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The Power of TPT SEO & Niching Down with Arlene Meckes (ep 15)

TPT SEO

There are lots of options for strategies to market and grow your business, and sometimes it’s difficult to know where to put your time and energy. You want to focus on the things that will actually move your business forward, and it probably comes as no surprise when I tell you that leveraging SEO is one of those things that absolutely will pay off. But don’t just take it from me!

Today I have Arlene Meckes on The Savvy Teacher Seller to share her experience with TPT SEO. Before she discovered SEO, she was putting all of her energy towards product creation. As teacher sellers, you know how that usually plays out, right?

You spend so much time creating and perfecting your resources that when it comes time to list your resource on TPT, you want to quickly throw up a title and description and be done with it. However, in the end, that process is not serving you. If you aren’t optimizing your product listings for search, then how will you get enough eyes on what you’re selling?

When Arlene took my online course, SEO for Teacher Authors, and learned the ins and outs of TPT SEO, everything changed for her. Now her products are showing up in TPT and Google search. As a result, she has made 5x more income in the span of just one year!

If you’re ready to see this kind of change in your store by implementing TPT SEO, be sure to check out SEO for Teacher Authors.

1:23 How Arlene started her store, Twins and Teaching, and how having a specific niche has helped her

5:30 Why Arlene began to focus on TPT SEO, and the changes that she’s seen in her store since taking SEO for Teacher Authors

9:16 Some of the results that Arlene has gotten from working on TPT SEO

11:53 A suggestion on where to start for those of you who are just beginning to work on your SEO

14:04 The importance of focusing on a keyword in your product title vs. something fun and cutesy

TPT-SEO-Arlene

Arlene has been teaching and helping teachers for over 15 years. She has taught at both the middle and high school levels and is now creating teaching resources to help teachers like her husband, a CTE Culinary Arts teacher. She has a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology and is passionate about creating lessons that are easy for teachers to use.

In her spare time, Arlene is taking care of her 5 children, 16, 14, 13, and twin 4-year-olds!

You can learn more about Arlene’s store on her website and follow her on Instagram @twins_and_teaching.

Kristen
Hey there. Thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode, i’m talking with Arlene Meckes today. She has been teaching and helping teachers for over 15 years now. She has taught at both the middle and the high school levels, and she currently creates teaching resources to help teachers like her husband, who is a culinary arts teacher. Arlene is a busy mom of three teens and four year old twins. So spending our work time on things that have a long lasting return is critical for her. Today we are talking about how niching down and focusing on SEO has helped her grow her business and be able to take some time away from a classroom. All right, let’s get right into the show.

Kristen
Hey, TPT sellers ready to seek growth in your business? You’re in the right place. Welcome to the Savvy Teacher Seller. I’m Kristen Doyle. I’m here to give you no fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sale. Let’s get started y’all.

Kristen
Hello, Arlene, thank you so much for being here today.

Arlene
Thank you for having me, Kristen. I’m so excited. Me too.

Kristen
Can you tell us a little bit about your store and kind of how you started your business?

Arlene
Yes, my store is Twins and Teaching by Arlene Meckes and i’ve been teaching since 2001. I taught secondary Social Studies outside of Rochester for many years and so did my then husband and I opened a store just to kind of put a couple of things on there. Just test the waters, I would make maybe a couple dollars a month, you know, just for fun. Then we had our three daughters in Rochester and he in 2014 passed away suddenly from an unknown heart condition. Yeah, so it was a huge life event.

Arlene
So my daughters and I moved back to the Buffalo area to be close to my family. I started teaching here in the Buffalo area and reconnected with my high school boyfriend Chris. We got married a couple years later, had twins, hence the name twins and teaching, and is a professional chef, a sous chef at a country club here. We quickly realized that his chef hours were just not compatible with having this larger blended family and five children. So he said, You know, I’ve always loved to teach my culinary interns, I would love to maybe transition into teaching.

Arlene
So we made that shift and he quickly realized, wow, this is a different world than being a chef. Yes, I need something to do with these kids every single day. So I started creating lessons for him and actually an entire curriculum for him. While I was also teaching, and I thought, you know what, I have it teachers pay teacher’s store, I might as well throw some of these out there. Who knows maybe there’s other culinary arts teachers that could use them. And I did that right around the COVID shutdown when there was a little more time to tinker on the computer. And I started to see some growth. And that’s about when I took your course.

