If you run a brick-and-mortar vape shop, it’s unlikely that your website is directly responsible for generating much of your revenue. Maybe the main reason why you even have a website is because you know you’re “supposed” to have one — but search engine optimization? Why would you need to worry about vape shop SEO when you make all of your actual sales in your store?
I Already Know That SEO Is Important!
On the other hand, maybe you’re already well aware of the benefits that local SEO for vape shops can bring. Perhaps you’ve struggled to bring more traffic to your vape shop’s website and found the efforts futile because you can’t outrank your established competitors and can’t pay for advertising on Google. You don’t know where to begin with search engine optimization because it feels as though you’ve got an endless uphill battle to fight.
Well, we’ve got a game plan for you. We’re going to outline exactly what you need to do to improve your vape shop’s search engine rankings. If you’d like advice that’s relevant to your specific situation, contact us now or read about our vaping SEO service.
If you’ve already got the content, read on — and if you already know why SEO is important, scroll down a bit to skip directly to our local SEO guide for vape shops.
Why Does Vape Shop SEO Matter?
If your vape shop is already successful, you may not be certain why you actually need to work on SEO at all. You have a good location in town and plenty of word-of-mouth advertising. People seem to be finding your vape shop without any trouble. Why should you go through all of the work of SEO or pay a professional to do the work for you?
These are the reasons why vape shop SEO matters.
SEO Helps You Rank for Competitive Terms
Run a search on Google for a few broad local terms such as “vape shop in (city name).” Is your vape shop at the top of the first page? If it isn’t, you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic. If your vape shop is already doing well, you may not think that search term is particularly important for your business — but that’s only because someone else is getting all of the traffic. Broad local search terms are extremely competitive, and SEO can help your website rank for those terms.
Your Website Is Your Best Salesperson
Unlike your vape shop’s employees, your website is available 24 hours a day. It never gets tired and never asks for a day off. It is the best salesperson you have. If a potential customer visits your website before coming to your vape shop, it’ll only enhance the customer’s experience because he or she will already have an idea of what you sell and what your vape shop is like. Your website greets potential customers, shows them around and invites them to explore further. SEO can help more people have that experience before they visit your vape shop.
Your Website Can Become a Second Revenue Stream
The fact that you don’t sell products directly through your website yet doesn’t necessarily mean that you never will — and if you’ve already done the local SEO work necessary to ensure that your vape shop’s website receives a steady flow of web traffic, selling vaping products through your website is a natural way to capitalize on that traffic. Your website could become a second revenue stream that’s as important as the revenue earned in your vape shop.
Your Website Showcases Your Products
No two vape shops have exactly the same product selection. There are so many mods, e-liquids, tanks, building supplies and other products out there that no one vape shop could ever hope to carry all of them. Your website can tell potential customers what you have before they enter your vape shop. Your website can also provide an easy way for your customers to find out what your latest products are.
SEO Helps You Manage Your Online Reputation
Has a customer ever said something negative about your vape shop online? Would a negative review on a website such as Yelp harm your ability — even temporarily — to acquire new customers? Of course it would. That’s why we discuss the subject at length in our business directory guide for vape shops.
When someone says something negative about your vape shop online, you can sometimes work with that person to resolve the issue. It is sometimes even possible to have the content removed. In most cases, though, the negative content is there to stay; all that you can do is mitigate the fallout.
One of the best ways to minimize the effect of negative content about your company potentially appearing on search results pages is to control as many positive search results as possible. SEO ensures that your vape shop’s website appears at the top of Google’s first page for searches relating to your business’s name — and each search result that you control increases the chance that any negative pages will end up on Google’s second page of results. Few people ever view the second page of results for any search.
Vape Shop SEO: Ultimate Guide
If you didn’t already know why local SEO for vape shops matters, now you do. The only question that remains is how to get started. These pointers can help.
Write Content That Google Loves
There really is nothing more crucial for your vape shop’s SEO than to have great content. Quality content overrides every other SEO technique. If your content is truly great, Google will give it the ranking it deserves regardless of the keyword density, the page structure or anything else.
Not sure where to begin with your content marketing strategy? Learn about our content writing service for vaping companies.
Begin With an Honest Evaluation
If you believe that your vape shop’s website already has great content — and you’re not getting the search engine rankings that you believe you deserve — it’s time to evaluate your content honestly.
