Wouldn’t it be great if you could magically uncover all of your competitors best keywords? Get data on the % of traffic each keyword is delivering to their website via organic search as well as PPC competitive analysis?

Well you can – SEMrush take a bow.

Unfortunately with anything this good you will need to pull your credit card out of your wallet or purse & tap in the details to the tune of $69.95.

You will however receive some functionality with a free account and can probably stumble upon a  free 14 day trial with an “SEMrush coupon code” Google search.

At WilliCreative, SEMrush is working around the clock. I mean why wouldn’t we use a tool that can provide us with so much valuable data in a matter of seconds?

Analyse Your Own Website

Before spying on your competitors, you may want to take a look at how well your own small business website is doing.

Head over to SEMrush + enter your domain in the search bar and select the main country you are targeting and wish to see search data from:

enter your domain

  1. How much organic search traffic are you getting?
  2. Is there a % increase or decrease?
  3. How many keywords are currently bringing in the organic traffic?
  4. If you are running PPC campaigns – how much traffic is that bringing in?

keyword analysis own domain

You will be provided with an overview of the amount of backlinks to the site. If you are serious about competitor backlink analysis and obtaining your competitors best backlinks I would use a more specialist backlink checker tool like Majestic or Ahrefs

organic keywords by country

  1. The organic Keywords bar displays the organic search distribution via country.
  2. You are also provided with an overview of search figures over a 4 year period – which is handy for uncovering massive spikes and decreases in traffic.

According to SEMrush there are a total of 1537 keywords bringing in organic traffic to this domain:

top organic keywords

Selecting the “view full report” option will present you with the following data:

website analysis

  1. Keyword
  2. SERP position
  3. Search volume
  4. Cost per click (CPC)
  5. URL of the page ranking
  6. Percentage of the total organic traffic.

Competitor Positioning

Ok, so we have uncovered some valuable data from our own website – now for the competition.

Heading over to the left sidebar informs us we have data for 2.1k competitors:

competitor KW number

Selecting this provides us with a competitors competition map – comparing keyword numbers and search figures with a hand full of other big players in the industry :

competitors competition map

 

    1. The organic competitors list brings back 2112 competitor sites – which is probably near enough every paintball website of interest in the UK.

semrush competitor analysis

 

We are provided with the following data:

1. Competition level – self explanatory

2. Common Keywords – The same KW’s the competitor site is ranking for

3. SE Keywords – Total KW’s the competitor site is ranking for

4. SE Traffic – self explanatory

5. SE Traffic Price – Estimated traffic value

6. Ads Keywords – Keywords the competitior website is bidding on in Google Adwords

Note that even though the site we initially analysed was bringing in organic traffic from 1.5k keywords, comparing the difference between common & SE keyword numbers tells us there are still plenty more opportunities.

common kw comparison

Common Kw’s

You can compare common keyword data by clicking on the number for each competitor site:

common keyword data

You are provided with a SERP ranking comparison of your own URL and the selected competitor website.

Are you being outranked for any major terms?

It’s important to note that the percentage traffic a web page in the number 1 spot recieves is far greater than that of number 2:

serp position percentage traffic

(Thanks to Search Engine Watch for saving me 10 minutes)

Not really true when kids say – “First the worse, second the best” is it now?!

Uncommon Keywords

What about all those Keywords my competitors are ranking for and I’m not? – Fear not, SEM rush has your back.

Selecting the enable charts option (far right) within any common Kw’s comparison page:

uncommon keyword comparison

 

Will provide you with a Venn diagram:

Venn Diagram

 

Clicking on the overlap which I have clearly marked! will display the Kw’s that your competitor is generating traffic from and you are not.

Competitors Top Performing Keywords and Content

By entering one of your main competitors in the search bar

And then selecting positions

Will display a table that includes not only the top ranking keywords of your competitor but the URL of the page ranking for that keyword

You can sort the data by search volume or traffic % and gain a great insight into the content they are publishing in order to rank for certain words and terms.

PPC

Selecting the best keywords to bid on in a Google Adwords campaign is just as important as selecting the best to go after in an SEO campaign.

Thankfully SEM rush provides us with some comprehensive competitor PPC data.

Selecting competitors from the advertising research tab

PPC keywords

Displays a similar table to that for organic keywords – only this time we are presented with PPC keyword data.

Note you get a rough indication of how much your competitors are spending via Google Adwords

PPC Keyword Analysis

Selecting the ads keyword number will uncover the ad copy, and the URL of the page linking too the ad.

view competitor ppc ad

 

That’s some pretty valuable information right there!

I cannot stress how important this tool and analysis can be to any SEO campaign.

I mean who wouldn’t want to steal all their competitors best keywords in a matter of seconds?

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

This case study outlines the exact steps we took to take a clients e-commerce website from £0 to over £11,000 per month.

As you can see from the sales report there has been a solid increase in revenue month on month after we took the site on in March.

Average daily sales for December were £342.39, which the client is delighted about, his profit margins are huge!

E-Commerce Sales

We predict the site will turnover £180,000 in 2016 and then £400,000+ in 2017 having devised and part implemented a long term strategy, which will make this a highly lucrative e-commerce business.

If you are currently struggling to generate revenue with your e-commerce website, this case study will set you well on your way to building a profitable business.

How To Uncover The Most Profitable Keywords For E-commerce

Finding keywords to target for your homepage, category pages, products and blog section should be based on relevancy, competition and search volume.

It’s important to target terms that are highly relevant to the products you are selling.

Before I get into the whole process of how to find the best keywords, I want to firstly explain how they can be categorised.

Keyword Categorisation

I’m Ready To Buy Keywords:

These are keywords that represent people that already have their credit card out.

They have made up their mind they are going to buy, they are just searching for where.

I’m ready to buy keywords will generally include:

  • Deal
  • Buy
  • Discount code

Product Searches:

These are keywords that represent people who are not as far along the buying cycle as the “I’m ready to buy” people, but are close and will convert well.

Product searches tend to include:

  • Review
  • Comparison
  • Top
  • Specific brand & product names

Informational

These are keywords which represent people seeking information related to your niche.

It’s likely the information seekers will make up a large chunk of your website traffic.

Informational type keywords tend to include:

  • How
  • Best
  • I need

While these type of visitors will be less likely to make a purchase the first time they visit your website, they could become loyal customers in the future.

An example would be a visitor landing on an online butchers website looking for information on how to cook a steak medium.

It’s highly unlikely they are going to buy steaks there and then, they probably already have them in the fridge or out at room temperature ready to go.

They may however buy in the future, if you provide a guide on how to cook a steak medium on your blog, turn them into a subscriber by offering more valuable information, a sauces for steak recipe for example and then gradually warm them up through a sales funnel until they are ready to buy.

The Freebie Hunters

The freebie hunter or tire kicker is highly unlikely to make a purchase now or in the future.

These are the people you should really make no effort to attract via you keyword selection.

Freebie hunter type keywords tend to include:

  • Free
  • Torrent
  • Free download
  • Giveaway

How To Find The Best Keywords – Method 1

The majority of people will conduct their keyword research by entering seed keywords into the Keyword Planner Tool or other options like:

If you were an online e-cigarette retailer you might enter:

  • E-Cigarette
  • Electronic Cigarette
  • E-Liquid

E-Commerce Keyword Research

Fetching keyword ideas will present you with lots of options in both ad group format:

Keyword Research Results

And individual keyword format:

Individual Keyword Format

From this list you can select keywords appropriate for your home, category, product pages and blog posts.

If you aren’t familiar with the keyword planner tool it’s important to note the competition column has absolutely nothing to do with SEO.

How To Find The Best Keywords – Method 2

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with using method 1,  I prefer to do things a little differently.

My research starts with knowing who my main competitors are, which can easily be found out via a little digging on Google.

Lets take the e-cigarette industry as an example and Google that phrase:

Google Search

If we take the URL of the top ranking site and analyse the search traffic via SEMrush, we are provided with the following data:

semrush kw overview

662 keywords bringing in 70.8k search traffic.

We are also provided with some useful data on the 662 keywords:

e-commerce keyword data semrush

  1. The keyword
  2. The position the web page is ranking
  3. The search volume
  4. The URL of the page from the site
  5. Percentage of the overall search traffic the keyword is bringing to the site.

