Basic SEO Techniques Belvedere :
A few basic SEO techniques:
- View Google’s cache to see your page the way a search engine sees it. If you can’t see an element of the page in the cache, the search engines can’t see it either! This means that content isn’t gaining you any search traffic.
- Be sure your page is reachable. Crawlers don’t perform searches, they travel by links. This means your page has to be viewable by clicking on a link on another page or crawlers won’t see it and it won’t be searchable.
- Be sure you don’t have metaframes preventing your page from being crawled. Many Belvedere webmasters use metaframes to prevent rogue bots from crawling their page and don’t realize that these metaframes will also prevent search bots from crawling their pages!
- Don’t let your links get lost in a sea of links. Pages with hundreds or thousands of links may not get crawled thoroughly in order to prevent spam and skewed rankings.
- Use specific keywords. General keywords will have lots of competition. By using more specific keywords, a webmaster can reduce competition and increase rankings.
- Don’t abuse keywords. Use your keywords in natural speech. Optimize your page for one or two specific keywords that searchers might use when looking for information available on your page. Be sure your keywords are relevant to your content.
- Don’t use keywords in link anchor text pointing to other pages on your site. (This is known as commiting keyword cannibalization.)
- Be sure your keywords are plain text HTML. Add ALT text for images, transcripts for videos and audio clips, and put captions with java or flash plugins or images. Although crawlers are improving, many are unable to process anything besides plain text.
Be Aware of User Experience
Increasing the usability, accuracy, and visual design of the website will also increase your search metrics. Search engines use search metrics and backlinks to determine the popularity and user-friendliness of your page. These factors play an important role in SEO. Always seek to create content that is pleasing for your reader.
Search Engines use Engagement Metrics to determine user satisfaction. Time spent on a search result means the user found the result much more helpful than a user who immediately hits the back button to look for another search.
The Panda update allows google to use machine learning to rank websites on quality and user friendliness. In 2011, human evaluators ranked thousands of websites based on quality and then implemented machine learning that mimicked those evaluators. This update changed more than 20% of search results.
Things to consider when selecting keywords:
- The Keyword’s relevance to your page. Will the people using that keyword in searches be satisfied with the content on your page?
- The Keyword’s specificity. Would a narrower keyword or keyphrase attract an audience that is more interested in your content than the audience of the broader term? On the other hand, is your keyword so specific it won’t be searched?
- The Competition on that keyword. Can you compete with the current top ranked websites for your keyword?
Where to Put Keywords:
- In the Title: as close to the beginning as you can put it
- At the Top of the Page
- Several times throughout the body of the page
- At least once in the ALT text
- In the URL
- In the Summary or Meta description tag
Optimizing Title Tags:
- Titles should be between 45 and 55 characters long. Titles that exceed 55 characters in length may not show properly in google searches.
- Keywords should be placed near the beginning of the title
- Consider putting your brandname at the end of the title
- Don’t sacrifice readability and emotional impact for keyword optimization
Visit https://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag to see how the title and summary of your page would show up in a google search.
- Keep them short
- Be sure your reader has an idea of what he will find on the page when reads the URL
- Use plain text links
- Use hyphens to separate words
- Use keywords
How Links to your Page Effect your SEO
- Are a wide variety of websites created by a wide variety of webmasters on a wide variety of topics linking to your site?
- Are many sites on similar topics linking to your site?
- Are the ranking sites for your keywords linking to your site?
- Are sites linking to your page using your keywords in anchor text to link to your site? (Anchor text is the blue text that shows on a webpage instead of the URL to the link)
- Are you getting links from trusted sources?
- Have you refrained from linking to spammy or poor quality websites and websites that link to your page?
- Have you been accruing new links?
- Is your page being shared on social media?
If you can answer yes to the eight questions above, links to your content are doing their job and helping increase your rankings. If you can’t answer yes to each question, devise strategies to remedy your answer.
Creating good, quality content that related pages will naturally link to is one of the best ways to get links. Another great way, is through Manual Outreach. Don’t under estimate the traffic that a well placed link can generate itself. Target specific websites who cater to similar audiences, preferably websites with few links, high credibility and high rankings for your keywords, and invite them to link to your page. Be sure to explain how linking to your page is a benefit for them, and not just an act of charity for you. You may also use this tool to see your competitors’ backlinks. Finding sites who have linked to the top ranked sites for your keyword gives you a list of sites that whose links would be of value to you. Avoid self-created links on lower quality websites. While they may help rankings a little bit, they may also hurt your rankings. If you pursue this option, proceed with caution.
