E-Commerce retail sales in the USA reached $815.4 billion in 2020, reports the United States Census Bureau. Sales continue to rise, and more people shop online than ever.
Now is the time to take action with your online business marketing. Competition is fierce, and the freedom of online business stokes the fire. You need a robust marketing strategy to succeed.
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps drive traffic to your site, but if you're new to this, you might wonder where to start.
Even if you have experience, the rules change all the time, a refresher is always useful.
We have a guide to help you spark your online business ideas. Read on!
Online Business Marketing: Search Engine Optimization
The best business idea in the world will fall flat if no one can find you. Digital marketing helps bridge the gap. The flexibility it offers helps bring your online business ideas to life.
Search engine optimization (SEO) will bring web traffic to your website and is cost-effective to implement. With the right marketing strategy, you can rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). You can bring both digital and foot traffic to your store.
Search engine giants, like Google, update their algorithms often to regulate the quality of content. Years ago, you could stuff as many keywords as possible into your content and rank for relevance.
These days, that approach would send you to the bottom of the SERP. You need keywords placed with strategy. If they affect the readability of your content, you will slide down the SERP.
You need a range of methods to thrive in SEO, with user search intent and quality at the top of the list. Keywords still work, but there are heaps of off-page strategies to use too, and with the right plan you can get results.
How to Match User Search Intent
Google matches what it thinks a user wants when they enter a query to content. Google can even read synonyms for search terms. This means it can match paraphrased terms to user search intent.
Query scope is the broadness of a user's search query. Are they asking for a specific answer or an overview of a topic?
The keywords you use should match the scope, but we'll get to that later!
Language and locality count too. A search in Greek will give results in Greek. The same goes for local searches with location keywords; Google will try to put sites in that area at the top of the list.
The more recent your content, the better. Pages written 4 years ago will rank lower than those written this year. Time-based terms like NFL rankings 2023 will amplify this effect.
E-A-T Your Online Business
Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) are Google's measures of quality. It helps them sort high-quality, useful content from the rest and put the best at the top of the SERP. They updated their algorithm for quality in 2019, and it changed the SEO game.
Expertise refers to clear sourcing, evidence, author background, and host site authority. Answer user search intent then delve deeper into the topic. Be better than the competition and your expertise will grow.
Authority rises when content is shared at a high rate, linking from established sites on that topic. Branding helps here and makes your site stand out as your authority grows. Backlinks, media mentions, and interviews all help build your authority on the subject.
Trustworthiness helps Google sort dodgy results from genuine sites. Online review scores on major sites will help you here. Show that you have contact details, a physical address, clear Ts & C, and secure HTTPS.
There is an added E these days too. It stands for experience. This arguably is part of trustworthiness: E-A-T looks better than E-E-A-T. You can share your experience with personal stories about the topic to stand out.
This algorithm is comparative, so you need to do all you can to be above the competition. Study your competitors and offer content that's easier to E-A-T.
Originality counts too. Well-written creative content will engage readers and stand out from the competition. The entrance of AI chatbots into SEO writing has made an impact, but you can beat it with creativity.
In fact, a Princeton student has built an app to detect AI-written essays. How long before search engines catch on too?
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)
While this sounds like a Western standoff, it refers to content that has the potential to harm the user's well-being. This includes payday loans, legal highs, and gambling. This comes under the umbrella of trustworthiness.
Sites with this content will be harder to rank for in general. Google spots it and will try to protect its users by ranking it lower on the SERP.
E-A-T would need certified expertise to even put, let's say, a new unproven diet, on its SERP. The quality standards for this content are higher than less controversial topics.
Search volume is how many searches per month. Big brands will dominate these, and they have huge marketing teams to compete with. Aim for keywords with high search volume but lower competition.
Relevance, Authority, and Volume
Relevance is how your keywords match the user's search intent. We looked at search intent earlier, so let's skip that. More specific keywords are easier to rank for, and you need to be a top resource on the topic.
The more shares a site has, the higher its authority. This is part of the E-A-T algorithm, and you can boost it with social shares, backlinks, and quality content.
Volume is how many times users search for a keyword in a month. You can call this monthly search volume (MSV). The higher the MSV, the higher the traffic, but competition is higher too!
Head Terms and Long-Tail Keywords
Head terms have 1-3 words and a wide scope. They are broad searches, like Asian recipes, and the competition is fierce. You should still include less popular ones in your keyword plan, but using long-tail keywords adds specificity.
