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SEO Best Practices
SEO Best Practices

How to improve your web page's search results

When potential customers go online to find products like those you offer, browsers such as Google will yield hundreds of search engine request pages (SERPs). But the page volume doesn't matter, because your prospective customers only have the time and patience to view the first three or four organic (non-ad) results. That's why it's imperative to use search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure your page is among the chosen first few.

SEO describes the tools and tactics used to maximize the attention your web page receives when internet users make search engine queries. Producing rich content with enticing keywords can boost your page toward the top of results. Here's how to do it.

Don't cheat

Trying to beat the system is just a waste of time, says Beth Silver, a New York City-based marketing and public relations consultant and president of Doubet Consulting.

"Google changes its algorithms all the time," says Silver. "Gimmicks like keyword stuffing might have worked years ago, but Google and other search engines have caught on and often reject pages with poor content." The goal is to inform and engage, so you must work harder to provide valuable content and ensure no one regrets landing on your page.

Provide rich content and a positive user experience

Rich media content ranks highest, says Doug Karr, CEO of DK New Media. His multimedia content might include a link to a YouTube product demonstration video or multiple images with captions. This is easy to create if your site includes a product catalog. You're already imbedding photos and videos to display your work, or to demonstrate a creation process that can be done easily and inexpensively.

Consider every word

Avoid the buzzwords that mean so much to you, but not much to most of your prospective customers, says Silver. Make your language about what the customer will be asking for, rather than what you provide. "'How to' is a great keyword phrase because it's a common way people make search engine queries," says Karr. "They're looking for information on how to do something."

Karr cites Angie's List for its SEO success with pages that contain language such as, 'How to fix a broken toilet seal,' because that's exactly what people want to know. Silver advises being very specific with your language. "Don't say that you make jewelry. Tell your customers that you provide 'handcrafted jewelry' or 'handmade stacking rings,'" she says.

Search engine users know that if they ask questions that are too broad, they'll get too many off-topic responses. The narrower they can focus their query, the quicker they'll find exactly what they want. To help you identify effective key words, plug in a term at and see how often it comes up. The site also provides alternative options. While Wordtracker is a premium site, you can try it for free before joining.

Go in depth

According to Karr, the top-ranked SERP in most queries come in at about 1,800 words. That's a high word count, and it might not be necessary for your photo-rich catalog pages. But the point is that Google algorithms prefer substance. Whether the page is a blog post or product descriptions, address the topic fully. Karr suggests providing interesting bonus material such as additional uses for the crafts you're selling, or placing your work in its historical context. If you're making dolls in the pioneer style popular in the 1850s, tell your readers about that.

This advice may seem to clash with another thing we know about internet users — they can be intimidated by long copy. As the so-called experts often say, "no one reads." But that's not always the case. Copy can intimidate, but only if it's a long, tedious-looking block of words. Instead, make your copy look inviting.

  • Include photos, video clips or other visual content to entice the eye.
  • Break up copy blocks into easy-to-digest paragraphs, and use subheads, subsections, bullets and other ways of parceling out information in a user-friendly fashion.
  • Consult an artist or use your own instincts to choose an appealing font and make other page design decisions to engage the reader.

Freshen up

Don't let your web pages grow stale, advises Karr. How often have you read a blog post and been instantly turned off by obsolete pop culture references or invitations to make a yuletide holiday purchase in March? "Think of your content as a library," says Karr. "You can freshen up and republish old articles by adding new photos or videos and updating the content."

Track your analytics

How are you doing? Google and other sites have a number of free and low-cost tools for tracking your efforts in drawing visitors. Start with Google Analytics.

Optimize your tags

Descriptive content associated with the page includes title tags, header tags, alt tags and blog post tags. All of these page elements use keywords, but many are considered less important to the algorithm than they once were. Here's a useful website for finding out how these tags are used and their relative importance for search engine optimization.

The first step to selling your products is to attract an online audience. Spend some time with SEO, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the new visitors your site attracts.

Key tips and takeaways

  • Choose your SEO wording carefully and be as specific as possible.
  • Make your website copy visually engaging by using images, bullet points and subheadings.
  • Keep all sites and social media outlets up to date.
  • Track site visits using tracking software, and make SEO adjustments where necessary.

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