ANDREA JORDAN WALKER: Co-Founder, Jordan & Petersen Skincare
In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we asked 10 founders and executives: How do you approach search engine optimization (SEO)?
Just like everything in business, strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, but sometimes you just hit the ground running and learn quickly along the way. I think the biggest hurdle with search engine optimization that we encountered at the beginning was the need to evaluate business goals and stay flexible to re-identify the vision, while staying true to core values. You wouldn't think that these steps would be vital to developing an SEO plan, but they are. You also need to have an understanding of your audience as well as the competitive landscape. Another challenge has been keeping up-to-date with how Google's algorithms may change over time. What we've learned about SEO over the past year is that it requires plenty of due diligence, research, planning, and effective execution in order to constantly improve your content strategy. We've learned how to pay closer attention to details and evaluate overall strategy frequently to ensure that our tactics help us hit specific goals every month.
DIAMOND DOWNS: Founder, Gehati In approaching effective SEO, I’ve focused on key elements that I know would drive traffic to my website. The key elements that I focus on are descriptive words, titles and hashtags. I try to put myself in the seat of a customer who is searching for products that I sell. I don’t worry about creating fantasy terms. I focus on simple and popular terms that describe or would be associated with the product. For example: Apple Cinnamon Candle. A few phrases I would use in both title and hashtags are Apple Cinnamon Candle, Soy Candle, Holiday Candle, Scented Red Candle, Holiday Gift, Giftsunder20, Handmade Products, etc. What I’m doing here is thinking of every possible word a future customer may think of when they’re in search of a candle. Whatever terms I use in titles, I keep it the same for hashtags so that search engines will pick up on the consistency within my listings and rank my products higher. My advice to other brands growing their SEO is to keep your search words simple and relatable to the consumer. Strategically, think of all the simple words and/or phrases a customer would put in the search engine that’s related to your business.
MICHELLE RANAVAT: Founder, Ranavat Botanics I wish I had the answers to SEO. I believe, instead of optimizing around the variables, you should build SEO through creating really great content across multiple channels. We use Shopify for our site and can optimize keywords, but really most of my efforts are focused on creating content in general. The skincare blogger community has been very supportive and have been kind enough to do some reviews on their blogs and we are also starting up our own journal that will talk about rituals, skincare tips and community questions and topics. Eventually, I would love to start doing videos as well to really get our invest-in-your-skin philosophy out into the world.
DARIUS IRANI: Co-Founder, Darshana We are currently paying for a third party SEO company that doesn't appear to be working out. We are seven months in, and we have not seen any increased sales and our year-over-year website traffic doesn't appear to be increasing either. Although we are most likely canceling the service, I am happy that we tried it because we have been talking about outsourcing SEO for a while. It's one of those good lessons to learn.
TERRI VINSON: Founder and CEO, Synergie SEO is all about building your brand visibility through keywords, consistency and alignment. As brand owners you must have a clear vision of your brand, including its purpose, benefits and values. This platform will serve as a basis for all of your searches. My biggest tip is to put yourself into the shoes of your customer. Ask yourself: What will the customer type into a search engine to find my brand and its products? You would like to attract a consumer that is not specifically aware of your actual brand names. Focus more on how to describe what your brand will do for the consumer. Set these keywords across your web page titles, URLs on your website, product headers, and ask your web developer to tag your images with optimal keywords. Implementation of these keywords needs to be thorough and consistent with your brand. Our brand was created 12 years ago in Australia, but introduced in America in 2014 by Skin Elegance, our U.S. distributor. We had to keep this distinction in mind with our SEO.
LINDA TRESKA: Founder and CEO, Pinch of Colour This has been quite a new and challenging experience for me. In June of this year I designed and developed my own website. I worked very hard to ensure that our website is up to date and capable of converting clients into customers. We also worked directly and indirectly with Google AdWords/Analytics and Facebook to improve our search marketing efforts. My advice for other brands is to stay on top of the brand's performance, and analyze its metrics and top-performing keywords.
