— March 4, 2019
SEO is a crucial ingredient in growing your store traffic long-term. Working together with PPC, SEO helps generate a steady flow of organic eCommerce traffic over time, making it crucial to your online business survival.
Although achieving peak SEO can seem like moving the goal post, it isn’t as complicated as it may appear and can be accomplished using good DIY SEO hacks. The secret? Being strategic while consistently creating a great shopping experience.
Opting for white-hat long-term strategies and building a relevant, authentic plan over time is important, yes. However, it is also vital that you are continually reviewing, optimizing and tweaking as the markets, your potential shoppers and the competition change. Often, this can seem very daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
So how can you master organic eCommerce traffic without the need for expensive agencies? We’ve got just the hacks for you! This week, we go through 8 DIY SEO tips to help you build and maintain your traffic growth strategy.
Step 1. Become a Data Wizard
If you don’t have a good knowledge of the metrics, you can’t optimize. Your analytics are an essential part of your DIY SEO strategy. In fact, having a good understanding of how to hack your data beforehand will not only help you set your strategy but help you to become a data expert, allowing you to make quick tweaks. To start, you want to make sure you have installed and set up Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. Here are some of the top metrics you want to familiarize yourself with:
- Overall organic traffic
- Bounce rates
- Landing page reports
- Internal site search
It’s not just Google Analytics that gives you valuable data you can use. With tools like Google’s Webmaster Tools and Ahrefs.
Pro Tip: Set up Google Analytics email reports to get essential metrics to your inbox and use Google Analytics Intelligence to ask the right questions.
Step 2. Study Your Target Shopper
Sure, SEO is about optimizing for search engines, but it’s humans doing the searching. Therefore, to truly master SEO, you need to get into the minds of your potential shoppers. Sure, this means looking at usual demographics such as location and age, but what’s most important here is having a deep awareness of their needs.
This doesn’t just mean keyword research to find out what they are looking for; it means hanging out where they are, in forums like niche-specific Facebook groups or hopping onto Reddit or Quora. This will help you get a deeper understanding of what kinds of pain points your target audience has, and find a way to answer these with your content, meta descriptions and product data.
Step 3. Stalk Your Competitors
Once you know which metrics are important and what your shoppers are looking for, your next step is to study your closest competitors. Such as:
- How they are doing within SERP pages
- What blog content categories they have and the post engagement their content is getting
- How their pages rank (using tools such as Check PageRank)
- Study their website structure, user-friendliness and keywords
This will show you what you’re up against, give you insight into other popular brands and products that your target audience likes, and give you your SEO benchmark.
Step 4. Become a Keyword Research Pro
Once you know what you’re up against and who you are talking to, it’s time to build (or review) your keyword lists. Good keyword research not only helps you understand what your target shopper is searching for but how they are searching for it.
In other words, you want to find popular searches that your target audience is making. Here are some keyword search hacks to get you started.
- Use Google’s autocomplete feature or tools such as Keywordtool.io to discover long tail keywords in your niche
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner and your Google Ads metrics to find ‘vetted’ keywords
- Search online communities such as Quora and Reddit
- Find question keywords with Answer the Public
- Use tools like KWFinder to find low-competition keywords and phrases
The key here is to look for keywords where there is value (demand) but not so much competition that you can’t keep up. You want a good mix of long tail and short keywords and phrases that are highly relevant to your niche and what you’re selling.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to also include branded keywords in your strategy. You can find out more here.
Step 5. One-Page Optimization for eCommerce
Every page of your store needs to optimized. This can sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. A lot of what you do for shopper experience goes a long way to ensuring you’re optimized. This includes:
- Titles with main keywords or phrases for each page/category/product
- Keyword usage in H1, H2 or H3 tags
- Well-designed, responsive pages
- Optimized images
- Good meta descriptions and titles
- Secondary keywords in descriptions and/or blog content
- Short, user-friendly URLs
- Internal links to other content/related products/pages
- External links to blog content
- Alt text for all images (content images and product photos)
But remember: you don’t want to keyword-stuff. Keywords should be logical and content should be written for your potential shopper, not machines. So use synonyms and LSI keywords (related terms). What you want to do if you’re optimizing your SEO yourself is to make a checklist for one-page optimization that you can follow for every page, product category, blog content page, etc.
Here’s a handy infographic from Backlinko to help you get started.
Step 6. Do an SEO Technical Audit of Your Site
Next, you need to be aware of where you stand from a technical point of view. This means checking site and page speeds, getting insight into what Google thinks of your pages and fixing any underlying issues. The best way to do this is to evaluate how Google views your web pages.
