10 SEO Resolutions For A More Profitable 2014

It's never too late to start incorporating SEO changes that'll make for big gains in 2014. Check out this post for the top 10 SEO resolutions your business will want to keep this new year.

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From the rise of new social media platforms to intensifying "manual actions," 2013 was a wild year for SEO. Thankfully, our SEO team has compiled a list of 10 SEO resolutions that can help your ecommerce site survive whatever Google has to throw at us in 2014. Here’s to an even stronger performance in the new year!

 

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Resolution #1:  Commit to a better understanding of SEO

Your first step towards being a successful online store in 2014 is understanding SEO essentials. In many ways, SEO practices have become standardized rules that websites can apply to better compete for visibility on the web.

Sadly, many of the websites we've helped were still missing the basic SEO essentials. In the past, this may have been acceptable, but the landscape is becoming more and more competitive.  By simply applying some basic SEO techniques, you can see significant improvements in site performance.

Google offers a nice SEO resource section in Webmaster Tools to help webmasters understand their quality guidelines and rules for engaging in safe SEO. They also offer a SEO Starter Guide for beginners.  As for us, we offer a guide to our platform’s SEO features and a number of SEO and on-line marketing webinars.

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Resolution #2: Make it easy for spiders to crawl your website

Basically, you want to configure your site to be more accessible to search engines and ensure only important pages on a site get indexed in search engines. This step is vital to the success of any online store. Some of the important technical aspects you want to look at include:

For more advanced technical tactics you should consult an expert, however there are some other simple practices you should be familiar with.

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Resolution #3:  Categorize your site properly

How you organize your website will have a profound effect on your SEO strategy and performance. Your website architecture should be logical, intuitive and easy to navigate.  A properly categorized website will provide a better user experience, as well as more SEO opportunities to rank for appropriately targeted terms. It also means giving Google more contextual clues to better understand the focus of your site – which products (and therefore keywords) are central to your store.

One exercise that can help you organize your site is to imagine it as a brick and mortar store. Which items would deserve their own aisles (categories) and which deserve their own shelves (subcategories) within those aisles? This can give you some insight into how to best set up your product category hierarchy.

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Resolution #4: Optimize for a specific target market or audience

In a rush to attract as much organic traffic as possible, many storeowners start off on the wrong foot by targeting keywords that are too broad and competitive in nature. An easy solution to this problem is to switch gears, define a target market and focus keywords based around your target audience. Some quick tips for this can include:

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Resolution #5:  Create a content strategy and keep it consistent

Getting to know your audience while you're building your fan base will allow you to create great content ideas. If you're selling products for dogs, then creating shareable content is ideal. As an example, dog owners really love their pets so creating visuals or posting images to sites like Instagram, Flickr and Facebook is a good strategy. Here are some quick tips when considering a basic content strategy:

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Resolution #6: Increase relevance by incorporating keywords and content

In a recent post about increasing your SEO by adding content to your category pages, Everett Sizemore explains how simply targeting the right keywords and adding content can improve the performance of your online visibility. If your site doesn’t have target keywords or content, chances are you're missing out on a big opportunity. Again, this goes back to getting the basics first to your site’s organic presence. For larger brands, this is not really an issue since they have a lot of relevance signals and online equity built up from their online communities, backlinks, social media and years of ongoing brand awareness. For smaller brands however, this is a way to start generating some early relevance signals and traffic. Adding the right content can help your brand have some personality, which visitors love, and increase relevance signals to your site.

Need additional help with what type of information Google deems as important? Following Google’s best Webmaster Guidelines can help keep you on the right track 

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Resolution #7:  Instead of buying links, build a fan base

In 2013 there were many link networks that were identified and penalized by Google.  Unfortunately, if you bought links from a link network, chances are you were penalized too. So instead of buying links, explore what enthusiasts in your industry are talking about in the following areas:

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Resolution #8: Clean up your link profile

If you used an SEO firm in the past that guaranteed an X amount of blog comment links, X number of forum links or any other quantitative amount of links, chances are they were spamming blogs and buying links from a link network. Over time, many of these link networks get caught and sites with links from these networks usually suffer the most with decreased rankings or Manual Actions.

Where do you find out if your site is subject to these penalties? Set your site up in Google Webmaster Tools if you haven’t already, and see if there are any Manual Actions taken against your site. If there is, consult a professional as to what the next steps should be. Recently, a large lyrics site, Rap Genius, was penalized by Google for violating Google’s quality Guidelines. As a result, Rap Genius made significant efforts to clean up their link profile and recover their rankings in Google.

If there are no manual actions, but you’ve bought links in the past, we still recommend that you take a look at links pointing to your site and evaluate the quality of those sites.

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Resolution #9: Own more search result real estate

Quickly do a Google search for terms that your site ranks for or terms that you would like to rank for. Next, compare your results against the diagram created by Moz to help you understand where opportunities lie for gaining more real estate and exposure in Google. This will help you decide which content pieces are worth pursuing to reach and engage your audience. Simply put, you want to appear in as many areas of the page as you can. Perhaps your store would benefit from optimized product videos, local SEO, PPC advertising or shopping feeds. While channels such as PPC and Shopping Feeds are paid, they drive valuable traffic which can enhance organic performance.

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Resolution #10:  Build authority online using social media

Google has reported plans to show more results for the "good guys," that is, people who are actively building quality content on a regular basis. Set up your personal and business Google+ accounts and share your content with the fan base you are actively creating. Additionally, start or continue building your fan base on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social channels that are important to your target market. Many experts predict that the importance and interconnectedness of social and SEO will only continue to increase in the years to come.

 

The winners of online marketing in 2014 and beyond will consist of those who best align messaging with the right medium. Understanding your industry and experimenting with different channels will help you find the winning recipe for your online store.

All of us here at Volusion wish you happy selling in 2014! Just in case you missed this, check out Google’s Zeitgeist recap of 2013.

 

Happy selling!
-Mike Ramirez, Volusion

Volusion

Try Volusion's award-winning ecommerce software to build your online store & sell products. Volusion merchants have generated over $21 billion in sales - 4x more sales than our competitors' merchants.