Finding link opportunities for ecommerce SEO is one of the most essential yet challenging endeavors that search marketers face.
To compete with the big dogs (Amazon, eBay, etc.), you need to generate quality links that will last (and not drift away like the links found in guest blog post.)
In this article, I will share some simple techniques that I learned from Eric Ward for purposeful link outreach.
These highly effective techniques center on Google's advanced search operators to find relevant pages and websites that are worth reaching out to for links. So let's dive right in.
Leverage "inurl:" to find "Links" and "Resources"
Many websites create pages dedicated to relevant and informative links and resources for their visitors. These types of sites can range from directories, infomediaries, and ecommerce sites. When the domain is keyword relevant and authoritative, these "links" and "resources" pages offer incredible SEO value for the sites receiving the link.
Using the inurl: advanced search operator enables you to efficiently find these golden pages in Google.
For example, lets say we're doing SEO for an ecommerce site that sells natural wooden toys for babies and toddlers. Our objective is to find links and resources pages that offer opportunities to reach out and inquire about being included on their list.
Starting with the advanced search wooden toys inurl:resources, Google will render search results consisting of pages that include the word "resources" in the URL and are relevant to "wooden toys."
Now it's time to sift through the results and do some digging on sites we might find potential link opportunities. One notable opportunity is the #5 ranking page for BrianWoodenToys.com. Although the site name and brand looks like a possible competitor, the links on this page are diverse (although still relevant) and the site seems open to link exchanges.
Even though this is probably a reciprocal link opportunity, it will still offer some SEO value when done right. There's a contact email near the bottom of the page, so we'll inquire and see what kind of relationship we can build.
Try "site:" to Pinpoint Powerhouse Domains
In moving forward with this approach of using Google's advanced search operators, keep in mind that some of the search results shown are going to be competing sites. Ideally, you'll want to find .edu's, .org's, and other neutral websites that offer information, not so much products for sale.
Another great search operator is the more popular "site:". With this operator, we can narrow down the search results to specific domain types, like those mentioned above.
For instance, in our next round we try the search natural toys inurl:links site:org". The results shown are all .org's relevant to links for natural toys.
The first listing looks very promising, as the example client site offers Waldorf toys, which is a form of homeschooling and education (mentioned in the Meta description.) Sure enough, upon clicking into this listing, there's section of links dedicated to toys.
We hit golden opportunity with this high authority .org. It looks like we have a great chance at getting inclusion on this page, so we'll definitely inquire.
Start Searching and Start Reaching Out
By now, you should have a general idea on how to leverage these creative link outreach techniques. If you'd like to learn more Google advanced search operators, visit GoogleGuide.com for a nice list.
Do you have additional ideas to share? Please, let me know in the comments section below!
About the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is an ecommerce SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of organic search marketing, particularly link generation, content strategy, and social media marketing.
The foundational value of a website is largely determined by the quality and presentation of its content (such as the nature of the copy, media, graphics, and images.)
Ultimately, giving visitors a solid sense of purpose that answers the question "why I am here?" can help position your online brand as a legitimate, trustworthy, and enlightening resource.
Whether via SEO or other inbound marketing strategies, the righteous path to realizing success online is through your content. It's essential to create user-centric content (whether via blogging, crafting landing pages, or designing the homepage) that resonates with your audience on a meaningful level.
Furthermore, awesome content can actually earn your site valuable links. This can play a huge role in driving higher keyword rankings for SEO and keeping your online business thriving.
Below we share a series of tips and techniques you can use to inspire brilliant ideas for your content strategy.
Incubate & Empathize With Your Target Audience
The first step of the planning process is putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Learning exactly what your target audience likes, laughs at, and loves, (although difficult sometimes) can generate some of the best ideas for content creation.
A good approach is to chat with your existing clients to get an idea what jives with them. In short, pick their brains on what forms of content will spark their interests and captivate their attention.
Engaging with your target audience is key to learning more about their tastes, perspectives, and preferences. For instance, after publishing a blog post, try ask questions (whether in the blog post [depending on how many readers you anticipate] or in the social media posting when sharing the content.) Not only does this help generate feedback, but it enables you to interact with your audience on a deeper level, thus instilling your brand deeper into their subconscious.
Consistent communication with your clients and prospects also helps to establish long-term relationships and higher levels of trust. If you're regularly seeking the feedback of your clients, it sends signals that you truly care.
Dive Into Research & Read Up
One of the best sources for inspiration are other successful ideas. This can be in the form of research or other articles published throughout the web. Using these resources can help you get generate valuable ideas and facts to share in your own words (or imagery via video or graphics.)
Here's an example: fitness guru Ben Greenfield has created a massive following and a prominent online brand by diving into health-related research studies. He shares topics of interest on his blog and podcasts, which organically grows his audience and cultivates sincere followers whom of which are loyal.
