My Story and Why I Do What I Do

Friends

Find out why I do what I do. Life has certainly thrown me a few curveballs!

September 19th is a very memorable date for me. It’s a date that changed the course of my life… twice.

The first time was in 1989 and the second time in 2011.

In 1989, I was 20 and lived in Sidmouth where I was working in one of the hotels as a chef. On September 19th, I’d gone out with some friends for a few drinks and some games of pool. It was a weeknight so I was only drinking soft drinks – pints of orange juice and lemonade as I recall!

Car accident that changed my life

A life-changing accident

Later in the evening, a friend and I decided to go for a drive. On our way back from Exmouth, as we drove up Four Elms Hill and rounded the bend at the top near the Bowd Inn, we were suddenly faced with an oncoming car travelling at speed on our side of the road. The last thing I remember is the headlights.

I learned afterward that my friend had swerved our car to the other side of the road but didn’t get there in time. The oncoming car was travelling at 100mph and we collided head-on on the passenger side. Sadly, the passenger in the other car died on impact and I was left fighting for my life. The drivers escaped with minor injuries.

Putting the pieces back together

I died as they cut me out of the car and twice more in the ambulance. My injuries were extensive.

My left femur had snapped and was sticking out my leg, my left hip and ankle were badly broken, my lower legs both broken, my left elbow shattered, my left forearm, heel and lower back were broken and a couple of ribs too.

I was in a critical condition for some time and had many operations to pin and plate my bones.

The prognosis was poor.

As I began to recover and piece my memories and my body back together, I was dealt further bad news – my right arm, initially my only limb to remain intact, was also found to be broken.

My future mobility wasn’t very promising. I was told that I might never walk without a limp and that I was likely to end up back in a wheelchair by the time I was 40. Doctors also warned me that I might never have children.

It was a bleak time. I largely dealt with it by burying my head in the sand and refusing to believe the doctors.

They have since praised my determination, attitude and perseverance.

My beautiful daughters

Back to life

While still in plaster, I tried weight-bearing and, as soon as the plaster came off, I slowly learned to walk again – it took time and was very painful. But I did it. And I don’t limp.

I eventually went back to work, although I could no longer chef as I was considered an insurance risk. This was all I ever wanted to do, so I was absolutely gutted. I began waitressing at the same hotel and, after a short while, got promoted to head waitress. I still had a lot of operations during that time and also suffered post-traumatic stress.

Slowly though, I began to get on with life.

I did all the usual stuff that 20-somethings do. I travelled, I got married and had my beautiful daughters – the doctors got that wrong too.

And so life unfolded in a more normal kind of way. While my daughters were young, I completed a couple of diplomas in computer applications and web design and picked up freelance work for local web companies.

A new journey into SEO

As a result of this, I was asked in for an interview by a then well-known local web company and so began my journey into the world of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

Twenty years ago, a lot of businesses didn’t even have a website; SEO was very new and also very easy! (Fast forward to today and that’s no longer the case.)

I worked for this web company for a number of years as their SEO consultant. I loved working with a huge variety of businesses to improve their online presence and increase their conversions. I wrote SEO blogs for the company and continually improved my SEO knowledge and skills.

And every September 19th, I would celebrate the fact that my legs still worked by going out dancing with friends!

An unexpected phone call on holiday

In the July of 2011, I took my daughters away for a long weekend in Bude. My marriage had broken down by this point so it was just the three of us.

We had a lot of fun – exploring beaches, flying kites, horse riding, playing beach volleyball and doing all the fun things you do on holiday.

But I received a phone call from a colleague on our second day to say that the web company had gone bust and I had no job to go back to. I eventually managed to speak to my boss who confirmed the bad news.

What was I going to do?

I was devastated and had a bit of a wobble. I was a single parent and we needed my wages. I needed a solution quickly

We stayed for the remaining day of the holiday, I did a lot of thinking and made the most of being away; we even bagged ourselves a free surf lesson!

On the drive home I decided to set up on my own because I was good at what I did, after all.

SEO+ is born

Setting up and running a business brought about its own challenges and it was a very tough couple of months.

Failure wasn’t an option, so I kept going and on September 19th, 2011, SEO+ was born. It was a huge coincidence that it was exactly 22 years to the day after my accident! But absolutely fabulous and life-affirming too.

I juggled running my business with family life. It certainly wasn’t easy and I made plenty of mistakes along the way but I kept going for my girls.

They were my reason why.

I was determined to make a better life for them. For all of us.

At the time I didn’t really have much of a support network, I didn’t know other business owners and I didn’t go to networking events or even join groups online because I didn’t know any.

Basically I didn’t have a clue about how to find clients!

So I did the one thing I knew how to do – SEO.

I remember thinking that if I can get my website to rank on the first page of Google then people will find me and hire me as their SEO provider, and then I wouldn’t need to go out and find any clients!!

So I worked on that and initially optimised my site locally so businesses in Devon would find me, before thinking stuff geography, I’m going bigger!

Within a couple of months my website began attracting clients from all over the UK and further afield too. I remember being so stoked when I had my first US client!

