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Stop Overthinking SEO

Everyone wants their eCommerce site to make them money. One way to do that is by attracting more customers to your site – and search engine optimization (SEO) can help. Yes, SEO can be complicated and, yes, it can be frustrating keeping up with changing trends, Google’s algorithms, and online giants like Amazon who try to monopolize online market share. But, if you start off with a simple SEO strategy, you can still gain traffic and conversions and, at the same time, build brand awareness.

The four pillars of SEO

SEO, by definition, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Organic search results derive from unpaid, algorithm-driven SEO methods; in other words, actions you perform on your site to boost its ranking on a search engine’s results pages. SEO is supported by four main pillars:

  • Technical SEO – Backend optimization performed on your website and server that helps search engine spiders crawl and index your site more effectively
  • On-page SEO – Improving elements on your website which includes everything from keywords, title tags, and URLs to page readability and responsiveness
  • Off-page SEO – Boosting your website by creating backlinks to your site on social media and other channels, and link building, where partner domains and organizations insert direct links to your site content in their posts
  • Local SEO – Optimizing your site to help rank your brick-and-mortar location(s) higher in search results and feature them in Google’s local map pack

Together, these pillars provide the basis for building a successful SEO strategy to improve your website’s exposure and your businesses’ relevance. In a future post, we’ll share specific ways you can optimize your site in these four areas.

When it comes to SEO, start with baby steps

For those new to eCommerce, there’s no need to create the perfect SEO strategy out of the gate. Instead, start with a more general approach that adheres to basic best practices to build awareness. Consider applying the marketing concept, the “Touch of Seven” to your business, which maintains it takes a person seven meaningful interactions with a brand to lead to a transaction. When buyers perform an online search for a product or a solution you sell, the goal is to associate your brand with that search. If they continue seeing your brand in their search results, eventually they will click on your link and begin going through your marketing funnel.

A great place to start building awareness is with meaningful content. Building content that addresses industry concerns or answers your target customers’ questions can position you as the go-to expert in your field, thereby increasing the amount of “touches” you receive. But before you begin to write any content, you first need to identify the most frequent keywords your customers are using to find answers to their questions. Once you determine these ideal keywords, you can then organize your content topics arounds these common search terms to increase the likelihood of your content showing up in search engines.

There are three kinds of keywords buyers use to search online: fat head, mid-tail, and longtail.

Fat head keywords are very general terms like “bearings.” They get a lot of search volume, but that traffic comes with a lot more competition, which means lower conversions.

In contrast, longtail keywords are more detailed phrases that describe a product or need. Because they are more specific, they have a greater chance of getting a conversion, even though they don’t attract as much traffic. If you want to win the SEO battle, start with longtail keywords because that’s where the most conversions are.

After concentrating on longtail keywords, you can then leapfrog to mid-tail keywords, then lastly to more general fat head keywords. It’s a difficult and expensive task to focus solely on fat head terms. A better plan is to start with longtail keywords, which will give you immediate results, then progress to the fat head terms.

While keywords are a fundamental component of SEO, you shouldn’t consider keyword ranking your ultimate goal; it’s what you’re doing holistically with SEO that will be the measure of your success. Instead of focusing solely on keyword rankings, look at your organic traffic, conversions, and revenue generated and compare these month over month as well as year over year.

Competing with the big players

Businesses with deep pockets invest in paid search to increase their rankings, but don’t underestimate the power of organic, unpaid search. Amazon’s business may be growing, but their penetration is slowly shrinking because they can’t be everywhere all the time. Now is the time for distributors to compete with these big players by driving their company into niche-specific SEO opportunities. Simply pick an assortment of products that are highly profitable and begin taking action on your SEO strategy with those first.

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