The ultimate ecommerce guide to SEO

Planning your SEO for an ecommerce website is unlike doing it for other websites. An online store has its own needs and particulars that you need to pay attention to. Some of the essentials might be the same, but there are a few differences that require you to do some extra things. Some of the tasks you need to perform are the same as any other website. For example, auditing your site and identifying the best keywords for you to use. But there are particular areas, such as product descriptions and images, where you should ensure you’re getting it right. Use this guide to improve or implement your ecommerce SEO.

Consider Outsourcing

Before you start getting to work on your site’s SEO, give an independent company some thought. Although you will be able to do some of it on your own, you probably don’t have years of experience. Seeking out the right expertise could be the best thing for you to do, even if it means paying for the service. You need to weigh the value of SEO packages against what you’re going to get out of it. You might have to put some of your finances towards having someone manage your SEO campaign. But it could bring you in more money and save you a lot of time. They have the skills to make your site successful, leaving you to concentrate on other things.

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Keyword research is the fundamental starting point of any good search engine optimization campaign. Without the right keywords, you won’t be pulling in the best visitors or even any traffic at all. There are several important things to consider when you’re researching keywords for your site. Firstly, you have to remember the “long tail.” These are the keywords with fewer searches that can add up to many potential visitors. You also have to think about how people search when they’re looking for something to buy. They might start off looking for “black boots”, but by the time they want to make a purchase, it’s changed. At that point, they may be using more specific search terms, such as “black Dr. Martens size 5”. Keep this in mind when you’re researching the best words and phrases to use.

Audit Your Site

It’s a good idea to find out what is and isn’t working well before you make any changes to your site. Performing an SEO audit will help you do this. It will identify the mistakes you’re making and the successes too. There are a number of tools you can use to do this, which will scan your site for any errors. They will look at everything from links to CSS with SEO in mind and give you a report of anything you need to correct. It will help you find duplicate content, missing tags and other errors. These could trip you up when you’re trying to optimize your website.

Optimizing Product Descriptions

One of the things that are different about an ecommerce site is product descriptions. You might have hundreds or even thousands of products listed. Each of them should have a unique description. Many products bought from manufacturers will come with ready-made descriptions. However, it’s much better to write your own so that they stand out from other sellers. It’s important to optimize your descriptions not just for search engines but for people. No one wants to read boring, technical words that don’t tell them why they should wish to buy the product. Be creative, as well as including keywords to get search engines to take notice.

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Each of your products needs to have at least one image too, and preferably more than that. Images can also be optimized for search engines, so be sure to choose the carefully too. As well as displaying on your website, they may also be seen in other places. For example, Google’s Shopping tab will show products directly in search results. When you put your images in, be sure to use the ALT text. Include keywords in a short description of the picture. It will be more accessible to both search engines and humans.

Mobile Searches

A large proportion of searches and online shopping are now done on mobile devices. So your ecommerce business needs on-site and off-site SEO optimized for mobile. Firstly, you should ensure that you have a mobile responsive website. Customers want to be able to use your site easily on the smaller screens of their tablets and phones. Responsive design is better than having both a desktop and mobile version of your site. It helps you to avoid duplicate content. Your web developer should focus on creating a responsive site. It’s a good idea to research the types of devices that your customers are using too.

SEO Content

Product descriptions and other concise information aren’t the only types of content you should have on your site. Expanding your SEO-optimized content with a blog is great practice too. It enables you to upload regular content to your website and bring in more visitors. Writing the best content is essential, starting with relevancy for your visitors. Anything you upload should be something useful or interesting to the people who buy your products. For example, tutorials and how-tos are often popular for blogs. Don’t just focus on your products, but on related topics too. If you sell wedding dresses, your blog can talk about all things weddings.

Link Building

You need to have a link building strategy for your site to gather inbound links. You don’t want any old links, however. You need them to come from quality, valuable sources. If they come from poor-quality sites, Google won’t look too kindly on your website. You can find the best sources by offering something in exchange for a link. It could be a guest post, a quote, a case study or something else. If you provide quality content on your site, you should be able to gather great inbound links organically.

Increasing sales for your ecommerce business requires a lot of effort. Start off with an SEO audit and you’ll know where you need to improve.

SEO changes: What you need to do differently now

SEO (search engine optimization) can be confusing at the best of times. But if you add in the changes Google have made in the last year, it gets even worse!

Search engine companies work hard to give users the best results possible. They do this by tweaking the way they measure how websites are ranked. As a website owner, it is vital to stay up-to-date on strategies that will keep your site search engine friendly, otherwise your site could experience a drastic dip in ranking, traffic and sales.

By the way, I’m running an SEO Crash Course webinar this Thursday at 8.30pm. Click here for more info.

So here are four ways you can stay on top of the changes: Continue reading “SEO changes: What you need to do differently now”

Your top questions answered

You might think that the number one question  people ask me is “so how can I start a business and spend time with my baby?”

Actually, I’m mostly asked questions about internet marketing, blogging and creating information products! So here are some quick tips that will answer your most pressing questions.

I’ll be talking more about all of these in my new Thursday Night Webinar series – click here and I’ll tell you all about it.

Question 1: How can I get my website to the top of page 1 of Google?

First, you need to know what your potential customers are typing in to Google. There’s no point in being number 1 in Google for a keyword that your customers would never use! Continue reading “Your top questions answered”

Guest blogging for business bloggers – where to start!

