Maybe you've heard our favorite joke:
"How do you make a small fortune in the bike industry? Start with a big one."
The truth is that running a bike shop in 2019 does not have to be this way.
If you can take advantage of the principles found below, you'll be in a position to thrash your competition and get back on the yellow brick road to significant revenue growth in store and online.
This comprehensive Bike Shop SEO Guide will teach you how to take care of your shop's presence online and includes many of the steps Bike Shop SEO uses to help its clients make more money.
We'll guide you step by step starting with the top 10 ranking factors to focus on, followed by an exhaustive list of factors to focus on to improve your local bike shop's rankings in your local market.
According to MOZ, "Page Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines. It is based on data from the Mozscape web index and includes link counts, MozRank, MozTrust, and dozens of other factors."
Since this metric is a combination of a number of different metrics, the most direct way to improve it and your overall rankings is to improve the quality and quantity of links pointing to your site.
This one is pretty simple once you know what a URL is. URLs, or A Uniform Resource Locator (URL), is the web address that most web browsers will display in an address bar and could have the form http://www.bikeshop.com/index.html.
You need to audit all the URLs on your site, specifically looking at the last part that occurs after the website domain (in the above example you'd look at the index.html part) in order to make sure that you are using the keywords you want to rank for in the URL itself.
Pro Tip: Using the geo location in the URL is a great strategy to help rank in local search. If your shop is located in Bloomington, MN you could use the following domain to advertise for bike repairs:
Content length correlates well with high rankings. If you are building a buyer's guide, or another piece of content that you plan on promoting on your site, shoot for at least 1500 words that are unique content (not just taken from another source or installed from your CMS or ecommerce platform, with more useful content being better.
There are compelling reasons:
Pro Tip: When you're building content about a specific topic, think about what the user's intent, or what they're trying to achieve, while reading your content. Deliver information that is relevant for that type of intent as completely as possible.
If you're writing about bikes (think shopping intent), include as much detailed information that a shopper will want to see about the product. Include prices, specs, features, FAQs, videos, tables of data that will help the user understand the full realm of the topic.
Google uses page load speed, or how fast your page becomes interactive to the user, as a ranking factor.
You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to figure out your site's loading speed. It gives hyper-detailed instructions on how to fix a variety of issues that are slowing down your site's PageSpeed. It provides a score on a 0 to 100 scale with 100 being best.
Depending on how your site is built you might be able to make a lot of positive changes that will radically improve how fast your website loads.
Using keywords in your page content is another key ranking signal. Placing the primary keywords or keyword phrase (2-4 words) in the URL, page title, H2, and H3 tag as well as in first 80-100 words are all signals that search engines use to interpret that a page is about that specific keyword.
This is a measurement of your website as a whole. According to moz.com,
Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines. Use Domain Authority when comparing one site to another or tracking the “strength” of your website over time. We calculate this metric by combining all of our other link metrics—linking root domains, the number of total links, MozRank, MozTrust, etc.—into a single score.
This is a metric that when used in combination with the Page authority give you a comparative metric you can use to compare how your site stacks up against your other local competition.
You can easily check your site's Domain Authority below.
This is simpler than it sounds.
Relevant links are ones that are:
A quick Aside: We worked with a bicycle shop that had 103 backlinks, or links from external websites, with 87 of them coming from a forum devoted to an unrelated medical condition (cough, cough). This is a great example of links coming from outside the bike industry, that were not relevant to the main subject matter of the site. This is a situation to be avoided.
You can look at your link profile using the Domain Authority checker above and then scroll down the page in the new window and manually inspect each link to see if they are relevant to your shop.There are several great posts that teach you how to use Google's Disavow Links tool to disavow bad links, but that is an advanced topic for another post.
Dwell time is the time a user stays on your site before going back to the search results page.
You can get users to stay longer by including immersive images and videos high up on the page and by leading with a killer opening paragraph that gets the reader egaged with your content.
Great writing keeps users on the page.
Dwell time is not easily measured as there are a lot of false positives in the metrics. Two metrics you can find inside Google Analytics for both the site as a whole and for individual pages are bounce rate and time on page. Neither are perfect ways to get at dwell time, but if you can reduce your bounce rate and increase the average time on page, this is a major signal to Google and other search engines that the search result that they showed the user was useful and should potentially rank higher.
There are some key strategies:
You've probably heard how important having a responsive website is, but is it really?
More than half of internet users are mobile users, and 70% of mobile searches result in a sale or action, so Yes it is critically important to be able serve content to all users in a way that loads quickly on whatever device they are using.
