In an increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever for garden retailers to devote time and attention to their online presence. Marc Swann, Search Director at Glass Digital, has spent over 12 years in the digital marketing industry and worked with a number of garden retailers. Here, he shares five expert SEO tips you can use to get an edge on your competitors.
In the home and garden sector, search engines drive 36.74% of ecommerce traffic (SEMrush). Add that to the fact that the first five search engine results get a staggering 67.6% of the clicks (Moz), and it's easy to see the importance of high Google rankings in garden retail.
So, just what can you do to help push your website to the top of the organic (non-paid) search results? The answer lies in search engine optimisation, or SEO.
While mastering your site’s SEO might seem tough, especially if you aren’t tech-savvy, many of the steps you can take aren’t as complicated as they might seem. And, while it can be time-consuming, it can make a real difference to your traffic levels — and, as a result, your online sales. Here, I’ll share five SEO tips for garden retailers looking to boost their Google rankings.
Optimise content for your products and services
On a garden ecommerce website, it’s especially important to pay attention to the content on your product pages and categories. That means clear and compelling descriptions, high-quality photographs, and detailed technical specifications. Don’t forget to include a clear call to action to motivate the reader to place an order, and talk up your USPs as much as possible.
Your categories and product pages should be clearly organised and well-structured so that your users can easily navigate your site and find exactly what they need. Google places great value on providing a good on-site user experience. Your SEO agency or site developer should be able to help you structure your site in an SEO-friendly way.
Create content that’s relevant to your audience…
One of the best things you can do to boost your rankings is create an advice centre that’s filled with well-written, informative guides that are tailored to your audience. Your guides could cover anything within your industry, from making compost to pruning roses — just make sure it’s relevant to your products or services, and of interest to your target customers.
The benefits of this content strategy are three-fold. Firstly, these pieces will start ranking for related terms and queries, which will help to attract prospective customers to your site at different stages of the buying journey. Secondly, it helps to establish your business as an authority in your niche, which can boost rankings across your site as a whole.
Thirdly, helpful guides can help you to build up a strong profile of backlinks, as other sites may be more likely to link to your content if they think you have some handy information which may help their readers. I’ll discuss backlink profiles in more detail later on.
… and update it regularly
One of the factors which can really help your ranking is relevancy. This is partly judged on the basis of how frequently your content is updated, so keeping everything up-to-date and adding new content every so often can seriously help improve your rankings. The easiest way to stay on top of this to create a regular publishing schedule, and carry out a content audit every three months or so to see if there are any changes you can make.
If you don’t have much of a way with words, or simply don’t have enough time to manage your content strategy on your own, then it’s well worth the cost of asking a copywriter or agency to take over for you.
Optimise your Google My Business listing
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool which aims to make it simpler for companies to manage and optimise their online presence. Essentially, you provide some basic information and details about your business, and Google uses these to automatically update Search, Google Maps, and other tools that can draw traffic to your site. It’s fairly simple to optimise your My Business listing, and Google provides plenty of guidance, so you should certainly make this a priority if you haven’t already done so.
Build quality links to your site
Another important ranking factor is how many other websites are linking to you. Google interprets backlinks as referrals — signs that your site is authoritative and high-quality. If you can build up a good network of links from a variety of related websites — called a ‘backlink profile’ — then this can have a great impact on your rankings.
But, bear in mind that this doesn’t mean any and all links will benefit your SEO. In days gone by, many sites would take the easy option and buy lots of poor-quality, auto-generated links from spam websites. But Google has gotten wise to these tactics in recent years and, while they might result in some small gains for a little while, they tend to be counterproductive in the long run, as they eventually result in ranking penalties that harm your site.
Good link-building is more time-consuming, but much more worthwhile. The idea is to scope out other high-quality sites which are related to what you do, and then offer them something — such as a guest blog post, testimonial, or business listing — in exchange for a link. A great onsite content strategy — like the one I mentioned earlier — can also help you to build links organically, meaning you won’t even need to reach out.
Whatever you do, don’t offer them a link on your own site in exchange: ‘reciprocal linking’ can negate any benefits, or even result in harsh penalties from Google. You should also avoid paying for links, as this goes against Advertising Standards Agency and Google guidelines.
Given the rewards that a good search engine optimisation strategy can bring to your garden retail business, it’s certainly worth devoting a fair chunk of your time and marketing budget towards this. So, I’d strongly recommend implementing a few of the tactics I’ve shared here. Remember, you can also look at getting an in-house specialist or employing an agency to deal with it for you.