Question:

I have done a few guest blogs which are linked back to my website, but I’m not sure what to blog about. I don’t know how personal to get or whether it should be business related. I also don’t know how to get the backlinks that i need (eg. should it just be in a signature?).

Charlotte, owner of party bag website www.creationsbycharlotte.co.uk.

First…

Tips for guest blogging

…from my book, Business Blogging for Beginners:

One great way to build up your own blog following is by writing for other people’s blogs. Guest posting can help get your name and blog noticed by others who are looking for more information in your niche, and help you develop a broader base of fans.

Twitter and Facebook are particularly good places to find guest blogging opportunities. Not only can you tweet a note that you’re available for guest blogging on your topic, but you can ask your friends and followers to retweet and share your info.

Post a note on your blog that you do guest posts. Invite bloggers to contact you, and let them know what you can write about. You can even add a regular text link to the sidebar of your blog, or create a simple button that visitors can click on to get more information.

Do a Google search on “blogs YOUR INDUSTRY.” Check out the top results and pick a handful to contact with the offer of guest blogging. You’ll find your results will be best if you target your approach to each blog, listing a few possible topics. Once you submit your post, it’ll be published on their blog with a link back to your site. This is a great way for them to get free, original content, and a great way for you to gain new exposure for your writing and your blog.

Here are some general guidelines on guest blogging:

Customise your post for each blog.

Keep in mind the tone, length, images and other features of the host blog and tailor your post to match.

Create new content.

Don’t submit the same content to every guest blogging opportunity; bloggers will be more likely to turn their site over to you if you promise them exclusive, new content.

Offer to exchange posts.

Some bloggers will be more willing to let you post on their site if you provide the same opportunity for them. It’s a great way to establish a relationship.

Don’t forget to write a great bio line.

Your bio needs to convince readers to click through to your site, so make it compelling and interesting.

Provide links to the guest post to your regular readers.

Your fans will want to read whatever you write, wherever it’s posted, so make sure to let your regular readers know where you’re writing.

Keep a list of your blog appearances.

Some bloggers will be impressed with the other big-name blogs where your work has appeared, so keep a list of everywhere you’ve blogged. You can add this list to the ‘Media’ or ‘As seen in’ section of your site.

Writing for other people’s blogs can really help you build your followers and subscribers by getting your writing in front of people who might not otherwise be aware of you. Set a goal of a regular number of guest posts per month or quarter, and follow up!

Now, to answer Charlotte’s questions in more detail…

1. What should I blog about?

Getting the business/personal balance right is a real challenge if you’re new to blogging. My tip is to focus on what would be of most value to the blog readers. After all, your first goal is to get them to read your post! So I’d read through the about page of the blog and through some of the posts already on the blog. Try to get a feel for the blog and its readers. There’s no need to duplicate what’s already there, just try to pick up on the theme. Is it factual and practical? Or is it more personal and emotional? Is it funny or quirky? You can also ask the blog owner what he/she looks for in guest posts, including the length.

Once you know the type of post you’re aiming for, try to come up with one main point or purpose of the post, then write around that. As you’re writing, you can weave in personal examples to illustrate the points you’re making and demonstrate you’re an expert in your subject. You’ll also need to weave in your keywords, which brings me to…

2. How should I link back to my website?

In two ways. First of all, have an engaging signature or bio at the end of the article that invites readers to go to your site as they finish the article. It’s best to make this specific as possible, so this is OK:

Charlotte is the owner of www.creationsbycharlotte.co.uk.

But this is better:

For expert advice on hosting the perfect kids’ birthday party without breaking the bank, download Charlotte’s e-book ‘Perfect kids party on a budget’ [include link to page where they can download the book here].

That way you’re sending them to a specific page on your website and asking them to take a specific action. (Even better, ask them to join your mailing list before they download the book.)

The second way to link is for the search engines rather than the humans. If you take a look at the top of the screen, you’ll see the way I linked to Charlotte’s website:

Charlotte, owner of party bag website www.creationsbycharlotte.co.uk.

The first link (party bag) links to Charlotte’s home page, but the text that is displayed is ‘party bag’. This is known as ‘anchor text’. Anchor text is important because it  tells search engines what that webpage is about. To find out which anchor text to use, you’ll need to do some keyword research (try the Google keyword tool for this). Don’t use ‘click here’ as anchor text because it tells the search engines nothing about the page the link is pointing at.* Charlotte sells children’s gifts, so sometimes she might link using ‘gifts for girls’ and ‘gifts for boys’ as well as ‘party bag’. Also bear in mind that there is a lot of competition for these particular keywords, meaning it’s very difficult to get on to page 1 of Google for these keywords. I’m really just using them as examples – it’s important to pick your keywords carefully.

You can put the anchor text with link anywhere in the article, it doesn’t have to be in the bio at the bottom.

I hope that answers your questions, Charlotte. 🙂

*Update: Google changes since this post was written mean that it’s best to NOT use the keywords as your anchor text every time. So use your keywords some of the time (e.g. ‘party bag’), then other times use other words as well as your keywords (e.g. ‘she makes party bags’) and sometimes use the words that someone not clued up about search engine optimization would naturally use (e.g. ‘click here’ or the business name).

If you have a question about business blogging, feel free to ask it on my new(ish!) Facebook page www.facebook.com/BusinessBloggingForBeginners.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Michelle Ramrz