A quick way to tell if your website is responsive is to change the width of your browser and see if your website changes to fit inside the browser window. If it does, then your site is responsive. If it doesn't, you need to get your site switched over as soon as possible.
Google has maintained two search indexes for years, a desktop and mobile version of the index. The mobile version has becomie Google's primary search index.
If your site isn't mobile friendly, you will lose rankings, traffic, and sales.
This can be a real problem on a bike shop's website, especially if your site has a catalog that is created by a content management system or ecommerce platform. If you are using content from a Content Management System, make as much of it as unique as possible, and adds as much value for the user looking at hubs, wheels, or handlebars.
This means looking at your top selling items on your store and going into the product description field and writing an extra few paragraphs for each one so that google will view your site as useful as possible.
This top ten list was inspired greatly by Brian Dean's list of ranking factors.
On Page factors are factors that are found directly on your website, and are under your direct control.
We'll go into each of the main on-page ranking factors below.
After the URL, the second most important place on a page to have the keyword is the Title tag. The Title tag is the first description of the page that search engine users will read, and it is extremely important to both users and search engines that it contain the keyword they are searching for. This will not only help to improve rankings, but can significantly improve your click-through-rate as well.
Title Tag Best Practices
A proper Title tag will:
- Be 20-59 characters in length with 50 - 59 being the target length.
- Must be unique. This means that every page should have its own unique title.
- Use geo-qualifiers for search terms that have local intent. (such as Longmount or Bloomington, MN).
One example of a proper title tag structure might be:
<title>Nantucket, MA Bike Shop | Youngsbicycleshop.com</title>
While Meta description tags are not a factor in the ranking algorithm, they are used as the description searchers will see in the search engine results and have a huge impact on click-through rates. Having the keyword used properly in the Meta description tags can increase the likelihood that users will click on the link to the page if the keyword usage matches their search query.
Meta Descriptions Best Practices: should adhere to the following guidelines:
- Be unique and relevant to that page.
- Be written as descriptive ad text, with a call to action.
- No more than 160 characters in length including spaces and punctuation (140-150 is ideal), but no less than 51 characters (Google considers 50 characters or less to be too short).
- Contain 1-2 complete sentences with correct punctuation, and no more than 5 commas.
- Use the keyword once per sentence, as close to the start of each sentence as possible.
- Include a geo-qualifier, such as “Seattle, WA”, if relevant.
Search engines weigh text for SEO value based on text size and position on the page. Heading tags are supposed to be larger than the other text on the page and should appear prominently on the page, thus the added benefit of having the keyword in the heading tags.
Every page should have an H1 tag, as search engines look to the H1 to help determine the topic of a page. It should be the first thing in the body text of the page, and should appear prominently.
From a usability perspective, paragraphs should never be longer than 5 lines of text, and it is wise to break up the content a page every 2-3 paragraphs with a sub-heading in the form of an H tag (H2 or H3) or an image. Testing has shown that when users are faced with a large block of unbroken text, most either skim over the text or skip it altogether, so content needs to be divided into usable chunks.
It is important that the keyword of a page be used in the H1 tag, as close to the beginning of the H1 as possible. Ideally, there should be at least one additional H tag on each page that contains the keyword, for added SEO value. Heading tags are a nested element, and should be used in the correct order.
No H tag should be used if the preceding numerical tag has not been used (don't use an H2 before using an H1 etc.).
This is pretty self-explanatory. Use the target keyword /medium tail keyword phrase in the first 100 words and search engines will know that with great definitiveness that your page is, in fact, about the keyword it crawled in the URL, title, and your H1 tag too.
Hosting your site securely on is seen as a larger ranking factor than it used to be. It is of greater importance now that new technologies coming down the road (HTTP2, and SPDY) which will deliver a much faster and safer web experience for your users.
For the benefit of search engines, code compliance, and visually impaired users, every image MUST have an ALT tag. The ALT tag should accurately describe the image, and should contain a keyword relevant to domain.com/en-us (but only if the keyword is relevant to the image as well).
Image file names should be descriptive words, not numbers or query strings. They should accurately describe the image and if relevant should also use the keyword. If an image is used as a link, then the ALT tag functions in place of anchor text.
An image should follow this structure:
<img src="http://www.domain.com/images/keyword-rich-image-name.jpg" alt="Describe the Image and use a keyword if relevant" />
By ensuring that all images are properly named and tagged, you will not only increase the SEO value of those images, but you will increase the likelihood of receiving referral traffic from google image search results.
It is an important ranking signal to include a link to a human readable sitemap on every page (generally in the footer). This link will open a new page that shows your website's structure to help users find their way on your site. This is a key accessibility / navigational / user experience signal.
