Five Steps for Effective SEO

SEO Concept. Poster on Old Paper in Flat Design with Long Shadows.

You have hired the right team to design and build your website. You’ve spent countless hours making sure your product or service is the best it can. Then it hits you – how are you current and potential customers going to find out about you and what you have to offer?

For e-commerce businesses, one common answer is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Everyone has heard of it, but not everyone knows how to use it or how it works. So we here at Shoppost thought it would be important to give you some tips and tools for making SEO work for you and your business.

  1. Define Your Keywords

What words and phrases are you customers likely to use if they were searching for you? Brainstorm your list, then research how often those terms surface. Find keywords that are searched by lots of people and those that are unique to your business. It is best to avoid much industry jargon since much of your customer base may not even know it, that is, of course, unless you are targeting people in your industry!. This is the list that we are going to be using for visible and invisible pages. Also, consider any words that could have to do with your company’s geographic area. For great tools to come up with needed keywords, you can use Soovle or Wordtracker.

  1.  Visible Pages

You have your keywords, now let’s start using them. The first place to try them out is on visible pages, or pages that will be read by your potential customers. You should really think about how you want visitors to navigate through your website and learn from it. Placing keywords in your headlines and subheadlines is a great place to start. Further, focus on what you are placing in the first paragraph, since that just may get picked up by search engines. If location is important to your business, then create a unique page for each area your business serves. For more detailed information, check out the Google starter guide.

  1.  Invisible Pages

These types of pages aren’t typically aren’t seen by people, but they certainly are by search engines. There are typically places inside the HTML code to add this type of information and make it more searchable. Write this content as if it were a headline and use natural language while being accurate. This content is generally placed in two different tags, meta title and meta description. Title is used to briefly describe what is on the pages of your website and description explains what your site is all about.

  1.  Use images for search engines to see

Search engines search for images too, and can be much more effective if they are tagged correctly. You can add alt and title tags to your images. These are tags that live in your HTML code and are an effective way of telling search engines the topic of the page, giving it a boost in their rankings. Once those tags are added, be sure to describe what’s in the picture as well as adding a caption, which is the text that is seen right below the image.

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  1.  Review and more

Now that all your tagging is done and the keywords and phrases have been added to your website, it’s time to start tracking your results. What you are aiming at is organic growth, which is when a potential customer finds your site using just a keyword search. Organic growth can be extremely valuable to your business as it is the result of people who are genuinely interested in what your business is offering. You can use Google Analytics to to track your clicks over time. If you have more questions on metrics,  check out our previous posts  metrics which you can find here.

As was mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are a lot of steps to take towards making your website optimized for search. But if you take the time to focus and understand each step highlighted above, then you will be well on your way to making SEO work for you.

If you are interested in learning more about common tools to use for SEO, this blog post from the Search Engine Journal is a great read and will easily get you up to date quickly.

Analytics 101: The Shoppost Dashboard

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In the last blog post I wrote I gave an overview of the types of metrics that are important to running your business and how you should read them. In this post I am going to get much more specific and talk about the metrics that we collect when you use Shoppost. Those metrics can be found on our dashboard when you log into Shoppost. The metrics we will be going over include social interactions, referral traffic, and where you visitors are coming from.

Become more social

02-social-reactions-310x450Socials interactions show the number of views, shares, likes, tweets, and pins that your Shoppost are getting after you have posted them on each network. This answers the question “Where am I having the most impact?” Combining this data with the data you are receiving from Facebook Ads will open a treasure trove of unique insights. For example, after posting a new product using Shoppost, you may see that you are having more interactions with Facebook. When you look at the data you may find that a few of your customers are sharing your post and thereby giving you an even greater reach. It’s this type of data that will give you a leg up to where you’re having the greatest success. And more success will lead us to our next important topic.

