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Why Every DTC Store Should Have An SEO Strategy

Headshot of Stephan Moerman
Stephan Moerman
Co-founder & CEO at Bakklog
Jul 08, 2024
Why Every DTC Store Should Have An SEO Strategy

TLDR Summary:

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands must prioritize SEO to drive organic traffic and reduce reliance on paid ads. Effective SEO improves visibility, attracts interested customers, and increases conversion rates. Key strategies include on-page optimization, such as refining meta tags and headers, and keyword targeting based on thorough research. Building a strong backlink profile through guest blogging and partnerships enhances site authority. Understanding audience behavior and conducting SEO audits are essential for identifying improvement areas.

You might think SEO is just for big companies, but it's essential for every DTC store, even if you're just getting started. By optimizing your site for search engines, you're not just improving visibility; you're attracting customers who are already interested in products like yours. This means higher conversion rates and a more engaged audience. But how do you implement an effective SEO strategy that sets you apart in the crowded digital marketplace? Understanding the steps involved can make a world of difference, and helps create some much needed focus in your SEO strategy.

The Importance of SEO for DTC Brands

For DTC brands, SEO is vital because it drives sustainable, organic traffic without the need for continuous ad spend. Ads can be great to drive some direct interest for your bottom of funnel (ready to buy) type of users, but SEO can help create brand awareness and attract the top of funnel customers as well.

When you focus on optimizing your ecommerce website for search engines, you attract visitors who are actively searching for the products you offer. This organic traffic is more likely to convert, providing you with high-quality leads and reducing your reliance on paid ads, which ultimately increases your ROI.

SEO also improves your brand visibility. By appearing on the first page of search engine results, your brand is seen by more potential customers. This type of visibility is critical for establishing your presence in a competitive market.

Additionally, showcasing your industry expertise through well-crafted content not only improves your rankings but also builds trust with your audience. When visitors see that you consistently provide valuable information, they're more likely to view your brand as an authority. But more importantly, the top of funnel buyers that are still doing their research will more likely come back to make the purchase through your brand, as you've gained their trust with useful and relevant information.

Trust building is another significant benefit of SEO. A well-optimized site with quality content and positive user experiences fosters customer confidence. People tend to trust brands that rank higher on search engines, believing they're more reputable and reliable.

Essentially, investing in SEO positions your DTC brand for long-term success. With all of that being said however, I must also make you aware of the fact that SEO takes time. If you operate in a super competitive market, it might take 6 or sometimes even 12 months to start seeing the results of an SEO campaign.

If you want to learn more about an SEO strategy, check out this Ecommerce SEO case study for a Hair Product brand.

Implementing an SEO Strategy

To successfully implement an SEO strategy, you have to make sure you understand the core principes of SEO first. Gone are the times of writing some content, buying a few cheap backlinks and ranking. It's become more dynamic, and with the rise of AI tools, competition has increased. It's important that you stay updated with SEO trends to make sure your approach keeps generating results and remains relevant.

Here are the key steps to get you started:

1. On-page Optimization: A good starting point is to focus on optimizing individual pages on your website. This includes meta tags (your page title & description), headers (make sure your primary keyword is placed in your H1 heading), and image alt texts (never skip these, as they're also used for screenreaders and help with accessibility, but also help Google understand your images). Make sure to integrate your primary keywords naturally within your content, don't try to bend your texts around a keyword, instead try to write a text in a natural way and add a keyword in your text when it makes sense. Proper on-page optimization helps search engines understand the context and relevance of your pages, and it's one of the foundational steps of SEO.

2. Keyword Targeting: You might be tempted to take the words out of your "Category", or use really short-term keywords, only to find out that competition is fierce and you're unlikely to obtain rankings for those short-tail keywords. Instead, start by focusing on thorough keyword research to identify terms your target audience is searching for, more specifically the long-tail keywords. If you sell skincare products, a short-tail keyword could be: skincare for men, which might seem like a great keyword to rank for but in reality is likely too competitive. Instead, you could adopt to a long-tail keyword such as organic skincare brands for men with dry skin. By incorporating a few long-tail keywords, you'll still get plenty of traffic volume, but it'll be much easier to rank for these keywords.