You also need to have a sitemap.xml that is an xml file located at domain.com/sitemap.xml where domain.com is your website's domain.
To confirm that your sitemap is active & accurate, type into your browser's address bar, "domain.com/sitemap.xml" replacing domain with your site's domain name.
For example: http://bikeshop.com/sitemap.xml, http://www.bikeshop.com/sitemap.xml, or if you are on a secure server, https://bikeshop.com/sitemap.xml or https://www.bikeshop.com/sitemap.xml.
Sitemap Pro Tips:
- We routinely build custom sitemaps to fill in the gaps from your ecommerce platform's standard sitemap. This has helped our clients get as much as 10% more of their site indexed by search engines.
- Make sure your sitemap matches your actual content!!! We have often seen bike shops that don't have an active sitemap.xml, or that it is set to be manually created by the user and hasn't been updated in months or years. This "Gotcha" is especially painful on a large Bike shop e-commerce site with thousands of product pages that only has 20-50 pages listed in the sitemap.
Please reach out to [email protected] if you need help discovering if your site is currently set up correctly.
Create separate high-quality landing pages for each of your individual bike store locations.
These pages should have the following:
- Store name
- Store address
- Phone number
- Manager Name, bio, email
- Trust signals including better Business Bureau logo, Chamber of Commerce logo, customer testimonials (with Review Schema structured data that teaches search engines about your business), links to that location's social media accounts
- Embedded Google map
- Local ride information for each location
- High-quality interior + exterior photos (these have shown to convert at up to 40% higher)
- A list of specializations for each location. For example if your Rialto Bike Shop Location specializes in high-quality road fits then you would list that on its location page.
- These high-quality landing pages are critical for you to wage a local SEO Battle against your competition. Each of your shop locations has a slightly different market and slightly different challenges and these separate location pages help you effectively compete in each unique market.
What is structured Data? According to Google,
"Structured data markup" is a standard way to annotate your content so search engines / machines can understand it. When your web pages include structured data markup, Google (and other search engines) can use that data to index your content better, present it more prominently in search results, and surface it in new experiences like voice answers, maps, and knowledge panels (on the side of desktop search results and at the top of some mobile searches).
Structured data markup makes your content eligible for two kinds of Google features:
- Enhanced Presentation in Search Results (which leads to higher click through rates): By including basic structured data appropriate to your content, your site can enhance its search results with Rich Snippets, Breadcrumbs, or a Sitelinks Search Box.
- Answers from the Knowledge Graph: If you're the authority for certain content, Google can treat the structured data on your site as factual and import it into the Knowledge Graph, where it can power prominent answers in Search and across Google properties. Features are available for authoritative data about organizations, events, movie reviews, and music/video play actions.
Off-Page factors are factors that are found off of your website, which include Google My Business, citations, backlinks, and reviews of your Bike Shop.
We'll explain each in detail below.
Google My Business is a free tool that Google you Must leverage if you want to show up in the local pack - the group of three listings that shows up at or near the top of search results that Google deems having Local Intent - or in the One pack that shows up on the right-hand side of the search results when Google has enough confidence that a particular search result is THE absolute best answer to the user's search query.
David Mihm, a local SEO Guru and founder of Tidings spoke at Mozlocal in Seattle in 2016 about Google using the entire internet as one large data input device in order to present the best answers to user's search queries.
In local Search, Google My Business is the most important Data input that Google uses to present search results. If you want your website to show up when a user is searching for a bike shop near me, or Boulder Bike Repairs, or any other service, you MUST actively manage your shop's business information inside Google My Business. The data you keep inside your GMB directly feeds Google search, Google maps, Google +, and a variety of other data aggregators.
According to Moz.com, “Citations are defined as mentions of your business name and address on other webpages—even if there is no link to your website. An example of a citation might be an online yellow pages directory where your business is listed, but not linked to. Citations can also be found on the local chamber of commerce pages, or on a local business association page that includes your business information, even if they are not linking at all to your website.
Citations are a key component of the ranking algorithms in Google and Bing. Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations.
Citations from well-established and well-indexed portals (i.e., Superpages.com) help increase the degree of certainty the search engines have about your business's contact information and categorization. To paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals' coach Dennis Green, citations help search engines confirm that businesses "are who we thought they were!"
Citations also validate that a business is part of a community. It's hard for someone to fake membership in a chamber of commerce or a city or county business index, or being written about in a local online newspaper or popular blog.
Having citations that are absolutely consistent across the web is a key factor to your shop's site ranking well.
