eCommerce Made Easy

Breaking Down SEO: A Comprehensive Guide to Boosting Search Engine Rankings

October 10, 2023 Carrie Saunders Episode 24
eCommerce Made Easy
Breaking Down SEO: A Comprehensive Guide to Boosting Search Engine Rankings
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Ever wondered why your website isn't ranking high enough on search engine results, despite using all the 'right' keywords?  We're going to kick off the discussion by debunking outdated SEO tactics, with a particular emphasis on the notorious pitfall of keyword stuffing. We’ll then switch gears to the art of crafting language that appeals not just to search engines, but the people behind the screens too. Plus, we'll demonstrate how built-in features in software tools like WordPress can be your secret weapon in the world of SEO.

From creating unique, engaging content to being on the look out for dead links, there is a lot to cover that, with small tweaks, can boost your SEO score! So, sit back and prepare for an avalanche of insights that'll help you revolutionize your online strategy! 

Find out more information about the Business Visibility Made Easy Course at www.ecommercemadeeasypodcast.com/bvme

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Speaker 1:

Are you an online business owner wondering what search engine optimization is and what this mystery is and whether you can tackle it? Or are you an online business owner who you feel like you've got search engine optimization down pretty good, but you feel like you might be missing a few components that can really help propel your business? If you're in either of these situations and this podcast episode is for you today, we're going to be talking about common mistakes with search engine optimization, particularly when it comes around online retelling and marketing, and what you can do to fix it. And many times it's very simple and doesn't really require an expert. It just requires your expert knowledge on your subject. So I can't wait for you to listen to this episode. Welcome to the eCommerce Made Easy podcast. I'm your host, keri Saunders. When we started this business, all I had was a couch, a laptop and a nine month old. My main goal To help others. Now, with over 20 years in the eCommerce building industry and even more than that in web development, I have seen a lot. I love breaking down the hard tech and to easily understandable bits to help others be successful in their online business. Whether you're a seasoned eCommerce veteran or just starting out. You've come to the right place, so sit back, relax and let's dive into the world of eCommerce together.

Speaker 1:

Welcome back to this week's episode of the eCommerce Made Easy podcast. Today, we're diving into search engine optimization Specifically, we're going to be talking about some of the main mistakes that people either overlook or don't do correctly with search engine optimization, and another word for search engine optimization is SEO. So if you ever hear me just say SEO, I mean search engine optimization, and actually search engine optimization can be broken down to be not too hard, and I feel like most business owners can do a decent job of search engine optimization when they have the right tools in place and the right knowledge in place. So let's dive right in. Okay, so one of the first things that I see many times people do with search engine optimization, when they're really trying to do a really good job, they get a little overzealous and they do keyword stuffing, what's called keyword stuffing. Basically, that means that you're shoving all the keywords into your website here and there and everywhere, and it's kind of a mess to the consumer who's trying to read your website or trying to understand what's going on. And that used to work a long time ago. It was because search engines weren't quite as smart as they are now.

Speaker 1:

Search engines now, as we've talked about a lot on this podcast, are looking for websites that are naturally intuitive and good for the consumer, not for the computer. So back in the day, they would look at all these keywords that you put in your website and you could totally keyword stuff. You could hide the text. You can do what's called black hat SEO, and there was a point in time where that actually worked. Anymore, it does not work.

Speaker 1:

So this is a warning for those of you who may have been like us and have your website for 10, 15, 20 years or more Make sure that you don't have any old pages where you have keyword stuffing. I certainly hope you have revised your website several times since then, if you've been around a long time, but that's something that sometimes people will get in the habit of and they just continually tend to actually do it. So what you want to make sure when you're writing copy for your website and copy just means the words that are on your website you need to make sure that you're writing it in a natural, human language. Now, yes, you do want to put your keywords in that language and you want to think about how you can do that, but you also don't want to be putting in those keywords in every single sentence or every single, necessarily paragraph. It kind of depends on how many words you have in your website. As to how, where you can put it and how much, I do recommend you have a decent amount of words on your website for the search engines to grab on. Now, obviously, for consumers, we don't tend to read very much, as many of you know. So you need to make sure that you're purposeful with your words on your website too. So just don't put words on there to put words on there to get higher in search engines. That's probably not going to help your search engine ranking either.

