Keyboard with fictitious search mask
Search engine optimization (SEO) How can I increase my visibility on Google?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions in customer consultations and one of the greatest challenges for all e-commerce businesses. If your content is poorly referenced on Google, this limits the number of visits and, in turn, the volume of sales. This article summarizes the most important points to help you optimize your organic visibility.
What is organic visibility and how important is it?
Organic (or natural) visibility refers to unpaid placement in search engine results. Worldwide, organic visibility makes up 53% of all web traffic (BrightEdge, 2021) and we can assume that the proportion in Switzerland is similar.
As regards online trade, this volume will remain important but will probably fall in the next few years, as platforms other than Google, such as social networks, YouTube or marketplaces, become increasingly important for product searches.
However, it's fair to say that, currently, your organic visibility forms the basis for your online shop's visitor volume and it depends primarily on the content and configuration of your website. Improving organic visibility (a practice generally known as SEO – search engine optimization) takes time. If you want to increase visitor numbers quickly, I would recommend using online advertising campaigns like Google Adwords and Google Shopping alongside SEO, or physical advertising measures like addressed or unaddressed promotional mailings (in German).
The aim of SEO is to position your website optimally for the search terms your customers use, i.e. on the first page or even in the first 5 results, where 70% of customer clicks are focused (Sistrix, 2020). As the first three results are usually paid advertisements, competition for the “free” placements can be very stiff. From 10th place, your website drops onto the second page of search results, which on average sees fewer than 1% of clicks.
How do I structure my shop to improve search engine optimization?
In practical terms, the Google servers are constantly analysing all the websites in the world and giving them good or bad points depending on content and technical features. We recommend that you observe the following criteria for search engine optimization:
- The shop must be easy to use (clear navigation, good user experience etc.).
- For ease of navigation, it should have internal links between pages with similar semantic content. Linking your pages to external sites with similar content (ideally ones that are well referenced) also contributes to improving search engine optimization.
- Produce high-quality and varied content in line with the EAT criteria – expertise – authoritativeness – trustworthiness. Google publishes guidelines to help companies to better understand what they are looking for on a website.
- Integrate a function for customer ratings/comments
- Don't copy content from other sites – Google will notice!
- The shop should load quickly. You can test your website’s loading time with Google PageSpeed Insights.
- It should also be optimized for mobile devices / smartphones. If this is not the case, you need to completely restructure your website in view of the increasing importance of mobile devices.
- It must have a secure connection, i.e. HTTPS, not HTTP.
- Finally, it must be indexed by Google. This happens automatically after a few weeks but you can also proactively notify Google.
How can you integrate a keyword search into your site?
To improve your organic visibility, you need to consider precisely how your customers search for your products and what search terms they use for this, and then configure your content accordingly.
- Put yourself in the position of a customer searching for your products and try to make a list of keywords that the customer might use. Do this for your different products in the different languages you have available.
- Use a free tool, e.g. Google Keyword Planner in your Google Ads account to check whether these search terms have a significant search volume and whether there are too many competitors.
- Try to use more long tail keywords, as there is less competition with these. It'll be very difficult to reach the first page of organic results with the search term “shoes” – you'll have a much better chances with “men’s winter mountain boots”.
- Build these keywords into your website. To ensure your shop is placed in the search results for the selected search terms, share these with Google by integrating the keywords into the meta-tag description, the title, the URL and the alt tag for your shop’s website pages.
- After a few months, check whether your website is well-placed for these keywords. If so, repeat the process with other keywords. If not, change the set for the website keywords and try it with others.
Recommendations and tools
SEO is complex to manage and is a job in its own right. If you’re a beginner, we strongly recommend that you seek advice from a digital agency, ideally a Google Partner. Then, when you have learned the basics of SEO and when you have internal staff with the time and inclination to take on this task, you can start to do it yourself.
It is a process of continual optimization. The competition is always evolving and is also trying to optimize their organic ranking – and don't forget that the search habits of consumers change over time too.
- Google tools are free to use and are essential when starting out in search engine optimization: Google Analytics (tracking traffic on your website), Google Search Console (tracking the technical status of your website and indexing), Google Test My Site (testing the loading speed), Google My Business (increasing your local visibility).
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide from Google
- There are plenty of tools you can buy to measure the organic visibility of your own or your competitors' websites: Sistrix, SemRush, Searchmetrics, etc.
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