Thanks to Adam Tanguay from Weebly for this great guest post on how a few, well directed strategies can work better than a million unfocused ones.
Your website is complete and ready for the world to see, but how do you get noticed? With search engine optimization (SEO), right? Well, there’s SEO and then there’s smart SEO. With smart SEO you’re telling Google, Bing, Facebook and more of the web’s most influential referrers what your site, and your store, are about so that the right shoppers show up and boost your online sales.
Getting the message right is important. According to a recent Kissmetrics research project, organic search using Google, Bing and the like was responsible for just over 30 percent of traffic to small and medium eCommerce sites. Here are five SEO strategies to convince these web crawlers to give your store the attention it deserves.
- Get the keyword mix right. Search engines are matchmakers. They deliver a link, and visitors click. In the best-case scenario, website visitors spend the next several minutes finding what they want and clicking the “buy” button. Keywords are signals to search engines that they’ve found a match. Say you have a cooking blog and your store is geared to enthusiasts who want to bring the touch and taste of a professional chef to every meal they cook. Adding a key phrase such as “improve your cooking” to the site description, your blog posts, your product description and your social shares could help you find buyers.
- Use “breadcrumbs.” When selling a lot of products over a lot of different categories, it can help to have a secondary navigation system. That’s what breadcrumbs are (Amazon uses them extensively). See the image below for a tangible example. The highlighted categories are the breadcrumbs. Now think about your cooking blog. Make “Best Sellers” a category viewable as a “crumb” and you’ve allowed your shoppers to go straight to your most popular products.
- Optimize for mobile devices. The same Kissmetrics study that found 30 percent of eCommerce traffic comes from search also found that mobile is a huge and growing source of referrals to online stores. Make sure your site renders properly for those who find you while browsing from a smartphone or tablet. Google has a particularly useful tool for testing your site’s mobile friendliness.
- Build a social following. Backlinks are a powerful social signal in that they represent authority. Make a habit of turning the keywords you’ve spent so much time adding to your site into hashtags that you’ll share in social posts. For example: say you want to share a recipe made with some of the finer tools sold at your online store. Add the hashtag #improveyourcooking — the re-shares that result in clicks will help improve your SEO ranking.
- Add reviews. SEO comes from social proof, and nothing speaks so well as satisfied customers. Internet Retailer found that the mere act of adding reviews to your store can increase conversions by 14-16 percent. Take the further step of making every review shareable and you’ll get an SEO boost from those willing to tout your virtues widely.
At its root, SEO strategy is good guesswork. It may seem daunting, but it’s easier than it looks. By asking yourself what your site offers and for whom, you’ll be ahead of the 99 percent of eCommerce entrepreneurs. Take the time to get the keyword mix right, use breadcrumbs and optimize for mobile devices, engage on social media and make it easy for others to share what they find. Yes, doing all that takes time. But it’s also a no-brainer for anyone who is serious about making money selling online.
Adam Tanguay leads SEO and organic growth efforts at Weebly, a website design product that’s built from the ground-up to support eCommerce. Adam also runs Weebly’s Inspiration Center, which provides expert advice for entrepreneurs around the world.
2017 update: if you can’t get enough of actionable SEO tips, check out this SEO guide from our friends at Ahrefs.