SEO is very important when it comes to getting your ecommerce website found. It's so important, in fact, that you want to make sure you aren't putting much thought into it.
You read that right. When you're doing SEO, the first rule to remember is that the rules that worked last year likely won't work the same as they did today. This primarily because Google is always making tweaks to its algorithms, and it often targets effective SEO practices (that manipulate search results in SEO's favor) to make them either less effective, or potential penalty prone.
Some rules may always be valid. For instance, when you make a comment on somebody else's blog that actually sounds like you're adding something to the discussion, add a link to your own website if you can do it without looking like you're spamming.
Another example is updating your ecommerce site's content regularly with new ideas and fresh pages. This can help your SEO efforts, but should be apart of your overall online marketing strategy.
In essence, don't fall for “black hat” tactics (like artificially going for the keywords whenever possible) that might work, but take some sketchy practice to achieve. Instead, push aside former SEO practices and embrace more holistic online marketing strategies that bring value to your website, business, and target market.
To help you understand what aspects of SEO to avoid, below are five common strategies that new ecommerce startups in particluar should push aside.
Push aside link building. There is software that can automatically build the links for you, but you want to avoid even that much because Google can tell if you're not doing it yourself. Make link building something you do by hand when you do it at all so that Google can see what you're not blindly going for as many links as you can get. Instead, focus on making your content so good that it won't really matter if Google suddenly decides to say, “Nevermind,” when it comes to counting backlinks.
Push aside the need/quest for #1 rankings. Basically, you shouldn't obsess about it. Everybody's going for the top spot, but you'll be doing good if you can get on the front page. Instead, design your content and your marketing strategy around what you would have done if Google never existed. The algorithms are getting better at reading your content like a human would, so if a visitor who is seeing your site for the first time can tell right away what it's about, so can Google.
Don't let yourself get talked into a strategy that doesn't feel right. Sometimes people will pretend to be SEO marketing experts and try to sell you services you don't need. Ignore them and that rulebook that was written a few years ago, before the Panda Update shakeup ever happened. Your business is about people, not Google, so you want to make sure you're not selling to a company that may not know or care that you exist.
Try localized SEO if you run a local business. You'll usually have better luck if you optimize for the people who search for women's clothing boutiques in Toronto or bookshops in Cleveland. You still want to make your website looks like you proofread, but in most cases, you'll get a better return on investment by applying local SEO strategies along with your online marketing efforts.
Don't freak out if you don't see results right away. Think of this as being like a good diet and exercise regiment for your website. You feed it quality content with wise use of keywords and bulk it up with frequent updates. It can take a couple of months to start noticing an increase in search engine traffic if you're using good tactics.
So good SEO is still doable, but you want to make sure you're basically not being obsessive about it and using outdated tactics. Instead, focus on greater ways to build and manage a web presence as a whole from a branding perspective, and worry less about keyword rankings and search engine performance.
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