In addition to reading up and researching other related ideas for content creation, finding good studies or articles provide excellent pieces that can simply be shared via social media. Not only does this give you something good and tangible to share with your audience, but by sharing other authors' (or influencer-generated) content, these powerful individuals might befriend, like, follow, or encircle you on their social media accounts. These are meaningful connections that can later be of incredible value for your content strategy.
Stay Current & Up-to-Date
Dovetailing aspects of your content strategy on news and current events is also a solid means to create link bait-able content. Often times, busy marketers don't have the time to visit and explore websites and other sources of news and events. Using an RSS feed, Google Alerts, or Talkwalker are great solutions to be shown content that relates to specific interests you can define.
With these alerts and feeds, you can notified whenever something relevant and important comes up. You can then take timely action to re-purpose these happenings into your own content.
Think Locally. Execute Globally.
Producing content that favors a local audience is highly effective in engaging specific in-market users. However, in order to draw the interests of larger audiences, you need to develop and share content that can be absorbed by people of diverse cultures.
For example, if you operate a website that provides natural health supplements, you can find relevant news of local interest to cover, but also tailor your content to also be relevant on a grander scale. Just a hint of locality in your content can spark a connection regional prospects and customers (but you also want to respect the entire clan.)
Don't Forget to Serve Existing Clients
As much as expanding the client base is the primary goal of most businesses, it's important never ignore existing clients. In fact, it's equally important that your currently clients are happy, loyal, and satisfied with your product or service.
Be creative and come-up with ways to reward your current clients. This can be as simple as a social media shout-out or even deeper by offering incentives or discounts on their investment with your company. The objective is help them feel appreciated, which can lead to repeat purchases and, most importantly, referrals.
As you can see, generating user-centric content should be..... well... user-centric. In other words, deliver value to your website visitors and don't obsesses about the links. If your content is truly awesome and resonates with your audience on a meaningful level, the links will come, naturally.
Top 5 Ecommerce-friendly Platforms That Offer the Best Web Designs
Design, layout, and overall aesthetics of a website are some of the most important considerations that go into an ecommerce business. There are numerous ecommerce-friendly CMS (content management system) platforms, and some offer better web designs than others.
Whether you support a large-scale retailer or a local store seeking an online presence, finding an ecommerce platform with the ideal web design is key. In this article, we share five ecommerce-friendly CMS platforms with the most creative selection of web designs.
Shopify is a versatile platform that makes it simple to establish both large and small-scale businesses. It's an easy-to-use CMS with a wide variety of modern and clean web designs to choose from. Shopify's designs are cutting-edge, yet simple, and all layouts are intuitive and easy to navigate. Design customization to the might not come easy to basic-end users, however Shopify does provide a dependable and well-supported ecommerce platform.
Shopify is a fully-hosted platform offering complete packages and 24-hour support. Without worrying about these additional website needs, ecommerce entrepreneurs can concentrate on running and growing their online business.
BigCommerce is also a fully-hosted ecommerce platform that is user-friendly for most business owners. BigCommerce comes with over 100 free web design templates to suit various styles and sizes of online stores. The platform is also supported by a network of skilled web designers who are available to create custom made designs for unique needs.
In addition to offering a wealth of design options, BigCommerce is well-known for its simple, yet complete, analytics platform. Online store owners and marketers can see detailed reports based on a number of different performance metrics. This platform also makes it easy to feature special coupon codes and gift certificates.
3. Exponent CMS
Although its not the most popular ecommerce-friendly platform available, Exponent CMS is an open-source, SEO-friendly CMS that showcases a wide variety of attractive web designs. Centered around online stores and deep inventory management, ecommerce merchants can take advantage of a complete platform that's supported by a number of resources.
In addition to its online community, Exponent CMS is supported by web design and development company, OIC Group, Inc. So if you're interested in a custom web design for your ecommerce stores, this team of Peoria web designers can tailor a unique design based on your needs. Additionally, Exponent sites can be hosted via OIC Group, in addition to a number of other web-based services and consulting programs.
4. Square Space
Square Space is emerging as one of the best ecommerce platforms for small-to-medium sized business owners looking for simple yet highly professional web design. Square Space offers beautiful looking web templates that are ideal for creatives (like interior designers and photographers) who want to feature portfolios of their work on the website. Square Space is intuitively programmed for seamless inventory management, allowing online merchants to upload thousands of products, configure sales taxes, and other back-end features of store management.
Since 1999, Volusion has been recognized as one of the pioneers in top ecommerce CMS platforms. Supporting its solid reputation, Volusion offers a huge selection of solid web designs that range from creative and elaborate to modern and contemporary.
Volusion is an affordable platform for small businesses that are starting out. It is a hosted ecommerce solution which comes at a price of $120/month, but that includes the complete package. This enables a standard business owner to comfortably run a medium sized store. Additional features and capabilities also make this ecommerce platform ideal for medium sized stores that might require greater functionality and capacity.
Ecommerce CMS platforms are incredibly popular for all types of online stores. In addition to niche and local businesses, many ecommerce platforms support national big-box retailers. Be sure to choose the platform that offers excellent web design capabilities and the right set of options.
