Steve Sandbach Project Manager and Developer 10 Steps To Improve Your Online Sales. Step 6: SEO Hi, Steve here from indiespring to talk about how you can improve your online sales. In this instance we’ll be discussing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). This is part of our “10 ways to improve your online sales” series. If you like what you see, why not also improve your online sales with Content, UX or Strategy? Search Engine Optimisation is the process of attempting to improve your search engine ranking, by making your site trustworthy, authoritative or relevant. The following tips will help you with that. Don’t try and cheat This is the golden rule of SEO really – don’t try and cut corners or do anything dodgy. Think of Google as the Orwellian big brother – all seeing and impossible to trick. People have tried key word stuffing, paying for links, hiding text from a user’s view and all manner of other tricks to try and take advantage of Google’s algorithm, and it may even work… for a while. Eventually though, you’ll be found out, and getting black listed by Google is a sure-fire way to see your online revenue take a hit. Heed Google’s advice and stick to best practice and you’ll not only improve your SEO score, but will be generally contributing to making the web a better place for users and developers alike too. Reach out to bloggers in your industry More than a fifth of your SEO score is impacted by off-site factors. They are mainly things like the number of links directed towards your website, and the SEO score of those sites themselves. Whilst it’s a hugely important factor for SEO, the problem with off-site factors is that they’re difficult to influence directly. Image found here. One of the things you can do however is to reach out to other websites and bloggers in your industry. Obviously direct competitors are probably going to be quite reluctant to help, but current or could-be partners in the field may well be receptive to the idea of helping you out for a favour in return. Blogs are a great way to do this, as if you can write an informative and interesting article about what you do (that doesn’t sound too much like advertising copy) then it helps this partner engage more readers, portrays you as a trusted and knowledgeable voice in your field, and you’ll often be allowed to provide a link to your website which can be hugely beneficial for your SEO efforts, and drive traffic directly onto your website. Site Architecture This is something to consider at the design stage of a website and it’s important for many reasons. Adhering to best practice with a website’s architecture helps your users find their content easier, as well as increasing your SEO score significantly. Exactly why is covered in subsequent points, but a good site structure sets you up for a lot of positives, in Google’s eyes. You want to have your most important pages as close to your home page as possibly – ideally limiting the number of clicks it takes to reach them as much as possible. Each page should generally have a clear purpose and a subject unique to that page. Internal Links Using internal links to point to other ages in your site is, of course, a must. But once you have your site architecture in place you should have a good idea of which page links to which page. Your most important pages should ideally have more links to it, and links from your home page are especially valuable so think make critical content as accessible as possible to new visitors to your site. Also, think about your header: links placed in there will often be placed on every page, so crucial pages should feature on there too where appropriate. By doing all this you’re highlighting to Google which pages are most important, and which to feature more highly on search results. Your popular products or services probably deserve a space on your front page, and doing so should see them appear more often on Google search results so you should see more traffic going to those pages. Understand Keywords Once you have identified a page’s purpose, you want to try and find a keyword, which can either be a word or a short phrase. The idea is that these words are so relevant to the content of that page that you want a link to that page to appear in Google searches that use those words. You should try and use they words a few times in your copy, and base the content of the page around those words, to give Google a clear indication, when it analyses the text, of that page’s purpose and content. People have taken this too far in the past and been penalised for key word stuffing, or overusing a keyword to try and increase their rating. Needless to say Google caught on to this and its now not recommended: try to keep your writing as natural as possible and simply bear your keywords in mind rather than forcing them into your copy as many times as possible. Page Names & URL Structure I said earlier that each page should have a unique and clear purpose and subject, and this needs to be communicated to the developer. Each page needs a unique name, and a URL that relates to his. Doing this makes it easier for visitors to see which page they are on. It also tells Google’s search bots what each page is about and helps to rank that page in more relevant searches. These should be translated into relevant meta title and meta description. I won’t go into the details of what all of this means, but a developer can easily add these to each page and they can really help the SEO rating of each page, and subsequently your website as a whole. Optimise Site Images Google’s robots can read and understand text very well, but they struggle to understand images. Some of the things they can understand however are the image’s name and its description. Making these relevant, and descriptive is important, and should be considered an essential part of best practice. Use Google Analytics Google Analytics is great for improving SEO sales. Firstly it will let you know which keywords are driving traffic to your website. This is great for knowing where you need to improve, and which type of content is working well for your website. You may also see some surprise results which spark new ideas for you to target with your website. Use Google+ There’s a lot to say that your Social Media influence has little impact on your SEO Score, but there is a good reason to get involved with Google+. Registering your business on here allows you to associate your website with a fixed location, placing you on Google Maps results. You can then easily add information like opening times, a link to your website, photos, receive reviews etc. all of which will be visible to anyone using Google Maps. Most of these are important if you need your customers to come to your location, to buy from your shop for instance. Even if you don’t then it’s still hugely beneficial to register on Google+ as search engine results featuring your site will be automatically upgraded to improve extra information to searchers, which will dramatically increase click through rates. Register on Google Site Links Registering your site map may not mean a whole lot to you, but it’s a fairly simple step that a developer can help you out with pretty easily. Basically, a site map is a contents page of your site, listing which pages are placed under which page, and so on. Again, this is part of why having a good site architecture is important. Registering your site with Google allows the search engine to show links under your links of the search page. I hope these tips have been helpful to you, and have given you plenty of ideas to improve your online sales! If you feel like you need further personalised advice contact us here.