If you’re an entrepreneur planning to venture into e-commerce portals, you just cannot afford to overlook the importance of gaining visibility in the search engine rankings.
Actually, search engine rankings may ultimately become your website’s bread and butter (unless you’ve got deep coffers to run paid advertising campaigns)!
After all, what sense would it make to have a fancy website with economically-priced excellent products if you just can’t get any eyeballs on them?!
In this detailed article, I’ll take you through the top 10 optimization methods for your e-commerce website to help you draw more attention to it. Let’s begin!
1. Keyword research for e-commerce portals
Avoid going by your gut feel and put in some good effort to find out the right keywords for your website. Google keyword planner is by far the best free-of-cost tool out there to carry out this task.
You need to be aware what all products/services your potential customers are looking for and the exact keywords they’re using to find them.Your keyword research should be in-depth and uncover all those unique phrases that are guaranteed to jack up your website’s effectiveness.
Please keep in mind that people tend to be very specific when they’re looking for something using search engines. Hence, your keywords shouldn’t be generic in nature. Long tail keywords are often neglected by a lot of marketers. They actually hold a huge potential for targeted and converting traffic, and therefore should never be overlooked.
2. URL structure
Many people underestimate the URL structure’s importance in search engine rankings and end up paying a heavy price for it. The URL structure of your webpages should be easy for the search engine robots to find and crawl. The more robot friendly your website’s URL structure is, the easier will it be for its pages to get indexed.
Simple URL structuring also makes the visitors’ experience more pleasant, thereby making them stay on the website for longer and thus improving the chances of conversion.
Furthermore, align your website’s URL structure with its keyword strategy. So if you’re targeting the keyword “discount cosmetics”, the URL of its corresponding page should have that keyword included in it.
For example: abcstores.com/discount-cosmetics.html.
The idea is to keep the URLs as descriptive, concise and keyword oriented as possible.
3. Avoid duplicate content
Anyone having even the slightest bit of experience in the SEO field would know the negative consequences duplicate content can have on a website’s search engine rankings. Search engines don’t like copy pasted content. Period.
Many people think that they can get by with slightly spun content, but even that isn’t taken kindly by the major search engines like Google. Hence, you should avoid any such faux-pas on the whole.
However, when talking specifically about the e-commerce portals, as a large majority of their products are essentially the same, their product descriptions are also quite similar. Please note, Google doesn’t get that. Therefore, it’ll be better if you can differentiate your product descriptions by rephrasing them.
Just try reducing the redundancy as much as possible and completely avoid using the product descriptions from the manufacturers’ websites as it is. The whole world uses them. And that’s precisely the reason you should not.
As a thumb rule, keep your content as unique as possible.
4. Optimize the product images
Images make an integral and essential part of any e-commerce portal. People come to a buying decision only after having a good look at a product’s images. Hence, it’s important that you put up images only of the highest quality, which can be zoomed in and looked at in good detail.
But the appropriate use of images doesn’t stop there. You must also find out ways to help the search engine robots locate, see and understand the images you put up on your website. This is where the image optimization comes into the picture.
It can be achieved by allocating the right keywords to the alt tags of your website’s images. Keep such keyword allocations as unique as possible so that every product can be differentiated and understood properly by the search engines.
5. Do away with the broken links
Imagine you’ve spent hours looking for a certain product and finally locate it on a particular e-commerce website. You’re all excited and have already pulled out your credit card! A click on the product link and what do you get? A “404 – Not Found” page!
How frustrating! The chances are less that you’ll ever visit that e-commerce portal again to buy anything.
Now would you like any of your own website’s visitors to face that kind of disappointment? No, right? Therefore it’s important that you keep a close tab on all the links of your e-commerce website and check them on a regular basis. Having one or two such broken links is considered bad enough, leave alone having many.
There are WordPress plug-ins available to check such broken links. These can help in optimizing your website for both the search engines as well as your visitors.
6. Keep a provision for customer reviews (the genuine kinds!)
Customer reviews are known to improve an e-commerce website’s credibility, provided they’re original and not cooked up by the website owner or the products’ promoters. Even genuine negative reviews can have a positive impact on the conversion rate of an e-commerce portal.
Not only do customer reviews help in increasing the likelihood of purchases, they’re considered great from the SEO perspective too. Furthermore, more reviews mean more content going into the product pages, thus giving them a better chance of getting found by the search engines.
The text that goes into such reviews can be especially helpful for the websites that don’t have a lot of written matter available for their product descriptions.
7. Maintain a blog
One of the easiest ways to add more content to your e-commerce portal and improve its on-site SEO is by maintaining a blog on it.
A blog offers an excellent medium for adding original content to a website and plays a key role in building social media presence too. Furthermore, if your posts are entertaining, they can go viral in no time and build a lot of visibility. This way you’ll get a lot of back links as well.
Regardless of whether you get traffic from these back links or not, they can help significantly in improving your domain’s authority, thereby increasing its pages’ rankings in the search engines.
Blog posts also serve as an effective means for using certain keywords and/or phrases on the website, and for leading visitors to the corresponding product pages. These posts can be utilized for publishing customer experiences, case studies, product reviews, tutorials and more.
All you need is some creativity and your blog can become an important tool for attracting targeted visitors to your e-commerce website.
8. Write attractive Meta descriptions
Although they’re not specifically helpful in improving the search engine rankings, thoughtfully written Meta descriptions can go a long way in improving your website’s click through rate (CTR). A good Meta description briefly informs the potential visitors about the webpage’s content and encourages them to click.
Please note, if you don’t customize your Meta descriptions, the search engines pick up the automatically generated ones that may or may not do justice to your content. Hence, you lose control over how your website gets listed in the search results.
9. Study your e-commerce website’s traffic
It is important that you study the behavior of visitors arriving on your website. All of us would like to see our websites’ traffic grow over a period of time, but we forget that the numbers alone aren’t important. You also need to identify how many visitors are returning to your website and are actually making purchases.
Studying your website’s traffic will help you identify the areas where your website may be going wrong and further improve the aspects that are working well.
Google analytics is an excellent free of cost tool to study the website visitors’ behavior. It helps in understanding where all the traffic is coming from, which all pages are being visited, the demographics, the conversion rate etc. On the whole, you get to figure out the marketing efforts that are and aren’t delivering results.
Accordingly, you can tweak your strategies to help generate more traffic and to improve the visitors’ experience. The end result – more visitors, more time spent on the website and more conversions.
10. Adopting the responsive web design strategy
The past few years has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Internet users who access websites through mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. You are most likely to lose a significant chunk of possible sales if you don’t optimize your e-commerce portal for these devices.
There are different ways in which you can make your website mobile friendly. You can either create an altogether separate website which is served specifically to the mobile visitors or can create a responsive web design which is much better from the SEO perspective (read more about responsive web design here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsive_web_design).
By having a responsive web design and layout, you also steer clear of issues like duplicate content (often arising from having separate websites for mobile devices). Not only is a responsive web design good for the SEO purposes, but it also delivers a better user experience too.