As provider of ecommerce SEO services, how many times have you heard this:
"One keyword we would really like to rank for is 'Samsung TVs'" (or some other extremely competitive keyword.)
And you're probably thinking "Oh sure. That will only take us about 2 years to see page one of Google."
You know it, and you wish your ecommerce SEO clients did too. Short-tail ecommerce keywords are insanely competitive. So much so that, more often than not, these competitive keywords are not even worth your time and energy.
What your ecommerce SEO strategy needs is solid list of low-competitive long-tail keywords that are actually attainable and will drive your clients profitable traffic. But finding these golden long-tails is not an easy task. You need to drill, and you need to drill deep.
In this article, I will share with you a couple of my favorite resources and go-to techniques to uncovering money-in-the-bank long-tails that generate results and keep clients happy.
Have a Purposeful Direction
Before you actually start doing your long-tail keyword research, you'll need to have a clear idea of the keyword category you're going after. This is done by analyzing the site, its relevancy and authority, and its current rankings on the keyword category of interest.
As a result of this analysis, you can gain a better understanding of which keyword categories are actually attainable. It also helps to get some feedback from your client, so you keep them happy. Between the ecommerce site and the client's primary areas of interest, you can determine a purposeful direction for your research.
In our example, we know that the client is interested in ranking for "Samsung TVs," and after our analysis, we've concluded that site is relevant on (and ranking in the top 50) for "Samsung TVs" and a few related terms.
Seeing Samsung.com and few heavy hitters ranking at the top of page one, I can conclude that it's going to be near impossible to actually rank in the top 3 for "Samsung TVs." Thus, I commence my long-tail keyword research using the following resources.
Play with Google's Suggested Search (or Google "Autocomplete")
One of the best resources for long-tail keyword research is Google's suggested search or "Autocomplete" feature. Here I will start typing in my core keyword, "Samsung TVs", and see what Google offers me.
Because the client has competitive prices and sales on Samsung TVs, I am immediately drawn to the suggested search around "Samsung TVs on sale." So, I go down that road.
Simply by adding the word "on" to "Samsung TVs on" I see a few more potential options from Google's autocomplete. If it was black friday, "Samsung TVs on black friday" would make for a nice press release or article. The keyword that really jumps out is "Samsung TVs on sale this week." This is because the client does, in fact, do a rotating sale per week on a different Samsung TV. Boom.
So, I add this to my list of potential long-tails to target, and later do some competitive analysis around that term (more on this below).
Take a Look at "Searches related to..."
At the bottom of each SERP, Google shows "Searches related to (whatever keyword you searched)." Here you can play with all types of keyword variations and explore new ideas.
Click on any links to show the SERP for the given keyword. You can go down all types of roads that might be aligned with your ecommerce SEO goals.
Poke Around on Google's Keyword Planner Tool
Although many ecommerce SEO's start their keyword research using Google's Keyword Planner Tool, I typically use this tool at the end of my long-tail research. The Keyword Planner Tool will often display an abundance of very competitive keywords that I am simply not interested in. My true purpose for using the tool it see how popular my potential keywords are.
I can see that "Samsung TVs on sale this week" gets 20 searches per month (which is very approximate, and a number that I shouldn't depend on.) However, this is enough information to tell me that the keyword is legit and worth exploring further.
The Keyword Planner Tool can help come up with good ideas for ecommerce SEO; however, I think the tool has greater value for PPC advertising. Nonetheless, check it out and see if it helps aid your research.
Compile Your Findings and Review Your Competitors
Keyword research for ecommerce SEO extends far beyond finding relevant keywords with legitimate search volumes. Like any good approach to keyword research and selection, assessing the competition is important to yield a successful outcome.
After you have a list of potential long-tail keywords, you should take the time to search each phrase one by one to get a lay of the competing sites. If you're dealing with Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and other big time retailers that are dominating the top 5, you might want to scratch the keyword.
However, if there's only 1 or 2 big time retailers up top and a few other random sites that don't appear to be specifically optimized for the long-tail, then we might have a good shot.
You can take your competitor review to the next level by performing a backlink scan, analyzing domain-level metrics (indexed pages, PageRank, Alexa Rank, etc,) and assessing the extent of keyword optimization for the URL that's ranking. This might seem a bit heavy, but hey, this research is critical if you want to ensure your SEO energy is invested in the right keywords.
The Last Word
In short, ecommerce SEO is no walk in the park. Big budgets are usually involved in most ecommerce SEO campaigns. And you don't want to spend months and months trying to get in the top 5, only to learn later on that the top ranking sites are incredibly authoritative. Don't be lazy. Do your homework, and rank on, my friend.
About the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of organic search marketing, particularly link building and content marketing strategy.
There's no doubt that the SEO playing field is drastically evolving. This stems into many facets of SEO, spanning from local SEO to ecommerce SEO.
As a result, here at Click Centric SEO we are mindful of these changes, and we set out to ensure our ecommerce SEO services adapt to the changing standards of organic search.