Although the tool isn’t a 100% accurate with regards to the exact amount of search traffic, it provides a great overview.

From this I can normally obtain all the most profitable keywords in an industry and also uncover the majority of long tail terms.

For those interested in trying out SEMrush and finding out a little more on what this powerful tool can do, I wrote an in-depth tutorial on how to steal your competitors best keywords.

The Importance Of Long Tail

Broad and competitive keywords with huge search figures can look like an attractive proposition, but should be considered with care.

For example, if you sell coffee machines, deciding to target the broad term “coffee” is probably not a good idea.

While ranking highly for this term would lead to a considerable amount of traffic from the 200,000 searches per month, you need to consider the following:

  • It’s highly competitive – have you got the resources to actually target it?
  • It’s broad – What do people searching for coffee actually want? A coffee shop near them? Information on how coffee is made? To buy just coffee and not a machine?

Targeting broad phrases may also have a detrimental effect on your website by increasing your bounce rate.

This will be due to it receiving a high number of visitors that weren’t actually looking for the products or information on your website.

Long tail keywords usually reflect people that are later on in the buying cycle and are more specific to what you are actually selling.

People searching for these terms generally know exactly what they are going to buy.

In order to illustrate this, lets first take a look at a typical online buying cycle:

purchase cycle

(Image credit iformat)

People who fall within step 4 of the buying cycle “purchase” are perfect for targeting.

The keywords they are searching for can be categorised as “I’m ready to buy” and use very specific 3 to 4 word+ combinations known as long tail.

Targeting these type of keywords is not only easier, requiring less time and budget, but also ensures a greater ROI will be achieved.

On Page E-Commerce SEO Guide

Once you have uncovered the most profitable keywords to target, you should turn your attention to your on page optimisation, which can be categorised into the following 9 target areas:

  • Keyword Optimisation
  • Site Structure
  • Internal linking
  • Rich Snippets (Schema)
  • Website Speed
  • Internal Site Search
  • Mobile Optimisation
  • Usability
  • Identifying Site Errors/Problems

Keyword Optimisation

Although writing enticing, keyword rich meta descriptions will not propel you to the top of the search engines on their own, they will improve CTR, which does have a direct effect on rankings.

For those of you who are pretty new, the meta description is the snippet of the web page description you see from any search result:

meta description seo

They should read like an ad for your web page.

Meta titles and descriptions can be added to any WordPress website easily by using an SEO plugin like the All in one SEO pack or the SEO plugin by Yoast.

Meta Titles (70 character limit)

Meta titles should be unique to any other page or post on your website, include your targeted keywords and often reinforce your brand.

If you need to add your title manually, use the following snippet of code:

<title>Your Meta Title Here</title>

Meta descriptions (156 character limit)

Meta descriptions should also be unique to any other page or post and reflect a keyword rich description.

To add a meta description manually, use the following snippet of code:

<meta name=“description” content=“Your meta description here”>

Optimising category pages

Having researched and decided which keywords you are going to target, you can use them to optimise your category pages.

If we take the e-cigarette example and go to posts > category in WordPress, optimising the e-liquid category would look something like this:

category keyword optimisation ecommerce

The description has been written to entice the user, whilst including the targeted keywords naturally.

Image Alt Tags

It’s impossible for the search engines to understand what an image represents from the image alone.

The image alt tag is specifically used to provide screen reader users a text alternative. They do also provide a great opportunity to define the topic of your web page further, by dropping your targeted keyword:

image alt tag seo

Product Pages

Titles

Even if you sell a product that is extremely popular like i-phone cases for example, your headline should be unique and not the same as that of your competitors.

You should try and include the main keywords you are targeting for the product at the start:

e-commerce title example

Descriptions

One of the biggest mistakes I see e-commerce shops make is they copy manufactures or competitors product descriptions.

This was most definitely the case with our clients site and one of the reasons it was failing to generate any significant organic traffic.

Let’s get one thing straight, Google hates duplicate content.

Low quality product descriptions with stuffed keywords will also be frowned upon.

Luckily in the case of our client site there were only 80 product descriptions to re-write.

Fortunately we have several freelance writers at our disposal, who are not only great writers, but full of ideas and very creative.

It can be difficult writing product descriptions if you have little information about the product, or it’s not particularly exciting.

It’s all very well sitting here instructing you to write compelling sales copy, but that’s easier said than done when you are selling nails.

Below are some ideas of how you can beef up your product descriptions making them both SEO and user friendly.

  • What can you use it for?
  • How can it be used?
  • What exactly does it do?
  • How is it made?
  • Do any famous people use it?
  • Tell stories
  • Explain the tiniest details
  • Don’t be boring, be passionate

If you are still struggling your last option is to add the no index meta tag:

<meta name = “robots” content = “noindex”>

Using the tag will enable you to publish duplicate manufacturer product descriptions relatively safely. It won’t however provide you with any SEO benefits.

There’s almost always an angle you can take for even the most difficult products to describe, take time to find it.

URL Structure

Search friendly URL’s should be keyword rich, short, concise and memorable.

Your customers want to find you, make it as easy as possible for them.

Good:

www.ecigstore.com/e-liquids/vape-orginal/blueberry-flavour

Bad:

www.ecigstore.com/category1/productid=323

Site structure

Your e-commerce site structure has a major impact on both usability and SEO.

You should attempt to set up a flat architecture, which will ensure your visitors will need to make as few clicks as possible in order to find things on your website.

It’s beneficial to plan this beforehand using software like Photoshop, LucidChart or Visio.

If we take the e-cigarette example, the website would take on the following structure:

ecommerce site structure

Internal linking

Your e-commerce website should have an internal linking structure, which will improve user navigation and keep your visitors engaged and on your site for longer.

When deciding where and how to add internal links to your site, consider the following options:

  • Product links from relevant blog posts
  • Blog post links from closely related blog posts
  • Product links from category pages
  • Product to product links

Integrating Rich Snippets (Schema.org)

It’s likely you have seen evidence of Schema integration when you have searched for something in Google:

schema example

Described as microdata, the integration of schema will improve your search snippet appearance.

I’m yet to see any evidence that this improves a web pages rankings directly, however it will improve your CTR which as mentioned will affect rankings.

If we compare the same product listed from two different web pages, one with schema and one without, it’s clear which one you are more drawn to and likely to click:

schema seo snippet

Schema can be added manually to your site, via this helper here or via a plugin, which is the way we integrated it for our client.

Website Speed

Research into this matter suggests you have 3 seconds before 40% of visitors will become impatient and abandon your website.

To find out how fast your website loads, head over to the Pingdom Website Speed Test:

website-speed

 

In order to improve site speed you could consider the following options:

  • Improve your hosting package
  • Change your WordPress theme – over complicated themes with tons of options are often clunky and slow your site to a crawl
  • Install a caching plugin
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN) which essentially serves your website files on servers as close to your website visitors as possible
  • Use a plugin to reduce image file sizes
  • Use a plugin to clean up and optimise your WordPress database
  • Add LazyLoad to your images which ensures only the images above the fold will load

website speed test update

Internal Site Search

It’s likely many of your e-commerce visitors will have no patience.

They need to be able to find what they are looking for quickly or they will leave and probably never return.

Adding and optimising internal search functionality is the perfect way to make finding things on your website quick and easy.

Make Your Search Functionality Visible

It seems obvious but you need to position your search box in a prominent position.

It’s design features should also represent more than a small magnifying glass icon which can hardly be seen.

Good:

good example site search

Bad:

bad example site search

Make Your Search Faster

Google is definitely setting the standard here.

If they can find anything on the entire world wide web in under a second, why should it take a user longer to find a product on your website?

To increase the speed of your site search you could consider getting a bigger server or using a cloud based hosted search.

Use Autocompletion

Your website visitors will all be familiar with Google, Amazon and eBay, which means they are use to autocomplete search and will expect it from every website they visit.

autocomplete search

To add autocomplete functionality to your search bar you could use a plugin like this one.

Optimise for Mobile Devices

Mobile usage exceeded that of desktop back in 2014.

You simply can’t ignore the fact that many of your visitors will be viewing your website and looking to make a purchase from a mobile device.

To ensure your website is optimised with the mobile user in mind, you should consider the following:

Use a fixed navigation bar

With the rise in popularity of mobile shopping, swiping, tapping and scrolling has become second nature to the average mobile online shopper.

