The Thrift Store Owner’s SEO Playbook for Driving Traffic

thrift store seo playbook

9 minutes Does your thrift store have its own website? If so, great—but that’s just the first step. A website is only useful when potential customers can find it. That means you need a plan for search engine optimization, or SEO. What is SEO? Search engine optimization includes all the steps you take to drive people to your website when they search online. Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not reserved for big-box retailers with equally large budgets. Even small businesses can benefit—especially those in the booming resale industry. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, sales at resale stores steadily increased by more than 50% between 2008 and 2016. During that same time period, discount department store revenues fell by 50% and traditional department stores lost 25% of revenues. Young shoppers appear to be driving this trend. For example, large numbers of people between the ages of 18 and 37 are adopting second hand apparel shopping, according to research from GlobalData. While there is great potential in the resale industry right now, you must consider the demographic that drives the charge. Once you recognize that millennials and Gen Z live in a digital world, it becomes apparent that your thrift store needs a prominent presence online. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to enhance your online authority and drive traffic to your storefront. In this playbook, we outline some of the most relevant SEO strategies for consignment stores. Before diving into those, however, it is important that you analyze your current SEO strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). RELATED: How to gain customers to your thrift store An SEO SWOT Analysis Assuming your resale store already has a live website, you want to start this journey with a comprehensive SWOT analysis. You may have completed a SWOT analysis before starting your business. Indeed, it’s a time-tested activity for entrepreneurs and marketing agencies. However, this type of review is also insightful for SEO purposes. An SEO SWOT analysis helps you understand what customers want and whether you’re meeting those demands. And if you aren’t rising to those expectations, a SWOT analysis can tell you where to focus attention. Using the results, you can determine exactly where to direct SEO efforts, so you don’t waste time or resources. Strengths Start with the positives: what you’re currently doing well. Strengths are internal factors that you can assess easily. You will, however, need access to basic analytics tools to determine the details of your web activity. Budget-friendly and free services like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Moz or Serpstat work well for this. Not sure where to look? Use the list below as a guide. To identify SEO strengths, analyze the following: Your unique value proposition—the factors that set you apart and that your customers deem valuable The keywords for which you rank well—ideally, the ones where you show up on the first page Your content pieces that rank well in search results The links that get the most clicks on your website Your most-visited web pages Weaknesses It’s humbling to admit your weaknesses, but it’s the only way to get the complete picture. Look at internal obstacles, using the same analytics tools you used when identifying strengths. When pinpointing weak spots, think about these factors: What your competitors are doing better Which content or web pages fail to drive traffic Whether you have built-in SEO tools (such as Yoast SEO in WordPress) and if they are limited by any technical or budget constraints How much time and money you can afford to invest in SEO efforts Opportunities Ultimately, your weaknesses become opportunities. So use this section to get specific about where to focus. But don’t overlook your strengths. You might have one strong blog post that explains how to care for vintage clothing. While it ranks well and drives a ton of traffic to your blog, there might be an opportunity to include product links, partnership mentions or links to your other (relevant) content pieces. Threats Typically, these are external factors that are largely out of your control. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive. Stay on top of SEO trends and industry changes, as they can help shape your SEO decision-making going forward. For example, you’ll want to know if Google is changing its search algorithm, as that could impact your rankings. Of course, always keep a close eye on your competition. Know where they rank for certain keywords and take note if they rise or fall from that spot. Also, pay attention to any newcomers and how their online presence might affect yours. The 4 Key Focuses for Successful SEO If you want to craft an effective SEO strategy, you have to speak your customers’ language.. Stephan Bajaio, chief evangelist at technology company Conductor, says this requires in-depth keyword research. In-depth keyword research can enable you to duplicate the ways that your audience already finds you. In other words, you can build on your current success. Once you’ve determined the most relevant keywords and keyword phrases, use them to tackle the following SEO tactics. 1. Technical SEO What this means: Technical SEO is concerned with the framework of your website. For instance: Can search engines easily crawl your site? Are your pages properly indexed? Is your site mobile-friendly? Is the site quick to load, or do plug-ins bog it down? These factors will directly affect your search rankings, making it either easier or harder to find your store online. Fortunately, many of these questions will be addressed when your website is built. If you used WordPress, Squarespace or a similar service to set up your site, you can rest easy. These players are well-versed in SEO and make the technical structure pretty point-and-shoot. That said, there are still a few changes you can make as a small-business owner. What you can do as a thrift store owner: Divide and conquer. Look at how your web pages are structured, starting with the homepage. Bajaio suggests dividing your web pages into the categories in which […]

