These tips will help you tackle your e-commerce site’s SEO so you can rank higher in search engine results and get more visitors, customers and sales for your online store.
1. Create Unique Content on Each of Your Product and Product Category Pages
Interesting, unique content tells Google a page is valuable, and helps it rank higher. Well-written content can also persuade more of your visitors to actually pull out their credit cards.
Don’t just copy the manufacturer’s description of the product. Write your own description so that Google sees it as valuable, unique content. Google’s Farmer/Panda Update of early 2011 favors sites with more original content.
2. Discover What Shoppers are Actually Searching For
Keyword research is an invaluable way to discover the words you should be using to describe what you sell. You can find out how many people search for a particular keyword per month, and even check more specifically for your own region, with Google’s free keyword tool.
For more info on choosing the right keywords, read Keyword Research Is Key to Online Success.
3. Create Pages for Categories People are Searching For
Some people may be searching for specific product names like “Nikon D90,” but odds are, more people are searching for broad keyword phrases like “Nikon digital camera” and “digital SLR cameras.”
Creating category pages for these broad keyword phrases – as well as product-specific pages within each category – boosts your SEO and helps you capture a bigger group of people searching for what you sell. Added bonus: Category pages based on broad keywords can help browsers and researchers find what they want more quickly, and turn them into buyers.
4. Interlink Your Pages Using Good Anchor Text
Link to other products or categories within the text on your site. Be sure to use anchor text with relevant keywords. This will help search engines find and index other pages on your site, so they can be found by searchers. The links and anchor text will also boost the linked pages’ SEO and help them rank higher for words you use in your anchor text.
Added bonus: People reading your text can easily click on links you provide and find other products that might interest them. You’ll be keeping people on your site, and helping them find what they want.
5. Allow People to Share Your Products on Social Media Sites
Social media mentions help your SEO. Plus, social sharing gets your product seen by more people. Install social sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ on every product and product category page. Make sure they’re easy to find. One online retailer places them right below the price of each product, because people always look for the price.
6. Get Valuable Backlinks
Backlinks (links from another site to yours) have always been one of the most important factors search engines consider when deciding how high to rank a web page in search results. Getting backlinks isn’t easy, however.
Adding interesting content to your website beyond product and category pages is the first step, because few website owners want to link to a boring page, or a page where you’re just selling something. A blog is a great avenue for adding link-worthy content to your website.
For much more info on getting backlinks, check out our articles about link building.
7. Avoid Duplicate Content Issues
E-commerce sites tend to give visitors the option to sort a list of products by various parameters like price, popularity or product ratings. While sorting is useful for people, it can be a nightmare for your SEO, because it usually means you are essentially creating multiple pages with the same content, just in a different order. Search engines can see these pages as duplicate content, and therefore less valuable. This in turn can dilute the SEO of these pages.
This isn’t a simple thing to fix, but the easiest thing you can do is tell Google about the sorting through Webmaster Tools. For more info on solving this problem, read item No. 3 in this article.
8. Use Descriptive URLs
The URLs on your site are another opportunity for you to boost your e-commerce site’s SEO. If your page about blue widgets has a URL like http://www.example.com/blue-widgets, the URL is telling Google that the page is about “blue widgets” and should show up in search results for that keyword phrase. However, if the URL is http://www.example.com/page?id=59274974, Google doesn’t get that extra piece of information telling it what the page is about. People also look at URLs, and it’s much better if the URL informs them, too.
For more information about SEO-ing your URLs, read Improve your URLs for Better SEO.
9. Let Visitors Leave Reviews
Reviews are another piece of unique content, and search engines love unique content.
Plus, reviews can help visitors decide to pull out their credit cards and buy the product.
10. Include a Sitemap to Help Google Find All Your Pages
If Google finds a page and thinks it has valuable content, it will index the page. That means it can show up in search results. For instructions, read Creating an XML Sitemap or HTML Sitemap.
11. Update Your Website Content Regularly
The Google Freshness Update of November 2011 favors websites with the freshest content on a given topic.
Tweak your website’s content and add new content from time to time so your website doesn’t look stale. Adding a blog to your website, and writing a blog post every so often about your industry, can make this task easier. For example, if you sell pet supplies, you can add a post in mid-summer about de-fleaing your pets and your house.
Allowing visitors to post reviews is another way to get fresh content for your site, and it doesn’t take much work on your part.