Monday, June 2, 2014

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and How Can it Work for You?

When I started Purseonality by Mary last September, little did I know about how people would find my online shop. I knew that search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., existed and that they were sort of magical. You want to know something? Okay, just put your question or idea in the search bar.  Somehow it would magically appear with several articles on the first page of thousands to where you could get an answer. It was magical, right? Well, not exactly. 

It wasn't long after I started my shop that I began hearing about SEO in the Etsy forums. SEO?? What did that acronym stand for?  I had no idea so I asked. What I found out was SEO stood for Search Engine Optimization. This began a new learning experience for me and it's something I would like to share with others, especially those who have an online shop.

First of all, I'm going to assume tht everyone knows what a search engine is and does based on my earlier statements. So let's start by looking at the definition of optimization. According to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/optimization here is the definition.
World English Dictionary
1. (tr) to take the full advantage of
2. (tr) to plan or carr out an ecomonic activity with maximum efficiency
3. (intr) to be optimistic
4. (tr) to write ro modify (a computer program) to achieve maximum
efficiency in storage capacity, time, cost, etc
5. (tr) to find the best compromise among several often conflicting
requirements, as in engineering design



Therefore, search engine optimization is a way to help people search to find the information they want in the most efficient manner. In fact, it's like directions to get you from point A to point B on the computer highway. It's also the way potential customers find your online shop. Now that you have a very basic understanding of the definition of SEO, let's see how it can work for you.

Keywords 
These are words or phrases that people use in a search. Now remember that I said it was like directions that took you from one point to another. Well, there usually is more than one way of getting to your destination. Keywords are like your beginning points that will take you in several directions depending on wording you choose, but the final outcome will be the answer to your search. For example, I sell purses and scarves. Let's say you're looking for a special occasion purse. Now depending on how you would search, the results could vary a little. Suppose you use keywords phrases such as special occasion purse, evening purse, clutch purse, bridal purse, etc. The main keyword is purse, but the direction is takes depends on the other keywords in the phrase. The outcome is that you will find the perfect purse, preferably in my shop that you like and buy because I put in the right keyword phrases that led you to my shop and the sale.

So then you ask yourself, how do I know what keyword phrases to use that will let potential customers to my shop?  Many on Etsy will say that you need to think like a shopper. Well, that's one way, but that can be a hit or miss. There is better way. The most important way, and probably a little time consuming, is to do some research. One way to research is to put keyword phrases into the search engine search bar see the number of results related to those keyword phrases. If you have an Etsy shop, you can do this as well using the Etsy search bar. You can also look at what keywords other shops, who are on the first page of revelancy, are using as well. This being said, I tend to be a bit more lazy. I use Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This is a free tool, but you have to sign up for an account in order to use it. Google Adwords Keyword Planner takes a little time to learn, but well worth it because it takes all the guessing out of the equation. Here's a tutorial on how to use it.
Google Adwords Keyword Planner
1. Go to http://adwords.google.com/ and make an Google account (it's free) or sign in f you already have one.
2. Go to the TOOL tab and drop down to KEYWORD PLANNER
3. Go to SEARCH FOR NEW KEYWORD AND GROUP IDEAS 
4 Go down to the third box that says PRODUCT CATEGORY and put in your product or follow the subcategories.
5. Go to the first box YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE and enter in any ideas you have for your item. You must hit enter after each idea.
6. Go to TARGETING and click on Google if you want Google and Search Partners
7.
 (Optional) Then go to the gray box that says KEYWORD OPTIONS and click on the pencil icon. Turn on the top option that says "Only show ideas closely related to my search terms".

8. Then click on the blue box that says GET IDEAS.

You will then see 2 tabs. The first one AD GROUP IDEAS gives you keyword phrases and their average monthly searches and subcategories. The second one KEYWORD IDEAS show you all the ideas you entered and a general monthly search averages.

Don't worry about the Competition (low, medium, high) as it only pertains to businesses paying for Google ads.

Also up at the top of the page you will see your product or service ideas (all the ideas you entered for your item(s). To the right you can MODIFY SEARCH. When you click on that, it will bring you back to your original ideas so you can eliminate or add more ideas.


Multiple Keyword Phrases
The difference between a keyword and a multiple keyword phrase is simple. A keyword is just that--a single word like purse or scarf. A multiple keyword phrase has more then one word, hence phrase. Examples are black purse, black clutch purse, black evening clutch purse, etc. Although single keywords bring huge search results every month, it's not usually beneficial to the small online shop. It''s like being a small fish in a very big ocean. Your shop would get lost. Therefore using multiple keyword phrases helps by narrowing down the search and allowing your shop to be found.

Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are really specific phrases, sentences or questions people use in a search to achieve specific results. They most likely have at least 4-5 words in the phrase. For instance, black purse would be considered a multiple keyword phrase. However if that phrase was expanded to black evening clutch purse, then that would be classified as a long tail keyword.

From a marketing perspective, more and more people seem to be using this type of search. I know I do. In addition, people who use long tail keywords most likely know what they want and don't want to waste any valuable time uselessly searching the internet. Therefore it's important that online shops incorporate long tail keywords in our listing titles and descriptions.  

As you can see, keyword phrases are very important. Just remember that a single keyword is not as good as a multiple or longtail keyword phrases. However, keywords are just one very important aspect to SEO. In a later blog I will go into further other aspects of SEO such as listing titles and descriptions. 

I hope this has helped you to have a better understanding of some basic SEO and the importance of keywords in relation to being found on the internet, getting people into your online shop and making a sale.  Happy selling!!