As a local Solihull girl, I first worked at The Spring Fair over 28 years ago. The show has changed massively over the years and has gradually expanded with the NEC. Starting over 60 years ago, the Spring Fair now covers all of the halls, attracting 3,000 exhibitors each year and is one of the largest retail buying trade shows in the world. It is also one of my favourite not only because each hall is filled with giftwares, homeware, jewellery and more but because the atmosphere is always so great. Business really does get done and retailers leave with full shopping baskets and very sore feet from walking miles.
I was privileged to be invited to speak at this year’s Spring Fair and to hold daily Meet the Expert sessions. During these sessions I met a lovely mix of mainly independent retailers and was able to offer advice on their websites and some of the relatively simple things they could be doing to improve their SEO. Although the websites and businesses were very different their challenges and the advice that I gave were very often the same.
All of the businesses that I spoke to had Google Analytics. Some didn’t know they had it, some had looked but found it too confusing or daunting but only a small handful were actually using it. Google Analytics is one of the most important tools you can use and it’s free! All you have to do is set up an account, add a simple piece of code to your site and Google will start collecting the data for you (you can only collect data from when the code is installed and not historically from before then). Google Analytics gives you a valuable insight into where your website visitors or customers are coming from and can also help you to better understand their behaviour. Once you start to monitor and understand your website visitors you can tailor your website so that you are meeting their expectations and increase the chances of them converting. If your site is e-commercial make sure that you are also using Google’s e-commerce tracking. If you have invested time and money in your website then you need to know if it is working for you.
Search engines can’t “see” images so using good alt tags is an important part of SEO for all websites – in fact, Google clearly tells you to use a “good description of the subject matter”. Retailers with e-commerce sites, in particular, can fall into the trap of uploading lots of images using part or product codes but this doesn’t work for SEO. The alt attribute or tag provides Google with information that they need to know whether the image is relevant or not to a users search so fundamentally, your product and image could be relevant but won’t be considered by Google if it isn’t labeled correctly. It is also important for visitors who have a visual impairment, are using screen readers, or are using a low band-width connection.
More searches are carried out on a mobile device than a desktop so ensuring that your website adapts to mobile devices is vital to a users experience. Search engines recognize the importance so you should to. Being responsive plays such an important part that if your site isn’t responsive all your SEO work could be for nothing.
Meta descriptions are the small snippets of information describing the content of the page that appear in the search engine results. Whilst these may not directly help your website to appear in search engine results they are an important factor in a searchers decision. As a user are you more likely to click through to the result that gives you a brief description of the page you will visit or one that contains random words, navigation titles, and numbers. Most search engines take click through rates into account so it makes sense to provide meta descriptions with relevant information to help your potential customers choose your site over someone else’s.
Search engines still rely heavily on keywords and the content on your site in their decision-making process. Whilst your home page shouldn’t be covered in text at the very least it should contain the bare basics of who you are, what you do or offer, where you are based (particularly if you have a bricks and mortar presence) and the necessary call to actions to help customers to take the next step towards a purchase. Your content should be keyword rich but don’t overstuff keywords into your text. Always remember that if your customers can’t read what you do on your home page then search engines can’t either!
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