SEO in practice

I am a bit of an eBay addict and regularly find myself buying all sorts of rubbish that I don’t need purely because “it’s a bargain”. In an attempt to curb my spending but still gain enjoyment from the world of online auctions I recently started selling things. This means that not only do you clear junk from your house and make a bit of extra cash, you also still get the buzz from taking part in the auction!


I accidentally carried out a wee experiment on one of my items, and I thought I’d share the story with you because it is relevant to some of the work we do here at Steady Internet. Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is a procedure where certain parts of a website are tweaked to attract more hits from search engines such as google. For instance, if you were a makeup artist based in Glasgow you’d perhaps want to include the words “makeup Glasgow  beauty photography model wedding” etc. This means that even if someone doesn’t search specifically for “makeup artist” and instead is simply searching for information on weddings in Glasgow they may come across your website and think “Oh, actually I do need a makeup artist…” and there you go – a hit!


Anyway, I happened to be selling a pair of shoes. Lovely shoes which I had bought years ago and never quite got round to wearing. I decided they’d be better off on the feet of someone else as they had been gathering dust in my wardrobe for at least 3 years. I initially listed the item with a reasonable starting price, clear photographs, and a thorough description of the item, along with reasonable postage costs etc. The item did not sell.


It didn’t even have any “watchers” (interestingly, you can see how many eBayers have viewed and are watching your item to give you an indication of the item’s popularity), and the auction fizzled out unnoticed, rather than with the large and colourful bang I had hoped for. I was sad at first but then I got angry. These were perfectly good shoes! They were cheap! They were a size 10, which is a fairly common male shoe size! Why were they not flying out of the door?


I got back on eBay and decided to rethink my strategy. Think like a buyer, not like a seller. When I am searching for items I use broad, non-specific terms. I thought about all of the different ways in which the shoes could be worn, utilised the knowledge I’d gained through all of those hours of people-watching while sitting on benches in the city centre. They were smart shoes, so they could be worn in offices, at funerals, with suits. They were also stylish and could be worn by art students, mods, indie rockers, trendy people, with jeans, rolled up chinos.


I re-listed the item, and kept almost everything exactly the same. Photos, title, price, postage, description. The only thing I did was add in an additional paragraph saying “suitable for mods, office workers, art students…” etc. Suddenly people searching for “office shoes” “art student shoes” “mod shoes” were hitting my item. I went from 0 watchers and 0 bids to 12 watchers and 5 bids, simply by using a wee bit of SEO.


This is obviously a small scale example, 5 bids is in no way exceptional in the world of eBay. The point is, if you scale this up to fit your business you would have increased your website hits by a factor of 12, and increased the number of clients by a factor of 5. Not too bad considering it just takes a bit of thought and a few simple words!