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Ten Benefits of Search Engine Optimization in our Modern, Connected World

In this age of social media, you probably have heard that “pushing for content” is the greatest way to attract customers to your business. Everyone is focused on getting the most number of shares, the highest number of engagement, the “top post” that will spike to going viral.

Yet computers and patterns of techniques still drive the backbone of the internet. Facebook uses specific methods of identifying good content that might be relevant on someone’s news feed. Google uses someone’s personal search history to identify both geographic and tailored results, but even these depend on semantics. In fact, as more content, more stores, and more websites pop up, the greater need our world will have on sorting this vast information in a form that computers can understand.

The death of Search Engine Optimization is greatly exaggerated. While the old method of “just backlinks” and pure keyword-based optimization is long gone, search engine optimizers have survived a seismic shift in the complex way that the internet sorts itself. Here are ten ways in which optimizing your website can still benefit you today, which also illustrates just how complex and encompassing this field has become.

  1. Audience. In a social world, trends are increasingly defined by the masses, and often, knowing just who to target is extremely difficult. Through keyword research, social trends, shopping statistics, we can help you find the right products and content your business should be selling. Words go in and out of style, but research will always hold its value.
  2. Ideas. Brainstorming can be a chore, especially when you are jump-starting a new business or trying to add to an already existing portfolio. Yet with an SEO advisor, analysis reports and tools can give you insights into what has worked well so far in the world. This can even tap into your competition, allowing you to see how others have fared and provide you with a branch of generating new ideas.
  3. Organization. Spammy pages are scattered, cluttered, and not well organized. They use improper page layouts, untagged images, and promote chaos in an already chaotic online world. Optimizers ensure that your pages and products are organized, with the proper mark-up that both humans and computers can understand. How do your pages connect to other related pages? Do they convey a natural flow of information? We consider this and many other minor factors when ranking.
  4. Go local. With local targeting through keywords, directories, trends, it’s easy to know what your geographic target is looking for. The rise of smartphones means that more than ever, people are searching in their area for products.
  5. Strength. The internet has given rise to many forms of content and forms of sales. Contests, types of promotions, webinars, animated videos and guides, monthly product magazines, different forms of catalogs… It can be overwhelming to choose. Keywords alone don’t cut it for good SEO, we must have insights into more detailed specifics that engage your brand in a strong way. The stronger your engagement, the greater importance you’ll be on the internet.
  6. Authority. Generating backlinks is no longer as easy as asking someone to place a link to your business on their site. Authority is gained by the right shared content, well-written reviews from customers, and curated information.
  7. Universality. SEO ensures that your website is usable not just on tablets or desktop computers, but also on any other smart appliance. Like it or not, the internet of things trend has taken off, and over time there will be opportunities to showcase your business on other forms of technology. It’s also important that people with diverse backgrounds can access your website.
  8. Speed. Believe it or not, Google factors in page load times when it ranks your site. Where and how can we improve your page efficiency?
  9. Submissions. While Google is still the #1 search engine, people are also using other websites for searching. Each engine has their own unique way they crawl the web, and knowing how to work with the big guys will place you in good territory with the internet.
  10. Efficiency. As a business owner, your job is to focus on the business and sales. Through search engine optimization, your efficiency can grow without much overhead from your company. Optimizers work with and for you, not against you to create the best e-commerce experience you can have in today’s age.

Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We have discussed Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a few times before but at Outdoor Business network we cannot express enough as to how important this is for any company that is online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is extremely important, especially as customer habits and search-engine algorithms change. Customers are becoming less likely to directly engage with a business when searching for information. Most of the customers are starting their discovery process with a search which makes search the largest digital marketing channel today.

