During COVID-19, the search engine has become hugely important to businesses who sell — it is the inspiration for 43% of online shoppers in Australia. At the same time, Google’s search algorithm is constantly being updated and e-commerce businesses that have neglected search engine optimisation (SEO) risk losing ground against their competitors.
That means instead of ranking high for a key product or service, business leaders could find their brand positioned beyond page two of Google search results, making it almost ‘invisible’ to the 9.2 million Australian households who are shopping online.
Searching for what you need using Google is now almost instinctive and most people think that the search engine simply does its thing and there’s nothing that can be done about it.
But by understanding the motivations behind customer search intents, businesses can come out on top, and a few simple treatments can brighten up the health of sales.
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Reaching pole position for searches
E-commerce continues to power ahead in Australia, but if businesses find that online sales are flattening, and products are not moving as well as they should, businesses should look at their search optimisation.
Not being optimised is very common and it may not have been a priority amid ongoing lockdowns, with the rapid rise of digital transformation and getting the supply chains, delivery lines and online user experience taking precedence.
Pre-pandemic, there might have been only a handful of businesses that specialise in selling, for example, headphones online. But with e-commerce the only way to trade during lockdowns, search engines may have found that the number of search results have increased 20-fold.
What this means is that there is a lot more competition than before, so Google has to work out where best to direct the searcher and it is looking for the company that is the authority on headphones.
Yes, if you buy advertising space, you will appear at the top of Google. But you don’t necessarily have to take that route with a carefully planned SEO strategy.
SEO is understanding your customer’s search intent and improving how visible your business website is positioned and found in the right way to capture customers.
Business leaders usually understand the importance of search traffic but may not be aware about the tools available for the optimisation part of the equation.
Keyword stuffing is stuffed
Previously, people could put up a really bad website but load it with the right keywords — to continue with the headphones analogy, websites would pack in as many words about headphones as possible, as well as any other popular search terms.
In the beginning, it worked and those pages saw good ranking results on Google. This became known as one of many ‘black-hat’ SEO practices, where agencies or businesses tried to take advantage of how the search engine works.
Nowadays, you can still employ this tactic, but Google has enough smarts in its algorithm to know when you’re doing it and — more critically — penalise you for it by lowering or removing the website from its search results.
For today’s search engine, content is king. Keywords are still important but only when it is embedded in high quality content that draws people in and keeps them engaged.
In Google’s eyes, a brand is seen as an expert when it can demonstrate its relevance in answering a customer search intent. That’s when your business becomes relevant in the world of search.
Understanding what people are searching for and knowing how to answer or solve their questions is a critical success factor in SEO. Google rewards websites that produce content — be it word, video, audio — that website visitors take the time to digest.
The Google algorithm looks at over 200 different variables — the trouble for most of us is that no one outside of Google really knows how this algorithm works with these variables.
However, there are approaches that allow you to better inform yourself on what you should do to optimise for search. And it starts with understanding how you rank today and what drives traffic to your digital channel.
With 2022 rapidly approaching, make it a resolution to get the SEO health of your business checked.
It could be just the tonic your online sales need to make it a happy new year.