Jun 2022

Keyword Research and Strong Meta Header Tags & Meta Descriptions

If your website is not attracting the amount of traffic you’d like, a lack of keyword research and lack of or poorly written and organized Meta Data is the usual suspect.

  1. Meta Data
  2. Title Tags
  3. Header Tags
  4. Meta Descriptions

The first step in driving traffic to your website is to conduct thorough keyword research based on the words used by your ideal customers when they search for your products and/or services. That’s beating a dead horse at this point.  However, if you want Google to actually recognize your target keywords and present your website to those potential customers, you must optimize, that is, weave those targeted keywords into your site’s pages and be clever about it.

Meta Data. Think of it as a Table of Contents. When Google wants to know what a webpage is about, they take a read through , crawl, the table of contents in search of keywords that match search queries. Of the three elements of meta data, your title tag is the most important to Google, hence, the most important to everyone who matters. Here’s an example of the connection between a potential customer’s search intent and your title tag.

If someone is in the market for a design/build contractor in Miami, for example, and enters those keywords in a search:

search engines begin to search for websites that contain these keywords within their title tags. After all, what good is a search engine if it doesn’t find what I’m searching for.

  • Note that the keywords “Residential Design/Build…” are underlined and highlighted along with the company name. This is the site’s homepage title tag.
  • Note also that the keywords are BOLDED within the meta description (we’ll get to this later).
  • Final note on title tags: Although there isn’t a direct correlation between keyword-rich title tags and first place rankings on Google, if you search any competitive keyword or keyword phrase on Google, almost all of the top ranking results use exact keywords in their title tags. Idk
  • Final, final note: keep title tags under 60 characters, 55 characters is best.

Speaking of reading a text, all the best students know how to read quickly and efficiently. They never ever read a textbook straight through. The best ones use the SQ3R method or one similar to it. They read the title, then go through reading “Headings” and “Subheadings” to understand the structure and purpose of the text. Google is an excellent reader. Think of the H1 heading tag as you would the heading of a chapter in a textbook and the H2 as an important but subordinate subheading ( there’s also H3, H4, H5, H6, etc., but they are pretty insignificant as far a search engines are concerned). The H1 and H2 headings should be on each page of a website. They serve as the title of the page visible to both search engines and visitors. They inform both Google and visitors about the purpose and structure of the page. It makes sense, therefore, to “naturally” wrap these headers tags in the same keywords used in the title tag.  It adds a flow factor to the reading.

A friendly reminder – one size does not fit all. You do not optimize a website. You optimize each page of the site. Each page should have  its own distinct title tag, header tags, and meta description. If they do not, the site is perfectly positioned to get dinged in the head by Google for duplicate content, a BIG no-no. We must agree. Who enjoys reading the same content over and again?

Finally, Meta Descriptions, shh! It’s a secret. Meta descriptions cannot be seen on a website page or within a browser. It appears in search results under the title tag and URL. A meta description is the block of text that describes the content visitors will find on the corresponding webpage.

The keywords included in meta descriptions, those BOLDED, are not ranking factors. They do, however, match the keywords used by users in their search query. They can, therefore, be used to direct traffic to your website thereby increasing your site’s click through rate (CTR), another important Google ranking factor.

Take-Home Message

It’s all about delivering value to the people who visit your website in search of information, services, or products. They are all looking for answers to solve an existing problem. Your job is to present valuable information that answers the call. If your site enhances the viewer’s experience, even just with heading tags and meta descriptions, this will lead to positive results for your company, the user, and the search engines.

By optimizing keywords into your website pages, it sends a signal to Google letting it know that your content is relevant, valuable, and trustworthy.

Final note, promise: If you do not write your own meta tags, Google will write them for you. They’re excellent readers but no so hot when it comes to writing.

 

Feb 2022

DIY Keyword Research & Analysis

 

Keyword Research and Analysis
KEYWORD RESEARCH
Understand what your audience wants to find.

How do you determine which strategic keywords to target in your website’s content, and how so you craft that content to satisfy both users and search engines?

The power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market and how they are searching for your content, services, or products.

Keyword research provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions like:

  • What are people searching for?
  • How many people are searching for it?
  • In what format do they want that information?

In this article you’ll learn about tools and strategies for uncovering that information, as well as tactics that’ll help you avoid keyword research foibles and build strong content. Once you uncover how your target audience is searching for your content, you begin to uncover a whole new world of strategic SEO!

Before keyword research, ask questions

Before you can help your business grow through search engine optimization, you first have to fully understand who your customers are.

This is where corners are often cut. Too many people bypass this crucial planning step because keyword research takes time, and why spend the time when you already know what you want to rank for?

