What is SEO, and Why Is It Important?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a popular topic among retailers today—and it should be. Simply put, SEO is the process of optimizing websites so that they rank prominently on search engine results pages (SERPs), without paying for online advertising or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads.
Unlike PPC investments, SEO for retailers is a long-term, inexpensive growth tactic. According to HubSpot, PPC has its benefits (e.g., offering quick results, highlighting time-sensitive products/services, and directing people to a sales or landing page). But SEO is a strong option for retailers who have a small marketing budget, want to build brand authority, are looking for future dividends, and want to create content that reaches the intended audience “at different stages of the sales funnel.” With an effective SEO strategy, retailers can reach the billions of people who search for products and services online every day.
Such organic exposure increases website traffic, and more qualified traffic increases the likelihood of turning seekers into buyers. Over time, ranking highly on search engines—especially on Google, which currently holds 91.56% of the search engine market—benefits retailers by:
- Increasing their credibility.
- Enhancing their ability to compete with eCommerce powerhouses (e.g., Amazon).
- Enabling them to offer a seamless omnichannel commerce
- Eliminating the struggle to find customers.
- Giving them a loyal online following.
For retailers operating brick-and-mortar stores in addition to their websites, online loyalty can translate into greater in-store traffic.
Where to Begin with SEO
Clearly, there are many benefits to SEO. But knowing how to begin may pose a challenge. Below are a few SEO fundamentals to help retailers get started.
- Ensure all marketing, sales, development, and design team members are on board. As with any big project, it’s imperative that every person understands why the project is happening, how it will benefit the business, and why their commitment is necessary to its success.
- Boost search results by learning how search engines work. Search engines exist to help users find information. They sort and categorize web content through three functions: crawling, ranking, and indexing. Crawling is a search engine’s method of finding new and revised content from webpages, videos, etc. Ranking finds content that most closely matches a person’s query. (Google uses constantly updated Search Algorithms to rank websites.) And indexing stores the retrieved content.
- Understand each search engine’s SEO guidelines. Search engines advise businesses about how to best set up their websites for visibility. For example, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines recommend that businesses keep a simple URL structure, qualify outbound links, avoid creating duplicate content, and make links crawlable—among other suggestions. They also provide content-specific and quality guidelines.
- Before implementing an SEO action plan, decide which platforms and metrics will measure success. Every business has different goals for its site, such as tracking conversion rates and time spent on pages. But, for SEO, the main objective is ranking highly on SERPs. Google Search Console is one tool that can help businesses improve their performance by measuring traffic, fixing issues, and analyzing website positions on Google’s SERPs.
From here, there are further SEO basics that will help retailers set up their sites for SEO success. These include target keywords, on-page optimizations, and technical requirements.
Keywords: How to Find the Right Terms for a Site
Keywords are the words or phrases people use to search for products, services, or information. Finding the right keywords isn’t difficult, but retailers must take a few crucial steps to discover which keywords will benefit them the most.
First, retailers must know who their target customers are, what those customers are looking for, how many are searching for the same product/service, and what words or phrases they’re plugging into search engines. Often, this part of the process is simplified because retailers’ marketing teams already have this information.
Retailers can then enter the words/phrases from their target audiences into keyword research tools, like Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends, which measure search volume per keyword.
Once they know which keywords they should use when producing content, retailers can move forward to on-page optimizations.
Optimizing a webpage for target keywords comes with a few dos and don’ts.
- Do create high-value content (informative, detailed, specific).
- Do seamlessly add keywords to content, making readability a priority.
- Do include the main keyword in the content’s title tag, meta description, H1 tag, and at least one alt text image tag.
- Don’t duplicate content across the site.
- Don’t assume that keywords take precedence over engaging, valuable content.
Following these guidelines will help retailers optimize their sites for SEO.
Technical SEO Support for Retailers
Finally, SEO for retailers is only possible if businesses consider the technical demands of SEO. From creating the website and purchasing the domain to setting up the web hosting service, the development team contributes much to a company’s SEO plan. This team’s technical SEO support includes optimizing website loading speeds (a big factor in SEO success), ensuring a user-friendly mobile experience (a big factor in search engine rankings), sizing website images for best viewing, and more.
How Acumatica Can Help
In today’s digital world, retailers who have not yet applied an SEO strategy are overlooking an inexpensive marketing plan that reaps major dividends. And retailers who are not relying on an eCommerce ERP system for their complex operations are missing out on a business management solution that integrates multiple, disconnected systems into a single source of truth.
Acumatica is just such an eCommerce ERP solution, and Josh Fischer—Acumatica’s Director of Product Management, Retail-Commerce—explains what retailers can expect when they implement our cloud ERP software. In addition to storing and managing customer data that is critical for SEO, retailers can use the platform to:
[I]mprove their customers’ omnichannel sales experiences, automate sales order and fulfillment processes, and enable continuity of operations by tightly integrating Acumatica’s Sales, CRM, Financials, Fulfillment, and Inventory applications with eCommerce solutions. These thorough, native integrations extend the Acumatica system, creating an automated omnichannel environment that produces optimal merchant and customer experiences.
To learn more about SEO for retailers, SEO fundamentals, and Acumatica itself, check out “In the Post-Covid World, SEO is Critical for Retailers” and “In-Store to Online: How SEO Supports the Omnichannel Retail Experience.”