If you own a website, there’s a good chance you spend a lot of your time thinking about traffic.

Not the type involving rush hours, cars and lorries, but traffic in terms of the visitors that come to your website.

You know traffic is needed to make your website successful, but how do you go about getting more traffic to your site? Better still how do you get the right traffic to your site? And how on earth do you do that for free?

We all know that with a big bag of cash getting traffic is possible, but most small businesses don’t have a secret stash of cash lying about.

So is there a way to get traffic for free?

It’s thinking about this that brings us into the world of SEO.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation. Putting it as simply as possible SEO is the process of optimising your website (and a few outside factors) for search engines.

In turn, those search engines rank us more highly and send us more traffic.

While search engines are incredibly clever, it’s important to know that they don’t understand things in the same way a human being would. This means there are certain elements that you have to set up to ensure your website is understood by search engines; the first step in SEO.

It’s incredibly important to note before we go any further that any changes you plan on making for the sake of SEO should never impact the quality of your website for real people.

The experience for real human beings looking at your site should always come first.

OK, so keeping in mind that user experience will never be compromised. How do we then look at improving our sites for search engines?

Well, there’s 2 things to consider:

We need to know how a search engine sees our websites.

This could get quite complicated but for this introduction, let’s keep focused on the basics. When viewing our websites search engines can understand the text and the code, they can’t understand the subject of an image or media file without us telling them.

We need to remember what search engines do.

Search engines aim to give internet users the best results for whatever query they enter into the engine. These search queries are known as keywords or keyword phrases.

It’s these searchers that we should keep in mind when we’re thinking about SEO. These searchers are potential traffic for your site.

Why is SEO Important?

This brings us nicely to why SEO is important.

You probably know exactly why by this point but let’s just confirm it.

If a search engine understands your website, and believes it’s a high quality website, it will send you traffic. Better than that it will send you the right kind of traffic, for free.

This type of traffic is known as organic traffic, and if you have google analytics set up on your website you’ll find that organic traffic is usually your biggest source of visitors.

So what does this SEO process all look like for card and gift businesses?

Let’s think of this in terms of a card shop.

Imagine you sell greetings cards. You will have cards for birthdays, anniversaries and every special occasion.

Your ideal customer is someone looking to buy a greetings cards. In the online world that person would go to a search engine like Google and type in what they were looking for. Something like “age 60 birthday cards”

Google would search through all the records it has made of every website it’s seen and bring back all the results it had found that best matched the search query “age 60 birthday cards”.

The search takes less than a second and brings back over 3 million results. As a card shop that sells 60th birthday cards, you want to be among those results.

To get in those results your website has to have the relevant content for the search phrase, in a format that a search engine recognises.

With over 3 million webpages being returned it may seem that the competition is too high, but there are endless search phrases used everyday, you just have:

  • Find the right keywords for your business
  • Set up your website to target the right keywords
  • Optimise your site so you rank highly for the right keywords

Which is where knowledge of SEO comes in handy.

Types of SEO

The precise factors that go into what makes a website rank well for a keyword phrase seem to be constantly up for debate. An article from Backlinko in 2016 pointed to 200 factors the Google search engine takes into account, to varying degrees.

With enough to do on a day to day basis most card & gift companies won’t want to think about 200 separate elements so I’m going to simplify things here.

Broadly speaking SEO falls into 2 categories:

On Page SEO

As it’s name suggests, on page SEO relates to elements on your website that can be optimised for search engines.

An example would be having ALT tags on all of your images, which describe the content of the image; a text description that a search engine can understand.

Off Page SEO

In contrast, off page SEO concerns items that aren’t controlled on your website, but somewhere outside of your site.

Examples would be the number and quality of links pointing to your website or the number of social media shares your blog posts get.

What Does SEO Need?

In future articles and training we’ll take a closer look different elements of SEO, these will take into account:

  1. SEO Strategy
  2. Keyword research
  3. On page SEO factors
  4. Creating Content for SEO
  5. Link building

As well as general examples and SEO tips for greetings card and giftware businesses.

SEO and the Card and Gift Industry

In my recent industry research I found that although SEO scores ranged from 0/100 to 90/100, the largest majority of the companies, 56% were awarded a score between 60% and 79%.

The gives us some positive signs that the card and gift industry is getting things right with SEO. It also shows however that there is room for improvement.

I’ll be publishing more information from my SEO review of the greetings and giftware industry so keep your eyes peeled.

Who is SEO For?

Many small businesses I talk to don’t seem to spend much time thinking about SEO and this isn’t surprising. Keywords for the greetings card and giftware industries are highly competitive as a rule so it’s understandable to think you don’t stand a chance without that big pot of cash.

There is however I think one very good reason why all card and gift companies, big and small should learn the basics of SEO. Because SEO feeds into the foundations of all your other marketing efforts.

Imagine for a minute that you’ve set up a blog and various social media accounts for your business. Putting the content together for these 2 marketing areas alone will have taken you hours if not days. With each element you will be attempting to reach your ideal customers. With the knowledge of a few SEO basics you can ensure that all the content you create uses the correct language to match with your ideal customers and is in a format understood and liked by search engines. It won’t take much longer to produce the content but every time you create a blog post or social media updates you’ll also be contributing to your SEO on the side.

My advice is for all card and gift companies selling or marketing online to learn the SEO basics (at the very least) first. It will help improve the quality of all your other marketing and selling and give you a great foundation to build on.

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