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Search engine optimization has become a necessity for every website online. This is especially true for e-commerce sites. The proper placement of articles and descriptions can mean the difference between higher search engine visibilityvs not being seen at all. If you’re in a competitive market, it’s likely that a number of your contenders have SEO copywriters on their payroll to propel them to the number one listing. Good SEO content is just one way to rank your e-commerce store on Google, however. Ultimately, optimizing your site for SEO is key. Show More
No matter what your online endeavors entail improving your SEO skills can only help you. Researching SEO agencies is certainly one way to go about it. There are tons of SEO packages that you can look into, but if you’re a serious e-commerce store owner you should educate yourself as much as possible. If you’re ready to be an SEO savvy e-commerce store owner or if you’re willing to change your current approach to SEO, read on, read on.
The most important page is your homepage. It’s the first thing that a potential client will see when they visit your site. When optimizing this page, you should consider relevancy, ranking difficulty, and search volume.
The most obvious choice when selecting your keyword is to find something relevant to your brand or product(s). You should want a keyword that has a high exact match volume. For example, an e-commerce site revolving around cat accessories should focus on keywords relevant to its brand such as “green cat toys”.
With that being said, it’s important that you don’t choose words that are considered to be toowide range (broad) or too competitive. If you’re too broad, not only will you have a high bounce rate, but your conversion rate will also be affected adversely. Furthermore, it's best that you don't go after keywords that are too competitive. It's going to take a lot of hard work to outrank your competition. Try looking at the Google search engine results for your targeted keyword - note where your competitor ranks.
Let’s go back to our earlier example of cat toys. Targeting keywords such as “cats” or “feline lovers” would be too broad and too competitive to be feasible. These keywords don’t necessarily target individuals in search of cat toys. Besides, bigger businesses likely have the keywords “cats” and “feline lovers” well ranked, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to rank well yourself.
2) Target keywords for blogs Blogs are a perfect place to help your e-commerce store rank for keywords you might not have targeted on your main pages. Content creation in the form of blogging has an added benefit of targeting long-tail keywords as well. For those of you who don’t know what they are, long-tail keywords are searches that consist of more than one word(that's putting it simply). For example, “cat toys for Tabby cats” would be considered to be a long-tail keyword as opposed to “cats” which is simply a single keyword. You can think of this as a form of “custom SEO”.
Studies have shown that single keywords make up less than 30% of the searches performed on the web. Of course, if people looking for cat food aren’t typing in “cats” what exactly are they typing in? Long-tail keywords hold the key to this answer.
Longtail Keyword Traffic
Ultimately there are hundreds of millions of unique searches every single day as people search for unique web content. They can range from “cat toys for my black haired cat” to “feline goodies for orange tabbies”. 70% of all searches put into search engines are considered to be ‘long tail’
Remember these statistics as you target long-tail keywords. They should have a high exact match search volume (local, not global) and as low of a difficulty score as possible. Even after you’ve exhausted your list, continue to target keywords that are considered lower volume. This is exactly the type of technical SEO that SEO agencies perform on a regular basis.
Pro tip: stuffing your blog posts with specific keywords (keyword stuffing) justso your post is more visible on search engines can be annoying and typically doesn’t read very well. Your objective should be quality content.Keyword insertion should fitnaturally into the piece. Your audience will love you for the valuable content that you provide and will like and share as a result.
Your content should always be people centric, not search engine centric. Google’s current algorithm rewards websites that post highly popular content. Sites and landing pages that use keyword stuffing and other unsavory tactics are penalized by Google. Don’t worry, your SEO efforts will pay off in the end.
3)Keyword Cannibalization What is keyword cannibalization? This phenomenon, if it can be called that, occurs when a keyword is targeted by multiple pages on the same website. The primary issue lies with the fact that keyword cannibalization confuses search engines, forcing them toprioritizewhich page is the most important to display. Ultimately, this makes it all the more difficult to rank that keyword effectively.
How do you avoid falling victim to cannibalizing your keywords? For one, don’t keyword stuff the same keyword on multiple pages (such as stating the word “cat” about fifteen times on three separate pages).
A great tip is to use a spreadsheet to keep track of the keywords that you’re targeting on each page. As you look over your list, you should be able to spot whether or not you’re targeting the same word on multiple pages. Keyword ranking doesn't have to be difficult - it just has to be done right.
Keyword research is only half of the equation. The next step is to perform competitor research. Let’s dive in.