Kristen
Let’s talk about your how your store is very niche down and you went from creating kind of more general social studies things to this very specific niche. Do you think that has helped your store?

Arlene
I do. I think that there is a lot of people, there’s not the volume of teachers that may need culinary arts and family consumer science, but there’s definitely a need. And once I kind of was able to get seen on Teachers Pay Teacher’s, it really has grown immensely. Actually last year, I decided to start teaching part time and my district was so kind and allowed me because I really wanted to focus on the store and helping Chris. And I thought you know what, if I can really hustle, maybe I can stay home and do this full time. So this year, I was able to resign from my teaching position and, and stay home and focus on this full time.

Kristen
Congratulations. That’s so exciting. That’s not always everyone’s goal. But if it is a goal, it is so exciting when you get there. Tell me a little bit kind of about what you were doing before you took SEO for teacher authors. You said you were doing some things that maybe weren’t working as well. What were you trying before then to grow your store?

Arlene
I was focused so much on product creation, that when I got to the point of listing the resource, I would just throw up a quick title, throw up a quick description, that was maybe a list of what was included and post it. And then as I was in some Facebook groups and Teachers Pay Teachers, Facebook groups, I started to notice people talk about SEO, search engine optimization, and I saw them discuss your course. So I decided, You know what, I’m going to take this and see, I feel like I should really be focusing maybe on fixing my descriptions. I was I was just really rushing, I think to get the product up instead of taking the time to do the research.

Kristen
Yeah. And I think that’s something that a lot of us do. I’m guilty of it myself a lot. Because creating the product is such a long process. By the time you have it finished, and you’re uploading it to TPT, it feels like you should be done instead of starting the next phase of things. Is that what initially drew you to the idea of using SEO for your store? Was it that idea that your descriptions just hadn’t gotten the love that they needed?

Arlene
Yes. And around that time, I also started a blog. So I was starting to think about SEO a little more and then I noticed that most of my traffic was coming from Teachers Pay Teachers. So I thought if I can really improve my SEO, I’ll show up higher in the ranking.

Kristen
Yeah, absolutely. Can you share with everyone some of the changes that you’ve made in your store or on your website? Either way, after you took the course?

Arlene
Yes. So I changed a lot of my titles. For instance, I had a bell ringer activity prior that I called Food factor, fiction bell ringer activity, no one’s going to search food factor fiction. So making changes and calling it culinary arts, following your activity, and let the title or let the cover kind of tell more of the story of what exactly the bellringer covered and in the description. And then also in my description, just including more words in general, and then incorporating more keywords. And also keyword research. So I was using Uber suggests to help me find keywords that were ranking higher in search. For instance, Culinary Arts worksheets versus maybe family consumer science worksheets, and to see what to use?

Kristen
Yeah, a lot of times people forget that the products we list on TPT. While the ultimate goal is to get them at the top of a TPT search, they can and do often show up in Google searches as well. There are a lot of reasons for that most of it is TPT is doing all the right things according to Google, because we’re putting out constant content on the site. And it’s all around these keywords that we have just as the nature of being a marketplace site. They’re doing a lot of things correctly for Google. And so our products really can show up really high in Google searches. If you’ve done your SEO with both TPT and Google in mind.

Arlene
Yes. And that was one thing that I took from your course, as well as checking the Google search. And then also the Google suggested key terms, search terms, and trying to incorporate those more into the product.

Kristen
How do you decide whether you’re going to use the TPT keywords?

Arlene
I’ve been kind of just playing around, you mentioned that incognito window in Google. So often, I will go in there and see kind of where I rank, and then choose one of them and test and see how it ranks in a couple of days.

Kristen
Yeah, testing and seeing how things change your rank. A lot of it is making an educated decision, not an educated guess I wouldn’t say but an educated decision about a keyword based on the research that you’ve done, and then testing something out, seeing how it change. And then changing again, if you need to testing something different, if it wasn’t what you wanted.

Arlene
And checking back pretty often as well, because I noticed that it may be the second resource on a page, but then a couple of weeks later, it gets bumped down. So then you have to kind of tweak and again.

Kristen
And a lot of that just comes from the way that maybe other products are selling in comparison to yours. And the way that teachers are searching a little bit differently from time to time. So it really is important to keep coming back especially to our best sellers to make sure they’re still staying at the top of their game and that you’ve pushed them up in search as far as you can and for the right terms to. Well, I always love to hear results and I know probably a lot of our listeners do too. So can you share some of the results you’ve gotten from working on SEO in your store?