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Ways to Sell Resale Items Outside of Your Thrift Store

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5 minutes Looking for ways to expand your thrift store sales and get new customers into your shop? Try expanding your sales and marketing efforts beyond your doors. Many consignment stores bring in extra revenue and get marketing exposure by selling items online or setting up satellite booths. Junior League of Atlanta member Elizabeth Beasley shares that when she worked at their charity thrift store, the Nearly New Shop, “We started an online resale program where we took brand-name specialty items that were donated and sold them on eBay. We were usually able to fetch a higher price and our regular shoppers often bid on the items, too. It made those products feel exclusive and exciting to purchase. It also added a nice bump to our revenue.” Beasley also suggests that, “It’s ideal to have one person manage sales happening outside of the shop, so they can handle the marketing, shipping, and other details that are different than the usual in-store processes.” Before you start a campaign in outside sales, do your homework to track which items sell best in your ideal markets, both online and offline. Like any business startup, you need an audience, a plan, and a budget. Best Items to Sell Every platform has a different audience and during your research phase you may find that vintage items sell better at antique malls and flea markets, while new clothing and accessories are more popular with online resale outlets. Flea markets, like the San Antonio flea market, are actually a draw of tourism due to the other attractions and entertainment present at the market. Here’s a quick look at the hottest items shoppers are seeking online and offline. Accessories and Shoes: If you run a thrift shop that sells donated or consigned clothing, keep your eyes peeled for popular brands and styles of shoes and accessories. A little online research will reveal what vintage wear buffs and sneakerheads are looking for these days. Electronics: Vintage electronics will be your best bet here. People are looking for items they can’t get in stores anymore. This could be a relatively new item that they loved but is no longer on the shelves — like an iPod shuffle. Or retro tech like 8-track tape players and boom boxes. Whatever you sell, be clear on the condition of the item and if it works. eBay is a great place to check what’s hot and what’s not. Collectibles: Collectibles cover a lot of ground, but toys are always in demand because they tug at our nostalgic heartstrings and appeal to a wide range of generations. As a bonus, vintage toys are usually easy to pick up at garage sales and resell. Look for dolls, toys with movie or TV tie-ins, Legos and other classics. Books: Looking for an easy item to buy and sell? Books are the way to go. As you shop for stock, you can quickly check current resale prices on sites like BookScouter.com. Selling and shipping is simple when you list them on a site like Amazon. Again, always be honest about the condition of the book. Brand Name Clothes: Not everyone enjoys sifting through thrift store racks to find a brand name gem. Make it easy by selling higher ticket items online or at a specialty booth. The great thing about designer resale is that new and vintage items are both popular and there are a wide range of sites where you can sell them — from eBay to thredUp. Keep in mind that clothes can take longer to sell, so make sure you have a place to store your inventory. Setting Up a Booth Sold on selling outside of your thrift shop? Then a small, satellite booth could be a smart option for you. This is the place to market your highest quality items or products that target a specific audience. Sometimes you can even find local artisans to share a space with. It doesn’t matter who you team up with as long as your products complement each other, instead of compete. Before you get out your card table and start setting out items, map out a plan for where and when you want to sell, how you’d like your booth to look and how you’ll price your goods. Flea markets, antique malls, and pop-up markets Flea markets and antique malls stay open year-round and draw a broad and varied audience, so you aren’t limited to seasonal sales and can market a wide range of products. On the flip side, short-term pop-up markets have the advantage of targeting specific audiences and attracting impulse buyers, since they won’t be able to come back and get your goods next weekend. Booth design and style To avoid visually overloading customers, stick with one style in your booth. It doesn’t matter if you’re shabby chic or cabin cozy, commit to a theme and make it memorable. That way shoppers can easily remember your booth as “the one with the vintage French vibe” and have no problem finding you on their next trip. Pro tip from Christy James of confessionsofaserialdiyer.com: Include items with a variety of heights in your space. James says, “I try to keep a tall piece or two in my booth at all times, just because it makes the booth look better. If I don’t have any tall pieces at the time, I try to stack items (safely) to add height If everything is all at the same level, it’s boring.” Appropriate pricing Pricing your flea market or antique mall booth may be a bit different from your in-store prices and that’s okay — the audience and location are unique. The good news is that sometimes you can raise the prices! If you find your products are flying off the shelves this may indicate that your pricing is a little low. And if your sales are stuck, your prices could be too high. Remember, you should include a range of prices, so everyone has a chance to find something they can afford. […]

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