Understanding what SEO is
At ShoppingFeeder, we want to help you take the plunge towards starting up with eCommerce and understanding SEO for your online store.
We hope to unpack a bit more about what SEO is and explain SEO for beginners.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is loosely related to how well your website fares on search engine results pages or SERPs. As you probably know, Google’s first page of results for any given query is related to high-performing and relevant web pages, as well as paid results.
Why is this important?
If you didn’t think leveraging the power of some of the most popular search engines in the world was a good idea, you should think again! The purpose of using best SEO practices is to increase the quality and quantity of your web traffic and expose your brand to a broader audience in a more general capacity.
To rank well on search engines, you need to formulate a basic understanding of what people might be searching for online – in a way that relates to your own business or industry. In a world where increasingly more eCommerce stores appear by the day, your website must stand out amongst a crowd.
SEO is undoubtedly helpful in this regard, as you’ll be more likely to show up on initial results pages and share what your brand is all about in a concise way.
The basics of SEO
SEO isn’t a new concept yet it’s become an essential strategy for digital and eCommerce marketers. However, many feel it is complex and unreachable due to its synchronicity with the internet. After all, Google uses more than 200 factors when analysing for its SEO rankings.
An even easier way to think of search engines is to imagine them like machines that constantly search and evaluate content against many different factors to understand which specific pieces of content are most likely to fulfil your search query needs. If you search in Google for ‘cat’, your search engine will scour the web for millions of images and resources relating to cats.
These indexes are then ordered depending on how well they match specific queries or questions in search – this is known as a ‘ranking’. What you should know is that you want your website to come up with a high ranking,. This means that your website will be shown to multiple people when they search for queries relating to your business or industry – ideally for a range of phrases.
Even minor tweaks can drastically improve your website’s SEO rankings – as search engines will better receive them.
On-page or on-site SEO refers to optimising your website to affect organic search results. This practice includes everything you can change on your website to get better SEO results. On-page SEO involves:
- Meta tags
- Alt text
- URL structure
- Structured data
- Website size
- Website speed
- Optimised images
We recommend reading Google’s Webmaster guide to becoming familiar with everything you need for Google to improve your SEO rankings.
Off-page or off-site SEO refers to everything you can do with backlinks and other website links to improve your scores. It includes, amongst others:
- Guest blogging
- Social media content
- Influencer content
- Top-quality content that others link their audiences to
- Email campaigns
Both off-page and on-page SEO refer to ways to adjust elements on or relating to your website that can help improve your rankings.
If you’re doing some research, you’ll also come across both White Hat and Black Hat SEO. While this might sound more fitting for a clothing store, they’re terms that you should know.
Black Hat SEO
You can think of Black Hat SEO as being opaque or not transparent in its communication. They work to improve SEO rankings without considering the human experience.
It includes hidden text, overloading of keywords, cloaking attempts, hidden redirects, manipulated links and irrelevant backlinks, as well as spam comments and link farms.
It would help if you do NOT aspire to follow these practices, as these will likely not help you improve your rating since these practices involve misleading users and misinformation in your content. Black Hat practices could even lead to websites being penalised.
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is the total opposite of Black Hat SEO. It involves ethical SEO, including natural links, keyword research, emphasis on quality of content, on-page optimisation and more.
White Hat SEO is usually a broader content strategy that builds up your brand and high-quality, well-written content on your website that is useful for your customers. This kind of behaviour is what you should aspire towards.
It’s essential to know the difference between ethical and unethical behaviour – you should never base your efforts on trickery and trying to cheat the system instead of actively building up your brand with legitimate resources.
Linking and Keywording
A keyword is a word used in an index or other information organisation system. When you create content, you need to keep keyword research in mind.
If your content isn’t optimised, you won’t get high traffic, and your ranking may stay low. You need to know what keywords will generate traffic for your website. It’s essential to understand what people are searching for concerning your product or service.
It is vital to improving your rankings. You can try googling some words around your product and seeing what Google suggests or autocompletes regarding the entire query. Try changing it up a bit to get a broader range of keywords.
You can also use a free service like Answer the Public to gain keyword insights. There are many paid options for SEO available, but it’s best to start with your research and experiments before committing to a purchase.
Similarly, you’ll also want to be doing some link building with your content. Link building refers to the process of acquiring links from other websites. You can think of this as a navigational tool through a hyperlink that can lead users between websites.
Search engines use these in indexing, so it’s pretty essential to implement evidence pointing to Google relying on backlinks in some of its algorithm decisions.
You should note that backlinks don’t refer to links to other resources on your website. These would be called ‘internal links’ and represent an index of your content.
An example of an internal link would to link your banana bread recipe to your banana pancake recipe within your blog post. It would help if you used your internal links between relevant pages to assist readers.
We’re provided with a couple of guides on SEO that we found helpful, especially for beginners who might like to try their hand at starting an eCommerce store.