Ecommerce Spot

SEO for E-Commerce Sites

Optimizing Your E-Commerce Site for the Search Engines

The search engines are a fantastic place to get targeted traffic to your ecommerce site. In case you're not familiar, SEO is simply the process of increasing the visibility of a webpage in the search results pages (SERPs). 90% of all internet traffic originates from the search engines, so you can skip the middlemen and head straight to the source with a solid SEO strategy. There are people looking for the items your selling, you just need to position yourself in front of these people. You can do this by choosing the keywords these people are searching for and ranking for them. However, with an ecommerce site, the odds are stacked against you.

Most people get online because they are looking for one (or both) of two things: entertainment or information. The remaining, and much smaller, percentage of internet traffic consists of those looking to buy something. Google is well aware of this and for that reason, they rank informational sites higher. This makes it harder for ecommerce sites to rank in the search engines, but you can still rank for competitive keywords and grab a lot of rankings for product names in the process.

Optimizing Your Site

With an ecommerce site, you don't have a whole lot of content to optimize with keywords. Most of the text comes from reviews that you definitely don't want to tamper with for little SEO benefits. Also, it's more important that your page titles be informative and easy to navigate for users, rather than using specific keywords that might be less intuitive. Basically, we are going to focus on site structure and how you can setup your site to naturally rank better in the search engines.

1. Create Static Home Page and Front-end Site

If you don't have a static homepage, this is definitely something you should consider. You can have dynamic elements, but it is highly recommended that you keep your homepage consistent like the one here at shopping-cart-reviews.com. This accomplishes a few things:

1. Your site is easier to crawl

Having a consistent homepage is going to ensure that your site is easy for the search engines to crawl. You don't want the SE's spiders to find a ton of new or different content every time and have to figure your site's structure all over again.

2. Your Rankings Won't Fluctuate

The best way to confuse the search engines and mess with your rankings is to constantly change the content on a page. If your homepage is always changing, so is your ranking. It's going to be a major pain dealing with the fluctuations and stress of such volatile rankings that result from an ever-changing homepage.

2. Add Informational Content to Your Site

shopping-cart-reviews.com is a great example once again for creating a search friendly site. The article and blog tabs at the top link to a wealth of content that helps the site rank. Google loves content and this is a great way to provide it. One of the most misunderstood or overlooked ways to increase your rank is to simply grow your site. Websites that consistently add fresh, original content are rewarded with consistent improvements in the SERPs.

Another way you can accomplish this is by adding a "Q and A" section or forum to your site. If you're still building traffic, this may not be as helpful since you might be seeing tumbleweeds blow through your forum. However, if you can create the customer/visitor base you need to get enough active participation, your visitors can help create all of this content for you. Not only is this a great hands-free way to improve your rankings, it's also a great way to provide more value to your visitors and get them to stick around on the site for longer.

3. Use Header Tags Effectively

Yet another way you can optimize your ecommerce site is by using your header tags effectively. If you're not familiar, header tags are simply tags that surround text that is well…a header. For example, the title of this article is "Optimizing Your E-Commerce Site for the Search Engines" this is surrounded by title tags. If we were to add header tags to this article they would go around "Optimizing Your Site" and the other numbered headers like this, <h1> Optimizing Your Site</h1>.

Search engines place more importance on text in title and header tags so we want to use them with intent. Since you'll want to rank specific products in the SERPs, it's most important to use your header tags on these product names. It is highly recommended that every product page has an h1 tag surrounding the product name on the page. This is going to have a direct affect on how your product pages rank.

4. Include Breadcrumb Trails

A breadcrumb trail is simply a hierarchy or order of pages you clicked through to get to any page on a site. For example, "Electronics -> Televisons -> HDTVs…". Displaying this at the top of your pages is going to be helpful to your users (which is very important), but it's also going to improve your site's optimization. Breadcrumbs essentially create internal links with anchor text. Each one of these links has the appropriate anchor text and points to another page on your site, and the last link points to the same page it is on. Increasing the number of internal links on your site improves the way that "link juice" and PR flows through your site. Basically, you are going to get further benefits from any link building that you outsource or do yourself.

To reiterate, breadcrumb trails also make your site easier to navigate. As a rule of thumb:

If your site is easier to navigate for people, it's going to be easier for search engines to navigate as well.

Often times the simplest way to optimize for the search engines is just to provide a better user experience. Who would have guessed?

5. Include a Sitemap

One more thing you can do to make your site more crawlable for the SEs is to provide a sitemap. A sitemap is basically a layout of your site that the search engine spiders will use to make sure they crawl every page on your site. The best part is that sitemaps are very easy to generate these days thanks to some free, helpful tools online. You can use http://www.xml-sitemaps.com to quickly create a sitemap for your ecommerce site for free.

Conclusion

Optimizing an ecommerce site presents a number of challenges that informational sites don't have to face. They demand a level of dedication and some clever strategy, but they can become powerhouses in the SERPs. The strongest trait of an ecommerce site is its ability to rank for a ton of different product names, (long-tail keywords) and pull in traffic from hundreds of different terms.

If you follow a consistent link building and optimization strategy like the one just presented in this SEO course, there's no reason you can't establish a strong presence in the SERPs and rank for dozens, or even hundreds of different terms.

Ben Jackson is an SEO expert and enthusiast, and founder of www.seodiscovery.org.

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