Imagine you’ve launched an online store selling outdoor gear for climbers, hikers, and trail runners. You want to reach more customers by ranking higher on search engines for specific keywords like “climbing gear” and “trail running shoes.” This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.
Search engine optimization allows merchants to reach their customers organically. In fact, a Statista study found that half of marketing professionals interviewed reported that SEO had a large positive impact on their marketing performance in 2022. Merchants use SEO to rank higher with search results online, convert more customers, and improve their company’s brand reputation.
Learn more about SEO strategies and tips to set your company up for organic success online.
What is search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing organic traffic for a piece of content—like an article, blog post, or product page—to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Merchants can improve the placement of their branded content on search results pages by optimizing them with keywords, backlinks, meta tags, and more. SEO is an example of inbound marketing, a strategy that draws potential customers toward your business organically with valuable content that addresses their needs.
What are the elements of SEO?
Before developing an SEO strategy, familiarize yourself with some of the main elements that comprise SEO, including keywords, backlinks, meta tags, and more.
Quality content is at the heart of improving your ranking on SERPs. Create content that is useful and specific to your target audience’s specific needs. Search engine crawlers are intelligent tools that change often with constant human input. Although there are best practices to consider with SEO, there are no easy shortcuts for ranking higher; instead, focus on writing clear and helpful articles or blog posts. The more useful and engaging your content, the higher you’re likely to rank on SERPs.
Keyword research is the process of learning what keywords your customers are using to find products and services similar to what your company offers. By creating content that uses relevant keywords, you provide answers to users’ search queries. As a result, you increase your chances of appearing in front of potential customers online.
Merchants use a mix of broader short-tail keywords with one to two words as well as more specific long-tail keywords that include three or more words. A seed keyword is a type of short-tail keyword that defines a general topic and acts as a starting point for research into other target keywords.
Backlinks are inbound links that direct traffic from other websites to your website. By developing a link-building strategy, you can attract more potential customers from other sites and increase the page authority determined by search engine algorithms. Programs known as search engine crawlers scan websites for backlinks, and search engines then prioritize websites with many high-quality backlinks. When trustworthy sources link back to you, it tells a search engine that you are an authority on that topic.
Common link-building strategies include guest posting on other websites and creating content—like white papers or infographics—valuable enough for other websites to link back to.
Meta tags are snippets of code that communicate information about your web page to search engines and users. A meta tag includes elements like a meta title tag and a meta description. Meta titles, also known as title tags or page titles, are the headlines featured on search engine results pages. Meta titles are usually 50 to 60 characters long and, when clicked on, link to your article or blog post.
Meta descriptions appear beneath meta titles and include a summary of the content in a particular article or blog post. Meta descriptions are typically around 155 to 160 characters in length and provide a clear and enticing description of what your content offers to your customers.
User intent, also known as search intent, is the reason a user makes a query on a search engine. By determining what your potential customers want and what search terms they use, you can sharpen the focus of your articles and blog posts to cater to your target audience’s goals.
There are four main types of search intent:
1. Informational. With this type of intent, the user is looking for more information, such as a step-by-step breakdown of a process or tips. Examples of informational queries include “how to fix a lamp” or “tips for selling clothes online.”
2. Navigational. Navigational intent is when users know what they are looking for and use search engines to find a specific page, product, or piece of content.
3. Transactional. Transactional intent includes searches for specific actions like a product purchase or subscription.
4. Commercial. Commercial intent involves preliminary research into products, services, and brands.
Internal links are hyperlinks in your blog posts that direct users to other web pages on your site. By using an internal linking strategy with your SEO content, you can keep potential customers on your site longer and increase the chances of conversion toward a desirable action for your company—like signing up for a subscription or purchasing a product.
Internal links direct users to a variety of related topics on your site, widening your reach and increasing the chances of giving your audience the information they need. For example, if you have an article about “climbing techniques” that mentions the keyword “stemming,” you can link to another piece of content that explores that topic more comprehensively.
Additionally, a good internal linking strategy can enhance your SERP rankings by helping search engines index and understand what your SEO content is and how your various articles and blog posts complement each other.
User experience (UX)
User experience (UX) encompasses the entirety of a user’s experience interacting with your SEO content. This includes UX components like site structure—how you organize your web pages—as well as site speed, intuitive site navigation, and other design elements that improve the UX of your articles and blog posts.
Making your web pages mobile-friendly can improve your SERP ranking. Focus on simple designs with call-to-action (CTA) buttons that direct users toward valuable actions for your company, like purchasing a product or signing up for a newsletter. Tools like Google’s Core Web Vitals and applications in Shopify’s App Store can help you analyze your web pages and adjust the UX accordingly based on data.