Search Engine Webmaster SEO advice
SEO advice from the major search engine webmasters includes:
- Be sure all pages can be reached by static, plain-text links. (Links of the form: , as opposed to links buried in images, java or flash.) These links are easier for crawlers to find.
- Don’t “cloak” your work, or try to present different content to the search engine than you present to the user. Make sure your page is optimized to be found by a search engine when a user searches a relevant query. Don’t try to cheat the crawler’s and their index.
- Use accurate, descriptive, clear language with appropriate keywords in your titles, subtitles and ALT text. (ALT text is text that appears when an image cannot be displayed.) On hubpages, photo captions are ALT text and are therefore an extremely important part of search engine optimization.
- Create content filled with relevant keywords.
Check for Errors
To check for crawl errors see Google’s Webmaster Tools.
How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
In a perfect world, you would have an unlimited budget to market your business in order to find new customers and increase sales. You could buy lots of online and offline advertising, run promotions to build traffic in store and online, and launch a proactive public relations campaign to increase your product or brand's visibility and awareness. But this isn't a perfect world. Realistically, most small businesses and even many mid-sized firms have more great ideas on how to peddle their wares than available resources.
So where do you start if you are looking for more customers? Learning to generate new sales leads is an essential skill for an entrepreneur. Even if you don't consider yourself a salesperson in the classic sense of the Willy Loman character from Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman, you need to understand that the possibilities for finding new customers range from cold calling names from the phone book to buying lists of potential customers to using newer Internet techniques like search engine optimization to drive new business to your website.
The following pages will delve into how to conduct market research to understand your target audience and their needs, how to determine which lead generation techniques are best to broaden your sales horizons, and how to increase sales by following several strategies to sell additional products and/or services to existing customers.
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Understand Your Target Audience
Before you can find new customers and increase sales, you need to understand who your customer is, what value proposition you offer to customers, and what your competition is currently offering in the market and where there are gaps for a new entrant. In other words, you need to do some market research -- whether that means hiring an outside firm to do the legwork or trying to do it yourself. There's an underlying disconnect between your motivation to increase sales and your customer's motivation to solve their problems.
"Attracting more customers is really about listening to their needs, not being a solution looking for a problem," says Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a strategic-marketing consulting firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as early stage and emerging businesses. "There are many existing problems out there that need to be solved that customers are willing to pay for today."
Dig Deeper: Getting to Know Your Frequent Customers
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Find Out Who Your Current Customers Are
In order to develop a marketing plan to reach new customers, you need to better understand who you're already selling to. "If I'm trying to expand sales, I have to find out who my existing customers are. What are their demographics? What do they look like?" says Jerry Osteryoung, director of outreach for the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University. "That means doing market research."
Market research runs the gamut from very simple qualitative research to in-depth quantitative analysis. It can be done very quickly and inexpensively by sending surveys to your existing customers using one of the many online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang. You can also get to know the target audience by looking at existing sources of information -- from the U.S. Census Bureau or other government agencies, from trade associations, or from third-party research firms. But depending on the questions you are trying to answer and your research budget, your market research can involve more extensive interviews with customers and qualitative studies on how target customers feel about your business, its products and services.
Certain products and services may appeal to one audience but not to another, so understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in your target market is critical. You can get to know your customers and segment the market any number of ways including by:
- Demographics -- statistical data on a population including income levels, age, etc.
- Psychographics -- the attitudes and tastes of a certain demographic.
- Ethnographics -- examination of particular cultures.
- Buying habits -- how, what and where customers purchase products and services.
Dig Deeper: How to Conduct Market Research
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Defining the Market for Your Product
Use the information about your existing customers to develop a target audience for your business in its drive to win new customers and increase sales. "While there are core customers you are trying to reach, often there are other markets that are also important to address," Arnof-Fenn says. "Make sure you know who the gatekeepers and influencers are; they will affect the decision makers and you will most likely need to sell to them differently than to the end user." For example, parents might be the gatekeepers for products targeted to children or technology managers might hold influence over a company's decision to invest in new software.
