(reprinted from Home Accents Today, April 27, 2016 by Thomas Lester)
Right words, right message can draw traffic
Recently, British commercial furniture company Trent Furniture made the realization that its website just wasn’t working.
To remedy the situation, Trent learned why SEO matters and made the decision to essentially burn its previous web presence to the ground and start from scratch with a new site on a new domain (potentially losing goodwill and legacy traffic) with a renewed focus on properly assessing search engine optimization.
There were two key premises that the company worked from in preparing the new site: Ensure that the new website followed all Google guidelines and was technically healthy; and that the new site provided a good experience on both mobile and desktop.
These strategies worked: Trent saw an immediate 71% spike in search-engine traffic; a 99% increase in unique users from search-generated traffic; and a 139% increase in year-over-year revenue.
Trent’s experience may be an outlier in its tremendous success, but technology providers who specialize in the home furnishings industry say it’s important for manufacturers and retailers to stay on top of this key strategy, because it’s key to categorize and prioritize search results.
“To be found, your website must appear on the first few pages of the search engine results pages,” said Ron Gordon, vice president of technology for tech provider MicroD. “This is accomplished by ensuring that your website has all of the features that the search engines use to identify reputable, relevant, high quality content.”
Gordon says retailers can do a lot of the legwork themselves, making sure their website contains the proper relevant terms.
“The simplest approach that a retailer might begin with is to search using popular keywords to see if their website appears on the results page. This only starts to scratch the surface,” he said. “Create a Google Analytics account and install the corresponding code snippet on your website. Your website provider can assist with that. Then, using Google’s Analytics and Webmaster tools, you can unlock a wealth of pertinent information about your website, how many visitors come to your site and how they arrived at your site.”
Ana Gross, associate web advisor for MicroD, said when the Charlotte, N.C.-based company builds websites for its clients, the usage of proper keywords is just one piece of the puzzle.
“In terms of MicroD customer sites, we utilize: keyword search (not to be confused with ‘keyword stuffing’), link attachments and continuously linking social media to their site,” Gross said. “We also strive for custom content in relevance to page titles and descriptions and being consistent with phrasing/context across all platforms, not just their website. Title tags and metadata should be updated as well to be unique to each page”
Caitlin Jascewsky, communications and digital specialist for industry tech provider Storis, said retailers should also be sure that their website can be properly accessed via any platform.
“One of the first things retailers should evaluate is if they have a mobile-responsive web design,” she said. “This has become an important ranking factor for Google and will continue to have more and more of an impact on your site’s performance. A mobile- responsive website means the website design responds based on the screen size of the user’s device. This provides an optimal viewing experience whether the customer is on their desktop, tablet or mobile device.”
Jascewsky said the entire online experience – from what the site says to how it’s viewed – should be considered with the end user in mind.
“The content should be natural and focus on infusing words that resonate with your potential customers,” Jascewsky said. “The navigation should make it very simple for prospects to find what they are looking for and move naturally from one section to the next.”
Proper keyword usage is one way retailers can ensure that natural movement takes place. While it’s important that the right keywords are used, it’s perhaps more important to ensure that keywords aren’t being used simply because they’re showing up commonly on other sites. “Stuffing” keywords into a site can prove to be more harmful than helpful. Also, using keywords repeatedly can also have an adverse effect on web search results.
“Website content that has keywords or key phrases ‘stuffed’ inside of the content can be penalized for ‘keyword stuffing,’” said Brandon Walters, senior web designer and implementer at MicroD. “Retailers can avoid this by making sure the copy sounds natural, as if you were telling a friend.”
With that in mind, conversational writing can help eliminate content gaps – or places where the content isn’t as effective. Jascewsky said making website content more informative and engaging works better than writing intended to promote, so consider who will digest the content. She said retailers should take into account their customer demographics, motivations and how they will respond to a message.
“Maybe content promoting a sale will drive an influx of traffic in the short term, but maybe it is sharing a story of craftsmanship and legacy that will really be a home run,” she said. “It is all about doing analysis of what your customers have to say – ones who purchase and ones who do not. Review your content’s performance and adjust from there. Make sure you are not just putting the same type of content out there repeatedly without knowing its impact.”