So how exactly do we redefine our ecommerce SEO services?
In short, our ecommerce SEO programs run parallel to what Google wants in quality, high ranking websites. That is natural authority that derives from the following elements:
- a quality ecommerce site that offers valuable content, intuitive structure, and rich user engagement.
- a socially active brand that is present on primary social media networks like Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- a natural backlink portfolio composed of diverse and relevant links from various sources.
While the first element focuses on on-page SEO, web design and development, the latter two elements are primarily off-page focused. And that balance of 1/3 on-page, 2/3 off-page is quite similar to how Google and other search engines value websites and their rankings.
On-Page Ecommerce SEO Services: Laying the Foundation
More than 'keyword optimizing' the content of a website, thorough on-page SEO for ecommerce sites must focus on offering a rich user experience. This includes:
- presenting a clean, attractive, and well-branded design.
- providing an intuitive and easy-to-use navigation.
- showcasing rich content like hi-res product images and videos.
- scribing unique and awesome page copy that's both keyword relevant and resonates the brand's tone.
In essence, the objective behind the on-page element of an ecommerce SEO campaign is what gives users what they want. So beyond SEO, much of the on-page element centers on CRO (or "Conversion Rate Optimization.") This entails ongoing testing and optimization of the latter components that make up on-page SEO for ecommerce sites.
Off-Page Ecommerce SEO Services: Getting Social
Social media is an up-and-coming element that's growing in importance for SEO. This is particularly the case for ecommerce SEO, because online stores must focus their efforts on branding and establishing a good reputation on the web.
A strong and authoritative reputation is often earned via social media, and such online recognition and social credibility can transcribe to greater performance in Google search. More shares on Facebook, re-tweets on Twitter, pins on Pinterest, and +1's on Google+ - all of these social signals empower a brand's SEO potential.
So when it comes to offering ecommerce SEO services, getting social is a must. Here at Click Centric SEO, we go through a basic checklist to determine if an ecommerce client (or prospect if they're still in the assessment phase of our process) has active accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. We then assess the strength of their following and how to best leverage their social media presence to benefit SEO.
Off-Page Ecommerce SEO Services: Building Authority
If you know a thing or two about SEO, then you probably understand the importance of backlinks (that is, the links pointing to a website from external sources.) In short, backlinks are the bee's knees to building authority and growing a website's ranking in search.
In an effort to ensure the quality of its results, Google has severely cracked-down on the practices of link building. Now, having a very natural looking backlink portfolio is crucial to minimize risks of over-optimization penalties. In short, a natural backlink portfolio consists of link sources that are highly relevant to the topic or ecommerce brand. Additionally, link diversity is key. In addition to a balanced blend of text-based links that use a different form of anchor text, image links, blogroll links, directory listing links, and social links all ensure that a backlink portfolio appears perfectly natural through the eyes of Google.
At Click Centric SEO, we stay well abreast Google crack-down efforts and algorithm updates, and we tailor our ecommerce SEO services accordingly. We understand that achieving SEO goals (and sustaining them) center on building a strong brand, not just a handful of links. So when you work with us in creating an ecommerce SEO strategy, we mindfully tailor our services to achieve sustainable results for your online store.
Receive a free SEO assessment, and contact us today to learn more.
Having a successful website that provides a great amount of value isn't as hard as many people think. There are plenty of ways to attract new audiences and hold their attention; it just takes some time and effort. Another big part of having a site that is successful is making sure it is optimized as best as it can be for search engines. Now SEO isn't the easiest thing to do, but once you are ranked high in SERPs, you will see much more traffic and it will have been all worth it. So to help you out, we are going to take a look at 7 tips that will not only increase the overall value of your site, but also help you get ranked higher.
Use a Great Navigation Structure
The spiders that search engines sent to crawl through our sites rely on our overallnavigation to be able to index everything properly, so when there isn't a good navigation system put in place, we risk our pages getting ranked incorrectly.
Unfortunately, there are millions of sites out there that have pages that aren't connected to their site or may have accidentally placed a broken link, making it impossible for spiders to crawl and index them. We can ensure this doesn't happen to us by creating a great navigation structure and also including a site map. Once your navigation is complete, you should run an audit on your site to ensure that spiders are able to easily access all of your content.
Navigation also helps people find the content they are looking for. It helps to decrease your bounce rates, increase conversion rates, and gives them a much better experience in the end.
Ensure Fast Loading Times
Having a fast website is very important due to the fact that so many people use their phones and other devices to load up websites. This means that their internet connection could be running much slower than the average person on a regular computer. If they start to see that the site is taking way too long to load, you can expect them to just leave and find another site that is more reliable. Search engines are starting to take this seriously as well and have implemented load times in their algorithms, so if your site is slow, you are going to get punished for it. As much as possible, stay away from cheap web hosts and optimize your images to help make your site load faster.