Arlene
Last August to this August, I’ve made so far five times more.

Kristen
Wow. That’s incredible.

Arlene
I know. And in general, just month to month now it’s about four to five times compared to last year. And of course, I’m technically a newer seller with this niche. So there’s going to be some growth, I would think. But I definitely see a huge jump after putting in this SEO work, which has been exciting.

Kristen
Doesn’t it make you feel good about the time that you put in?

Arlene
Oh, yes. And even my family, they’re like, Oh, Mom has to go work on TPT. Go Mom, go.

Kristen
My kids call it Disney money.

Arlene
That’s funny.

Kristen
I tried to put it in terms that they can relate to and care about, right? Like they don’t care if we’re paying the electric bill.

Arlene
Exactly.

Kristen
I have no idea. I’m bored.

Arlene
Right. Mine was school clothes shopping recently. Do you want school clothes shopping? Then, let me go work?

Kristen
Yeah. I tell my little one, he’s five. I tell him all the time. Like, Mommy has to go work. This is the Disney money, remember?

Kristen
Okay, go on.

Kristen
He’s always happy for me to work. It’s good, though, especially when you have younger kids who are at home with you to kind of bring them in and get them invested in your business a little bit. I think it’s good for them to see parents starting businesses and working to grow them. And also just good for them to see, you know that this is how we get the things that you love to have.

Arlene
It’s true, right.

Kristen
Yeah, it instills a lot of really good values.

Arlene
They’ve been some good hand models for me, too.

Kristen
Oh, yes. Mine do that some to. Put them on the payroll and have them modeling.

Arlene
Exactly. Here’s the cash. Help me out.

Kristen
I always like to leave people at the end of episodes with action steps. So what would you suggest people start out with, if they are just beginning to work on their SEO?

Arlene
I would say using the Incognito search window in Google to just see where your products are falling under some of the keywords that you’re focused on. I think that that’s really, when I started doing that it was really enlightening to see, wow, that I think this is a really great resource, but it’s not on pages, one or two or three.

Arlene
Then just write down where they’re falling and then as you do your keyword research, and implement the strategies, you can kind of go back and see if it’s working. And if it’s making a difference.

Kristen
Definitely. And if you’re on Google Chrome, it’s called an incognito window. But every browser has one like it, I think Safari calls it private browsing. They call them different things depending on where you are. But that can really help you see where your stuff is for the keyword that you think it should be ranking for.

Kristen
Sometimes, they’re right where we think they should be and other times we’re not ranking at all for a keyword. You may not realize it until you go in and look at the search results.

Kristen
But then when you look at the resource, you might know exactly why it’s not ranking because maybe you didn’t use that word. I know I’ve had when I first started working on SEO, I’ve definitely had resources where I thought it should rank for this and it didn’t.

Kristen
I looked at it and sure enough, I haven’t said that phrase anywhere in the title or the content. So definitely looking at those things, and going back and tweaking descriptions and titles can be such a big needle mover.

Arlene
Definitely. And it gives you a kind of a baseline to know where you’re starting. It shows you where you are in Google as well, because if you click on Teachers Pay teacher’s within that search in Google, it will show you what resources are first.

Kristen
Yes, it will.

Arlene
And I think too just steering away from the fun titles and just focusing on the keyword in your title. Obviously, it should match the product. But making sure that it’s a clear keyword title instead of something fun and cutesy that might not show up in a search.

Kristen
Yeah, absolutely. That’s a big change for a lot of sellers is to not use the cutesy title on TPT you can still put it on your cover, you can put it in your description. But unless it’s a really big product line that a lot of people are searching for by the name of the product line. And if you have one of those, you probably know that you have one of those. I have one at one of my product lines. People do search by the title of the product line so I will always keep that in the title.

Kristen
But I’m also putting in the title lots of regular keywords for people that have never heard of that product line. So that as people are just searching for that type of activity, it should come up for that as well. But if you don’t have a huge following and a ton of sales, are people specifically searching for that line, then I think it is always better to use keywords that people are searching for and keep your cute titles on the cover.

Arlene
Yeah, you can make the cover very cute. And I think I was kind of going down one of two paths, focusing a lot on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or just taking the time to focus on my product, titles, descriptions first before I really try and master social media.

