Wait! What is SEO anyway?
The simplest answer is that it is an internet marketing strategy.
A process that considers how search engines work, the algorithms that determine search results, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.
Businesses gather and use all this information to improve their chances of showing up when people search for something related or relevant to their product/ service offering.
That is what optimizing for the Search Engine (SEO) is. A strategy to ready a website so as to improve the quality and quantity of traffic to it from search engines.
Now let’s put this in perspective
About 5.6 billion searches take place on Google each day. That’s a lot!
And a lot of content is being created for consumption too. For example there are about a billion blogs on the internet which means there are obviously multiple blogs about the same topics.
Not just topics; brand names might be similar, product or service offerings might be similar and people are using search engines from all over the globe.
Clearly there is a lot of ‘noise’ and variables that make it challenging for businesses to show up in search results when potential customers are searching for related products or services.
Search itself has changed
People still use Google and 94% of searches are conducted on Google, maintaining its ‘preferred search engine’ status.
Yet, how Google is being used has changed dramatically.
It has started answering questions directly even without sending visitors to websites (like for example answers to ‘what is the time in London?’) and has evolved into a discovery or education engine. Naturally the content available on Google has also evolved into being more educational and informative in nature.
So is SEO no longer important?
Not really. It has certainly evolved though.
High-quality, focussed content is more important now. Educating even through ads rather than pushy selling improves engagement and encourages conversion by building long term trust.
To that end, Google is focussing on user experience. If a site is more popular, it will improve its ranking. So if you spend less time on a search result, or dismiss an ad, skip a higher ranked result and choose a lower one, Google will adjust its own algorithm to incorporate this preference.
Everything that was used in the past to improve SEO is still valid, although in an evolved manner. For instance, linking back is useful. However, it should add genuine value to the content being created. So linking to reputable sites or your own site is recommended not for the sake of SEO, but for relevance to messaging. If the user is engaged, the rankings go higher.
Social engagements like links put up by the author of a post and how many shares the post had, are being integrated into ranking for search engine listing of a website. So websites that are connected via their social media handles give themselves an added opportunity. In addition, social media engagement is also sending direct traffic to websites
Keywords now must be more value driven
You’re probably asking most of your questions to a search engine already. Aren’t you? Just as most other people on the internet are.
What would you type into a search bar if you were looking for some help with dying herbs in your garden?
Perhaps something like “ Why is my basil dying?” Or “why does my basil have yellow leaves?” “ How can I save my basil plant?”
And if a garden seed supplier or plant nursery has uploaded a blog educating the reader about growing a healthy basil plant, saving a dying basil, and preventing yellow leaves, these words will be picked up in the search result.
In addition, if their product descriptions include some of these long-tail keywords, it will match the search as well.
For instance – “ Reasons your basil has yellow leaves; or Tips to keep your basil healthy’ ‘Reduce yellow leaves on your basil’
All this still cannot be a guarantee for showing up in search results. In fact, no one can guarantee top Google search engine rankings.
Yet, some strategies certainly improve performance using SEO.
And that improves visibility for your store, lets you store get discovered, and retains customers when your store ranks higher up in search engine results
So how can you incorporate SEO to improve your chances?
First things first.
Look at the ability of your platform to provide SEO for your pages. For instance, all webstores created on Shopmatic are search engine optimised or SEO friendly.
Next, add genuine value for the user through your content. Whether you choose to add blogs, videos, or even product descriptions, use value added keywords and explain the benefit first, features next of your product or service. It doesn’t matter how fancy the features of any product you sell. Customers are only going to buy if they see any value in it for themselves.
Stay connected with followers, customers and potential customers through social media. The likes and shares your posts get are being integrated into the ranking algorithm for search engine listing of a website. While you’re at it, also build your Google+ page to improve your search rankings.
Finally, find your USP and your niche. Then build your brand, identity, and content in line with that USP. If viewers understand and value your expertise in any one area, Google will be interested in you too.
“Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall