Do you ever feel like Search Engine Optimization is so last decade? Honestly, with email marketing and social media, how much time do you actually need to dedicate to optimizing your site content for search engines?
Welp, it turns out that SEO is still super important. While today’s SEO tactics look a lot different than the ones we used in the 2000s and the 2010s, SEO is still alive and well in the online marketing space. You just have to look at it through a new lens. Here are some tips to help bring your online store’s SEO into the new decade and increase your inbound traffic.
1. Rethink search terms
Back in the old days, we would focus in on one keyword, or a short key phrase, and create an entire content plan around it. It didn’t matter if the content was good, as long as it used the keyword or key phrase as much as possible and reached a certain number of words. With countless algorithm updates since then and new search techniques, that type of content doesn’t cut it anymore.
Now, it’s more important than ever to listen to your audience. And I mean this literally. Customers aren’t just typing in search terms anymore—they’re speaking in full sentences into their smartphones. This means you need to listen carefully to pick up on keywords, key phrases, and full sentences they use to search for your business or product.
In other words, we’re moving away from keyword matching and moving into intent matching.
To give you a better idea of what this might mean for your SEO strategy, this is what Eli Schwartz, Growth Consultant, and Advisor, says about keyword research:
“Content will truly have to be written to user intent rather than just strings that a user might search. Keyword research tools may even become less relevant with the primary dataset for content creation coming from suggested queries. In 2020, the really smart SEOs will get up from their desks to talk to customers so they can find out what their audience really wants from them.”
“The goal of switching the mentality to more of a topic-focus is to create content that addresses an entire conversation holistically as opposed to just worrying about the single keyword a page should be targeting,” said Jesse McDonald, Global SEO Strategist, IBM.
Essentially, you need to focus on how your customers talk about their problems, needs, and wants. From there, you can create content that speaks to specific concerns and actually contributes to the conversation.
2. Expand your idea of “search engines”
It’s not just about Google anymore. We used to spend all our time trying to keep up with Google’s latest algorithm and figure out how to work the system. But now some of the most popular search engines—in addition to Google—are YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Apple Podcasts.
With so many places for your customers to find you and your products, you need to make sure you have content available on as many platforms as possible, and then link to your online store. For example:
- YouTube – start uploading unique and interesting video content with search-friendly descriptions
- Facebook – create a business profile and share updates that link to blog posts and videos on your site
- Twitter – create a profile and join relevant conversations so users can easily find you
- Apple Podcasts – start a podcast that coves relevant topics within your industry
By having content on platforms other than your site, you start creating a nice little network of backlinks. Yes, backlinks still matter and you should be trying to build them. “Content affects everything in SEO,” Anna Crowe, Assistant Editor, Search Engine Journal said. “From your site structure and internal linking strategy to the types of links you build.”
Remember, SEO content doesn’t have to be housed on your site. It can be featured across lots of different platforms. The most important thing is that all that content links back to your online store so you benefit from the traffic.
3. Keep your site search-friendly
This probably goes without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway. Here are the top aspects of your site you need to consider when keeping your online store search friendly:
“Almost every prospect coming into our shop has a mobile site that is a mess,” Tony Wright, CEO, WrightIMC, said. “To survive in 2020, you need to implement 2017 tactics and fix your mobile.”
- Safe and secure
Customers want to know their personal and banking information is safe and secure. If you don’t already have an eCommerce partner to keep your checkout process running smoothly and securely, you should probably get one.
- Clear and clean code
While your customers can’t see your code, search engines can. The better your code, the better search engines can spider your site and get your store on SERPs.
- Fast load times
You want your load time to be under two seconds. At two seconds, the bounce rate is 9%. But at five seconds, the bounce rate jumps to 38%.
SEO isn’t just about content. It’s about creating a positive and smooth buyer experience. That means your content should be housed on a site that search engines love and that customers want to visit.
4. Create a content plan
Now is the time to take your content game to the next level. And more than ever, it’s all about quality, not quantity.
Your content needs to be high-quality and specialized. So, the first thing you need to do is find your niche. What topic(s) do you want to focus on? What does your business do the best? In what area do you have the most authority? Once you’ve decided how you want to position your business, you can focus on creating the best content within your niche.
“This means that SEOs need to learn how to write or hire people who know how to write,” Wright said. “Google’s editorial discretion isn’t perfect yet – there will still be content that ranks that shouldn’t. But the day is coming when the best content will win.”
And again, your content doesn’t have to be exclusively on your site. Your content plan should include content within specific topics that can be adapted to different platforms—YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Apple Podcasts, etc.
SEO is constantly changing. It always has been. But the great thing about the most recent changes is that they make sense. Relevant, high-quality content is starting to get higher rankings on SERPs, which means customers actually get what they’re looking for and your online store gets more of the right traffic.