According to Simply Business, the number of independent bakeries, cake makers and tea and cake shops has been consistently rising year-on-year. The number of independent bakeries surged between 2016 and 2018, with the UK seeing a 25% increase between 2017-2018.

Felt bakers
Photo credit: integrated digital marketing agency, that’s what we do. We get as clear a view of the typical customer as possible. That allows us to think about the likely buyer journey and how we can make sure our client is part of it. For now, let’s assume that Mrs Bun the Baker or possibly Mr Bun, is looking for a brand-new mixer. What’s the first thing they are going to do? Our bet is that they will Google for something like ‘catering mixer’. Will they find your site?

Typically, we research thousands of keywords for a campaign

We need to consider the art of SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation as it is known. That is what gets your website up high on the first page of Google when someone types in ‘catering mixer’ or ‘cake decoration supplies’. And this is critically important. Our own research tells us that the company in the first one or two positions can expect to harvest around between 5% – 30% of the clicks. At the bottom of page one you are looking at 1-2% or less. At the top of page two, you aren’t really going to get anything. That said, when we research potential new customers, we get very excited at seeing high page two rankings because we know we can probably get those rankings up onto page one.

It is important to know that individual pages rank for search terms, not your website as a whole. If you simply sell catering mixers then there is an argument that your home page should rank for ‘catering mixers’ but, if more likely you sell all sorts of cake making supplies, then you want someone who is typing in ‘catering mixer’ to land on the page where they can select the mixer of their dreams. And then there will be people who know the exact mixer they want. For example, ‘Hobart Mixer’ could then take you to a page of, predictably, Hobart Mixers. And if they are specifically looking for a ‘Hobart 20 Ltr Countertop Mixer’, or maybe they have the model number and are looking for a ‘HSM20’, then they should end up on the product page with the mixer and the buy now button.

Photo credit: Calumet Photographic we discovered a customer type which was, broadly speaking, the amateur photographers who wanted professional equipment. And that enabled us to start Christmas campaigns and all sorts which resulted in 294% increase in search marketing revenue and the Best Use of Digital Marketing Award form the Charted Institute of Marketing.

You may have noticed ‘Hobart HSM20’ at the end of our very small sample of keywords. It’s only got 10 people a month searching for it by name, but the chances are they know what they want to buy. So, optimise your page with that particular model. Optimise your Hobart page with ‘Hobart Mixers’ and, depending on exactly what you sell, optimise your home page with words which include ‘cake decorating baking and making supplies’

Optimising explained

Google site search

So what do we mean when we talk about ‘Optimising Pages’? Let’s start with what people call ‘Meta Data’. If you type the word ‘Site’ and the a ‘:’ followed by the name of your website you will see a list of your pages, in the order in which Google rates as important, complete with your ‘Page Titles’ and ‘Page Descriptions’. Here’s an example from Cake Stuff. The top line, in blue, is their ‘Title Tags’ that’s the first place Google will look for the words which Mr or Mrs Bun has typed into Google.

The home page appears first, which is good. ‘Cake Stuff’ is good but ‘Cake Decorations, Cake Decorating, Sugarcraft’ is repetitive of the word ‘Cake’ and I’m not convinced by ‘Sugarcraft’. What follows could use some attention. ‘Shop by Brand’ is unlikely to feature in anyone’s Google search. And there is a lot of potential thereafter. So my advice to Cake Stuff would be to start by getting your title tags sorted out. Do some keyword research and use the top results in your titles. Try to use as many of the 60 characters and spaces available and don’t duplicate terms across pages, that will just confuse Google who will either ignore pages or spread their authority across the ages. Use the board terms for your home page, more specific for category pages and brand titles and even model numbers on product pages.

A quick word about the ‘Meta Descriptions’, that’s the text under the Title Tags. It is a fact, universally acknowledged, that a meta description is not a ranking factor. And that’s true in as much as Google doesn’t use it to rank. But we know that if you pay a little attention to them, write them like adverts with a call to action then people are more likely to click and that drives more sales. So, in short, it is worth paying attention to.

