Step Up Your Search

A higher page rank means more people will see your website — and your store. BY LUKE HENRY

As grocers increasingly embrace the Web as a means of engaging their customers, competition for prime ranking on search engines becomes increasingly tough as well. Getting to that No. 1 spot on Google requires much more than just mere presence on the Internet, whether you have a Facebook page, a blog, a YouTube channel and a Twitter profile, too.

One free way to boost your web-site's ranking in search results is by using search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO may target different kinds of searches, including image searches, local searches, video searches, news searches and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audiences. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content and HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic.

Here are some SEO tactics you can apply to your website:

Keywords: Use keywords on pages throughout your website that represent your business and its point of differentiation. This includes the basics, such as the type of business you operate ( grocery store) as well as areas in which you may specialize (such as organic food, natural food, vitamins and general merchandise.) If you need help determining the best keywords for your website, Keyword Research and Keyword Tool are two helpful online resources.

Here are some good places on your website to insert your keywords:

■ Root Domain Name: Include one keyword, (e.g.,

■ H1, H2, H3 Tags: Include your keywords and phrases in all headers

■ Anchor Text: Have several keywords for your anchor text at the bottom of each Web page, and link your keywords to other well-ranked sites

■ Alt Image Title Tags: Include keywords for alternate image tags

■ Include keywords within the first sentences of each paragraph, especially in the first 300 characters

Page Title: This is the downfall of many websites. Search engines don't give credit to title keywords larger than 70 characters, so keep the keywords in your title precise. Limit the use of conjunctions such as “and/or.”

Location: Consumers will search in their surrounding areas for grocery stores. Submit your store location to Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Dedicate an entire page to your store locations. On this page, have a map, as well as a link to Google Maps, so that your customers can easily generate directions to your store. On the front page of your website, near the top, have a “Find your Store” box or a “Store Locations” box where visitors can input their ZIP code to find your store nearest to that ZIP code. This step will get you on the first page of Google, if you optimize your listing correctly using keywords.

In addition to leveraging SEO on your website, you can increase your page ranking on search engines by expanding your online presence to other sites outside of yours and using SEO on them, which will lead to an increased number of links to your company website. While it takes time to generate many such links, they help drive traffic to your website and, as a result, help boost your search ranking. PG

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