It’s true – nothing will replace the feeling of walking into your local skate shop.
Regardless, practically every skate shop nowadays has at least some form of online presence.
While physical shops remain critical in keeping skateboarding alive in communities globally, selling online doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the personal, quality service offered in-store.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get buried in competitors online. Especially with sites like CCS or Skate Warehouse, the market can seem a bit crowded.
Nowadays, even the smallest skate shops and brands can make a real impact online with the right tools and strategy.
This is where Search Engine Optimization comes in…
This SEO guide for skate shops is made to help skate shops and brands compete online, driving customers to their physical shop and encouraging online sales. It covers basic SEO tasks for small-mid sized shops. Many tips will also apply to online-only skate shops.
Search engine optimization helps your shop show up in online search results to the right people, at the right time, in the right places.
SEO Tips for Skate Shops and Brands:
Local SEO Tips (For physical shops):
1. Google My Business
This is one of the easiest things you can do to rank better online and in local listings.
Step 1: Go here: Google My Business
Step 2: Fill out everything as detailed as you can.
Be sure to choose the most accurate category for your business (most likely “Skate Shop”). That way, your shop will show up quickly and prominently when people search for this or related terms in your area.
Bonus: Add photos of your shop to Google!
2. Backlinks (Also for online-only shops)
Backlinks are links to your website from another source (website, social media, etc.). These are a big ranking factor for websites and we could cover a whole page of info on backlinks alone.
Here’s a basic overview:
The more authentic backlinks to your website that exist, the more Google trusts (and displays) your site in search results.
Rule #1: Don’t buy backlinks. While there are situations where a negotiation may take place involving backlinks, Google is quite good at figuring out when a backlink is inauthentic. In the case of a small skate shop that’s not dealing with vast amounts of content creation, guest blogging, etc., it’s best to simply stay away from paid backlinks. Also, don’t fall for the many backlink scams online.
Easy, authentic backlink sources:
- Link your website on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and all other social media pages for your business.
- Register with the Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org (and get listed on their directory)
- Join your local Chamber of Commerce (and get listed on their directory)
- Get reviews from sites like Trustpilot, Yelp, and Yellowpages.com.
- If you have a skate team, encourage or give an incentive for your team riders to put a link to your shop’s website on their social media pages.
3. “About us” page + Business contact info
Most sites have this already, but if you don’t, you’re slackin’.
On your website, include an “about us” page that at least describes what you are (a skate shop) and what you sell (skateboards). Try to also include some things about your shop’s history, brands you may specialize in, or anything else you’d like to tell customers about your shop.
Now, include contact information for your business. So, somewhere easy to find, include your name, address, phone, email, etc. (referred to as NAP data). Search engines will crawl (scan) your site for this info and take it into account during geo-targeted searches.
Why this is important:
This is a direct screenshot from Google’s “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines”, used to analyze the trustworthiness of a website:
This is only the start of many local SEO tasks that can be done.
Here’s a complete Guide to Local SEO by Ahrefs.
On-Page SEO Tips:
4. Optimize images for fast load times
Your site’s page load times will be analyzed by search engines. If the pages load too slow, it will hurt your rankings (and lose the interest of potential customers).
Often, images have a big impact on page load times.
Before you upload images to your site, run them through an image compressor. This will minimize the file size of your image without losing its quality.
Here’s a good, free image compressor: Optimizilla.
In addition, write alt text for the images you upload to your site. Here’s an example of good and bad alt text:
Note that alt text can be hidden from cursor hover (like I have set for the image above). The cursor hover tips shown here are an example of alt text that could be used for this image.
Search engines read alt text to understand what your image (and website) is about.
Check out this Moz.com article for more info on Alt Text.
5. Don’t duplicate content
When you have a whole catalog of products to upload online, it can be tempting to copy & paste a generic product description or not write anything.
Writing original product descriptions for each product makes a big difference for customers and SEO.
Search engines review the relevance and originality of product pages.
