You’ve probably heard the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and may understand the basic premise: making your site and the content you publish easily discoverable and relevant to customers who are using search engines like Google and Bing.
So why, you may wonder, isn’t SEO a one-time effort? Why can’t we just set these things up on our site and forget about it? If my site ranks well in search today, I’m all set…right?
If we think of your site as a garden, then ongoing maintenance is the equivalent of tending it: eliminating weeds and making room for the flowers to blossom and vegetables to thrive. SEO optimization and strategy is an ongoing requirement because of the dynamic nature of the digital space and the significant boost that site traffic can provide for your business.
Google, Bing, and other search engines update their algorithms — the formulas and weighting they use to rank search results — constantly. In 2022, for example, Google introduced what they called their “helpful content update.” This change penalized entire sites (not just individual pages!) that included content clearly designed specifically to attract search traffic without offering real value to satisfy the “search intent” of a customer. As algorithms change, so must your SEO strategies and content.
The Cleanliness of Your Site Matters
Search engines look at technical aspects of your site when determining how high your site should rank in search. This includes, among many factors, checking for broken links (links to pages that no longer exist or have moved), missing images, duplicate content, and stale content that has not been updated in many months. With the dynamic nature of e-commerce sites — adding new products and brands, removing old models, rotating promotions and packages — there is plenty of opportunity for digital junk to accumulate that needs to be cleaned up.
Stale Pages Count Against You
Making technical SEO edits — cleaning up that digital junk, as well as adding proper structure and metadata to newly-added content — will demonstrate to Google and other search engines that the site is up-to-date and receiving regular updates. That in turn is a strong signal to Google that your site is relevant and worthy of ranking highly in search. So too are edits to the content on your homepage, your testimonials, your location pages, etc.: the dynamic content on your site should not be limited to your products and pricing.
Your Digital Strategy May Change
We all know the fast pace of independent retail. Just as your sales strategy in your stores changes and evolves based on new products, market trends, and consumer habits so should your digital strategy. The keywords, blog content, metadata, and even URL structure that served you well in the past may require re-evaluating to highlight new trends or drive traffic to the products and categories that you want to emphasize the most. At the same time as your priorities are changing, the data you collect through analytics can inform shifts in your strategy: highlighting under-visited areas of your site that you’d like to boost or content that is unexpectedly popular.
Your Competition Isn’t Sitting Back
Rest assured, big box retailers and other competitors are not taking their foot off the gas when it comes to SEO. They’re investing in people and tools to try to outrank all others. While you won’t have the same resources, there are plenty of SEO strategies that lean into the advantages of a trusted independent dealer: content like product reviews and explainer articles and videos from a trusted source and a real person; localized content that speaks directly to the neighbors and families who have shopped at your stores for decades; leveraging your deep understanding of your customers to highlight what matters to them.
Taylor is the senior director of digital and e-commerce for Nationwide Marketing Group.