Often, the first step one takes to optimize one’s website for the search engines involves keyword research.
To be honest, though, you should perform that keyword research BEFORE you do SEO – in fact, you should probably do it before you even build your website! Keep reading to find out why.
Keywords as Seeds
Think about keywords as you would think about the seeds you use to grow your garden. You may start by thinking about what you’d like to grow, but before you even buy the seeds, you’d research what kinds of plants grow well in your area.
For example, I like certain homegrown tomatoes, but if I lived further south I wouldn’t dream of growing them except under specifically controlled conditions; South Florida suffers from a serious nematode problem. Which is a pity, because you’d figure the climate is perfect otherwise…well, as long as you keep in mind that the growing season is different because it gets too hot in the summer for tomatoes to do well. (Big surprise to those of you further north, yes?). And don’t even get me started on the soil consistency…
Now before I take this metaphor too much further, let me explain what I’m trying to point out: if you don’t do your research, you could end up with some really unpleasant surprises. You might want to use a keyword that gets a lot of traffic, but also has a lot of competition. You might want to use one particular keyword for your product, but find that your customers use a totally different word for the same thing.
Or you could get some pleasant surprises… like the time I grew a tomato plant and had it last for more than two years, when I’d heard that one usually must replant every year. Not in Florida, apparently, or at least not with that particular plant! But you’re not going to know unless you do the research.
Research is Everything
You wouldn’t even begin to create a full-scale garden without researching your plants, and you shouldn’t even begin to create a full-scale website without doing your keyword research. Just like the plants, keywords are the key elements to your website; it’s what the site is all about. Yes, I know, it’s all about content and giving a good experience to the user (and helping you conduct your business, of course), but your content grows from the categories you choose, and those categories are your keywords.
Keywords are like tomatoes; raw or cooked, you can use them in everything. And plenty of people do. This luscious red fruit happily goes into salads, pizza, stews, soups, chili, on burgers (as both tomato slices and ketchup), pasta sauce, and so much more. If you do keyword research right, think about intent, how you can organize and cluster them, keywords can help you build navigation, titles, descriptions, content and blog posts.
But of course, you still need tools for your garden to grow. And depending on your area (or platform), you should pick appropriate tools, be it WordPress plugins or standalone web based apps. Your best bet is to go for a robust all-in-one solution that could tackle a lot of aspects of research and marketing your keywords. Cyfe is one example because, with its multiple widgets, it handle research, tracking, organizing, and expanding your keyword lists:
Your keywords help you market your website; they tell everyone what your website is all about. And by "everyone," I mean the search engines, your visitors, your writers, your suppliers, those who create your product or service, and even you. And that’s why you should get that research done BEFORE you build your website. Because if you don’t, you might find yourself fighting to grow tomatoes in July in South Florida in soil that’s full of nematodes. Good luck!
Shopify Stats for Non-BelieversAccording to a combination of official Shopify stats and news reports (source: ExpandedRamblings), as of August 1st, 2017, there were approximately 500,000 Shopify merchants in 175 countries. In 2016, the same source reported over 20,000 merchant clients, with 25% of merchants having enabled social selling for the same year. Since 2016, the platform reported that 62% of traffic and 51% of sales came from mobile. Fast forward to August 2017, there are 1,800 apps in the Shopify App Store, which have been downloaded 7 million times. 1.2 million people actively use the Shopify backend platform. The total amount of sales processed on Shopify to date exceeded $10 billion, according to stats from late 2015. Talk about potential.
How Do These Stats Reflect on Your Business?To sum up these stats and findings:
- 500,000 merchants in 175 countries means little competition, to be exact 2,857 merchants per country;
- Only 25% of them use social selling, to be exact 100,000;
- 62% mobile traffic and 51% mobile sales means you can jump into mobile optimization of your shopify shop from day one, so all funds and efforts are directed towards a solid ROI;
- $10 billion sales, and 51% came from mobile – that is over $5 billion in mobile sales!
