Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way to help increase website traffic through the use of search words and terms that are being used by consumers on the internet. Using SEO properly can help boost brand awareness, as the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.
While the coronavirus outbreak has caused some independent gourmet housewares retailers to modify hours or close the doors completely, some have turned to building online shops or using social media in order to boost online sales. However, ensuring best practices when it comes to your web presence will help drive traffic to your website and social media pages. This has the potential to lead to increased online sales, even if there is no web-based storefront attached.
GOURMET INSIDER® recently spoke to Chris Rodgers, founder and CEO of Colorado SEO Pros, based in Golden, CO, about the basics of SEO, how to increase search engine optimization for the web, and how to take advantage of social media tie-ins in order to boost online sales.
Gourmet Insider: What are some tactics independent retailers can use to boost their SEO during this time?
Chris Rodgers: With the current shift away from brick-and-mortar stores and uncertainty in the market, this is a fantastic time to be investing more in SEO. SEO fundamentals still apply, but I would shift resources away from other efforts to focus on SEO, since these investments can grow rankings while traffic is low so that when traffic returns, a retailer is ready to reap the benefits. The major areas that those retailers with a website should be considering are technical SEO, on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO is considered the content written on each page, while off-page SEO takes backlinks, 404 errors and loading time into play.
For Google, here are some best practices to take into account:
- Make pages primarily for users, not search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.
- Ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging.
- For a local business, be sure to look into eligibility for inclusion in the Google My Business index. Retailers must have a physical address for this.
- Ensure all vital information, like phone number and address, are correct.
GI: What can independent retailers do organically with their SEO to increase their online traffic, especially if working with an agency or large budget is out of the question?
CR: If a retailer’s budget is low, they will need to use their own time and effort to bridge the gap for their SEO strategy. The best way to do this is to leverage their subject matter expertise to create authentically valuable SEO content that helps inform and serve their customers. So, if a retailer creates specialty essential oils, think about those products and what customers who aren’t experts should know about them. Retailers can focus on improving individual product pages to provide more information on benefits and features, as well as information on materials, production process, and any other details that provide further details on the value of the individual products. This is a great way to boost engagement on pages, which is an SEO signal.
Retailers can also publish informational SEO content in the form of blog posts. They should think about things like top 10 lists, common misconceptions they can address, trending topics, and any other valuable topics that would be useful to their customers. Then, they should link back to product pages from these posts in ways that make sense.
GI: What if a retailer doesn’t have an online shop or large online presence? What can they do that will help them?
CR: In order to drive sales from online, retailers will need some type of conversion point so potential customers can take an action. This means they need a “buy now” button or some kind of contact form. If a retailer doesn’t have a website, they should look at the options on social media sites to allow customers to convert into a sale or web lead. Facebook, for instance, allows retailers to add call-to-actions to their page for just this purpose.
GI: Is there another social media tie-in that retailers can take advantage of in order to boost online traffic?
CR: Absolutely. Retailers should tie their content strategy to their social media calendar and push it out through their ongoing blog posts and product pages as they are updated. Retailers should also make sure to have a good balance of self-promotional content versus other related posts. They should not have more than one-third or one-half self-promotional posts max, otherwise engagement and brand loyalty may suffer.
GI: What should independent retailers focus on now, especially since SEO is constantly changing and online competition is increasing?
CR: They should make sure they are focusing on understanding their customers and making content that authentically helps them. What problems are their customers trying to solve, what information do they need to make good decisions, how can you help them with your expertise? Create real content, publish out on social, and try to get links back from other websites that are related to what you do.