Long-tail keywords have 3 or more words and can be complete phrases. They stem from head-term topics but drill down deeper into a subject. Blend them with head terms for a rounded keyword list.
Long-tail keywords have lower search volume and less competition. Things like, how to make a ramen noodle soup, would class as a long-tail keyword. The head term would be, ramen noodles or ramen noodle soup.
You can use synonyms from your keyword list to rank easier. Google can spot these out of the pile, and its algorithm works like magic.
Specific keywords are your best chance at ranking, but you need to pick them with care. Aim for a balance of search volume and competition. Keyword planners can help you form your keyword list.
Location-based keywords help search engines focus on your local area. This cuts out big, national brands from the SERP - unless they live on your doorstep!
Check out your competition to see which keywords they focus on. Try to rank highest for their top-performing keywords. If their internet marketing is of a similar scale to yours, you are in for a chance, and at least you will be on the same SERP.
Target keywords your completion misses too. This helps you carve out your own corner of the SEO market. By the time they catch on, you'll be ahead.
Snippets: Text, Images, and Videos
Paragraph snippets are glimpses of text in the search results. Searches with quick answers - like what's the capital of Spain? - show as snippets of the full site. You need to match user search intent with precision and brevity to win snippet rankings.
List snippets tend to use how-to content. Things like recipes show as snippets on the SERPs. Clarity and directness help you rank higher.
Image packs show small versions of a site's images at the top of the SERP. You should use lots of images in your content to rank for image packs.
Video snippets work like image packs. They show up in miniature on the SERP and link to the full video. To rank for video snippets, add videos to your site and video hosting platforms like Youtube.
On-page SEO refers to the methods used on your site itself. It includes your content quality, keyword list, titles, meta descriptions, links, and media.
Nestle your keywords in your content with care. Search engines focus on the first 200 words, so make sure you put your main keywords in your title, intro, a subheading.
Page meta titles and meta descriptions are ideal places to put long-tail keywords. Meta descriptions are like a summary of your page, and they show up under your page title in SERPs. Word count is tight here, but you can boost your rankings with tight copy.
Make sure your keywords sound natural and keep your copy flowing. Keyword stuffing is too old-school, and search engines will drop you for it. Quality is key!
Internal and External Links
internal links take readers to a page within your own site. These help with site engagement rankings. If you can create content that links to the first topic, readers will stay for longer!
Content calendars help you create internal content. You can start with broad subjects, then drill down to topics, and then single posts in a treemap. Center these around your pillar page; keep readers coming back.
External links should take users to authority sites on your topic. You can use SEO tools to help you pick these sites. They will have lots of readers, expert sources, and high authority in the field.
You need more than one quality site to satisfy Google's E-A-T algorithm. What you do behind the scenes helps you rank higher and build authority.
Off-page SEO includes backlink building, influencer outreach, social media, and guest points. Let's take a look!
There are several effective ways to build backlinks to your site. Use a mix for the best results and expect both short-term and long-term gains.
You can find sites with a huge host of backlinks using SEO tools. Look for high-traffic external content that fails to meet E-A-T standards. Write it better yourself, then ask the site host to link your site instead.
You can do this in reverse too. Find content on your site that you rank highly for, then find similar external content hosted online. If your content is better quality, ask the host of the large site to link to you instead.
Guest blogging is when you write content for other authority sites. This seems counterintuitive, but you'll get a backlink in return. Guest post backlinks need to be subtle and fit naturally into the text.
Look for influencers in your area and contact them about teaming up. Social media marketing helps you do this. The most popular influencers hold huge sway over their audiences; they can drive new visitors to your site.
Make sure you state how your online business will benefit the influencer's audience. Most influencers will be happy to get fresh content for their channel. You can offer them affiliate rates each time you make a sale from their leads.
Videos, Interviews, and Podcasts
Build your web presence with multimedia. Ask about appearing on a channel as an expert on your subject. Contact less popular media outlets and podcast channels first, and build as your business grows.
Write a solid business marketing pitch to succeed here. This media works like influencer marketing, but you need to present content yourself.
Online Business Marketing Done Right
We hope our guide helps you apply the right tools to your online business marketing. The scope is endless these days, and you can start almost any business you can think of online. You can earn a solid income, have more freedom, and be truly independent.
Choose strategies that get the greatest results, measure everything, and be different from your competition. Time to get started!
We have more business tips for you on our site. Read on to boost your marketing strategy today!