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.

Top tips for sourcing products for your online store

To take your online store from dream to reality, there are a few things you firstly need to consider. One of the most important being, deciding on a supplier for your chosen products. It will be hard for any business to succeed without good, honest suppliers. You need to do a lot of planning to find the right supplier for your business. It’s essential to your business that you know how your products cost and if you can make any profit from them. If you’re new to the world of business, here are some top tips on what to look out for when sourcing products for your new venture.

It’s a good idea to begin with that you get your business registered. This is a simple step that just requires some formal details and occasionally a one-off payment. Once completed you will be given a registration number will have your own registered business name. You can now start getting in touch with potential suppliers and distributors. Having these details available makes your business look more professional. Reputable suppliers should always ask for your formal business information.

Many will not even consider working with your if you aren’t registered. On the other hand, if the supplier does not ask you for at least your business number it could mean they are not a reputable source. They may be charging more than they should be.

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Don’t be tempted to rush or buy cheap and bad quality products for your store. The excitement of getting started can cause people to cut corners and make mistakes. There are people out there who will seize the opportunity to sell you bad products at an inflated price. Always do your background research on potential suppliers. Check out their websites and social media pages. Their website should look professional and include plenty of information. Look at this wholesale body jewellery site to get an idea. If possible always read online reviews from previous customers, to get an idea of what you might be getting yourself into. Starting your own business can take time. Don’t be naive in thinking you will get rich quick. It happens rarely and in reality takes a lot of hard work. Not doing your homework on wholesalers and suppliers can kill off your business before it has even begun.

Think outside of the box when searching for suppliers. There are plenty of places you can buy products from aside from the internet. Trade shows are an ideal way of meeting suppliers face to face and building a rapport. You also get to see the product up close to access the quality. Arts and craft fairs are also a great place to find one-off products and smaller local manufacturers. Or look further afield and source suppliers from China or India. If buying from international suppliers again always do your research. You may need to hire a translation service, so there’s no gaps in your communications.

You should now be feeling more confident when sourcing your products. It’s an advantage to know what potential scams are out there so you can avoid them. I hope the products you find makes your online business a roaring success.

 

What makes a good online store?

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These days you can buy just about anything in an online store from make-up to car parts (Yep, you guessed it , there really is an OnlineCarParts.co.uk !) But if you’re setting up your own online store, here are the most important features you’ll need to consider:

Traffic

Whether you’re selling make-up, car parts or anything else, if nobody knows it’s there then you won’t have any customers! Every online store owner needs a clear plan of how they will get visitors to the store not just occasionally, but consistently every day.

There are many ways of doing this including search engine optimization and social media as well as paid methods such as Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising.

Branding

Having a professional image is essential if people are to trust you with their credit cards, but that’s just one of the benefits of branding. These days you need to have a presence in multiple places online including Facebook and twitter. Having a consistent brand across all of these ‘properties’ allows your followers to recognise you and feel at home with you wherever they meet you.

If your look and style is professional and consistent, then that builds confidence and you’re much more likely to get sales.

Don’t just get customers, get fans

Which would you prefer? People who just buy your products or  raving fans who love what you do and can’t wait to tell their friends about you? Fortunately, with tools like blogs and social media platforms you can build and army of fans.  Use creative campaigns to tell the story behind your brand, what’s new and what’s in the pipeline. Don’t just tell them what you do, tell them (and show them) why you do it. Share insider secrets and what you’re planning next.

Email marketing

Once you have visitors and customers, encourage them to return by emailing them regular updates and offers. After all, it’s easier to sell to someone who already knows and likes your brand than someone who has never heard of it before.

Use your URL

Have a URL that’s memorable and easy to spell, then make sure it’s in all your printed material as well as being on your emails signatures, social media profiles and anywhere else people can find you online.

