If you’re opening an eCommerce store or a website, and you ask for advice, all you’ll hear is – work on your SEO! And trust us, it really is that important.
But what is SEO? How does it work? How do you actually create an SEO strategy for your business? What benefits does it have? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In this little article, we’ll answer all your questions and potentially teach you a thing or two about how to create a website that will top Google’s rankings.
What is SEO?
Let’s start with the basics – what is SEO? What does it stand for?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In essence, SEO is a collection of practices that improve your website’s “visibility” in Google’s search engine by granting you a better position or rank.
The better optimized your website, the higher the chance it will appear at the top of Google’s first search page.
The way Google determines these rankings is through using robots (bots, small programs) called web crawlers to scour the web and index websites.
These indexed sites are then analyzed, and when a search query is brought up, Google then displays the most relevant results as an answer to that query.
And this is exactly what you’re optimizing for. Your ultimate goal when crafting your SEO strategy is to be one of those top picks when people search for a product you sell or a service you provide.
The Benefits of SEO
So, now that you know what SEO is, why do you need it? Why bother?
Well, take this into account: around 32% of people head to Google first to do research before making a purchase. That means you have an opportunity to grab their attention right at the beginning and potentially convert them into customers.
But, the main advantage of SEO is exposure. Considering everybody surfs the net regularly nowadays, this is the best way for you to attract people.
More visitors means more traffic, and more traffic means a greater chance of making a conversion.
This further means your business has a chance to grow. Consider also that if you’re creating a new brand, you’ll run into stiff and experienced competition, especially corporate giants.
SEO is a way for you, as a small business, to gain prominence, and stand toe to toe with the big players, provided your product or service is of sufficient quality.
In the end, the benefits of SEO come down to this – exposure, increase in traffic, increase in conversions, customer loyalty, and retention.
When you’re starting out, these benefits will be the driving force for your business, especially since SEO traditionally has a very high return of investment if done right.
Keywords – The Driving Force of Your SEO Strategy
When it comes to forming an SEO strategy for your business, your first consideration should be keywords.
Keywords pertaining to specific words or phrases that web crawlers recognize and cross-reference when a search query is instigated.
Keywords exist in two forms – short-tail and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords are usually single words or very short phrases, like “SEO” or “SEO strategy.”
Google searches for these words/phrases first when analyzing a search query. They also drive a good amount of traffic on websites but don’t create a lot of conversion opportunities due to their very generic nature.
Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that comprise 26 to 40 characters.
For example, a long-tail keyword is something like “SEO strategy for your business.” These are more specific and generate less traffic but create more conversion opportunities because they might refer exactly to what a customer needs.
With that being said, keyword research is the bedrock of your SEO Strategy. Knowing how people word their search queries and what Google indexes will help you push the most relevant content to your potential visitors/customers.
However, one thing you should never do is keyword stuffing – i.e., forcing keywords into every sentence. Google continuously updates its engine.
Keyword stuffing is an outdated strategy that was abused by many low-effort sites and content creators to drive traffic. Nowadays, clever implementation of keywords gives much better results, while keyword stuffing is penalized.
Website Optimization – The Key to Your Strategy
Ask yourself – how many times have you found what seemed to be a website that holds the answers to all your questions, only to abandon it soon after because it either loads slowly.
Or it took you too long to find what you needed, or the navigation of the site was just downright terrible?
Poorly structured, slow-to-load websites are the death of SEO, so if you recognize any of these symptoms, you need to start doing something about it quickly.
First off, start with creating a solid structure for your website. In essence, it is imperative that your visitors can get anywhere within three clicks.
Your structure should be clean and quick to navigate because messy sites not only frustrate the visitors but get stigmatized by web crawlers too.
One of the best features for websites is dropdown menus. Menus like these are very popular because they give a clear overview of your product categories. Short-tail keywords are very useful here, as you can use them to name your categories. Filters, too, are popular, much for the same reason.
In addition to having a good structure for your website, you should pay attention to the structure of your URLs. Avoid messy URLs with a myriad of symbols and parameters, and keep them as short and clean as possible.
Clean URLs are more recognizable, and using a few keywords here will help you reach your customers more easily.
Further, neat URLs are great when you’re creating a sitemap (a library of your links) because the web crawlers that scour the net use sitemaps to index your website better.
Another good way to boost your visibility and relevance is to create markups (aka data structuring). If you’ve ever noticed that some links display user reviews and ratings, those are the markups we’re talking about.
User ratings are often votes of confidence for a potential buyer, so don’t be afraid to boast them (especially if they’re favorable).
A common thing people tend to forget when setting up their websites is to deal with deleted or missing pages.
Clicking on a link and getting a 404 error is frustrating. Try using the 301-redirect protocol to divert the users to the most relevant page instead of taking it down. If your product is out of stock, say so, especially if you expect to re-stock.
Finally, and most importantly, optimize your website for mobile. It is a well-known fact that mobile is the driving force behind website traffic in the modern-day – 54% of all traffic is driven by mobile.
Not only that, but Google too has adopted a mobile-first policy for their search engine. That means Google’s web crawlers look at your site from the perspective of a mobile user and index you based on that. This is why you should make sure your visitors can have a seamless experience when accessing your site via a smartphone or tablet.
Content – The Heart of Your SEO Strategy
Content is king; it always has been. In a way, if there is one thing Google has been focusing on for years, that’s providing people with quality content through its search engine.
Keep in mind, we said quality content and not quantity. Ask any top eCommerce company and they’ll tell you – the quality of content is far more important than quantity today.
You don’t have to have fifty articles and publish two daily – it’s better to have well-written content that is tied to your niche, the products you’re selling, and the services you are providing.
This content is there to describe your vision to your visitors and convince them you have the answers they’re looking for.
The benefit of content also lies in link building and interlinking. Link building is the practice of obtaining links from authoritative websites and introducing them into your content.
If you have quality and relevant content, be it videos, images, articles, or products, websites that have seniority to yours (because they’re already established as highly respectable and reliable) will link to your website, thus boosting its rating.
As for interlinking, it is the act of linking within your own content to pages with more relevant content. Think of it as “further reading” or linking toward products mentioned in an article you have on your site.
For example, if you’re talking about hunting and hunting practices, you can link to articles that further elaborate on your points or a piece of hunting equipment relevant to what you’re writing about.
Lastly, we mentioned videos and images. It is proven that these drive conversions much better than walls of text (as they’re easier to follow), but you have to be careful here.
Bots cannot see images or videos the way we do – they can see they’re there, but they can’t see what’s on them. Thus, it is important you leave proper, neat, clean, and descriptive ALT tags so they can be indexed.
And with that, it is time we closed this chapter on the best SEO strategies for your business.
What is most important you remember from reading this article is the three essentials when strategizing for SEO – keywords, website optimization, and content.
These three elements are your keys to success, so make sure you’re always on top of new developments in these areas, and you’re bound for success.