Add Social Media Aspects to Your Site
Don't forget to add social media into your site. You can have your own social media profiles, add social media widgets to your content, or anything else you may want. It's important to have these types of things on your site because social media is such a big aspect of our everyday lives, that people now expect to be able to like and share content directly from your site. The shares and likes that you get are all counted by search engines, so the more interactions you get, the better you will be ranked.
Create a Community
Let people talk to each other! It doesn't matter what type of site you have, you should allow people to comment on your content, have a forum, or allow reviews on products & services. By having these things, you are letting people create their own personal connections to the site, which will help you have steady traffic and more conversions. If people are able to read product reviews from other customers they will see that they have had a good experience, trust your website much more and buy your stuff. If you are just trying to have people subscribe to a blog, allowing people to express themselves will create a much more welcoming atmosphere and will convince them to sign up. Search engines will also look highly on sites that allow these types of interactions because the site is always being updated, and they provide more value and a better experience.
Use Plenty of Internal Links to Connect Relevant Content
A great way to keep people on your site and engaged with your content is if you use internal links to help them find other pieces of content they would be interested in. If they know that your site has more content available that they like, then they are more likely to be converted once they gain more trust in your site. If you use relevant anchor texts, implementing an internal link strategy can be quite easy and will help with your bounce rates, overall navigation, and conversion rates.
Implement More Multimedia
Using videos, images, and audio in our sites is a must because of how popular they have become over the last decade. People would much rather interact with a website full of multimedia than just sit there and read an endless amount of text, so give them what they want. Search engines also understand how important multimedia is to a website, so they have started to index them and rank them very high based on their success. So, if you can come up with a great video, you can expect some good results.
Use Call to Action Buttons and Other Techniques to Increase Your Conversion Rates
It's important to always have your ultimate goal in mind when changing your site around. If you have an online business, then you are probably looking for more sales, while a blog would be looking to have people subscribe. Either way, both need to have strategies implemented to help new visitors become converted. You can use call to action buttons, catch people's attention by using contrast effects, or any other technique you feel would work best for your site.
The important part is that you use these techniques to make your site more appealing to your viewers, which will keep them on the site much longer. Since they are interacting more with your site once they start to be converted, you can expect that search engines will start to increase your authority.
Are you using modified broad match keyword bidding in your Google PPC advertising campaigns?
Do you even know what modified broad match means?
If "no" is your answer to any of these questions, then get ready to learn this simple yet game-changing keyword bidding technique.
What's Modified Broad Match & Why Use It?
Never in my experience of being introduced to an existing PPC account that needs optimizing have I seen modified broad match keyword bidding in action. For this reason alone, I am compelled to write about it in this here blog post.
Modified broad match is the middle ground between using exact keyword match and broad match.
Exact phrase match can be too restrictive, especially given that a vast number of search engine users are typing highly-descriptive, long-tail keyword queries.
Broad match is typically far too broad and can result in unwanted impressions and clicks. For instance, Google might trigger your PPC ad targeting red wagon for keyword query like 2011 burgundy subaru wagon for sale.
So what is modified broad match bidding?
When implementing your keyword bids, you put a "+" symbol directly in front of the words that must be used in a search query to trigger your ad. Take a look at the image.
I bid on the keyword +acu +jacket (a particular type of camouflage military jacket for U.S. Army personnel) using modified broad match. My ad will trigger if someone searches army acu jacket or acu jacket for sale.
Unlike using exact match [acu jacket] which will only trigger my ad when people search acu jacket and only that two word phrase, modified broad match ensures that I capture related long-tail search queries.
However, it's good to have a blend of exact and modified broad match. This will help you capture desired ad exposure while promoting optimal quality scores.
Be Sure to Do Some Negative Keyword Research
Even with modified broad match keyword bidding, you're bound to get some unwanted expsoure. Using the example from above, my ad will appear for keywords like acu jacket regulations or where to sell my acu jacket. For this reason, I will want to conduct some negative keyword research, and add these unwanted variations in the negative keyword list.
There are couple places you can find negative keywords. I describe this process in this insightful article.
Start experimenting with modified broad match with your PPC campaigns. It's a pretty cool bidding strategy that can really help you make the most of your paid search marketing efforts. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below, or shoot me an email at tyler(at)clickcentricseo.com.
This blog post was written by Tyler Tafelsky, lead ecommerce SEO and PPC specialist here at Click Centric SEO. Tyler spearheads PPC advertising campaigns for a number of ecommerce brands and offers over five years of experience in search marketing. To keep in touch, connect with Tyler on Google+.
SEO for ecommerce sites is often insanely competitive. With authority domains like Amazon and eBay owning the top spots in Google for any keyword that's product related, outranking them can seem unrealistic.
Well muster-up some courage and confidence, my friend. Because outranking these intimidating authority figures can be done using the best practices of ecommerce SEO.
Below I outline a winning process to help formulate your ecommerce SEO strategy. These best practices will guide your SEO efforts holistically, demanding the support of you entire ecommerce marketing team.
So roll-up your sleeves and open your mind. It's time you learn the best practices of ecommerce SEO for better rankings and more conversions.
