Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Your Handmade Hustle
In addition to creating your products and shipping orders and taking care of your website, that is just the beginning of the handmade journey. You will need to sustain and grow your business every single day, also. Let’s change gears here. Before we talk about promotions such as blog posts, social media and what you were going to put in those mailing lists, we really need to demystify search engine optimization. Search engine optimization or SEO seems to give most people a lot of issues and it is really part of everything you do. For example here’s a short list of just a few of the ways SEO is used. This is not even close to all of them that you can and should apply to your business.
* utilizing long and short tail keywords
*Keeping your product descriptions unique
*Adding to other places to back link with or from
*Keep your sight in peak working order
*Using your tags wisely
The list goes on and on. Like the email list, SEO is infinitely easier to do from the very beginning and it’s one of the most important things to understand. Your search engine optimization is to help people find you. It’s how Google, or whatever search engine you use, can find you. It’s how you hit your target market, so to speak. All of these things are considered organic marketing which just means it’s free. When you go to Google, for example, you will see two kinds of listings there. Many of the top ones say sponsored or ad. Those are paid advertising spots. Everything else is organic listings that Google’s algorithms have found to match the search words, short tail keywords or long tail keywords, that have been typed in.
So what are short tail and long tail keywords? You know what keywords are already. Keyword, # same thing only one has a pound sign in front of it. Short tail keywords are 1 to 2 words used together. Long tail keywords are 3 to 5 words often used together to search for an item. Now, there are definitely better keywords than others for your product. Let’s look at a few not to use first.
Material Brand Names
Cute, fun, pretty names
So what is wrong with all of the above? Nothing, except no one but you will know these things about what they are looking for. There is almost no chance that anyone will ever search for your items using those things as their key words. Do not think about the details of the item. You need to pretend you were the one searching for your item. Let’s say you need knit baby blankets, for example, for a baby shower gift. I literally just gave you one of the best keywords to use. Knit baby blanket. If someone is expecting or needs a gift for a shower, it is fairly safe to say they made type in knit baby blanket to the search engine. You can even narrow that down in it baby boy or knit baby girl blanket. Those are great long tail keywords for your item. Adding a color would be another way to help your item get noticed more easily.
Before you even think about listing an item, you should make a list of words; as many as you can think of to describe your item in some way. Remember, look at it from the customer’s eye. Think about the color, materials, holidays, if it’s customized or personalized. Just list whatever you can think of. You don’t have to use them all. The goal will be to end up with a nice list of both short and long tail keywords that you can narrow down. Keep in mind different places allow different numbers of keywords. For example, we know that Etsy only allows 13 tags though I don’t know why, while Instagram allows up to 30 and the Handmade Buyer’s Market is unlimited 😉
Obviously some of the keywords you come up with on your list are going to be better than others, so how do you decide which ones to use where is the big question. There is one school of thinking and it’s gets very analytical about this and goes down to the nitty-gritty of including checking places like Etsy Rank. There is a time and a place to go into those kind of details about your products and their analytics. I might get there someday. Honestly, I don’t recall many people in the handmade industry having the kind of time that requires. When you’re involved in handmade, there is much different time factor involved than there is in many other small businesses. Go over your list and circle the top three to five keyword phrases you think are the ones that you think would be the most likely ones used if you were searching for the item online. You should also always use your shop name as one of your main three to five phrases that you use. People tend to skip some of these details thinking they are unimportant, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Let me tell you why. Every website and browser has its own algorithms and none of them are the same and even if they were it wouldn’t do any good because they change so often whenever the Cyber world world feels the need, so just to cover your bases in case someone is searching for your shop name.
Now you have your four to five keywords, one of which is your shop name. Where do they go? Some places say tags some, say title, some say in the description. Yes, yes and yes. You literally want them everywhere but only in a logical way. Not just a list of words. Let’s go back to our baby blankets. Just for example, let’s say, our keywords are
knit baby blankets
Knit baby boy blanket
Knit baby girl blanket
Soft baby blanket
Baby Blanket Shop Name
One of these needs to be what is called your focus keyword you. You use the focus keyword phrase as the beginning of your title, the first words of the first paragraph of your description, your alternate text on your photos, your first tag or keyword, and your slug, which we will talk about more later. Many times you’ll see titles that begin with a couple of adverbs or adjectives in front of it. These are the kind of words that people stick in their to make that title a little longer usually. This is good in theory as you want to use all of your possible space to your advantage, but let’s take the word beautiful, for example. I have all the faith in the world that your item is beautiful. That is kind of a given. Someone searching for an Easter dress for a child may type in girls Easter dress into their search box. They’re not going to typing the word beautiful first, so there’s no benefit to using it at the beginning of your title. The search engines focus more on the first few words of each section, so you want all of those first few words to be the focus keyword. Let’s “circle back” to the knit baby blanket we mentioned before. For now, I am ONLY talking about the focus keyword knit baby blanket. This is how I would utilize that main focus keyword phrase.
Title: Knit Baby Blanket in Luxurious White for the New Baby Girl by Baby Blanket Shop Name
Description: Knit baby blanket made with beautiful….
Tags: Knit baby blanket, knit white baby blanket, ….
Alt. Photo Text: Knit baby blanket
and so on. You can use as many of your other keyword phrases in various places in your title, product descriptions and tags as you want unless you are limited by the platform.
Descriptions are another place that most people do not utilize at all. First of all, most of them are way too short. Like it or not, a large part of your success is based on your writing abilities. Your product description, like a blog post, should be at least 300 words. Quality is always important but in this case quantity is almost as important. If you have a description that is two sentences long. you are throwing away so much space that could be used to use all those other keywords. More is better in this case. Don’t Panic. You don’t have to turn into the next Anne Rice or anything like that. You don’t need flowery prose, but you should at least make sense. You will sometimes follow a link online and end up at a page that is basically like one long list of key words. That does not work well. The algorithms have advanced so much that they go right past those things now. You need to use keywords in a natural way to talk about your item. Answer who, what, when, where and why plus include all the colors, materials used and how to care for the product. Now, if you have very similar items it is very common to use a large part of the description just repeated on each listing. For example, if you sell patterns of some kind you can list all of your basic information and policies in each description and then simply make the first paragraph unique content that applies to just that particular pattern like name, size, materials needed.
I know that search engine optimization is not easy to grasp and it has changed rapidly for years and that makes it a little overwhelming to try to keep up with, but it truly is very important. I came across this story the other day and it really showcases how important it can be. This person had added a fiction story to one of those writing sites where you put your writing up and people read it and you get paid like pennies per read. The story that she put there was one that she had actually started about six years earlier for a contest she was going to enter at that time. So, she finished it and added it to the contest entries on the website and shared it in a couple of groups on Facebook. The next morning, her views were considerably higher when compared to her usual. Here is why. The contest she was going to enter had a specific theme and she named the piece based on that theme, although the story really doesn’t have anything to do with what you would think it does. Fast forward to now and she kept the title the same. The story was called New World Order. Six years ago that particular phrase was much less of a hot topic than it is now so it she hit on quite a bit more traffic reading her work. It is truly worth it to take some time and make some adjustments on your listings before the holiday season is here.