If your shop is mentioned with slight variations in name, address, and phone number, search engines won't understand that the citations refer to one business and your site's rankings will be negatively impacted.
A Must Read Guide to find inconsistent Name Address and Phone (NAP) Variations: by Darren Shaw and was a moz.com Friday Whiteboard titled Why You Need to Find All Your NAP Variations Before Building Local Citations - Whiteboard Friday will help you learn how to execute a citation audit.
Once you've found all your citations you can then go about the process of claiming all your citations across the web using a free download available at Whitespark's Top Local Citations by Country page
Check your site's Citations with below form.
How to use the tool:
It will look like this:
Click on the Inconsistent and Duplicate tabs, and you’ll see results like below:
Whitespark's Local Citation Finder is an amazingly useful tool that allows you to find citations for your business and your competition too for free (up to 3 searches per day). We use it routinely to uncover citation opportunities, and issues that need to be fixed.
N.A.P Hunter by Local SEO Guide is a great Chrome extension that will help you find inconsistent Name Address and Phone Number (NAP) Info for your bike shop. This tool is a must if you've ever changed Your name, Address. or Phone number in the last 10 years.
Feed Roger is a simple Google Chrome extension to help you run a moz.com local business search right from any web page.
It is especially useful for checking on multiple locations from one page so you don't have to switch back and forth between tabs to copy and paste business name and zip code information into Moz's amazingly useful tool.
You can fix any problem citations manually, subscribe to a service like Moz.com/local or have us manage for you which will impact more sites faster.
According to Majestic SEO,
Backlinks are the relationship amongst pages on the Internet, which allow users to navigate from a given point on the internet to the page you are looking at within your browser. Many people might think of these just as “Links” rather than “Backlinks” and this is true – but “Backlinks” describe the links coming INTO a web page or document, whilst “Links” generally refer to the outbound links from the page itself.
Pro Tip: If you are having a tough time figuring out why another shop is crushing your shop in search results, it is a great idea to use the Open Site explorer tool from Moz to compare your site's backlinks to your competition's website.
The quality and quantity of your backlinks will correlate closely to how you rank for search queries. Link building is the most important task you can do to improve your site's general rankings and is paradoxically the task that most shops (and SEO professionals) backburner for any number of reasons.
This is also something we love doing at Learner Design
Learn more about Link building from this definitive guide from Brian Dean at Backlinko.com
Online Reviews - especially from Google, Yelp, and Facebook - are a strong local ranking signal. They not only impact rankings but they can have a huge impact on click-through rates (or the percentage of clicks that your site gets when it appears in search results).
More Great Reviews = Better Rankings AND More Traffic to your website.
Cutting Edge News: Google has just started provided a filtering mechanism for some local business types and is appearing inconsistently across bike shop searches that enable the user to sort the local pack listings by reviews.
If you have few reviews or if the reviews you have aren't great, your traffic will suffer.
Pro Tip: One Service that we love and is a huge life saver for helping you manage your online reviews is GatherUp. This is an insanely great and efficient way to get more reviews, monitor feedback and ultimately improve your customer service in your store.
2019 Update: Ascend has started to bundle Listen360 in with their POS solution and this has motivated a lot of Trek dealers to start using Listen 360. This has motivated our team to build the first bike shop review widget to display reviews from Listen 360. This Ascend Upgrade is significant in that it allows shops to see feedback on a staff person level, but pales in comparison with the full featured functionality of GatherUp which we sell for $30 / mo.
Practicing SEO to keep your bike shop's rankings as high as possible doesn't have to cost huge amounts. Here are some free and paid SEO tools that we use every month to manage clients SEO.
Now that we've shared how to grow traffic with SEO to your website, you might be tempted to thinking that you're done.
SEO is only one way to grow traffic. We know that by supplementaing SEO with Paid Search (think Google Shopping, Search and Display Ads) as well as with with Social Media (Facebook ads are working great in 2019 to grow sales) traffic can grow tremendously.
To take it a step further, website traffic is only one part of our revenue formula.
Total Revenue = Traffic (sessions) X Conversion Rate X Avg. Order Value.
Now that you're getting more opportunities to sell bike gear to users, you should also focus on increasing conversion rates, or the percentage of people who buy, and also increasing the average order value.
Get in touch and let’s plan for your success.
Noah Learner is a 20-year bike retail veteran with 8 years experience as the General Manager of Young's Bicycle Shop on Nantucket Island. He also worked at SmartEtailing where he provided SEO and Marketing solutions for some of the most respected local bike shops in North America.
Other Readers have checked out our Bike Shop Marketing Page.Go To Table of Contents