Determine which key messages, features and benefits matter to each potential market. Tell these customers how your business can help them solve their problems. "In order to have a customer go to your online shop, you have to find a reason why these customers want to come to you," Osteryoung says. "The value proposition has to be spelled out clearly."
Next, you need to figure out where to reach these customers and whether there should be a marketing or advertising plan that goes along with that outreach.
Dig Deeper: Make 100 Phone Calls to Find Your Target Audience
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Generating Sales Leads
There are a variety of age-old staple techniques and newer tools you can use to find new customers and increase sales. It's best to understand the range of choices you have in order to determine which may best help your business reach new customers. Newspaper readers may not be moved by Internet-based sales techniques. Similarly, business people who are accustomed with hiring only people they know may be better swayed by meeting you at a chamber of commerce meeting than accepting a blind invitation to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook.
"It starts with good people," says Peter Handal, chairman and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training, the sales and leadership training organization. "If you're a one-man shop, it's one thing. But if sales people are really important, you need to hire and motivate good people and you want to give them an upside, such as sales on commission. The motivation is not just money it's also helping them overcome the fear of prospecting."
Here is a rundown on the techniques available:
- Cold calling. This is telemarketing without the call center. It's a blind contact with a potential customer who isn't expecting a pitch. Customer leads can be picked up through scouring newspaper articles or items, lists of leads that are culled by a third-party, or paying attention to people or businesses moving into your turf. "People are always hesitant about cold calling or talking to someone they don't know," says Handal. "We coach people to give themselves a pep talk to get them in the mood. We suggest that they set a goal -- this is how many new people they will talk to this week."
- Networking. This can be done the old-fashioned way, by getting involved in community organizations, such as the chamber of commerce, or attending business functions, such as trade shows. Social functions -- dinner invitations, book clubs, etc. -- can also lead to potential business. "All of those kinds of things are important ways to network to find new customers," Handal says. Networking has also taken a 21st Century twist on the Internet, with the rise in popularity of such websites as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo. Many businesses find that this type of networking, making contacts through friends or former colleagues, can lead to new customers.
- Develop champions of your products. Use business contacts who have been happy with your products to help generate references and referrals. Once you have sold to them, customers can help you sell to others by offering positive testimonials and leveraging a refer-a-friend campaign created by your business. This technique also employs word-of-mouth marketing. Help customers help you by giving them the ammunition they need to tell your story to others. "Don't be afraid to ask, 'Is there someone else I can talk to and also help?" Handal says.
- Affiliate marketing. Look at non-competitive products or services that are reaching out to the same audiences to see if there are ways you can collaborate through shared outreach efforts such as newsletters, mailings (online and offline) or co-branding opportunities. You probably can uncover a handful of like-minded products or services that are talking to your customers, Arnof-Fenn says. Suggest to these business owners ways your businesses can support each other. Your customers will see joint efforts as a value-added opportunity to reinforce their choice of brands.
- Leverage your website. There are all sorts of tools these days through which you can drive potential new customers to your website. Search engine optimization (SEO) -- using keywords and other techniques to make your site appear on the first page of listings on search engines -- has become an art form. There are websites, such as Search Engine Watch, that will keep you updated about SEO techniques. In addition, there are a growing number of paid SEO consultants who can help you use all the tricks and techniques to improve your search results. You can also use a variety of blogs, chat rooms, podcasts, and webinars to generate awareness for your website and company. A website is a dynamic tool not a one-time experience. The top search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, so you must monitor your website on a regular basis to make sure your keywords are leading customers to you. Make sure you are keeping your website up to date with fresh content so your customers come back often for more.
- Advertising. Typically businesses are encouraged to spend 3 to 5 percent of their revenue on advertising, but a small business needs to make sure that advertising is effective, Osteryoung says. One way to do this is to ask your customers where they heard about you so that you can measure what is effective. In addition, you also have to carefully pick your markets for advertising to make sure you're reaching your target audience. If you're targeting an older audience, newspaper ads might be the way to go. But if it's Gen X or Y you're after, then you may be better off advertising online or on TV, Osteryoung says. "You've got to define your demographics before you develop your advertising or marketing plan."
