Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of optimising your web site (content, code and delivery) to improve ranking and frequency of inclusion in web search results (via search engines such as Google).
Your Big Cartel shop and Aarcade theme together provide an advanced system that automatically maintains your SEO for you. This system has been specifically developed, based on Google’s own recommendations, to work in the background and free you from tinkering with code so that you can focus on the most important aspect of your site: your content.
Your Big Cartel shop and Aarcade theme SEO system provides:
- Clean and Valid HTML markup
- Unique SEO structured page titles
- Auto meta tags, including content-based description, Facebook, Twitter and Google tags
- schema.org microdata
- Canonical links for custom domain users
- Clean and search-engine-friendly URLs
- Simple and clear navigation
- Proper headers and anchors
- Appropriately labeled alt tags on images
- A robots.txt that points to an automatically generated sitemap
With this system in place, the answer to “What should I be doing about SEO?” is simply focus on your content.
Content is King
SEO continues to come back to one fundamental fact; regardless of a search engine’s technology and method, now or in the future, its goal shall always be to find the most popular, relevant and interesting content for any given search phrase.
From this fact comes the logical approach to SEO; the best and longest lasting SEO method is growing unique, relevant and interesting content at your site.
A Better Site and a Better Web
There are no on-site tricks that will gain you valuable search traffic despite your content. Any coding exploited in this manner will continue to be extinguished by the search engines, and the traffic built on these exploits will be lost. Take keyword meta tags for example; once considered a vital tool for SEO manipulation, they are now completely ignored by Google.
Understanding this will allow you to see why a lot of the internet’s SEO articles and services should be avoided.
More importantly, if you adopt this content-focused approach — one that prioritises uniqueness and relevance — you will be working towards the most stable and long-lasting increases in your search engine rankings and audience. You will also be actively contributing to a better search engine user experience and a better web.
What can I do to improve my site content and search engine ranking?
Achieving significant and consistent increases in site traffic via SEO takes time and patience. SEO is about growing search-engine-generated traffic organically. It is an ongoing part of site maintenance, not a one time process with instant results.
SEO should be only a segment of your combined efforts to increase your audience. Items to consider for this goal include:
Be Aware of Keywords
Always be aware of the keywords that people might use to search for your product. It may be helpful to use online tools / research to develop a short list, and then revisit / update the list every few months. Try to include words that are specific / unique to your product. Use your keywords often in any text content you create, but always use them naturally. Your priority is that your content reads well for your customers. Unnatural use of keywords will lose you visitors and damage your SEO.
Well Written Product Descriptions
Your product descriptions are one of the most important parts of your site content. Consider that the first paragraph of your product description may be used in the blurb appearing under search results for your products. As with item 6, you want to make this captivating.
Quality of Content
The quality of your content is extremely important. Consider the value and effectiveness of your site’s text and media (in the eyes of your target audience), spelling and grammar, quality of images / media and overall presentation. Refer to The importance of product image quality and size.
By expanding your content (via a Blog, a support section, content-rich pages, etc.), you are expanding your site’s searchable content and your avenues for thoughtfully placed and discussed keywords (refer item 1). You are also making your site more personal, relevant and active; a vital step in generating new visitors and keeping your existing ones coming back.
A custom domain gives your site more weight and gives you the freedom and security of controlling inbound links when making future site changes.
The titles you assign to your pages, products and categories are all used when displaying search results for your site. These titles should have correct spelling and capitalisation and be descriptive and concise. Avoid unnecessarily long or verbose titles, which are likely to get truncated when they show up in the search results.
Captivating Site Description
Your site description, entered in your Big Cartel Store > Settings, may be used in the blurb appearing under search results for your site. You will need to keep it brief, but make it captivating. You want to inspire someone to click your link.
Other factors that can improve your site audience and increase your customer base may also have the side effect of improving your search engine ranking. Refer to What should I do to increase my audience and customers?
What shouldn’t I do when it comes to SEO?
We strongly recommend that you:
Do Not Employ an SEO Service
No one can promise you a specific search engine ranking. There are many SEO services that use questionable methods that may get short term results, but lead to search engine penalties in the future. Your time and money are much better spent on the items listed in the previous section of this article. If you are committed to spending resources on promotional services, look for services that focus on your content (see above) and your marketing/networking (see What should I do to increase my audience and customers?)
Do Not Subscribe to SEO Blogs
Blogs, by nature, must post new content at a high frequency to maintain an audience. What is best for your site’s SEO does not change with anywhere near this frequency. As a result, if you are subscribed to such a blog, you will invariably be influenced to devote resources to SEO practices that are not relevant to your site or that will have a negligible, or even negative, effect upon your SEO. As with item 1, your resources are much better spent on the items listed in the previous section of this article.
Do Not Unnaturally Manipulate Search Engine Results
Attempting unnatural search result manipulation, e.g. inserting keyword lists into your site, will damage your SEO and site usability. From Google’s basic principles:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.
- Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our terms of service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.
Do Not Alter Your Code
Never edit or insert code into your site for SEO purposes unless you are an experienced coder and/or you are 100% certain that your code will not create invalid HTML or damage your SEO. We have encountered many cases of invalid HTML created in the name of SEO, which have instead resulted in SEO penalties. If you feel strongly about manipulating your site code, refer to Should I be editing my meta tags, URLs or titles?