What Does SEO Stand for?
When a user searches for a query in a Search Engine, that search engine scours through millions of results and provides the most relevant Websites, Images, Video or any other information that is deemed suitable for that individual search. SEO or “Search Engine Optimisation” is the process of improving a website so that relevant words or phrases that are found in content on your website are more likely to appear on a Search Engine.
On majority of searches within Google, the top 3 or 4 listings will be paid ads, which can be controlled in Google Ads. SEO however, looks at the improving the website so that it shows for the free or “Organic” listings (which is where majority of clicks on Google come from). Consistent SEO will not only increase the total volume of clicks that a website will receive, but should help to make sure the quality of the traffic from search engines also improves.
Ultimately, SEO is about improving the experience for the users (people) rather than search engines. By understanding the intent behind what a user is searching for and providing that content is how websites see continual growth from Organic results. The content can be in the form of Articles, Products, Reviews, Suggestions or any form of consumable information. Providing this content in a variety of ways and giving the best user experience is how websites get to page one on Google. There are however best practise tasks that must be completed in order for the Search Engines to consume, understand and rank your content. This is something that we will consistently provide information on throughout our website and articles. SEO is a marketing foundation for an ecommerce store, providing access to your website for billions of people each day and building your brands authority and awareness.
Why is SEO Important?
SEO has never been more important. Search Engines like Google have billions of searches every day, users asking questions, looking for ideas, finding products, looking up reviews and many more. SEO is important, as when it is done consistently websites are more likely to rank higher in search engines for your current keywords or rank for a greater number of total keywords. High quality SEO will provide a better user experience, improve website functionality, build trust with users and allow websites to get ahead of their competition. For any online store SEO is a must to help the business grow.
Each individual query in a search engine will have a different set of results. These are base off complex algorithms that are continually changing and getting more advanced. The thing that never changes is that search engines like Google aim to give the best experience for the user with the most relevant information. Google’s search results algorithm takes into consideration over 200 signals to judge the order of the listings, looking at bounce rates, avg. time on page, pages per session etc.
For a lot of ecommerce websites, Organic listings are the primary source of website traffic and sales. Customers will generally interact with websites multiple times before making a purchase, websites that have a strong seo level give themselves the best opportunity to be in the right place at the right time, while concurrently building authority within the market and providing assurance that the website is reputable and trustworthy.
Building up strong SEO takes time, but the continual work and patience pays off in the long run, giving websites advantages over their competitors. The effect of SEO snowballs and continues to gain momentum, however this does not mean that optimisation should be put on hold. Google and other search engines are changing on a daily basis, so shopify websites will need to frequently adjust to maintain their relevance (to the customers, over their competitors & to the search engine). Maintaining a strong SEO is far easier that climbing back up after being forgotten about.
What impact can SEO have for your business?
In today’s society, users have transitioned to a digital first approach. Previously people collected information through books, magazines, family & friends, tv etc. now are searching online. It therefore makes sense to have a website in a prominent location when people are searching. With billions of searches a day, improving a websites ranking to reach page one on Google can do wonders for the total traffic it receives, the quality of the traffic and therefore the overall sales (which for Shopify websites is the most important).
But SEO isn’t just about online traffic and sales, businesses that have both a website and a physical store can put in strategies to reach new customers and drive in store traffic (called “Local SEO”). SEO generally can be one the best forms of marketing from a ROI perspective, as when run over a long period of time the results snowball. While websites can often hit their daily budget on advertising campaigns, Organic listings through Google work 24/7 and see the same spikes on the peak retails days (think Click Frenzy, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing day and more).
Put simply, SEO should be the foundation for which all online marketing is based. Websites that have a strong SEO level are far more likely to receive better results from their other forms of advertising. By focussing on SEO for Shopify websites, opens up the potential to sell products to almost the entire Australian population and the world, communicating with them with the content on your website throughout the entire purchasing process.
What is involved in SEO?
There are numerous tasks that are required in order to SEO a website, but each task can be grouped under 3 categories, On-Site SEO, Off-Site SEO & Technical SEO. Each of these will be discussed in more detail shortly. Technical SEO has nothing to do with the content or the external factors, rather it is based on the characteristics of a website. Search Engines favour websites that have specific characteristics when determining the results page. These characteristics include secure websites, fast page load times, making sure the website is crawlable and others.