Start by searching Google for the primary keyword phrase of one of your articles. Look at all of the pages that currently rank higher than yours. Can you honestly say that your article is better than the rest, or are all of the articles roughly equal in quality? If there’s nothing obviously differentiating your article from the others, then there’s no reason for Google to shuffle the rankings in favor of your article.
Remember that the uniqueness factor extends to every piece of content on your website — even short descriptions of products. If you’ve copied and pasted the product descriptions on your website from other sources, it’s worth the effort to rewrite those descriptions in your own words. If Google knows that most of your vape shop website’s content is copied from other sources, it’s algorithm isn’t going to take your original content very seriously.
Improve Your Existing Content
Improving your vape shop website’s existing content requires significantly less effort than writing new content from scratch. Here’s how you can decide where to begin in a content improvement project:
- Search Google for the primary keyword phrases in each of your website’s existing articles.
- Check the rankings of your articles. Do you have any articles that are already on Google’s first page for their primary keywords?
- Evaluate your competitors. Are the websites that rank above yours well known and established, or are they small websites that you haven’t heard of? Outranking small websites is relatively easy if your content is better.
Once you’ve finished auditing your website’s content, you should have identified some articles that would most likely increase in rank if you improved them. In short, your goal should be to make those articles more informative than anything else competing with them in the search engines.
How should you go about improving your articles? Start by examining your competition. Do your competitors’ articles contain information that you neglected to include in your article? Finding a way to work that information in would be a good starting point. You can also look for aspects of your article that you could describe in greater detail. If industry changes have made your article out of date, update the article to reflect those new developments.
Write New Content That’s Exemplary
Improving your website’s existing content is an easy way to get started on the road to better vape shop SEO, but it’ll only get you so far. If you want to capture traffic for new keywords, you’ll need to write new content.
When you write a new article, having a core keyword phrase in mind can help you stay on topic and ensure that you end up with a succinct piece of text that’s interesting and informative. Keyword usage isn’t as important as it used to be in search engine optimization, though. If you use your core keyword phrase a few times, you’ll be fine. It’s more important to demonstrate your fluency in the topic by using many synonyms and closely related terms in your text.
Structure Your Content for Online Reading
People make snap judgments about websites. The visual design isn’t appealing, so they leave. The article looks like a wall of text, so they leave. The article doesn’t state its value proposition quickly, so — you guessed it — they leave. No matter how great your content is, you’ve got to structure it for online reading — or no one will stick around to find out how great it is.
Use Fonts Large Enough for Seniors and Mobile Devices
The first step in optimizing your content for readability is to consider your typography. Your font should be large enough that people can read your content easily on both desktops and mobile devices. Remember that people of all ages smoke. Seniors today are more tech savvy than ever, but you can’t stop the gradual degradation of vision. Choose a font size that’s large enough for seniors to read.
Use White Space to Improve Reading Comprehension
Your website design should leave plenty of empty space in the margins and between the paragraphs of your content’s body text. White space increases reading comprehension because it clearly delineates paragraphs and keeps the eyes away from distractions.
Break Up Large Blocks of Text to Maintain Engagement
Nothing scares readers away more quickly than walls of text. If you’ve taken the time to write a really informative and long article, you’ll need to break the text up if you want people to actually read it. Keep your paragraphs as short as possible. Use subheadings, bullet points, images and videos liberally to maintain the reader’s attention.
How Google Judges Great Content
If you’ve been paying attention so far, you should already have a good idea of how Google defines great content.
- A long article indicates that an article describes its topic in great detail. Google loves detailed articles; the average length of an article that ends up on Google’s first page for its target keyword phrase is more than 2,000 words.
- If you use plenty of synonyms and words that closely relate to your article’s core topic, your word choice can demonstrate your expertise and credibility.
- Structuring your article for maximum readability indicates that you care about the user experience.
If you’ve paid close attention to those three points — and you aren’t trying to rank your vape shop’s website for an insanely competitive keyword phrase — your article will probably end up on or near Google’s first page off the bat.
Next, it’s your users’ turn to vote. If users tend to dwell on your vape shop’s website and view several pages before leaving, it’s a good sign that people love your content. It’s also a good sign that your content is truly a relevant result for its target keyword phrase. If it wasn’t relevant, people would simply click “Back” to return to the search results. If your users send Google signals indicating that your content is good, your rankings will increase.
