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SEO for Ecommerce

May 5, 2011

Now that you have learned about the importance of Search Engine Optimization during the initial set up and creation of a web site, it is just as critical not to overlook the importance of SEO for e-commerce sites. Most merchants forget that the most important aspects of creating an e-commerce site is not just how you set up your merchandise or prices, and fail to recognize that all shopping carts have built-in SEO functions. As a result, they don’t take advantage and tune their online store for SEO when setting up their e-commerce sites.

Small e-commerce site owners are typically unaware of the challenges this type of website can present. Typically e-commerce sites have significantly less content than other websites; therefore they struggle to get indexed by search engines. This is why copy plays a significant role in the SEO process.

The good news is that e-commerce sites can be optimized the same way as content sites by using keyword phrases. The bad news is that this could be a long process that requires making a plan and strategy for SEO readiness and developing the e-commerce site functions by an experienced e-commerce SEO specialist.

Otherwise, if you want to give it a try yourself you’ll need to start from the ground up and start the SEO process during the initial building of the e-commerce site. Follow the below recommendation to guide you through the process:

  • Build a Keyword list: start a broad list and work your way down to the most specific keywords that are relevant to your site. For instance, using our example from the previous articles, if you are promoting gold summer sandals, start by placing your broader terms on the home page such as [discount shoes], [shoe store] or [shoes online]. As you get to the specific pages, select search terms that reflect what’s available on those specific pages like the gold summer sandals. Remember, the same rules apply here as what I mentioned in previous articles when creating a regular web page. Don’t use the same keyword phrase on every page and don’t shove as many phrases as you can onto every page. Each page stands on its own and if labeled correctly, will have a chance to rank high in search engines. The basis of any optimized website is the keyword list because the search terms you choose to focus on will be used in every area of development from the navigational structure all the way through to the copy.
  • Create and use up-to-date and specific Meta Keywords and Meta Descriptions per product: Specific tags are necessary during Meta tags coding by the web developer. Generally the web developer will only put the general Meta keywords set up on the first days of launching the site, but the e-commerce requires continuous updates even on back-end. Consumers typically type in specific phrases when searching for an item. For instance, instead of searching for “Shoes”, they will search for “Gold summer sandals”. It is very important to keep the content up to date because old content might be demoted by search engines.
  • Have an SEO-friendly shopping cart: This will make your life easier as time goes on and you may want to make changes to your pages and optimize your site for the search engine spiders. An SEO-friendly shopping cart will allow you to place product name as page title, product description as Meta Description and add as many keywords as needed.
  • Provide fresh content through customer review: a perfect example would be Amazon: they are continuously ranking high on search engines because of the constant content provided by customers. It is an e-commerce website, but the search engines will always have new material to crawl because the customers are constantly updating the content by leaving reviews.
  • Provide Social Media buttons: People love to share special finds with their friends. Why not make this process easy for them by placing the buttons on your e-commerce page. This is a great way for people to pass along your website on various social media channels and spread the word about your products as well as get you more income back links. Search engines love popular sites that are promoted through social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Delicious, etc..
  • Create Search Engine-Friendly URLs: this provides an easier way for search engines to navigate your product page. People often search for an exact product, so letting search engines index your home page is not enough. A lot of people search for a specific brand or model number. It is extremely imperative that you setup your e-commerce site to use search engine-friendly URLs and identifiers.

Here are some specific SEO action items that can help index your page correctly:

  • Use the manufacturer or your SKU as the page name.
  • GSS100.php
  • Use the manufacturer name plus product name as page < title >
  • < title > GSS100 – Gold Summer Sandals < /title >
  • Use name of product plus name of manufacturer plus SKU in < h1 > tag as the page heading.
  • < h1 > Gold Summer Sandals. Beach Brand GSS100 < /h1 >
  • Name the main product image with manufacturer SKU and product name as < alt > tag
  • < img src=”Images/ GSS100..gif” alt=”> Gold Summer Sandals.” />

Any search engine crawler will be able to recognize all the tags and know with certainty that this page is totally about Gold Summer Sandals. When a search engine visitor searches for “Gold Summer Sandal”, this would be a perfect page the present to them.

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