Look at what keywords your competitors are targeting
When researching your competition one of the first things you should do is create a list of keywords that your competitor is targeting in their SEO campaigns. This can give you an idea of where you need to direct your own focus. Do you compete for a keyword or do you target a keyword that your competition isn’t focusing on? The choice is yours. Furthermore, you need to check whether or not they have a higher Domain Authority (DA) than you do. There are tools, online resources, and SEO companies that can help you to do this. A series of simple Google searches can help you to identify these sources quickly.
Your competitor's DA will determine whether or not you should directly compete with them over a specific keyword. If their DA is considerably higher than yours, then it would be best if you targeted another less competitive keyword. It’ll be a tough fight to overtake your competition and your time would be better spent ranking a keyword that you know that you can dominate through the proper use of search engine marketing, web analytics and search engine optimization.
Take the time to look at the site architecture of your competitors. How deep are their links? How is their navigation structure? E-commerce stores, in particular, should look out for these specific things –
Once you’ve figured out how your biggest competitors structure their site architecture, you can decide whether or not you wish to optimize your website similarly (with a few tweaks here and there). Of course, you can take a completely different approach to your site architecture. The choice, of course, is yours.
Complicated site architecture may be impressive on the surface, but pages buried too deeply within the design of the site may not receive enough link juice to show up in search engine rankings (which will adversely affect your search engine marketing efforts). In other words, the “higher up” a page is on your site the more likely it’ll be seen by search engines. There’s a lesson to be learned from this. Just because one of your bigger competitors has complex site architecture, doesn’t mean you should necessarily copy them. You may end up inadvertently hiding certain pages from search engines.
To those unfamiliar with SEO lingo you likely have no clue what 'Link Juice' is. Link Juice is an informal term (used fondly by SEO specialists) that refers to the power or equity passed to a website via links that point from either an internal or external source. The power of link juice is then interpreted as a positive vote towards your site. Link juice is one of the most important factors when it comes to determining your page rank. This is why on page SEO is so important.
Any SEO consultant can tell you that link building is a tried and tested method of increasing your site's SEO. There are both direct and indirect methods to build up links. Direct methods include social media marketing, document sharing, guest posts,content development and so on. Indirect link sharing occurs when you share great content on your site and visitors share it around to various other web pages, driving web traffic as a result. Any marketing agency or marketing company can attest to the power of link building. The “link equity” that transfers from these sites to your own site is the link juice. Now that we have an understanding of what link juice is, let’s move forward. There’s much more to cover.
There are about a million and one e-commerce stores in existence. I think that we can all agree that the e-commerce space is pretty crowded nowadays. You need to ask yourself one thing – how can I differentiate my site so that I can provide a unique experience for my customers? Just like the step where we discussed site architecture, you’ll want to look at your competitor's sites. Look at everything that they’re doing and see what you can change to differentiate your site. Perhaps you can change the navigational controls? How can you go about optimizing your site better? Can you add a blog to your site (especially if your competitors don’t have one)? Can you make your site more social? How can you tweak your current SEO campaign to drive in better results? If you were a potential client or customer what would your first impression be of your own site? Take notes on action steps that you can do today that will differentiate your site from your competitors.
Identifying Current Problems
With your keyword and competitor research out of the way, you can think of this point onward as “Phase 2” of your SEO strategy. In this section we’ll focus on more technical SEO such as analyzing data more thoroughly (through tools such as Google analytics).
At this point, you need to audit your e-commerce store to identify problems that need to be fixed. When performing your audit, there are several crucial areas you’ll want to focus on:
1) Use tools to hastily find errors
Online tools are a beautiful thing. They allow us to automate tedious and time-consuming tasks that would otherwise eat up the better part of our precious day. Try the tool “Screaming Frog” when you’re searching for website errors. Thankfully, you don’t need the aid of web developers to make this tool work. It will “crawl” your site’s CSS, scripts, links, and apps with a primary focus on SEO. When it’s done, Screaming Frog will generate a report of errors, duplicate pages, missing header, tags, redirects, and more. Did I mention that Screaming Frog is free? Yes, all of that value for nothing out of pocket. You can’t beat a deal like that.
Here are the most critical errors you’ll want to fix as quickly as possible:
Overall, Screaming Frog is an amazing tool that will identify many of the crucial issues that you’d need to fix right away while improving conversation rate optimization, usability, and website SEO. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the top internet marketers used this tool to rank their websites.
