Putting on your SEO hat is sort of a cross between being a detective and a psychoanalyst. A little sleuthing, and a little knowing how people think will go a long way. The whole idea of SEO, after all, is to make your site pop up in search results when people are looking for what you make. Part of that equation is pleasing the robots and spiders, putting out the tidbits they’re looking for so they index you correctly. But the other part is figuring out what it is that your audience might put into a search engine that could get them to you in the first place.
This is tricky stuff.
Let’s get one thing clear – you’re not going to rank for “jewelry”, or “earrings”, or even “crystal jewelry” or “sterling silver earrings”. There’s too much competition from huge players that have that sewn up. And really, people don’t search like that. They get much more specific. We have to as well. We have to aim for more narrowed or esoteric demands. “Crystal hoop earrings” narrows it down a bit. Let’s see what our friend Google has to say about this.
If I type that phrase – “crystal hoop earrings” into Google, and DON’T hit enter, I get a drop down of suggestions:
This is extremely instructive. As you can see here, we have several that add in Swarovski somehow, “wholesale”, a venue or area (uk, eBay, groupon), a secondary characteristic (large, black), and the very specific “from basketball wives”. These are all searches that Google sees that you can hop onto. It means that people are actively looking for these items.
Let’s try another – “malachite bracelet”:
Again, we get venues/locations (uk, africa, amazon, etsy), “meaning”, which is interesting, “green” – very instructive, and “russell simmons”. Okay. And who knew a bracelet figured in a video game (ffxiv) This is valuable information, what real Google searches are being performed, and it changes fairly frequently.
By the way, if you have a “Private Browsing” or “Incognito” mode on your web browser, use that – it will give you the most reliable results, untainted by your own personal browsing history.
You can add an additional differentiator onto your keyword(s) as well to help narrow it down. In that “crystal hoop earrings” example, if I’m going to use that I might add “red” nad/or “custom”. (We actually have quite a few of our pieces showing up in Google Image Search for just this keyword phrase) Remember – you want the keywords that have search activity, but you also want something unique to make you pop out from the rest of the market, so that YOUR people can find you. Let’s look at that “red crystal hoop earrings” search result (SERPS)
Note that Google bolds in the results the occurrence of your keywords. We can see here how in several spots “red” and “hoop earrings” and “crystal” are not found together in the result, yet they still came up. The HIGHEST placed result, on the other hand, is the one where we see the phrase exactly as typed into the search box.
(NOTE: There are lots of fancy-schmancy ways to do keyword research, lot of specialized tools. I love my Google AdWords account! But honestly, I know how most of y’all are, and this is quick and easy. No hassle, no sign-in, no cost. And it does give you quite a bit of down and dirty info to get you started. It’s also constantly updated depending up what folks are searching for.)
Speaking of Google Image Search – this is a Big Deal for makers. You’ve already optimized your image names for search… You have done that, right? If not, go read this now and take care of it pronto:
Optimizing Image Names to Get Found in Google Image Search
Here’s a good one: the experts say you can’t re-use keywords, you can’t have two “red crystal hoop earrings” pages on your site. So what if you have two different types of red crystal hoop earrings? Can you pull out a differentiator? “Narrow” vs “Wide”, “Large” vs “Small”, “Round” vs “Narrow”… geometric, Art Deco, nouveau, hollywood… you get the idea. Remember, a search doesn’t have to hit on your entire keyword phrase, you just have to be optimized for what the searcher is searching for. More is okay.
Now then, what do you DO with this lovely keyword once you have it? If you’re running an SEO app or plugin like Yoast SEO for WordPress (HIGHLY recommend it!) there will be a spot in there, along with specific instructions on how to follow up on each page. But apps and plugins notwithstanding, here’s what you need to do to get your KEYWORD PHRASE our front and center in the spots the spiders and webcrawlers will see it:
1) Page Title
Let’s take our Red Crystal Hoop Earrings. We’d want to use that for our page title, along with anything else, like the design’s name, like so: “ABBY Red Crystal Hoop Earrings”
This is your description, your write up. You need to get the keyword phrase included in there somehow. One trick I like, if it feels awkward to write it in contextually, is to use a bullet point list of the various features and make the keyword phrase the first bullet point on the list, before things like size and materials.
