The new year has brought a whole host of new online marketing tips, tricks, and trends. The question on everyone’s mind is – what are the most powerful SEO methods to use to your advantage in the coming year? It’s a good question, and we’ve got a good answer.
Actually, we’ve got 18 of them.
If your New Year’s resolution is to take your e-Commerce site to the front page of Google, here you’ll find all the info you’ll need:
- Your domain name should be your brand, not your keywords. Your brand is the product you sell, like Coca Cola or Pepsi. The keywords are what people would be searching for if they wanted a product like yours—for example, “buy tasty soft drinks”. There’s a reason the Coca Cola website isn’t called “www.buytastysoftdrinks.com” though: the fact is that keyword based domain names don’t increase your ranking in most popular search engines.
- Make sure your URL can still include keywords. Okay, wait. That might sound super confusing after reading the above point. Didn’t we just tell you not to name your website using keywords? Let’s clarify: your domain name (the main part of your web address used to identify your site) should be connected to your brand, not your keywords—but that doesn’t mean you can’t use keywords elsewhere in the URL. For instance, if your website has different pages, you should be able to name the URL for each so that the full link includes SEO keywords.
- Make sure you can redirect customers to your new page if you’re changing your address. URLs don’t remain valid forever. Sometimes you want to build a new website for your company at a completely different address (especially if you didn’t read the first point on this list in time). You don’t want to lose existing customers, though, or confuse people who are trying to access your page with the old address. That’s why you should use a 301 redirect, which sends people visiting your old page directly to the new one. Use a redirect checker to make sure all of your URL’s are redirecting correctly.
- Make your page mobile friendly. This one is going to be hugely important in the coming year, so pay attention. Mobile searches are becoming more and more common, and search engines use different criteria to determine rankings for mobile searches than they do for searches made with a desktop. One of those factors is page speed. In simple english: if your page doesn’t load quickly enough on a mobile phone, it’s less likely to show up on a mobile search. WPeka has a detailed and very current guide on how to optimize mobile SEO, which can give you more details.
- Choose your keywords carefully. You might think this one is a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked by how many people use keywords that have almost nothing to do with their products or services. Many people choose broad keywords instead, like “quality” or “cheap”, since they reason (not incorrectly) that these will be searched for more frequently. The downside is that such terms can apply to almost anything, ensuring that your site will be buried in an endless pile of other results. Avoid that by choosing keywords directly related to your brand and products.
- Scope out the competition. Your competitors are going to use keywords too, and if they have a larger online presence than you then you won’t want to use the same ones. People who use them will just find your rivals first. It’s like throwing in the towel. Fortunately, you can install software that lets you see the ranking information of any website, so that you can avoid such an easy mistake and choose other keywords that still get your point across. Check out PC Mag’s list of helpful SEO software here.
- Make your page crawlable. For your pages to show up on a search engine, the search engine needs to gather information about them. This technique is called “crawling”, and it’s important that you make sure there are no features of your site that get in the way of the crawling process. SiteMap.xml is an excellent tool for making sure your page is crawlable.
- Make sure your page is usable. The philosophy here is simple: if your website is clear, easy to use and attractive, it will generate more traffic. When it generates more traffic, it will climb up the ranks in most search engines. As important as everything else on this list is, you still need to focus on the basics. At the end of the day, people still want to use well made webpages.
- Feature good customer reviews. This one also has to do with the importance of attracting traffic to your page. People are more likely to visit a site for a business with strong testimonials from former clients, guests or customers. As a result, you’ll not only see your rankings climb—you’ll also probably get more direct business (especially if you’re local).
- Confirm your website with Google. Confirming your website with Google allows you to detect and eliminate errors or malware on your page, which could otherwise discourage visitors and lower your rankings. You can confirm your site with Google Search Console here.
- Install rich snippets. Rich snippets are small bits of information that give searchers essential information about your site before they even click it. They can take many forms, but many of the most effective are small pictures, which have been shown to greatly increase page visits. Using text is less effective, since this can take away the reason for a person to actually click on your site. To understand more about rich snippets, check out this Gizmodo article.
- Use Google Analytics. Google Analytics basically lets you check your progress. It tells you what’s working and what isn’t so that you can increase your engagement and generate more click-throughs. Think of it as your HUD for SEO. Basic, but mandatory.
- Get familiar with Fetch and Render. Fetch and Render is a more recent tool introduced by Google that simulates a crawl for your site and gives you details on how Google “sees” it. Keep your eye on this one, as Fetch and Render is expected to take on a much greater role in 2017.
- Get ready for voice searching. It might sound a little farfetched, but voice recognition technology is poised to blow the SEO world wide open within the next year. It’s hard to say what you can do now to prepare your page for this innovation, but continue to pay attention as further developments occur—because when this drops, it’s going to change everything.
- Integrate with social media. For those of you who don’t know, social media affects your SEO rankings in noticeable ways. People who engage with your ads, share your content and spread your page to their friends or followers all create what are called “social signals”. Search engines, in turn, take these social signals as a sign that your page is valuable and deserves attention. Then your rankings go up. That’s why it’s always important to maintain a strong social media presence—yes, even if you hate using Facebook.
- Eliminate full screen pop ups. Nobody likes visiting a webpage just to have the content they’re looking at covered by a giant ad. Literally, nobody likes that. If your page uses full screen pop ups, you’re annoying every single person who visits it. Do whatever you have to do to get rid of them, even if it means paying for the premium hosting service.
- Tailor your site for local searches. This one is crucial if you’re a small business operating in a specific area. Google searches are location specific, so register your site with Google My Business and let people in your area see how close you are to them when you pop up in their search results. Being closer to your customers will probably generate a lot more traffic. Convenience is everything these days.
- Make sure your domain doesn’t expire. You want to make sure people can get to your website whenever they need to. If you’re on your way to the top of the Google Search Results Pages and your domain suddenly expires, it could be hours (or even days) before you manage to get it running again. In that time, you could lose the rankings you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Make sure you check with your hosting service frequently to stay in good standing with them.
If you follow these tips, you’ll make sure your e-commerce site is ready to rank in 2017!
What about you – what are your best SEO tips for 2017?
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and journalist who lives in Chicago and his hometown Los Angeles with his wife. His work often discusses social media, marketing, and branding in regards to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).