Once you've defined your keywords, you'll want to use them strategically in your content, titles, and meta descriptions. Effective keyword targeting will drive more qualified traffic to your site.

3. Link Building: Once you've optimized your website and it's content, you need to start building authority. To do this, you'll want to develop a strong backlink profile by acquiring high-quality links from reputable websites. This not only boosts your site's authority but also improves its search engine rankings. Avoid buying backlinks at cheap gig worker websites. This will likely get you into trouble and could result in a penalty, completely destroying your organic visibility. A better way to get backlinks is by creating great content (on your own blog), or you can engage in guest blogging, and work with partners to post on their site (advertorials, etc.)

Target Audience Research

This might sound pretty obvious, but my experience has taught me that too many ecommerce brands don't have fleshed out buyer personas. You might be wondering, why do I need to work on buyer personas for SEO? Other than knowing who you're trying to get to visit your site, understanding your target audience really is the cornerstone of crafting an effective SEO strategy that resonates with potential customers.

Start by diving deep into consumer behavior to understand what drives your audience. What're their purchasing habits? What problems are they trying to solve? How much do they spend on similar type of products? What are they trying to "fix" with your products?This insight feeds directly into your keyword analysis, helping you identify the terms and phrases your potential customers are searching for.

Next, engage in audience segmentation. Break down your audience into smaller, more manageable groups based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. This will allow you to tailor your SEO strategy to meet the needs of each segment more precisely.

Don't overlook competitive analysis. Examine your competitors' SEO tactics to identify gaps and opportunities. What keywords are they ranking for? How are they structuring their content? Do they use social media to increase brand visibility? Are they listed on directories within the industry? You can then use this information to refine your own strategy and gain a competitive edge.

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Conducting SEO Audits

Conducting an SEO audit is essential for identifying areas where your website can enhance its search engine performance. By thoroughly examining your site's current state (from a technical and content perspective), you can pinpoint issues and opportunities to boost visibility and attract more traffic.

Here's how you can get started:

1. Website analysis: Begin with a thorough review of your site's structure, URLs, and overall user experience. This step helps you understand how search engines perceive your site. Pay special attention to how easily users navigate through your website. The easier it is to find a product they're looking for, the more likely they'll convert and buy from you.

2. Technical evaluation: As Google is focusing more and more onto the user journey, you'll also have to dive into the technical aspects like page load speed, mobile-friendliness, and proper indexing. Fixing these issues ensures search engines can crawl and rank your site effectively. But, more importantly, you'll notice that your bounce rate decreases as well. Nobody likes to wait for a page to load.

3. Content optimization: If you have a blog or existing content, give it a thorough review. Look at your existing content to make sure it's engaging, relevant, and keyword-optimized. Go beyond the meta tags and headers, and also look at opportunities to link between pages (internal linking), as this helps Google understand which page you find important.

After you've taken all these steps, it's recommended you look at your competitors to see how your rivals are performing. Identify their strengths and weaknesses and use this knowledge to refine your own strategy. Analyzing their keywords and backlinks can provide insights that inform your next steps.

Content Creation and Optimization

After completing a thorough SEO audit, the next step is to focus on content creation and optimization to boost your site's visibility and engagement. Begin by developing a robust content strategy that aligns with your brand's goals and audience needs. Consistently publish high-quality, relevant content on your blog that answers your customers' questions and addresses their pain points. You can get creative here and focus on seasonalities, or dive into specific things your product solves for your customers. If you sell a skincare product for dry skin, you could explain when to apply it and how to apply the product.

When you're producing content, effective keyword optimization is a crucial step. By now you should have identified important keywords, so with each blog you'll want to incorporate relevant keywords in a natural way (don't stuff keywords at random places) within your content to increase your chances at getting those page 1 rankings. Avoid keyword stuffing, as it can damage your site's credibility and user experience, plus it makes for a terrible reading experience 😉.