Referrals

Your goal should be to have the shares lead to referrals, which is when your customers see your Shoppost and click on the buy button. Your goal of running a business is to obviously make sales and making sure you have continuous referral traffic is key. The dashboard also shows where most of your referrals are coming from so you better target your customers. 03-referrals-510x864

Armed with this information, you can find better ways to increase the quality of each customer visit which will hopefully lead to more sales, create a higher rapport between your customers and your brand, and target returning and new customers with your Google and Facebook Ad campaigns.That sure may seem like a lot of effort to get one customer to make a purchase, but the end result is well worth it.

Geolocation

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Finally, the dashboard shows the geographic location of your customers and what type of devices they are using. Geo-location can give you a better idea as to where the majority of your customers are located and buying your products. Maybe you find that the most of your customers are in a specific region, this information could help to find some new customer leads. Now that you know where your customers are you can create custom advertising campaigns targeted to people in that area. There are all kinds of creative ways to use geolocation such as flash sales that only work for a specific region, or custom coupons to be sent to potential customers in that area. The bottom line is that businesses that embrace geolocation create new opportunities to reach customers in creative ways and even improve how their business runs.

Understanding the metrics of your business is one of the big keys to growing your business successfully. Knowing who your target market is, where they are, and how they are engaging with you your social presence and purchasing your products is an incredibly powerful tool to have at your fingers. And the Shoppost analytics dashboard is a powerful resource to have at your fingertips.

Customer Spotlight: Jon Allen Arts

Occasionally you meet a person that has a uniquely beautiful perspective paired with equally beautiful talent. Jon Allen is one of these rare humans. I was moved when I saw his online gallery of gorgeous metal sculptures. I knew he would have a wealth of good insight on how to monetize your passions and share joy. He is not only a brilliant artist but a hardworking entrepreneur. His simple and honest philosophy:

Art exists as an intangible theory when hands are idle; only an engaged hand can visually exchange the theory to others. – Jon Allen.

Q: What type of products do you sell?

A:  I sell my original metal artwork. Every piece is handcrafted. I make metal wall art in an array of sizes, colors and themes. We also have indoor-outdoor abstract sculptures that have been very popular as well as wall clocks. Recently, I’ve debuted some of my fine paintings as well and we’ll have a plethora of new items available in the new year that I’m really excited to share like beautiful jewel tone tables and fusions with wood & other organic materials I’ve been working with.

Q: What is your most successful Shoppost?

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 11.55.30 AMA: Shopposts are a great way to get instant feedback on an item so that in and of itself makes it successful for me. Regardless of whether those reactions happen to translate to sales instantly, I find value in the reaction itself. If something gets several likes and re-tweets, I know I’m heading in the right direction with something. My most successful Shoppost to date was probably a new gallery painting I debuted.

Q: How does social commerce fit into your overall strategy?

A: Social commerce is important to me now and I think it will only continue to be more so in the future. An online presence stopped being an option for me a very long time ago and I feel like social shopping is just the next logical progression. The marriage of social media and commerce has been a totally organic one for me and more importantly, for buyers. I think it’s as simple as us just delivering our message and content in the way that people want to receive it now and I will continue to evolve and adapt as technology and tastes do.

Q: What is your number one tip for successful social commerce?

A: My number one tip for successful social commerce is to always be yourself and remember that variety is the spice of life.

Red Ribbon Dancer from Jon Allen Art.

Q: How has Shoppost helped your success?

A: It’s an exciting new way for us to deliver information about and access to our items in a way that people are very comfortable receiving their information now. With Shoppost, we get to bring information to them in the social media channels our customers turned friends and potential new customers already finds their news, stay connected to their loved ones, and where they seek entertainment. Connecting with people on their turf on their terms is always a success because they’re a relaxed, open, and generally interested audience.

Q: What results did you see from using Shoppost?

A: We are relatively new at using Shoppost so I don’t have a lot of data to speak to the conversions, but so far it seems like an excellent way to attract more traffic. It’s an absolutely risk free way of potentially getting not just the piece at hand seen but my entire Etsy shop presented to a new audience.

Q: Any additional thoughts on social shopping?