In order to ensure your websites important information is kept visible at all times, you should consider implementing a fixed navigation bar:

fixed naigation mobile

 

(Image Credit @ Shopify)

Product photography is key

Seeing as the majority of online shoppers make their buying decision from the visual appearance of a product, photography should be at the forefront of any mobile product page.

If we take clothing giant Top Man as an example, you can see how their category pages places huge emphasis on the visual appearance of the product:

product photography

Minimise use of text on product pages

Long worded descriptions work for desktop, not so much on mobile.

Cutting back on the length of the product description will help keep your visitors engaged and increase the chances of them making an impulsive buying decision.

By optimising your product pages to include the title, price, closely related products and of course the all important buy button will ensure your website visitors decision making process is not made more complicated than it has to be.

Additional product information which is necessary for desktop, can be hidden on mobile via collapsible menus.

Usability

Making sure your e-commerce store is user friendly is super important for both SEO and keeping your customers happy.

You need to make the buying process as easy as possible.

Locating the product, adding to cart and then checking out should be possible in just a few clicks or taps.

Making the website fun to use will ensure repeat visits, a longer time spent on the site and increased sales as a result.

Making it easy for visitors to contact you with questions and queries is also a vital aspect, consider installing the Zopim Chat Plugin to address this.

Identifying site problems

We used screaming frog to identify site errors and missing information.

The software which is free to use and can be downloaded here, crawls your websites css, images and links, reporting 404 errors, duplicate content, meta titles and descriptions.

Errors which you should take immediate action to correct are redirecting all your 404 pages to pages with content and updating duplicate meta titles, descriptions and content pages.

Screaming frog is relatively easy to use if you follow the instructions in this video:

Off Page SEO – Link Building

The first thing I do in any link building campaign is find out how and where the top ranked web pages for my targeted keywords are building/earning their backlinks.

To do this I use Majestic. While no backlink checker tool will uncover every backlink pointing to your competitor’s website, it will give you an idea of how they have obtained their links.

The initial goal is to obtain as many of  your competitors best backlinks as possible.

While this is easy to write, it’s not as easy to do. It’s important to understand that many of your competitors backlinks will be impossible to obtain.

You need to try and work out which of the best links have been built without any special relationship in place, which you can instantly go out and build.

Quick Word On Anchor Text

Backlink checker tools will also provide an overview of the anchor text distribution:

anchor text example

You’ve probably read varying reports on the amount of times you should use your targeted keywords as anchor text if you get the chance.

Normally it’s not that many, in some industries for some keywords it has to be more.

A few years ago you could build link after link using your targeted keywords and that worked.

As with most things Google has got a LITTLE bit smarter and it no longer works.

People make a big deal over anchor text (I use to) but there really is no need.

If you get the opportunity, build the majority of links with a URL, branded, variation of both or generic “click here” type term as your anchor.

Use your targeted keywords or variations every now and again.

It’s that simple, lets move on.

Organisation Discounts

We have obtained some incredibly powerful links to our clients site, by offering discounts to organisations.

Fancy a backlink from Saga?

saga backlink metrics

Or maybe the AA?

aa backlink profile

Maybe even the London Metropolitan University?

london met backlink profile

All you have to do is offer them a discount for their members and you can get yourself one of these highly powerful links and some direct sales – well kind of!

e-commerce seo

The image above is a screenshot from Saga’s partner offers page, to which many of the companies offering discounts have been provided with a direct link to their sites.

While we pitched a discount offer to all the organisations mentioned above, we failed to build a relationship.

Much like many SEO tactics you have to play the numbers game and keep grinding.

As you can see Saga are only offering discounts from larger multi-national companies, but that isn’t the case for all organisations.

There are two methods we use to find organisation discount opportunities:

1) Following the paper trail

I’ve already provided 3 organisations that provide discounts for their members.

There are approximately 25 companies listed on the Saga page, chances are they have provided a discount for other organisations as well.

Lets take Warner Leisure Hotels as an example and place the URL into majestic to analyse the backlinks:

warner leisure hotels backlink profile

As you can see 398,683 backlinks from 1,400 referring domains

If we start working our way through the backlinks, it doesn’t take long to find the first organisational discount link:

organisation discount link

It’s for the English Indoor Bowling Association:

seo data

An organisation that can not only be approached with a suitable discount offer, but also another list of companies we can analyse to find further opportunities.

2) Google search

“members discount”

“members discount directory”

“membership discounts”

Offering organisational discounts is probably the best way to get educational (.edu) backlinks to your e-commerce store if you stock products which are of interest to students.

To find opportunities you could use the following search string:

site:.edu “student discounts”

Giveaways In Exchange For A Review

Offering free giveaways to influential bloggers in your niche, is a great way to get some promotion and also build links.

It’s important you do your homework and work out who is actually influential and who is not.

While many companies have huge budgets and can afford to wine, dine, giveaway high ticket items and offer free luxuirious travel to bloggers I would call anything but influential, it’s just not possible for campaigns on a tighter budget.

You need to pick and choose wisely and be fully prepared to negotiate and say no if the bloggers try it on and ask for to much.

Things to check:

  • Majestic metrics – strength of the domain
  • SEMrush – traffic figures from search
  • Social media – follower numbers & engagement within accounts.

If none of these look appealing I’d seriously consider sending anything of any real value.

How to find opportunities:

Following the paper trail also works well for finding review opportunities.

Uncover one blog that has published reviews, make a list of all the companies which have been provided with those reviews and run them through a backlink checker tool to uncover more opportunities.

You could also use the following search strings in Google:

find blogs review products

(Image credit – Optimize Smart)

In general this method proved successful for our clients link building campaign, however we were provided with 2 reviews that were bundled with others and failed to provide a link back, we just got a mention!

We also sent out products to the tune of £150 to 2 bloggers and failed to receive anything back – bit dishonest.

Like I said be ready to do your homework and possibly prepared to loose a little money using this tactic.

Sponsored posts

As the name suggests a sponsored post involves paying to publish content on a website.

The difference between this and buying links is you are paying to promote and should be provided with a no follow link.

If you are thinking why don’t I just guest post for free? You will often find the best blogs to publish on will only offer guest posts to other bloggers and not commercial businesses.

Much like the free give-away tactic be fully prepared to do your homework, negotiate on price and say no

How to find sponsored posts:

I don’t need to explain how to follow the paper trail again, use the method it will work for finding sponsored post opportunities.

You could also use the following search strings in Google:

find guest post opportunities

(Image credit – Optimize smart)

Many of the search strings can be adjusted replacing “guest” with “sponsored”, however as mentioned if they offer guest they will likely offer sponsored.

Twitter can also be a great place to uncover opportunities.

You could search “recipe + sponsored post” if you were working in the food industry and work your way down the opportunities:

recipe sponsored post

Directories

You may have read that listing your business in directories is a bad thing to do.

While many low quality directories did get shut down a couple years ago, it remains an easy and solid way to promote your e-commerce store and build some links.

Depending on the industry we are working in, we always prefer to list in industry specific directories and pay for the privilege.

Although having to pay normally indicates the directory is going to be that of a higher quality, we still check the metrics in majestic and are happy if the site is a little more than just a directory.

By more than just a directory I mean you should see images and other content other than just business listings.

We will also take a look at the type of websites which are currently listed and ensure it hasn’t been spammed.

In order to find opportunities you could use the following search strings in Google:

<industry key phrase> + submit URL

<industry key phrase> + submit site

<industry key phrase> + directory

Create Amazing Content

The create amazing content old chestnut!

While I’m not going to insult your intelligence and suggest that all you need to do is create amazing content and your SEO campaign is complete, you should consider how you can produce linkbait content which will appeal to your target audience and industry.

Note how I said industry as well as target audience.

I think one thing that is often overlooked is the fact that amazing content is created without a thought of how to promote it.

It’s all well and good creating something that is visually beautiful or packed full of useful information, however if it’s tricky to promote, chances are it’s going to flop.

A great example of creating amazing link bait content is the Dollar Shaving Club.

With a budget of just $5000 they were able to create the following:

The video which has received over 20 million views to date was a great way for the subscription shaving company to make a grand entrance into the industry and add a little humour.