Speaker 1:

So keyword stuffings probably the number one, one of the worst things you can do for search engine optimization right now. So when you think of a keyword, so think of things that your customers and your ideal clients would be searching for to find your product or service. So think about those phrases they would use. What are their, what is their common language that they would use. And then, when you go to put those keywords in your website, think about some variations on it. So take a word or a phrase and vary how it's written some. Especially if you have a specific page dedicated to a specific topic, that is, a keyword topic for your niche, then make sure you're bearing up and make sure it's kind of like you're talking to your friend or somebody you know close. You want to make sure that language sounds very natural and very human.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so next we're going to go into on-a-page search engine optimization techniques. Now this one could sound a little scary, but bear with me, because most software out there now, including WordPress and e-commerce systems and content management systems like WordPress, have a lot of this already built in. You just need to utilize the features. So what's really important for websites is that your title tag so that the words that show up at the top of your web browser if you're on a desktop that title tag needs to be descriptive and, as well as human, readable. Anytime we're talking about search engine optimization, especially now in the modern day, you need to make sure it makes sense to the consumer too. Google is looking for that, and Bing and all the other major search engines. So having a title that just says home page isn't helpful, right? But let's say you sell dog treats or something like that, having some of the words, that of the words, dog treats in your home page title maybe the world's finest dog treats, or something like that, but make sure you have that keyword in your page title, especially if your home page of that's what your main business is about is say dog treats.

Speaker 1:

Now, further along, we need to also talk about meta descriptions. Now, some people say meta descriptions are not important anymore, and while I agree they are not as important as they used to be back in the early 2000s, they are still very important. So many times when you're in a content management system such as WordPress or an e-commerce system, you can create meta descriptions for your pages, and you really should be able to. If your software doesn't have that ability, I recommend you contact us and we'll hope you find a better software for that. That being said, the meta description now is mostly used for the words that your consumers are going to see when they are searching on Google or Bing, etc. What that means is, if you search for dog treats, let's say, the first website that comes up is a specific dog treat website. The little small paragraph that's underneath the link to that website comes from the meta description. Now, if you don't have a meta description, google and Bing and all those are going to just pick some words on your website that they think make sense to show up down there. So, while it doesn't really help you for search engine ranking specifically, what it does help you do is draw the consumer in and want to click on your website. So you're going to want to make sure your meta description words are something that's very attractive to your ideal client and something that causes them to want to click on your link out of all the links that they see in the result and get further into your website. So, while meta description, like I said, isn't quite for search engines, it does help you get search engine traffic to your website by drawing in the consumer.

Speaker 1:

Now, what else you need to be doing on every single one of your pages is using the header tags. Like I said, all these softwares out there should give you this ability, so you need to make sure you're using it. The header tags is kind of like writing on a Word document or some sort of document where you can create a heading one, a heading two, a heading three, etc. That kind of shows the structure of your webpage. Or you say you're writing an article and you're in a Word document or something. So what it does is heading one is your most important words. Heading two is like a subsection of heading one, for example, heading three is going to be a subsection of heading two, etc. You might have a couple of heading twos, so a couple of subsections from your main heading. So how do you do this in your website? So in your content management system, like WordPress or your e-commerce system, you're going to have that ability to create heading tags. So you want to have your Kind of like.

Speaker 1:

The title of your page that you would see on your web page is going to be your heading one. That's going to be the topmost element on your website. So let's say you have a specific page dedicated to dog treats. You're going to want to use the word dog treats and whatever description you want to use around that that's unique to you and that needs to be in the heading one tag. And then let's say you have green free dog treats on this page you want to talk about. So heading two could be green, free dog treats and then you do some words about the green free dog treats you have and describing them and the benefits of them, etc. And then you might want to have a heading two. Again that's a different type of dog treats maybe all natural dog treats, for example and then you want to have some descriptions under it as to what you describe your all natural dog treats in a very you know, human, readable way, and that's going to help search engines.