Dig Deeper: Converting Web Traffic into Sales Leads
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Sell More to Existing Customers
In order to increase sales, many businesses believe the only way is to find new customers, but a number of experts say that this strategy leaves out an obvious potential source of new sales. It's much easier to get an existing customer to buy from you than to convince a new customer to take the plunge. "They're forgetting about low hanging fruit -- their existing customer base," says Osteryoung. "If I want to expand sales, the number one place to go is the existing customer base. They already trust you."
Here's how to increase sales with your existing customer base:
- Bundle products. You can "bundle" a few products or services together for a special price to try to get an existing customer to try some of your other offerings.
- Try the "upsell." Convince your sales staff to go back to existing customers and try to sell those clients related products or services. A common example is a warranty, Osteryoung says. Think of how many times you've purchased electronics and a sales person has tried to sell you on an extended service plan. Customers sometimes take the bait.
- Offer inside information. If a customer is eyeing a product but about to put it back on the shelf, make sure you let them know that the product is going on sale the following week. If you monitor your website's online shopping cart, you may email an existing customer who didn't complete a sale and offer them a discount to complete the purchase.
- Think about customer rewards. Like the airlines have done with frequent fliers, there is no reason a small business can't reward good customers with a loyalty program. Offer a discount on their birthday or for every 10 purchases give them one for free.
- Give free samples. Offering freebies isn't necessarily going to cost you an arm and a leg, but it can increase sales by engendering good feelings among existing customers, convincing them to pass on the sample to a friend or family member, and/or convince them to buy your latest hand cream or ice cream flavor.
Dig Deeper: Tips on Creating a Customer Loyalty Program
"There's a lot you can do that doesn't require much more work," Osteryoung says. "You want to make sure you have saturation but obviously you never want to alienate the customer…. You never want to make the customer feel like you are hard selling them."
Practical principles, processes, and programs that offer people the knowledge, skills and practices they need to influence and sell to customers
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association
Trade association for word-of-mouth marketing to attract more customers
Find New Customers
Jeff Ogden's whitepaper on How to Find New Customers and more
How to Use E-mail to Find New Customers
Strategies to use e-mail to build your business
Use an Affiliate Program to Snag New Customers
Use an affiliate program to get your existing customers to recommend your business to their circle of contacts.
How to Hire an SEO Consultant
A primer on how to hire an outside consultant to help you maximize your search engine optimization.
Drive Traffic to Your Business Blog
How to use a blog on your business website to find new customers.
The Return of Customer Loyalty
A veteran entrepreneur explains why it's more important than ever to keep the customers you already have
Teach Your Employees to Focus on Your Best Customers
Teach your employees to know who your best customers are and provide employees with techniques and tools to uncover customer preferences and make every customer interaction count.
Meta Tags & Optimizing Metadata for SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) may seem straightforward on the surface, but in practice, there are hundreds of interlocking pieces that must be monitored and adjusted in order to see positive results. The process is even more complicated for e-commerce sites, which operate under a unique set of circumstances and must adhere to a distinct set of best practices. All the fundamentals still apply: publishing great content, earning quality inbound links, and maintaining an ongoing social media campaign. But in addition to these, you'll need to pursue these specific e-commerce strategies.
1. Create unique product descriptions for every product. This is extremely important. It's tempting to use a manufacturer's description for your products, or to repeat sections of content for similar products, but the best strategy is to create a completely unique description for each of your products. It's a lot of work up front, but duplicate content can severely hinder your campaign, and all that extra unique content will pay off immediately.
2. Encourage user reviews. Encourage your users to post reviews on each individual product page. Amazon executes this perfectly, so look at any product page on Amazon.com for a great example of how to implement user reviews. Google loves seeing unique, value-adding content, and with an e-commerce site, you have a key opportunity to generate free content from your user base. Plus, you'll boost sales by giving people more insight into the quality of the products you sell.
3. Establish easy site navigation. This is crucial for both attaining higher search engine rankings and improving your site's user experience. Organize your product pages as intuitively as possible, separating them into easily searchable and easily understandable categories. Make your site map obvious and easy to follow, and design your site in a way that pleases the eye and immediately directs users where to go.
