Vaping continues to be increasingly popular throughout the world. From 35 million vapers around the globe in 2016 to almost 55 million by 2021, there’s no stopping the rise of vaping and vaping culture.
However, with the increase in demand comes an increase in competition. This market is expected to grow worldwide to £35.98 billion by 2023. The UK, in fact, is the second largest vaping market in the world.
If you ever hope for your vape shop to stand out in the ever-expanding market, you need to have an online presence. This is especially so if you don’t have the resources to keep a brick-and-mortar store open. However, making an impact in the digital market space is its own challenge.
Why Invest In SEO
Online is the second most popular destination for e-cigarette shoppers in countries where vaping is big, such as Japan and the UK, according to a 2016 report by Ernest & Young. In Wolfgang Digital’s 2019 KPI report, organic search is by far the biggest traffic source for online retail stores, taking up 42% of all e-commerce traffic.
It’s not enough that your vape store’s website is indexed by search engines though. Where it shows up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) determines the click-through rate (CTR). Being in the top three results means 30% to 10% CTR, with a significant drop-off to 2% for the ninth result in the SERPs, according to a 2018 study by Smart Insights.
While there is definitely merit to exploring paid search options like Google AdWords for visibility, it is far more budget-draining for less traffic compared to ranking high through organic search. It also requires you to never let up on spending if you want to stay visible, and the growing competition in the vaping industry points to paid search becoming even more resource intensive.
It should be obvious then why search engine optimisation (SEO) is absolutely necessary to increase your vape store’s reach.
How To Optimise Your Vape Store For Better Rankings
So now that you know why you need to optimise your vape store for search, you can focus on what you need to optimise and how.
1. Streamlined Site Architecture
E-commerce sites, in general, have plenty of pages to accommodate all the different products being sold. It can be very easy to create hundreds of pages, with each dedicated solely to one item. This can lead to a website that is hard for search engine crawlers to index properly and for people to navigate properly. This makes optimising site architecture such a high priority for online retail stores.
There are three general rules to follow when mapping out site architecture:
Plan for scalability
Being successful in business means having room to grow. Your site should be set up in a way that’s easy to add pages for a new line of products without having to overhaul the site entire architecture with every addition.
Each page should be at most three clicks away from the homepage
Think of your site architecture as a 4-tier structure. The homepage is at the top as the first tier. Beneath the homepage are the categories of products (like e-liquids, mods, and kits); underneath those three categories are subcategories, such as shortfills and 10ml bottles for e-liquids, box mods and squonk mods for mods category, and then starter kits and pod kits for kits category. Lastly, at the very bottom tier are the specific products for each subcategory.
Building out your site architecture as such leads into the next rule.
Both humans and search engines should be able to navigate it smoothly
When your site architecture follows a simple, flat layout like a 4-tier structure, users won’t get lost clicking through a bunch of links. This also makes it easy for search engine crawlers to index all your pages, and the hierarchy signals the importance of each page by how much the internal links flow back from the bottom up to the topmost tier.
2. Targeted Keyword Research
When online shoppers type keywords into Google, they are very much in the mindset of buying, or at the very least, doing their own research to help them decide on what to buy. This is why keyword research for online retail stores is focused on specific products.
The competition though can be intimidating, as giant third-party marketplaces like Amazon and eBay dominate these spaces in general.
To overcome such obstacles, here’s what you should account for when doing keyword research:
- Search Volume — High search volume is good on its face, but that usually means high competition as well, especially the shorter the keyword. Optimising for “mint flavoured e-liquid” is probably more rewarding than just “e-liquid”.
- Competition — If there’s relatively not a lot of websites focusing on a keyword, it’s worth looking into optimising for it as long as the search volume is high enough.
- Relevancy and Intent — As enticing as data can be showing a keyword that has good search volume without much competition, ask yourself if it’s relevant to your target audience and if it fits their intent to buy.
3. Quality Content
The age-old mantra “content is king” still applies to this day, especially when it comes to SEO. Google places importance on substantial, informative content and it understands the difference between poorly written, poorly researched content and high-quality content better than you think. Your copy can be broken down into two work streams.
Quality content can take the form of well-written copy that isn’t stuffed with keywords and isn’t duplicated across all pages. Whether it’s the copy on your homepage that says why your vape shop is the one to trust or the product descriptions that go into detail about the features of your e-liquid flavours and mech mods, it needs to be original and sound natural.
Quality content can also take the form of helpful, relevant blog posts. This kind of content is geared more toward building awareness for your brand. The idea is to answer particular problems your target audience might have (e.g. how to clean their vape tanks) or address topical subjects they might be interested in (e.g. UK laws on vaping). The ultimate goal is nudging visitors along to use your products.
Writing blog posts optimised for long-tail keywords on a consistent basis accomplishes two goals:
- You can rank high for a number of low volume but highly relevant searches, which adds up to a good amount of traffic that can be converted into sales.
- You build authority for your site as an information resource and, via internal linking, signal to search engines which pages are important and thus deserve more visibility in search engine results pages.
4. Link Building
After doing everything you can to optimise everything on your site, you can then focus your efforts on off-site work to make your website rank higher in search results. Link building is the most effective way to get Google’s attention outside your domain.
When Google sees high authority websites link to your content, they recognise its importance and boost the page’s authority as a result.
Here are three tried-and-true methods to get links from high authority websites:
Pitch a fresh article to write for a trusted website in your industry that’s not a direct competitor, then link back to naturally your website in the article. It’s also a good way to show off your expertise and make new connections that could lead to more opportunities.
Broken Link Building
Search for popular articles that have links leading to pages that are no longer available, and offer the site owner to replace the broken link with a link to your relevant content.
Pour all your resources into creating the best, premium-level content you can make that other sites won’t be able to resist linking to on their own. Of course, this also requires having a solid foundational online presence so people will know you’re creating content of that calibre.
As one last optimisation tip for link building, get the most out of the “link juice” your quality content receives from other sites by linking it to relevant pages on your site. This improves the overall authority of your site.
Maximise Your Online Reach
There is no denying the popularity of vaping. However, just because people are out there looking for quality vape products doesn’t mean your online vape store will automatically reap the benefits of growing interest in this lifestyle. In order to drive traffic to your online vape store, you need to have a robust and future-proofed SEO strategy in place. I hope this guide has gone somewhat in helping you appreciate why and how to go about this.
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