Search Engine Optimization
How to Get New Customers
We all want people to visit our craft-related sites. Selling your handmade items to your friends and family might be just ducky but don’t you also want to sell to people you don’t know?
You’re going to need to stand out from the crowd and be noticed and that’s where search engine optimization comes in.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, SEO for short, is a group of techniques and tricks to get a website listed higher in the search engine results or SERP’s.
How do you find things on the Internet?
Think about how you use the Internet. Suppose you were looking for a new source for free knitting patterns. You would probably go to Google, Yahoo, MSN, or one of the many other search engines and search for the phase: free knitting patterns.
After you conduct that search, you get a list of results. It’s no accident which websites are listed first. The owners of those sites have spent time and money to be near the top of the results.
On Google, our query for free knitting patterns yielded 6,730,000 results. How often do you think people visit the first 10 sites listed? How about 11-20? Or 21-30? Do you think anyone visits # 6,730,000?
What are you looking for?
Let’s take a moment and think about this.
We searched for free knitting patterns. We searched for what we wanted, not who we wanted to get it from. Unless you have giant name/brand recognition like a Michael’s or a JoAnn’s; people are going to find your site based on what you have to offer, not your company or website name.
Optimize for the Right Things
A big mistake many crafters make with SEO is getting links using their website address or URL as the link text.
When’s the last time you searched for a site and used the URL to find it? If you already know the URL, what are you searching for?
Branding & Optimization
There is, however, a catch to SEO.
Well, more than one actually, but for now we’ll focus on one.
If people are going to part with their hard-earned money and exchange it for what you sell; you will need to develop your company name/brand with the search engines as well.
You want to work at maintaining your company name/brand in the top 10 search engine results when someone searches for that name or phrase. It builds your credibility as a merchant. It implies your have been around a while and are a valid business.
Since you have hopefully chosen a unique company name/brand this shouldn’t be terribly hard to do. Assuming your name is truly unique, you will be the only one targeting it and it should be the first item on your SEO plan.
SEO for Your Products
While working on name/brand recognition, also work on optimizing on the words and phrases of what you sell.
This is done by carefully choosing the text used to link to your site.
If you are a member of a forum that permits signatures, put a link in your signature to your site.
When possible, make the linked text (what people click on) your company/brand name (not the URL) or a phrase that identifies what you sell. This may be the only place you have 100% control over the link – make it work for you.
When submitting your site to directories like CraftyTips.com, pick your title carefully.
For the most part, this too is totally under your control and should be used to your advantage.
If you sell beaded purses, use a title of: Handcrafted Beaded Purses or whatever people who buy your purses call them. Think about how your customers would search on Google for what you sell. Use those words and phrases for your title.
SEO, Putting it All Together
It’s all about being found and getting noticed.
Combined with well-written content and careful use of title, heading, bold, strong and alt tags; linked text using your keywords should help your site rise in the search engine results and bring new potential customers to your craft website.
Good SEO will bring visitors to your site. Then it’s up to you to complete the sale.
Where to Learn More About SEO
Most of what I learned about SEO came from other websites and forums. The webmaster forums offer free advice for the taking. Some of it’s good advice and some isn’t but it’s the sharing of SEO techniques and tips that will lead to developing your own SEO bag of tricks.
My biggest piece of advice is to not fall prey to one of the “make money online” scams. There are multitudes of people proclaiming they have the secret to promoting sites online. They sell a ‘plan’ or ‘program’ that for the most part contains information you could obtain freely elsewhere. You won’t find any secrets because they don’t have any.