I had a local entrepreneur contact me about her website. When she launched she was getting regular sales. But she hasn't had a sniff in months. She thought maybe something was wrong with her site and asked me to take a look.
She sells Made in Michigan, lead-free, lightweight, high-quality, reusable shopping bags, something worth a look for stores like ours. Check out her site, www.berniebags.com. It will be helpful in understanding the rest of this post. (Full disclosure - nothing to disclose. I am not promoting her site or products, did not know her other than as a customer before she approached me, this is purely for educational purposes, but if you like what she's selling, by all means, buy it.)
I took a look at her site and did not see anything inherently wrong with it. But I am not the best judge of that. I do not shop much online, prefer to buy local whenever possible. So I ask you to check it out and tell me what you see that could be done better.
Her biggest problem, however, is one we all face.
I Googled her product category "Reusable Shopping Bags". Thirty five pages deep, I gave up. She was nowhere to be found.
So I gave her the following list of things to do to raise her site in the rankings of Google and other search engines...
1) Make sure you have good keywords and metatags. Whoever designed your website should know what I mean. Basically, you want to have the key phrases people might use to search for your product in the keywords and metatags (behind the scenes) parts of you website.
2) Get some "link love". The more that other websites link to you, the higher your site will rise in Google's eyes.
Ways to get links include asking your friends/customers who have websites to put your logo and a link on their sites. Also, you can launch a Facebook Page, a Google Places Page, a Yelp Page, etc. If you have a profile on LinkedIn or any other type site, make sure your website is referenced there.
Another way to get links is to comment on blogs and articles online. Run a search on all the articles on lead in shopping bags and write a quick comment like "That's why I decided to make and market some Michigan-made, lead-free, reusable shopping bags." Find the bloggers who are writing about this and make comments on their blogs, too.
3) Consider starting your own blog. You can get free blog sites from blogspot and wordpress. It takes time, but you can grow a following. Simply write quick, short, one-paragraph reminders of why using reusable bags is so good. Have links to other articles. Have photos and video. And make sure each post links back to your site.
4) Do a youtube video of the bag and why it is so cool. Most smartphones have video so making a video is easy. It doesn't have to be polished, just has to be clear and informative. Post it on youtube (free), link to it from your Facebook page and website. Email it to friends and clients and ask them to share.
5) Find yourself in the Google Search and "+1" your listing (click on the little box next to your listing and get all your friends to do the same). This is tedious because you may have to search through dozens of pages of Google Search before finding yourself. But if you and 5 friends each do this on their computers, it will make a difference.
All of the above will simply cost you time, not money. If you want to spend some money, consider Google Adwords. You can drive a lot of traffic that way, but you have to convert a large portion of your visitors to be worth it.
PS I know there are some savvy SEO gurus out there who read this blog. Did I hit the mark? Anything I missed that she could do? Anything with which you patently disagree? Your comments will help all of us grow.