Every e-commerce business needs to know how to leverage search engine optimization (SEO). SEO refers to how your business ranks on a Google search for a certain keyword. You want to be on the first page of relevant searches, ideally at No. 1. First impressions are key; if a customer sees your e-commerce store as a top result, they are more likely to buy.
SEO doesn’t have to be rocket science. A vast array of tools, both free and paid, can assist you with e-commerce. For example, Google has its free Search Console option, which allows you to test the health of each of your pages. (Disclosure: While at my company we use several of the tools mentioned in this article, including Google Search Console, Keywords Everywhere, SEMrush and FatRank, we have no official affiliation with the companies and endorse their services based on personal experience.)
Google algorithms rank pages based on how well they rank for keywords, among other factors. The simplest keywords are those related to famous brands; if you type in “Wikipedia,” Wikipedia is the first that appears. You are an e-commerce store that is competing with thousands of other stores. You are less iconic, for now.
Choose keywords relevant to your business. While the list of related Google searches can help when you choose an item, specific tools can refine the process. Keywords Everywhere is one of the best free tools, and the premium version is valuable.
FatRank is another useful tool. Install the add-on to your internet browser, and then click on a page to see where it ranks. Test the individual page’s performance and your keyword implementation.
I always recommend going for the low-hanging fruit of keywords — that is, those that rank higher. You want more people to see your website; that means researching the keywords they are more likely to Google. See which ones are most relevant to your business, and write your product descriptions accordingly.
A copywriter can write these descriptions and relevant blog posts. They need the designated keywords and relevant terms. The more useful content you have, the more likely you are to rank. By “useful,” I mean content that answers potential questions and explains how your products or services are useful to a targeted consumer.
Consider this case scenario: You are selling freeze-dried ice cream. Terms could include “freeze-dried ice cream sandwich” or “freeze-dried ice cream balls.” The premium version of Keywords Everywhere could tell you which of these terms is more valuable. You want to rank above the Wikipedia entry, in an ideal situation.
Create Unique, Valuable Content
Content makes your business valuable. By “content,” I mean the written articles, product descriptions and blog posts on your website. It doesn’t hurt to have good writing going out to a mailing list, either, but SEO only counts what a person can find using Google.
Let’s go back to the ice cream example. A product description page would go into the benefits of your freeze-dried ice cream. You would want to draft 500 to 1,000 words, depending on your target audience, about the benefits of this product, with a call to action spurring them to make a purchase or reach out to your team.
How does this relate to SEO? People click on your website for that search term, and they find value in the product. The more they click, the higher you rank. Thus, you need to motivate them to keep clicking.
Make sure each page has meta descriptions. These are tiny paragraphs relevant to the page in question that include the keyword you’re targeting and your business name. Google will find these and rank accordingly. Relevant metas can help your page rank.
Avoid duplicate content as much as possible, while using the same keywords. Some sites used to try to rank higher by printing the same keyword repeatedly on a single page. Google caught on and implemented penalties for this “keyword stuffing.” For that reason, to strike the right balance, consider using a paid tool, such as SEMrush, to catch when your page overuses a keyword.
Backlinks are valuable for building your Google ranks. These are essential links to relevant businesses, and you put them on your pages and wish for some to return the favor. The more links you have, the more you can build these connections.
You want useful backlinks that apply to your products or services. Google notes when websites have spam or broken links, and they penalize accordingly. The same goes for when links are broken within your website.
See if you can write guest posts on reputable sites. Allow other owners to do the same on your page. You’ll build credibility with the algorithm and gain more business contacts.
Code Your Content For Rich Snippet Search Results
Learn how to use rich snippets to your advantage. Rich snippets are a relatively new feature on Google that include answers to questions that people type into the search engine. For example, if you want to search for song lyrics, Google snippets will show as many of the verses as you’d like to see of public domain ballads or copyrighted singles.
Are rich snippets bad for SEO efforts? Yes, because people are less likely to click on your site if your answer is revealed without clicking through. However, it’s highly convenient for people with bad internet connections or limited data on their smartphones to type in the term and read what Google says.
Take advantage of the situation despite the lack of clicks. Code in snippets to your content page so that you can place your brand, reviews or a call to action within the relevant information. That way, even if you don’t get the clicks, you may keep the rankings.
I believe e-commerce SEO is a necessity on the internet frontier. To survive in such a competitive atmosphere, learn the basics and build your reputation with the algorithm.
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