In today’s post, we’ll be talking about Long Tail Keywords and how to optimize ecommerce websites. Over the last five years I’ve had the opportunity to work with some pretty big stores online. Today, I’ll lay out the blue print for optimizing these stores and some of the best practices for ecommerce SEO in 2013. There are plenty of options for businesses these days! Big Commerce, Shopify, Magento, Volusion, OS Commerce, Zen Cart… and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few others. However, shopping carts are pretty much the same really. Products get listed into categories and then they are published by store owners hoping to land sales. The truth is, some shopping carts are more SEO friendly than others.
SEO Friendly URLs
The first thing to look for is SEO Friendly URLs – For example, if your product is Red Widgets then your URL should look something like this:
Having the keywords in the URL is very key to success in ecommerce SEO. Look in the browser window for this post – as you can see it says, www.lmsinternet.com/seo-for-ecommerce-websites/ which is our keyword phrase. You obviously want your page named exactly what the product is and what people might be searching for.
Ecommerce Meta Settings
There is the onsite SEO portion which I’ll touch on lightly here. There is more hype these days about onsite SEO and the truth is, Google isn’t looking at that as much anymore. Yes, you do need a good title and description, however most shopping carts auto-populate the title from the product listing. The description and the keywords can be added. Remember that Google ignores keywords and thus pushing in a ton of them isn’t going to help you rank any higher anyway.
We do suggest publishing a unique description and having a unique title, but really the SEO portion for a website isn’t in the optimization of the meta settings and title, but it is in the overall SEO campaign.
Content of the Shopping Cart
The biggest issue I see when doing SEO on ecommerce stores is that they push products to the shopping cart which do not have unique content. For example, a store might be carrying a competitive product that is sold in hundreds of other stores. The store owner copies and pastes the product description from the manufacturer into the store and publishes the product. Remember, Google cares about unique content, so if your store carries hundreds of products with duplicate content, you can’t expect to rank high in the search engines.
We suggest that each new store add products slower and make sure that the 100 – 200 words which describe the product are 100% unique and pass through the www.copyscape.com test.
Many of our clients have had great success by creating unique content for their category pages. For example, if a store sells various types of products and they are all listed in one category, then the category page should have a unique text box and the category page optimized.
Design and Analytic Data
One of the biggest thing that Google is now measuring is the data they pull from Google Analytics. Even if you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site, they are still measuring the site with the data collected from the Chrome browser when others visit your site. If your design stinks and people are bouncing off of your site as soon as they land then you’ll see your site take a huge hit in the Search Engines.
Many ecommerce stores need to be reskinned and have an easy SEO friendly navigation if they are going to do well with their SEO. The usability of the site is VERY important and keeping the visitor on the site as long as possible is critical to a website’s SEO success.
Social Media and Blog Content
I find that a lot of ecommerce websites totally ignore social media. They assume since they wouldn’t “like” or “follow” a company selling widgets themselves, their customers won’t either. Social media is a sign to Google that the site has good information on it. If you are not receiving any traffic from social media sites then that is a big red flag to Google that the site isn’t share worthy. I’m not a big advocate that social media will build sales, but I do know that it helps with SEO and so I’m an advocate of social media.
A blog for a ecommerce store is also a huge way to boost traffic. If you connect your products with your posts and leverage social media, then you have all the pieces of the puzzle working together.
Measuring and Leveraging the Traffic
The last key part in an SEO campaign for an Ecommerce store is to set the right expectations You are NOT going to rank for every product! However, you should be measuring your SEO through analytics. The main objective is to find growth in overall traffic over previous years. Are you growing in organic traffic? Are there new long tail keywords that you’re ranking for? Are you getting more referral traffic from social media sites?
Tips on Hiring SEO Companies for Your Site
Be weary of companies making promises! If they are not charging much to optimize the site, then chances are good they won’t put in the work required to make it rank well. Ecommerce SEO projects are not typical! Ranking for global keywords is much more difficult than ranking for regional keywords. You should also be weary of companies just focusing on link building. Big sites need strong audits in Google Analytics and webmaster tools. You also need a company that focuses on your content and overall site health.
If you’d like to have a conversation about your SEO, please feel free to schedule a time with me here.
There is a lot more to growing an ecommerce store than I can list in a simple blog post. If you found us through Google, can also see our SEO services here as well.