Speaker 1:

So making sure you use the headings, just like you would if you're writing an English paper to your English teacher, is going to help organize your content, not only for the consumer, but it also helps Google understand the structure of your page and what's most important to you. So you need to make sure those keywords are in those headings. You also need to make sure you don't have a ton of H1 tags, which is the heading one tags, because Google expects you to have basically one main topic per page in general. Now you can have several supporting H2 tags or the heading two tags and several supporting sub tags underneath that, the H3 tags. That is also fine as well. Most people don't go beyond the H3 tags, but it pretty much goes on for infinity. Probably not something you're going to utilize. It's not something I hardly ever see, but that is there. So just make sure, when you use your headings, that they make logical sense for the reader, which will help and make logical sense for Google and Bing and the major search engines.

Speaker 1:

Something else that's also very important are the image alt tags and title tags. Those need to be there to be descriptive of what your images are. So let's keep going on the dog treat. Maybe you have a picture of a dog enjoying one of your fine dog treats, so you want to describe what that image is, and so you could put picture of dog maybe not use picture of, but put dog eating our famous grain free dog treats, for example and put those words in the title as the title, as well as the alt tags. Now that should be available in your content management system, such as WordPress, or your e-commerce system as well. You need to make sure you're doing this, especially the alt tags, because, like we have talked about in a previous episode about ADA compliance, that is required for ADA compliance. So make sure you're filling those out and not only help search engines and make sure website accessible as well. Okay, so that's most of it for the on page search engine optimization techniques.

Speaker 1:

Next, we're going to go into technical search engine optimization. Now this might be some area that you might need a developer to help you with, but you can, in general, do a pretty good job of this no matter what technical level you have. So technical SEO basically means that you need to make sure the structure of your website is intact and not broken. So think about it as like you have this really nice handmade basket, but your baskets got holes in it in random places where things can fall through. That's not very effective, right that's. Similarly, if you have your website with links that don't go anywhere anymore and they go to dead pages, that's kind of like holes in a basket that you might need to basket, that you might want to store things in. That's bad. You're going to run into problems on the website and get frustrated because you're following dead links, links that don't work. So making sure that you either redirect or remove references to pages that you no longer serve you anymore is very, very important. Those broken links can really pull down your search engine ranking as well as frustrate your visitors.

Speaker 1:

Another thing that search engines don't like at all is duplicate content. What that means is the same page having more than one page having the same content. This is something that I find doesn't quite happen nearly as often as it did maybe five to 10 years ago, because of how applications now structure the web page, but this was something that was pretty easy to happen before. So you just need to make sure all your pages are very unique and have unique content and have a purpose. Don't just have extra pages to have extra pages. That's not something that the search engines want to see anymore. And also, if you are redirecting some of these old links to a new one, you want to make sure that you do it correctly and then everything works. Having a tool that can crawl your site and detect things like this, or using the built-in tools from Google Analytics and the Google Search Console, will actually help you find these dead links as well. So you don't have to have fancy software to find most of these problems. So make sure you're reviewing those regularly, like we've talked about in many episodes of reviewing certain things on your website regularly.

Speaker 1:

So another thing that search engines really like is high quality content. They want content that's going to make people really want to stay on your website. So one of the new factors that Google has for ranking your website and many of the other search engines as well, is Are people scrolling on the website? So are they going to the page and then staying on the page and lingering? So they're measuring how long people are on a page, what they've done for a long time but they're also now looking to see whether people scroll, so not just only going to the webpage and staying there, but going and then scrolling and seeing what else is on the webpage. So make sure that you have high quality content that really catches your viewers and your readers attention and draws them in to you and your business and your story.

Speaker 1:

So we talk about this a lot in episode nine, where we talk about how you should be creating regular content on your website, and blogging is one of the ways. So let's say, you have a dog treat website. We'll just keep with that theme on this episode. Maybe you wanna talk about the benefits of certain dog breeds having certain types of dog treats, for example, so you could have specific articles on those topics and they could be all separate articles. So you really kinda wanna go in depth on the articles as much as possible to really give your readers some really good media information there. You also don't wanna have pages that are really super thin, and what I mean by thin is there's just kinda hardly anything to them. If you have a page that doesn't have hardly anything on it and I'm not saying that you need to have cluttered pages at all, but if it doesn't have hardly anything on it that's purposeful, then you probably don't need that page and you could put the link or the information somewhere else. It could even be something you just can put in your foot or the information in your footer. So make sure the content you do have is rich and is helpful.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so, in addition to creating high quality content for your website, you need to make sure that that quality content and all the other search engine optimization techniques that you're doing are also there for mobile. You need to make sure that they're very effective. Make sure people can read your website on mobile. Make sure that your text isn't too small, isn't too spread apart, isn't too close together, because we wanna make sure that we can click on things with our fingers, not our mouths, and Google can recognize this as well as the other major search engines can recognize when things are too close together. So make sure that you're always regularly reviewing your website in mobile. It's just something that's completely necessary, and Google and other search engines actually look at mobile first before they determine your search engine ranking for desktop anymore and this is something that's a little bit newer as of the past five or so years. So you just need to make sure that you get in the habit of this, especially if you have a website that's been around for a while and you may not be used to checking mobile first. I know we're not quite used to checking mobile first. It took us a long time to get into the habit of doing that because we've had a website for so long. So you need to make sure that you're getting in the habit of checking mobile as well as your desktop, for all these elements that we're talking about with search engine optimization.

Speaker 1:

Now here's something a little bit specific next, that if you have a local presence in your business, you're going to want to make sure that you have also optimized for local search engine optimization. Now what that means is you need to make sure that, let's say, you service a specific area of the country or specific city. You want to make sure that you do mention your location throughout your website a decent amount. Obviously, we don't want to spam the search engines, but making sure you have, you know, words around the fact that you service a specific area. So let's just say Columbus Ohio, it's this, I live in Ohio and it's our capital. So say you service the Columbus Ohio area. You're going to want to make sure that you say the dog treats serving the Columbus Ohio area, for example, but we also ship worldwide. Say you ship worldwide too. So so if you're a hybrid and you do worldwide, or maybe it's countrywide, maybe it's just in the United States, if you're in the United States, but you want to make sure that you mention where you service your clients, so then it's really important for local search engine optimization to mention your location, because many times people might be searching for dog treats in near Columbus Ohio. They're going to more likely find you if you have Columbus Ohio on your website a decent amount of times. So don't ignore local search engine optimization if that's appropriate for your business, which it isn't for all businesses, but it is for some.

Speaker 1:

Now, many of the other episodes we've talked about regularly reviewing specific things on your website, and search engine optimization is one of those things. So whether you would do this yourself manually, using like an Excel sheet or something that you keep track of your specific keywords that you think are most important and where you rank in them, or whether you use a software tool or a service provider like us to help keep track of your search engine rankings and fix things for you. This is something you need to make sure you put on your radar to do, I would say, at minimum monthly. Now, if you're a very busy site, you might want to do it a little bit more often than that, maybe once a week, but this is something you want to do regularly is to just double check where you are in search engine rankings, because that's going to allow you to react to drops in search engine rankings. Now there can be times where you're just going to drop and you don't know why, but you can keep track of that and keep notes on that so that you can see if it is it a trend or is it just an anomaly for this check. So make sure you keep some good notes with it as well. And if you don't have these trends and you just randomly check your search engine rankings, you might be great one day, and then the next time you check it in, like four or five, six months, you're like really tanked really far down. You don't know, is that an anomaly day or has that been the trend for the past six months and you just didn't know it because you haven't been keeping an eye on your search engine rankings? So this is something that's really, really important and I find that businesses that have worked with us for many, many years, that are on top and always monitoring what's important, such as search engine optimization, are the businesses that are still around today.

Speaker 1:

Now, this next topic is a little bit more techy and it's a schema markup. Now, this is something that kind of naturally happens pretty much anymore in most software out there that you are going to utilize, but it is something that you do want to check and we will put in our resources and our show notes a good website. They can check this for you. But what schema markup is kind of a way to really even boost the search engines to understand your website even more and the structure behind your website even more. This is particularly helpful for traditional e-commerce websites that are selling products online, because you can tell them specifically which price on a page is the actual selling price, which price is the retail price, whether it's on sale right now, whether it's available right now, the specific product title, so they don't have to guess, even though they should be able to glean that if you've structured your website properly. So this one's a little bit more technical, and if you aren't great at checking things like this technically, I would highly recommend you contact us, or whomever you might use for search engine optimization, to just double check your website and make sure this structure is in place, because it's not uncommon for us to find websites that either don't have it at all or it's not complete and it's missing some components. And the Google search search engine console will actually help you with this a bit too, and so you want to pay attention to any messages it has there. But the schema markup is a really important addition to what you're going to need to be doing to your website.

