11 SEO Questions You Must Ask Before Opening an Online Store
by Gaurav Gupta
As an official SEO expert for PrestaShop, I’ve put together 11 questions – and one answer – that you must make before launching your online store. The questions are chained creating a simple SEO strategy that covers the basics. Take my advice: you will be more likely to stand out from the noise and get catapulted to the first results.
1. Who am I selling?
Do not go searching for keywords or designing social networking strategy! Not even to write product descriptions. The first thing is to know who your audience is. It is a basic marketing criterion for any business, whether physical or online. Consider these two questions:
- What problem or desire does my product respond to?
- What is the ideal client that I am looking for?
Stop thinking about your ideal clients. Who are they? What drives you to buy your products? Creating an ideal customer profile is a vital first step: you will get to know your audience better and focus your marketing efforts.
You can do all the SEO you want but until you are clear who the customers are. it will not do you any good!
2. What keywords do I have to position my online store?
You know who you’re talking to. Now make sure you speak the same language. Make a list of all words related to your sector. It also includes the “long tail” combinations that your customers would use to look for products!
The more specific your keywords, the more likely you are to respond to a specific customer need. (Compare, for example, “non-stick round cake mold” with “cake mold”). These keywords will help you determine site structure, compose compelling product pages, and generate useful content.
3. In what keywords have my competitors positioned themselves?
If we talk about SEO, there are two types of competition:
- Search competition
- Real competition
The first is everything that appears when you search for your keywords: from Wikipedia to news. These results share the same universe as your store … and compete for the attention of the user.
The real competition is the stores that sell similar items to yours. They compete for the attention of the user and for their money.
Do not copy your real competitors but control their movements: this way you will find out how to differentiate … and you can position your online store in specific keywords that reflect your specialization.
4. Is my catalog enough to position my store in my keywords?
You have already identified your keywords and you know what the competition is doing. And your catalog? Make sure you have quality to position your store. By simply creating a page for dresses, you are not going to go out on dress looks.
I remember a salesman who did not understand why his store did not appear in the results when looking for “facial cream for men”. I asked him how many creams he had. Your answer: “Three.” And I wanted to appear ahead of other stores with dozens of brands of “facial cream for men”!
The Internet is a pervasive sea of information. If you do not have a strategy, you will be shipwrecked. Or you have a very complete catalog of products related to your keywords or bets for a niche very specific and specialized.
5. Does the structure of my website correspond to my keywords?
You know who you are selling to, you’ve got your keywords figured out and you have a strong catalog. Now that you’re done with the theory, you can get down to mapping out your online store.
You already know who your client is, you have chosen your keywords and you have a good catalog. You know the theory … go live and make the map of your online store.
Remember that you are creating a store for your customers, not for search engines. Designing a well-positioned site requires combining attention to the keywords and user experience. If you want detailed information, check out my article on the use of keywords to structure your e-commerce site.
6. Do my product pages respond to customers’ real questions?
You have developed a good structure for your site, now you have to fill it with product pages full of information. Remember you’re not writing for Google! The goal is to provide a service to your customers.
Your product pages are the equivalent of sales personnel in a physical store. Respond to all your customers’ questions (even those that have not yet): Build trust and loyalty and improve conversions. That’s the only secret to positioning yourself on Google.
7. How do I get people to talk about my store?
Even if you have the best product in the world, if nobody talks about you, your business will not go far. Spend time thinking about your sector: who are the most influential people? Who do users ask for advice or recommendations? That’s the people you need to know your online store.
Do you sell women’s clothes? Connect with known fashion bloggers. Or imagine that you have a perfumery: you can send samples to some bloggers and ask them to think about your products. Backlinks from reputed sites will put you on the map and increase your reputation.
8. Should I have my own blog?
If we talk about blogs, we are talking about content marketing. A blog gives you the chance to demonstrate your experience and present your products. You can also use it to give advice and explain concepts related to your articles: quality content! Google loves it.
The big question is how to get your blog to work. A blog reaches its maximum value when it generates loyalty. You can use pop-up windows to encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter. Or offer incentives to “like” Facebook or to tweet interesting articles. You will make a valuable database for your newsletter and increase your visibility in social networks!
9. What is my strategy in social networks?
If you have a blog, you already have half the way done. But before launching to publish videos with Vine, remember: the networks will give you visibility but do not guarantee a good positioning. They are a secondary activity that must come after you have answered the previous SEO questions.
Are you starting? The minimum requirements to establish your presence in the networks are Facebook and Twitter. Then you can add Google+. Pinterest and Instagram are very effective if you want to share very visual content.
10. How will I know that my SEO efforts are working?
Evaluating your SEO strategy is just as important as getting it going: are you wasting your time or driving conversions? Use Google Analytics to identify your major traffic sources and know which ones are generating sales. Which keywords get the most traffic? The answer is in Google Webmaster. Check out my article on the many tools you can use to evaluate the results of your SEO activity.
11. Besides SEO, are there other ways to do online marketing?
Of course! SEO is a powerful and free alternative to attract visitors and turn them into customers, but it requires a lot of time and the results are not guaranteed. Do not put all the eggs in the same basket! Start your SEO strategy and then value other online marketing options:
Google Ad words: The SEO gives you free visibility, Google Ad words allows you to pay for it. It can also be a fantastic tool to test keywords and know which ones work before including them in your SEO strategy.
Virtual Markets: EBay, Amazon or Price Minster can be a perfect tool for new e-commerce businesses who want to gain visibility.
Good advertising in the old-fashioned way: word-of-mouth recommendations are still the most valuable form of advertising. It should be clear to you and your customers why you are the best place to shop for what they want.