January’s nearly over and many people have already ditched the diets and abandoned the gym. But if your New Year’s resolution was to boost your company’s online potential, then you simply cannot afford to let it slide.

Here are some motivating facts and figures, along with a few top tips on website optimisation…

E-commerce in figures 

Figures from comScore show that British mums were 82% more likely to visit an online toy shop in October 2011 than the average internet user, and 64% more likely to shop for cosmetics and fragrances online.

In the same month, the UK outranked all other European countries in terms of hours spent online per person, at 37.5 hours, almost 10 hours more than the European average, and 13 hours higher than the global norm.

Clearly there is an appetite for web content among British consumers, and marked trends relating to who shops where online. 

SEO for your local market

The internet is truly global, but that doesn’t rule out geography as an important factor in securing a sale.

Some shoppers want to know their goods will be delivered quickly, or are concerned about racking up too many carbon-hungry delivery miles, particularly in B2B sales.

Knowing the size of your local market is an important step towards tweaking your SEO efforts.

For instance, in 2011, English Google users searched for queries including the word ‘London’:

  • Four times as often as ‘Manchester’.
  • Five times as often as ‘Liverpool’.
  • Six times as often as ‘Birmingham’.
  • tTen times as often as ‘Sheffield’.

(source: Google Trends)

So, unsurprisingly, the capital has a much greater potential search audience, but also much greater competition.

How do you get around this, and target your website at both your local customers and the wider market?

Long-tail localised keywords

Long-tail keywords are the answer to a number of SEO issues. They are naturally less competitive, but much more specific, meaning your landing pages should appear much more relevant when they appear on search engine results pages.

This helps your conversion rate to rise, and can achieve greater profits in spite of the smaller number of queries conducted by would-be buyers.

In terms of local SEO, you can make almost any short-tail key phrase into a long-tail one simply by adding ‘in [your location]’ to the end. This should have no detrimental effect on your ranking for the shorter phrase, but can help your landing pages to rank highly if people search for a provider of a particular product or service in your area.

It is a flexible and dual-layered approach to SEO that can give your site an added edge over your local rivals.

Top tips on website optimisation

Website optimisation goes beyond search engine optimisation; it is not just about making your pages appear more often, or higher up, in search results.

It is also about ensuring your website is easily navigable, that your product descriptions are compelling, and that your checkout process is reliable and secure enough that you do not lose customers at the last minute.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Is it clear, on every product or service page of your site, exactly what they are buying and for how much?

Remember, arriving via a search engine means your would-be buyers might not have seen your homepage or other pages of product information. Optimise for both search and shoppers, and you have the rest of 2012 to watch your conversion rates rise.