2) Website Speed
Your first priority should be fixing the major issues identified by Screaming Frog. Once those issues have been taken care of, your website speed should be the next obstacle you tackle. Believe it or not, most people will only give your site a few seconds to load before losing patience and going somewhere else…specifically your competitors. No one has the time to wait for a slow site. Look at the facts. Studies have shown that 40% of online users leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load! That’s insane, and you definitely don’t want to be the e-commerce site that loses all of its business because of a slow loading site. That’s why it’s crucial to fix speed issues before spending money on pay per click campaigns or other methods of driving traffic to your site.
There are many tools out there to help you with website speed. Try checking out Pingdom, a website speed test. There are dozens of website speed testing tools out there. Do your homework and find out which one is the best.3) On Page Optimization
On page optimization is just as important as off page optimization (link building). On page optimization is the steps you perform on your own web pages to improve your website's ranking. There are eight crucial targets you need to direct your attention towards when working with your on page optimization:
Each page and blog post on your e-commerce site should be optimized for a single keyword (you definitely don’t want to run into that issue of keyword cannibalization). To properly optimize your page, your keyword should be placed in key strategic locations. These include:
4) Site Structure
We’ve already talked about site structure (such as examining your competition and perhaps borrowing a few ideas while throwing your own twist on it to make it unique). Now, we’ll go more in depth. A site with good architecture will have a positive impact on your site’s conversions, rankings, and usability. To chart your website’s information architecture quickly and effortlessly, use the tool LucidChart.
The best method is to create a “flat architecture” for your site. Your design should have as few clicks as possible to get visitors from the home page to the product page. In this manner, you can pass off the maximum amount of link juice from your home page to your product page. As we’ve covered earlier, link juice determines how well your site ranks. You want to pass off as much authority as you can from page to page.
Next, take the keyword research that you conducted earlier and begin building your site architecture around those targeted keywords. Never forget, the path must be logical. Both your customers and search engines require a clear, logical path from the home page to the product page.
It would also be a good idea to set up links to jump to other pages. That way the link juice can be evenly distributed amongst the pages that you wish to rank. I would imagine this is all beginning to make sense.
5) Internal Linking
Internal linking is the next step. You can set up links on your website to point towards other pages on your site. Be wary not to overuse internal links. Google’s algorithms have been set up to detect suspicious activity. Packing your pages with dozens of links will make Google think that you’re up to something suspicious and it’s likely you’ll be penalized. Rather than “link stuffing” your page, just place them where they would go naturally. Once you’ve completed the architecture of your site and link building, you should submit a sitemap to Google. Sitemaps make it easier for Google to crawl your entire site and make an index of all of your pages.
Pro tip: as you add more and more links change up the anchor text. Google looks for variety amongst anchor text from both internal and inbound links.
Good usability means the difference between a visitor who comes repeatedly due to the great customer experience vs. someone who visits just once and never returns again. Usability is not just important for making your customers happy, but also for successful SEO. The whole goal, after all, is to make your customers happy enough that they’ll continue doing business with you.
You want your e-commerce store to have a user experience that’s helpful, easy to use, and fun. The easier the experience, the more likely your customer will spend more time on your site. For e-commerce stores, you should have as few steps as possible to get to the checkout process. The entire process should be streamlined. You should also give your customers easy ways to contact you, optimize your site so that it loads fast, and make it easy for your customers to identify relevant information. Also, as long as you can manage it, you should install a live chat widget on your site for conversion optimization purposes. Not only willthis featureincrease conversion rate optimization, but it will also increase the amount of time that a visitor spends on your site, which greatly benefits your SEO.
7) Optimized for mobile
Let me put a visual in your mind for a second. Try taking a trip to Star Bucks. As you order your coffee, you glance around and notice that everyone is staring down at a little screen in their hands. Nothing out of place right? Next, you take a trip to the mall. As you walk around, sipping your ice coffee, you notice once again that nearly everyone is staring down at the little screens in their hands.
We’re a culture addicted to our phones. Everyone has one, and most of us can’t function without one. This is why it’s critical that your e-commerce SEO is optimized for mobile. In the past, many businesses have had problems with the mobile versions of their websites. That’s quickly changing as more business owners are catching on to the importance of optimizing their sites for cell phones.