AMY SCHOFIELD: Founder, Mixify Beauty The single most effective thing you can do is to focus: Who do you want to connect with? What about your offering is unique and interesting? Why should people give you their attention? Then, be true to your brand voice. Like life, using phrases that attract the people you want to partner with - rather than catch-all phrases - and capture the minds and hearts of the people you want to engage with. We learned early on that we couldn’t be everything to everyone and came back to our mission of creating awesome experiences to help us build distinctive SEO.
JAMES H. LA, FOUNDER, NIUCOCO: Founder, Niucoco In this era of internet consumerism, having a brand name is not enough. You need to look at it from how a consumer behaves and how they are exposed to brands and products. The consumers often limit themselves to the first two to three pages in their search results. Unfortunately, the common assumption that indie brands make is that once they have a digital presence, it will be sufficient for the public to find them online. This is why having a strategy to score high on SEO should be your baseline. Search engines rate the relevance of your online presence through two things: natural traffic and/or keywords related to your products search which takes them back to your brand. If not, your content gets buried under all of those other search results that are essentially paid advertising or brands that have a stronger ranking than yours. The other aspect is that most indie brands just don’t have bottomless pockets for advertising so a proper SEO strategy also helps with respecting your advertising budget. Your primary goal is to start by getting your homepage to meet with the SEO requirements established by search engines. Then, invest and optimize every dollar you spend in a way that you can measure what brings attention to your business. Some examples would be opt-in email acquisition for re-marketing, keywords (i.e., brand name [and] variations of the brand name for those who misspell it), skin, hydration, glossy, gloss, eczema, etc., and broad advertising. Also, look for platforms that will drive traffic back to your site (press, social media, vloggers, bloggers, affiliates programs, etc.) which also help brand awareness and your page authority. Finally, your creative image/video content is just as important. Over time, your brand and homepage will establish itself as a credible name and will naturally come up on top of the search engine results.
RENEE TAVOULARIS: Co-Founder, Well Within Planted In Beauty These are some steps we employ to ensure success. Step One: Hire an expert that has had proven results. Search marketing is both an art and science that requires extensive knowledge of search engine’s functionality. Remember to check professional references before hiring an expert. Also, keep in mind that SEO is not an exact science, and no none can guarantee that you will reach the first page or top three positions within a few weeks or months. Step two: Do keyword research, and choose the best keywords. Identify those high-value search terms that your potential customers might be using. To narrow down on selecting the right keywords, consider the following factors of 1) Search volume. The higher the volume, competition increases. 2) Competition. The lower the competition, the more likely you are to rank for the keyword, 3) Relevancy. How relevant is your product’s web page to the search term? 4) Intent. Select keywords that show commercial intent. For example, we honed in on words related to plant-based skincare and wellness seeking. Step three: Develop the right website infrastructure and architecture. How the pages on your site are organized and structured affects your search engine rankings. This includes on-page SEO activities. On-page SEO involve optimizations you do with each of your webpages to help search engines understand what your site is about, so they can show it to the right people, at the right time. Step four: Develop link-building strategies. Develop a profile of high quality, on-theme incoming links and citations. This includes off-page SEO activities, meaning actions you can take to promote your website on the web, besides advertising. The most commonly used methods are links pointing to your website from other websites, aka backlinks, which act like votes. The more votes, the higher your website will rank. Building authoritative links from relevant, local and trusted websites will not only improve search rankings, but also drive referral traffic and increase visibility across the web. It’s also worth devoting resources to link-building every week. It’s a long-term strategy but an important one. We’ve had luck with our original, shareable, engaging content, which has been picked up thereset.com and thefinelinemag.com. Blogger product reviews and online press placements with backlinks are also extremely helpful.
CYNTHIA BESTEMAN: Founder, Violets are Blue I quickly learned that SEO is not in my wheelhouse, and my time and money is better spent hiring an expert to do them. I became obsessed with how to get it exactly right, when to change, how to change, that I realized I would never know all there is to know. I focus on my strengths and surround myself with people who have strengths where I have weakness. Web-based things are my total weakness.
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