the pages, because then what problem are you solving? Now you’re solving the same problem on every page. 

Plus, keep in mind that Google is not an idiot. It’s sophisticated. It’s an algorithm. It understands synonyms. So if you’re trying to choose between keywords, trust your gut. All of this is testing and tweaking. If you’re not being associated with any of these keywords, we’re throwing noodles at the wall to see what Google is going to do with them. Try to target a keyword and have Google search console set up to check in on that keyword. If Google has you on page two for a synonym instead, go back into that piece of content and reoptimize it for the synonym that you’re already being associated for.

Breaking down SEO ‘s hotest topic lately: as an SEO consultant how do you feel about using AI? Assuming the AI output is good?

AI is not going anywhere. We can’t fight that. Google tried ended up having to change its perspective. If you are using AI to help you with your process, great, run with it, it can speed up your process. But if you are using AI to generate content and then not editing it to sound like your own, it’s unlikely that you’re going to rank sustainably. I say that because algorithms aren’t perfect, but apparently Google can check to see if it was written by AI. You can read something AI wrote and know it wasn’t written by a human.

So you might rank at first, but you’ll probably move down pretty quickly because you want to rank on page one of Google, probably to get conversions, sales, to get customers. If I’m reading a blog post that doesn’t have your personality, your perspective, or anything about you in it and you sound like everybody else, why would I choose to work with you? People buy from people that they know that they like and trust.

We buy from people that we vibe with, AI content we cannot vibe with.

I think that you can use AI. I think it can speed a lot of things up, but if you think that you’re just going to use AI to generate 10 blog posts every week, and now you don’t have to do anything, that’s not how it works. Google is smart. We don’t need more content. We need better content. It’s about quality over quantity.

What do you say to people getting started on keyword research but “nothing they want to be found for is being searched”?

It depends on the industry and the niche. I have yet to find a business, niche or industry where I can’t find a gap in the market. You might have to get more creative. Step out, talk to people, talk to your clients, see what they are searching for. Sometimes people get too focused on industry jargon, but the majority of the time, your people are not typing industry jargon into Google.

We need to think about how our clients think about things. It also depends on the keyword research tool you are using. If you are using Ubersuggest for example, it’s fine, but Ubersuggest just doesn’t have a solid database. Any SEO expert is not using Ubersuggest, because it doesn’t have as many keywords or features and it isn’t as reliable when it comes to data. 

My favorite keyword research tool is SEMrush. There’s a 14 day free trial you can snag here. You’re going to see so much data. But then also you can start Googling things to see what comes up under related searches. Desktop is usually easier in order to gather this information. You can do it on your phone, but sometimes it can get a little weird. Take a look at the related searches. You’re researching or doing a competitor analysis and see what your competitors are showing up for, and then that will usually spark some paths to go down.

Mariah starts breaking down SEO for beginners

Thank you so much for breaking down SEO with me! Last question, do you feel like your business had a tipping point, and if you did, what caused it?

I think the tipping point in my business was when I stopped trying to build my business like everybody else and leaning into and getting curious about what my zone of genius is. What am I here to do that nobody can do what I do. For me that’s consulting and educating. And of course things happen where I’m like, ah, look at that over there. But then I ask myself what I want. I want to talk, educate and consult on this stuff.

These other ideas are great for other people, but they’re not mine. It’s continuously self-reflecting, because also keeping in mind that our business gets to evolve as we evolve. And a lot of people don’t like that because it feels uncomfortable to start messing around in a new territory that you haven’t done before. Even though you might feel so excited about it, it also feels scary.

But it’s opening the perspective, allowing yourself to be curious, setting time aside to self-reflect, and to just be like, what am I really good at? Or even what would I do over and over again? And keep asking yourself that question because it might be a small tweak. I would say the tipping point was me getting clear on what I’m good at and what I enjoy doing. It just elevated my confidence. Now I know where my lane is. I feel like things just get easier when we can stay in the energy that aligns with what we’re really good at.

Thank you to Mariah for breaking down SEO with us today!

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I'm Kara - the voice behind some of the brands you know and love (I know because I love them too!). I'm results-driven and ambitious, just like YOU.

Meet Kara