What is SEO and How do You Use it?

Whether or not you’ve heard the three-letter-‘word’ “SEO,” there’s one question we can all relate to:

“WTF is SEO…”

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Which also kind of begs the same question: “wtf is search engine optimization?”

Search engines like Google and Bing have always been tools to gauge the popularity of sites. SEO kind of leaves a trail of crumbs for ants to follow, if you will, or a trail of Reese’s Pieces for ET – it sets up a path for search engines to find the most relevant and high quality results for what the user is searching, and present the results that will make the user happiest.

In other words? A solid SEO for your online shop will make it easier for people to find your stuff.

So what affects where you rank in search results?

The job of a search engine is to bring customers sites that will most satisfy them, and they use a bunch of different factors to figure out which sites people like the most:

  • Links – how many people link to your site elsewhere (people sending your link to friends, hyperlinking to you in a blog post, etc.)
  • Site structure – nobody likes a crappy-lookin’ site. The less people stay on your site for awhile because they don’t like the look, for example, the less search engines will prioritize your site.
  • Keywords – do the keywords, 1: match up to the ones people are searching for and 2: are they actually relevant to those searches, or is the site just using random keywords to drive more traffic to their totally irrelevant site? (Pro tip: don’t do that.)
  • Time spent on your site – If someone clicks your link, then immediately clicks the “back” button, search engines measure that as an unsatisfied customer and your site ranks lower.
  • The long-click – similarly, if someone clicks your link and they don’t immediately hit the back button, they stay for awhile – that tells search engines that as a site people dig and it ranks higher.
So what can you do to help your SEO and ranking?


Keywords are key, basically. Sprinkling keywords throughout your site (product descriptions, URLs, etc.) is a great way to make yourself easier to find through search engines.

But it’s not always about making it so that you get a ton of visitors to your site – it’s more about getting the right visitors to your site – the ones who are looking for the kind of product you offer and who are more likely to buy and share it (remember we talked about appealing to a niche instead of everyone?).

Using keywords doesn’t just mean having general words like “t-shirts, apparel, tees” etc. Moz.com reported that more unique search terms as opposed to broad ones make up 70% of search terms. When people search more general terms like, for example, “shirts,” they’re probably just browsing – not looking to actually whip out the wallet. Whereas when someone searches “8-bit Batman t-shirt” they know exactly what they’re looking for and are more likely to actually buy it.

You can see which keywords would most help you by just testing them for yourself. Google/Bing the keywords you’re thinking about using and see what comes up. See if it’s relevant to your product, if people will be happy with what they find on your site from that keyword search, what your competition is, etc.


Getting people to link to your content is extremely important when it comes to SEO, because it tells search engines that you’re popular. And not just social media shares – those are taken into account too, but when you are mentioned in a blog post on a popular blog in your niche, for example, that’s huge.

Three different ways to do this:

Natural Editorial Links: Links that people naturally give you on sites and pages who want to link to your site just by finding your site and deciding to write about it.

Manual Outreach: Emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, paying for listings, etc. 

Self-Created, Non-Editorial: Offering visitors opportunity to create links through forum signatures, blog comments, or user profiles (more relevant for if you have a blog) Lowest value, but still come into account.

Google Recommends:

  • Design your site for the people looking at it, not the search engines. In other words, present your stuff honestly. Don’t include keywords that aren’t relevant to your product just because they might improve your ranking in a search engine. That will come back to bite you when the search engine catches on.
  • Make your site information-rich, clear, accurate, and useful. So provide helpful, clear product descriptions and titles. Make your site as easy to engage with and helpful.
  • Use accurate keywords that to make your URLs descriptive.

Bing Recommends:

  • Have keywords in your URLs (hey, Google said that too!)
  • Make sure there isn’t a bunch of crazy media bogging down your content (Flash Player, Javascript, Ajax)
  • Make sure your content is packed with keywords that relate to what users might be searching for to find your site.
  • Make fresh content regularly to keep your site fresh and worthy of people returning to it often (for you shop owners, this means adding new products!)
SO NOW…what else can you do to boost your seo?

Keep your links shareable

If people share the link to your shop a bunch of times, it’s not just going to keep happening – you gotta earn it. You have to keep your content fresh to keep your links share-worthy (updating merch, challenges, promos, social sharing, etc.)

Get customers to link to you

If you have a few loyal customers who love your brand, reach out to them to share your content! (Maybe tell them “hey, I just posted this new product! Check it out, maybe link to it!”)

Build a blog for your shop

Recommended by Google engineers themselves, this is a super effective way of getting your links out there. It’s also how you can keep your material fresh – by posting share-worthy blog news/posts with links to your site and by participating in convos and getting involved with your audience

Guest blog

Guest blogging for another blog that might appeal to your audience is also a great way of getting links. You can link to your own shop in your bio on that blog, in the post, you can share that post through your social media channels, etc.

Be newsworthy

Earn the attention of press, bloggers, journalists, etc. by putting out a new product, appealing to local publications as a local artist, posting things your niche would love, etc.)


Will help get people linking to you, spreading the word, and becoming fans.  

Helpful Links for Navigating the wonderful world of SEO
  • Beginners Guide to SEO” (Moz.com) – This is a super thorough guide to SEO. You can download a PDF of these chapters or just read them right on the site, but it pretty much covers all the ground there is to cover.
  • Building Deep Links Into E-Commerce Pages” (Moz.com) – Really good tips on how to get people to give you those sweet, sweet links to your shop.

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We’re an artist community built on the power of helping each other succeed — if you’re reading this and have tips of your own to share, please do so in the comments! Thank you!

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