You’ve probably heard the acronym “SEO” before, but you may not realize it’s just a fancy buzzwordy way of talking about the words your buyers put into their search engine to find you–commonly called “keywords.” Keywords aren’t just single words, they’re often two or three words or whole phrases. SEO itself stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” The more you optimize your web presence, the higher it will rank in search results for your specialties, and the more likely buyers are to find you when they’re searching on their own.

seo photoThere are thousands of self-proclaimed experts out there who are willing to sell your cheats and tricks for increasing your exposure, but frankly, it’s not worth your time. What makes for perfect SEO is always changing. Search engines like Google and Bing constantly tweak how they discover and catalog content. Search engines are always evolving specifically to thwart SEO tricksters, so today’s placement-improving hack could be on tomorrow’s blacklist and hurt your site. Rather than chase the latest game, you’ll be better served just focusing your terms for what your audience is most likely to be searching for, maximizing your use of the space you have and not really sweating what’s happening behind the scenes.

Here’s what to do:

If you’ve set up traffic analytics, you already know some of the top keywords buyers use to find your items. Both Google Analytics and eBay’s Traffic Reports will give you an idea of exactly what combination of terms buyers searched to find your store as well as individual items so you can tweak accordingly. If you have an account at Google Adwords, and their Keyword Planner is also incredibly helpful. You can even input the web address of similar sites in your niche, referring sites or your competitors and find out exactly what words they’re using. There is a variety of keyword research tools like this, though Google’s is widely considered the best. Even without an external tool, you can look at live and completed eBay listings and see what similar items are beating yours in results and why.

Compile a list of at least 50 keywords (words or phrases) browsers are using to find your items. Then compile a second list of 50 more that aren’t currently bringing buyers to your site but that you should probably find a way to take advantage of based on what similar sites are doing. Take a look at both lists and highlight the best from each.

Why are we doing this?

Once you’ve got a list of your top keywords, you can save them somewhere to refer to at a glance or even copy and paste them as needed instead of having to recall them with every new listing or marketing post you create. It also ensures that you use the correct keywords and not mis-remembered or incorrectly spelled variations. A garbled keyword does you less good than no keyword at all because it makes you look foolish.