August 7, 2013

E commerce SEO – 7 ways to help you get a better return

buy button online shopMost online retailers take a two-dimensional approach to Search Engine Optimization for eCommerce : optimize the home page for the most relevant search terms and a few products from the most lucrative product range.

However, with a little bit of extra effort and implementing best-practices when you add new products, you can significantly increase not just the SEO of your entire site but also your conversions resulting in increased sales.

Here, we look at 8 ways that can help your e commerce site attract more visitors and convert more of those visitors into customers.

1. Looking beyond the product pages

A typical ecommerce website consists of several pages which consist of details about individual products which are often assigned to a particular product category. Individual product pages are specific to a certain product and usually contain features and benefits of that product. This information isn’t usually “rich” content and does very little to attract search engines or visitors.

By adding value-added content such as “Resources” to supplement your product line, you can help improve the perceived quality of information that the search engines have of your website and domain resulting in better rankings overall.

Some ideas on generating rich-content for your online store:

  • Customer reviews / Testimonials – think Amazon. Allow your customers to post reviews about a recent purchase from your online shop. Link this to the related product pages and perhaps, have a ‘Latest reviews’ widget on your homepage. Not only will it help increase your natural rankings but also help your customers make purchase decisions
  • Case Studies – this is especially important if you are selling a service or selling to businesses. Talk to your customers, find out how you may have helped make a positive difference to them in some way. Document this (with their permission) in a Case Study.
  • Blog – search engines love blogs! Why not start a business blog offering your customers tips/tricks/useful advice on using your product or service or even industry related news.  Your customers will thank you for it and so will the search engines!

2. Differentiate your inner pages

A common challenge many online retailers face is that many of their product pages are similar from one retailer to another. This is especially true if you are selling mainstream / generic products such as electronics where the product description is often provided by the main manufacturers – many online retailers stocking the same item tend to have the same or very similar product descriptions. Main problem with this approach is the risk of being penalized by Google and other search engines for duplicate content.

Consider spending some time, especially on the higher value items on creating your own product info – focus on the benefits, rephrase the jargon and enhance the product appeal by mentioning how it can benefit the user. Not only will this help you rank better but also help you differentiate your product from your other online competitors.

3. Optimize your PDF product catalogues

Yes, you can SEO pdf product catalogues too! You have probably come across pdf results in Google when searching for something.

Some tips on optimizing your pdf product catalogues:

  • Make sure you support images with relevant text. Search engines can read text within .pdf files so you should treat .pdf documents in a similar way to a regular webpage.
  • Pay attention to the title of the pdf and include your keywords in page titles, anchor text and so on.
  • Try to keep the size of your pdf file as small as possible without compromising quality – smaller ‘lighter’ fonts, web optimized images will help in keeping the .pdf file size down to a minimum so it opens faster. Not only will this help in rankings (search engines love fast loading objects) but also reduce the possibility of user abandoning the file download which often happens if the file size is too big and the user is on a slower Internet connection.

5. Optimize your product images

Remember to include alt text and captions for all your images – this will help in better search engine readability. Do this correctly and consistently and there is a better chance that your product images will show up in image searches of search engines, creating a new source of traffic for your online store.

6. The importance of your product pages

Your individual product pages can in many ways play a more pivotal role in increasing your profitability than your e-commerce’ home page when optimized correctly.

Products such as electronics usually have a well defined product number and users often use this to search for the product online. By optimizing your individual product pages for the model number (along with the other, more generic info) can help it appear high with the results page, increasing the likelihood of a sale.

Some ideas on optimizing individual product pages:

  • Assign appropriate page titles and meta information
  • Include the model name and name with the H1 and alt text
  • Include the product name and if possible, model no within the URL:
  • Good www.yoursite.com/category/product_name_model.html
  • Bad www.yoursite.com/uniqueID=?1234.html

7. Expand your sales channel

Your own e-commerce site is only one of the many online outlets that you can use to sell your products. Google Product Search, Live Product Search, MSN Shopping are just some of the search engine product catalogues. Uploading your products is usually free and can be done by submitting a feed or manually (one item at a time or uploading a CSV file).

Uploading your inventory to third party sites can not only result in increased sales by the way of more traffic but also increase the chance of cross-selling as users who arrive at your site for one product may decide to purchase a second one if they spot a bargain!

We hope you  find this post useful and admittedly, implementing the above does add time and cost in maintaining your online shop. However, in most cases, an increase of conversions by a few points can make the exercise profitable in the long run.