SEO for ecommerce sites, ecommerce search engine optimization tips
There are a few elements you, as an ecommerce site owner, can put into practice that will boost your tendency to get ranked highly. However, you’ll need to start from the ground up. Keep in mind that words on any part of the page or coding count as content.
Keywords First and Foremost
The basis of any optimized website is the keyword list. Why? Because the search terms you choose to focus on will be used in every area of development from the navigational structure all the way through to the copy.
As you look through your choices, think of the structure of your site. When you create a list of terms to use on each page, start broad and work your way to the more specific keywords. For instance, if your site sells shoes, you’ll want phrases such as [discount shoes], [shoe store] or [shoes online] for your home page.
As you move through the different sections, select search terms that reflect what’s available on those specific pages. In fact, I find it helpful to create a chart and on it I list which terms will go where. It makes keyword usage much easier to keep up with as you move through your site.
Do not use the same exact keyphrases on every single page of your site. Do not try to shove as many keyphrases as you can onto every page of your site. Each page gives you a unique opportunity to rank with the engines because each page stands on its own. Select search terms specifically for the individual pages.
Where do you use the keyphrases you select? In all these places:
Navigation / Links
As you’re setting up site navigation, keep your keyphrases in mind. You’ll want to create category and page names using keyphrases whenever possible. Of course, length is always a consideration for navigation names.
Let’s say (for the sake of example) you plan to have separate categories for men’s shoes, women’s shoes, and children’s shoes. After looking at the keyword research, you find that these are, indeed, viable keyphrases.
Those are certainly easy enough to work into your site and they are applicable to your particular categories. In your content management system (CMS), name your first category [women’s shoes]. Also name your first navigational link [women’s shoes].
When possible, also use keywords in your individual URL page links. While I used to think this carried little weight (if any) with the engines, I’ve recently read several comments from Google that recommend using keyphrases with dashes in URLs.
This isn’t always possible due to the constraints of the CMS, but when you’re able to do so, insert keyphrases into URLs.
This is a very important SEO and usability feature to add to your site. Breadcrumb trails look like this: home > women’s shoes > designer shoes > black > pumps.
It helps visitors see where they’ve been. But do you notice what else it’s doing? It’s creating long-tail keyphrases of sorts. If you look on our imaginary keyword list, you’ll see that [women’s designer black pumps] is another viable keyphrase.
As customers click through the navigation, they are following a trail of keywords. The Googlebot can follow that same trail.
Alt Tags / Image Attributes
Here’s another little-known or forgotten area to include keyphrases in. The text used in these tags counts the same as anchor text used in your copy. Be very sure that the keyword-rich descriptions you include in alt text and image attributes apply to the image they’re related to.
Last, but certainly not least, we move from behind the scenes to the forefront of your site. Good copy is vital for many reasons. Yes, it helps you with search engine rankings, but it also communicates with your site visitors.
The biggest mistake I see ecommerce site owners making is not using copy to connect with visitors. They look at copy as the enemy: something they *have* to include for the sake of the engines. But well-written SEO copy can quickly convert lookers into buyers.
As you write copy for each page, interject keyphrases into your headlines. Google and other engines give particular importance to headlines, so include search terms if at all possible.
In addition, work keyphrases naturally into your category page copy as well as individual product descriptions, using search terms that are specific to each.
Granted, it takes time and planning to build an ecommerce site with content that’s truly engineered to rank high. However, if you give due diligence to the steps above, you’ll find success comes much easier.
How to reach the right audiences, Focus your website content to the right direction
When you create a website, you’re trying to make several different audiences happy. You’ve got searchers coming in from the search engines, you want those search engines to rank you well, and you’ve got past and prospective clients. Referral partners are also out there looking at your site and sending business your way. Each different audience for your website has its own requirements, different things it’s looking for, and unique needs.
You have to think about each audience you’re trying to appeal to as you design and develop the different parts of your site. That includes navigation style, types of pages, text on those pages, design, coding, offers, and calls to action. You have to make sure that each of these elements balances all the others so that there aren’t too many pages with not enough content, or that navigation is so complex that it’s hard for people to find what they’re looking for.
It’s easy to focus on one audience’s needs over another.
Getting stuck thinking about one element of your site can result in an unbalanced site. And as you try to make your website do more, as you add complexity, it’s harder and harder to keep the functions at equilibrium. The more elements your site contains and the more audiences you think about, the more difficult it becomes to keep everyone happy.
Focus on balancing everyone’s needs and concerns.
If you focus on one of your audiences over the others, you’ll wind up with a website that seems out of balance and doesn’t meet some of your audiences’ needs. For example, you can focus too heavily on writing your site content to appeal to the search engines and create a site that’s so keyword-laden you look a bit crazy.
Instead, try to keep all of your audiences’ needs in harmony so that everyone has a good experience and is impressed by your site instead of wondering what’s wrong with it.
When you write, design, and code your site, think about:
- Who is visiting it? Where are your clients coming from? Search engines bring searchers to your site. Past clients look you up for new projects or needs. There are potential customers who have been referred to you. And those who have met you at networking events or seen your booth at a trade show. Each of these audiences has different levels of knowledge about you and different issues that they want to address.
