When you sell products online, your first priority needs to be that consumers can find your products. There are millions of products sold online, and your products need to stand out. While it may sound impossible to be found, the truth is it’s actually easy.
Since consumers typically look for products and services with a search engine, being at the top of search engine results is critical. The majority of consumers do research ahead of buying a product or choosing a business to do work with. When your product or services are at the top of search engine results, you’ll have far more success in being found compared to your competitors. The rankings are identified using complex algorithms, and there are practices that you can implement to increase where your page, product, or services show up on a page.
If you’ve started your own business, it’s likely that you’re an expert in something – but that something might not be Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Your expertise in something, or your ‘niche’, is what we’ll focus on in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. This easy guide provides the basics you’ll need to understand how search engines work and how to be sure your business attracts visitors searching for the product or service you offer.
Search engines are essentially databases with a pretty interface. A search engine sends out a bot called a spider to “crawl” the world wide web every time someone hits enter on a search. Whatever pages the spider finds are saved to the search engine’s index. When you perform a search in Google or Bing, the search engine provides its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) which rank the results according to how likely the search engine thinks a page will answer your query. Search Engine Optimization is the art of being found in Google, Bing, or whichever search engines your customers are using.
Here are key tips and strategies to help you stand out on search engines.
1. Focus on long tail keywords that attract buyers
Keywords are a set of words that are related to the user’s search query, meaning the words or phrases the customer uses to look for a product, services, images, etc. Keywords are either short or long tail. Short-tail keywords contain up to two words. Short-tail keywords, unless extremely obscure, make difficult targets for SEO. It’s likely that a short-tail keyword query will return results for big companies or websites that were established long ago and are well-trusted by search engines. To a certain degree, they are also fool’s gold for a smaller business because they aren’t well targeted to your business. If you run an insurance agency that specializes in insurance for wineries, ranking number one for “insurance” won’t do you much good because the traffic isn’t targeted. Most of that traffic is looking for auto insurance and may be from areas you don’t service.
Long-tail keywords, on the other hand, provide a far better benefit to your business as they bring targeted traffic and higher success rates. Long-tail keywords are more specific phrases, such as “winery insurance agent California.” A focus on long-tail keywords brings targeted traffic – and by choosing the right keywords, you even can qualify buyers and can target the content to the sales stage that your visitor is at.
Long-tail keywords are also cheaper when you want to run a paid search marketing campaign. The bid on long-tail keywords, and thus the cost-per-click, is cheaper compared to short-tail keywords. When you target for longer and more specific keywords, you can get higher ad rankings without the need to pay for a premium price.
2. Provide Quality Content
Since people know that keywords are the prime contributor to SEO, they often fill their websites with keywords only, which content-wise makes the site less very user-friendly. This is where search engines, particularly Google, have taken action and penalized websites that are filled with keywords and are obvious spam. Creating quality content is essential to help you stand out among search engine results.
Gone are the days where keywords are the only metric to measure search engine rankings. Nowadays search engines look for several key factors including the quality of your content. Search engines look not just for the relevance of the content, but the authority of the page as well. Search engines look for content that is more in-depth, as this is viewed as a better answer to what the search query is looking for. For best results, aim for content that is around 2,000 words in length minimum for competitive keywords and around 1,000 words for less competitive keywords.
The quality of your content is also important, as search engines keep an eye on the grammar and spelling of your content to provide a better user experience. Well-written content means that people will take the time to read it to the end and decreases the chance of them leaving the site immediately or hitting the back button right away when they visit your page.
Quality content also attracts backlinks which make your site more authoritative. When you have quality content, people will be more likely to share it with their friends, colleagues, and family members, therefore boosting your rankings faster than focusing only on keywords.
3. Use Effective Titles and Descriptions
In addition to the content on the page, you also have to focus on the so-called meta tags. The most important tags are the Title Tag and the Description Tag, which you can usually add in your content management system. These are what users will see in the search engine results – and they will be what makes a user decide to click or to keep scrolling.
A properly constructed SEO title and meta description can provide huge benefits in getting to the top of search engine results. Use the AIDA formula to create effective ads:
- Attention: Attract your prospective visitors. Make your content stand out.
- Interest: Raise the interest of your customers by providing quality content so they won’t look elsewhere for answers.
- Desire: Convince your visitors that your content will satisfy their needs, so that if you put your product or service in the content, they’ll buy it.
- Action: Lead customers to take action upon reading your content and take measurable action like sharing your content or buying a product from your website.
With this formula, your goal is to capture your target audience’s attention, generate interest, and cause them to take action.
4. Be Mobile Friendly and Use SSL
Almost all web searches happen on phones nowadays, which is why Google has responsive design as one of the metrics for SEO. A responsive design renders your site to work well on all devices, from desktop to mobile.
Pages that are built for large screens may not be shown in mobile searches or may be pushed so far back in the results that they may as well not exist. Thankfully, making your site work across various devices is easier than ever as content management systems like WordPress have website themes available that will render well on any device, so no technical knowledge is necessary. On Google, you can test if your site is already mobile friendly.
Having an SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) certificate is helpful to your website and the people visiting your site, as it encrypts the information being sent between your site and your visitor’s browser. SSL prevents advertisers and cybercriminals from viewing your visitors’ activity. This is very useful particularly when a visitor purchases a product or buys a service from your site as the passwords and credit card data is encrypted. Without SSL, this information would be displayed. Google gives higher priority to websites that have SSL certificates and whose SSL credentials are up to date.
5. Use Social Media Sharing Tools
Google doesn’t currently use social media sharing metrics to rank search engine results, but those shares can get you visitors who may have never found you otherwise. This is another reason to create useful content that answers the visitor’s query. Quality content is more likely to be shared by people with friends, family members, and colleagues in social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
6. Measuring Campaigns with Google Analytics
Now that you know how to stand out in search results, it’s time to find out if your campaign works. Google Analytics is a great tool to understand the traffic you have on your site, how visitors found you, and which content was viewed most. Online success can be bolstered by repeating the processes that work well. If you have a few pages that are doing much better than others, analyze the data and learn what you did right so you can replicate it in the future or build on the content that isn’t performing as well. Basing your business decisions on real and actionable data is crucial to make sure that you have enough evidence to make a decision when things go your way and when they don’t.