The main goal of SEO is to ensure that the content on your web pages are easily understood by the people and the search engine algorithms; so in turn can be discovered by potential customers when they search for products or services that your company offers. The search engine algorithms are extremely complex and are hard to understand, they don’t take information in the same way a person that is searching. By consistently enhancing your companies SEO, you’re ensuring that the algorithms in place

No matter how advanced your SEO program is, if customers aren’t able to find the value in the content on your web pages, then your marketing efforts are a waste. It is crucial that marketers dedicate time and effort to creating content that is useful and engaging towards their demographic. If it is possible, a company should dedicate time weekly to create content. Keywords are able to easily determine what each page is about and how the content is useful for potential customers that are looking for answers. SEO is not a one-time action; it requires constant maintenance because search algorithms constantly change and update.

More on Search Engine Optimization

In several of my previous blog posts I have preached that the key to e-commerce success is deeply rooted in the volume of traffic your site sees every day. This Blog and the next few will start to drill into that a little further. I know some of these things have been talked about on many other blog sites including our own. I believe though we can’t talk about it enough as it IS what makes or breaks your sites performance.
This is basic information as the details will only overwhelm most at first glance. On site search engine optimization or SEO for short is simple in concept. Now putting it into practical use requires some practice and is a bit of a scientific art if you will. So for this blog we will stick to the concept.
Google and other search engines crawl the web using logarithms so complicated that I am not even sure they have it right all the time. None the less the things that Google populates a search page with when searching for specific goods and services has everything to do with the uniqueness and optimization of that particular website. Google doesn’t look at one thing it looks at a combination of conditions to exist before it starts ranking you higher in the searches. When someone says a site has been fully optimized that means each and every page has been optimized through its use of desired keywords and those items being present in proper context in meta tags, H tags and uniquely written content and descriptions.
Sounds simple enough right? Fundamentally it is. There are things to consider though. When I say uniquely written content or descriptions that means unique! Original! If you copy or even use authorized content the same as other sites who had it up first the great Google will know. Google looks at this duplicate content as bad and will push you further down the rankings. The use of keywords is delicate too. Too few and you’re not getting enough exposure. To many and your stuffing or overusing keywords and Google may penalize you for that. There is a happy medium that must happen to be optimized.
Well known established e-commerce companies spend a ridiculous amount of time and resources optimizing their sites. One of our companies we work with, www.Jazzmotorsports.com , has allowed us to get into their site and do this on every page. Now this doesn’t happen all at once. This has taken place over years. It is a process not an event. If you look at one of our average site that has 35,000 product pages and two dozen info and category pages it takes quite a bit of time to get through a site. The truth is it never really stops. There will always be more products and there will always be tweaks made to currently optimized pages.
As your site “develops” and grows with ever increasing content and optimization Google will continue to reward you in the rankings. Then it is simple, the higher you rank the more likely you get the clicks or traffic you need that I mentioned earlier.
The mistakes owners make is thinking just because you did a couple pages that instantly their traffic will jump through the roof. It just doesn’t work that way. Again these things take time and will not happen overnight. Another client Bushwhacker Firearms is in the beginning phases of this. We have begun to optimize product pages for some of their in house products that they exclusively manufacture. That in itself lends itself well to uniqueness.
As always if you wish to learn more about SEO and other marketing services that we offer please give us a call. 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1

Product Descriptions Tips

Many of you are selling products that have description and images provided in a digital feed. This is an outstanding way for you to get a ton of product available for purchase online in a hurry. The down side is you are not the only one out on the web doing this. I advise all of my customers to start off with a couple of their hot sellers or perhaps a few products that can be sold at a high margin and modify the product description pages. The key here is making this product unique. Write a solid description; perhaps include some of your own images or video of the product in action. The more info you can provide the better the chance you have of keeping your customer on your page as opposed to them bouncing to another site to find out the info they want.  It is important to write your own description….DO NOT COPY one from someone else’s website. Google will see this as duplicate content and it may actually hurt you in the search rankings. Take the time to think like your customer and try to anticipate questions they may ask and include this info in your description. If a customer can see lots of pictures or a video, have all the facts and figures and the price is attractive they are much more likely to stay put and make that purchase happen.

