SEO. We've all heard the term, but few understand what it really means. One common misconception is seeing SEO only as a source of free traffic. Sure, free traffic is the end result, but it's not how SEO works.
The purpose of SEO is to create a great user experience to help people who are looking for you find you. To do that, the content on your website has to be relevant and match what people are trying to find.
If you want to optimize your entire web presence, you should start by investing in SEO and spying on your competitors. SEO may take some time and patience, but if you do it right, your web traffic will increase tremendously.
1. Find out where you and your competitors rank across search engines.
Where do you rank in the search engine? Where do your competitors rank? Research keywords you want to be found for, and monitor where you and your competitors rank for those words.
If you are not satisfied with your ranking, you should start investigating the competitors that are ranked above you, and take note of what they are doing differently.
2. Generate fresh content and SMO strategies
Content on your site has the most impact on your SEO performance than anything else. So if your website isn’t being found by users, you should start analyzing the content and brainstorm how it can be improved.
SMO (Social Media Optimization), is crucial for SEO. Having more likes, shares, tweets, and pins on your social media channels will help you rank higher in search engines and allow users to easily find you.
Looking for great content can be time consuming. Here are a few tools that can help:
- BuzzSumo: Analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor. Search for relevant and interesting content with keywords based on social shares. Below are the search results that come up for “brunch.” It presents a list of the most popular content on social media based on the number of shares on each channel. BuzzSumo gives insight on what is being shared the most and where with a break down of each social media channel.
- Keyhole: Search and analyze the social web. Keyhole reveals top line metrics such as posts, impressions, and reach as well as more in depth analysis like demographics, share of posts, geolocation, and an influencer filtering table. For this example, I’ve used "brunch" as my topic: I can see that "Mothersday" and "Sunday" are also popular and relevant keywords for my topic:
Now that you have the tools to help you come up with engaging and sharable content, you need to find a unique voice for your brand.
Establish a clear and authoritative voice for the content you are sharing, while carrying a consistent tone throughout your website. Create images and infographics to make your site visually appealing and easier for users to share your posts by including share buttons for different social media channels.
To increase the amount of shares on your media, you need to invest in your content. This brings us back to the point that content is the most important factor for SEO. Research your competitor’s level of engagement and look out for what social media they are most active on, what forums they are participating in, and how often they are posting.
A SMO strategy for your brand will create a great medium that helps you reach out to your current and potential customers. Proper implementation of a SMO strategy will build familiarity and trust for your brand, with more visibility and a higher ranking in search engines.
3. Create original descriptions for each product in your store.
IMPORTANT: Avoid duplicate content because Google will devalue websites that are read as “spammy.” If you have an ecommerce store, like a clothing retailer, you should especially be cautious of using stock descriptions for your products. Someone else is most likely using the same content for their branded shirt and that content will already be indexed. If it’s already indexed, Google will not add it to the search listing.
So what should you do? It's time to get creative with your product descriptions. It is crucial to include features and benefits of your products in the description. This means incorporating both facts about your products and explanations of what the products can do for the customer.
Make your product descriptions as specific as possible. List all of the possible questions a customer might have about the product and address them individually in the description.
This is an example of a stock description that will NOT rank your store higher on search engines:
- 100% ringspun combed cotton
- superior screen printing
- durable rib neckband
American Apparel does a good job of diversifying their product descriptions (you want something similar to this for your SEO):
- Tri-Blend (50% Polyester / 25% Cotton / 25% Rayon) construction
- Polyester retains shape and elasticity; Cotton lends both comfort and durability; addition of Rayon makes for a unique texture and drapes against the body for a slimming look
- Durable rib neckband
- Fits slimmer than our 2001
You can already see the difference between the two descriptions. American Apparel takes the product description and creates a narrative. If you want your store to be indexed by Google, it may be worth investing time in writing unique descriptions or hiring a copywriter.
4. Spy on your competitors and learn from them.
Search for all the top influencers in your community and study their market optimization strategy.
Followerwonk: Analyze the Twitter profiles in your niche to shape your Twitter marketing strategy.
Followerwonk gives you feedback on when your followers are active on Twitter, which is when you should target posts.
This is a rank of the social authority of the users you follow in the order of influence and engagement. It gives you a breakdown of users by metrics (age, language, and level of influencers). Based on these data and findings, create your own unique marketing strategy. Take advantage of your competitor’s weakness and learn from their strengths.
5. Monitor backlinks
Monitoring backlinks of your competitors can also be a good way to pull resource for your strategy. Backlinks are website links that refer back to your pages, also known as inbound links.
Why are backlinks so important? Google keeps track of how many backlinks a site has, or how many times a web has been referenced. Google places more importance on links from popular sites that have a high level of trust. Google will rule out the links from sites that have nothing but links, which Google classifies as “junk websites.” So if you have a lot of outbound links hosting your website link, your website will be classified as spam and fall behind on the SEO rankings.
A useful tool for monitoring backlinks is Open Site Explorer. It gives you data on your competitors domain authority along with its linking domains.
Above is an example I used for one of my niche competitors. Open Site Explorer gives you detailed metrics on the competitor’s main domain and page authority. It also presents a list of the different backlinks to make it easier for you to analyze the linking pages.
By using SEO tools, you can keep track of the total number of backlinks to your competitor’s site and keep track of their backlink growth patterns.
Find out where you and your competitors rank across search engines. Tools like SE Ranking and ahrefs will give you a detailed report of the average positions of you and your competitors within the target region.
Generate fresh content and SMO strategies. BuzzSumo and Keyhole help you search for relevant trending content, how many shares the content gets, and who the top influencers are. Invest in creating great content to build social klout and SMO.
Create original descriptions for each product in your store to get ranked by Google.
IMPORTANT: Duplicate content does not get indexed by Google. Instead of using stock descriptions, create a narrative and make your product descriptions as specific as possible.
Spy on your competitor's top influencers with Followerwonk. Learn what the influencers are doing right and create your own strategy.
Monitor backlinks to track your competitor and keep track of their growth patterns. How does it compare to your growth? What strategies could you implement to increase your page authority?