The Dollar Shaving Club also introduces us to the subscription based model, which could be a very lucrative add on to many of your e-commerce stores.

Another example of the model being utilised successfully is in the pet niche:

barkbox

It’s definitely something you should consider if you feel your customers would welcome receiving a selection of your products on a regular basis.

Ok, back to creating link bait content and ThinkGeek (not you, the company).

They provide an excellent example of link bait content associated with an interesting product!

link bait seo

Looks delicious, as does Canned Dragon Meat:

link bait e-commerce

I’m sure you can think of some interesting products that would generate a little buzz in your niche?

Leverage Business Relationships

Do you have a relationships with:

  • Suppliers
  • Manufacturers
  • Software companies
  • Payment gateway companies

A great way to approach these companies is to offer testimonials. Companies love to publish them and often provide a link back.

Offers & Deals

There’s a good chance you are running deals and special offers for your e-commerce site.

If you aren’t you really should be!

I’m sure you will agree that creating one deal page, promoting the hell out of the offer, getting some good backlinks to the page and then deleting it after the deal has expired isn’t the best idea in the world.

The simple solution is to re-use the page

If your deals are good and promotion thorough you will likely gain a lot of links over time.

Turn Brand Mentions Into Links

Turning non linking brand mentions into backlinks is one of the easiest ways to build some great links.

You will of course need to have been mentioned online, which is unlikely if you are just starting out.

You could use BuzzSumo or Mention, both of which will provide notifications when someone talks about your brand.

After you receive a notification head over to the page and see if they have provided a link back, if they have your work is done, if they haven’t reach out with something similar to this:

outreach template

Email Marketing

Turning website visitors into subscribers is key to developing any e-commerce store.

Email marketing provides a high ROI and is generally cheaper than other marketing channels.

We have gathered a total of 8,342 subscribers in 10 months for our client to date:

number subscribers

In order to turn website visitors into subscribers, you are going to have to offer them something in exchange for submitting their email address.

In the case of our client we offered two, a generous discount and useful content.

Note how we refer back to the keyword categorisation at the start of this case study and offer two sets of visitors two different things.

We do infact offer the same discount to the useful content subscribers, just further down the sales funnel.

If you want to keep your subscribers engaged you should consider the following:

Relevance Is Key

Any decent auto responder software like MailChimp, will provide functionality to easily segment your subscriber lists.

A promotional email may resonate perfectly with one subscriber, but not the other, making it important you work out which customers are going to find it of interest and which aren’t.

An example would be an online clothes retailer, that sells both male and female clothes.

Sending out a promotional email for a special offer on women’s shoes will probably be of interest to the ladies but not so much for the men (well most of them).

MailChimp recently performed a study comparing segmented and non segmented campaigns, to which the results speak for themselves:

segmented-vs-non-segmented-campaigns

Personalise Your Campaigns

It’s important that each of your subscribers feels like you have written the email personally to them.

Where possible you should always try and include the customers name, which can be added easily using the merge tags within your email marketing software.

If for whatever reason you have been unable to obtain the customers name, you should try and keep the opening relatively relaxed and casual, starting off with something like “Hi, how you doing?”

You should also make it clear who you, displaying prominent logo and contact details:

e-commerce email guidelines

The internet is full of spam, your subscribers are weary of emails that they can’t quickly identify who they are sent by.

Email Campaigns All E-Commerce Stores Should Be Sending

Birthday Email

Everyone loves their Birthday don’t they?

Well, till you get to a certain age and have to start reducing the actual number!

The best thing about subscribers birthdays from an e-commerce business point of view is people like to treat themselves with the extra cash they have burning a hole in their pockets.

Sending out an automated birthday email, with a special birthday offer not only makes that subscriber feel like part of the community, but also encourages them to visit your store and spend some of that money.

New Stock Notification

According to research it costs an e-commerce store 5 x more to acquire new customers than to keep existing ones.

A great way to encourage repeat purchases from existing customers is to let them know when you have new stock for sale.

Online butcher Donald Russell does a great job of informing subscribers of their new butchers special products:

new products e-commerce email

new products email

Weekly Newsletter Email

Sending regular newsletters is a great way to keep your subscribers up to date with your latest stock, offers and news.

It’s important you keep newsletters relevant to your subscribers, referring back to what I have previously mentioned.

Clothing retailer The Iconic, takes care of this immediately by asking subscribers to confirm whether they are male or female:

e-commerce newsletter emails

Discount In Exchange For A Review Email

61% of consumers read online reviews before making a buying decision.

Have a think about your own online purchasing routine – view the product images and then straight down to the reviews?

You only have to look at the success of Amazon and the impact their customer reviews have on their customers buying decisions.

I even find myself heading over to Amazon before I start watching a film, yes I’m fully aware of Rotten Tomato etc, but I want to read real reviews from real people, not from film critics.

Some interesting stats for you:

  • 50 or more product reviews can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates
  • Consumer reviews are significantly more trusted (nearly 12 times more) than product descriptions that come from manufacturers
  • 63% of online consumers are more likely to purchase from a website that has user reviews

Unfortunately I have no statistical data from our clients website in relation to reviews, other than we put a system in place to get them and have so far received 73 in total!

How To Get User Reviews.

In order to get reviews for the site, we used the follow up emails & review for discount plugins.

Instead of just asking customers to provide reviews, we thought providing a little incentive of a 10% discount would lead to a higher return.

The plugins, which work in conjunction can be set up to send an automated email to customers asking them to leave a review for the product/products they have purchased in exchange for a discount off their next purchase.

The plugin automatically recognises when a customer has left a review and will automatically send a discount code.

It’s a brilliant automated system that can be set up and left to work it’s magic.

We had the following email sent to all customers 7 days after making their purchase:

review for discount

Lets not forget about the SEO benefits as well, isn’t fresh, keyword rich user generated content an SEO’s dream?

For many product related Keywords you will find that “product name + review” has significant search figures, having reviews on your site will increase the chances you start ranking for these type of terms. Note how we refer back to the keyword categorisation again.

What about bad reviews?

All reviews are valuable.

Recent stats from Reevoo actually suggest that conversions can actually be increased by 67% due to the presence of bad reviews.

This by no means suggests that bad review after bad review is going to increase your conversions however, because it won’t.

One or two bad reviews however is nothing to panic about and might actually be a good thing.

If you are selling a good product, deliver when you say you are going to deliver and provide good customer service you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately there is simply no pleasing some consumers, known as attention seekers they will write bad reviews for their own satisfaction, don’t spend time worrying about it, just move on.

Abandoned Cart Email

Cart abandonment can happen for a number of reasons, hidden shipping costs, not offering a fixed date for delivery, or even just not providing enough information.

It can also be caused by your online shoppers environment, baby wakes up, cat jumps up and smashes a vase etc etc.

As long as people are shopping on the internet, they can leave their basket on the floor of the shop and make a quick exit without feeling any embarrassment at all.

This is a big problem for any e-commerce store, to the tune of a 67.4% average checkout abandonment rate, according to hubspot.

So What Can We Do?

In the case of our client we installed and set up the Abandoned Cart plugin.

We sent the following email 30 minutes after the customer had abandoned their cart:

abandoned cart email

Note how we place the emphasis on whether we can help with anything and try to instill a little urgency by suggesting there is a possibility of the product running out of stock

Miscellaneous

Up-Sells, Cross-Sells, Related Products

Offline retailers have been upselling and cross-selling for decades – Would you like a muffin with that? Would you like a large?

There are benefits to not only you the online e-commerce retailer to the tune of 10 – 30% in up-sell and cross sell sales, but also to your online shopper.

To increase user experience, you should display related products within your product pages. Many people are ready to buy, but the product isn’t quite right and they need a similar alternative.

If you look at billion dollar empire Amazon and the options they provide their online shoppers via related product listings, I’m sure you appreciate this is a feature not to be overlooked.

What’s The Difference Between Upselling And Cross Selling?

Lets say a visitor is looking to purchase a mid-range laptop for £600.

An upsell would provide the customer with options to upgrade the processor, to a more powerful computer:

similar products amazon

A cross-sell would present the customer with the option to add a printer, laptop bag or mouse:

related products amazon

Adding related products to a WordPress website using WooCommerce is simple, if you follow this guide.

