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How to set out your stall online – Part 2

10 April
13:28 2012

Chris Brake, director of global digital marketing services for Yell, provides search engine optimisation advice for independent c-store retailers…

Making the transition from corner shop to the internet is not always easy. As a busy retailer, how do you find time to make sure your website is continually up to date?

Sometimes it can be a challenge just doing the basics, such as new prices and products, not to mention the added marketing and technical stuff.

One easy thing to do is to make sure your website is optimised so that it ranks highly on search engines. Ranking in the organic results on search engines isn’t easy, but there are many things you can do to help.

Here are six search engine optimisation (SEO) tips:

1. Organising your website
Organising your content well makes it easy for visitors – and search engines – to find relevant content:

  • Plan your site with a simple sitemap, and include the sitemap online so every page is easy to find
  • Give each page a unique title that accurately defines what it’s about and a brief description that summarises the content. For example, a ‘Fresh Produce’ page may be explained by categorising fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly baked bread and dairy and even listing delivery times
  • Make the page’s URL (e.g.www.mysite.co.uk/a-page-about-SEO) easy to understand. The title, description and URL tend to appear in search results, so the clearer they are, the easier it is to see what your website has to offer

2. Creating the best content
Creating useful (and preferably unique) content helps improve your website’s SEO:

  • Think about the kinds of things your target customers are likely to search for, and develop content that will attract and satisfy those searchers
  • Write focused text – ideally, each web page should deal with a single topic, rather than mixing lots of ideas together
  • Use headings and sub-headings to break content down into readable chunks. For example, divide content into helpful headings such as ‘Store Cupboard Essentials’ and ‘Cleaning Products’
  • Regularly update your website with fresh new content. Make sure the copy still reads well and is not repetitive or artificially stuffed with keywords

3. Relevant links
Try to acquire more high-quality, relevant links to your website from other related sites. To find out how many external websites link to your website, go to Bing search and then type “link:www.mywebsite.co.uk” – without the quotation marks. The results will show you the number of incoming links to your website. These are the links on other websites that point to your website

4. Engage on social media sites
The more you engage on social media sites (like Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and promote your website’s content, the more SEO value you potentially generate for your site

5. Claim your business’s Google Places listing

This helps you get more presence on Google’s search results. Google shows Places listings for search queries with local intent, so having a listing will ensure your business has a better chance of being visible to people near to you

6. “Black hat” SEO

  • Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to use illicit ‘black hat’ techniques to improve search engine rankings. These could include using hidden text on your website filled with keywords, or ‘link spam’ (posting irrelevant links to your website on forums and comment boards, to make it appear popular) or even paying for links
  • These techniques are frowned on by search engines and if your site is found to be doing this, you could be penalised and actively downgraded in the rankings. Also, be careful when you link out to other websites – if you link to sites that use dubious SEO techniques, it could damage your website’s reputation

For further information on improving your website, SEO, or web design visit: http://marketing.yell.com

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