The answer is that what you want to rank for and what your audience actually wants are often two wildly different things. Focusing on your audience and then using keyword data to hone those insights will make for much more successful campaigns than focusing on arbitrary keywords.

Here’s an example. Frankie & Jo’s (a Seattle-based vegan, gluten-free ice cream shop) has heard about SEO and wants help improving how and how often they show up in organic search results. In order to help them, an SEO agency would first need to understand a little more about their customers. To do so, one might ask questions such as:

  • What types of ice cream, desserts, snacks, etc. are people searching for?
  • Who is searching for these terms?
  • When are people searching for ice cream, snacks, desserts, etc.?
    • Are there seasonality trends throughout the year?
  • How are people searching for ice cream?
    • What words do they use?
    • What questions do they ask?
    • Are more searches performed on mobile devices?
  • Why are people seeking ice cream?
    • Are individuals looking for health-conscious ice cream specifically or just looking to satisfy a sweet tooth?
  • Where are potential customers located — locally, nationally, or internationally?

And finally — here’s the kicker — how can we help provide the best content about ice cream to cultivate a community and fulfill what all those people are searching for? Asking these questions is a crucial planning step that will guide keyword research and help craft better content.

What terms are people searching for?

You may have a way of describing what you do, but how does your audience search for the product, service, or information you provide? Answering this question is a crucial first step in the keyword research process.

Discovering keywords

You likely have a few keywords in mind that you would like to rank for. These will be things like your products, services, or other topics your website addresses, and they are great seed keywords for your research, so start there! You can enter those keywords into a keyword research tool to discover average monthly search volume and similar keywords. We’ll get into search volume in greater depth in the next section, but during the discovery phase, it can help you determine which variations of your keywords are most popular amongst searchers.

Once you enter in your seed keywords into a keyword research tool, you will begin to discover other keywords, common questions, and topics for your content that you might have otherwise missed.

Let’s use the example of a florist that specializes in weddings.

Typing “wedding” and “florist” into a keyword research tool, you may discover highly relevant, highly searched for related terms such as:

  • Wedding bouquets
  • Bridal flowers
  • Wedding flower shop

In the process of discovering relevant keywords for your content, you will likely notice that the search volume of those keywords varies greatly. While you definitely want to target terms that your audience is searching for, in some cases, it may be more advantageous to target terms with lower search volume because they’re far less competitive.

Since both high- and low-competition keywords can be advantageous for your website, learning more about search volume can help you prioritize keywords and pick the ones that will give your website the biggest strategic advantage.

Diversify!

It’s important to note that entire websites don’t rank for keywords — <em>pages</em> do. With big brands, we often see the homepage ranking for many keywords, but for most websites this isn’t usually the case. Many websites receive more organic traffic to pages other than the homepage, which is why it’s so important to diversify your website’s pages by optimizing each for uniquely valuable keywords.

 How often are those terms searched?

Uncovering search volume

The higher the search volume for a given keyword or keyword phrase, the more work is typically required to achieve higher rankings. This is often referred to as keyword difficulty and occasionally incorporates SERP features; for example, if many SERP features (like featured snippets, knowledge graph, carousels, etc.) are clogging up a keyword’s result page, difficulty will increase. Big brands often take up the top 10 results for high-volume keywords, so if you’re just starting out on the web and going after the same keywords, the uphill battle for ranking can take years of effort.

Typically, the higher the search volume, the greater the competition and effort required to achieve organic ranking success. Go too low, though, and you risk not drawing any searchers to your site. In many cases, it may be most advantageous to target highly specific, lower competition search terms. In SEO, we call those long-tail keywords.

Understanding the long tail

It would be great to rank #1 for the keyword “shoes”… or would it?

It’s wonderful to deal with keywords that have 50,000 searches a month, or even 5,000 searches a month, but in reality, these popular search terms only make up a fraction of all searches performed on the web. In fact, keywords with very high search volumes may even indicate ambiguous intent, which, if you target these terms, it could put you at risk for drawing visitors to your site whose goals don’t match the content your page provides.

Does the searcher want to know the nutritional value of pizza? Order a pizza? Find a restaurant to take their family? Google doesn’t know, so they offer these features to help you refine. Targeting “pizza” means that you’re likely casting too wide a net.

If you’re searching for “pizza,” Google thinks you may also be interested in “cheese.” They’re not wrong…

 

Was your intent to find a pizza place for lunch? The “Discover more places” SERP feature has that covered.

The remaining 75% lie in the “chunky middle” and “long tail” of search.