- 1,800 Shopify App Store apps, downloaded 7 million times, means on average, each app was downloaded 3,889 times. A close look at Google’s or Apple’s App Store, and you’ll see most apps do not hit that number unless they surround a popular service or product.
The Right Shopify SEO StrategyFrom the numbers above, it is crystal clear that mobile search optimization should be part of your long-term marketing plan. But don’t skip the basic Google optimization. Shopify businesses can now sync their store with Google Merchant Center, through direct, automated API feeds. If a Google AdWords campaign is set up along the way, products from your store become visible across all of Google’s channels. This is a great option to consider, as PPC has its role in customer acquisition, retention, and reactivation. The app that does this is called Google Shopping, with more info and feedback available here. The platform also has built-in analytics, which can be accessed as stand-alone or integrated into your GA, to monitor the evolution of your e-commerce business. A website optimizer function will help you in making the store search-engine friendly, however note that you cannot rely on the pre-built settings alone, and this will require additional tweaking.
Check for the BasicsNo online store can go without these basic calls to action:
- Title tags, meta descriptions, and page URLs for blog posts, webpages, product pages, or collections – all editable
- Themes auto-generate title tags with the name of your shop, plus xml sitemap files and robots.txt
- ALT tag for product images, customizable img file names
- Sitemap.xml and robots.txt files which can be later submitted and tested in GA/Webmaster tools
- Social sharing and social media profile linking – all themes are required to have these settings
- Canonical URL to prevent duplicated content or pages – if this sounds like Chinese for you, here is a guide from Shopify.
- Mobile-ready functions and mobile-responsive templates
- SSL certificates (these will impact your rankings in the long run, as Google just announced)
- Security certificates – your customers need to know their data is handled with care and not exposed to data breaches of any kind. Shopify offers Level 1 PCI DSS compliant security features.
- Additional apps and plugins that can help enhance your search optimization efforts (you might want to consider schema.org and mark-ups that help structure your e-store’s pages, for better user experience)
- Built-in blogging system and news corner which enables your store to benefit from content marketing and rich keyword content, easily indexable by search engines
What Experts Are SuggestingWhen it comes to the best Shopify seo strategy for e-stores, Oberlo has a few tips to add:
- Choose relevant page titles that best express what is relevant to the customers’ search.
- Your title tags matter not only for customers, but also for search engines, in understanding what your pages and e-store is all about.
- Set title tags for each page, product, collection, and blog post. You don’t want to miss out on an opportunity to generate traffic or leads.
- Keep your title tags short, ideally under 70 characters, to gain complete display from search engines.
- Always add your store name in the title tag, to give credibility with search users and create a bridge between products and brands. The best way to include it is by adding your store name at the end of your page title after a separation symbol such as vertical lines “|” or dash “-“.
- At the very beginning, incorporate your target keywords in your title tag. You might notice in the future that titles containing keywords strive for relevancy and will generate a better ranking than just keywords used for authority purposes.
- Add variation to your keywords, depending on the page you’re targeting. Home page title tag keywords will most likely differ from product pages, or blog pages. And it is totally fine to differ!
- Add keywords to your meta-description to boost your search visibility, and use actionable language for your visitors – they need solutions to their search, do not forget to factor in the human aspect.
- Keep your meta-descriptions under 155 characters, and customize them based on products, pages, posts – you get it.
- Alt image alt text can contain complex keywords such as 4-6 words (“women denim jeans summer discount”), and ideally, you should rename your image with a proper name – visual search engines will surely pick up on that.
- Use the platform as a broadcasting environment: each time there is an update, or new product, make sure to write an article or announce it to the world. Search engines love fresh stuff.
- Product descriptions need periodical check-ups, too. Make sure to keep them fresh and relevant. Don’t over-stuff with keywords, either.
- Build your traffic with blog posts, customer stories, product updates, new releases, top listings, and so on.
