In this mini guide I will present one simple DIY strategy for each of : short, mid and long-term SEO strategies for your e-commerce site. Done together, these three build into a winning SEO strategy for your business that will get you the jump on your competition today and keep you ahead tomorrow.
All are equally important, and all should be started today (if you only spend time on the short-term quick wins, you will win the battle, but lose the war).
Things you will NOT need
- Previous SEO knowledge or experience
- Technical knowledge
- Paid-for tools
What you WILL need
- Great understanding of your target audience
- Understanding of the products you offer
- Awareness of your strengths and weaknesses compared to the competition
Short Term SEO: basic improvements to your SERPs
Improve your presentation in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Write every meta title and every meta description for every page. Properly. Strangely, many people are keen to create new content. But improving how Google presents what you already have is BY FAR the easiest win.
Often overlooked, this strategy is very simple and very effective – simply writing a stunning meta title and meta description can bring 20% more potential clients to any given page!
Tip: Check out the easy to follow tips and tricks here (there is also a SERP simulation tool to make sure you get the meta lengths right).
Writing a great meta title and description that stands out from the competition will get you more clicks in the short term (20% or more). But there is an added, hidden benefit. Most SEO experts agree, when Google sees a click-through rate for a given position that is higher than expected and the bounce rate for those visits to the web page is not high, Google will tend to reward that web page with a higher rank. And if your site rises one place on page one, you will receive about 50% more visits.
Tip: ensure your bounce rate stays low by taking the time to also rewrite your H1 and perhaps add a short summary that capture the client’s imagination and keeps them on the page. The added bonus here, of course, is that they may well buy from you!
Gaining one place on page 1 of Google brings 50% more traffic. Gaining one place is very often as simple as improving your meta title and description.
Problem: You have thousands of categories and products
Maybe you are thinking that rewriting meta titles and descriptions for every page is a task too huge to even think about. Or you believe you can do it but don’t know where to start.
Make a list and start with the best performers and work your way through, page by page in order.
Time very well spent
Write the best meta title, description on one single page every morning (before opening your emails 😉 and get more prospects every day for years to come. Think of it this way:
One page per day = 10 minutes.
10 minutes = more potential clients every single day for years to come.
Medium Term SEO: get reviews
Getting reviews from happy customers is easy. Just ask them. But make sure the opinion they give is in the right place – some review platforms are more effective than others.
In terms of the SEO value they bring to the table, as a general rule, paid platforms are the way to go. The free platforms are on the way out – they are losing their place in Google’s results, and most have been hit by Google penalties. It is never a good idea to associate your business with a site that has felt the wrath of Google.
Tip: the paid platforms partner with Google, and that more or less guarantees the advantages described below.
Sign up for a review platform
Choose carefully. If you have a lot of products, or are international, then Trustpilot or Reseller Ratings is your best bet. If you are single-product or single country company, then a cheaper platform such as Verified Reviews will do fine.
Tip: there is a difference between service reviews (reviews about the service your company offers) and product reviews (reviews about each individual product you sell). Paying for a platform that offers product reviews is a waste of money if you have only one product / service. If you have multiple products, then collecting reviews about each individual product as well as reviews about the overall service your company offers (service reviews) is essential.
Personalise the email that will be sent to invite your customers to leave reviews
The platforms all offer standard emails. They are usually pretty good. But you know your customers better than they do. Response rate will be 5-10% using their standard emails, and over 10% if you write something that appeals to your customers. By all means start with their standard emails. But make sure you work to improve over time. Anything less than 10% means you are not getting the best out of the platform. Anything more than 15% is really good and you would (perhaps) be best advised spending your time on other aspects.
Invite your customers from the last 6 months to leave reviews
Often called “Kickstarter”, not all platforms offer this, and some charge an additional fee, so be very clear when you are discussing with them. This step is not necessary, but getting 100 reviews from the get-go will make the wait for SEO benefits MUCH shorter.
Invite your new customers to leave reviews
The platforms allow you to upload your customer list as a CSV. You can do that every day, week or month. Or if you have the option in your e-commerce platform, you can add the platform as a bcc to the confirmation emails you send to your clients. In both cases, the platform takes care of sending the emails after a period of time you define.
Tip: It is rarely worth the cost and time making this process exactly 100% as you imagine it. Their systems are very good. And your vision may not be any better. Get the system running, and THEN improve it according to results, rather than spending time, resources and money making guesses at the start. As mentioned above, once you hit 15% response rate and 90% positive, your time may well be better spent on other aspects of your business.
Once you have 10 reviews and a score over 4 stars, add the code
All these platforms offer simple copy / paste code to add review boxes on your site.
There are two types of review box – SEO review boxes, and non SEO review boxes. You can (and should) put non-SEO review boxes on every page. These aim to increase conversion rates of visitors already on your site.
