Search Engine Optimization (SEO), taking steps to make sure your site can be found on the web, can be intimidating and confusing – but it doesn’t have to be. Once you understand a few basic things about SEO, you can apply your strategy throughout your site, ensuring your success on the web.
The Key to Great SEO – Quality Content
If you take one thing away from this writing, let it be that the most important thing about SEO is writing relevant and original content for your target audience. While there are a lot of factors that search engines consider, the truth is that if you are writing unique content that is compelling and useful to your audience, you will not only get found, but likely linked to as well. Content that is written solely for SEO often becomes contrived and less interesting to the user – and the smart search engines will probably catch you and ding you in the search results.
Keywords – What Are They and How Do I Use Them?
When we’re talking about organic searches, searches that pull up results based on relevant information rather than paid advertising, using the right words and phrases in your web pages is critical to getting found. The terms “keywords” or “key phrases” are simply the words that people type in to do a search. The search engines scour all of the pages on the web for relevant matches based on the use of those all-important words or phrases.
It is generally recommended that you find the keywords or phrases that will yield the highest search results; but keep in mind that the most popular words may not help you rise to the top given that everyone is using those same words. Following are some points to keep in mind when dealing with keywords in SEO:
Write your content using words or phrases that people will use in their search. Think about how your target audience will look for your products. Make sure your content contains the words and phrases that people will use to find you – and that your content is easy to read, engaging, USEFUL and original. In the case of the online retailer, every page should have a product description that is searchable and has value to your shopper. Don’t copy and paste content from the manufacturer as that will not provide you with original content.
Sometimes specific words or phrases will yield better results than general, popular ones. When possible, use specific descriptions (like designer label Diesel) rather than a common category (like denim). Or use a longer, more specific phrase such as “Best fitting jeans for petites” rather than the simple word “jeans.”
Important Places to Use Keywords
Be sure to use your keywords in the following areas for best searchability:
Page Title – some browsers show the title at the top of the browser which makes the site user friendly. More importantly, it’s the first thing people may see in their search results. The keywords will be bolded and users will see that your site meets their needs. It’s important to use the keywords/phrase towards the beginning of the title for SEO (and a good idea to add your business name at the end).
Heading or Headline (H1 Tag)– when people visit your site, the first thing they will look at is your heading. While it doesn’t need to match the title exactly, it should still contain the keywords that let people know they’ve come to the right place.
Meta Description – while Google stated in 2009 that the Meta Description does not factor in search results, it’s still important as it tells the seeker what your site is about. It is directly under the title in search results and users will see the bolded keywords and the relevancy in your site.
URL – when possible, use your keyword in your URL. Rather than a random URL including numbers and senseless words, keep your URL brief and descriptive.
Images – It’s great to use images in your pages – better yet to use your keyword phrase in the “Alt attributes.” In other words, rather than attaching a JPEG image of a red dress with the title or “ALT” title blank or listed as “Red Dress” – use your keyword phrase “Fashionable Women’s Wear – Red Gucci Wrap Dress.” Make it searchable!
Content – As we mentioned in the beginning, the whole crux of SEO is about making your CONTENT searchable. Your keyword or phrase should appear at least 2 to 3 times – preferably towards the top portion of the page. Be careful about overpopulating your text with your keywords – at some point it can come back to bite you either from the search engines or from your content becoming too obvious. Avoid using only nice banner images with all your content tied up in a picture – be sure to have important content in the searchable text.
Why Linking is So Important in SEO
When we talk about the content in your site being relevant and useful, how do the search engines determine what we find useful? Google assumes that if visitors keep coming to your site, if they link to your site, or share content through social media or other means, that your site must be providing valuable information.
Given the popularity of your site, the search engines see you as an authority on your given subject, trustworthy and one that is not likely to be spam. The more visitors that share your products on Pinterest, for example, the more people will click on the link back to your site and (hopefully) purchase your products. Getting your product suppliers to link back to your site is another great way to add trustworthy links to your site.
Tools for Search Engine Optimizaton
To make life easier, at Modern Retail we use SEO By Yoast - a plug-in to assist you with your SEO efforts. The Yoast plug-in shows up on each page of your posts and pages. It is important to fill out the Page Title and Meta Descriptions, being sure to use your keywords or phrase towards the beginning of each section. Yoast also allows you to get some metrics by putting in your Keyword focus, although this step is optional. For more information on SEO by Yoast, read more.
While this is a lot to remember, again, it all comes down to this.
Do all of this and you’re off to a great start! Once you get into it more, there are other metrics and tools to consider, but if you at least do the above, you will increase your chances of getting found on the web tenfold.