By Gareth Simpson, for Edwardsturm.com.
Selling and SEO go together like content and marketing. But do you know exactly how SEO can help you increase your sales? And are you being strategic enough with your keyword targeting and landing pages? Here are some sustainable SEO strategies that will not only help you increase sales, but also help you build a better brand.
Make SEO Integral to Your Digital Strategy
E-commerce merchants and business owners often miss out on a crucial step – getting to grips with SEO as part of their digital strategy. It’s not an add-on, it’s an essential component.
It’s not possible to get good sales results from a piecemeal attitude to SEO – SEO needs to be at the core of how you approach web development, content production, and social strategy.
- Integrate your digital efforts for better results. SEO is an important part of the digital marketing mix – make sure that your content, SEO, and social media strategies are all joined up. Use your sales funnel research to help you write targeted and optimized blog posts, and use your keyword research to help you write better emails. When all the different moving parts come together under a cohesive strategy, a much better customer experience is born.
- Knowledge is power; and you’ll need plenty to combat the SEO myths. There is a whole wealth of SEO expertise and knowledge out there that you can leverage for your brand or business. Commit to educating yourself on SEO – If you’re a beginner and don’t have a lot of time, check out this.
Go After Commercial Intent Keywords
When you are thinking about what keywords to target and why, always think about the core user intent behind the phrase. Obviously you will want to rank for some informational queries, but you need to focus your energy around commercial intent and long-tail keywords. These phrases are used by people who are further along the purchase journey, and are more likely to convert.
- Always be vigilant about keyword targeting. It’s great to have healthy search engine positions for a variety of keywords, but unless they are the right ones; the rankings will bring you little joy.
- Some commercial intent modifiers to consider:
- Buy online
- Buy + location
- Brand names etc.
- Got your commercial modifiers on standby when writing content? You need to reflect user language and natural language, not just endless keyword lists. You have to carefully balance keyword usage with usability – less is more, but you also don’t want to neglect your relevant keywords either. (Need more keyword inspiration? Answerthepublic.com is a keyword research tool you’ll want to bookmark).
- Review keyword usage in URLs, page titles, headings, page copy and any metadata like image alt texts. Are you using your most important and relevant keywords?
- Ultra-specific keywords are often high converting as they tend to attract less competition and more accurately reflect user expectations – be very specific about your products and their features.
- Integrate SEO with your sales funnel – up the content ante as you build up urgency with your keywords. Not sure where to start?
Go for the Long Game with Long-Tail
Commercial intent is important, but sometimes you have to think outside the box to the wider context of web searches.
- Riding on the coattails of another popular brand and showing how your solution is a credible alternative is a great PR strategy. Comparison tables, visuals – make these landing pages as fun as possible. This is an ideal strategy for industry disruptors or cheaper alternatives.
- FAQs and user resources are a great way to increase long-tail keywords in a natural and user-friendly way. Talking around a topic and using plenty of synonyms is a great SEO strategy that’s totally future-proof.
- People search for (and read) online reviews. Make sure you collect as many as you can and aggregate review data for busy customers.
Match Pages with the Right Keywords
A lot of SEO trouble comes from diffuse or confused keyword targeting. If you aren’t careful with keyword targeting, you may end up with pages competing with each other, or the wrong pages ranking for the wrong phrases. This leads to high bounce rates and lower conversion rates – match correctly to avoid user disappointment.
- Always focus on user intent and purpose – what are people looking for on this page? What questions are they trying to answer, or what action do they want to take next?
- Don’t get tempted into doing too much at once – keep pages streamlined and focused around their core purpose. Segment topics off into separate pages if need be.
- Be careful about separating explanatory content from commercial pages like product or category pages – these pages should be rich in keywords. Balance search engine friendly content like category descriptions with usability.
Embrace the Inbound Methodology
Inbound is user-centric and data-led.
The inbound content marketing methodology is all about “smarketing” – integrating sales and marketing in a dynamic way. It’s about making sure that users are kept suitably interested and engaged with content that’s aligned with their experiences.
- Inbound is focused on solving user problems and answering user questions, whilst also having an eye on the sales funnel. You want to slowly build up to the sale with great content, rather than hard-sell and turn people off. Invest heavily into content strategy – both content production and promotion are central to content success.
- Branch out and invest in blogger and influencer outreach off the back of your content success. By building up a reputation for great content; not just sales, you can cultivate better relationships with website editors and bloggers.
Invest in the Right Content Management System
The right environment will have a big impact on your SEO success. You want a web environment that you can easily change, and that’s primed for fast performance. There are loads of different sales platforms out there – you need to select one that is right for your brand, and that is going to be SEO-friendly all the way.
- For high-powered custom e-commerce environments you’ve got options like Drupal.org, that allow you to create your own SEO environment with modules; or then there’s an out of the box e-commerce solution like Shopify, which is already pretty good for SEO from day one. It depends on how comfortable you are with web technology and how complex your requirements are.
- In terms of SEO, you can’t go too wrong with a popular CMS like WordPress, which becomes extremely powerful with its plugins.
Track Your Progress Accurately
Track accurately in order to improve SEO processes. You want to be sure that you are getting measurable ROI from your SEO activities.
- For accurate results, you need to track multiple metrics at once – keywords in Google, rankings, conversion rates, views per page, etc. Learn what all these different metrics mean, and how they impact your sales. It will fluctuate slightly from niche to niche.
- Get to know your SEO and sales baseline so that you can judge how well you are doing. You need to have measurable benchmarks to keep yourself accountable.
Go Long Term
SEO is a long-term strategy – the best SEO is not a short term or easy fix. Don’t get so anxious about seeing an immediate effect that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
- The best SEO strategies aren’t the ones that focus on blasting loads of high traffic keywords on a site and building a ton of links in a week. The best results come from consistent ongoing work and improvements, not throwing everything at a domain at once. Search engines are suspicious of change – move carefully.
- SEO improvements mean involving designers, writers, and developers. You want to make sure that you keep on top of all these different teams to ensure they’re working towards one goal: a better site with improved user-experience and a higher ranking potential.
SEO is a great way to make money online, but it’s less about cheap and easy tactics, and more about long-term brand building. Invest in audience research and quality content in order to tick all the right SEO boxes in 2017. What SEO strategies are you testing out for your business right now?