As part of Google's E-E-A-T quality rater standards, user experience plays a significant role. E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This is a framework used by Google to assess the quality of content on websites. If users have an easy time navigating through your website, reading content, getting the answers to their questions, and then end up converting into a purchase, you're very likely going to see top 3 rankings within just a few weeks.

With that being said, I want to emphasize the importance. ALWAYS make sure your website is easy to navigate, with clear calls-to-action and intuitive design. If your website isn't mobile friendly yet, you might have to consider a redesign, as well over 60% of all traffic is mobile.

When you're writing content, make sure to incorporate internal links as well, but only if it makes sense. If you can link between two blogs, or from a blog to a product - in a natural way - then you should. This makes it easier for Google to crawl through your pages.

Online Marketplaces (Amazon, Etsy, etc.)

Using marketplaces like Amazon can really blow up your DTC brand’s reach and sales by tapping into their massive customer base. They've done most of the heavily lifting for you in terms of SEO, but you don't have full control over their marketplace. To make the most out of this sales channel, you need to focus on marketplace optimisation, making sure your products are discoverable and appealing to buyers.

1. Optimize Product Listings:

Make sure your product titles, descriptions and images are clear, keyword rich and compelling so your products are visible. Use relevant keywords to boost the SEO so customers can find your products.

2. Understand Ranking Factors:

Marketplaces like Amazon use ranking factors such as sales history, customer reviews and pricing. By understanding and optimising these you can get ahead and increase visibility.

3. Monitor and Adapt:

Monitor your metrics and adjust as you go. This will keep you one step ahead of the competition and maintain visibility.

How To Measure SEO Success

To measure SEO success you need to track key metrics that show your website’s performance and user engagement. Data = $ for SEO.

Start with bounce rate analysis. A high bounce rate means visitors aren’t finding what they were looking for and this is hurting your SEO. Use Google Analytics to check this and adjust your content and user experience accordingly. Improve these pages, or make them easier to navigate. A/B test your meta titles & descriptions as well, as this will help test whether or not the traffic you attract is the right type of audience.

Next, focus on conversion tracking. Knowing how many visitors are completing desired actions like purchases or sign ups will help you see how well your SEO is working. Integrate conversion tracking with your analytics tools to get a clear picture of your ROI. I always recommend doing this for every type of funnel action a user can take on your store. Whether it's a newsletter sign-up, add to cart, checkout or account registration.

Keyword performance is another important metric. Check how your target keywords are ranking and driving traffic to your site. Use Google Search Console to check keyword trends and adjust your strategy. You can also spend a little more and invest into a keyword ranking tracker tool or use SEO softwares such as Ahrefs or SEMrush.

Last but not least, user engagement metrics like average session duration and pages per session will give you an idea how engaged your audience is with your content. The more engaged they are the better your SEO will be. You can find these in your Google Analytics account.

Keep Up With SEO Industry News

SEO is always changing so you need to stay up to date with the latest trends and algorithm changes to stay ahead. Keeping up with SEO is key if you want to.

Here are three key areas to focus on:

1. Algorithm updates: Search engines like Google change their algorithms regularly. These changes can impact your rankings big time so you need to adjust.

2. Mobile optimization: More people are searching on mobile so mobile optimisation is non negotiable. Make sure your site is responsive and loads fast to give a seamless user experience across all devices.

3. Voice search: With smart speakers and voice assistants on the rise, voice search is becoming more relevant. Focus on long-tail keywords and natural language to capture this growing segment

And don’t forget local SEO. If your DTC store is targeting specific regions, local SEO can drive super targeted traffic.

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Written by

Stephan Moerman

Stephan Moerman is the Co-Founder & CEO at Bakklog, one of the fastest growing E-commerce marketing agencies in the Netherlands and a key player in propelling businesses up Google's rankings. With a solid decade of expertise, Stephan has been pivotal in optimizing SEO and integrating AI with Google Ads to amplify online visibility and sales. His strategies have notably enhanced conversions and sales for over 300 clients, including big-name brands like Tumblr, Sendcloud and Holidu.