Don’t worry if you’re not an expert on web development or website design. With the rise of easy drag and drop website templates even a novice can create beautiful, mobile friendly websites in under an hour (depending on your familiarity with the platform you’re using of course).
If you have web designers on your team, that’s fantastic. If not you can go to sites such as themeforest.net or elegantthemes.com to find beautiful fully customizable themes. Look for “e-commerce themes", and you’ll be inundated with dozens of choices.8) Customer Reviews
Any person who has been in the e-commerce game for long enough knows that it only takes a couple of 4 and 5-star reviews to sell a product. Who better to tell you that a product is good than someone who has already used and ordered what you’re trying to buy?
According to a study conducted by Internet Retailer, product reviews on e-commerce sites can increase conversion rates by 14 – 76%. Other studies have found that 77% of online shoppers read reviews before making an online purchase.
If those numbers aren’t incentive enough to get you to prompt your customers for reviews, this extra added bonus should. Customer reviews can also have a positive impact on your SEO. It doesn't take an SEO expert to tell you that more reviews equals more content on your site. Google loves to see fresh regular content. Customer reviews provide two benefits for the price of one, so to speak. It doesn’t get any better than that.
To prompt your customers for reviews, you can send out an email a couple of days after you know that the customer’s package should have arrived, and ask if you could assist them with anything, and, if not, would they kindly review the product. There are tons of little tricks you can do to get people to leave reviews. It just takes a little creativity!
9) Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets is a term used to describe structured data markups that website owners can add to the HTML of their sites. In other words, Rich Snippets tell search engines what web surfers should understand before even clicking on a link.
Ordinarily, when your site shows up on a SERP, Google, and other search engines, you can only see the Metatag, the site title, and URL. After installing Rich Snippets, you'll notice that Google will now be able to display more information about the searched result, including whether your searched result is a person, review, product, business and much more.
10) Social Media Integration
Social media is easily one of the most important components in your arsenal for running a successful e-commerce store (which you’ll hear internet marketers screaming from the rooftops). Your online presence is largely defined by how big your social media following is. Social media signals, such as sharing and posting content, finding your target audience and growing your community, and engaging with your customers all impact your SEO. Also, social media serves as the perfect platform for reputation management. Platforms like Twitter are great for handling open disputes and engaging with your customers.
The bigger your presence on social media the more Google will find your website and brand to be valuable. As you grow your online community, your customers will begin to share your posts, mention you to their friends, and tag you in their posts. Word of mouth is easily one of the most effective forms of marketing, and social media provides you with tremendous marketing resources to get people talking about your business and making the overall online marketing process much easier.
When it comes to targeting and driving in thousands of customers with practically pennies spent in advertising, Facebook is hands down the most fundamental social media platform that you can utilize. Inbound marketers around the world preach that e-commerce store owners should base their marketing strategy around Facebook ads. Make sure you do the same.
To build up a large social media presence, you should set up pages on each of the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc). Each platform requires different strategies to market effectively on each, but going into further detail would take a guide much larger than this one to fully explain.
Continue to test
Once your on page SEO has been taken care of, it’s time to put together a good optimization and testing strategy. There are a number of factors you need to take into consideration when developing your strategy:
Only a robust testing strategy will help you to improve your e-commerce site. Otherwise, you’ll be relying a great deal on luck. Test often, find what works (and what doesn’t), and make changes accordingly. As you continue this process, you’ll likely begin to see an increase in leads generated and conversion rates.Blog Content Marketing Strategies
Keyword research is one of the strongest aspects of a good SEO strategy. However, how do you go about targeting extra keywords if each of the pages on your site is optimized for only a single keyword? If you’re like most e-commerce business owners I’m sure you likely have dozens of keywords that you could potentially target. The answer to this question is simple. Start a blog.
Through the power of blogging, you can target a single keyword, or multiple keywords for that matter, that you’re not targeting on the main pages of your site. This likely doesn’t need to be said at this point, but your blog posts need to be high quality. Just like the pages of your site, your blog posts should read and flow well. That means no keyword stuffing for the sake of keyword stuffing. Your keywords should naturally fit into the flow of the blog post. It’s recommended that you hire a professional writer who not only has knowledge of your industry but also a strong understanding of basic SEO. After all, you need someone who will give you a beautifully crafted blog post that’s optimized for SEO.
So, let’s say that you go ahead and stuff your blog posts with keywords anyway, despite the advice of this guide. What do you think will happen then? Not only will your audience likely not read the entire article, but it’s even less likely that they’ll share your content with anyone else. Also, Google will penalize you.