How To Increase Customer Spend

Although a great deal of time and effort should be dedicated to driving new traffic to your online store, it’s important you attempt to increase the customer spend for those that are already buying.

In the case of our client we installed the product cart notices plugin, in an attempt to do this.

The reason for installing the plugin was we had noticed that although the site was offering free delivery for orders over £80, many sales were just falling short:

shipping image

The plugin can be set to calculate the amount the customer has left to spend in order to qualify for free delivery, and displays a prominent notice:

free delivery notice

By displaying this alert we were not only increasing the chances that a customer might place an additional item worth £30 for example to make up the free delivery, but were also providing a better shopping experience for the consumer.

How to deal with out of stock items

You should always leave the product pages of out of stock items up as long as you intend to keep selling the product.

While the product is currently out of stock place a clear notice on the page informing your visitors of this and information of when it will be available to buy again, if you know.

You should also offer alternatives, which can be included in much the same way as adding upsells and cross sells.

Things you could offer:

  • The same item in a different colour
  • Newer or older models of the products
  • The same product but from a different manufacturer

How to deal with products you are no longer selling

For whatever reason it’s likely any e-commerce store will feature product pages for products which have become obsolete.

Many site owners simply delete the pages, which from an SEO perspective isn’t advisable

If the obsolete product has been replaced with a newer model, the best action is to permanently 301 redirect the page to the newer model page which can be set up easily with this plugin.

By redirecting, you are telling Google you want the newer model page to rank instead and any SEO juice should be passed on.

If the situation is a little different and you aren’t stocking exactly the same product in the form of a newer model, but have similar options, set up a 301 redirect to the category page.

Another option would be to reuse the URL for another product, which will only be possible if you sell relatively generic products, rather than those with specific model numbers and specifications.

Never Lead To Nowhere

Your e-commerce store should have no dead ends, everywhere must lead to somewhere.

Make sure your visitors are channelled to products, sales, information or service, even if they have completed a purchase.

If you view your basket at online retailer Very, look at how many options you are presented with:

ecommerce website navigation

Even after you have completed your order at Asos, they provide you with a prominent option to carry on shopping:

asos order received

Website Design Guidelines For E-commerce

It’s important to briefly cover the topic of web design, which will affect conversions.

Our clients site had previously been built by a developer to the tune of £7,000!

While I have no problem offering web development services using a CMS, charging £7,000 for an un-customised, bland solution with very few products is frankly taking the piss.

Although our contract didn’t explicity state any web development work should take place, we spent about 10 hours customising the CSS and making a few minor structural changes like making the navigation fixed.

We wanted to create a look and feel that would immediately reassure visitors they had landed at the correct place.

It’s relatively easy to customise a WordPress theme by adding a little CSS and using a few plugins.

If you are using WordPress you should always set up your site using a child theme, which is a theme that takes it’s style and functionality from another theme, known as the parent.

The benefits are the ability to tweak and customise the parent theme without loosing the ability to upgrade.

It’s also quicker to customise the site, as you are editing a blank CSS or PHP file, as opposed to trawling through hundreds and hundreds of lines of code.

Editing the PHP incorrectly can often break the site completely, using a child theme can also speed up the process of recovery!

To set up a child theme follow this tutorial by elegant themes.

For a basic customisation you should look into editing the font, adding background gradients and/or images and making colour changes, that’s it.

Uploading and using custom fonts is simple via the Use Any Font Plugin.

It enables you to upload any font in ttf, otf and woff format. Once uploaded you can assign the font to the built in text options:

assign font to built in options

Or assign custom elements:

assign font

In order to add background images and gradients to various sections of the site you should follow this tutorial.

Over To You

If you have any questions about this guide, they are most welcome and should be asked where they will all be answered in the comments section below.

None of the tactics we used to generate £11,000 in revenue in 1 month are particularly difficult, you just need to take action and keep working at it.

Good luck and thanks for making it to the end!

 

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

Adding your business to Google+ local or claiming ownership of your listing (Google may have already created a listing automatically for your business) is a great way to increase your online exposure.

As with many Google applications, navigating your way around the interface can be a little tricky at times, which is why we decided to put this guide together.

Submit Your Business To Google+ Local

To Start visit – www.google.co.uk/business

Get On Google

Select the blue “Get on Google” button.

You will be provided with the option of selecting a Google account you have saved on your computer or adding one.

Decide which account you are going to use and select or add the credentials.

Select Google Account

As mentioned, it’s possible that a Google+ local listing has already been created for your business automatically, to find it search by business name and address:

Business Listed

If you see your business in the auto suggest, select it.

If you don’t, select “Let me enter the full business details”.

Business Not Listed In Google

The next step is to either edit your details or enter your basic business information:

Add Business To Google

It’s important to note that these details need to be accurate.

Google takes it’s local listings seriously and incorporates various filters and reviews to cross check the details added in order to prevent fake and misleading information showing up in their search results.

Entering your business details as accurately as possible is also important for local citation building, which should be a part of any SEO checklist.

Your business name should be your exact business name, don’t try and include any additional keywords, phone numbers or email addresses.

For example in our case at WilliCreative we would enter “WilliCreative” and not “WilliCreative – Web Design North Wales” or WilliCreative – Email: hello@willicreative.co.uk”

Your telephone number should be your main business phone number, not your home, mobile or a call forwarding number.

While it’s beneficial to enter a business number with an area code that matches your location, it’s not essential. If your main business number is a mobile, then enter that.

The address should accurately describe the exact location of your business premises.

If you work from home then enter your home address.

You should never enter a PO box, virtual office or fake address. It will likely be flagged and effect your position in the search engines and possibly result in your business being removed from Google+ local altogether.

After you are happy with the details you have entered, click “Submit” where you will be asked to validate your submission by having a postcard with an authorisation code sent to the physical address you have entered.

The postcard normally takes 2 weeks to arrive and provides instructions on how to validate your Google+ local listing.

After you have validated your listing you will be able to add extra descriptions, keywords, images etc.

In many cases a basic listing will be enough for you to appear in the Local Snack Pack search results when someone searches for something related to your business services:

Local Snack Pack Example

In more competitive industries, you will need to complete further work to optimise your listing in order for it to show in search results.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

SEO can be time consuming, expensive and frustrating, especially if you don’t achieve the results you expected.

It can be even more frustrating, not knowing where you are going wrong and therefore not being able to correct your campaign accordingly.

We are approached by many small businesses in various stages of SEO campaigns and see the following 9 common mistakes.

1) Unreasonable Expectations

It’s a misconception to believe that building a few links and doing a little on page SEO is enough to get your site ranking on the first page for your chosen keywords.

There are many factors that effects the time it will take to start seeing results from your SEO campaign, including the history of your domain.

Over the last few years Google has become a little smarter, making it less possible to jam websites where they don’t belong.

SEO is a marathon, if you want to see instant results you should consider a PPC campaign.

2) Not Optimising For Mobile

On April 21st 2015, Google released an update to their ranking algorithm, stating if your website wasn’t mobile friendly, you would likely see your rankings decrease and subsequently loose traffic from organic search.

If you hire the services of a web designer, you should make it clear from the start the website needs to be fully responsive.

For those of you that had your website developed a few years ago there are simple ways to check your website is mobile friendly and also convert it relatively easily and cheaply if you discover it isn’t.

3) Targeting The Wrong Keywords

This is more to keyword research than just looking at a random keyword tool and choosing some related keywords.

Keyword research is one of the main contributing factors to a successful SEO campaign.

Choosing the wrong keywords, or keywords that have almost nothing to do with your online business objectives can ultimately result in a good 6-12 months of wasted time and thousands of pounds of wasted cash.

Targeting the wrong keywords

Think outside the box when doing your keyword research, you could even steal your competitors best keywords!

4) Employing the Services Of A Bad SEO Company

If you employ the services of a bad SEO company, it’s probably going to do more harm than good.

We should know this more than most, because we are often hired to clean up the mess.

Yep, we are the guys (and gals) that are assigned the task of removing and disavowing thousands of spam links which have been built by SEO companies offering the world but delivering nothing but a huge mess!

You can normally identify a bad SEO company from the start, they are usually the ones that guarantee number one rankings, offer you free trial scams and are secretive about the methods they intend to use.

