Thursday, March 24, 2011

SEO for Crafters - Part 1

This is the start of a little series I’m going to call SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Crafters. I’m going to break it down into the simplest pieces I can.

This series is for those of you who have only just heard of the term SEO, either here or in passing conversation, but really have no idea what I’m talking about or why you should care. Don’t worry I’ll be sure to let you know why you should care.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding SEO. This is because it’s as much art as it is science and it takes time to see results. Many people actually do the right things, but give up before the magic takes hold.

What I intend to do is give you a few simple steps that can help you give your website or blog a big boost. You will need to be patient because it won’t happen over night. But if you’re able to keep in mind a few simple things, you will see results.

So let’s jump right in and talk about target market and keywords, the building blocks of SEO. But first let me explain search engine optimization. It is more or less exactly what it sounds like, optimizing your blog or website so that search engines will find you easily when a search is performed. The better your site is optimized the higher up or closer to number 1 in the search you appear and the more likely someone will be to click the link to your page.

Target Market

Here comes that target market thing again. For you to optimize your blog or website you need to define who you want to reach and what they’re searching for. The more you can narrow the focus of your blog and who will be interested the better your chances of rising to the top.

This means you need to think like your customers, what words would they use to find you? What specifically are they searching for?

Start Thinking About Keywords

Keywords are the specific words that someone would use in a search if they were looking for the information on your website or blog. When someone performs a search it’s because they have an interest. They tend to type in 2-3 words that first come to mind to describe their interest. They find a few interesting links that either a) give them a new phrase to search for or b) make them add on words to refine their search. When they start their search they get a lot of information they don’t want, but by following a few links they eventually find the wording that will lead them to the link they want.

What might those words be? This is the trick to keywords.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords is a pretty powerful tool that will give you a lot of useful information. You need to pick a word or phrase to start with, but this will most likely lead you down a path, so give yourself time to explore, be open to words and phrases you hadn’t thought of and take notes.

When you type in a word or phrase you get a list of related search terms with numbers listed for “Global Monthly Searches” and “Local Monthly Searches” as well as a bar graph that indicates competition. The monthly search numbers tell me how many times someone used that phrase over the last month both globally and locally (which is only as specific as United States). You’ll see numbers in the hundreds and in the hundred’s of thousands. Obviously the higher the number the more people are looking for that “thing” in particular. However the highest isn’t always the best. This is where the competition comes in.

Competition is a little tricky though because what it actually refers to is the number of businesses buying that phrase for their adwords campaign. However, it’s also a good indication of websites that have been optimized for that word or phrase. What you’re looking for is a combination of low to medium competition and medium to high search numbers

Look To Your Competition

Google Adwords also allows you to search a competitor’s website to see what words they’re optimized for. This will not only spark a new direction in thinking, but can help you distinguish yourself.

At the end of all this back and forth and chasing around you should have developed a list of 50 to 100 words and phrases that fit your business. They should either fit the low to medium competition and medium to high search numbers formula or have such ridiculously high search volume that competition doesn’t really matter.

Organic Search

Now there’s one final step, checking your organic search competition. Organic results are the websites, not the ads, that come up when you do a basic Google search. All we’re going to do now is get an idea of how many other websites are using the terms on your list. To do this type “allintitle: your keywords” into a basic Google search. What comes up is the websites that use this term in titles both of the entire site and of individual posts. There will be a number directly under the area you type your search term in. That’s how many pages use that term or phrase. If you can the results into the hundreds instead of the thousands, you’re on the right track.

Next week I’ll tell you what to do with all those keywords.

We often describe our businesses differently than others, what words do you commonly use in talking about your business? Do those match up with what others say?

I encourage comments directly to this post, but also feel free to email me directly with questions, reactions, struggles, etc.

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!
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