Don’t underestimate these less popular keywords. Long tail keywords with lower search volume often convert better because searchers are more specific and intentional in their searches. For example, a person searching for “shoes” is probably just browsing. On the other hand, someone searching for “best price red women’s size 7 running shoe” practically has their wallet out!

Sapient eCommerce can show you which keywords your pages are ranking for, their search volume, difficulty, and more.

Receive a Free Search Volume Report
Yes, Send me a Free Search Volume Report

 

Getting strategic with search volume

Now that you’ve discovered relevant search terms for your site and their corresponding search volumes, you can get even more strategic by looking at your competitors and figuring out how searches might differ by season or location.

Keywords by competitor

You’ll likely compile a lot of keywords. How do you know which to tackle first? It could be a good idea to prioritize high-volume keywords that your competitors are not currently ranking for. On the flip side, you could also see which keywords from your list your competitors are already ranking for and prioritize those. The former is great when you want to take advantage of your competitors’ missed opportunities, while the latter is an aggressive strategy that sets you up to compete for keywords your competitors are already performing well for.

Keywords by season

Knowing about seasonal trends can be advantageous in setting a content strategy. For example, if you know that “Christmas box” starts to spike in October through December in the United Kingdom, you can prepare content months in advance and give it a big push around those months.

Keywords by region

You can more strategically target a specific location by narrowing down your keyword research to specific towns, counties, or states in the Google Keyword Planner (https://ads.google.com/home/#!/), or evaluate “interest by subregion” in Google Trends (https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US). Geo-specific research can help make your content more relevant to your target audience. For example, you might find out that in Texas, the preferred term for a large truck is “big rig,” while in New York, “tractor trailer” is the preferred terminology.

Which format best suits the searcher’s intent?

We have previously covered SERP features. That background is going to help us understand how searchers want to consume information for a particular keyword. The format in which Google chooses to display search results depends on intent, and every query has a unique one. Google describes these intents in their Quality Rater  Guidelines

https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf

as either “know” (find information), “do” (accomplish a goal), “website” (find a specific website), or “visit-in-person” (visit a local business).

While there are thousands of possible search types, let’s take a closer look at five major categories of intent:

  1. Informational queries: The searcher needs information, such as the name of a band or the height of the Empire State Building.

2. Navigational queries: The searcher wants to go to a particular place on the Internet, such as Facebook or the homepage of the NFL.

 

3. Transactional queries: The searcher wants to do something, such as buy a plane ticket or listen to a song.

4. Commercial investigation: The searcher wants to compare products and find the best one for their specific needs.

5. Local queries: The searcher wants to find something locally, such as a nearby coffee shop, doctor, or music venue.

An important step in the keyword research process is surveying the SERP landscape for the keyword you want to target in order to get a better gauge of searcher intent. If you want to know what type of content your target audience wants, look to the SERPs!

Google has closely evaluated the behavior of trillions of searches in an attempt to provide the most desired content for each specific keyword search.

Take the search “dresses,” for example:

By the shopping carousel, you can infer that Google has determined many people who search for “dresses” want to shop for dresses online.

There is also a Local Pack feature for this keyword, indicating Google’s desire to help searchers who may be looking for local dress retailers.

If the query is ambiguous, Google will also sometimes include the “refine by” feature to help searchers specify what they’re looking for further. By doing so, the search engine can provide results that better help the searcher accomplish their task.

Google has a wide array of result types it can serve up depending on the query, so if you’re going to target a keyword, look to the SERP to understand what type of content you need to create.

Tools for determining the value of a keyword

How much value would a keyword add to your website? These tools can help you answer that question, so they’d make great additions to your keyword research arsenal:

Input a keyword in Keyword Explorer and get information like monthly search volume and SERP features (like local packs or featured snippets) that are ranking for that term. The tool extracts accurate search volume data by using live clickstream data.

Google Keyword Planner –  https://ads.google.com/home/#!/

Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner has historically been the most common starting point for SEO keyword research. However, Keyword Planner does restrict search volume data by lumping keywords together into large search volume range buckets.

Google Trends –  https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US

Google’s keyword trend tool is great for finding seasonal keyword fluctuations. For example, “funny Halloween costume ideas” will peak in the weeks before Halloween.

This free tool populates commonly searched for questions around a specific keyword. Bonus! You can use this tool in tandem with another free tool, Keywords Everywhere, to prioritize ATP’s suggestions by search volume.

Provides some really neat competitive keyword data.

Now you know how to uncover what your target audience is searching for and how often. The next step is learning to craft pages in a way that users will love and search engines can understand. It’s called On-Site Optimization.

Source: Britney Muller at Moz

 

Feb 2022

What Do You Hope to Gain From Your SEO Approach?