You should add a SEO review box to 5 pages: a dedicated reviews page, plus the 4 pages that perform best in SEO (but NOT the homepage), and (if you have product reviews), every product page. You can also add them to the categories pages – but be sure to get advice from the review platform on-boarding team. Follow the advice of the person doing your on-boarding to the letter.
Then wait a few weeks, and rich snippets with yellow stars will start appearing for your pages in Google’s results.
Just like the superbly crafted meta title and descriptions you have written as part of strategy 1, those rich snippet yellow stars will have two effects: 1) they are eye-catching and will get a better click through rate (more visits at the same position 2) Over time, that increase will attract Google’s attention and it will push you up the rankings by a place (or two). Rising by just one place on page 1 of Google gets 50% more clicks.
Use negative reviews to your advantage
You will get some bad reviews. Every company in the world has some unhappy customers. Don’t take it personally. Act positively:
- Dialogue with the person through the review platform and resolve their issues. Make them happy. You can then ask them to change their review. That is a very positive signal to Google as it shows you look after your customers.
- Use these negative reviews to improve your service. If the negative opinion is justified, fix the problem so other customers don’t have the same issue
Maintain a score over 4 stars
Every quality business gets a score between 4 and 4.5 stars. Below 4, the reviews will not help your SEO efforts. Above 4.5 starts losing credibility.
Anything above 4 is fine. Here, the number of reviews comes into play. Having 4 stars with 10,000 reviews is a stronger positive signal than getting 4.5 stars with 100 reviews. So, as long as your average remains above 4 stars, get as many reviews as you can.
Which platform to choose ?
Here is a list of all the paid review platforms that partner with Google.
The choice, by order of SEO benefit to your business
- in the UK : Trustpilot, Verified Reviews
- in the US : Trustpilot, Reseller Ratings, Bazaar Voice
Bonus : if you implement the reviews on your website, it will improve your conversion rates. The review platforms claim “up to 17%”. Truth is probably nearer 10%. More often than not, a 10% jump in sales will make for a good (sometimes great) ROI of a paid review platform.
Long Term SEO: mentions (and links, when you can get them)
Get mentioned online on relevant sites, by relevant people. Make sure the mentions are accurate and positive. That way, Google will become increasingly confident it has understood who you are, what you do, and that you are the best in the business. And once it is sure of that, it will be much more inclined to put you at the top of the rankings (what we call Brand Factor)
Correcting information about you
First off, correct the information that exists. Make sure that your brand name (!), telephone number, address on your site are correct. Then check all the places on the web where this information is shown… and correct those that are wrong. To find out where this information is mentioned, search for your company name with quotation marks: “My Brand”. Do the same with your website “mysite.com”. And then the telephone number: “0123 456789”. Same thing for the street address, but add the brand name and don’t use the quotation marks: My Company 1 My Street.
Adding information to trusted, relevant sources
Add accurate company info to sites such as Crunchbase, industry sites, yellow pages, startup sites, entrepreneur sites etc. Where appropriate, choose the category that is the best fit. This information confirms who you are and what you do. The reviews above prove that you are good at what you do, so don’t worry about that!
We are not talking about link building. This is traditional press relations. Local papers and industry-specific sites are great places to start. They carry more weight than you may think. And the entry is easier than bigger papers and sites.
Contact your local / regional papers and give them a reason to write an article. What has your company done that is newsworthy? Created jobs? Given to charity? Partnered with an important company? What have people in your company done? Given a speech? Participated in a prestigious event?
Get one article, and that is your pass to getting more. When a journalist sees that other people are writing about you, they are much more likely to follow suit
Hosting events, giving speeches at industry events, having prize draws… these are three ways to get people talking about you online. Obviously this is pretty time-consuming. But this strategy is long term. So one newsworthy event every couple of months is fine. Promote it to your contacts, your customers, on social media and the on and offline press. Others will pick it up. You’ll be surprised.
Winning Take Aways
As this guide demonstrates, SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. Or technical. Approach it as a marketer and apply the three strategies in this guide every single day.
Every day, optimise a page with the relevant keywords, get a review and correct or generate accurate information about your brand.
- Within a month, you will see more traffic, increased sales and more revenue.
- In 3 to 6 months, you will get prettier listings and higher rankings in the Search Engine Results Pages… plus prominent, believable reviews on your site. Once again, more traffic, increased sales and more revenue.
- In a year or two, if you have been consistent and you may just hit the jackpot and get the brand factor advantage.
Tip: The most important thing? Be consistent. Do these three things every single day. The potential rewards for your business are immense and well worth the effort.
SEO is a long term strategy, but it will help you getting a better visibility on Google. Those three long-term SEO Strategies should help you boost your sales and have more visits. And what about you, do you have any other long-term SEO strategies? Tell us below or Tweet us!
Illustrations : Roni Ti Pois