Obsess About Usability
The manner in which users interact with your ecommerce site is paramount. Sure, this might not be focal to ecommerce SEO, but what good is your search traffic if visitors aren't taking the steps to convert?
Usability flows with conversion rate optimization (CRO), which should also run parallel to your ecommerce SEO efforts. Some best practices to consider for usability include:
- Designing and testing call-to-action and sign-up buttons
- Ensuring the check-out process is fluid (e.g. allowing customers to buy without needing to register)
- Utilizing breadcrumb navigation links, which not only aids usability, but also SEO
- Offering a secure and easy-to-manage shopping cart
- Making sure your site's search functionality is easy and intuitive
Usability is paramount to your ecommerce store's success. These elements should be at the forefront of your concerns to ensure your site's traffic potential is maximized.
Write Your Own Awesome Page Copy
Although it may be legal and convenient, never use manufacturer-generated content for product descriptions or other aspects of your page copy. This will lead to duplicate content and diminish the SEO value of your pages.
Whether you recruit someone creative on your team, or hire a quality SEO copywriter, unique and engaging copy is more important than many think. Shoppers do actually read copy on your site, especially the product descriptions. When page copy speaks truly about a product while resonating with your brand, you can really grab their attention.
Respect Technical SEO
The techical SEO aspects of your ecommerce site are critical. Technical SEO focuses on elements like:
- Finding and fixing HTML coding errors
- Creating sitemaps and optimizing internal linking
- Pinpointing duplicate content, specifically page title tags and meta descriptions
- Determining where to utilize canonical tags
- Optimizing URLs that are non-SEO-friendly
- Ensuring proper crawling and indexing of the ecommerce site
- Implementing redirects and correcting those that have been mishandled
Respecting technical SEO demands the skills and expertise of a coding guru (or ideally, a "technical SEO expert"). Some SEO specialists center their practice on the strategic and creative side of SEO, whereas others have knack for analytical and technical aspects of ecommerce SEO.
Produce Great Content
Whether product profile videos, educational articles and blog posts, producing great content extends beyond the webpages of your ecommerce site. To maximize ecommerce SEO value in today's social age, you need a hub to publish interesting content, such as a blog or media center page.
Producing and sharing great content plays a two-fold role in your SEO mission:
- By keeping your ecommerce site fresh with newly published content on a consistent basis, search engine spiders are apt to crawl and index your site more frequently. Additionally, you create content that's keyword relevant (and links to your optimized inside pages) which can bolster your ecommerce SEO efforts.
- By sharing, promoting, and marketing your content on social media platforms, you site adds a layer of social credibility and authority (via mechanisms like social signals and the volume of social followers). These new social mechanisms have been said to help with SEO and search rankings.
Diversify Your Backlink Portfolio
There's no questions that building links for SEO still works. It's just a matter of how and where you building links. I recently wrote an article called Tips to Create a Balanced SEO Link Building Strategy, and I highly recommend reading it if you need a primer on link building.
For ecommerce sites, link building is entire SEO strategy in itself. Not only do you want to balance the types of links (as well as the anchor text of those links), but you want to link to a variety of your pages (and not just your homepage). For some, this might be a no-brainer, but it's not uncommon to see SEO service providers pointing every backlink to the homepage.
Remember, product pages are your bread and butter. Once you've optimized a product page with alluring (and keyword-friendly) copy and media, sending some backlinks to that page can truly empower its rankings. Based on my experience, product pages can withstand a greater volume of backlinks with exact keyword match anchor text. Of course too much exact keyword match anchor text much can be risky, but I think the true ratio and balance of anchor text (before a red flag is raised to Google about your site being over-optimized) stems primarily from the domain.
Use a wide range of backlink sources to diversify your site's portfolio. Directories are a good place to start, in addition to reaching out and gathering prospects suitable for guest blog posts on product reviews. Offering contests and other forms of link bait is equally, if not more effective. And of course, start getting social!
Be an Educator & a Social Butterfly
Late last year I wrote a post at CPCStrategy.com about how socializing on Google+ can influence your SEO efforts. In the article I describe how the more people that encircle your brand's page on Google+, the more control you'll have over their search results. The concept is based on Google's "Search, plus Your World" which integrates a social element to search.
Although this concept is still emerging and has yet to fully bloom, it should not ignored in your ecommerce SEO strategy. There's also the element of "social signals," which are the Facebook "Likes," Google "+1's," "Pins," "Tweets," and other social attributes that can be given to webpage. Based on several studies on this topic, a high volume of social signals correlates to better search engine rankings. I like to think of it as Google's way of attributing a legitimate, human-based ranking factor to its algorithm.
But the big question is: how do you gain a lot of social signals? Like I mention above, you need to produce great content that truly resonates with your target audience. For ecommerce sites, being an educator is a winning strategy. Some of the most successful and highly ranked ecommerce sites will create videos that educate shoppers about a product, or set of products. Not only does this practice help generate social signals, but the videos themselves can rank atop the search results.