How You Should Judge Great Content
If you’ve taken all of the above advice to heart, you should have no trouble publishing content that Google considers worthy of attention. Of course, that’s only part of the battle when it comes to local SEO for vape shops. For the content to do anything for your business, users need to read and act on it.
How can you tell whether your content is truly great? It may seem trite, but you really do need to write for your users — not for the machines that provide search engine results. For any given search term, it’s likely that most of the results on Google’s first page are actually pretty good. If you want your content to be great, you should try to make every article that you publish the absolute best article about that topic available anywhere.
Writing content is easy. Writing great content is hard. Need help? Learn about our content writing service for e-cigarette companies.
Make Your Website Fast, Secure and Mobile Friendly
If your website’s content is on point, it’s time to focus on the technical aspects of your site. Improving the way in which your website works doesn’t just make the user experience better — it can actually increase your search engine rank as well. These are the three technical aspects of your vape shop’s website that can most improve its SEO.
A Fast Website Provides a Great User Experience
A person is most likely to leave your vape shop’s website within the first 20 seconds of his or her visit. If your website takes several seconds to load, that’s several seconds of the visitor’s patience already gone before he or she has even begun to read your content. That’s why Google has used website speed as a ranking factor since 2010. If Google provides bad search results, people will find other search engines to use — and speed greatly influences users’ perception of a website’s quality.
Still not certain whether website speed can actually affect your search engine rankings? Take a look at this graph from Alexa showing eCig One’s traffic from mid-2016 to present:
The large bump at the end of 2016 represents a major jump in traffic immediately after we switched to A2Hosting, our current web host. Switching hosts slashed our average page load times by several seconds, and Google responded immediately.
Further reading: How We Doubled Our Web Traffic In 6 Months
A Hosting Upgrade Can Improve Your Website’s Speed
Don’t underestimate what a good web host can do for the speed of your vape shop’s website. With our original host, we had a critical problem in that the host’s time to first byte was extremely slow. When a user attempted to load the eCig One website, our host took more than two seconds to send the first byte of data. Since most users expect a website to load fully in under two seconds, the poor performance was harming our search engine rankings.
The time to first byte is something that depends completely on the web server. If your host’s time to first byte is poor, it is either because the server — or its storage subsystem — is slow or because the hosting company has crowded the server with too many customers. You can’t improve that statistic with any amount of website optimization — it depends entirely on the hosting company. Our hosting company didn’t provide assistance for our speed problems, so we switched to another host.
Do you want to know your website’s time to first byte? Try this speed test and click “Waterfall” on the result page. Ours is just 105 ms. It was previously more than two seconds. Our entire home page now loads in less than two seconds for most users. For us, switching to A2Hosting was absolutely worth the investment.
Optimizing Your Code Can Also Improve Speed
We wouldn’t have experienced the dramatic benefits that we did from switching to A2Hosting if we hadn’t gone to great lengths to optimize our website’s code before the change. Maybe moving to a new hosting company isn’t feasible for you right now. Perhaps you already have a fast host and want to know what else you can do to make your vape shop’s website faster. Google PageSpeed Insights can help.
In our case, PageSpeed Insights helped us discover ways to greatly decrease the amount of data that users need to download when they view our website. We found images in our website’s template, for example, that we could compress without harming the user experience. We also discovered that a WordPress social sharing plugin that we were using nearly doubled the size of every page on our website. Eliminating that and other plugins that didn’t provide essential functionality resulted in massive speed improvements.
A Secure Website Reassures Customers That They Are Safe
When you view your vape shop’s website, does your browser’s address bar say “http” or “https?” If it says “https,” you have a secure website. Your server sends and receives encrypted data to ensure that your users’ financial information remains private. If you accept orders online, your vape shop’s website handles credit card data — and encryption is an absolute must. Even if you don’t take orders online, though, encryption is still a ranking signal. If you don’t have encryption yet, your hosting company can help you implement it.
A Mobile-Friendly Website Lets Customers Browse the Way They Want
That’s right — mobile friendliness is a ranking signal too. How does your vape shop’s website perform on mobile devices? Google can tell you. We are now way, way past thinking of the mobile web as the future of the Internet. Mobile devices generate more than half of the traffic on the web today. If your website doesn’t support mobile users, your position on mobile search results pages is going to suffer.
The good news is that if you built your vape shop’s website recently, it probably supports mobile users already. The people who design templates for content management systems such as WordPress have utilized responsive design principles for years. If your website doesn’t support mobile users already, contact us. We can help.
