Pitcher Partners Melbourne strategy and digital practice lead Terrence Teh discusses why making SEO a priority this year is key.
During COVID-19, the search engine has become hugely important to businesses who sell – it is the inspiration for 43% of online shoppers in Australia.
At the same time, Google’s search algorithm is constantly being updated.
eCommerce businesses that have neglected search engine optimisation (SEO) risk losing ground against their competitors.
That means instead of ranking high for a key product or service, business leaders could find their brand positioned beyond page two of Google search results, making it almost ‘invisible’ to the 9.2 million Australian households who are shopping online.
Searching for what you need using Google is now almost instinctive. Most people think that the search engine simply does its thing and there’s nothing that can be done about it.
But by understanding the motivations behind customer search intents, businesses can come out on top, and a few simple treatments can brighten up the health of sales.
Reaching pole position for searches
eCommerce continues to power ahead in Australia, yet some businesses find that online sales are flattening and products are not moving as well as they should.
Not being optimised for searches is very common – it may not have been a priority amid ongoing lockdowns and with the rapid rise of digital transformation, getting the supply chains, delivery lines and online user experience perhaps took precedence.
Pre-pandemic, there might have been only a handful of businesses that specialise in selling, for example, headphones online.
But with eCommerce the only way to trade during lockdowns, search engines may have found that the number of search results have increased twenty-fold.
This means there is a lot more competition than before.
So Google has to work out where best to direct the searcher and it is looking for the company that is the authority on headphones.
Yes, if you buy advertising space, you will appear at the top of Google. But you don’t necessarily have to take that route with a carefully planned SEO strategy.
SEO is understanding your customer’s search intent and improving the visibility of your business’s website in the right way to capture customers.
Business leaders usually understand the importance of search traffic but may not be aware about the tools available for the optimisation part of the equation.
Keyword stuffing is stuffed
Previously, people could put up a really bad website but load it with the right keywords – to continue with the headphones analogy, websites would pack in as many words about headphones as possible, as well as any other popular search terms.
In the beginning, it worked and those pages saw good ranking results on Google.
This became known as one of many ‘black-hat’ SEO practices, where agencies or businesses tried to take advantage of how the search engine works.
Nowadays, you can still employ this tactic, but Google has enough smarts in its algorithm to know when you’re doing it and – more critically – penalise you for it by lowering or removing the website from its search results.
For today’s search engine, content is king. Keywords are still important but only when embedded in high quality content that draws people in and keeps them engaged.
In Google’s eyes, a brand is seen as an expert when it can demonstrate its relevance in answering a customer search intent.
That’s when your business becomes relevant in the world of search.
Understanding what people are searching for and knowing how to answer or solve their questions is a critical success factor in SEO.
Google rewards websites that produce content – be it word, video, audio – that website visitors take the time to digest.
The Google algorithm looks at over 200 different variables – the trouble for most of us is that no one outside of Google really knows how this algorithm works with these variables.
However, there are approaches that allow you to better inform yourself on what you should do to optimise for search. And it starts with understanding how you rank today and what drives traffic to your digital channel.
The power of healthy SEO to kick goals
With the right strategy, SEO can deliver big results.
We recently worked with a fashion retailer, who sold a broad range of women’s clothing, on their goal to grow their overall number of prospects and customer base.
After reviewing the business, our team discovered untapped opportunities that stemmed from improving their search visibility.
Working closely with their digital team, we identified where they could be more relevant in searches for dresses, pants and jackets.
Our analysis revealed specific keywords that people were using, so their digital content could be optimised to give answers to the questions that were being asked.
As we begin this new year, make it a resolution to get the SEO health of your business checked.
It could be just the tonic your online sales need to make it a happy new year.