No matter how good your bikes are, people won’t buy them if they can’t find you. Any business operating online needs to make sure that they are using competitive SEO strategies. This isn’t true just for bikes either. Every industry can benefit from developing solid SEO strategies.
SEO is what allows you to show up in a search engine. There are a lot of online bike retailers out there, only one can make it to the coveted top spot. If you aren’t in that spot you better be close to it. If you don’t appear on the first page of results at all then don’t expect many clicks.
But just knowing that SEO is important isn’t enough to develop an effective strategy. If we’re being completely upfront here the best thing you can do is hire an SEO specialist. Plenty of companies are out there that specialise in SEO and they can work wonders on a website. SEO services are included in our marketing services too.
Whether you do all SEO in house or outsource you’ll probably need to implement some changes as you develop your business. Sure you could keep outsourcing for each change but you’ll save a lot of money learning the basics yourself. And I want to be very clear, SEO can get very complicated. This is nothing but a handful of basic steps to follow.
Why Is SEO Important
SEO is how you get found online. It’s as simple as that. There are other ways, social media and PPC ads can drive a lot of traffic to your website. But neither of them will build it as cost effectively or sustainably as great SEO.
Great SEO allows your website to consistently show up in the top results for search engines. But not only that, once you build it the cost is over. At least if you’ve got the knowledge to keep it maintained. If you can reach the top result in a Google search it’s nearly free after the cost of implementation.
If you don’t appear in the top ten results you just don’t get the clicks you need. More than 85% of the organic clicks in searches happen in the first ten pages. Even within those top ten results there is a huge variation in CTR. The number one spot takes up 27.6% of the total clicks, ten times more than the number ten result.
So the most irritating thing about SEO is that it’s always changing. With Google being the default search engine for most people, SEO is geared towards Google’s algorithm. The problem with that is that they keep it a secret. The stated goal of keeping the algorithm secret is to stop people from gaming it to wind up higher in results than they deserve to be.
There are some negatives to the secretive nature of it, especially for small businesses but that’s something for another post.
Since the algorithm is secret you can never be sure what is really affecting your SEO or by how much. Not initially. Most SEO is built around experimentation. Changing small things and seeing how it affects site traffic. Inevitably this information gets shared around and it becomes common knowledge. Sometimes Google will give some insights into the process but most of the time it’s SEO professionals working it out through trial and error.
That would be fine. Everything would eventually be worked out and once you had something it would be there. Google has a habit of changing the algorithm though. Sometimes pretty drastically. This is important to stop companies gaming the system too. If they kept everything the same then it would be hard to move someone off a top spot.
It means you need to keep updated on when Google puts out an update. More importantly than that you need to keep up to date with SEO companies and what they’re saying about the update. If you’re doing DIY SEO you probably won’t have time to work it all out by trial and error so lean on the experts. Honestly I’ve known SEO professionals that will hire a bigger company after a big update just to get an idea.
Know Where You Stand
If you want to develop a strategy to improve your SEO it’s important to know where you stand already. You need to know how visible you are to see any improvement at all. And maybe more importantly if you make a mistake.
Like we already mentioned, SEO is trial and error. Even if you have a basic idea of what’s going to work it’s not 100%. You need to be able to see how that affects your numbers. If they’re going up you’re doing something right and if they’re dropping then you might have made a mistake.
It’s not only your website that you should be looking at though. Keep an eye on competitor websites. You won’t have the same amount of detail but you can see a few things. This gives you an idea of where you can grow and what percentage of your customers are going to what sites.
SEMrush has a great tool that can help you out with this. It’s not free but you can put in a couple of free requests to see how you like it before you subscribe.
On top of that you should make sure you have a search analytics set up. Google Analytics will let you track in depth data about your visitors. You can check out your site page by page and where your clicks are coming from.
Low Hanging Fruit
As much as the almighty algorithm is secret there are a few things that you can be sure of:
- Title length should be around 40-60 characters
- Meta description should be about 160 characters. And try to customise it instead of just using an excerpt. Naturally bring in your keywords.
- Keep your paragraphs and sentences concise. Try to keep sentences under 20 words.
- Make it personal. Use I and You instead of impersonal pronouns.
- Make sure you use subheadings. Count the words in this post. Are there more than three hundred words without a subheading break?