Become Active on Business Directories
If people aren’t searching for local vape shops on Google, they’re searching business directories like Yelp and YellowPages.com. Even Facebook has become a business directory of sorts. Business directory traffic is premium web traffic. People search business directories when they want to spend money, so you want to capture as much of that traffic as you can. Claiming or creating profiles on business directories also help the SEO of your vape shop’s website, though. Here’s how.
A Business Directory Profile Is a Local Citation
If you want Google to feature your vape shop prominently on the results pages for local searches, Google needs to know your basic contact information. Although you can provide that information directly to Google — something we’ll discuss next — the volume of other websites that reference your vape shop’s name, address and phone number can greatly increase the chance that you’ll end up in the featured area at the top of local search results pages.
When a website mentions your vape shop’s name, address and phone number, that’s a local citation — and it’s important for local citations to agree about your vape shop’s contact details. If the major business directories don’t have profiles for your vape shop yet, create profiles and fill them in completely. If profiles already exist on some directories, claim them and ensure that all of the information is correct.
Business Directory Profiles and Reviews Encourage Clicks
Vape shop SEO isn’t just about doing everything possible to improve your search engine rankings — it’s also about making your link look so attractive that people can’t help but click it. Google, Bing and Yahoo all display businesses’ average review scores from websites such as Yelp and Facebook directly on their search results pages. If you want to attract clicks, you need as many positive business directory reviews as possible. Claiming your business directory profiles gives you options for handling negative reviews and keeping your average scores high.
Don’t forget that people will also visit your vape shop’s website through your business directory profiles. Filling out your business directory profiles completely tells people that you’re serious about your vape shop’s online presence and ensures that your website’s URL is prominent in case people want to investigate further.
Further reading: Business Directory Guide for Vape Shops
Create a Profile on Google My Business
Google My Business is one of the most important SEO resources for your vape shop. Using Google My Business, you can create a free Google listing for your vape shop. You can also tell Google all of the most important details about your business and give customers a way to review your vape shop on Google. Although having a listing on Google My Business doesn’t guarantee that Google will display your vape shop in the featured area at the top of local search results pages, it can help.
You Can Tell Google About Your Vape Shop With Google My Business
When deciding how to rank your vape shop, Google’s algorithm is going to look for citations containing your business’s name, address and phone number. If you want Google to display your contact details on search results pages, though, providing that information via Google My Business can help. Your Google My Business profile can also include a text description of your vape shop, pictures, your hours of operation and more.
Google Considers Customer Reviews When Ranking Local Search Results
People can review your vape shop on Google regardless of whether you’re on Google My Business. If you’ve verified your profile, though, you can respond to reviews. People may be more likely to review verified businesses on Google because they know that those businesses’ owners are listening. Although positive reviews will certainly encourage people to click your vape shop on Google’s results pages, most people agree that review scores on Google aren’t terribly important for rankings. It’s far more important that your vape shop has reviews. A vape shop with a large number of customer reviews on Google may receive higher rankings as a result. Google has no problem with businesses asking their customers to leave reviews.
Make Your Website Look More Attractive on Search Results Pages
Search engine optimization isn’t just about doing everything possible to improve your vape shop’s rankings on Google. It’s also about making your website look as appealing as possible on search results pages so the people who see your links will want to click them.
Meta Tags Give You Some Control Over Your Search Result Links
Meta tags are small bits of code in your website’s source that Google may use to learn more about the topics of the pages on your vape shop’s website or deliver more informative search results. The two tags that Google may use are the meta title and meta description tags.
The meta title of a page is not necessarily the same as the title that users see when they view the page. Our SMOK H-Priv review is one example. The title that users see is simply “SMOK H-Priv Review.” The page’s meta title, though, is “SMOK H-Priv Review: A Box Mod With Some Unique Twists.” Adding some extra text to an article’s meta title provides more information about your article and can make the article more appealing on search results pages.
The meta description tag gives you an opportunity to tease your article’s content. For example, the meta description for our SMOK H-Priv review is “The SMOK H-Priv has a feature that makes coil ramp-up a thing of the past. There’s also that triangular fire bar, too. How does it work? Find out.”
You’ll have to decide the style of meta description that works best for your vape shop website’s content — and Google won’t always display it on search results pages. When Google does display the meta description for one of your articles on a search results page, though, it can increase the number of clicks that your website receives.