Test, test, test

Once you’ve got potential customers to your store, you need to make sure they are converting into sales. You need to be continually testing you prices, products, copy and everything else about your store to increase your conversion rate.  In order to do this you’ll need to collect data, so make sure you set up Google Analytics as soon as you can.

It’s got to be mobile

A responsive website is no longer an option. That’s a website that looks good on any device, mobile, laptop or desktop.  According to online store platofrm provider Shopify (in this Econsultancy post) , one third of sales came from mobile devices in 2014.

So there you have it – now it’s time to start your own online store!

 

 

Would you like Richard Branson as your mentor?

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That’s not all, you could also have Marie Forleo and The Four Hour Work Week’s Tim Ferris as your mentors, too!

To have a chance at being mentored by these big names in the business world – plus 5 nights on Richard Branson’s Necker Island – just enter Shopify’s Build A Business Competition.

Here’s how it works…

You’ll need to launch an online store with Shopify. Next, it’s time to get selling. After the eight-month competition, Shopify will calculate your sales. Sell the most during the competition, and receive the grand prize.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gain mentorship and ask for insight from these renowned mentors. When else will you get the chance to chat with Richard Branson about your startup on his private island?

For more info and to enter, click here.

(Want to check out Shopify? You can sign up for a free 14 day trial on the competition page too.)

I started a business with kids: Catherine Graham of Adventure Togs

catherine_graham_adventuretogsAdventure Togs began life in 2004 when my children were still very young, so the company will be 9 years old this October. We couldn’t find new waterproof jackets for them in any of the outdoor shops in Cardiff, I came home that evening and began researching my idea to start a business specialising in childrens outdoor wear.

I didn’t even have broadband at home at the time, and I needed to invest a few thousand of my own money to buy stock. It was tough, starting an ECommerce store on a budget, without the social media marketing opportunities we have today. The business grew very gradually by advertising on flyers, magazines and word of mouth.

I was a part-time pharmacist working 2-3 days a week as a locum, had two young children and a husband who worked long hours. Looking back now, I must have been mad to even contemplate the idea of starting a business. It has been hard letting go of pharmacy to entirely focus on the business, and I have constantly juggled all the balls.

I have never actually used childcare, as I mainly worked around the children and in the evenings. The children have always gone to my parents for their tea once or twice a week, so the longer working days til 6 really help to keep me on track.

The most difficult thing in the early days was drawing the line between work and home, and I became a slave to the computer, not knowing when to switch off. My husband was relatively supportive but didn’t really understand my need to immerse myself into my business. To me, it was my third child, and it needed nurturing so. Over time I have become a better at juggling the work/life thing and really appreciate the balance having my own business has brought.

I outsourced the warehousing in our fourth year, when I started running out of space for stock. This was a real turning point – I only needed to deal with the day to day admin and was able to spend time marketing and promoting the business and seeking out new product ranges.

My day is so varied…..I can be chatting to customers on Twitter, or speaking to schools about outdoor play clothing. I can get up to work at five in the morning and work for a few hours before breakfast if I need to, or catch-up in the evening after a family day out. It is truely a flexible way of working. I have even been known to work 14 hour days when I am in the mood, but it is so different working when you ‘want to’ rather than ‘have to’.

So much has changed about the business since the start. When I hear people complain about the demise of the high street and companies going under, I do empathise with them, but know that retail is ever changing, and you have to constantly move with the times. The retail world has probably changed more in the last decade that ever before, and anyone who ventures into this vocation should be prepared to keep learning to evolve their business to meet changing customer demands.

If I had to advise someone starting out in business – Do lots of research, but don’t feel too bombarded. There is so much advice out there, it is easy to become overburdened without actually taking action. It is the actions you take which matter, not necessarily your knowledge or qualifications, so start quickly and grow as you learn.

You can find out more about Adventure Togs here:

www.adventuretogs.co.uk
facebook.com/AdventureTogs
twitter.com/adventuretogs
pinterest.com/adventuretogs/
youtube.com/user/AdventureTogsUK