Imagine this: what's a high margin product that you want to sell a lot of? Start be optimizing the product's page with unique content and optimized images. Next, produce a video, image gallery, blog post (or all three) about that product. Share (or upload) the latter content on YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, and any other social media sites your brand is active on. And lastly, build a few links to that product page.
Using these ecommerce SEO best practices is a winning strategy, so long as you're mindful during each step of the process. All the while, always focus on improving the usability and technical aspects of your website. In a matter of time, your ecommerce site can evolve into a true online authority figure
About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky offers over five years of experience as an organic SEO specialist. Tyler is highly-engaged in social media, link building, and content strategy. You can learn more by connecting with Tyler on Google+, or following Tyler on Twitter.
Relentless use of keyword optimized anchor text no longer works for SEO and link building. Many SEO companies have gotten their clients in trouble because of this.
After Google's major algorithm update in late 2012 (targeting websites with "over-optimized" backlinks [or too keyword rich of anchor text,]) many website have plummeted in the search results
Now more than ever, it's critical to create a balanced link building strategy for your SEO efforts. This more natural approach will ultimately lead to more sustainable keyword rankings.
But the underlying question is: what exactly makes a balanced SEO link building strategy?
In essence, rather than building links with exact keyword match anchor text, you'll need to take a more creative and natural approach.
Think about what makes a completely organic backlink portfolio. There are many different types of links, such as:
- blog comment links
- directory listing links
- in-copy links from articles and blog posts
- guest blogger (or "about the author") links at the end of articles/blog posts
- social profile links
- footer links
- blogroll links
- DoFollow and NoFollow links
5 Different Forms of Anchor Text
In addition to the different types of links, there are also various forms of anchor text.
Below we've grouped the various types of anchor text into five categories (using Click Centric SEO as the example:)
- Brand Name Links: "If you're looking for trusted ecommerce SEO services from a professional company, learn more about Click Centric SEO by clicking here." Here the anchor text used is the name of the brand or business. You'll want to use brand name links about 30% of the time when building links.
- Generic Links: "If you're looking for trusted ecommerce SEO services from a professional company, learn more about Click Centric SEO by clicking here." Here the anchor text has no real SEO focus, but it's natural as can be. Focus on using generic links about 10% of the time.
- Naked Links: "If you're looking for trusted ecommerce SEO services from a professional company, learn more about Click Centric SEO by visiting www.ClickCentricSEO.com." Naked links are simply the URL of the domain or specific page being linked to. Use naked links about 10% of the time.
- Optimized Links: "If you're looking for trusted ecommerce SEO services from a professional company, learn more about Click Centric SEO by clicking here." Here we're using exact phrase match of the keyword in the anchor text. This is still important for SEO, but only use these links about 25% of the time.
- Semi-Optimized Links: "If you're looking for trusted ecommerce SEO services from a professional company, learn more about Click Centric SEO by clicking here." Here you can get creative. Use can use longer forms of anchor text that include some keyword targets, or just one word of your full keyword target (such as "SEO" or "ecommerce"). Semi-optimized links should be used about 25% of the time.
Keep mind that the percent distribution I suggest above is only a guideline. Google is continuing to evolve, and one element that's growing in importance is the contextual relevancy of the content that surrounds links (also referred to as "co-occurrence.")
That is, if a in-copy brand name link is surrounded with specific keywords, Google will recognize the surrounding text and find the link relevant to those specific keywords. It's not easy to explain in text, so I suggest checking out this video all about from Rand Fishkin of Moz.
If you do have any questions, or would like me to run a scan of your site's backlink portfolio, hit us up.
About the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of organic search marketing, particularly link building and content marketing strategy.
Ecommerce sites are often massive and complex domains containing hundreds and thousands of pages. It's thus important that someone on your SEO or Internet marketing team understands the intricacies of technical SEO for ecommerce sites.
Although technical SEO focuses on the nuts and bolts of a website (typically the elements that are invisible to users), these technical elements can significantly impact a site's performance in countless ways.
In essence, technical SEO addresses the fluidity of crawling and indexing, the quality of user experience (or usability), and the overall SEO-friendliness of the website.
If you're interested in learning more about various aspects of technical SEO, then read on, my friend. Below I educate you on how technical SEO influences ecommerce site performance and SEO potential.
Find & Fix HTML Errors
There are a couple places to pinpoint HTML coding errors on a website. The first is Google Webmaster Tools, where you can look at the "error reports" feature. The second is W3C Markup Validation Service, a free tool that scans and lists all of the HTML errors and warnings that are present on a site.
Google Webmaster Tools only shows errors that are picked-up by Google bots, so this data might pose some limitations. So in addition to the W3C tool, you can also check Yahoo and Bing webmaster tools to pinpoint all potential errors.
The most critical issues that can impact SEO performance are crawl errors, like DNS lookup errors and 404 pages. These can be common on ecommerce sites, so take the time to address any significant HTML errors that arise.