A common response I get from customers is this….”I don’t have the time to do this”. Well once you get proficient at it you should be able to knock out 3-4 of these in an hour or so. So let’s say you average 4 product pages a day for a year straight. That would give you 1460 UNIQUE product pages on your site. This will greatly improve your sites rankings. Oh and as far as the “I don’t have the time to do this” comment is concerned….What I actual hear the customer saying to me is this “I won’t spend 4% of my day working on my business to make it better and therefore make me more money”. Yes 4% is what an hour a day works out to. I am sure many if not all of us could squeeze that time in. Remember this is a web business. You can in all reality do this from your couch while watching the television. So even if every second of your day is allocated make it a point to optimize 1 page per day. This alone over the course of a couple years will have a profound effect on your sites performance. If you still don’t have the time then for Pete’s sake call Outdoor Business Network and let us make this part of your marketing strategy and hire us to do it for you. As always the number is 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1

Nothing to sell in the firearm industry??? Part 2

A couple weeks ago I touched on the complaint that many retailers feel they have nothing to sell online through a distributors feed on their website. I think I proved that simply is not and should not be an excuse. I wanted to take the time to expand on that with another idea. I have no doubt that you brick & mortar store owners and probably a hand full of the virtual store owners have piles of products lying around that are collecting dust. There is a certain “big box” retailer out there that sells these oddball misc. items on-line in their “Bargain Cave” section. This is a brilliant idea. First of all it gives you a chance to sell off some items that have been setting on your shelves for years. Secondly with a well written product description page on these items you can help expand and tune your sites SEO. These products along with your descriptions and images will add to your sites unique content which we all know shows favorably in the all seeing eyes of Google. So in one shot you can sell off some old inventory, optimize your site and make a few bucks in the process. I can’t possibly see how this would not be something you would want to do. If you need a little refresher course in uploading your own products to one of our sites please give my support team a call at 1-800-699-0820 ext 2.

 

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 6

To wrap up or blog series on utilizing the values of brick and mortar retail in your online store, we are going to cover that basics of marketing your site the same way you would if you owned a storefront. Many people assume that they can simply purchase a website, get it online and then the customer will just flock there and start buying. These assumptions can lead people to failure when they do not properly market their sites or put time and money into hiring professionals to do so.

To build a successful website, marketing should be divided into two main groups. There is user-specific marketing to customers, which includes social media, e-mail marketing and original content on your site. This is important because it will build your credibility within the eyes of your customers and ensure return shopping. Marketing this way is building the image you will portray to your customers and potential shoppers. User-specific marketing has the main goal of being interactive and informative for your customers. It should include any information pages that a customer would use on your site, video clips, product reviews and any other unique content that makes the user experience on your site easier.

Then, there is the SEO/PPC marketing aspect. This marketing is in place to boost your search engine results, whether they are organic or paid. User-specific marketing is the trend in the industry right now and search engines seem to favor original content, however, to properly market your website your strategy needs to encompass both of these tactics. You want to develop a strong brand with your customers but you also need to be doing SEO and PPC marketing to reach out to new clients.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 2

To continue with our series on applying brick and mortar ideas to your online store, this segment will cover how you can implement tools to make your online shoppers feel as though they have the same customer service that they would at your shop.

When you go to a retail store, one of the first things that will happen is a sales associate will greet you (hopefully in a friendly manner) and ask you what you are looking for or if you need help finding a specific item. The associate might also tell the customer what specials are going on or what products are currently on sale.

You can do several different things to achieve this same effect online, utilizing multiple features to recreate some of the convenience of having a sales associate to reference.

To assume the role of greeter for your web store, you can use bright banner images on your landing page to greet your customers. This will need to be friendly, informative and aesthetically interesting to engage your customers and get them to look further into your shop. Think about what you do when you visit a site for the first time. Do you give the site a chance to load fully and display all of its images? Do you read the full page before deciding to navigate further? Normally, you are going to have less than 10 seconds to get a customer hooked on your page. The landing page will serve as a greeter and hopefully will achieve this for your web store.

In addition to having great content on your landing page, having a chat feature is another wonderful way to engage your customers. A chat feature allows customer to interact with your support staff in an anonymous way (if they choose) that often times gives them a sense of security. It can help your customers who may have anxieties about talking on the phone with a sales rep as it is a digital interface.