Ultimately, the goal of content development isn’t about the quantity that you put out. It’s about how effectively that you use that content. That’s why beneficial blog posts can be shared millions of times even several years after they’ve been written.
You’ll notice that every aspect of SEO is interconnected. Just like with your content, you’ll want to focus on building quality inbound links. Not only will you be penalized by Google if you have too many low-quality sites linking back to you, but low-quality links only bring low-quality traffic. Don’t expect to make any sales from traffic like that. It can’t be said enough; quality links are key.
It can be tempting to jump on those online deals that offer to build you 100,000 links for just a few bucks. Such deals are tantalizing to unsuspecting business owners who expect to gain a massive flow of traffic all at once with little to no sweat equity. It’s your job to resist such offers. Using sites like fiverr.com to “buy” links will only lead to your site being delisted by Google.
You should also stay away from content farms. These are sites that accept guest posts from just about anybody, and the content links you receive in return will more than likely be low quality. Google also takes issue with content farms, so it would behoove you (and your SEO strategy) to stay away from them.
Instead of using unsavory tactics to build links that will get your site penalized, spend your time creating quality links with high authority sites. You can do this by offering something of value to them (such as a guest post). Remember this - one high-quality link can be worth more than 100,000 low-quality links.
Local Business Tips
Business owners with a brick and mortar storefront should also pay attention to the layouts of their websites. Look to see if your name, address, and phone number (NAP) for all of your locations are in a visible location on your website. Your NAP formatting should be the same across every site linked to your business.
Furthermore, your local business should be submitted to all of the major directories and niche directories that apply to your business. Location based keywords are also a must when you’re writing up descriptions. Keep all of this in mind because Google blends both organic and local search rankings. This means that sites that may not have much organic search strength may have decent local optimization. There’s also potential that some of the lower-ranking organic results may become more visible than other organic results by improving their local ranking factors. Overall, even businesses with a small online presence require a local SEO strategy.
Useful SEO Tools
It doesn’t matter if you’re part of a big team or doing everything on your own, there are countless SEO tools out there to help you on your journey to optimize your rankings and increase traffic. Even the savviest SEO experts use tools toget the job done. Some tools are better than others, so here is a list of highly useful tools that you should check out:
There are many more tools in the market, so do your homework and find what works best for you. Once you’ve gathered the tools that you need, the process of implementing a solid SEO strategy should be that much easier. You’ll gain the data necessary to make crucial decisions that will lead to better rankings. Never forget, you still have to do the work. These tools just make your job a little bit easier. With enough practice, you’ll become an SEO specialist in no time.
In the grand scheme of things, there are thousands of reasons why you should want to optimize your e-commerce site for search engines. Besides the obvious reason of showing up in Google searches, it should be your goal to generate more sales. That’s the reason you’re in business in the first place, and it should be your primary focus when developing your website SEOstratgy.
If you implement a solid SEO strategy in the right way, you’ll see an increase in quality traffic to your site. Quality traffic equates to a higher number of conversions and repeat customers. That also means more money in your pocket.
You’re likely excited to implement your new SEO strategy and see your site boost through the ranks. Before you do, there’s one last very important thing you need to remember – SEO is a continuous process which requires constant trick (through the use of web analytics) and tweaking. Don’t think that just because your SEO strategy is working today that it will still be effective three months from now. Google, Yahoo, and the other big search engines are constantly changing and updating their algorithms. They do this to bring the best results to the forefront so that it’s easier for searchers to find the best content. Due to this, you must always stay on top of the latest search engine updates and change your strategy when if necessary.
SEO is no laughing matter. It takes a lot of work to rank your site well, but the pay out at the end can be huge. If you’re ready to take the plunge, hopefully, this guide will serve you well. For those of you who don't consider yourselves to be savvy SEO marketers and you wish to have the job done right the first time you should consider hiring an SEO team. SEO professionals and SEO firms can help you devise and implement a wide variety of planning, from developing content marketing strategies to PPC management to conversion optimization. There are affordable SEO plans out there, so do your homework and find the best plan for you.The amount of money you’re willing to spend on SEO can also be a contributing factor to whether or not your own SEO campaigns will be successful. Whatever the case, once your SEO is done right you’ll see an overall improvement in quality traffic and an increase in sales!Show Less
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