It goes without saying that in order to be a successful online retailer, you need to attract new customers. That is, of course, in addition to keeping your current customers coming back for more. One of the easiest ways to do so, especially in this mobile age, is by keeping your customers engaged with a digital personal shopping assistant in the form of a chatbot. In addition to that, it’s highly recommended that you keep a close eye on your SEO.
But SEO can get tricky. There are countless rules, all of which are subject to change at any time. Also, your site can get penalized by search engines if you are found to be overusing certain elements in an attempt to hack the SEO systems set in place. It’s all about balance, and trying your best to stick to some evergreen SEO elements. This is especially important if your company has a limited (or even nonexistent) budget set aside for SEO, leaving you to go at it organically.
For starters, you need to do keyword research. This is to be broken down into groups, with one being for the home page and product pages, and the other being for the blog, and even social. You can use the Google Adwords Keyword tool to find keywords with a high match search volume locally- just be sure to not go for the super high volume words that everyone is competing for. On that note, make sure that your pages aren’t competing against each other over those keywords. This is a mistake made by many, which ultimately confuses search engines. As far as the blog is concerned, you can use that to focus on keywords that aren’t being used in the product pages. While you’re at it, do some research on the keywords being used by your competitors, because they may already be way ahead of the game with those. These things aren’t easy to poach, so you might as well ensure you aren’t setting yourself up for an uphill battle.
As you’re researching your competitors, have a look at their backlinks. You can do this by opening your competitor sites and use a tool such as Open Site Explorer to determine where your competitors are earning their incoming links from. You may be able to gain some inspiration from it. You can also look into their the architecture of their websites by looking into their site navigation to see how many clicks it takes to get into their deepest pages, and comparing the number to that of your own site.
While going over your own site architecture, you need to take each page’s focus keyword and make sure that it’s placed strategically on the elements that search engines pay the most attention towards:
- Page titles
- Relevant subheadings
- In paragraphs
- Product descriptions
- Image file names
- Images’ alt tags
- Meta titles and descriptions
- URL structures
Don’t only focus on the keywords for your company- you also have to keep your customers in mind. Is the setup in general user-friendly? Depending on the layout of your site, you may need the opinions of a UX professional on this one. In general though, just ensure that everything from browsing to checking out is done as quickly and securely as possible without difficulty or distractions. This applies to your desktop site, and your mobile site as well. Bear in mind that mobile users are often looking for quick, instant gratification. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re heading and subheading structure is carefully planned, so visitors can skim through your content without missing out on important information. Keep all the text nice and short, and evenly spaced out.
If you’re looking to give the visitors of your website an extra nudge to make purchases, you should integrate testimonials and customer reviews. Testimonials will give a positive overview of your service, and customer reviews on product pages are an important feature as users will trust other purchasers more than they would trust product descriptions.
Most important of all is site-maintenance. Users get put-off by those blanks white screens and 404 errors- so ensure your website doesn’t have problematic areas. There are numerous website crawlers available that assist with that. In the case of a 404 or 302, you’ll want to set up a 301 redirect, which takes users away from the broken page and directs them to a working version or replacement instead. You should also make sure your pages load within three seconds, though to be honest two seconds can even be considered too long. Buy more server space, or even switch to a better content management system if needed, so search engines don’t penalize you for slow-loading pages. Additionally, with each upload of digital assets, you should incorporate keywords into the metadata, which will further train search engines to associate those words with your brand.