In your product descriptions, include the product name and any useful/interesting information written in simple language. An easy “source” of content for skate products is to write about the pro skater or brand that the product is from.
Remember, your product description is at the turning point of whether a customer buys an item, so try to include some copywriting.
Tip: You also don’t want to duplicate entire pages on your site. This will confuse search engines and penalize you. Basically, don’t have multiple URL’s leading to one page. If you have this issue, read about Canonical Tags.
6. Use clean URL’s
Make all of your page URL’s as short and concise as possible.
Writing with SEO:
7. Make text easy to read
The following applies to all text on your website:
- Use at least 16 point font (Ensures text size is mobile-friendly)
- Use a font color that stands out against the site background
- Chunk your text up into small 1-2 sentence blocks (See formatting of this post)
- Use short sentences
- Use bullet points for lists (Like what you’re reading)
- Use bold/italic text to emphasize keywords
- Use simple words! You should actually aim for text to be readable by 11-13 year olds. Use this Readability Test to check your writing.
8. Find and utilize fitting keywords
Keywords are at the foundation of SEO. Keyword research and implementation is an art and science that must be studied to perfect. There’s a lot more to know than what is said here.
At the very basis, you’ll want to:
1. Find keywords/phrases that your target customers are searching for.
2. Strategically use these words/phrases throughout your site.
The challenge comes when competing with other sites to rank for certain words/phrases.
If you’re in the early stages of your website, you’re not going to try to rank for something like “Skateboard”.
Major keywords like “skateboard” are already fought over by big ecommerce shops like Zumiez, CCS, or even Amazon.
Instead, you’ll want to be more specific and include phrases (called “long tail keywords”) that your customers search for.
“Skateboard shop in Chicago”
Or, let’s say your shop specializes in a certain range of products, such as brands from NHS Distribution.
Then, your focus keywords could be:
“Santa Cruz Skateboard Decks” or “Independent Trucks”
(Beware, even these terms will be competitive to rank for.)
Keyword research tools like the Google Keyword Planner will help you discover keywords and how difficult they will be to rank for.
After you’ve found keywords you can strive to rank for, implement them in text throughout your site.
Do not “keyword stuff“ your website.
So, don’t write your target keyword/phrase a million times and hope to rank for it.
Instead, include the exact phrase a few times in different places. Then, use synonyms to refer to it in other places.
Synonyms of “Santa Cruz Skateboard Decks” would be something like, “Decks from Santa Cruz” or “Skateboard decks from brands like Santa Cruz,…” which would be phrases sprinkled around your site.
Search engines are smart enough to process your text and understand whether your site is relevant for your target keyword(s).
Hopefully, with continued effort, your shop will rise up the search result rankings for your desired keywords in the next months.
This takes a lot of effort but your position in search results can hugely affect your business.
9. Maximize time spent on pages (Dwell time)
Google and Bing track how long people stay on websites they visit (Dwell time). This gives them an idea of whether the website they clicked on provided useful/interesting information related to what the user searched for.
In addition to writing good text using the info in step 7, try these things:
- Use videos! This is one of the easiest ways to improve dwell time on any page
- Implement your own photos to enhance content (Or search for free photos on a site like Unsplash)
- Use internal links to other pages on your site (Improves total time spent on site)
Must-Have *Free* Google SEO Tools To Use:
- Google Analytics – How can you improve if you can’t track your performance?! Set up your site on Google Analytics to see how much Google traffic you get, highest performing pages, where traffic comes from, dwell time, and much more.
- Google Search Console – If your site has 404 errors (links leading to blank pages), it hurts your site’s user experience and rankings. Find these pages by “crawling” your site with search console. In addition, see which keywords bring you traffic, submit a sitemap, and much more.
- Google PageSpeed – Test your site’s speed and then run through the list of recommended improvements provided.
- Google Mobile-Friendly Test – In 2019, approx. 50% of global web searches were done from mobile phones. Use this tool to check your site’s mobile accessibility and see tips to improve it.