After working with SEO since its infancy, we know a few things here at Top Of The List about how it works. We know a lot about how SEO has changed, and we consistently allocate resources to keep up with the latest news, tools, and algorithm changes. It turns out that—in the end—SEO is all about content. Sure, all the normal things matter: Title tags, meta descriptions, on-page keywords, semantic copy, high-quality backlinks, structured data, and so on. But the long-standing notion in SEO that “Content is King” still holds fast and true. And probably always will!
Engagement, Sharing, and Repeat Business
Unless the content on a website keeps visitors engaged, encourages them to share the information the site offers, and keeps them returning for more, even the best SEO in the world will not help a page or website stay visible for long. The same is true for a brick-and-mortar store.
If you think about a physical storefront or office, what is it that keeps visitors in the store, encourages them to tell others about the store, and keeps them returning for more? Now look at your website and think of similar strategies you can use to accomplish this digitally.
Here’s a handy chart that compares the strategies that a physical location uses to keep customers happy, and how that might translate to your website. Because there are differences in these items depending on whether you offer a product or service, we’ve sorted the strategies into three category types: Products, Services, and Both.
Brick and Mortar Store or Office
Both Products and Services
The outside of your store or office is attractive.
Attractive home page!
Your store is easy to find
Your website is easy to find: You have a presence and are marketing in the places on the Internet where your target market frequently visits.
It offers good parking or has relatively close access to parking facilities or other modes of transportation.
Your website is tested and looks great on desktop, mobile, and tablet. It loads fast and functions well on all mediums too.
Visitors have a pleasant experience when walking into your store with attractive, well-thought-out displays and a friendly atmosphere.
Visitors have a pleasant experience being on your website. It is attractive and well-thought-out. Pages load quickly when moving from one to the next.
Your store is handicapped accessible and offers motorized carts to assist those who need help.
Your site is ADA compliant for those who are sight, hearing, physically, or mentally impaired. The Internet has significantly broadened their world but can go only as far as your compliance lets them.
Your store uses wayfinding signs and organizes items into departments to make things easy to find.
The architecture of your site is professionally done, so different types of users can easily find what they are looking for. You have a well-designed search function on your website and continually review search activity and results to ensure visitors can find what they need.
Your store is clean.
Your website is clean and free of distracting “clutter” and outdated items or information.
Customers can “try out” some products or services, such as trying on clothing before buying, turning on a TV, listening to speakers, or playing with a toy.
You can get creative here on the digital side with this one. Video can do a lot to give customers a more “real” experience. Flooring and furniture stores can offer online apps for customers to upload a picture and show what the flooring or furniture will look like in their own home. You can also offer “try before you buy” on some merchandise or services.
Customer service is always available when desired.
You have an online chat/help desk.
Customer service is knowledgeable about the products or services.
You have FAQ’s for the most common questions, more detailed information, and knowledgeable people to respond to questions. Authors of your blogs or news articles are people with expertise and authority on the subject.
There is a customer service desk for issues or returns.
You have help pages with instructions for returns, a call center, and/or phone, chat, or other contact methods for issues.
Your products or services are updated regularly with new styles, colors, or functionality.
You update your site with new product or service features. You regularly post to your blog and include the date. Older posts are updated with the new date.
The store changes its decor for seasons and/or holidays.
You update your site for seasons or holidays.
Checkout (or the next step for ordering a service) is quick and easy.
Checkout or the CTA to contact you is very easy, having been tested numerous times before launching the site.
Coupons are offered.
You offer specials, % off, or other incentives.
You are honest and transparent in all dealings with your customers.
You are honest and transparent in all dealings with your customers.
If applicable, you offer volume discounts.
Your site shows volume discounts, or at minimum, indicates that you offer them and provides a way for the customer to inquire.
Your products are in excellent condition; anything broken is removed from inventory or moved to a clearance area.
Products are shipped in excellent condition, taking care to keep them damage free.
Customers can pick up a product and inspect it.
You have a good image of the product as well as different views for the customer to inspect. Videos can help here also.
If an item is out of stock, alternatives are available.
You offer links to alternative products if an item is out of stock.
You indicate when an out-of-stock item may be in stock (if known).
You indicate when an out of stock may be in stock on the page the customer receives when trying to purchase it. Even better and easier to do online: offer an option that emails the future customer when the product is in stock.
Checkout offers more than one option (cashier or kiosk), either to save time or for the desired level of convenience.
You give customers choices of purchasing online themselves or calling to place an order.
Checkout is accurate.
Product total, sales tax, and shipping are clear and accurate.
Checkout offers different modes of payment.
You offer charge, PayPal, etc.
You offer carts for customers to carry products to the car, drive up options, assistance from store personnel to carry heavy items, or home delivery on larger products.
You offer free or reasonable shipping, making any costs clear to the customer.
Returns are quick and easy.
You make it easy for customers to return products, very easy. Free if possible!
You make your customer feel welcome by offering water or coffee.
Hmmm. Any ideas here?
You have literature or supporting documents about your services to give to your customer.
You allow your visitor to download literature or supporting documents about your services.
Depending on the service, you have samples to show your customer, with a knowledgeable salesperson to explain the details.
You have a way for your customer to obtain samples, either by mail or by coming to pick them up.
You show your customers examples of work you have done for others.
Your site has pictures, videos, case studies, testimonials, etc. s to show the work you have done for others.
With the importance of online shopping and e-commerce in the present economy, the days of creating a website and forgetting about it for several years are long gone! Just as a physical building requires consistent cleaning, updating, restocking, seasonal changes, and more, your website needs and deserves these too.
Correlation with E-A-T
An interesting thing about the above list is that many of the strategies are also part of the Google E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) guidelines. While these guidelines have been around for some time, there have not been direct SEO correlations between sites that follow them and those that do not. Yet almost every core algorithm update by Google mentions E-A-T. Google engineers suggest updating your site and following the guidelines rather than trying to find out that magic “fix” that will get your rankings back.
Many people think of text when they hear the word “content”, but video, images, infographics, and interactive scripts are content too. The Internet can often offer more to the purchasing experience than in-person shopping. Creative ways to display items or engage the visitor, the ability to pull in valid reviews from third-party sources, or link to other websites that provide additional information helpful to make the purchase are all examples that can be done more easily online.
It’s time to get started on content if you want to boost your SEO. Using the chart above, decide what you already practice in keeping up your website and what you still need to do to bring in more traffic and rank higher on search engines. We know the answer to that is Content!
About the Author
Bev founded Top Of The List in 2006 and has over 25 years of experience working with technology. In her free time, she competes in dog agility competitions with her Golden Retrievers, Cosmo, and Finn.