Halloween is just around the corner but if you are thinking of starting Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your company it doesn’t have to be a frightful time.
The biggest challenge in managing your website’s SEO is simply motivating yourself to tackle something that seems so intangible and insurmountable. By breaking SEO into pieces, it makes the process a little easier to stomach. An article titled “Overcoming Your SEO Fears” in the March/April 2007 issue of Revenue magazine suggests four key steps:
1. Determine Which Keywords to Use
Keywords are what are going to drive customers to your website. You may have great products but unless you can lock into what customers are searching for, your products may never be seen. Here are some suggestions on what to consider when developing keywords.
- The Right Keywords
- Get recommendations from individuals in your target market
- Research your competitors
- Use words that are important to your business
- Use keyword tools to research potentials and get suggestions for new keywords
- Be specific
- Creative Keywords
- Target various uses for your products
- Include phrases used in the research stage (i.e. before a customer purchases)
- Think about alternatives to your products
- Consider the level of expertise of your market
- Keep keywords current- seasonal, sale related, etc.
- Use slang expressions/common jargon where appropriate
- Include misspellings
- Consider regional language differences
- Focus on the features of your products
2. Have a Great Website
This step may be the hardest to accomplish but it is also the most important. There is no need to work on driving traffic to your site if it is not going to stand out and get customers excited about purchasing your products; after all, traffic does not mean much without sales! One important thing to remember though is that your site does not need to be the best it will ever be before you go ahead and start working on SEO. Your site is like any other business- it is dynamic. You can develop your keywords and start tracking the progress you are making with SEO while you work on making your site great! This is not a linear process. Working on the “wow factor” of your site is not something you will need to check off before moving on to another stage of SEO. Some great tips include:
- Make sure your domain name is logical and uses your site’s keywords where possible
- Showcase quality product images
- Use color well
- Provide quality information
- Have an about us section
- Utilize customer reviews and testimonials
- Display contact information
- Have a quality homepage
- Make it easy for repeat visitors
- Show what is new- with the company and it’s products
- Get feedback about your site through forums, focus groups, conversations with customers, etc.
3. Set up Link Exchanges
If there are any companies that you are partnered with or you have a good relationship with, it is a good idea to try to leverage their popularity for your own site. If you link to them, many times they will link back to you. This can be a great way to add perceived value in the minds of customers by showing them that you are not just out for their business but you are also plugged into their interests. If you do not have any existing business relationships that you can utilize this is a great way to start trying to form some. Whether it be making some connections within your own industry, or jumping on the bandwagon of supporters of popular sites, link exchanges are a great way to dial into the synergy of the internet.
Do not make the mistake of getting carried away. If you link to numerous sites and they are not linking back, you are letting your hard earned traffic slip away. The last thing that you want is to go to all the trouble to get potential customers to your site, only to have them skip over your products and head to someone else’s site.
4. Collect and Analyze Data
Hopefully, now comes the fun part. After all the work you have done, you will definitely want to measure the results of your toil. Volusion’s “Smarter Stats” and “Reporting” tool, and Google’s “Google Analytics” provide excellent ways to track the progress you have made in your SEO endeavors. It is important to have a way to view statistics about the demographics of the visitors themselves, the search terms they used, where they were on your site, etc. The more information you can get about your site’s performance and how it measures up in your industry, the more informed decisions you can make.
If All Else Fails Hire Someone
If you find yourself at a dead end and need some professional help, you can always hire someone to do your SEO for you. Some important things that you should remember are:
- It will not be cheap; and the more competitive your industry is the more you should expect to pay.
- The company you choose should not make unrealistic guarantees. SEO is not magic. If it seems too good to be true it probably is.
- Some SEO companies have specializations- know if the one you plan on using specializes in your industry.
- Know what the prospective company’s process is (what information they will need from you, what the timeline will be, if any additional fees may apply down the road, etc.).
- Research the company’s reputation and current and past clients.
- Know what you are getting on an ongoing basis.
-Kate Pierce, Ecommerce Specialist