Speaker 1:

Okay, and the last two things we're going to be talking about about search engine optimization, because there's so many things we could talk about, but these are probably the most important. Highest level type of items is links, so we want to make sure they have two different types of links back links and we want to make sure the quality black back links. So back links are links back into your website from other high quality websites. Now it used to be back in the day that people would use these linking sites and purchase links back to their websites and they would get all these spammy links into their websites and that would boost their rankings. Well, anymore that's absolute no-no. It's been a no-no for quite a while now, and what Google really looks at is who is linking back to you. Is that website ranked high in Google or Bing or whichever search engine that you're evaluating? So you need to make sure that those websites that link to you are also high quality and have a good search engine ranking.

Speaker 1:

Now, in addition to that, we want to make sure that our internal links are also good links, so search engines like to have our websites be useful for our consumers, as we talked about this whole podcast, and one of the ways it can be useful is, let's say, we have an article on dog treats again and you're talking about your grain-free dog treats. Well, let's say, you sell them too, right, which is probably you do. So you want to link to your category page, which is all about, and you only have your grain-free dog treats on it. So that's going to be useful to the consumer coming to your website because they wanted to learn more about grain-free dog treats and then boom, you've got a link off to more information about grain-free dog treats, how you can purchase them, etc. So making sure that your links within your website are useful and helpful is very important and that you're it kind of also helps search engines crawl your website so they can find more depth pages. In-depth pages are your website. When you have these internal links, because it's got more things to follow, whether then, say, a menu, it might have to go through a whole bunch of sub pieces, but this lets it connect the pieces together a bit more logically and understand. Okay, this is the main page about dog treats, and then here's the sub page about grain-free dog treats that consumers might specifically like. So making sure that your internal links are also good as well is very helpful.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so we covered a lot in the search engine optimization episode, so one of the things I'm going to recommend that you do to review this is go to ecommercemadeeasypodcastcom forward slash 24 to get our show notes for it, and then let's do a quick recap. So, number one we talked about keyword stuffing and that we do not want to do that anymore. We need to have a natural flow of keywords on our website. We want to make sure that we are not ignoring on-page search engine optimization things such as your page title, your meta description, which doesn't directly increase your search engine rankings, but it does help consumers find your site better your heading tags, things like that. We want to make sure that we're technically good with the SEO, so we don't want to have broken links and broken pages and redirects that don't make sense. We want to make sure we're always creating high quality content for our consumers. Google loves and Bing loves, and all the major search engines love to see new content on a website. Then they know that the website's not steel and stagnant.

Speaker 1:

We also want to be making sure that everything makes sense in mobile, so make sure you're checking all these things on a mobile device, and multiple types of devices if possible. If you have a local business or a business that covers a specific service area, make sure that you have that type of service area mentioned in your website in several places so that you rank pretty well for local search engine optimization too. You need to be making sure that you monitor your search engine optimization progress, how well you're doing, whether you're trending up or trending down, etc. And you also need to make sure you're using the schema markup that we talked about and that's a bit more techie. And, like I said, if you need help, you're welcome to reach out to us and we will be happy to help you. Or reach out to your web developer or search engine optimization expert you already have. Make sure that is in place and just make sure it's just something you double check. And then linkings Linking is super important. We need to make sure we have high quality links into our website as well as we need to make sure that our internal linking makes sense and is linking to relevant pages from other pages.

Speaker 1:

So that's it for this week's loaded episode on search engine optimization. I hope it was super helpful for you. You are welcome to ask any questions of us. You can find us on our social media, at our links on our e-commerce made easy podcastcom website. Anytime you're welcome to direct message me. You can also email us at podcast, at bcsengineeringcom, for any questions or suggestions you have on our content on this show. We love hearing from you and helping you guys out, and I will see you next week.

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