Formerly known as Fetch, Google’s URL Inspection Tool, shows you whether you have any indexing, structured data, or AMP issues or errors. Google’s URL Inspection Tool offers the following features:
What you’re checking for here is whether URLs are indexed with Google and if so, whether they have any errors such as malformed structured data for a rich result or problem with an associated AMP page. It will also show you the URL’s:
- Index coverage status
- Sitemaps (submitted using the Sitemaps report or listed in the robots.txt)
- Referring pages (the URL possibly used by Google to discover the page)
- Last crawl (the last time Google crawled the page)
- Crawl errors (which point to Google having trouble viewing a page on your site)
- Crawling allowed
- Page fetch (whether or not Google could actually get the page from your server)
- Mobile usability
- AMP errors
You can find out more about Google’s URL Inspection Tool here. But that’s not all. You will also want to make sure that your site:
- Has good page load speeds (which you can test with Google’s PageSpeed Insights)
- Doesn’t have any broken links (which you can test with tools like DrLinkCheck)
- Secures with HTTPS (if you’re not using a hosted platform like Shopify)
- Doesn’t have any duplicate meta descriptions and content
- Is optimized for mobile (you will be surprised how many sites still aren’t)
Step 7. Build an SEO-Driving Content Marketing Strategy
Blog content helps with SEO in a big way. Plus, it has the added benefit of feeding content marketing strategies off-site while building authority in your niche. As we discussed in our Increase eCommerce Traffic post, high-value blog content is one of the top five ways an online store can increase traffic – and sales.
Pro Tip: Repurpose old content to boost SEO in a big way. You can read more about how to do just that, here.
The trick is to come up with a blog topic strategy and post as regularly as you can. This doesn’t mean posting for the sake of it; you want to make sure you’re posting quality content every time. Ideally, you should be aiming to eventually be posting at least one blog a week. However, whatever your frequency, make sure it is consistent.
Posts should appeal to your target shopper, be easy to read (well-structured), and offer as much information as a reader would need about that topic so that they don’t need to keep searching for similar content. You also want to include a variety of content types: images, video, etc.
Also, don’t forget your one-page optimization for your blog home, post and category pages! Still undecided? Here are the top reasons why an eCommerce blog and content are a must for boosting SEO:
- Blog content helps you target long-tail and other sub keywords
- Posts encourage inbound links, which boost SEO
- They keep your website fresh with new content – and we know how much Google loves fresh content
- Blog content improves your bounce rate by keeping traffic on your site longer
Plus, good content opens up backlinking opportunities. Which leads us to our next SEO DIY step.
Step 8. Create a Solid Link Building Strategy
Link building is an essential part of SEO. So important, in fact, that Google named backlinks in their list of top 3 search ranking factors. However, link building is also something that a lot of online store owners are lacking. Why? Because as important as it is, it can seem complicated and time-consuming. But it doesn’t have to be!
There is a big chance you’re already putting backlinking into practice. Are your products on review sites and blogs? Has your brand been mentioned on forums? Are your products or brand name listed on marketplaces that allow for links back to your store? You’re halfway there.
Here are the top opportunities to explore when building a solid link building strategy, followed by Brian Dean’s tip on how to get powerful backlinks in 2019.
- Engage with influencers on your posts. Then let them know you have done so. This is a good way to start a relationship with influencers and encourage mentions back.
- Guest blog posts on other sites. Expert in your niche? Add value to a relevant site by submitting a guest blog post.
- Be interviewed on podcasts.
- ‘Borrow’ from your closest competitors’ link sources. Tools like Link Explorer will help you see your competitors’ links on third-party sites/platforms.
- Make sure you’re linking to your own social accounts and platforms.
- DIY public relations. This can include sending free products to big sites to review, harnessing your LinkedIn connections, or partnering up with advertorial sites.
Newbie tip: Don’t forget to build up your social network as well. Join top platforms, make sure your descriptions, etc. are inputted, and post regularly. This will help you with SEO and also organic traffic from social media. Remember: the more people share content, the greater the chances people will like what they read and share or link back to your store.
Although having a good foundation will help, you will still need to monitor and tweak as you go. But remember – this is not a sprint; it’s a marathon, and you need to be patient when implementing and testing DIY SEO tips and be prepared for results to happen slowly.
Here’s a DIY SEO checklist summary to cut and paste into your to-do Excel sheets or Trello boards.
- Set up Google Search Console
- Install Bing Webmaster Tools
- Set up Google Analytics
- Study your potential shopper
- Spy on your competitors
- Keyword research
- One-page optimization for sites, pages and categories
- Test your site for tech issues
- Build a blog content plan around trending topics, keywords and target audience pain points
- Link building strategy