chapter 11

Get Search Engine Optimized

Search engine optimization (SEO) is considered by some as the holy grail of Internet marketing. If you’re lucky and your website appears for all sorts of searches in Google (and other search engines), then you are the blessed receiver of free Internet traffic, which hopefully will bless you with a great deal of sales.

People who come to your online store because of a search query generally want to see what you have to offer. You didn’t interrupt their day to get in front of them, they sought you out. That’s a huge difference in the kind of traffic you can get, and because of the gravitational nature of search traffic, it generally converts into business better.

That’s why so many businesses obsess over search engine optimization. It provides a really good return on investment and it has a lasting effect.  A pay-per-click advertising will only last as long as you can afford to have the ad up, whereas your search results listing will generally stay up as long as your website is operational.

What is SEO?

How Does Google Determine Who Shows Up First?

The ability for your online store to appear high in Google's results depends on many factors. A study by Search Metrics ranked various factors that contribute to Google's ranking algorithm:

However, as you're probably just starting out in an effort to nab that first sale, here's a general list of ranking factors in some order of importance:

  • How many “natural” links point to your website from other sites
  • The authority your site has in its niche
  • The trustworthiness of your website
  • The age of your domain name
  • How your website is optimized in terms of site structure and “on-page” elements

Let’s go over the ranking factors so you understand how it works.

Natural Links

When another website links to your website, it’s a huge event in search engine optimization. It’s such a big deal that people will pay for links. But we don’t recommend you buy links. Doing so can get you banned from Google and other search engines.

But since it's such a huge driver in terms of ranking, many businesses fiercely fight for links to their website. There are two ways to get links:

  1. Seek out backlinks opportunities. Find places that let you link back to your site and form relationships with other websites so you can effectively ask for a link back.
  2. Create a website that naturally gets linked to.

It’s much more worth your time to build a website that stands out so much, that people all over the world naturally link to it. By making a unique and a remarkable experience, people will want to tell others about it, and that usually means people will link to it.

Better yet, Google’s algorithm is tailored to sniff out this type of natural linking and rewards sites that appear more “organically” popular than sites that seem to have been manipulated with links that seem like false endorsements.

So how do you get these natural links? Here’s how:

  1. Get online press coverage –  News websites and online journals tend to have some of the most valuable backlinks in the eyes of the search engines. You’ll need to hunt down relevant websites and ask how you can submit a press release.
  2. Be unique in every way – Whether it’s product differentiation, remarkable customer service, or awesome return policies. Strive to build a better business than your competitors by offering a more unforgettable experience.
  3. Create valuable and buzzworthy content – Whether it’s your product descriptions, your buyer’s guides, or your blog, good content gets linked to.
  4. Keep doing steps 1 through 3 continually –This activity is not a “set it and forget” task, rather It’s part of your marketing machine that needs to keep humming 365 days a year.

Authority

The easy thing about building authority is if you perform the steps in the last section, you’re most likely building authority. Authority means your website knows what it’s talking about. You are the expert in your niche. There is no better way to do this than to run an unbiased blog, with useful information that isn’t trying to sell all the time.

Here are a few ways to build authority for your website:

  • Explain how to do something – Any activity related to your product can have “how-to” content created around it. Solve your customer’s problems and you’ll get more customers.
  • Be the expert, not the salesperson – In order to become an authority, you need to come from a genuine place. You have to stop for a second and communicate to your audience without trying to make a buck. This makes you more credible and trustworthy. 
  • Build a strategy to get all the research traffic – Internet searchers are usually researching something. Think of everything that can be researched in your niche or industry and provide amazing content on it. It’s really not that hard to do, it just takes some time to write it down.

Trust

Building trust is pretty straightforward. We’re going to assume you’re not in business for malicious reasons and you’re not planning on bait and switching people. So, obviously when people arrive on your website, their spam software doesn’t blow up with alarms and warnings. There are also a few other things you can do to build trust:

  • Add testimonials – You can think outside the box when it comes to testimonials. For example you can embed tweets from customers and get testimonials from well-respected people in your industry.
  • Show security badges – This can be a really to implement.  Often times, your web host will provide you with SSL certificates (which adds the “s” for “secure” in front of http), and other security features that you can display on your site to show your customers that your site is secure. 
  • Provide guarantees – To show people you mean business, consider devoting a lot of real estate on every page of your site to show a guarantee. Usually, this tells the customer that you’re confident in your service to a point that you will go the extra mile for them if anything goes wrong with their order.

The Age Of Your Domain Name

The longer your domain name has been around and up, the more history it has with the various search engines. And because of a longer established history, and assuming you’ve been providing a good user experience for those years, search engines tend to reward websites for good behavior.

Site Structure and On-Page Optimization

This was originally all that was involved when it came to SEO. It had to do with how easy search engines can “crawl” and index your website, and whether you have logically created pages and sections that follow some sort of hierarchy (meaning categories and sub-sections). Here’s the order in which you should conduct on-page optimization:

  • Make sure all your title tags have unique content. Do not duplicate title tag content.
  • Make sure that you have a way to navigate by text links only. This is incredibly important.
  • Make sure you are using H1 heading tags in your source code. The content wrapped by the H1 tags should match your title tag content for the page in question.
  • Use original images and describe what the images are about with alt tags.
  • Keep iframes to a minimum 
  • Have your content live on your domain

The above list is all you really need to hone in on, especially when you need to focus your time and resources early on. Also, there are tons of resources on this topic if you want to learn more about how to check your on-page optimization yourself.

Next chapter

12. Learn from Web Analytics

4 min

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