Search engine optimization is no longer the new, shiny tool, but it remains the backbone of a successful digital venture. Around three-quarters of purchases begin with a search. By doing the work to ensure that your marketplace is well-optimized for this, you can significantly improve your chances that it is the one that potential buyers will find. While the days of quick and dirty tricks that could be used to manipulate rankings are gone, there are still plenty of quick hacks and simple practices that help.
1. Start with good technical SEO.
If you have good practices in place from the start, there’s nothing to fix later on. Page URLs should be smart and keyword-rich. Meta descriptions and keywords should be in place and used so that search engines can easily tell what your pages are about and relay that information to visitors. This should also be true of title and header tags. Using a marketplace platform that puts all of this into place automatically saves headaches and redirects later on.
2. Update your blog regularly with fresh content.
It’s well-established that search engines like fresh content. A blog remains one of your most powerful tools for getting new information out there and building your site’s relevance. Ensure that these pages are well-optimized for one or two keywords. This can ensure that your site indexes well on the search terms that your potential marketplace participants are likely to use. These pages should be rich with internal links to storefronts and product listings on your site. The interconnection means that searchers and search engines are more likely to spend time perusing your site and get to the parts that build your and your vendors’ success.
It is always of paramount importance that this blog content be useful and interesting to your audience. A blog post about staging properties, for instance, would be very useful to people who are looking for guests on home-sharing networks. A product photography checklist can be a big help to individuals selling their fashion finds. These are the types of content that get shared and that tell search engines that you are an authority.
3. Mobile matters more than ever.
In the US and 10 other countries, searches are more likely to occur on a mobile device than on a desktop. If your marketplace is not mobile-friendly, it can seriously hurt your chances with both shoppers and with search engines. Images should load quickly on any device. Page design should be responsive so that it always fits every screen. Text should be broken up with subheads and bullet points so that people can quickly and easily find the information that they need, even if they are reading on a smaller screen.
4. Local is important, too.
If your marketplace deals with brick and mortar locations, personal services or local products, it is vital that your SEO strategy place a heavy emphasis on local. Locally-oriented keywords should go into vital places on product and service pages to distinguish them for search engines and searchers. After all, why compete on “couch surfing” when “couch surfing in Des Moines” is what your user will be searching?
In addition to keywords placed well throughout your site, you should also include locally oriented landing pages for extra power. AirBnb, for instance, has individual landing pages for a number of high-demand cities. These pages allow them to rise above the competition with attractive, usable and highly shareable content.
Part of how Google assesses the value of a page is through high-value backlinks. A marketplace that includes social sharing buttons makes it easy for your visitors to share listings, landing pages and blog posts that they think friends or family will love.
The thing to remember is always think of utility to your user. By using practices that make your marketplace useful, easy to navigate and pleasant to visit, you can ensure that your marketplace is optimized for the best possible placement in search.