Setting Realistic Goals for Your Ecommerce SEO Strategy
In today's evolved search space, product keywords can be insanely competitive. High authority retailers and affiliate sites are practically owning organic search, making it near impossible to earn profitable search exposure.
But don't get too discouraged. Your ecommerce SEO strategy can be a successful one. You need to be mindful (and logical) when selecting keyword targets, and set realistic goals of where you envision your site ranking.
A good SEO practice centers on realizing which keywords are attainable, and which should be avoided. For some really great keyword targets, sometimes it's just not plausible to rank number one. As a result, one must choose wisely and leverage creative means to be found.
Do Keyword Research to a "T"
Keyword research for ecommerce SEO should be an exhaustive effort. This includes more than solely using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Although the AdWords Tool is a good place to gather metrics and insights, you'll want to perform some SERP analysis on you prospective keyword targets.
SERP analysis is simply assessing the competitive nature of the Search Engine Results Pages of your prospective keywords. Here you'll want to look at the top listings in the organic search results to get a feel for how well optimized each listing is. In addition to the more obvious indicators of optimization (e.g. the inclusion of keywords in the page title and meta description,) it helps to know metrics like each listing's Alexa rank, indexed pages, PageRank, and inbound link portfolio.
You can get real crazy doing this SERP analysis, and often times, getting crazy and thorough will only give you a more accurate projection of where your site stands against the competition. A great tool to make this analysis easier is the SEO Quake plug-in. This gives you insights about each listing directly from the SERPs.
You can further narrow down your specific long-tail keyword targets by using Google Suggest Search, or "Autocomplete" as research tool. This will give you an idea of the typical search behaviors of users who search more detailed keywords.
I typically save this stage in the process for the keywords I am pretty certain we'll be targeting. This helps choose the optimal naming convention or structure of the keyword's semantics (e.g. brand name, product model, model number, etc...)
Get on Google+, STAT!
The evolving standards of ecommerce SEO are rooted to socializing on Google+. In a nutshell, the social activity and connections that your brand makes on Google+ can directly influence your connections' search results.
As you can see in the image, the listing from Proswimwear.com is actually a Google+ post. Because I am following Proswimwear, and because I searched a very relevant keyword query with respect to their Google+ post ("TYR discount",) Google is feeding me personalize search results based on my social orientation.
The takeaway for an ecommerce company is this: get on Google+ ASAP, and start growing your following. The larger social audience you can earn on Google+, the greater potential you'll have to be seen in their search results (so long as you stay diligent at posting relevant, valuable content.)
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