Web design and SEO… These are topics that keep web developers, search engine marketers, and web entrepreneurs up at night. Irrespective of your chosen niche, the success of your website, any website, depends on the number of visitors it gets on a daily basis. It’s a simple equation. The more visitors you get to your ecommerce business site, the more chances you have of making sales. Qualified traffic is the secret here, and SEO is one of the methods website owners use to generate that traffic. We’ll talk about SEO later on in this article. But before we get to the topic of search engine optimization, let’s talk about web design.
Phase one: Hire a professional web designer
Small business owners face the same reality, wherever they are. They have to work within the confines of their operating budgets, and that means hiring professionals they can afford to do the things that they themselves cannot do. And that indeed includes small business web design. And since it’s small business websites we’re talking about, let’s, right of the batt, put to rest the notion that anyone can create a meaningful online presence for his or her business by using one of those DIY platforms out there. With very few exceptions, going the DIY route is a recipe for failure. Notwithstanding the fact that when all is said and done, you will not be saving much of anything, let alone money spent, time wasted in learning a set of skills that are never going to be sufficient to ensure your business site has a decent chance at being successful, frustrations and so on.
Your new ecommerce business website is a reflection of who you are, what your company’s mission is all about and as such, it is crucial to hire a developer who specializes in small businesses and who has the required knowledge to bring together all the elements that make a good website.
Working together with a knowledgeable website designer, you will arrive at a point where your website will have all the components put together to turn a dream into reality. The messaging will be just right, the branding will be an accurate reflection of what your philosophy is, and you’ll have the type of content that your visitors will want to learn from.
Phase two: Hire an SEO professional
To get visitors, you’ll need to hire a search engine optimizer, someone who is knowledgeable about the various aspects of internet marketing. An SEO professional who has the methodology to put in place a system that favors the growth of organic search and the wisdom to know the difference between generic traffic and qualified traffic.
Hopefully, where you were in phase one, you allocated time and effort in:
- Keyword research
- Competitor research
Based on this work, and your expertise in your industry, you will have already created content (in phase one) that will have taken into consideration the data gathered during your research.
With phase one behind you, now is the time to delve deeper into this type of research.
Keyword and competition research
Any time you spend looking through your competitors’ websites is time well spent. It will give you a clear idea of the keywords your competitors are targeting for themselves and which ones among them you’d need to choose to have a reasonable chance of a high ranking.
Bearing in mind that your highest ranked competitors have several years of experience on you, here are some keywords you should avoid:
- Generic keywords
- Keywords that are too broad
- Keywords that are too competitive
You might say that if your competitors manage to rank at the top of search engine result pages, then why wouldn’t you and that would be a very valid point. But you have to start somewhere and setting temporary goals which will be more achievable in the short term would be the right course of action.
It is highly recommended that you target low competition keywords first. Also known as long-tail keywords, these types of keywords might not generate as much traffic as their more competitive cousins, but in the short term, they are a lot easier to rank. Add a few low competition keywords to your basket of high ranking terms, and soon, their combined search volume might very well be just as high as that of the more competitive keywords.
In the best possible scenario, finding a high-volume keyword with less competition would be ideal. Some tools can help you find these gems, but given how expensive they are, you might want to rely on your SEO professional to provide you with this particular data. I’d also recommend utilizing a tool like Ubersuggest by Neil Patel to help find good keywords to target.
The SEO landscape has shifted massively towards stronger user-engagement signals, and there have been significant landmarks in the way of algorithm changes that have confirmed this (e.g. Panda & Penguin).
As such, webmasters need to present holistic solutions in SEO that focus on a good user-experience, underlying the importance of having a good website. The Google Webmaster Guidelines echoes the point that you should appeal to the user first, and doing so actually addresses a plethora of challenges that comes with SEO. For example, by considering a good user-experience, you’re tailoring landing pages around the most desirable search terms that people are using to find your page. Content is king and if you can captivate your audience and lead them through a well-thought customer journey, then not only do you have the obvious advantage of converting traffic into leads, but you’re inherently making it much easier to do any SEO that ensues (credit to Amir Zarandouz from The Gadget Nerds for his contributions on UX & SEO).
The importance of social media in internet marketing
Google might not like this, but over the years, the traffic generated by social media has slowly crept up to a point where today, social media generated traffic is the top source of all website referral traffic. Of course, this trend largely depends on the nature of the website but to ignore the potential of social media in any internet marketing campaign would be a mistake.
Lastly, you will have to ensure that your website speed is up there with the requirements of the search engines. Slow sites, pages that take a long time to appear are counter-indicative of the search engine good practices recommendations and will only serve to cause your visitor to leave your site as fast as they got in.