As a consignment store owner, you’re likely always looking for new avenues of growth, right? Whether it’s passing out flyers, putting on events, expanding your product set or otherwise, there are plenty options available. But one of the absolute best methods for accelerating sales is something that many store owners either don’t know about, don’t fully understand, or don’t leverage effectively: Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
SEO can be an intimidating challenge for anyone, even those who are familiar with how it works. SEO is a moving target — the rules and best practices are constantly changing — making it difficult to know if what you’re doing is actually correct. But make no mistake, SEO represents a huge opportunity for reaching more customers and maximizing your store’s growth potential.
Good news is, you don’t have to be an SEO expert to see results from it. In this blog, we’ll introduce how SEO works and outline some basic strategies that you can apply to your website to start seeing improvements in your store’s visibility by increasing the amount of customers coming to your site.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
In short, SEO is the method by which businesses can increase both the quantity and quality of customers visiting their website via search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!.
There are 2 main pillars of digital marketing: Paid Search and SEO. Oftentimes, it’s easy to confuse the two and assume that they’re one in the same. They’re not. Paid Search consists of spending money to run an ad online, and when a customer clicks on that ad, they’re taken to your website (typically a landing page consistent with your ad) and you’re then charged a fee for that click. This is also known as a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) strategy.
SEO, on the other hand, doesn’t cost anything, which is a huge benefit to people like consignment store owners who don’t have a ton of extra funds to throw at a PPC campaign and need to make every dollar count. Sometimes referred to as organic marketing, SEO optimizes your site and leverages keywords, page load times, credibility indicators and backlinks (more on these later) to increase your ranking in SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) like Google.
How Does SEO Work?
Think of SEO like a badge of honor. What SERP sites like Google do is run complex algorithms (using 200+ factors) across every website on the internet to determine which sites are the most trustworthy in terms of what those sites claim to be selling vs. what they actually sell.
For example, Consignment Store A (CSA) has content on their site that claims to offer “the lowest rates in town” and also has quotes from customers that validate this claim. Consignment Store B’s (CSB) site also claims to have the lowest rates in town, but the store has low ratings on Google and Yelp from customers who say that the prices were very high. As a result, Google’s algorithms will identify CSA as the more trustworthy site and move it higher in their rankings while moving CSB’s site down. This is important because the higher you rank in SERP, the easier it is for customers to find your site vs. your competition.
Why Does SEO Matter?
Consignment store owners wear what seems like a million hats at once. There’s always more to be done and never enough time to do it, so things like SEO are easy to put on the back burner until you have more time. Thing is, there will likely never be enough time to get started, and you’re only hurting your store the longer you wait to implement.
We’ve explained the high-level of what SEO is and how it works, but here are some fun stats to illustrate why SEO is so important:
- 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc (Inter-Growth)
- 93% of all global website traffic begins on Google (SparkToro)
- Google owns 92% of the search engine market share (Statcounter)
- 53.3% of all website traffic is driven by organic search (BrightEdge)
- SEO can reduce Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) by 87.4% (Tarakeet)
- The first 5 organic results on rankings pages account for 67.6% of all clicks
The above numbers are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of why SEO is so vital, but the value is clear and the pathway is obvious — focus on ranking high on Google (page 1 is great, top 5 is even better) and continue to create well-written and unique content to keep those rankings high.
Rather than looking at SEO as something to start eventually, it should be seen as a foundation of your business. Once up and running, SEO will save you both time and money, and could eventually help propel your store to the next level. In other words, you can’t afford not to do it.
4 SEO Solutions to Get Started
There are of course a lot of moving parts that go into a good SEO strategy, but you can keep it simple and still see success. Here are 4 key solutions that anyone can implement on their site in order to rank higher and drive more business.
- Credibility Indicators
This one goes back to the CSA vs. CSB example above. If you want to see more customers coming to your site, you need to prove that you’re not only a legitimate business, but also a trustworthy one.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to add credibility indicators to your site — awards that your store has won, badges, quotes from customers and/or a Featured Partners section all serve to validate who you are and what you sell.