Social Is the New SociableYou heard me right. Nowadays, there are additional ways to keep in touch with customers and generate new ones. Facebook Live, Youtube Live, AMA (ask me anything) sessions, Instagram Live & Instagram stories. If you’re new to Instagram, check out my Instagram Marketing guide on NinjaOutreach. Instagram has also recently introduced polls into their Insta Stories, so you can ask your audience to directly vote “yes” or “no” (you can also customize your choices) on a new product, update, action the brand is considering taking/making. Plus, you can access insights, and control who is mentioning your brand (option on Instagram). Insights include Impressions, Reach, Website Clicks, Follower Activity, Video Views, Saves, Replies, Exits. With social media platforms enabling video streaming and live video support, this leads to a foundation for community building on other channels besides your own e-store. Word of advice: Don’t shy away from community, as this is also a product itself!
Mobile SEO“Birds of a feather flock together”, and this applies to any type of search engine optimization. In your GA console, you can access specific mobile factors, besides the classic content relevancy, authority, page load speed, and domain age. A mobile page-speed tool from Google will give you access to what needs to be improved for mobile traffic, as well as additional errors, and how to fix them. Plenty of mobile seo tips can be found in the Mobile Usability search traffic section. Now, Google and other search engines pay attention to mobile-specific content and keywords, that are given “preferential treatment” over normal “desktop” pages. Local businesses and local stores are given the upper hand in rankings. Which is great news if you’re planning to optimize your Shopify store deliveries across different countries and cities. To identify which cities and countries to target, start with considering your visitors’ locations (country, region, city-specific), in your GA account, and as well as your social media followers’ location(s), if you wish to target your advertising efforts. Google AMP (accelerated mobile pages) can help in driving more visibility in mobile searches, but not much in desktop searches. AMP works only for publishers or Google News pieces for now, but the future is bright. You could use Google AMP for your PR campaigns or link building efforts. As with search engine optimization for desktop websites, you can improve rankings if you keep in mind the following:
- Apply the relevancy principle: help search engines, and users understand what your business is all about. List your business locally in Google Business, Facebook Business, Instagram, LinkedIn, use geo-targeting, and directory listings from Yahoo and Bing.
- Ask for customer reviews and testimonials. I prefer using Delighted, a simple feedback tracking tool that sends customers an email and asks them to rate your service or shop from 1 to 10, then redirects them to a feedback text box. Once the customer hits Send, the tool collects feedback in a “news feed” type of setup. The tool is free for up to 250 contacts.
- Use a roadmap or visual planner for your seo strategy to keep tracking updates, changes, optimization efforts. TeamWeek explains better on their blog how roadmap tools work, and suggest first creating separate groups for your departments (or teams), followed by separate milestones along the way.
- Improve small yet important mobile details such as 404-errors, full screen pop-ups, and faulty redirects.
TakeawaysAs many marketing professionals advertise, anyone today can start a business. The opportunities are endless. But you can’t make it out in jungle without a proper plan. As a CMS, Shopify has potential and clearly benefits the e-commerce business model. The right Shopify SEO strategy starts with the basic fixes and principles, and progresses towards mobile-ready e-stores. Shopify has generated over $5 billion in mobile sales (that’s 51% of total sales), and 62% of traffic is mobile. By introducing the benefits of social media, of Google’s mobile optimization tips, and expert suggestions, there is no way your e-commerce business will lose visibility or exposure in the eye of competition. Image source: Unsplash
Last year, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) earned an astonishing $15,000 in daily income, as his website gained a value of $2.66 million. Tech Crunch, starting out as a blog, has become a viable brand, worth $10.82 million.
Blogging has become an industry in itself. Once upon a time it was a platform for personal journalling, but over the years blogs have gained legitimacy, visibility and power on the web and beyond it. As you can see, one of the changes has been the fact that you can make real money blogging, even without becoming a major information powerhouse.
If you have thought about monetizing your website, here are some tips to help you get started.