The moral of the story is do your homework before you commit to anything, bad SEO can be catastrophic for a small business relying on organic search visitors.

It also costs money to clean up backlink profiles.

5) Keyword Stuffing

keyword stuffing

Don’t you just hate it when you see evidence of keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is the practice of repeating the same words over and over again, they can be any words even “keyword stuffing”!

I’m not that bad a writer, I just wanted to prove a point.

Repeating a word or phrase repeatedly will get you noticed by Google, but not in a good way.

6) No Interlinking

Google looks favourably on a solid internal linking strategy, it’s usually a sign of good usability.

Internal links are the under rated workhorse of SEO. They’re easy to build, but often overlooked.

Take a look at Wikipedia, what do you see? A ton of internal links on each page.

Building relevant internal links on your website passes authority from one page to another, guides visitors to important sales pages and also prompts people to take action.

7) Avoiding Analytics

It’s a shame when small business owners fail to utilise all their available resources, especially when they are free and can provide an indication of what’s working and what’s not.

If you are yet to set up Google Analytics and Search Console I suggest you do.

Using these analytics tools in conjunction will allow you to set up conversion goals, provide you with data on which keywords are converting and which are bringing in the most organic traffic, helping you expand and optimise your website further.

8) Focusing On Link Quantity Over Quality

One link on a relevant, authoritative site is a lot more powerful than 10, 20 even 100 links on a lesser, weaker sites.

While quality links are generally harder to obtain, taking up more time, they are more likely to boost your rankings and also provide your website with referral traffic.

This guide on how to get backlinks will help you on your way.

9. Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is a common problem for larger websites and e-commerce stores that have the same product in more than one category.

We also see duplicate content present within product descriptions, where e-commerce owners have copied those of the product manufacturer or their competitors.

Duplicate content poses a massive headache for the search engines and is therefore frowned upon.

They have to make a decision on which version to index and to retrieve for related search queries.

If you are struggling to write compelling, unique sales copy for your product descriptions we provide some ideas within an e-commerce SEO case study.

For those of you displaying duplicate content in the form of products and posts in different categories, implementing 301 redirect rules from the lower quality pages will help to clean up your site, which the search engines will reward you for.

 

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and really excited to be finally bringing it to you.

No matter what you already know about on page SEO, I’m pretty sure this guide is going to present some valuable strategies that you currently aren’t implementing.

I’m not going to bore you with a long definition of exactly what on page SEO is, if you are unsure head over to wikipedia, and then come straight back!

We all know that search engines are computer programs that understand and respond to a certain language.

The more signals we give, the higher the rankings we can expect to achieve, simple as that.

Page Titles, Descriptions & Keywords

Many people believe this is all that needs to be done in order to complete their on page SEO checklist. While it would be nice to have a checklist this small, getting your page titles, description and keywords right is only just the start.

This doesn’t mean that this aspect of on page SEO isn’t important however, it means that your checklist is just a bit longer than you may have thought.

Page Titles:

In nearly every aspect of this on page SEO guide we will need to be considering both our readers and the search engines, with a well crafted page title being no exception.

Your title needs to be no more than 70 characters, contain 1-3 targeted keywords and be enticing for the user.

The reason it should only be 70 characters is quite simply because that’s all that google will show in their results. Anything longer will look like this:

on page SEO title example

If we take a look at the page title for Betfair, you will note they have crafted their title within the 70 character limit making it cleaner and far more appealing.

on page SEO techniques title example

 

Use Keywords – Don’t Stuff!

Your title needs to contain specific keywords relating to the content of the page or post. Its important to do your research and find the best possible keywords that describe your content accurately and also have significant search volume figures.

Take your time over this, the title needs to look natural, appeal to users but also contain relevant keywords with decent search. Search engines will soon recognise if you have just stuffed a load of keywords together and the result will be you will rank for nothing.

Try and target a maximum of 3 keywords. 1 or 2 is fine if that’s all that fits. If you have a brand name then include that at the end. – Google loves brand names.

Title Tag Checklist:

  • A maximum of 70 characters.
  • Contains 1 – 3 targeted keywords. (naturally)
  • Explains your content accurately.
  • Enticing for the user – modifiers work well eg best, 2015, review etc. (they also help to rank for long tail keywords increasing your traffic possibilities)
  • Include brand name if you have one. (preferably at the end)

Description Tag:

Your description tag should be no longer than 150 characters and should be used for the sole purpose of convincing the user that your information is what they are looking for and to click on your link.

The description is solely for the user and not the ranking.

Your description should contain 2 important elements:

UVP – Unique Value Proposition.

What make your content unique? Why should a user click on your link rather than the others surrounding it?

CTA – Call To Action.

Tell the user to click on the link! I know this sounds very simple, but believe me it works. Sweeten the deal by offering something in return, a discount perhaps.

Don’t be surprised if the search engines use a sentence of your content in favour of your description tag, it happens and there is nothing we can do about it.

Content, Content, Content!

I have mixed feelings about the relationship between content and on page SEO.

Great content should be:

  • Published on your site first.
  • Be well researched.
  • Useful

Its also important to set a clear post frequency.

Before I explain why I have mixed feeling about this subject, let me explain why posting 1500+ word articles can be beneficial.

LONG TAIL KEYWORDS!

Head over to your site analytics and take a look at the percentage of traffic that is coming from long tail keywords.

Its a lot right?

Sure, you maybe ranking for a short tail that you have been optimizing hard for that’s bringing in a decent amount of visitors, but I’m pretty sure your long tail search will be more?

I can also guarantee that your long tail search will be far more targeted which always means higher conversions.

Adding in long tail and LSI versions of your main keyword will almost always happen naturally when you are writing long articles.

The problem with this is many niche’s will not require 1500+ articles. In fact it would be absolute suicide to do this.

We have completed work for clients that involved publishing 50 word pages, which still provided visitors with the exact information they were looking for, presented in the best possible format.

Less words of course provides less opportunity to include long tail keywords, which may effect the number of terms you rank for in the search engines. However always put the visitor first, if it can be written in 50 words then that’s the way to go.

Keyword Density:

One of the main questions regarding on page search engine optimization is keyword density.

I’ve seen some crazy and quite ridiculous figures. 3%, 2%, 3.4567%!!! This to me is absolute garbage.

By the time you’ve worked out the exact number of times you need to include your main keyword, played around with your content to try and fit it in as naturally as possible, you could be well on your way to producing another great article for your readers.

Try and get your main keyword into the first 150 words and then after that natural, natural, natural.

Formatting:

Your content should include a main heading (H1 tag) and sub headings (H2 tags) Important parts and words should be highlighted by the underline, bold or italics tabs.

Your content should be user friendly and pleasing to the eye. If a word post split the paragraphs up (never have huge chunks of text) and use a word font no smaller than 12px.

Images:

Always try and use original or royalty free images. If you can’t do that it’s important to at least credit the source you got it from, or risk a law suit!

There are tons of places you can get both free and paid images these will get you started.

Use descriptive file names, using your keywords where applicable. Never name your image files image1.jpg for example.

Content Delivery Network:

A content delivery network hosts your images on a number of different servers. The benefit of doing this is to speed up your sites load time, a factor googles algorithm takes into consideration when ranking web pages and something I will discuss later in this article.

Prices for this kind of service are relatively cheap, approx £15 per month for a single site. CloudFlare is well worth a look, especially if your blog or site contains a lot of images.

Using the ALT tags to describe your image:

ALT tags are a brilliant way to provide the search engines with additional information about your site.

Also used for describing both internal and external links, this is an on page SEO technique that should never be overlooked. Similar to your title tags, try and use keywords but never stuff and describe accurately.

URL Structure:

On one of our sister sites we use the following permalink structure:

permalink structure

Which produces a URL like this:

http://enormoney.com/seo/on-page-seo

You will see that the URL is short and sweet and contains relevant keywords, while describing this post accurately.

I know of a lot of bloggers that include the date in their URL, and also miss out the category opting for:

http://enormoney.com/2013/06/10/on-page-seo

To be honest it makes little difference.

Try and include your most important keywords in the first 3-5 words as these are said to be given more weight, and always try and stick to the 250 character mark.

Always avoid using ugly URLs like the following:

http://enormoney.com/?p=123

Categories:
Categorising your content is a great way for users and search engines to navigate their way around your site quicker and find exactly what they are looking for easier.