Adding credibility indicators to your site is one of the easiest and quickest ways to improve your SEO posture because it’s largely based on what you’ve already done.
- Did you crack the top-10 on Yelp for consignment stores in your area? Great – put it on your site and make sure you write a paragraph about how honored you are to be recognized (a press release would work nicely also).
- Have a customer who marveled at how wide your selection is? Ask them to provide a quote for your site — you can make them anonymous if they’re not comfortable adding their name to the quote, or offer to give them a nice discount on their next purchase in exchange for using their name.
- Forge a partnership with a well-known brand or local distributor? Ask them if you can add their logo to your site as a preferred partner, and maybe get a quote from their leadership about how psyched they are to partner with you.
The great thing about credibility indicators is that there’s no need to be shy about your achievements. Customers want to be associated with the best, so be sure to let them know just how great you are! Also, CI’s are widely indisputable — if a partner, customer, or website like Yelp are willing to recognize you for what you do, that’s all Google needs to consider your site’s content as legitimate.
- Backlinks & Mobile Optimization
Backlinks are another great way to position your site for success in the watchful eyes of SERP.
First and foremost, double check all of your social media profiles and make sure that they are linking to your website. One of the quickest and most painful ways to lose business is for a customer to look at your Twitter feed, get excited about a product you sell or an event you’re having, and not be able to navigate to your site because the link is broken (or, God forbid, not linked at all). Customers have very little patience when it comes to online shopping — if they can’t access your site quickly and easily, they’ll simply move on.
Second, make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. More and more people are doing their shopping on smartphones these days, and if your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re going to lose business. Google has even announced that they will be giving preference in search results to sites that are fully mobile-optimized, so pay close attention to how your site appears on smartphones.
- Tools & Analytics
Like the inventory in your store, SEO can’t be used effectively unless you measure it accurately. That’s where things like Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools come into play. Considering that SEO is most likely a do-it-yourself venture for most store owners, let’s focus on Google Analytics since it’s free and easy to use.
Adding analytics to your site is the best way to understand how your SEO strategies are actually performing. Things like Click Through Rate (CTR), Bounce Rate and Audience Behavior will tell you how customers are navigating through your site.
We get it, trying to understand things like CAR, CTR, ASD, etc. can be like walking through the woods at night with your eyes closed. It’s scary. It’s confusing. And you’ve got enough to worry about already. Fortunately, there are some fantastic online resources available like Google’s Analytics Academy or a 3rd-party site like Stitch that can help you understand exactly how to interpret these metrics and use them to your advantage.
- Meta Descriptions
Anyone who’s ever scrolled Netflix knows this well — there are so many options, so how is one to choose? Sure, it helps that previews auto-play (which can also be a very annoying feature) to give you a taste of the content. But what about the brief description under the title? Those 1-2 sentences outline the premise and give you a little teaser about what you can expect if you watch.
This is exactly what meta descriptions do for your site. They live under the headline on a Google search and describe in more detail what the customer can expect. Yes, a powerful headline is always an eye-catcher, but it typically doesn’t give customers the full scope of what your website or landing page is about, nor does it fully explain what your store sells. If a customer is on Google searching for something generic like “the cheapest Jordan sneakers in my area” and you actually sell Jordan’s at great price points, the meta description will help illustrate that and pull that customer to your site to explore further.
It should be noted that meta descriptions don’t necessarily help you site rank higher in SERP, but they are a key piece of SEO nonetheless. Customers simply aren’t going to go to your site if they’re unsure of what you sell.
One last important point about meta descriptions: Google limits these to 155-160 characters max, so brevity is key.
The importance of SEO cannot be understated, and it’s especially crucial for small businesses and startups lacking the funds, resources and manpower to do full-scale marketing initiatives. SEO is the most cost-effective way to reach more potential customers and grow your brand. By optimizing your website and creating high-quality content, you can improve your ranking in SERP and drive more traffic to your store. A well-executed SEO plan is essential for any consignment store owner who wants to see success online or in store.