Arlene
And I’m glad I took that avenue, because I’ve seen results. And I know people see results with marketing on social media as well. But I’ve really tried to spend my time on SEO and descriptions for now until I feel ready to really jump into one of the other marketing platforms.

Kristen
Yeah, I think it’s important to remember, you know, especially if you are working alone, if you don’t have a team yet, and you’re on limited time, the return on the work that you do for SEO is forever, where we post on social and I post on social too…

Kristen
But when we post on social those posts are there for a few hours, maybe a couple of days at the most. And then we have to keep feeding that monster in order to keep the momentum and keep people coming to your products. So for me focusing in on SEO allows me to do that thing that’s going to have the longer return, it’s almost a better return for the time I invest.

Arlene
Yeah, I agree. If you only have 20 minutes to work, you’re probably better off, you know, updating some product.

Kristen
Absolutely. Well, as you know, SEO for Teacher Authors is open for enrollment right now. So what would you say to someone who is thinking about possibly joining and hasn’t made up their mind.

Arlene
I honestly just really loved the pace of SEO Teacher Authors, I remember sitting on the couch, watching it for the first time and trying to frantically take notes and frantically go over to another window to fix things. Because little light bulbs are going off in my head, and then realizing, Oh, I have access to this for more than right now.

Arlene
So it’s been really nice to kind of take in those nuggets, fix things, and then go back and watch more of the sessions. Because you also include website SEO, which has been really helpful.

Kristen
So get started with that. Those parts will be helpful too, and that’s one reason that I make it lifetime access, because I know that you might join with just a TPT store and ignore the website stuff for a little while. And then come back later when you’ve started a website. That’ll all be there for you and you can still go through online.

Arlene
Yes, and just to rewatch some of it even just for more inspiration. And just to be able to watch how you look at the SEO websites and how you navigate through those are really helpful because they do seem overwhelming when you try to get into them at first

Kristen
like on the keyword tools and things?

Kristen
Yes

Kristen
Yeah, those can be overwhelming. And it’s sometimes hard to know where where to start and how to determine which keyword is right for you.

Arlene
Yes. So that was really nice to be able to see you kind of work through a sample product of how you would title it, and what keywords you would use.

Kristen
Yeah, fun story. I didn’t record that video when I first released the course because I thought it would just be too long and detailed and boring. And who wants to watch me for I think it’s 45 minutes long. Who wants to watch me for 45 minutes talk about a product but people kept asking, can we just see you go through the whole thing?

Arlene
Yeah, it was it was one of the most valuable pieces for me just to watch you work through that.

Kristen
People keep saying that, so I guess that’s my lesson not to get in my own head about how long people want to watch the video if it’s useful. Apparently people like it.

Arlene
Your course has been very instrumental to my growth, I can see a sharp increase right around after February when I when I fixed a lot.

Kristen
I’m so glad to hear that. It always makes me feel so good to hear success stories and know that the strategies that I’m teaching are really working and really helping sellers like you to meet those goals like going part time or leaving the classroom eventually. It means a lot. So thank you so much for sharing that today.

Arlene
Thank you. I appreciate all that you do.

Kristen
Well, where can people find you if they want to connect with you or learn more about your store?

Arlene
I have a website www.twinsandteaching.com and I do have an Instagram account. I’m not very active yet, but it is @twinsandteaching and I’m also on Pinterest as @twinsteaching.

Kristen
Well, thank you so much for being here. Arlene. It was so fun to talk to you today.

Arlene
Thank you, Kristen for having me.

Kristen
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the savvy teacher seller. If you are ready to start using search engine optimization to increase your sales and to grow your business like Arlene did, now is the time to join SEO for teacher authors while it is still open. Head over to seoforteacherauthors.com to get all of the details and to join our fall cohort.

Ready to see growth in your business? You’re in the right place.

I’m here to give you no-fluff tools and strategies that will really make an impact on your sales. We’re talking SEO, improving product listings, leveraging your website, and more. 

About Your Host

Your host, Kristen Doyle, has a decade of experience selling on TpT and has made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to! As a web designer and the go-to SEO expert in the TpT world, she loves helping TpT sellers stand out in the crowd & grow their businesses with passive income strategies.

Tune in to hear Kristen cover all aspects of running a TpT business – from leveraging SEO, to improving product listings, to effective TpT seller strategies for your store and website.