The author, Charlie Marchant is head of digital PR at a digital strategy company in Nottingham. She has over three years of successful experience advising businesses on how to increase traffic, generate leads and make more sales through digital PR and SEO.
In 2016, online sales overtook offline ones. When you want to buy a new coat, book, laptop, poster or anniversary gift, you search online. When you need a plumber, private tutor, personal trainer or web hosting provider, you take to the internet.
As many as 51% of purchases are now made online. Even when customers aren’t necessarily planning on buying online, they will often still look up online reviews. Thanks to sites like Trustpilot, Google+, Amazon, as well as blogger reviews and seller reviews on eCommerce websites, consumers can now find reputable information about retailers and service providers they are interested in.
So how can new businesses capitalise on these searches to grow their sales online? That’s where Digital PR and SEO comes in.
SEO-Optimize Your Website
A simple and well-designed website is the first step to successfully growing an online business. Websites need to be user-friendly, easy to navigate and chock-full of engaging calls to action. A poorly designed website will result in a high bounce rate and lose a business valuable customers.
But a great website alone won’t spring you to the top of Google results. Websites must be optimized so that search engines (like Google) will rank the website for its target keywords.
Research the keywords you want your website to rank for, check out the competition for those keywords, and narrow down a list of short-term and long-term priorities. Short term keywords are ones with lower traffic but also low competition, so they will be easier to rank for. Long-term keywords have higher traffic but are also very competitive so it takes longer to rank for these. Try to utilize your top priority keywords in your website’s copy. Keywords should be weaved in so it reads naturally; what’s referred to as “keyword stuffing” won’t perform well in search engines, or with users.
Write Relevant Blog Posts
Digital PR consultants and SEO (search engine optimization) specialists advocate for regularly updating an on-site blog. Blogs can boost your website’s search rankings for target keywords through SEO-optimized blog topics and copy. Uploading fresh content signals to Google’s bots that your website is active. Google’s bots read new website content to see which keywords your website should be ranking for.
If you’re still skeptical about blogging, listen to this: businesses that blog acquire 60% more customers than businesses that don’t. Your blog represents your brand voice, engages your customers,and provides great marketing fodder for your social media, newsletters and online networks. Blog posts can also serve as the backbone to a business’ digital PR strategy. These content gems are great webpages to link back to when writing guest posts, commenting on a journalist’s article, working with bloggers, or doing any other kind of “outreach” activity.
Make your blogs useful to potential customers. Provide information and advice to common queries your team receives, or often show up in Google (as related to your product or service). Research has shown that long-form blog content ranks better than short blog posts on search engines , so make your blogs highly detailed for maximum SEO benefit.
Contribute Guest Posts
Guest posting is a staple of digital PR. By contributing articles to other websites on industry-relevant topics, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and gain valuable backlinks to your website.
Building backlinks to your website is an important SEO activity. Links to your website signal that your website is a respected resource. The higher authority the website where the link is coming from, the more SEO link juice your site will get. “Link juice” refers to the relative power any link can give to another website.
Include links naturally in the articles you’re writing — just like keywords, don’t try and put them where they don’t fit naturally.
Work with Bloggers
Bloggers are trusted by 81% of people , making them very powerful advocates for any brand online. If you’re an eCommerce company with suitable products, working with bloggers can build trust in your brand through product reviews, features and giveaways. Bloggers hold a lot of clout and if they like your products, their readers might give them a try, too.
Service-based businesses can also benefit from blogger reviews. Hotels could offer a complimentary stay, a hair salon could offer a free hair tint, or a restaurant could invite a blogger for a meal. Many bloggers would be happy to exchange a review for a complimentary service if it’s relevant to their blog’s niche and audience.
Many bloggers will include a link back to your website in a review or blog feature, which is another win for your website’s SEO. If your brand is highly focused on social media or YouTube, consider working with social media influencers and vloggers as well. Though you won’t receive a backlink, their social media presence can still generate a sizeable amount of traffic.
Reviews are a very important part of your digital PR and SEO strategy. When a user searches online for your product name or business, you want them to see great reviews. Good reviews build brand trust, influence buying behaviour and can positively impact your local SEO . About 85% of consumers read reviews online, so they are a necessary part of a marketing strategy.
You can encourage previous customers to leave a review for your business on your preferred platform. If you’re targeting a specific geographic area, you may opt for Google+ reviews. TripAdvisor, Facebook and Trustpilot are other great places to gain reviews. If you’re an eCommerce business, you can also ask previous customers to leave a product review on your website.
The best way to encourage reviews is just to ask customers for one, whether its by email after an item has been delivered, or through an email newsletter. Just make sure to include a link to your preferred review platform. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, ask happy customers to leave an online review on their way out.
A well-planned digital marketing strategy,combining digital PR and SEO, is critical for businesses looking to generate eCommerce leads and sales. The internet is a lucrative source of customers that no business should underestimate.