Think of a large supermarket distribution depot that wasn’t strategically categorised, it would be impossible to find things right? Well the same goes for your site.

Siloing is an SEO technique that optimises a sites structure and organises content based on keywords.

Siloing isn’t a simple thing to do and takes some planning. When implemented it can be a very powerful on page technique that can save you lots of off page SEO work.

Check out these 2 great articles which explain siloing in great depth:

How to build a website silo architecture

How to create a silo structure in wordpress

Internal Linking:

Its a great idea to have an internal link in the first paragraph of your content. The reason for this is a click happy user that visits your site for the first time, may need that extra link to stay on your site and take note of your excellent content.

Internal links are also a great way to let the search engines know about other pages and take them into account. Search engines that read pages with links on will always follow them.

I’ve read several articles that give guidelines on the amount of internal links you should include in each page of content and to be honest I don’t believe this to be good advice. If we take a look at Wikipedia as an example and the first paragraph for the search engine optimization page, you will see a total of 15 internal relevant links, which is way more than many guides suggest for a whole page.

The truth is there is no right or wrong answer to this debate. As your site grows the number of internal links will. I also find that thinking where a useful internal link could be added to the content I am producing provides me with great ideas for future posts.

Internal Linking Guidelines:

  • Highlight your important pages – the more important a page, the more internal links you should point at it.
  • Only use internal links when they are relevant and helpful to the user.
  • Don’t link back to your homepage using your main keyword on every post.
  • Vary your anchor text. For example if you have an important page about “How to set up a blog” don’t link back to that page using the exact anchor text every time.

Outbound Links:

I think a lot of internet marketers worry about linking out to other sites because they are afraid of loosing their visitors.

If you provide helpful and useful content then a high percentage of your visitors will always return. A great way to provide helpful and useful content is to link out to other resources that compliment the point or message you are trying to get across.

Not only does this enhance the experience for your visitor but also gives the search engines another hint regarding the details of your content.

Site Speed:

Google wants a faster internet and is therefore using site speed as a determining factor in their algorithm. The faster your site loads the higher it will be positioned.

Page Speed Insights by google, allows you to analyse pages from your site and provides recommendations to increase speed.

As with most on page SEO tactics user experience will also play a factor and site speed is no different. A huge percentage of visitors will leave straight away if you have a slow site, increasing your bounce rate and ruining your chances of increasing your readership.

Take a look at this article which provides 15 Great Tips To Speed Up Your Website.

Google Authorship:

Google is placing a lot of emphasis on people who have authority on a particular subject and ranking their content highly accordingly.

Your search engine listing is also far more attractive with a picture next to it, which means a higher CTR. Take a look at the following screenshot, which listing would you click on?

google authorship listing

**Update – Google no longer uses authorship snippets in search results**

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

Many people assume that the first step to starting a website is the design, however choosing the right domain during the early stages is equally important and quite often the hardest.

“What should my domain name be?” is a question we get asked a lot and the reason I thought it would be beneficial to write this guide covering some important things to consider:

Be Broad – You sell wedding cakes in London and you are excited at the fact that weddingcakeslondon.co.uk is available (it’s not, please don’t look!). This may be the perfect match for your business now, but what about in 2, 3 or 5 years when you make the decision to expand and start selling cupcakes? When picking the perfect domain for your business, think long term.

Keep it short – Short names are easy to remember and type. They are also a better fit on business cards and other offline marketing material.

Which extension? Our advice is always to start with .co.uk for UK based businesses or .com for US based businesses. After that, .org and .net provide additional options. We always advise our clients to avoid uncommon extensions like .name, .cc and .ws which are often deemed indicators of spam.

Be Memorable – Choosing a domain name that is unique, easy to remember and easy to type will not only provide visitors with something to associate your website with, but help you brand above the competition.

Use Keywords When Possible – Fitting your targeted keywords into your domain name is always a Brucy bonus. However, don’t lose sleep over it if you can’t. Never pick an awkward domain name just for the sake of squeezing in a word or two.

Don’t try to be clever – Forget about hard to spell, long winded and clever/complex words. That is unless you actually want to make it hard for people to remember your domain name?

Avoid Hyphens & Numbers – Hyphenated domains and those which include numbers often act as a spam indicator and detract credibility. They have very little branding value and could arguably affect any SEO campaigns you decide to undertake.

No Copying! – You’d be pretty annoyed if someone infringed on your successful and unique domain name right? Maybe even take their ass to court for copyright infringement? While copying someone else purposefully is plain stupidity, violating trademarks without even realising could be a major headache you simply don’t need. My advice – do your research before finalising your domain purchase.

Consider How It Looks – whoRepresents.com looks perfectly legitimate right? Now bear in mind that domain names use lower case letters only and you’re presented with something completely different!

Purchase The Whole Collection? This will be dependent on your type of business and what you are trying to achieve. While I’d recommend an ecommerce start up to purchase the whole collection .com/.net/.org & .co.uk, a solicitors firm in Manchester (UK) will be fine with just .co.uk. It’s important to note that you do not have to build a separate site for each domain extension, simply forward any additional domains to your primary website.

Where can I buy my domain?

There are hundreds of domain registrars where you can buy domains. The most popular are:

Namecheap

namecheap logo

Shout My Domain

Shout My Domain Logo

GoDaddy

Go Daddy Logo

Directnic

Directnic Logo

eNom

enom logo

My first choice is not available what should I do?

Start Panicking!…(kidding!).

Depending on the type of website you are building you could consider getting an alternative domain extension, for example swapping .com with .net or .org.

You could also consider adding a keyword explaining what your business does further. For example you run an interior design company called Studio Red, studiored.com isn’t available, so why not add the keywords interior design making studioredinteriordesign.com.

If you’re struggling to find a suitable alternative, you could consider approaching the current owner and making them an offer. Use who.is to find the owners contact details – I believe the saying is “if you don’t ask you don’t get”.

Still Need Help?

There are countless free domain name generators available online. They make it easy to mix and match keywords, provide some great suggestions based on similar domains you’ve entered and provide instant notification of availability.

Domainr

domainr domain finder
BUST A NAME

Bust A Name
Squurl

squurl domain finder
Nameboy

nameboy
Dot-o-mator

Dot-o-mator

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

On April 21st 2015, Google released a new mobile friendly ranking algorithm, favouring mobile friendly web pages in the search results.

They basically said if your website wasn’t mobile friendly you should expect to see a decrease in search engine rankings.

According to comScore, mobile has surpassed desktop internet traffic, making it both the present and the future.

Mobile vs Desktop Traffic
Mobile users now expect an internet experience optimised for their mobile devices:

46% of consumers said they wouldn’t return to a website if it hadn’t loaded properly on their mobile device the first time.

You may have noticed that text labels have been added to snippets in mobile search results, alerting users to whether the web page has been developed for mobile device.

Mobile snippet search results

It’s likely that more and more users will start noticing this, resulting in the click through rate (CTR) of web pages that do not display the tag to decrease.

How do I Check my website is mobile friendly?

Head over to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and enter your page URL:

Google Mobile Friendly Test

Unfortunately, aside from the hints on the left, if your site returns a “no” you really don’t get that much feedback.

I mean it’s brilliant WilliCreative got a YES, (which we kind of knew already) but are there any areas for improvement?

Thankfully behind the test is further helpful data, which can be found via the mobile-friendly checker Chrome extension or by entering the URL manually via the bulk mobile friendly checker urlitor

Further Responsive Test

As you can see from the screenshot, Google considers 5 rules that impact whether a website is mobile friendly:

1) Viewport Configuration

Problems occur when you do not specify a viewport meta tag or specify a viewport that fails to adapt to different screen sizes.

Google recommends the following:

<meta name=viewport content =”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

In layman’s terms the above is simply telling the browser to make the width of the page the same as the screen size and as wide as it can be within that screen, in the event a user turns their phone sideways.

2) Font legibility

Problems occur when text on a web page is too small for users to read.

3) Use of incompatible plugins

Problems occur when plugins that most mobile browsers don’t support like Silverlight or Flash are used.

4) Content to Viewport

Problems occur when the web page fails to fit horizontally within the viewport size.

5) Size and Proximity of Links

Problems occur when form fields, links and buttons are either too close together or too small for a user to easily tap on a touch screen device.