Another tip to creating a great service element is having a properly functioning search bar. If a customer can search for a certain product within your site, it is a great tool for them in navigation. It’s almost like having a salesperson there who you can ask what isle you’ll find the product in. This feature should be user-friendly, adapting to misspellings and other factors of human error. Maybe you don’t carry a certain product online but you carry it in store. This tool should be used in the same way a sales person would be. If a customer asks for something that doesn’t exist in your store, can you offer suggestions like a salesperson would?

These simple steps, although they’ll probably take some programming work from your developers, will ensure that you don’t lose sight of customer service on your ecommerce site.

Brick and Mortar Tips for Online Stores: Part 1

In this series, we will be examining the ways in which retail stores can help us to better optimize online stores. For those of you who already have a brick and mortar, these tips might seem familiar and will be easily implemented. Those who don’t have a storefront might have some trouble with a few concepts, but will ultimately see the value in applying these processes to online marketplaces.

First, let’s talk about window space in retail. When you are at a shopping center or walking down a main street, looking at the shops, the first thing that you’re going to notice is the shop’s windows. These windows stand as a snippet of what the store has to offer. The color stories, the placement, the signage – all of these things are designed to peak your curiosity and get you to come inside. Some stores might even place signage out on the sidewalk or have a greeter, handing out coupons or fliers outside the front door.

In correlation to your web store, the front shop windows are your homepage or landing page. This is the first thing that a customer sees of your store and you have less than 10 seconds to impress them and get them to stay on your page.

Thinking of a retail space, shops are consistently redoing their windows to keep current and interesting. If you passed a store several times and the windows were the same, you probably wouldn’t go in because there wouldn’t be anything new or noteworthy. The same is true of your front/landing page. These need to be changed constantly to keep customers returning.

To recap, treat your landing page like storefront windows – change it up, keep it current and make it interesting to draw in traffic and keep customers coming back for more.

Your Value Proposition

For those of you who don’t know, a value proposition should be the X factor that sets your business apart from others just like it, giving your customers a reason to shop with you. It is the mission statement of your marketing campaign. Maybe you pride yourself on exceptional customer service or perhaps you sponsor a local shelter. Whatever your business may be, it is integral to find a value proposition that will stand as a platform for your marketing success.

Developing a strong value proposition for your business is easy, but it should be treated with care. Put some effort into deciding what your value proposition should be. Look at your company from every angle and choose something that will give you a unique quality within your industry.

After you have decided what your value prop is going to be, spend a little time writing it into a concise and fluid plan. Take time to do like most writers do – edit, re-edit and then edit some more. This could be the strategy that your internet marketing adapts for the next few years. It needs to be thoughtful, honest and striking. Having a well-shaped value prop will not only increase your brand image and customer loyalty, it will give the best chance at maximizing any marketing efforts from there on out.

Advertising: The Difference between Social Media and Social Spending

It is agreed, unanimously by the marketing industry that it is important to develop social media pages. We have had many posts on branding and social media writing; however it is time to put a backbone in the newly formed organism that is your marketing strategy. It is well and good to post on your social media pages and to put time and effort into maintaining them. You should absolutely do this. But now that you’ve gotten used to being a Facebook or Twitter pro, it’s time to talk dollars and cents.

We all love that we can get free advertising through our networks of friends and followers, but there comes a time when you need to realize that a strong social presence needs to be accompanied by a strong ad presence on the web. If you aren’t using pay-per-click marketing tools, such as Google AdWords, its time. Brands spend thousands and millions of dollars on web marketing, knowing that you can’t rely solely on a social media presence to bring you sales. It’s all part of a cohesive marketing strategy and money needs to be put into online ads.

Consider how much you spend on a phonebook ad or a billboard. Those are both local, limited ad spaces, while the internet is infinite. Your marketing strategy should already have a budget in place for internet marketing alone, and if you haven’t given this any thought than it is past time to do so. There is a great opportunity to expand your brand, especially if you don’t have a brick and mortar location, through online marketing and advertising.