Tips for improving your SEO strategy
- Use a variety of keywords
- Use social media with your overall SEO strategy
- Choose your URLs wisely
- Develop a link-building strategy
- Create useful SEO content
- Use alt tags for images
- Identify and target featured snippets
- Analyze your SEO often and adapt accordingly
- Keep your page speed fast
- Focus on clear calls to action
- Be patient
Here are some tips to keep in mind when developing your SEO strategy:
Use a variety of keywords
Research relevant keywords for your articles or blog posts and use a variety of keywords, including short-tail and long-tail keywords. Short-tail keywords typically have higher search volumes and high competition, whereas long-tail keywords have lower search volumes but can involve higher conversion rates for more specific search queries.
When putting together a list of keyword ideas, remember to focus on your primary keyword, as well as related keywords that can improve the organic search results related to your brand. Avoid stuffing too many keywords into your articles, as this can make your content sound unnatural, and only use keywords organically within your article or blog content.
Use social media with your overall SEO strategy
Although social media doesn’t directly influence how your articles and blog posts rank on search engines, it can be a powerful supplementary tool to use in conjunction with other SEO tactics. Use social media to post links to your articles or blog posts and potentially increase traffic to your website. This builds brand awareness and increases your odds of gaining backlinks.
Choose your URLs wisely
Uniform resource locators (URLs) are the simple web addresses used to direct traffic to a specific website, web page, or document. Only change the URL for an SEO article or blog post if you have no other option, as doing so will undermine your domain authority, lower your ranking, and increase the chances of error codes.
Optimize your URLs for SEO by using informative words that clearly describe what the article or blog post is about, and remember to include your primary keyword and page title in the URL when possible. Search engine crawlers evaluate your URLs, and a clear URL structure can increase your position on Google rankings and other search engines.
Develop a link-building strategy
A good link-building strategy includes both external links from other websites as well as internal links in your content that direct traffic to other pages on your website. A comprehensive link-building strategy is a major ranking factor when it comes to search engine results pages. To acquire external links, consider writing a guest post for another website or generating an infographic, statistic, or video that other sites can easily use in their articles or blog posts.
Create useful SEO content
If you want your SEO content to be among the top-ranking pages for your target keyword, the most important thing you can do as a merchant is to create helpful blog content that answers your target audience’s questions. Low-quality content will negatively impact your SERP rankings and domain authority. To combat this, have experts write your blog posts and use headings, bullet points, and short, active sentences to make the content easier to digest.
Use alt tags for images
An alt tag, also known as an alt text, refers to written text that describes an image when the image itself is unavailable. An alt tag is a part of an image’s HTML code and appears when an image fails to load. Alt tags give potential customers using voice search the opportunity to hear a description of the image. Additionally, alt tags help search engine crawlers understand the value of the images you use in your SEO content.
Identify and target featured snippets
One of the ways you can create SEO content that achieves page authority is by focusing information on a specific featured snippet. Featured snippets are highlighted excerpts of text that appear pinned to the top of some search engine results pages. Optimize your articles and blog posts for featured snippets by researching competitors who have earned featured snippets and targeting your content toward answering questions related to those specific snippets. As your SEO strategy grows, so do your chances of earning a featured snippet.
Analyze your SEO often and adapt accordingly
Tools like Google Analytics give you the power to track how your SEO content is performing and which pages are earning organic traffic. Study what’s working, and adjust your strategy based on the new SEO knowledge you learn through trial and error. Ecommerce sites like Shopify make search engine optimization easy by automatically including SEO features like auto-generated title tags and more.
Keep your page speed fast
Your site’s speed is another important ranking factor to consider. Evaluable your page speed by using a site audit tool that can identify technical issues with your SEO articles and blog posts. There are several tactics you can explore when trying to improve your SEO content’s page speed, including compressing images, reducing redirects, and removing unnecessary plug-ins.
Focus on clear calls to action
When designing your SEO articles and blog posts, focus on what actions you want users to take and create call-to-action (CTA) buttons that encourage that activity. For example, if the primary goal for a particular piece of SEO content is to gather email addresses for your newsletter, include CTA buttons that direct attention toward users submitting their information. CTA buttons should be simple, active, and colorful to stand out from the rest of the page’s content.
It can take time for SEO content to build organic traffic. Once you’ve published your high-quality SEO content, give it some time and watch the metrics closely to see how it performs. It can take several months for SEO articles and blog posts to earn higher placement on search engine results pages.
SEO tips FAQ
What makes SEO successful?
There are a variety of factors that contribute to a successful SEO strategy, including keyword selection, link building, site structure, and the quality of the content itself.
Is mobile optimization important for SEO?
Yes, mobile optimization is important for SEO and will impact your ranking on search engine results pages. Optimize your SEO content for mobile to increase your chances of ranking higher on search engine results pages.
Does site speed impact SEO?
Yes, site speed impacts SEO. Search engine crawlers evaluate site speed and consider it a factor when determining the ranking of your SEO articles and blog posts.
What’s the significance of local SEO for businesses?
Local SEO can help customers nearby find your retail store. Whereas SEO strategies for online stores focus on target audiences across the nation and globe, local SEO is location-specific and designed to encourage users in a specific area to visit a physical brick-and-mortar location.