Search engine optimization — SEO — is an important way to make sure people are finding your brand and your website online.
And though many might think SEO is just about using the right keywords, it’s actually much more complex.
Backlinks, page speed, keyword density, product ads — SEO encompasses so many things. If used effectively, it can make a major impact on both your ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retail sales.
Many SEO pros are still mourning the loss of Google’s Keyword Planner, but there are other tools available that pros and novices alike can use to up their SEO efforts, drive more traffic, and boost sales. So, here are 10 tools that can help retailers on their journey to optimizing your site.
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Moz: The SEO Monolith
What it is: Moz is a leader in the SEO world, with a robust blog and a suite of free and paid products. Initially an SEO consulting company, Moz has morphed into one of the go-to resources for all things SEO.
How retailers can use it: Technically speaking, Moz is really multiple SEO tools, not just one. And each tool has distinct offerings and benefits for retailers:
- Moz Pro: Moz Pro will help your website content, improving your rankings and visibility, as well as provide a ton of actionable and insightful data along the way.
- Keyword explorer: This is a great place to start if you have some keywords in mind for which you’d like to rank. Receive a full analysis, including difficulty to rank and related keywords to explore. This is a feature of Moz Pro, but the two free queries each day make it valuable even if you don’t subscribe to Pro.
- Moz Local: Especially helpful for retailers with brick-and-mortar locations, Moz Local will make sure “that your business listings are correct, consistent, and visible across the web.” This is important for making your location discoverable! You need to make it as easy as possible for web users to find out your physical, real-life location, and this is one way to do that across multiple databases.
Google.com: The Legend
What it is: Although this search engine likely doesn’t need an introduction, Google is the place where most search queries happen (approximately 66%, compared to Bing’s 33%).
How retailers can use it: While users turn to Google to perform searches, retailers can use it as a source of information. Notice how, as you search, Google offers predicted text? This is based on similar searches to your own, indicating that these are related phrases to your content.
Let’s say you sell fanny packs. Type “fanny packs” in the Google search bar. Notice the predicted searches.
Now scroll to the bottom, and see what else Google suggests.
Google’s recommended searches indicate that these are the similar phrases people are searching on Google. This can help you determine what you should be saying online.
For example, maybe you refer to your fanny packs as cute and fashionable. You’ll also want to highlight any pink fanny packs and men’s fanny packs that you have for sale.
If you want to dig even further, type in one of those related terms (manually, so you get the predicted search again) and see what that tells you.
“Fanny pack pink” reveals interest in neon pink, cheap, free and sale fanny packs. If it’s relevant to your brand and products, make sure there is content on your site related to those keywords. To attract in-store traffic, host an event where you have pink fanny packs on sale — along with a free gift for qualified purchases.
Majestic: Backlink Breakdown
What it is: In a few words, Majestic tells you if other websites are linking to yours. But it does more than identification: You’ll also see URL anchor text, backlink types, quality of backlinks, backlink history and more. It’s everything you need to find out what and how other sites are directing their users to yours.
How retailers can use it: When you know how and from where consumers are coming to your site, you can get better insight into who they are. This allows you to serve their needs better, both by offering products they’ll buy and content they’ll want.
If you see another local business linking to your site, share the link love, and then consider whether a partnership or collaboration makes sense. This can create opportunities you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
PageSpeed Insights: Page Load Police
What it is: When it comes to SEO, Google cares a lot about your site content, but it also considers how long it takes for a user to load your page. As Google continues to improve the experience for users, it will serve pages that also provide a good experience. And if your page takes too long to load, that’s not a great experience.
PageSpeed Insights is a product by Google that will tell you how fast your pages load, as well as provide suggestions for improvement.
How retailers can use it: The answer here is pretty straightforward. Plug in your URL, then pass the insights along to your developer. Though it seems simple, it’s becoming increasingly important.
One habit you should adopt that can help with this issue is making sure any images on your site are optimized for the web. This includes any images of your store on your site, as well as all your product images.