SEO search engine optimization concept on blackboard

When analyzing companies that rank highly in Internet Searches it becomes obvious that they are not only liked by Google but also by their target audience.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing. Each business has to have a different approach depending on the consumer behavior in your particular industry. One important take-home message is that companies in all industries get more traffic organically via SEO and Social Media than from paid search via Pay Per Click (PPC) and Google Ads.

Website Traffic Volume (the volume of users visiting a website) is driven by a mix of different Intent Keywords. How many people visit your website will depend on the website’s purpose, the visitors’ own goals, and the way in which they discovered the site.

When creating content for your website and blog, target keywords with low difficulty and high volume instead of attempting to rank for highly competitive keywords that may be out of reach or that would take a very long time to rank for.

Finally, remember it’s a two-step process: increasing website traffic does not mean you are making sales. Your traffic has to be directed to well-designed pages that deliver an enjoyable user experience that provide valuable content. That is, each page on your website has to be fully optimized.

Jan 2022

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION – Distinguishing Yourself from Your Competitors

Search Engine Optimization( SEO) is the process of improving the quantity of unpaid anonymous traffic to your website.

If I’ve never heard of your company but are searching for your services or products using specific keywords, would I find your company listed in the Search Results? There are several Key factors to enhance your SEO ranking. The most salient one is the content of your website pages.
Sapient eCommerce’s methods for improving content are grounded in your specific industry and customer demographics, vastly improving how you can be found in an Internet search. Original content and SEO work together to provide helpful content that attracts visitors. “Content” includes text, images, and videos. The perfect combination of various content will get your site better ranking enabling more people to find you (Forbes, 2021).

If you are looking to grow your business, Search Engine Optimization offers small and medium size businesses a competitive edge you will need to distinguish yourself from your competition. If the first page of Google Search Results receives 90% of search traffic, how can you afford not to be listed there? Sapient eCommerce identifies your competitors, analyzes their weaknesses and strengths, develops a personalized SEO Strategy, and creates your online reputation. Our methods are grounded in the science of SEO and will improve your online content and boost your Search Engine ranking in local searches.

Want to grow? Let Sapient help. If you are looking to outsource your digital marketing efforts, we would be happy to spend time learning more about your business. Start by scheduling a time for us to talk through the calendar link found here

Soren C. Adams
Growth Manager
e: [email protected]
www.sapientecommerce.com
New York City, San Francisco, Vero Beach Florida|

Aug 2021

Inventory Records: Definition, Guide, and How-to Record Inventory

Inventory is the heart and soul of your business, and it’s constantly moving throughout the supply chain, including:

  • New batches of inventory entering your warehouse
  • Items getting fulfilled and shipped
  • More inventories being ordered, transported, received, and stored

Along with the type of products you sell, your warehouse location(s), and your inventory’s current value — keeping tabs on ecommerce inventory data and information at all times can be challenging, error-prone, and time-consuming. Yet when the accounting period ends, your accountant is going to expect accurate reporting. 

That’s why online brands ditch the manual work and implement technology that makes record-keeping a breeze.

In this article, we explore:

  • What inventory records entail
  • Why it’s important to consistently track inventory 
  • How to outsource inventory management

What are inventory records?

Inventory records are repositories of data pertaining to each item in a brand’s product line, including:

  • What’s in stock at the SKU level
  • What’s been sold and reordered
  • The product’s value
  • The inventory’s storage location
  • Other information that pertains to a business, such as work-in-process (WIP) inventory data

Each entry must have a description of the SKU along with relevant data. These records are either created manually or digitally.

Why it’s important to keep up-to-date inventory records

Keeping proper inventory records provides better inventory control and visibility into inventory as changes occur.

Since inventory is noted as an asset in a business’s balance sheets, you will be expected to provide accurate inventory information at the end of a fiscal year or accounting period.

Here is why every business owner should be keeping proper inventory records.

Ensures inventory tracking is accurate

Consistently keeping track of what’s leaving and entering the warehouse ensures inventory accuracy and inventory reconciliation.

Inaccurate inventory counts can lead to inventory shrinkage, or when stock is less than the recorded balance in the accounting record, and it can cause major discrepancies that can throw off profit margins and other financials.

Makes inventory accounting easier

Accurate inventory records make the inventory accounting process much more bearable.

Keeping track of inventory value and count is legally required of all retailers and manufacturers, as per the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and regulated by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  

By maintaining a proper inventory record-keeping process, you’re also able to track changes in value, so you know how much your inventory is worth at the end of an accounting period.

