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Practical SEO guidance for Ecommerce owners

February 17th, 2014, by

It is no secret that for the majority of ecommerce website owners, generating more traffic and sales is the key to success. Knowing where to start and what to do is not always clear which is why we have decided to create our own practical guide to Ecommerce SEO.

Before you start to think about optimising your website, you need to have a plan. You may already have a good understanding of which keywords/phrases are important (get in touch if you don’t) but don’t just stop there. Take some time to type those phrases into Google and see who already appears on page one.

What are they doing that you’re not?

Identifying and analysing the competition should always be the first step. Doing so can help you work out how competitive the market is.  It can also give you a great deal of insight into how you should be setting up your own pages. We should make it clear here not to copy, use what you find as inspiration.

Once you have your plan, you can then begin optimising your ecommerce website.

Title Tag

One of the most important tags for SEO on your website. The title tag usually appears as the heading when you look for something on a search engine. It is also displayed at the top of a web page.

tag-tag-images

The title tag defines the title of any document on the web including website pages. It describes to a search engine and user what that page is all about. Make sure that they are concise and contain the most important words/phrases for that particular page. Remember that after 70 characters, Google normally displays an ellipsis so keep them short.

Meta Description

Meta descriptions provide a short explanation of the content of a webpage. Although,  this tag isn’t as important from an SEO point of view since it is not used as a ranking factor, it can be used as a marketing opportunity. It is normally the text that appears in the search engine results pages therefore it should provide clear information about the page content and stand out from the competition.

designer shoes

Written Content & Product Descriptions

Potential customers and search engines use page content as a means of determining what a website or web page is all about. Constructing some well written paragraphs of information will add benefit to the user. Using keywords and key phrases (or variations of) will help search engines discover the focus of the page. Another thing to consider is that a snippet of this on-page content can appear if the page is shared via social media.

A product descriptions are often neglected with manufacturers default blurb being used. Whereas doing this will likely save you some time, it will not benefit your website or your overall online presence. Using default copy on your website means that your product pages are going to be just the same as many other websites including the original manufacturer. From a search engines perspective, this will see your pages as being duplicate to others around the web. From a user perspective, they will not be seeing anything that stands out from the competition.

Product descriptions are your opportunity to engage the reader and offer detailed information about the product. As mentioned above, creating unique content for every page will also help give the search engines more information about what the page is all about.

A great example of a well written product description can be seen here: http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/amandajanes/product/paris-catacombs-scene-silk-scarf

Search Engine Friendly URL’s

Many ecommerce platforms automatically create search engine friendly page URL’s, or allow you to create them manually. Using variations of keywords as part of the URL gives search engines extra information about the page, and helps people identify relevant pages when browsing search results. They can also show up in links if the page is shared by social media.

seo friendly url

Most modern packages support these keyword-rich URL’s – if yours doesn’t, we can help you upgrade.

Images

The optimisation of images on an ecommerce website is very important. Wherever possible images names should be changed to reflect what the image actually is rather than a string of letters or numbers. If your ecommerce allows you to add alt tags for images then always try to do so. Alt tags allow you to add a brief description of the image. Optimising images gives you the opportunity for them to show up in Google’s image search.

Old or Out of Stock Products

Our first reaction is usually to delete products that are out of stock or no longer available. Instead, why not leave these pages intact? Over time, web pages gain links from other sources around the web and a level of trust from search engines. When you delete a page from your website, an error page is displayed instead. This means that all those links and trust are lost.

Most modern ecommerce platforms give multiple product options.

statusHere you can select whether or not the product is in stock. When an item is out of stock, use that option. The product page will remain intact but instead of payment options, it will state the product is unavailable.

If an item is temporarily out of stock then it is better to let customers know. The simplest way to achieve this is to add the information to the end of the product description. Depending on your setup, you may have the ability to set a countdown timer or a date to make this stand out. If your ecommerce has the facility to do so, perhaps offer them some alternatives.

If however, the item is no longer going to be stocked or is discontinued then you should ensure that these pages are redirected to an appropriate part of the website wherever possible. You may be able to add these yourself via the shop admin if your ecommerce platform allows it. If not, then we would recommend that you ask your webmaster to help or at the very least have a custom 404 page put in place.

Having a custom error page gives the user the ability to remain on the website and search for alternatives. Displaying a default error page with no options is likely to lead to the user seeking alternatives elsewhere.

Social integration

Although not applicable for every business model, there is no denying that social media plays an important part in our online presence. If you haven’t done so already, consider setting up an account but remember to choose a social media platform you are comfortable with and is likely to be used by your target audience. Add links to your social media accounts on your website and if possible, add social media sharing buttons. These buttons make it incredibly easy for users to share products or web pages on their own accounts.

Blog

Creating fresh or updated content on a regular basis can help to give your website an extra boost. Writing content that will benefit a potential customer such as product reviews, latest company goings on, information articles, etc. can have a positive impact on your website.

FAQ’s

Frequently Asked Questions can be provide a source of even more good content for a potential customer.

Video

There are several good reasons why you should consider including video on your website. Videos can help to engage a customer whilst adding extra information about your products or services. They can be hosted on YouTube allowing you be found on the world’s second largest search engine (plus YouTube is owned by Google).

Reviews

Potential customers like to read reviews. Look at any major ecommerce website and you will see them asking for and displaying product reviews on-site. If your ecommerce system allows for it, consider asking your customers to leave a review for their recent purchases. As well as hosting reviews directly on your website, you may well want to consider and external review website such as Trust Pilot, Review Centre or similar. Google regularly crawls these types of sites and sometimes uses this information in search results e.g. Google Shopping.

Addressing some or indeed all of the areas above will help your ecommerce website perform better online. Creating a website that offers a positive experience for its users is far more likely to do well and ultimately lead to more conversions.

It is important to remember however that Search Engine Optimisation is not something you can set and forget. You need to include it in your long term plan if you want to succeed.

If you want to discuss how we can help you to implement any of these, contact BF Internet on 0845 519 4727 or email info@bfinternet.co.uk