How do I help my freelance web design clients to create effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaigns? The following is my edited response to a new client. It reveals a strategy I developed specifically for his business. I have hidden the actual search terms (replacing them with the word 'widgets'), website url and business sector discussed for the sake of confidentiality. However, you may find my approach to managing SEO useful for your small business.

Small Business SEO Checklist

Why E-Commerce Websites Need SEO

To start off Joe, let me share a not-too-obvious truth about Google. In recent updates to their search engine, Google has lowered the ranking of what they consider 'thin content' web pages. These are web pages that typically have less than 350 words of content. Well, just about all e-commerce web pages are by definition 'thin content'. Your e-commerce pages typically have less than 150 words of content each, and are not going to rank highly for that reason alone (compare that to the amount of content typically seen on an e-commerce page on Amazon or Ebay). The truth is, Google really wants pure e-commerce websites to buy pay-per-click advertising.

A Common Sense SEO Strategy for Thin Content E-Commerce Pages

There is a strategy we can employ that meets Google standards. You need to have pages of rich, informative content on your website that support and link to your e-commerce pages.

For example: Let's take the search term 'Widgets' (a fictional search term). That is a search term worth ranking well for. According to Google's Keyword Planner that that search term gets 1600 monthly searches in Google. Great! When I do a search for 'Widgets' in Google, your product page: http://yourbusiness.com/widgets/ is listed #2 on the second page of search results. Ideally, you want to be in the top five listings on the first page for that search term. The fact that you do rank in the top twenty is very promising. But we need to get your website on the first page of search results. How?

small business SEO checklist - #2

The Role of Content In SEO

If you had more high-quality written content about 'Widgets' than Wikipedia (they are the first listing in the search result for 'Widgets') than it is very likely you could rank higher or at the very least in the top three search results for that term. But it will mean having 2000-3000 words of authoritative content, perhaps a video or two on 'Widgets' that links to your website from youtube.com. In addition,  likes, mentions, and tweets on Social Media giants Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter will help as well. Plus, if your 'Widget' posts are authoritative, you can add a link to them from Wikipedia's page on Widgets. Google wants great content. That's the lifeblood of search. If you give them that, it will draw traffic to your website that feeds into your e-commerce product pages.

Good Search Engine Optimization Is A Sound Long Term Strategy, Not A Trick that Gets Results Overnight...

Finally, we will need to create blog posts on your site over a number of months that augment your main authoritative content pages. This strategy will get you more traffic and links from folks interested in Widgets. All of that content will consistently be promoted in Social Media.

Next, we would repeat that strategy for each type of product you specialize in, making sure that we choose keywords and search terms that generate enough traffic to make it worthwhile. If you notice in the screenshot (not shown here) I've included from Google Keyword Planner above, the main keyword your website is optimized for only gets 30 people per month using that search term (average monthly searches) on Google. We need to select search terms that generate higher traffic while being related to the products you sell.

A Long Term Strategy That Works

This is fundamentally what I do to help businesses improve SEO. I do the research, help you to write the content, create the videos and other strategies needed to improve your ranking for important search terms for your products. Plus, I can start a Social Media marketing campaign that will reach the market you are seeking as well. In addition, the coding of your site is not as search engine friendly as it should be and I can help with that as well.

Realistically, this will take time. It will take about six months of ongoing maintenance to see meaningful results. By the end of that period you will have a clear grasp of what it takes to do good SEO ( I share what I know in plain English). It's not rocket science. Doing the right website maintenance and content writing consistently is key.

The value of my time comes from doing the needed research and online work. I can help your website to find more business online. Plus, what I do fully meets Google's standards. Hope to speak to you soon.

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