Optimising pages

The next thing Google will do is check that the keyword also appears on your page. But it needs more than that, it needs to appear in a natural sort of way. The old cliché is true, you need to write for humans and not for Google. Old school websites are full of superfluous text, often under the page fold, stuffed full of keywords. Better to simply check that your pages describe what you sell and that should be the words people use for it, in other words, keywords.

How fast is your site?

Another factor to consider is how fast your site loads. Google says it is one of the factors in deciding where you rank. You can test your page here. After that it is all about following the instructions. But as a starter, avoid unoptimised, oversized images and beware of collecting plugins. And don’t forget to check for your site on phones as well as your desktop.

PPC or Pay Per Click

When you type ‘cake decorating supplies’ into your phone or laptop what you get is a mixture of PPC Ads and what’s called ‘Organic Listings’ There are also maps, and question boxes but lets just ignore them for now, that’s a blog for another day. The top listings are ads. And on the right hand side are a couple of rows of Google Shopping Ads.

Google screenshot
Cake decorating supplies

Google Shopping Ads can be a very effective way of selling products to consumers. As you can see you get shown a range of products triggered by the words you type in. Google choses what to show according to how much you are willing to bid. It also cares about something called your ‘Quality Score’. Get a good Quality Score and you can find your ads appearing ahead of your competitors even though they have paid more. Important factors to maximise your score including describing your product accurately in your ad and ensuring that the same description is there on the page your ad points to. 

Another issue to consider carefully is what products you advertise and how you control it. We think it is important to have separate campaigns for each of your products so that you turn them on or off depending on if they lead to sales. And watch out for the defaults. Google starts you off opted in to YouTube and its Display Network. That means people who aren’t searching for your products will be shown your ads.

There isn’t much room in a Shopping Ad but there is a lot which can make a difference. You can see that two of the Ads in our example feature ‘Review Stars’. Not everyone who manages reviews and awards stars does it so that it can be featured in your Shopping Ads. It’s important to work with one of the companies who does, and to make it happen. Stars make a lot of difference. The other thing to watch out for is price. As a retailer you probably use one of any number of tools to keep an eye on your competitor’s prices. But this is even more important if you are using Google Shopping. Look again at the example we have shown above. Anyone tempted to pay the extra £48.50 for the Alessi Fatman Folding Cake Stand?

And finally, there is the issue of Negative Keywords. You can check in Google Analytics to see which keywords have triggered your ads. You will also see that some drive plenty of revenue and others drive none. It maybe that the terms are too generic or that they miss the point completely. We worked for a very upmarket furniture company that, we discovered, had been paying for its ads to be shown for people who typed in ‘Argos Beds’. Adding that term, and all sorts of others to the list of negative keywords saved the client a small fortune which could then be spent on gaining more visibility for products which did sell.

And then there are text ads

More popular with suppliers of services, text ads look even more like listings ads. Distinguished by a discrete ‘Ad’ these appear above, and sometimes also below, the main listings. They can be very effective at capturing people who are at the research or consideration stages of buying. Our top tips have much in common with Shopping Ads

Use the Stars!

5 star rating
Using the stars

As with Shopping Ads it is important to use the stars if you’ve got them. And then there are ‘Site Extensions’. These are extra bits of text, not included in your space and not attracting any extra charge, which provide info and, of course, claim more of the page for your ads.

And finally, there is remarketing

One final idea about selling your cake making or baking supplies, gadgets and gizmos. Have you ever felt haunted by an Ad which seems to follow you around? Odds are it is a remarketing campaign. It is possible to remarket to just about anyone who ever visited your website. That’s pointless. A better way of doing it is to reserve your ads for people who got as far as putting goods into a basket in the checkout and then failed to buy. They can be shown Ads reminding them of the wonderful mixer that they left behind or even offering a discount or free delivery.

Other ways of reaching Mr and Mrs Bun through social advertising

There is much more you can do. Paid social media, such as running Instagram and Facebook Ads can be very impactful to reach a niche audience like bakers. Here you can target existing customers, people who share the characteristics of existing audiences and you can refine and target in a myriad number of ways. But that’s for some other time. In the meantime, good luck selling those cake making and baking supplies. I’m off for a coffee and a bun.

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