Search engine optimization (SEO) is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s one of the most coveted acquisition channels, with the power to boost brand visibility and bring thousands more qualified leads to your site — all at a lower price tag than many other marketing channels.
For your DTC store, SEO is paramount. Here’s a crash course on why it’s important and how to get started ASAP.
Why does your DTC brand need SEO?
Ongoing organic traffic – Unlike ads that require you to cough up money to continue generating traffic, SEO always works in the background and continuously brings in visitors long after you publish a post.
Greater brand visibility – Effective SEO translates into higher rankings on Google’s search result pages. This means more Google users will be able to find you when they search for products or services like yours.
Higher quality leads – By targeting the right keywords and phrases, you can engage readers with a clear need for your products. Your content can further nurture leads by demonstrating your industry expertise and winning customer trust.
How to get started with SEO in 5 steps
1) Understand the core principles of an SEO strategy
Before you jump into creating content, you need to understand that SEO isn’t a “set it and forget it” strategy. Search engines like Google constantly update their algorithms to better predict user intent, and to surface the most relevant results for any query.
You’ll have to evaluate your SEO performance regularly and analyze various factors, including:
- On-page SEO – This involves aspects like your keyword, alt text, meta description, and meta title. Each of these factors are within your control and are crawled by Google to determine the purpose of your page
- Off-page SEO – This includes (but isn’t limited to) backlinks, social shares, and other signals Google monitors outside of your site. They serve as proof that other sites and people find your content reliable.
- Technical SEO – This involves page speed, mobile friendliness, and other factors that help search engines access and interpret your page.
You’ll have to make room within your strategy to strengthen each of these factors and maximize your chances of ranking.
2) Define your target audience
SEO strategy starts with a clear understanding of who you want to engage. This serves as the basis for any keywords and blog topics you decide to include.
For instance, say you sell beauty supplies. You could create content for a range of audiences, including teenagers, adults, professional makeup artists, and others. What you talk about and how will vary drastically depending on which segment you choose. The more specific you are when defining your audience, the better.
Once you hone in on your audience, you can more accurately anticipate questions to address in your content and appeal to both the logical and emotional needs of your reader.
3) Audit your site and address any issues
Google appreciates a site with a positive user experience. Between fast load times and good site architecture, Google will check that your site is easy to navigate and doesn’t cause “pogo sticking” behaviors (aka, high bounce rates).
To stand a chance at ranking, your site has to load seamlessly, work well on mobile devices, have no broken links, and check off other vital boxes. After all, you don’t want to go through the effort of creating great content only to be down-ranked because of your site performance.
4) Select your keywords
Back in the day, you could get by using the same keyword over and over again in your content. Nowadays, this tactic is called “keyword stuffing,” and you actually hinder yourself by fixating on one search term.
While keywords are important, you should also include long-tail and related keywords in your blog. Google now uses natural language processing (NLP) to identify semantically related words, and to distinguish high-quality content from shoddy, shallow content. By using natural language, you can clearly demonstrate your expertise in the field.
Pay attention to search intent too. Just because someone searches for “running” doesn’t mean they’re looking to buy a new pair of kicks. He or she could be researching tips on how to train for a marathon, or looking for a song called “Runnin.” Be careful not to make assumptions. Take the time to Google your keyword and see what appears on the first page. Do the top results relate to your brand and/or products?
5) Create content consistently
Creating content is half the battle; keeping it up is another story. It’s easy to lose steam after several months of weekly blogging. So, you’ll want to establish a publishing schedule early on that you can commit to.
Don’t force yourself to churn out 10 blog posts a week. Instead, commit to a realistic writing schedule, or hire a freelancer to help you produce fresh content regularly.
Pro tip: Focus on evergreen content if you’re a smaller team, i.e., write about topics that have a long shelf life (how-tos are a great place to start). You’d also benefit from establishing topic clusters, or several umbrella topics you consistently write about and for which you produce sub-articles you can interlink.
Remember to set aside time to refresh old pieces, as well as actively promote your content to land as many eyes on your content as possible.
Wrapping up: Leverage the power of SEO
Few channels can measure up to the long-lasting, cost-effective value of SEO. Start leveraging it so you can reap the benefits both now and well into the future.