While it’s safe to say that most small online businesses are looking to increase their search engine visibility, investing heavily in higher rankings and increased clickthroughs isn’t always a viable financial option. However, search engine optimization can be within anyone’s grasp by employing some of these tried and true SEO techniques for eccommerce sites.
Create Your Own Unique, Original Content
While helpful and easy to integrate, manufacturer and designer generated descriptions are often posted in multiple locations across the internet (including on competitor sites). Using these descriptions in their entirety could seriously hurt your store’s ability to index well in search engines. Opt instead to write your own product descriptions or modify the pre-existing descriptions significantly enough to satisfy the Googlebots.
Carefully Craft Your Title Tags
Title tags have long been considered to be one of the most important on-page SEO elements. When crafting title tags for your product pages, you’ll want to make sure that your tag contains important, relevant keywords that are likely to be entered in searches for your product, that important keyword terms are listed at the beginning of the tag and that overall character length doesn’t exceed 70 characters. As with your main content and product descriptions, you’ll want to avoid duplicative title tags for indexing purposes, even when listing similar products.
Add Descriptive URLs and Image Names
Descriptive URLs not only help Google index your product pages, but they also help users find your content and navigate your site more easily. For example, instead using the product URL yoursite.com/product1234, try yoursite.com/mens_cotton_collar_shirt_green. You’ll want to avoid being verbose with your descriptive URLs, but do try to think of the most searchable and accurate terms to describe your product that you might want to include in that URL.
The same goes for images – don’t stick with generic image file names that will do nothing to help your search engine optimization. A descriptively named image (e.g. floral_dress_red.jpg) will help your site index in Google image searches, leading to more potential clickthroughs and visits. You’ll also want to make sure that you include unique and descriptive ALT text for your images for the same SEO purposes.
Pay Attention to Internal Linking
Internal links help define site architecture, making it easier for your site content to be crawled by search bots. Specific product pages should be able to be found via paths originating from the homepage, rather than existing as standalone, unlinked pages. SEOmoz states that the ideal site structure would be that of a pyramid, with “the minimum amount of links possible between the homepage and any given page.”
Use Long Tail Keywords
If you’re currently using or plan to employ pay-per-click advertising services like Google Adwords and have a limited budget and/or a very particular product that you would like to cater to, consider utilizing long tail keywords in your search terms. Long tail keywords focus on very specific search terms, and because of this specificity tend to be less competitive in PPC bidding, yet potentially have a greater ROI, particularly for small niche businesses. For keyword suggestions, you can always use Google’s free Keyword Tool, or a paid keyword tool like HitTail to help you find the “least utilized, most promising keywords hidden in the Long Tail of your natural search results.“
Add a Store Blog
Not only does a store blog create fresh and indexable content for your ecommerce site, but it encourages customer interaction and repeat visits, creating a sense of community and personal, human interaction. You’ll also be able to write content about topics, news and trends that relevant to your ecommerce site, yet wouldn’t necessarily be included in a product description or similar page.
Add a Product Feed
Create a product feed or an automated product export to submit to shopping aggregate sites so that your products will be more easily found by the consumers specifically seeking to buy them online. The Google Merchant Center (formerly Google Base) allows you to add products to Google Shopping search results and is free to use. Another free service is TheFind, while some of the more popular paid product aggregators include Amazon Product Ads, Shopping.com, Nextag, Shopzilla and Yahoo! Shopping.
Incorporate Customer Generated Product Reviews
As our article on customer service related software noted, user submitted reviews can provide your site with fresh, unique and indexable content, without having to generate that content yourself. Customer reviews also encourage interaction, sales conversion, clickthroughs and repeat visits, all of which are helpful with building your search engine ranking.
Create Custom Landing Pages
If you have a particular product or manufacturer that has proven to be popular or has a dedicated customer base, consider creating a custom landing page. This specifically optimized page will allow customers browsing your site or using a search engine to quickly locate that item or brand’s dedicated section.
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[Photo credit: Horia Varlan]