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“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” — Search Engine Optimization
OK, it was really Mark Twain who said that, but I’m attempting to prove a point. Lately, I’ve been reading grand proclamations all over the internet that search engine optimization is "dead.” What really has me concerned is that I’ve seen an increase in client questions as to whether SEO is important during our interactive workshops and webinars. It has me so uneasy I wanted to be sure to set the record straight. Proclamations of the death of search engine optimization are just about as old as SEO itself, but the simple fact is SEO is NOT dead. It is alive and kicking, but it is much different today than it was even a couple of years ago.
Think about it for a moment: SEO is a set of activities that assist in getting a website ranked on search engines, so that a site shows up naturally rather than as a result of paying for optimal position. There are loads of aspects that play into SEO, from page content to how your site is structured. The most puzzling aspect to me about this “SEO is dead” mumbo-jumbo is this: at heart, SEO is about providing a stellar user experience, and that’s never going out of style. When a user clicks on your link, are they going to get the quality content they expected? All the changes that Google and other search companies have been making are aimed at ensuring that they will.
So long as there are search engines around, people will attempt to figure out the best ways to rank on them. Those people used to be able to do some shady practices to shortcut their way to high rankings, but nowadays search engines are doing a lovely job weeding out anyone attempting to game the system by using those “black hat” tactics. But killing the value of link farms and keyword stuffing is not killing SEO. Your website is more under the microscope than ever, and it is now a combination of things that will help you rank.
So what can you do to make sure your online store gets found on Google, Bing, and more?
- Write great, unique product descriptions. You’ll get busted for using descriptions found elsewhere online, so instead of just using whatever the manufacturer provides or writing something generic for your own products, write useful, descriptive copy that’s all your own. Of course, having an awesome product description is also the best way to convince shoppers to buy your products.
- Avoid keyword cramming. You want to make sure to include the main keyword for your product in the description, but you also want to avoid forcing it in where it doesn’t fit. Your copy should flow naturally and not just be a vehicle for keywords. And you should DEFINITELY NOT throw a list of keywords at the bottom of the page. That’s a huge no-no.
- Include the product name and one keyword in your product page titles and URL. That way you’re covered whether your potential customers search for the specific product (branded search) or the general category (generic search). Plus having a more descriptive product name will help you stand out in search results, improving your click-through rate.
- Make sure your product content matches your headline. One sure-fire way to get yourself blacklisted by Google is to promise something with your page title and headline (H1), then not deliver. Have your content line up with your titles and headlines so you’re not seen as tricking users into clicking your search result.
- Feature product reviews. Reviews are a great way to get new content added to your product pages regularly. Plus most reviews will naturally feature keywords that relate to the product, which helps you get some keyword love organically. Also, reviews are a proven way to increase shopper trust, and can improve your sales by 18%.
- You must get on the blog train. Regularly writing relevant, useful content on a blog is one of the best things you can do for your business. It improves your SEO by getting a constant stream of fresh content related to your business on your site, and improves sales by increasing shopper trust. Blog about new products, how to use existing products, tips for getting the most out of what you sell, industry trends, etc.
- Use videos on your product pages. Featuring a video makes it 53 times more likely that your page will get a front-page Google result. And because people love videos, it’ll also make it 41% more likely for someone to click through, and up to 85% more likely that they’ll buy. You don’t need anything super slick or fancy — just show off your product and how it can be used, just like you would if you were selling to someone in person.
Those are just a few things to keep in mind as you adapt to the new-but-not-dead-at-all SEO. Want even more tips? Sign up for our free Interactive SEO Workshop for Beginners to get live help and answers to your questions, or watch the recording when you have time.
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