A: What’s great about social shopping is that people can really get a sense of who they’re buying from. Purchasing art is already a unique buying experience by virtue of the fact that its art — it is obviously a very personal and subjective preference on the shopper’s end and it’s personal for me because I’m the one who conceived and crafted it. The potential buyer may already feel like they have a sense of something personal about me just based on the work itself. But beyond that, social shopping allows people to shop immersed in the context of who they’re buying from and I think that matters to people now more than ever before. You’re not just going to get to see a small thumbnail photo of me and get blasted with links to my work; you can also see how I interact with people and how I value those interactions. There are also insights and sneak peeks into my process on some of my social media posts that just seem so natural to have beside the opportunity to buy they very product you’ve seen me creating or working on. (And yes, you may also end up learning what my must see cat video of the moment is, but that’s just a bonus!)

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Shoppost Customer Spotlight: Trendy Baby Wearing

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of customer spotlights where we will highlight Shoppost users that are taking an innovative approach to social commerce. Enjoy! 

Every day we get inspired by our Shoppost users’ creativity and passion. We love seeing success stories of small businesses rising to the top. Recently, one of our Shoppost users, Barbara Reggio, founder of Trendy Baby Wearing, did just that. She started out with a passion and a clear vision to bring parents and babies closer together. Her zeal and enthusiasm drove her to create an online business selling Baby Slings, Baby Teethers and Wrap-Scrap Accessories that is thriving today. We wanted to know if she had any advice for other small businesses or tips for leveraging social media. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to ask our “baby wearing visionary” a few questions about her success.

Barbara Reggio, founder of Trendy Baby Wearing, showing off one of the many items available through her Shoppost

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Boost your sales during the holidays!

Are you prepared for the upcoming retail holiday season? Every year, online merchants get ready for the inevitable onslaught of customer orders on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. That may sound a bit scary, but fear not because Cyber Monday can help push merchants and online retailers into the black and create an extremely profitable holiday shopping season.

I’m going to give you some tips and tricks to help boost sales, but first let’s go through a rundown of some trends that happen during this time of the year.

Social media has a guaranteed impact on your holiday sales.

Social media has a guaranteed impact on your holiday sales.

Activity on Black Friday/Cyber Monday can be exhilarating with many merchants seeing an average increase of new orders by 135% in 2012 alone. This change is incredible and can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful year. You should also be prepared, provided you have great marketing and social strategy, to see revenue go up (average of 28%) and visits to your site increase too (average of 68%).

So what should you expect from Black Friday/Cyber Monday? On average, 48.9% of your customers will be expecting free shipping and 31.9% will want coupons for all of your merchandise. And remember, it has also been forecast that e-commerce sales will increase by 14% over the five year period of 2012 – 2017. That is a huge increase in sales and no doubt social commerce will play a huge roll in this impact on the bottom line.

So, how do you take advantage of the extra traffic and potential new customers? Here are the top ways to utilize social commerce to boost sales this holiday season sales.

‘Tis the season for social

Make your content easy to share quickly, especially since just 1% of your audience can drive up to 10-20% of your online traffic. And Shoppost makes the sharing from anywhere even easier and when your customers share your content, your visibility increases. And the visibility increases to people who have the potential to be new customers.

Make your sales easily sharable and trackable.

Make your sales easily sharable and trackable.

Keyword research and selection for your brand must be carefully used along with your SEO strategy. Convert more customers by offering coupons or other incentives through your targeted  campaign. Remember, many of your customers may be expecting deals on many of your products or services and creating coupons can enable direct targeting of your customers even further. One absolutely fantastic resource for creating this type of campaign is Facebook Advertising which you can use to boost your Shopposts.

Social retargeting toward your brand advocates and influencers will boost the awareness of your products a great deal. Many key influencers are early adopters who can help spread the word of your brand and products to a great majority of potential customers. Knowing who they are and targeting them specifically will increase your chances of getting your brand known. And this is especially important right before the holidays.