3) Meta Descripton
Virtually all website platforms give you a spot for your Meta Description. This is the text that actually shows up IN Google search. If you don’t specify it, Google will attempt to pull it from your page, and that’s usually not great. Meta Descriptions are limited to 156 characters, then they’re cut (…) so be concise!
Take a look again at our search page – these are all Meta Descriptions, some complete and some truncated. This is why you want to pay attention to the number of characters in that description – 156, no more. In WordPress, Yoast SEO will give you a spot to take care of this easily. In Shopify, it’s at the very bottom of every product page.
Your actual URL should reflect the keywords phrase, like so: /red-crystal-hoop-earrings/
5) Image Titles
As we said before, all of your image titles should be set up for SEO, as in the article.
6) Alt Text
Alt Text is a little funny – you WANT your Alt Text filled in, but not always with your complete keyword. Depending on the density of your content (literally how many words in your description) Google may think you’re being keyword spammy if it sees too high an occurrence of the keyword relative to the total number of words. If your description if 600 words, Alt Text away.. if it’s only 100, be careful. This is something that even Yoast doesn’t fill in too well on their documentation, and I only learned by trial and error and lots of back and forth with their support team. To be on the safe side, be more generic with your Alt Text. I’m going with the design name and color, like “ABBY Hoop earrings in Red” or “ABBY crystal hoops in red”, and I’ll mix it up a little between the different images, so that Google will see all the keywords amongst all the different views. Not completely sure if it works, but our images ARE showing up in image search, so something is clicking.
7) H1/H2 tags
If your platform allows it, tag your keyword phrase with an H1 or H2 tag. This essentially tell the spiders “YO! Look here! Most important bit of info on the page!” In some themes and templates, and H1 or H2 tag will make whatever you tag with it larger; in some it will do the work behind the scenes. Live with the larger text if you have to, it’s worth it. H2 isn’t usually visually disruptive.
What about your other pages?
You can’t really optimize stuff like your About page and your Contact page. They are what they are, so don’t worry about them. One page that does take some very special, different optimization is your home page, and most people simply forget about it!
You need some text on your home page.
Put a nice text description in there, a “welcome” to the page, whatever you want to call it, How to use the site, anything… but it has to to contain some very specific info. It has to contain ALL of YOUR MAIN KEYWORDS. What materials do you work in, what stones… What techniques do you use, where are you made, are you a one-artist studio, a husband and wife team…. Do you use ancient techniques, something cool like that?…. What’s your “WHY?”, do you contribute to a charity? Put that on here… If there is a logical outbound link you can include, include it. Google LOVES links. (but do set that one up to opening a new window)
Don’t worry about “Oh my god know one is ever going to read this.” You might be right, but that’s not who you’re writing it for – you’re writing it for Google. Of course write it beautifully so that your visitors get “YOU” out of it, but its raison d’être is Google.
Use Google to track down what keywords/phrases are actively being searched.
Refine a SPECIFIC keyword/phrase for each different adding, adding differentiators as needed.
SEVEN parts of each page to optimize:
1) Page Title
3) Meta Description
5) Image Titles
6) Alt Text (be careful here)
7) H1 or H2 tag for your Focus Keyword Phrase on each page
Plus a keyword-rich “welcome blurb” on your front page
If you have an SSL on your site for checkout, forcing it on all pages will give you a small SEO boost – Google loves SSLs. Don’t forget too, that as of the April 21, 2015 Google algorithm update, site that do not pass their mobile responsiveness test are being penalized in search.
That’s it for now. This is a big task to complete on each page in your site, for every product. You may need to swap out images if you can’t re-name them within your CMS. Believe me, it’s worth the pain. These are the first steps to being found on the vastness of the internet, so get to it!! If you have questions, feel free to ask them below!!
Need personalized help on applying these principles to your site? Schedule a private session with me, and I’ll guide you through exactly how this works specifically for your site and market segment.