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Blogs by date "06/01/13"

Sitemaps: Ecommerce Essentials for On-Page SEO

When it comes to SEO, particularly SEO for ecommerce sites, sitemaps are one of the most important elements of a website.

The sitemap is considered by many search marketing experts the second most important page of a website (next to the homepage as number one.) If you think of your website as a book, the sitemap serves as main reference point, or index.

In its very essence, a sitemap contains links to all primary pages of a website. Although not commonly used by typical users for navigation, the sitemap serve as a roadmap for search engine spiders, giving direction to all of the rich, rank-ready content that needs to be crawled and indexed.

Sitemaps for SEO

As a result, sitemaps are absolutely essential for SEO (specifically "on-page SEO"). Most websites only need one sitemap to fit the bill; however, larger ecommerce sites can be an exception.

Because ecommerce sites are deep and often contain thousands of pages, one sitemap can pose some limitations for SEO. In short, one sitemap with thousands of links is a bit much. That is, the value of each link is significantly reduced when spread amongst thousands of counterparts.

Using Segmented Sitemaps for Deep Ecommerce Sites

There are no rules as to how many sitemaps you can have. Deep ecommerce sites with thousands of pages should take full advantage of segmented sitemaps. These are more focal sitemaps that are broken-down based on specific product categories, brands, and other characteristics that make logical sense.

For example, an online electronics store that specializes in hi-def TV's may want to create dedicated sitemaps for each brand it offers. This retailer could create segmented sitemaps for Samsung TV's, Sony TV's, Toshiba TV's, and so on.

Perhaps the ecommerce retailer only offers a few select television products per brand, in addition to many other electronics. In this case, they might simply have one sitemap for TV's, and additional sitemaps dedicated to other product categories, such as PC's, MP3 players, smartphones, etc.

The main idea is be logical about the segmentation process with respect to your ecommerce SEO strategy. If "Samsung TVs" is the keyword you want to rank for (and you have a ton of Samsung televisions in-stock,) then it would make logical sense to build a dedicated sitemap for this brand.

Leveraging XML Sitemaps SEO Empowerment

XML sitemaps are a little bit different. Unlike "HTML sitemaps" (which are visible to website users,) XML sitemaps are a files that are uploaded to your website, but invisible to the common visitor.

These XML files also contain links to your primary pages (and can also be segmented,) however they carry a different purpose for SEO. XML sitemaps are submitted to Google (via your Google Webmaster Tools account) to notify Google spiders of all the pages that you want crawled and indexed.

Because some pages of your site may not be easily discoverable by Google's normal crawling process, regular XML sitemap submissions are good way to ensure that Google is well-aware of what needs to be crawled and indexed. This is particularly important when you add new pages to your website.

To learn more about sitemaps and Google's guidelines on this Google Support page about the topic.

 

Tyler Tafelsky PPC EcommerceAbout the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of Internet marketing, including organic SEO, PPC advertising, social media, and content marketing. Keep in touch with Tyler by following him on Twitter or encircling him Google+.

[Infographic:] On-page SEO for Ecommerce Sites

There's no two ways about it: SEO for ecommerce sites is a challenge.

With (literally) thousands of pages to tend to, it takes a lot of resources to check off all the on-page SEO boxes that Google looks for.

Fortunately, you can get more traffic to your product and category pages by implementing these simple on-page SEO "hacks" courtesy of Backlinko.

On-Page SEO Infographic

While all of these SEO tips apply to ecommerce sites, here are the four strategies that can get you the most traffic in the shortest period of time:

1. Add modifiers to title tags: A common mistake that I see ecommerce sites make is to use short title tags. There's a large percentage of searchers who use long tail keywords, like "best blue widget", "cheap blue widgets", or "brand blue widgets". By adding these modifiers before and after your target keywords you can potentially wrangle in more search traffic.

2. Speed up your page loading speed: A study by Amazon found that they lost 1% in sales for every 100 miliseconds of site speed loading time. If you run an ecommerce site you literally can't afford to have a slow website. One of the fastest ways to boost site speed loading time is to switch over to a better hosting plan. It's usually more expensive, but the ROI is typically positive over the long-term.

3. Post long content: Google loves giving their users pages with lots and lots of content. Unfortunately, most product pages are fairly thin in the content department (mostly due to the sheer number of pages ecommerce sites tend to have). One way to get around this is to identify your top 5-10 pages that you'd like to get more traffic to. Then add more details and information about the product on those pages.

4. Lower your bounce rate: A bounce doesn't just represent a lost sale: it may also mean decreased visibility in Google search. One site way to reduce your bounce rate is to add multiple "related products" sliders. This is a technique Zappos employs on their product pages:

Related Products

This can also boost page views and time on site: two important user-interaction signals for SEO. Stay tuned for more ecommerce SEO best practices.

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