Ahrefs: Search, Backlinks and Social
What it is: Ahrefs is a tool that wears many hats. It originally launched as a backlink profiler, similar to Majestic, but has since expanded its offerings to include social shares and both organic and paid search insights.
How retailers can use it: Ahrefs has a vast offering of features, providing a number of possibilities for retailers. Use the backlink profiler as you would Majestic, identify which pages are the most-shared on social networks, and determine which pages perform the best in organic search (and for which terms).
Taking a holistic approach to each of these categories can reveal common themes and user behavior. Look for who’s sharing your most-shared content and what they’re saying about it. Direct quotes from consumers offer the best qualitative insights that you can distribute to your sales, product, support and other teams.
SEMrush: Competitive Analysis (and Then Some)
What it is: Though SEMrush hangs its hat on its promise for customers to “benefit from your competitors,” it does a lot more than provide a detailed analysis on your competitors’ SEO and paid ads:
- Display ad opportunities
- Backlink analysis
- Video ad research
- SEO and PPC keyword research
- Product ads
- Site audit
- Brand monitoring
- Social media listening and management
How retailers can use it: Though all the features are valuable, some of the most value for retailers lies in the product ads.
With this, you can identify which ads you’re competing against, and compare your ads to theirs. From this information, you’ll be able to determine how to beat out your competition and sell more products.
Keyword Tool: Keyword Planner Successor
What it is: Especially valuable since the discontinuation of Google’s Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool identifies search opportunities, related keywords, CPC, search volume and AdWords competition. You can also see related keywords that are phrased as questions, as well as search Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, and the App Store.
How retailers can use it: How you use Keyword Tool depends largely on your individual needs. Retailers who sell on Amazon, for example, can learn a lot about their competition and which phrases they should target in their product descriptions.
Type in “fanny packs,” and you’ll see a list of more than 100 related keywords on Amazon. “Fanny packs pink” shows up again, reiterating the demand for pink fanny packs. So if you don’t already have a pink fanny pack in your collection, it might be time to add one.
Google Fight: The Tie-Breaker
What it is: Google Fight is pretty much as simple as an SEO tool can get. You enter two keywords, and Google Fight will tell you which one “wins the fight” — meaning, this is the one you should target.
How retailers can use it: If you need a suggestion for an article on your blog on the fly, this is a good tool to help you decide between two you’re thinking.
Copy and Paste Keyword Density Tool: Simple Yet Effective
What it is: The Copy and Paste Keyword Density Tool is another simple, straightforward option, but it provides even more value. With it, you plug in up to three keywords or phrases, as well as site copy, to find out what your keyword density is. The tool recommends aiming for 1.6%–4% keyword density.
How retailers can use it: When you’re writing content for your website, whether it’s your homepage, product description page or an article on your blog, it’s always good to have keywords in mind for which you want to rank.
After you’ve identified those keywords and written your content, put it all into this tool to find out how your optimization efforts are. You can also edit within the tool and receive real-time updates on the keyword density. Make sure you put those keywords in URLs, meta data and alt tags, too!
Your On-Site Search: Close to Home
What it is: Your website has its own SEO data, just like Google. And though you’re not getting as many searches as Google, these search queries are much more insightful because they’re from users who are already on your site.
How retailers can use it: You can set up your on-site search report in Google Analytics to see which search terms are queried most frequently. With Google Analytics, you can also see which pages they’re entering the query on, which pages they land on, how many pages they view after their search, and whether they’ve made a purchase.
So if your website users are searching “fanny packs blue,” make sure you add a blue variant in addition to those pink fanny packs that appease the Google searchers.
SEO Is Only Effective if Your Website Is Too
Regardless of the tools you use for your SEO efforts, it’s for naught if you don’t do anything to capitalize on the traffic that’s coming to your site.
If you want to drive foot traffic, make your location and contact information easy to find. Promote any in-store events, promotions, or offers, and lure users in by promising a great shopping experience.