Schema Markup Makes Your Website Irresistible
Have you seen all of the extra information that Google sometimes adds to search results pages? Here’s an example:
In this case, Google displays the average user review score for the product and shows the number of customers who have submitted reviews. Rich snippets add detail to a search result and make the result more appealing to users.
Schema markup is something that Google and other major search engines created to make it easier for machines to understand the content of websites. Like meta tags, schema markup is hidden away in your website’s source code. Many website templates include schema markup. If your vape shop takes orders online, there’s a good chance that you’re using schema markup already. If you aren’t using schema, adding it can enhance your website’s appearance on search results pages and tell Google more about your business.
The information that you can add to your website via schema markup includes:
- Your vape shop’s official name
- Your address
- Your phone number
- Your contact email address
- Your hours
Adding the above information via schema markup can improve your vape shop’s SEO for local searches.
Inbound Links Increase Google’s Confidence In Your Vape Shop’s Website
Before Google existed, improving the search engine ranking of a page was often laughably easy. If you wanted a page to rank well for a certain keyword, all that you really needed to do was use the keyword as many times as possible in the page’s text. Some sneaky website owners even made the keyword stuffing invisible to users.
PageRank Is the Secret of Google’s Success
Google revolutionized the web with an algorithm — PageRank — that considered more than the text on pages when determining rankings. PageRank evaluated the quality of a website by examining the websites that linked to it. If a website had many inbound links, PageRank assumed that it was an authoritative website deserving of a high ranking.
Inbound Links Still Matter Today
Google’s ranking algorithm has become infinitely more complex over the years. Today, more than 200 factors determine the order in which Google displays search results. Inbound links still matter, though, because no one has yet invented a better way to determine which of several websites is the best when they all have content that looks about the same to a machine. If everything else about a group of websites is equal, the one with more inbound links will receive the high ranking.
The Secret to Earning Links Is…
If you’ve read the entire article up to this point, you already know what you need to do to earn links: create amazing content. People don’t link to websites easily — the last thing any website owner wants is to send visitors elsewhere. If you want people to link to your vape shop’s website, you need to have content that’s:
- Worthy of being cited as a reference as we’ve done throughout this article, or
- So incredibly good that another article about the same topic would be worse off for not linking to your article
If your content really is that good, trust us — you’ll get links. It never hurts to tell people about your best content, though. Don’t be afraid to contact other website owners and tell them about your content.
Another Thing About Link Building…
There actually is one other secret to link building: don’t cheat. Don’t buy links, and don’t link between your own websites in an effort to manipulate your vape shop’s SEO. Google’s algorithm gets better at catching unnatural links every day. If Google finds manipulative links pointing to your website, Google’s algorithm will devalue those links. Your website may even receive a ranking penalty. Manipulative linking can really ruin an otherwise legitimate business. Just don’t do it.
Three Bonus Vape Shop SEO Tips
If you’ve done everything that we’ve recommended so far in this article, you have a good handle on local SEO for vape shops and are well on your way to earning top rankings. If you’re in a highly competitive city, though, you may need a few extra SEO tips to really move the needle against your competition. These are a few extra bits of advice that didn’t fit elsewhere in this article.
Optimize Your Offline Advertising for SEO
The way in which people behave when they see your website on search results pages can affect your vape shop’s search engine rank. In other words, your ranking may increase if people frequently scroll past the websites ranked above yours and click your website instead.
You can use your offline advertising to influence the way in which people interact with your website through Google’s search results pages. Suppose that your website’s URL is example.com, and you’d like to advertise your vape shop on the radio. Rather than including your website’s URL in the advertisement, you could say something like “Find us on Google! Search for Example Vape Shop now.”
Extend Your Vape Shop’s Hours
When people search for local businesses, Google’s results will favor businesses that users can visit immediately. If you’re having trouble getting your vape shop shown in the featured area at the top of local search results pages, open earlier and close later than the other vape shops in your area. When the other vape shops are closed, you’ll get the search traffic that they would have received.
Use Keyword-Rich URLs for Your Vape Shop Website’s Content
Does your content management system create nondescript URLs such as “example.com/?p=123” for your content? If so, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to put the core topic of every article front and center for Google’s ranking algorithm. Adjust the settings in your website’s content management system to give yourself full control over URL slugs. Change the permalink for each post so that the URL contains the post’s primary keyword phrase.