Helps prevent items from going out of stock

Keeping up-to-date inventory records help you prevent stockouts and have a better understanding on when it’s time to reorder more inventory.

Keep in mind that not having enough inventory can cause out-of-stock issues but storing too much inventory can increase carrying costs  and lead you to potentially accumulate too much dead stock.

Since inventory is constantly moving throughout the ecommerce supply chain, the use of real-time inventory management technology makes it easier to check if all inventory is accounted for when comparing physical inventory and electronic records.

Being able to track inventory without the manual work can reduce risk while optimizing operational costs, including storage fees.

Prevents mistakes from being made based off of bad data

If your records aren’t up-to-date, you and your team risk making important business decisions based on incorrect data.

By using technology to track inventory in real time, you can reduce mistakes by cutting out time-consuming, manual work.

Tracking inventory in real time can be done using inventory management solutions, including inventory apps or a more robust system like ERP inventory software. These systems allow you to aggregate data by connecting your upstream manufacturing activities with your downstream sales.

With real-time data tied to inventory, you’re also given the information needed to identify trends and forecast demand, so you can make better predictions on inventory reorder quantities and levels.

Tips for keeping accurate inventory records

Depending on the number of SKUs you sell, your order volume, and the size of your company, the complexity of inventory record-keeping varies.

No matter how intricate your business is, here are some of the top inventory management strategies you can implement.

Keep physical backups

An inventory audit is defined as the process of checking a company’s actual inventory levels against their financial records to ensure accurate inventory accounting. To make inventory auditing more efficient, it is helpful for retailers to keep physical records of all inventory along with online backups (or vice versa). 

Keeping original physical copies can be a legal requirement in some states. And it also secures your information in case of a situation where your cloud server’s integrity is compromised.

Get input from your accountant on what to record and how

Find an accountant you can trust and get their insights into how to keep inventory records for your business.

In most cases, the information you need during the accounting period includes COGS, raw materials (if applicable), beginning inventory, and the value of ending inventory (what’s left over at the end of an accounting period).

You can also ask your accountant for their advice on how to choose the best inventory valuation method  based on the type of products you sell and your typical sales volume.

Remain consistent in your accounting methods

There are many ways to track and record inventory. No matter what method you choose, the most important thing is to stay consistent to ensure accuracy. 

At the end of an accounting period or financial year, you will need to calculate how much your inventory is worth.

The most common valuation methods in ecommerce include: 

  • FIFO (first-in, first-out)
  • LIFO (last-in, first-out)
  • Inventory weighted average (WAC)
  • Specific identification method

Invest in inventory management software

When it comes to keeping records on inventory, you have two options:

  1. Update records after a designated accounting period (periodic inventory system)
  2. Continuously update the records with every transaction (perpetual inventory system)

As your business grows, adapting a perpetual inventory system is your best bet.

This can be done by investing in an inventory management software, which will help you track inventory flow in real time and record live updates without you lifting a finger.

What a good inventory management software should allow you to do

A powerful inventory management software makes inventory record-keeping a breeze.

By automating the tracking of all inventory and real-time changes, you can optimize inventory to meet demand and improve supply chain efficiency.

With the right software, you can easily download records and custom reports, so you have all the information you need when it’s time to meet with your accountant.

Here is a breakdown of how an inventory management software works.

Real-time views of inventory levels across all channels

As you expand your business, you most likely will branch out from selling exclusively on your online store.

Marketplaces (e.g., Amazon and Walmart) and social media platforms (e.g., Instagram and Facebook) provide direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands different avenues to sell through, so they can broaden their customer reach.

That’s why many merchants implement a multichannel inventory management software, which tracks inventory across channels and aggregates records all in one place. 

If you partner with a technology-enabled 3PL  you get access to built-in inventory management tools that also allow you to track inventory across channels and distribution centers in one place.

This allows merchants to spread inventory across multiple fulfillment centers and be able to track inventory in real time through one dashboard instead of relying on multiple sources.

Automatically generate inventory reports

Arguably, your inventory management software is only as good as the inventory reports it generates. Calculating and tracking these metrics in spreadsheets or through multiple different integrations can be troublesome. 

Inventory management technology automatically aggregates data, so you can pull custom reports whenever you need them.

For instance, many order fulfillment  platform automatically pulls reports and data on SKU velocity, inventory days on hand, inventory turnover rate, and much more. 

Set reorder points based on historical data

Inventory management software allows you to automatically set reorder point notifications, so you can replenish inventory on time without the need to be tracking inventory every hour or manually as each order is placed.

The software pulls insights from historical sales data to give you a better idea of when it will be time to reorder more inventory per SKU, so you can set a predetermined reorder point.