Making certain that your overall experience is optimized for mobile is a vital aspect of ensuring that your traffic is converting. In one day, Alibaba sold $9.3 billion in merchandise. The company noted that of those purchases, it had shipped 278 million orders — 43% of which were placed on mobile devices.

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Having a mobile-optimized experience is vital for holiday success.

Using a mobile-optimized website, ensuring that your shopping cart and checkout interfaces function well on mobile devices and minimizing the steps to get from product page to checkout will all help avoid shopping cart abandonment. And that’s where Shoppost comes into play. The content you share through shoppost is able to function an all mobile devices because it is browser based and it provides a streamlined checkout process.

Finally, be sure to measure, analyze, and optimize your results. Having a trusted analytics platform set up so you can understand who are you are reaching, when you are reaching them, where they are located, what strategies are working, and why your campaigns are or are not working is incredibly important for a successful campaign. Shoppost also offers it’s own detailed social analytics so you can better track where you are making the right conversions using social media.

The holidays can be a time of immense pressure and stress for merchants, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Having the correct strategies in place and knowing where you are targeting your potentially new customers will help your brand survive both Black Friday and Cyber Monday successfully.

The 5 Must-Have Apps On Shopify For SMBs to Drive Sales

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As a SMB owner you already know that it’s important to reach your customers where they are – online. Remember when buying things online was actually considered a novelty and “cool”? Now, everyone can buy anything from luxury items to toilet paper right in the comfort of their living rooms.

For retailers like you, this means that it’s more important than ever to make sure you’ve established a strong presence online to capture the attention of your potential customers and drive sales. You might think, “Sure, I know all of that, but how do I actually do it?” Well, believe it or not, establishing an online store is actually pretty easy with the help of online platforms like Shopify

Shopify is an easy-to-use e-commerce platform designed to help small businesses set up a webstore. What’s great about Shopify is there’s no programming involved It does it all for you which allows you to focus on what you like most in the first place – be that making homemade jam, customized jewelry or cool t-shirts. You can use Shopify to manage all aspects of your shop: uploading products, customizing the design, accepting credit cards, and viewing their incoming orders and completed transactions.

Another cool thing about Shopify is its expansive app store, which offers a wide variety of tools designed to enhance your online presence, reach more customers and grow your business. Here are the top 5 free apps to help you drive sales online:

1. Product Reviews
Did you know that 90 percent of customers say that positive online reviews influenced their buying decisions? Retail giant Amazon.com definitely got this right! If your customers like your products, they’re happy to tell others about it – therefore, it’s important that you capture all those good things! Produced by Shopify, this app allows you to easily add product reviews to your store, giving you a great way to engage with your customers to gauge their feedback, and in turn, encourage sales from new customers once they see how other people are with your products.

2. Plug-in SEO
A good SEO strategy helps your business be less of a needle in a haystack. Since a good portion of online product discovery comes from Google searches, you need to make sure your online store is optimized. This plug-in checks your store’s homepage SEO automatically on a regular basis, so you wouldn’t have to spend time doing manual checks and focus instead on actually improving your site.

3. Shoppost
We spend 114 billion minutes a month on Facebook in the U.S. alone, which isn’t too surprising given how fun it is to keep up with friends and interesting things on social media. Everyone from your best friend to your mom is using social media– and that includes your customers. Since they’re there already, shouldn’t your products be there, too? Shoppost allows retailers to easily sell their products in Facebook’s newsfeed via an interactive post. It turns your Facebook followers’ newsfeeds into a virtual “window shopping” experience, not to mention it’s free, easy-to-use and makes the selling process as easy as post, shop and done. Go ahead and give it a try!

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4. Chimpified by MailChimp
Email marketing is a common (and not to be overlooked) way to engage with your customers on a regular basis. As consumers, we’re used to receiving email offers, coupons and promotions from big retailers like Nordstrom and Macys Chimpified makes it easy for SMB to level the playing field with larger retailers via email. With this app, you can create targeted email campaigns based on buying behaviors to promote your store, notify them of special offers and promotions, or send recommendations to customers based on their purchases.

