In recent years, it’s become increasingly important to ensure that you and your online presence rank higher than your competitors on search engines (predominantly Google). And, quite honestly, there’s nothing better for online retailers and businesses than seeing how successfully your SEO strategies have worked. On the other hand, poor knowledge of the tips and tricks required to help optimize your search engine rankings can cause your website to miss out on the potential clicks and visits from roving online customers. If you’re missing out on clicks and visits, it’s also incredibly likely that you’re missing out on vital sales as a result.
Whether you are building your online presence from scratch, or plan to optimize an existing site, there are numerous ways to help you achieve your online potential and SEO rankings through well-planned, tactical methods.
Since 2011, multiple studies have been conducted essentially demonstrating that websites ranking first on search engines such as Google boast a significantly higher click-through rate (CTR) than those ranking in lower positions. More recent studies have continued to support these findings, suggesting that ranking first in search engines is a game-changer for many online businesses.
From these findings, we can thus deduce that putting in place a dedicated SEO strategy reaps many rewards for businesses in terms of consumer impressions and sales. Further to this, the increase in smartphone uptake over the past decade has made mobile shopping an essential consideration for many businesses, thus optimizing your mobile SEO rankings will widen your audience exposure and target specific demographics.
Research is Your Friend
As with many aspects of building a business, whether online or offline, the first (and most important) step in improving your SEO strategy is to begin with research. There are two key strands within this research: keyword research and competitor research. Both are essential for success and require their own dedicated research – utilizing the wrong keywords can lead your campaign to fail, and poor competitor research could lead to you underestimating the effectiveness of their strategies.
Part 1: Keyword Research
Identifying the most effective sequence of keywords for your brand/business is the key to ensure your relevancy within the market, and thus increase your ranking. There are many free online tools that allow you to choose the niche of your brand/product (apparel, for example) and provide your domain name to identify relevant keywords and phrases. Others allow you to type in your various keywords and assess their popularity in relation to your area of the online market.
It’s imperative to properly assess the keywords suggested: too vague or broad means you increase your competition and are potentially prevented from achieving high search engine ranking, and too competitive means you end up with vast swathes of consumers clicking through your site, unable to locate what they are looking for.
Many online businesses and brands, no matter their specialization, have incorporated blogging into their roster in order to optimize their search engine ranking online. Whilst the eCommerce part of your site will most likely benefit from specific short-tail keywords in titles, subheadings, and product descriptions, the blog content allows for the use of long-tail keywords (which typically consist of more than one word or small phrases), rendering them as much more inimitable searches. Long-tail keywords can include short questions or chains of keywords relating to a specific idea or product; the specificity of these phrases will help direct traffic to your online space. Once you have included a range of higher volume keywords, you can begin to assess which lower volume keywords are relevant to your business.
Although it’s tempting to include as many keywords – long and short-tail – as possible across your website, you should always aim to target your content towards actual humans over search engines, as customers are likely to be put off by such targeted content. Additionally, Google’s algorithm tends to favor high-level content over keyword-stuffed sites.
Part 2: Competitor Research
Keyword research, whilst incredibly useful, is only half of the research role. The other half consists of scoping out your competitors and assessing their commerce strategies.
First, it is crucial to identify the various keywords used by competitors to enhance their SEO strategy – how broad are they? How has this affected their Domain Authority? Do they rank higher than you for similar products? How have they achieved this?
Next, you should attempt to identify the places your competitors are receiving their inbound links from. There are various free online tools that can help you with this, where you simply have to enter a URL in order to identify where their links are from.
Although you obviously want your website to be unique and relevant to your brand, it is nevertheless important to assess and attempt to navigate the site structure of competitors, to view it from the perspective of an online consumer. Gathering this information for a range of competitors can help you to identify what edits you need to make to your own site to increase your SEO ranking, whether that’s to mimic their structure or avoid it altogether.
Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?
Once you’ve identified the keywords and site structure of your competitors, it is essential to ensure that your web page is mobile-friendly and, if not, work on making it so as soon as possible! Google, as ever, is your friend here, providing their own test for this as well as helping link you towards other such tools. On Google’s own tool, all you need to do is type in your URL, click ‘run test’, and you will receive information identifying whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.
What is Your Mobile-User Experience Like?
If your page is, indeed, mobile-friendly, it’s time to assess the user experience: is it easy to navigate; how long does it take to load; is it responsive (as in, does the design resize according to the specific device to provide an optimal browsing experience); is it a seamless experience for consumers, allowing them to switch between devices and maintain a consistent experience; and are your popups mobile-friendly?
Once you’ve worked your way through and assessed each of these questions, you will be well on your way to optimizing the mobile SEO ranking of your brand.
Mobile Content Optimization
At this stage, you have ascertained that your site is fully mobile-friendly and are ready to ensure that your content is optimized specifically for search engines. Improving mobile SEO is very similar to that of desktop SEO, thus essentially require the same strategies to improve your website’s search ranking.
This means that you should focus on the following to improve mobile SEO: appealing, informative headlines; carefully choose your keywords (long and short-tail) and decide where would be best placed; to increase your relevance for specific terms, build inbound links into your site; produce long, in-depth content that helps to increase your search rankings; and optimize your content so it dovetails with your keyword intent.
Optimizing your site for voice search is the next step you need to take, as mobile devices are increasingly incorporating this feature for hands-free online browsing. As users are more likely to search using questions when voice searching, it is essential that you pre-empt the questions your visitors are likely to ask and ensure that you have a variety of responses for these – whether that is by incorporating the questions as subheadings or including lists and statistics in your posts.
Even for those afraid of technology and its advancements, utilizing your existing SEO understanding will be endlessly valuable for optimizing your users’ mobile experience – just remember to follow the tips above!