As we head into the holiday season amid mixed economic signals, merchants are looking to maximize visibility while keeping expenses in check. In a recent Practical eCommerce webinar we reviewed some easy-to-implement SEO tips with Andreas Ryuta Stenzel, online marketing manager with TRUSTe, the trust and security firm.
1. High-Quality Content Helps Build Trust
Website content should be machine-friendly and customer-friendly if you want customers to find you and stay on your site. Quite often, copy is optimized for search engines but not humans or vice versa. Know your prospects, monitor their interests and behavior, and adjust your copy accordingly. (Google Analyzer and Google Optimizer can help.) If your visitors are landing on the home page, and then leaving, you need higher-value content. If, on the other hand, they’ve bookmarked a product page and returned to it, then the content is interesting, which means you can build on it and market it.
“High quality” content means it’s relevant to the audience, concise, well-written, informative, optimized for search engines, and optimized for conversions. It should also be presented in a manner that is in line with the customers’ level of interest at that particular moment (see Tip #2 below).
2. Optimize Your Content for the Conversion Funnel
While it’s important to write for a sale, don’t forget that customers think and behave differently as they move through the conversion funnel. General product landing pages targeted to customers in the early stage of the funnel should include introductory copy explaining what the product is, what it does, and what its general features and benefits are. At this stage, keywords tend to be high volume, broad, non-branded terms.
Further down the funnel, customers become familiar with relevant brands and general pricing. The use of comparison-shopping engines is common make sure your product detail pages aptly differentiate your offerings. Just before a purchase, customers are looking for one or two specific brands and product names, as well as discounts, so brand keywords come into play.
3. Design Content for Both Machines and Humans
Interlinking site pages, back-linking initiatives (getting links to your site), image links, and sitemaps help improve search engine rankings. Some SEO practices also help customers understand your value proposition better, such as using keywords in your body copy, headers, subheads, and anchor text (visible, clickable link titles). As for keyword density in body copy, Stenzel recommends limiting the use of keywords to 4 percent or 1 in 25 keywords.
Because search engines are constantly evolving, they continue to weigh and rank elements differently like site design and emerging media. “Flatter” site designs are preferable for new sites because the search engines can more easily crawl and index them. (A flatter site, when designed well, requires fewer clicks to transport visitors to their intended destinations lowering bounce rates and premature attrition, which can harm rankings. Essentially flatter sites have fewer sub-categories.)
As for mobile support, realize, at least in the U.S., it’s a later-stage funnel phenomenon.
4. Get the Word Out
Does your content inspire customers and prospects to share it? Word-of-mouth can help boost traffic so in addition to providing great content make sure it is easy for customers to socially bookmark it, tweet about it, and share it with their Facebook friends.
As for your own Facebook and Twitter pages, consider having dedicated pages for specific audiences, if appropriate, as relevance influences the success of social media campaigns. For example, TRUSTe has separate Facebook and Twitter pages that target small and large companies with legal staffs, respectively, as the audiences vary significantly.
Directory listings can help boost inbound links as can content syndication, including RSS.
5. Remember SEO Is Part of an Overall Marketing Strategy
Search engine optimization, done well, can help drive traffic to your site. However, increasingly merchants are realizing that SEO and search marketing generally can be even more effective when dovetailed with other online and offline marketing efforts. For example, your banners ads should contain familiar keywords with your SEO and PPC campaigns, as well as offline ads. Regular use of keywords across the board can positively affect search marketing results.
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In addition to these SEO tips, TRUSTe’s Stenzel also shared some important Do’s and Don’ts for the holiday season and talked about how to design trust into your site.