A date to remember

September 19th, 2019 is a date I never thought would happen – I turned 50 earlier in the year, it’s 30 years since that accident and SEO+ turned 8 years old!!

I’m fit and healthy and not only still walk but have started running again too.

And SEO+ is a multi-award-winning SEO company helping more and more businesses as it continues to grow.

Truly, life is good and I feel blessed.

SEO+

It’s been a real journey and, on reflection, this might seem strange but I actually feel thankful for what I’ve been through and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’m tougher than I ever thought possible and it’s apparent that I have the attitude and the determination to fight back and win against the odds.

My story so far, wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to all the people I met along the way that have inspired, supported, and empowered me, from my parents, my friends, the doctors, and the physios to the many business owners and various experts I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with and learning from.

So where next?

During my 20-year career, I’ve worked with a wide variety of businesses globally, but my real passion lies in supporting fellow business owners, freelancers and entrepreneurs.

I’m in my zone of genius when I’m working on SEO and I love helping and guiding business owners, so they can reap its incredible benefits.

The SEO Accelerator

To celebrate September 19th in 2019 I created and launched the SEO Accelerator, which takes business owners from SEO stress to SEO success.

In many ways, it reflects my journey over the past 30 years.

The SEO Accelerator is for business owners, entrepreneurs, and freelancers who want to increase their visibility, sales and business growth for the long term. It’s perfect for you if you want to turn your website into an unstoppable customer magnet.

It’s my way of helping as many ambitious business owners as possible, even ones who are just starting out the way I was nine years ago.

SEO Accelerator

Hazel and Tim in St Lucia

Rough Seas

And then 2020 happened! What a tough year that was. I’m sure most of us have experienced many struggles and perhaps continue to do so.

We all weathered the same storm but we were not in the same boat. We experienced our own rough seas and our perceptions and needs were very different.

This is my experience from my boat…

Last year myself and my partner booked our dream wedding in the Caribbean and, as you can imagine, we were so excited! Getting married on a sun-kissed beach was to be the highlight of our year.

The world had other plans…

On the 16th March, we flew out to St Lucia a week before our booked holiday with Sandals which included our wedding on the beach. Having checked with the resort we were confident that there were no problems due to COVID 19.

We arrived at the resort on Monday as planned but the resort was closed! The remaining staff there told us that our holiday was canceled and that the St Lucian government had advised that all tourists should leave the island by Wednesday.

We were devastated. The holiday, our wedding, and our flight home had all been canceled with no prior warning.

We spent the whole day without accommodation or food and not knowing what to do. By the evening we thankfully found accommodation, but still had no idea how we would get home.

We ended up being stranded in St Lucia for nearly 12 weeks and much of this time was incredibly hard. Having no food for some of this time, dealing with 24-hour curfews, and being away from our lives with no idea when we would return home were very hard things to experience… I have no words to describe how tough this was.

We did, however, make the best of it where we could, we looked for the positives as much as possible, we picked each other up when needed, spent time reflecting on various aspects of our lives and had fun moments too.

Thankfully too, I had my iPad with me so was able to continue to look after my existing clients. Many of these were having very tough times, with some having to close temporarily.

I’m still stunned and upset at how bleak it has been, and continues to be, the world over and how many businesses, especially the smaller ones have really suffered. I know how much of yourself gets poured into making your own business work and grow and I want to do what I can to help as many small business owners and sole traders as possible.

Storms don’t last forever

We face uncertain times and it’s not easy right now so I want to support as many of you as I can.

Having a strong online presence is crucial for most businesses because that level of visibility will give you a massive increase in sales so that your business recovers and grows.

Unlike the shops, the internet didn’t close during the lockdown and it doesn’t shut at the end of the day either. Added to this, there is no risk of catching COVID while you’re online and no need to wear a facemask either. This of course means that we’ve seen and continue to see a significant shift towards online shopping with many experts predicting that we won’t go back to previous shopping habits.

This means that now more than ever you need to have a good online presence.

Here’s how I can help you…

I will always provide done-for-you SEO Packages but I now also have other ways to help even more business owners. While in St Lucia my very-nearly-husband and myself put our heads together and created a whole hub of SEO awesomeness which includes some free and very helpful digital downloads and very reasonably priced mini-courses, all of which will help you be super visible to your perfect customers so you make more sales right now and for the long term.

The better your SEO, the more visible you are, and the more sales you’ll make.

I rave about SEO A LOT because it not only levels the field, (yes, you really can rank alongside your bigger and better-known competitors resulting in you attracting the customers that your competitors previously would have had) but it also helps to resilient-proof your business and attract customers even in uncertain times.

If you want to show up, stand out online, and make more sales, start by downloading my Free SEO Checklist, which is a fantastic starting point.

SEO Checklist

Where next?

My story is far from over. I still have a wedding on a beach to plan!

And I still have more business owners I want to help, so I shall continue to add more helpful resources and courses to the SEO hub. My aim is to make effective SEO accessible to everyone, whatever their budget.

If there is anything you cannot find that you think would be a fabulous resource let me know and I’ll create it.

Not sure what you need? Schedule a call with me here.

SEO+