4. Optimize your site load times by reducing the size of your images. It's important to have high-quality images on your product pages, but don't go overboard. Having too many high-quality images on one page can slow down your site, which is bad for SEO. Instead, reduce the size of your images, or build a feature that allows users to "zoom in" to see a larger version. This will keep your load speeds in check while still giving your users the quality they need to see.
5. Link between pages wherever possible. Google prefers websites with value-adding internal linking. The fewer clicks a user has to make in order to get to any given page on your site, the better. Improve this by linking each page to several other similar, relevant pages in your domain.
6. Optimize your site for mobile. This is essential for any site, but especially an e-commerce platform, which would otherwise be nearly impossible to navigate. Give your users a smooth mobile experience, either through a responsive design, a specific mobile design, or an interactive app that allows for a better mobile experience. This will become increasingly important in the coming years.
7. Integrate your product pages with social sharing. In addition to basic social integration, your product pages should have social-share buttons so users can pass on information about your products with their friends and followers. This is a good business practice in general but it's particularly good for SEO because Google may use social signals as a measure of authority.
8. Keep your out-of-stock and discontinued item pages up and running. This might seem counterintuitive at first. After all, if you're no longer offering an item, why bother keeping the page up? It's worthwhile because it gives you more permanent pages, and a greater base of indexable content for Google bots to scour. All you need to do is add a headline or some other indication that the item is no longer available.
9. Create seasonal categories to maximize seasonal attention. Seasonal items tend to have lower keyword competition, with the trade-off being a shorter period of relevance. To get the most out of your seasonal items, create specific seasonal category pages such as "Halloween Decor" or "Best in Fashion 2014."
10. Add a community forum and encourage growth. Another major content option for e-commerce platforms is a community forum where users can exchange information about their favorite products and make recommendations to one another. It will increase brand loyalty amongst your participants. Encourage community growth by starting conversations and responding to questions and complaints whenever possible.
11. Include pictures and videos for every product. E-commerce platforms serve as a perfect medium for visual content, which is growing in importance for SEO. Include videos and several high-quality pictures for every product you offer, tagged with relevant metadata, so each image has a chance of showing up for a relevant image-based search. Just keep them stored in a way that doesn't interfere with site loading times.
12. Make your site secure. It's always been a best practice for e-commerce sites to have HTTPS encryption for user security. If you don't have it, get it now. In addition to providing an extra layer of user security, it also provides a significant ranking signal to Google.
13. Build deep inbound links. Link building for e-commerce sites presents a significant opportunity: ample material for deep linking. When engaging in a link-building campaign, focus on attaining links to the deepest pages on your site that you can (such as niche product pages).
14. Regularly check your pages for errors. E-commerce sites can grow unwieldy fast, since they usually have a huge (and growing) number of pages. Perform routine checks to make sure none of your permalinks are generating 404 errors, and that all of your links to external content are still functional. You can do this using Google Webmaster Tools and a site-crawling tool such as Screaming Frog.
15. Build relevantly titled URLs. Every URL on your e-commerce platform should be unique, relevant to the page, and keyword optimized. If you're using an automated means of page creation, you might be left with a URL ending in a long series of numbers and letters--change these immediately. For example, if you're offering a large red umbrella on a specific product page, end your URL with /large-red-umbrella-v1 rather than /10031490314180.
16. Use catchy meta descriptions for your products. When a page appears on a search engine ranking page (SERP), the meta description appears as text under the hyperlink. Use this to your advantage by writing compelling copy for each of your products' meta descriptions. Your goal should be to immediately catch your user's attention, and draw him or her in.
17. Optimize your site's internal search functionality. It's important to realize that Google isn't the only search engine you need to be thinking about. If you want your users to keep shopping on your site, you need to build and refine an internal search function that can efficiently scour your site and provide the most relevant results to your users. This means building an algorithm that can handle misspellings, offer predictive searches, and sort through every page on the site. It also means optimizing your product titles and categories to be searchable both internally and externally.
Put these strategies into effect immediately, and make regular updates as your business grows. E-commerce sites have unique challenges and differences from other websites, but with proper best practices, SEO doesn't have to be difficult for them. If you're looking for more help with online marketing for your e-commerce site, grab my eBook, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online.