Today, it seems impossible to imagine a world without the Internet and the everyday conveniences it provides. Ecommerce, for example, is one of those things that has changed the way we think about purchasing everything from personal electronics and fashions to major additions to a person’s home. Simply put, it has revolutionized the shopping industry ever since it started, but despite its long history, not everyone understands the intricacies of marketing this kind of website.
When most people think of ecommerce, they have Amazon.com in mind. Amazon is one of the largest online stores in the world, but it is closely rivaled by Wal-Mart’s. The sheer volume of product that moves out of these stores is amazing, and you may wonder what makes these sites so successful, especially when you start to compare it to the success of your own.
There are many different factors that play into the rise of an ecommerce site, but it all has to revolve around consistently selling your product. It’s one thing to get traffic flowing to your website, but if they don’t convert – if they don’t produce actual sales – you’ll never get off the ground. This means that you need to find a way to not only get people to your store, but also to get them to make a purchase.
SEO is an essential part of creating a successful ecommerce site. However, your SEO strategy should be specifically tailored to address the challenges of a site where a consistent flow of customers making constant online purchases is the central role.
Many of the SEO strategies for ecommerce are, of course, similar to what you would use on other types of websites, but you might have to think of them in different ways to generate the kind of leads you need.
Keywords have an evolving relationship with SEO. When a person does an online search, they use pretty specific keywords to find what they’re looking for, so it’s critical to know which ones they are using, and which ones are the most lucrative. However, with the recent changes to Analytics, this has become something of a challenge. On top of that, if you use keywords improperly – exact match anchor text, keyword stuffing, etc. – they can actually do more harm than good.
On an ecommerce site, there are even more things to consider. For example, it may seem like a great idea to target those huge, generic keywords that get such a high search volume, but if you tie those generic terms to a very specific page, you probably aren’t providing the kind of information on that page that a visitor actually wants.
Instead, you need to consider both branded keywords and long-tail keywords. This is the first step to drill down to the core of the issues and attract users who will, in fact, be interested in the products on a specific page.
You also need to avoid using the same keyword for different pages. It seems obvious, but it’s a mistake that a lot of ecommerce websites make. This can be a costly mistake for a site where multiple products are found on separate pages. This is something that can happen as product offerings change over time and the website has to evolve to keep up. You don’t want a potential customer trying to find something specific only to have them end up on an older page that no longer has what they were looking for. This will make your site feel irrelevant and unprofessional. At that point, your potential customer will probably leave with a bad taste in the mouth.
Another universal strategy in the SEO world is creating unique content. Search engines will rank your page higher if it contains unique, valuable content that effectively addresses customer needs. This principle rings true for an ecommerce site, as well. However, the application for your web store needs to be different than other types of websites.
Many ecommerce sites are content to simply post the manufacturer’s product description of a given product. Sure, this does, in fact, count as content, but it’s probably the exact same content used by every other ecommerce site that sells the same product.
When you sell a product online, its description plays a huge role. It may seem easier for you to just copy and paste the manufacturer’s description onto your page, but that is the last thing you should do. It might be okay to assume that the search engines understand that these are simply product descriptions and not worth penalizing you over them, but they definitely won’t give you any bonuses for it either. So why take the chance?
(Now, if you had the exact same description on multiple pages on your own website, then we’d be getting into duplicate content/penalty area.)
A product description is still considered content, and it still needs to be unique and it needs to provide value. Of course, if you have thousands of products for sale on your site, creating your own description for each one can be a bit difficult. If this is the case, you may want to consider leaving the actual product pages out of the search engine by adding a NO INDEX meta tag to the page.
Search-engine- and customer-friendly URLs are a very important part of this process. A lot of potential customers can be hesitant clicking a link that has a suspicious-looking URL. The site address may not actually be suspicious at all, but the average user won’t know what really is or isn’t. This is why “speaking URLs” are so important for ecommerce sites.
The best way to explain speaking URLs is by listing an example. This example comes from a book sold on Amazon.com:
See how the name of the book is listed directly in the URL? With a speaking URL, your customer knows exactly what they’re clicking on because it literally spells it out for them.
Putting keywords in the URL doesn’t have as much pull with Google as it used to, but it still helps in the long run. Besides, there is always a chance that another site will pick up your link and repost it. If they use the URL as the link, instead of embedding it in anchor text, you’ll still be able to reassure customers of their eventual location if they choose to click it.
Using SEO to Your Advantage
SEO strategies come in all shapes and sizes for any kind of website, but most of these are universal. While you can apply these universal strategies to you ecommerce website, you will need to tailor them specifically to the types of customers you deal with. Good use of SEO in your site will drive more traffic, but an effective use will create conversion and generate the kind of ROI you need.