This article will explain the fundamentals of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. We’re trying to simplify marketing jargon for budding e-commerce owners out there. This is because we want to help you take the plunge towards starting up with e-commerce; the world is constantly moving toward remote and online solutions for business and now, social interaction. Why not start an online business as a new side gig? We hope to unpack a bit more about what SEO is and explain SEO for beginners.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is loosely related to how well your website fares on search engine results pages or SERPs. As you probably know, Google’s first page of results for any given query is related to high-performing and relevant web pages, as well as paid results.
Why is this important? If you didn’t think leveraging the power of some of the most popular search engines in the world was a good idea, you should think again! The purpose of using best SEO practices is to increase the quality and quantity of your web traffic, as well as exposing your brand to a wider audience in a more general capacity. To rank well with SEO, you need to formulate a basic understanding of what people might be searching for online – in a way that relates to your own business or industry. In a world where increasingly more e-commerce stores are appearing by the day, it’s important that your website can stand out amongst a crowd. SEO is certainly helpful in this regard, as you’ll be more likely to show up on initial results pages and share what your brand is all about in a succinct way.
The basics of SEO
SEO isn’t a new concept, and started becoming popular in the 1990s when we first saw search engines appear on the internet. It’s become an essential strategy for digital and e-commerce marketers, yet many feel it is complex and unreachable due to its synchronicity with the internet. After all, Google uses more than 200 factors when analysing for its SEO rankings.
We’ve already started to discuss what SEO is, but an even easier way to think of search engines is to imagine them like machines that constantly search and evaluate content against many different factors to understand which specific pieces of content are most likely to fulfil your search query needs. If you search in Google for ‘cat’, your search engine will scour the web for millions of images and resources relating to cats.
Search engines do all of the discovery work for you, and also catalogue all kinds of internet content via ‘indexing and crawling’ – this includes resources such as PDFs, images, videos and text. These indexes are then ordered depending on how well they match specific queries or questions in search – this is known as a ‘ranking’. Basically, what you should know is that you want your website to come up with a high ranking, meaning that your website will be shown to multiple people when they search for queries relating to your business or query – with both vague and specific terms if possible.
You might be thinking that this is a complex subject and it seems impossible for a beginner to get going with SEO. While it is advisable to contact SEO experts in many different instances, it’s totally possible to start using SEO on your own. Even minor tweaks can drastically improve your website’s SEO rankings – as they’ll be better received by search engines.
It’s important to understand how to start adjusting your existing resources, or adding new text and information can help you with SEO. Firstly, we’re going to talk about different kinds of SEO you need to look at.
On-page or on-site SEO refers to optimising your website to affect organic search results. This includes everything you can change on your website to get better SEO results. This includes, amongst others:
- Meta tags
- Alt text
- URL structure
- Structured data
- Website size
- Website speed
- Optimised images
We recommend reading Google’s Webmaster guide to become familiar with everything you need for Google to improve your SEO rankings.
Off-page or off-site SEO refers to everything that you can do with backlinks and other website links that will improve your SEO scores. This includes, amongst others:
- Guest blogging
- Social media content
- Influencer content
- Top-quality content that others link their audiences to
- Email campaigns
Both off-page and on-page SEO refer to ways that you can adjust elements on or relating to your website that can help improve your rankings.
If you’re doing some serious SEO research, you’ll also come across White Hat and Black Hat SEO. While this might sound more fitting for a clothing store, they’re actually terms that you should know.
You can think of Black Hat SEO as being opaque or not transparent in its communication. They work to improve SEO rankings without taking the human experience into consideration. It includes hidden text, an overloading of keywords, cloaking attempts, hidden redirects, manipulated links and irrelevant backlinks, as well as spam comments and link farms. You should NOT be aspiring to follow these practices, as these will likely not help you improve your rating since these practices include misleading users and misinformation in your content. Black Hat SEO could even lead to websites being penalised.
White Hat SEO is the total opposite to Black Hat SEO and involves ethical SEO using. includes: natural links, keyword research, emphasis on quality of content, on-page optimisation, a broader content strategy that builds up your brand and high-quality, well written content on your website that is actually useful to your customers. This kind of SEO is what you should aspire towards, and is best used in a broader SEO strategy.
It’s important to know the difference between ethical and unethical SEO behaviour – you should never base your efforts on trickery and trying to cheat the system instead of actively building up your brand with legitimate resources. You may be tempted to do whatever Google will accept, but don’t fall into the trap of acting unethically and always keep the human connection in mind.
Linking and Keywording
A keyword is a word used in an index or other information organisation system. When you create content, you need to keep keyword research in mind. if your content isn’t optimised, you won’t get high traffic and your ranking will be low. You need to know what keywords will generate traffic for your website. It’s important to understand what people are searching in relation to your product or service. This is vital to improving your SEO rankings. You can try googling some words around your product and seeing what Google suggests or autocompletes regarding the entire query. Try changing it up a bit to get a broader range of keywords. You can also use a free service like Answer the Public to gain keyword insights. There are a lot of paid options SEO available, but it’s best to start off with your own research and experiments before committing to a purchase.
Similarly, you’ll also want to be doing some link building with your content. Link building refers to the process of acquiring links from other websites. You can think of this as a navigational tool through a hyperlink that can lead users between websites. These are used by search engines in indexing, so it’s quite important to implement – with evidence pointing to Google relying on backlinks in some of its algorithm decisions.
You should note that backlinks don’t refer to links to other resources on your website. These would be called ‘internal links’ and represent an index of your own content. An example of an internal link would be linking to your banana bread recipe on your banana pancake recipe within your blog post. Your internal links should be used between relevant pages to assist readers.
Further reading on SEO
We’ve got a lot of other resources you can read if you want to brush up on your SEO skills – there’s a lot to mention, including the history of SEO and tricks and tips that you can use.
For a comprehensive overview,we enjoyed Search Engine Journal’s comprehensive series of articles about SEO. It includes definitions of SEO, free tools that you can use and myths about SEO in a collection of 18 chapters.
There’s also Ahref’s SEO basics guide that gives some visual examples of search engine queries, as well as unpacking keywording and metrics that you can look at.
It’s also a great idea to use Google’s starter guide to SEO as it’s pretty likely that they’re the engine you’re going to be focusing your efforts on. However, remember that you can also target other search engines.
We hope that you don’t panic when you see the phrase ‘SEO’ plastered all over the internet and in your digital marketing guides. SEO refers to search engine optimisation and mainly assists with helping your pages be found by relevant searches on search engine pages. There are things you can do to improve your ranking, such as writing high-quality content, including backlinks to other websites, using keywords, using internal links between relevant pages and improving the speed of your website.
We at ShoppingFeeder encourage exchanging information for all in the current face of uncertainty and global pandemic, and hope to make the transition for new e-commerce owners a bit easier.