Get Your Toolbox in Order
Whichever method (or methods) below you pick, the key is to use the right tools to organize the process well. Here are just a few good ones to consider:
- Google Analytics is a necessary evil for properly monitoring your traffic sources
- Register an account at ShareASale. That’s an affiliate marketing network that will connect you to quite a few cool programs
- If you are going to be creating and selling a product or a service, make sure to use a sales management platform to organize leads properly. Salemate is a good affordable option
Don’t Begin Right Away
This is an unpopular opinion with some, but the truth. It might seem like a good idea to immediately start trying to monetize a blog you’ve just started. But in the beginning you won’t have any traffic to drive profit.
The exception to this rule is if you already have a viable brand and are expanding it to include a blog for engagement and social marketing. In which case the traffic will come from your initial site, and monetizing right away makes sense. If not, focus on building that blog before you think about making money from it.
Google AdSense is an important tool for anyone seeking to monetize their website. They provide both text and image ads, and usually the image ads attract the most attention and lead to the most clicks.
Of course, this is dependent on your traffic, as most people will not click through to ads. But the payout is decent, it adds up over time, and they are a trusted source for such a program. Other ad programs exist, but none come as highly recommended.
Here are some great AdSense plugins that will make the integration easier for you.
Use Affiliate Programs
Affiliates are going to be one of your greatest sources of income. Whether someone is promoting your product, or you are promoting someone elses, even small payouts will lead to a decent payout over time.
The more momentum a program gains, the more passive income you will start to make. You would be surprised by the numbers and the way they build after the first six months, and especially after the first year.
You can also use banners to quickly integrate best-working affiliate programs into your blog. Bannersnack offers a variety of free banner templates you can use for that.
You can also offer your blog to companies of products you commonly buy and enjoy. Many will pay several hundred dollars for a solid review on a well established site.
Optimize Your Search Ranking
You have to come up high in a search if you want to bring in the traffic that will inevitably up your income. Here’s a helpful checklist to get you started.
Since no one goes to the second page of Google, you have to have a good market share on certain keywords, and optimize your blog using that data. Invest in market research to find the best keywords that you can use, both long and short tailed, to improve your SEO.
Open a Shop
Having a shop only works for some people, as often a niche won’t really apply to a product series very well. But even selling mugs to those who might want to help support your site can be beneficial.
Try and create products that relate well to your niche, however, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of inside jokes and references that you have built with your followers over time.
Release an Ebook
Ebooks are big, and they have plenty of uses. They don’t bring in a lot of money, however, which can be a problem unless you have the status in your industry to be able to charge a higher price for a download.
Most people will offer them cheap or free, and use it to improve their visibility and draw people to their blog, thereby improving their other income possibilities. It will ultimately depend on you.
Example: The Lost Girls knew that and wrote an excellent book about their travels that has gotten great reviews. Both ebooks and self publication are potential routes for this goal.
Become a Speaker or Consultant
Are you now fairly well known? Have some street cred in your niche? Then start using your blog as a platform for finding guest speaker or consulting opportunities. You can earn thousands doing this.
Offer Freelancing Services
Your blog can act as a kind of portfolio, showing off your writings skills, nature and passion. That makes it a great opportunity to attract other people who want you to write for them.
Occasionally you will want to write a free guest blog post to promote your site. But otherwise you can offer your writing for pay, advertising yourself both through your blog and on sites like oDesk.
Start a Class or Series
Want something a little more hands on or creative? Then why not run a class or webinar series from your blog? People will pay good money for a well organized class, and you can offer the world your knowledge while improving your own financial stability. Everyone wins.
Udemy is the perfect place to start an online course and you can sell it through the platform too! Another great tool is Google Helpouts.
It might seem like a heavy task, and too good to be true. But you can genuinely turn your website into a profitable one, even if it takes time. You just need to know how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for people who have managed to boost their regular traffic and are now looking to capitalize on that growing popularity
To get inspired, see this list of indie blogs that pay for a living.
Have some tips for monetizing your blog? Questions? Let us know in the comments