If you wish to dig further I suggest using Google Search Consoles usability report. It will provide you information on crawl errors under the smartphone option:

Search Console

It will also allow you to compare mobile and smartphone traffic and search engine rankings. Lower mobile rankings may indicate you have a problem.

Search Console Smartphone

 

Mobile SEO

What if my website isn’t mobile friendly?

1) Create a mobile version of your current website.

You can do this quickly and easily by using a conversion platform like duda or bMobilized.

Duda Mobile

It’s a cost effective solution for those on a limited budget, however it’s important to understand you will be creating a second site, which means you will have to update two sites rather than one. This will increase workload and possibly infuriate users if their is less content available on the mobile version of your website

2) Use a plugin

If your website has been developed on a content management system (CMS), there are several plugins available that provide solutions to making your website mobile friendly.

WordPress:

WPtouch

WP Touch

 

Using extensions to help render content for mobile devices, WP-touch is used on over 5.5 million WordPress blogs.

JetPack

Jetpack plugin

JetPack provides a secondary option via it’s “Mobile Theme”, which can be used for the optimization of a WordPress site for mobile devices.

Joomla:

JoomlaShine

JoomlaShine provides a simple option to make your website responsive if you are running the Joomla platform.

Drupal:

ThemeKey and MobileTheme are modules available on the Drupal platform. They detect whether your website is being visited via a mobile device and take action by switching to a mobile friendly theme.

3) Redesign The Website

Responsive design ensures the same code for the website works across multiple screen resolutions.

No matter the size of the device – tablet or smartphone, you have a site that is relatively consistent across the board.

Holmes Place Cafe Responsive Web Design

If your website is running on a CMS, an option would be to simply change to a responsive theme. Although this sounds like a simple and quick fix, it may cause changes to your website, particularly within widget areas.

Using a plugin like Theme Test Drive, will allow you to view the changes before making a decision.

If you have the budget, employing the services of a web designer could be the best option. Maybe it’s time for a change and the design and development of a brand new site would compliment the growth and success your business is currently receiving?

I’ve heard WilliCreative are excellent and very reasonable :)

If you require further information, those friendly people at Google have put together a comprehensive guide on how to make your website mobile friendly.

Comments, questions below.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

What is it?

Formerly known as Google Places, Google + local, Google+ (yep they just love changing the name) Google My Business is the new streamlined local business directory by Google.

It provides small businesses the opportunity to increase their online visibility & provides a platform to engage with customers, making it an important part of any SEO checklist.

You could call it an all in one solution – local listings functionality of places, social options of G+ and discoverability features of Google maps.

Why use it?

It’s FREE and Easy To Use

Always a bonus for businesses with limited marketing budgets and better things to do than work out a complicated interface a computer science degree student from Cambridge would struggle with.

Show Up In Local Search Results

Whenever someone searches a word or term that Google deems to have local intent Eg “Plumber in London” or “Italian Restaurant Leeds” Google will normally display 3 local listings above the standard results.

Local Search Results

Within the 3 results are direct links to company websites, directions to the business address, opening & closing times and a summary of reviews.

Instant Customer Interaction

Clicking on a listing will bring up further information including the business telephone number, which provides click to call functionality.

local Search Info

Not only does this make your business information more searchable, but allows customers to make an informed decision to contact your business without even having the need to visit your website.

Enhance Your Search Listing

Knowledge graph and social proof features on Google My Business provide you with the ability to make your search listing stand out from the crowd. Showing things like physical location, follower count and customer reviews within search results is likely to increase your click through rate (CTR).

Social Proof Google My Business Knowledge Graph

Undertaking a new ad campaign

Google My Business integrates with Adwords Express allowing for the creation and tracking of campaigns from the intuitive dashboard.

Showcase your products & services

You can really set your brand apart by adding videos, virtual tours and displaying top reviews.

Engage With Your Customers

The platform allows business owners to not only respond to both positive and negative reviews and share valuable content but to engage directly with customers via the Hangouts on Air feature.

President Obama Google Hangout

Become a community leader

The communities feature provides the opportunity for any business to be an influential leader in their industry. There are thousands of interest based communities to share expert knowledge and become active in, making it likely there is one suited to your business.

Integrate Social Media Accounts

Google My Business allows for easy integration of other social media accounts. The integration allows Google My business posts to be embedded on Facebook and Twitter, helping you build additional connections.

Easy to update & manage

Your business information can be updated as frequently as you like. From your business account you can update descriptions/contact numbers/business website URL etc.

Access From Any Device

The platform can be accessed via the Android and IOS apps available on Google play, providing you the handy option of accessing your dashboard via mobile device.

Ready to get started?

Create a profile on Google My Business or start optimising your current listing in order to start reaching local customers.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

The SEO checklist for small businesses below is for those that want to improve their search visibility and start generating leads & sales from organic traffic.

If you work your way down the list and tick everything off you are guaranteed to rank higher:

  • Create accounts on Google Analytics & Google Search Console 
  • Create a profile on Google My Business
  • Install Bing Webmaster Tools
  • Make a list of keywords you wish to rank for by using Google’s keyword planner tool or semrush.
  • Add your address & phone number on every page of your website
  • Check your website is mobile friendly.
  • Make sure your website runs at optimal speed
  • Check and reduce your sites bounce rate where applicable
  • Add social media sharing buttons and links to your social media accounts
  • Follow this comprehensive on page SEO guide
  • Set up a blog and build a thriving and profitable blog audience
  • Claim or set up and optimise local citations
  • Use majestic SEO to reverse engineer your competitors best backlinks
  • Ask suppliers, customers & contacts to link to your website
  • Approach bloggers with content which may be valuable to their readers & ask for links
James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.

I’ve managed to write this guide in under 550 words because SEO for small businesses doesn’t have to be complicated.

Although small business SEO can involve a large number of factors – you will be able to improve your online search visibility and get potential customers to your business website by keeping it simple and focusing on just 4 aspects.

1) Keyword Research

Keyword research should be the starting point for any small business SEO campaign. It’s important to uncover the highest searched words and phrases which are relevant to your business and which aren’t overly competitive.

As a small business owner you simply don’t need the bells and whistles of a paid keyword tool, Google’s keyword planner will provide you with all the information you need.

The keywords that you uncover are those that you are going to be trying to rank on the first page (preferably top 3) for.

A florist in New York – would want to rank for “florist New York” a painter in Leeds would want to rank for “Painter in Leeds”. I’m sure you get the picture.

It’s important not to target to many keywords at once, 4 – 5 at the start is perfectly sufficient and will ensure you see your campaign is working as you climb position.

2) Create Content -(Skip this step if you already have it)

While it is possible to rank web pages without any content, it’s always better to have some.

For a start it can help you gain backlinks and secondly the more words on a page the more chance you have for ranking & gaining traffic from those words.

At this stage it’s important to refer back to your chosen targeted keywords & work out your content strategy.

It’s often better to produce differen’t pieces of content for different pages. If the keywords refer to a different aspect of your business – eg “wedding florists in London” and “Valentines flower delivery in London”

3) On page SEO

This a large topic and too big to cover in 500 words. Will every on page optimisation task you carry out make a huge difference – absolutely not. For the purpose of this guide it’s recommended to add your keyword to the page URL, meta title and description.

4) Get Backlinks

I mentioned earlier that you could rank web pages for your chosen keywords without any content, which is all down to the strength of your backlinks.

Generally speaking to outrank your competition you are going to need more stronger backlinks than your competition. Does that mean it’s a numbers game? – Absolutely not!

Submitting to article directories, gaining social bookmarks and believing just writing great content is effective SEO is nonsense. There are hundreds of other things that you may read that you should ignore also.

You need links from supplier & customer websites, build relationships with bloggers and other local businesses in order to get links, reverse engineer your competitors- where are they getting their backlinks from? Can you get the same ones?

Quality business directories still work – especially the paid ones, consider this – also consider newsworthy stories about your business that you can submit to local publications.

You have to understand that SEO is the marathon and you should build backlinks gradually, particularly on a new domain. If you want to take part in a sprint, try the PPC race.

James Brands specialises in the development of websites and applications at WilliCreative. He is also a proven SEO expert using the latest techniques to increase the visibility of both local and national client sites.