5. RetailTower
Now that your Shopify store is up and running, how do you get more people to check it out? RetailTower provides integration between your store and shopping comparison engines; it automates feed submission the popular shopping engines such as Google, Amazon, Bing, TheFind and more. In other words, people can find your products even if they are not searching for your site. Reaching more prospective shoppers is now a piece of cake.

Do you have other favorite apps on Shopify? Let us know!

The Pay-for-Play Social Revolution: What SMBs Need to Know

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More brands and more people are posting on social media. Facebook has more than 1.28 billion monthly active users, while Twitter has 255 million. You do the quick math – with that many users posting and sharing potentially multiple times a day, it’s no wonder it’s harder than ever for SMBs to connect with their target audience via social media. However despite that proliferation of content, these channels are making it easier – and more affordable – for SMBs to get their posts and tweets seen by the right people.

What is Paid and Why Should You Care?

Social media marketing strategies fall into three channels: owned, earned and paid. Owned channels are your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc. These are the channels were you share your content and your message. When social media usage was in its infancy, it was easy for a brand to set up a profile and share content – and have it seen organically. If people really liked the content, it would earn the attention of followers and potentially go viral, or capture the attention of media, who then wrote about it. Because the adoption and usage of social media channels have grown so much, there’s increased competition for attention – this is where paid comes in.

Ever wonder why you see posts from brands every day, while others you never see? Paid helps your posts and content be seen. It’s no longer enough to just produce great content – you need to put a little money behind it to ensure you stand out among the baby pictures and BuzzFeed articles users friends are posting. And it’s not that hard to do with self-service platforms designed with SMBs in mind. All you need is a little money (budget is up to you), an image and ad copy, and a link to where you’re interested in driving traffic.

How do you get started?

1. Got goals?: Is your objective to grow engagement on your social channels? Or drive someone to your webpage? Once you figure out what your ultimate goal is, you’ll be able to come up with a tactical strategy to help you reach your objective.

2. What’s your strategy?: The best paid social media programs employ a mix of tactics across Facebook and Twitter. In a Mashable article, HipLogiq CTO and cofounder Adam Root explains: “My strategy is to use Twitter to gain new users, Facebook to build a community. My logic in choosing this strategy is that Twitter is a good medium for targeting moments and encouraging action, Facebook is a great medium for building long-term relationships…”

Keep in mind, Facebook and Twitter offer a few different types of paid social media options –advertisements or promoted posts. Your strategy (and the types of social media paid options you employ) will be influenced by your ultimate goal. If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of social media buys you can execute on these platforms, check out this an easy to understand tutorial from Facebook and this guide from Twitter.

3. Who are you trying to reach?: One of the best parts about paid is that it ensures that the right people are seeing the right content. Going into your campaign, you need to know exactly who you want to reach – even down to the geographic location. Because social media users are sharing a lot of personal information on these sites, it’s easy to ensure that someone who is interested in craft beer in Seattle is able to see your promoted post or promoted Tweet about craft beer in Seattle.

4. Get creative with your content: If you’re going to do a social media paid buy, you’ll need some creative content. The type of creative content you need will be influenced by your strategy, but you’ll need to make sure that the images, text and links you’re utilizing will be relevant for your audience(s). For example, an image of someone running in New York City, won’t resonate if your target audience is runners in San Diego.

If you opt to promote a post or Tweet (vs. execute a social ad), all you’ll need is a link to the piece of content and some text that you would use for an update.

5. Advertise away!: Once your strategy and audience is defined, your ads can be up and running in 2-3 days via Facebook or Twitter’s self-serve platform. You can look in real-time to see how your paid buys are performing and what is resonating with your target audience. Something didn’t land well? That’s okay – you can easily re-allocate your budget to a new ad or post that you know your audience would be interested in based on how the rest of your campaign is performing.

Does your SMB have a paid social media strategy? How are you using it to grow your owned channels?