- If you can include at least one relevant link in blogposts.
- When it’s a page on your site try to include internal links to make it easier to navigate.
- SEO friendly content includes rich content. Images, infographics and videos.
Now none of this is going to shoot you into the top result. But it’s all pretty easy to do and it remains fairly constant. Sometimes the optimum number of characters might change but most of this is helping readability. There’s really no reason not to do any of this.
This is really the heart of SEO. Finding and implementing the right keyword. This is what customers will search to find you. Say for example “affordable electric bikes”, that’s something people are likely to search for. In the early days it was simple. Mention your keyword a lot. In fact some unscrupulous SEO specialists would match font and background colour and type a key word over and over.
The algorithm isn’t so easily fooled now. Rather than just picking a keyword and mentioning it as often as you can, it’s about matching user intention. So “affordable electric bikes” isn’t going to show up just because you mention it a lot if you’re not matching user intent to buy.
There is a problem with “affordable electric bikes” as a keyword though. It’s competitive. The more websites that are trying to trigger that keyword the harder it is going to be to rank in it. Now that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying to rank in but it shouldn’t be the whole strategy either.
When you’re performing keyword research you’re looking for a balance between high search rates and low competition. Start with a customer profile. Ask yourself what that person would search to find you. Once you have a list of keywords use a keywords researcher to check them out. SEMrush once again has a great tool for this but there’s plenty around. Have a look at what keywords you can rank in easily first. Low competition with some searches. You’ll be able to rank high in these fairly quickly with a good strategy. You want high volume high competition keywords too. But you’ll be spending more time and resources for better results.
This is where your strategy gets real. You’ve identified primary, secondary and tertiary keywords. All of your keywords should compliment each other. Think of the secondary keywords as backing up the primary. You aren’t just trying to rank for as many as possible.
Your primary keyword might be “affordable E-bikes” the same as before. So you’re writing a blog post based on the highest quality affordable E-bikes on the market. So what secondary keywords can you use? Well something like “commuter bike” or “stealth bike”. You could trigger keywords by separating affordable bikes into categories for example.
Naturally include a long tail keyword. These keywords are more specific and longer than regular keywords. So while “electric bike” is a keyword, “what is the best kind of electric bike for mountain biking?” is a long tail keyword. Include the answer to this question in a post and you’ve got a long tail keyword.
Beyond that you just need to bear in mind the low hanging fruit from earlier. Use rich media, include your keywords in the meta description, etc.. Once you do that you have SEO friendly content to bring traffic to your site.
The Most Important Thing For Your Content
When you’re focusing on developing the SEO of content it’s very easy to forget about the most important thing. Make sure your content is reader friendly. For the most part modern SEO fosters this, it rewards you for user friendly content.
Sometimes though you might be tempted to take a more technically friendly SEO route over more engaging content. Don’t. Making content your customers value is more important than what a search engine values.
There’s two reasons for this. First people are more likely to stay on your website and engage with it. The more users are engaging with your content the better you will rank. The second reason is that if you put valuable content out then people are more likely to link to it. Each link counts as a vote for your site. The more links you have back to you the more the algorithm considers you authoritative.
Set Realistic Expectations
This is the last piece of advice. Make sure you keep expectations realistic. SEO isn’t just a magic system to get you customers. It’s really effective when it’s done but there are still challenges to face. With the advent of things like Alexa there is a rise in no-click searches. These searches are just what they sound like searches with no clicks. That means no one actually ends up on your website.
Even without no click searches you are only going to get results based on your keywords. You might never make it to the top place on some keywords that are controlled by bigger companies. How often do you think Amazon gets knocked out of first place? It’s better to realise when you’re not going to have the resources early on and focus elsewhere. High traffic keywords are useless if you can’t beat the third spot.
Another thing to bear in mind is that it takes time. SEO is a slow process. How long exactly depends on your strategy, the size of your company and a bit of luck. You could notice a difference in weeks. It could take months. You’ll need to monitor the results of what you’re doing carefully to notice.
DIY SEO is difficult. But it’s not impossible. We really recommend using a marketing service. But it’s good to know what you’re doing too. It saves you having to run off to an agency anytime there’s problems. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO get in touch with us here.