At a top-level On-Site SEO is related to the content that is on the website, this includes text; in the form of product & category descriptions, articles/blogs, press releases and more, images; from products, banners on pages etc. and any videos or audio that is on the website.
Off-Site SEO is used to build trust and authority for a website. This is primarily done through building links to the website (based off the content that is created), and can be done through sharing content on social media channels or through outreach to relevant websites. Off-Site SEO also incorporates user generated content on social media channels, customer reviews and more.
SEO is incorporates all of these factors and is a mix of creating content, coding & building links for the website to get the most out of their organic traffic. Generally SEO will start with a technical audit, identifying any issues and areas of improvement which will have a beneficial impact on the website. Typically this audit can have positive impacts across all traffic sources, not just organic. Once the technical audit is completed, the focus then shifts to On-Site SEO, creating new content & optimising the existing content. Off-Site SEO needs to be conducted simultaneously in the background as content is developed and improved.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO has nothing to do with creating or optimising content, building links to the website, or anything like that. Technical SEO is the process of optimising websites and their settings to make the experience better for the user & for Search Engines. Websites that are secure (https rather than http), have a fast page load time, have a responsive design and are well structured are preferred by Google. Technical SEO (normally conducted through an audit), identify what can be optimised on a website and fixes these elements so that users & search engines can navigate, crawl and find content on the website quickly and securely. Check out our Technical SEO for Shopify Sites article for more information.
Because of these elements and how they can impact the user experience, Technical SEO is considered the foundation for the other forms of SEO to build off. Often websites will see improvements in their other traffic sources when the elements from the Technical SEO Audit have been actioned. Each year these characteristics change as Google Algorithms get more complex and user behaviour changes (for example the shift in searches to mobile or voice). Completed correctly, Technical SEO should help to make websites:
- More Secure
- Load Faster (Reducing Bounce Rate %)
- Fix Broken Links & Error Pages
- Maintain Website Functionality Across All Devices
What is On-Site SEO?
On-Site SEO tasks look to improve elements on the website including the content and the source code of the page in order to help users & search engines easily understand the page content, determine which page is relevant for each search query and to provide search engine crawlers the right signals.
Historically, using keywords frequently and in specific locations on the website was on the focus of on-site SEO. Each year though, Search Engines like Google are getting more complex, and are understanding the intent behind the content (by looking at keyword strings, synonyms and other aspects of the page). On-Site SEO now needs to have a clear focus, with the aim of solving or answering the search query from the viewpoint of the user. Content now is less about what words you use and more about understanding the user intent behind the query. High quality on-site SEO should cover off the following criteria:
- Created Detailed Content
- Written content should be thorough in nature, providing a full understanding of the topic and comprehensively answering the query
- Ideally content should be around 1,800 words
- User Friendly
- Make sure content is easily readable
- Is written in a logical format
- Broken out in the headings & subheadings
- Captivating Content
- Consider using Images, Videos & Graphics
- Users consume content in different ways, so don’t shut them out
- Helps to break up long paragraphs and keeps users captivated
- Create Unique Content
- Find areas where content from other websites is thin or lacking
- Make sure it is still relevant to the website
- Make sure there is search volume for the queries
- Always think of the user
- Always keep the user experience at the forefront when creating content
- Find and develop new ways to improve user experience
What is Off-Site SEO?
Off-Site SEO are techniques that are used externally to the website with the aim of improving the authority in the relevant industry, social perceived value & search results ranking. The primary focus of off-site SEO is to build reputable backlinks to a website, but this isn’t the only form of off-site SEO that needs to be actioned. Other areas need to be addressed including building a social media following (which can lead to user generated content), developing customer reviews, and responding to public complaints & reviews.
Google is always refining their algorithms that determine the search results page and gives the best experience for the user. One of the components that Google uses to preference reputable websites is by looking at the total amount and quality of references they have, these references are in the form of links from other websites and are called “Backlinks”. The higher the number of quality backlinks, the higher a website is likely to rank.
Backlinks can come from a variety of sources, including, natural links from users who are already aware of the website and share on their own website or blog, links from direct outreach; sharing your content directly with specific website requesting to be linked in an existing or future article, guest blogging; writing an article about your industry or a specific topic on a different website including links to relevant products or categories.
Getting quality backlinks can be one of the hardest aspects of SEO. The focus of websites should be on creating the best content possible, as this will give the greatest chance for natural backlinks.