There are two main types of sitemaps: HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. And using each type of sitemap correctly is critical for SEO success.
The HTML sitemap is a visible "index" on the website that contains links to almost every page of the site. I say "almost" because in some cases of websites with thousands of pages, many pages are left out. A big mistake I see with large ecommerce sites of the like is that they fail to include key product pages on the HTML sitemap.
Because product pages are the bread and butter to ecommerce SEO, it's important to include these pages on the sitemap (or at least those that you're trying to rank in search.) For very robust sites that face this issue, often times segmented sitemaps are a sound solution.
Additionally, you'll want to link the sitemap on all pages, such as in a site-wide header or footer. The HTML sitemap is your search engine spider food for SEO. Google spiders eat up sitemaps, which aids more efficient crawling, indexing, and ranking of your pages.
The XML sitemap, which is submitted to Google Webmaster Tools, is a list of all the pages on a website that instructs search engine spiders precisely what to index. In short, the XML sitemap helps search engines find all of the pages of a site. XML sitemaps are also very important in monitoring a website's index-levels, or to ensure key pages are being crawled and indexed.
When new pages are added to an ecommerce site, they should also be added to both the HTML and XML sitemap. Additionally, the updated XML sitemap should be re-submitted in Google Webmaster Tools to notify search engines to crawl and index these pages.
Pinpoint Duplicate Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
The uniqueness of each page's title tag and meta description is very important for ecommerce SEO. You can detect duplicate title tags and meta descriptions using Google Webmaster Tools or other crawling tools, such as SEO Powersuite's Website Auditor Tool.
Aside from being unique, title tags and meta descriptions should:
- be compelling, relevant, and incentivizing
- contain primary keyword targets
- be no longer than 70 characters for titles and about 155 characters for meta descriptions (to ensure all appear in the search results without being cut-off)
Utilization of Canonical Tags
In some cases with large ecommerce sites, the same content is on more than one page (or even worse, the same content is duplicated across multiple pages.) SEO-unfriendly scenarios like these call for canonical tags.
A canonical tag tells search engines which page is the preferred URL (or "canonical URL.") This will ensure the correct page is indexed and ranked according to your ecommerce SEO strategy.
For example, if the "money page" (as we like to call it) is www.ClothingStoreBrand.com/outdoor/north-face-jackets, but the same content is present on other URLs (such as www.ClothingStoreBrand.com/mens/north-face-jackets and www.ClothingStoreBrand.com/north-face/coats-jackets), then the rel=canonical tag needs to be applied.
Google itself has stated that it cannot guarantee to follow the canonical URL, so it's wise to completely eliminate any duplicate content found on the website.
Optimize Page URLs
The URLs of your pages should be short. (Shoot for less than 115 characters if possible). URLs should also be static in that there should only be one static URL for each page of the website.
Ecommerce sites are often built on a CMS (content management system) which can adversely impact the best practices of URL naming. For instance, some CMS platforms automatically generate URLs with excessive parameters, such as:
These cumbersome URL parameters make it difficult for search engine spiders to crawl and index the URL's content and, in some cases, can result in problems with duplicate content.
Similar issues can stem from ecommerce sites that assign session IDs. When users visit a website they are assigned a unique session ID (which is then included in the URL.)
For ecommerce SEO best practices, URLs should be keyword relevant and readable. The goal is to include the primary keyword targets, while ensuring URLs are short and unique from one another. Here's an example of a SEO-friendly URL naming convention:
Or to offer a real world example:
Ensure Proper Indexing
Indexing simply refers to URLs or webpages that have been successfully recognized (crawled) and stored (indexed) by search engines. It's important that all optimized pages are indexed in order for them to appear in the search results.
To ensure key pages have been indexed, it's useful to refer to Google Webmaster Tools where you can view the URLs that have been crawled. Uploading an XML sitemap helps to carry out proper indexing of the ecommerce site.
Another option, although a bit less efficient for technical SEO purposes, is to perform a Google search as follows:
Be sure to have no space between "site:" and the domain. The number of pages that are shown in the results reflects the URLs that Google has crawled and indexed. If there's a big discrepancy between the number of indexed pages and what's included on the sitemap, then further investigation is needed.
Implement or Correct Mishandled Redirects
Particularly for online stores, it's important to check existing redirects as they may be using 302 redirects (which are temporary) instead of 301 redirects (which are permanent.) Unlike 301 permanent redirects, 302 redirects do not pass link value for SEO.
If the site has an abundance of redirects, the technical SEO team should address any mishandled redirects as soon as possible. It's important to avoid removing redirects, as there may be backlinks pointing to a page (which may be providing SEO value.)
There are a few special tools that you can use to determine the nature and type of redirects being used. Here at Click Centric SEO, we use Website Auditor, one of the four awesome programs in Link Assistant's SEO Powersuite.
About the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the lead SEO analyst at Click Centric SEO. Tyler is well-versed in multiple facets of organic SEO for ecommerce sites, as well as PPC advertising, content marketing, and social media marketing.