SEO — search engine optimization — is the marketing strategy that online retailers cannot do without. The success of today’s small businesses hangs on how well you execute online marketing strategies, especially SEO.
To be successful online, retailers need to play by the search engines’ rules, especially those dictated by Google.
Unfortunately, the search engines keep updating their algorithms. Every year, we’ve seen major changes in how the search engines index and serve information. Google’s Penguin update rolled out just this year.
Each time the search engines change their rules, webmasters are forced to adjust the way they do business online. That’s just how things are.
However, a few items remain constant in the realm of SEO. If you keep these ideas in mind, you’ll do fine.
First, the keywords
Keywords are the foundation of good SEO. They are the primary tool that every business uses to try to dominate online activity in their industry.
That’s why keyword research is at the top of every SEO campaign. Successful online websites — those that appear at the top of Google’s search results — truly understand what their target audience is searching for.
By properly optimizing your site for the right keywords in your business, you have the best shot at driving massive amounts of traffic to your online retail store (and the profits that come with it).
Before setting up your online operation, list the keywords that describe your business and see how companies within your industry are using them. One of the best tools to help you brainstorm for a good list of keywords is Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool.
This program offers some great insights to get you launched. Compare the search volume each keyword gets, and identify a variety of alternative keywords you can use.
Next, the title tag
The title tag is one of the most essential parts of the page you need to optimize with competitive keywords. Search engine spiders read the title to determine what your content is about, and which keywords your site has optimized.
That’s why every page of your retail store should have a title that’s not only appealing to human visitors, but one that also clearly tells the spiders what they need to know about the page.
Third, the meta tags
Meta tags used to play a huge role in SEO back in the day. This may no longer be quite as true. But that doesn’t mean you should take meta tags for granted. They’re still very useful for consumers.
The meta description tags should contain descriptive text about the page. They should also contain the precise set of keywords the page is being optimized for.
This is important because the search engines reproduce the texts on the meta description section when they display information on a search results page.
Then there’s the content
The content is where recent Google updates have focused their attention. Google wanted webmasters to provide quality content so users would have the best possible experience.
However, in the race to gain search supremacy, many websites abused the content aspect of SEO by stuffing keywords and serving thin content. So Google adopted a much stricter stance against keyword stuffing and thin content.
Nowadays, you must churn out high-quality content in terms of relevance and usefulness or run the risk of getting de-indexed from Google’s SERPs.
Number five: Creating quality backlinks
Gone are the days when everybody labored to create massive backlinks. After Penguin went to work, the focus turned more to the quality of the links that point to a site.
Quality of links is determined by the authority of the sites that link back to your page, and the type of links used. In the past, exact-match keywords employed as anchor texts almost exclusively guaranteed higher search rankings.
These days, it’s completely the opposite. Using too many exact-match keywords could spell doom for your site. To create high quality backlinks, you need to do the following:
- Do guest posting
- Vary the use of keywords in anchor texts that point to your site
- Link from authoritative sites and directories
- Get featured on top sites that relate to your retail niche
- Create social media profiles for your business
And then along came social media
In the early days, social media wasn’t a factor in search engine ranking at all. Now it’s a totally different story.
Social SEO is playing a huge role in ranking websites higher in search. You need to create profiles for your business on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. But don’t just create idle profiles. Make a point of steadily sharing content on those pages.
Also, think about running video marketing campaigns on YouTube. Google and Bing now include videos in SERPs, and sites with videos seem to be enjoying first-page rankings.
Finally, optimizing product images
There is evidence that image search is developing increasing popularity. Google Images is now serving images based on keywords. Pinterest also capitalizes on the power of images.
That’s why it’s important to optimize your product images with the right alt tags so that the search engines can properly index them and they’ll appear on search. Because I guarantee you, users are searching for them.
Proper SEO is crucial for your retail business success and online growth. If you don’t properly optimize your site for search, your target customers will find your competitors instead.
Keep an eye out for changes and updates that Google and the other search engines roll out. If you do, you’ll stay relevant and on top of the SEO game.
For inquiries about our on-page and off-page search engine optimization strategies, drop us a line. We will happily assess your site for free and show you your options.