- What do they want to know? Each audience has different needs, problems, and concerns. The search engines want to know what your site’s all about, and they want to see your keywords. Past clients want contact information and to see if you can help them with their new need. Potential clients want to know if you can solve their problem, and they want to know if you’re trustworthy and likeable. People who have already met you want to get more information on your services and find out what’s next in the process of working with you. Think about why people are coming to your site and how you can help them along.
- What you want your website to do for your business? Your website should be more than just pretty. It should do a job (or several jobs) for your business. Think about how it can most benefit your business whether by bringing in new clients, getting noticed by the search engines, sharing your thoughts with the world through articles, helping you get the media’s attention, or maybe some other function entirely. Whatever job your website must do, make sure that everything you put on it works towards making that happen.
- Are you being accidentally contrary? Do any of the things you’ve put on your site for one audience contradict what you’ve written for another? You want to make sure that your site always makes sense, no matter who’s reading it or how much of the site they read. You also want your site to mesh with your printed marketing pieces, phone conversations, and the delivery of your products or services to ensure that your customers stay happy.
If you think about these 4 things as you’re developing your website, you’ll create one that keeps all of your audiences happy. The site will keep you happy in the long run, and you’ll get more return on your investment in it as well.
The Bounce Rate measures the quality of traffic and how well that traffic is attracted to your website. A low Bounce Rate, followed by a high rate of conversion from visitor to customer is the ideal.
There are two definitions of the Bounce Rate:
- The percentage of visitors who arrive and leave a website immediately.
- The percentage of visitors that visit just one page on a website.
The two measurements give slightly different results.
Using StatCounter, the Bounce Rate can be derived from the “Visit Length” for visitors who left after less than 5 seconds. Google analytics provides a Bounce Rate using the second definition.
Interpreting the Bounce Rate
A high Bounce Rate may indicate that the website needs a new direction. A low Bounce rate does not guarantee success. If the conversion rate is low, then you may need to review the type of visitor that is currently being attracted to your website.
If the second definition of the “Bounce Rate” is used, the number of returning visitors may be a more meaningful statistic to judge the quality of traffic:
- websites that comprise just a single page can have a high Bounce Rate.
- websites that supply information on a single page, like a Wiki, can have a high Bounce Rate.
- Blogging websites usually have a high Bounce Rate.
There is no average Bounce Rate that can be called good or bad. An acceptable Bounce Rate depends very much upon the type of the website, the target audience and expectations. The only real criterion is the conversion rate – i.e. the number of new customers derived each month from the website. If the conversion rate is not acceptable, then the Bounce Rate, whatever it is, needs to be reduced.
Reducing the Bounce Rate
Some of the following points may provide ideas for reducing the Bounce Rate:
- Spurious Visitors – Visitors frequently search and then click on a website where they find that the content is not what they wanted at all. They will quickly leave, unless they find something to attract and interest them. Serendipitously some could become customers.
- website Design – Poor site design will repel visitors. A dark background, gaudy colours, flash animation or sound can cause visitors to immediately depart. It may be difficult for the visitor to work out how to proceed with the next step. The visitor may not find immediately what they were looking for and leave in frustration.
- Backlinks – If the link is from a website where their content has no relationship to your website, the visitors are unlikely to stay long.
- Page Load Times – A slow server or large page sizes will cause visitors to cancel and try the next website.
- Browser Compatibility – Your website pages should appear the same in all the major browsers – Internet Explorer 7 and 8, Firefox and Chrome. I would not worry too much about the users of Internet Explorer 6. They will get the message sooner or later.
- Target Audience – The Target Audience may have been chosen correctly, but the website may not relate to the Target Audience. The website should be attractive to, and use the appropriate language for, the Target Audience. Don’t talk down to professionals. Use the idioms suitable for the audience.
- Keywords – Check the Keywords used by the visitors who left immediately, and all the details that can be extracted, to identify this type of visitor. Make sure that you are not attracting too many non-targeted visitors. The Keywords are attracting visitors, but the content may not match visitor expectations.
- Page Content – Find out which pages have the highest Bounce Rate. The content of these pages should provide meaningful information for the visitor. The content should intrigue the viewer sufficiently enough to look further. Insert well researched content or items of interest for the viewer. The content should be fresh, informative, and relevant.
- website Fundamentals – Poor design or navigation that is not intuitive will lead to a high Bounce Rate. There should be a simple page structure, relevant page titles and headings, etc, etc.
- Page Title and Meta Descriptions – Search Engines show the Page Title and often show the Meta Description in the results. These should accurately summarise the page content, otherwise you will get inappropriate visitors.
Evaluate the Changes
Measure the average Bounce Rate for your website over a few weeks prior to making any changes. After making the changes, the average Bounce Rate should be checked again.
The time has finally come. You’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your most recent content piece, and it’s ready to be packaged up and sent to the client to be pushed live. After a few final checks and only…