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Ecommerce SEO Best Practices for Better Rankings & More Conversions

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. Ecommerce SEO Practice

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.

The Takeaway

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

ecommerce SEO specialistTyler 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.

Tips to Create a Balanced SEO Link Building Strategy

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. balanced seo link building

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.

 

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 organic search marketing, particularly link building and content marketing strategy.

3 Essential Resources for Conducting Ecommerce SEO Audits

Whether you're unveiling a new ecommerce website or have been trying your hand at ecommerce SEO for some time, a thorough audit can reveal help get you on the right track to success. 

Here at ClickCentric SEO, we conduct ecommerce SEO audits on the reg. Whether for new prospects or existing clients, providing SEO audits is an integral aspect to the service programs that we offer.

In this article, I will share three essential resources that we use to conduct ecommerce SEO audits. These resources are available to anyone and should be well-respect assets in your SEO arsenal.

1. Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Ttools is one of the best resources for a number of SEO-related insights. Below are a few key places to look when conducting a SEO audit for your ecommerce site. Webmaster Tools SEO Audit

Optimization -> HTML Improvements

Ecommerce sites are often common culprits of duplicate content. Under the HTML Improvements section, check for duplicate and/or missing Page Title and Meta description tags.

Health -> Crawl Errors

Page errors can hinder the crawling and indexing process of your ecommerce site. Take a look at the Crawl Errors section to pinpoint any ailments that might be diminishing the SEO-value and crawl-ability of your pages.

Traffic -> Search Queries

Take a look at the types of queries (keyword phrases) that are generating organic search traffic to your website. Keep in mind that this data is a bit loose and not the most accurate (queries account for phrase matches - which are difficult to define.) Nonetheless, you'll be able to understand which keywords your site is most relevant about.

Traffic -> Links to Your Site

Get an idea of who is linking to your ecommerce site. Backlinks are huge factor for SEO, so the more quality links you can earn, the better SEO potential your ecommerce site will have.

Optimization -> Sitemaps

Under the Sitemaps section, check to see if any XML sitemaps have been submitted. If not, this is a good opportunity to take advantage of. An XML sitemap submission tells Google of the pages on your ecommerce site that are ready to be crawled and indexed. The submission, which is simply a notification to Google, accelerates the process.

2. W3C Markup Validation Service

Ecommerce sites are often very deep domains with hundreds and thousands of pages. This makes it difficult to ensure that no code errors and warnings are present on the website. W3C SEO Audit

The Crawl Errors section of Google Webmaster Tools is sometimes not enough. This when the help of W3C Markup Validation Service can help you pinpoint HTML code errors and warnings present on your ecommerce site.

After you submit your domain at validator.w3.org, the service will tell exactly which lines of code are problematic to your site's health. You can then work with your webmaster see that these errors and warnings get fixed.

3. Pingdom for Site Speed Testing

Parallel to minimizing HTML code errors is ensuring the load speed of your ecommerce website is fast and fluid. A slow loading website can hinder both SEO and user engagement.

Test the speed of your ecommerce site using a free tool like tools.Pingdom.com. If your site takes longer than one second to load, then it probably can be optimized.

There can be a number of reasons for a slow loading website. Often times it's the HTML coding structure of the site that correlates to load speed. So if your using an ancient CMS software platform to run your ecommerce site, then chances are it's inhibiting SEO performance and usability.

Diagnosing a slow ecommerce site is best when done with tech-savvy individual who can troubleshoot why things are slow going. The remedy can range from a simple website optimization tune-up or complete overhaul onto a new CMS platform.

Bonus: Tools for Backlink Portfolio Audits

Assessing a site's backlink portfolio takes ecommerce SEO auditing one step further. The tools needed to conduct a backlink scan of a website (as well as provide data about the sources' anchor text, Google PageRank, etc.) typically require payment to use.

A backlink portfolio audit is essential if your ecommerce site has been penalized by Google Penguin (which targets over-optimized backlinks with too much exact keyword match anchor text.) Two tools that I personally favor are:

  • Open Site Explorer - Created by SEOmoz, Open Site Explorer is web-based tool that offers a wealth of data regarding a website's backlink portfolio. Test it out for free by visiting OpenSiteExplorer.org.
  • SEO Spyglass - SEO Spyglass is an advanced software platform that's apart of the SEO Powersuite by Link Assistant. For search marketers, this tool is ideal for client management and auditing.

 

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 digital marketing and branding, including organic SEO, PPC advertising, social media and content marketing. Tyler spearheads most of the ecommerce SEO audits at Click Centric SEO. You can k0eep in touch with him by following Tyler on Twitter.

7 Powerful Link Building Tips for Ecommerce SEO

An ecommerce site enables you to efficiently sell products to your target market. However you must effectively target and attract your target customers to keep your online store afloat. Although this can be done through many different Internet marketing strategies, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most targeted and highly effective methods to market your ecommerce site.

One of the most powerful ecommerce SEO practices that you should be doing is link building. Having a high volume of quality external backlinks coming from various sources around the web (such as articles, web directories, press releases, blog comments, blog posts and other relevant websites) makes your site more popular and thus better ranking in the search results. Hence the industry buzzword "link popularity," with respect to SEO link building.

Link building for ecommerce SEO must be done as naturally as possible. That is, after Google unveiled the 'Penguin' update to its search engine algorithm, no longer are paid link programs or expansive blog networks as effective as they used to be. This is because these link building services are designed to create tons of optimized links (or links with exact keyword phrase anchor text), which is very un-natural and will raise a red flag on your site.

Rather, you should be focusing on link building strategies that generate natural link popularity. Sure, there are still ways you can manually build optimized links for SEO, however you will want to do this moderation.

Below we offer 7 tips that will help you create a sustainable link building strategy for ecommerce SEO:

  1. Have creative category pages: It is important to realize the SEO value of creative, well-optimized category pages. This is because product category pages are often times filled with rich content and relevant internal links (usually pointed to specific products.) Building links to these pages is very powerful SEO. Even more so, focus on making your category pages extremely valuable for consumers. Provide information, offers, deals and specials as clearly as possible. This will compel other users on the web to link to your category pages in an effort to spread the goodness your ecommerce site has to offer.
     
  2. Start an External Blog: Creating an external blog (a blog that is on a separate domain from your ecommerce site) will give you optimum flexibility in publishing content and building links. We suggest starting a blog that is highly focused on a certain aspect of your ecommerce store. So if you sell outdoor apparel and equipment, perhaps create a blog all about outdoor gear. Here you can write blog posts that highlight certain products you have to offer. Within the content of your blog posts you can build links back to your ecommerce site.

     
  3. Offer contests and special promotions: Contests and promotions are a great way to attract the interests of your target audience. Most effectively paired with social media marketing strategies, contests, sweepstakes, polls, and promos generate buzz and popularity about your ecommerce store. As a result, people will be apt to link to your site to share the fun with all of their friends.
     
  4. Take photos and create image galleries: Beautiful pictures are visually stimulating and they make even a passive customer active. Use photos that are large and that have high resolution. It is recommended that photos are professionally taken for the best results. Create mini-galleries on product pages to really capture the allure of customers. Additionally, image galleries are great form of link bait. When you have a robust product page filled with quality images, the potential to attain links back to your site is greatly enhanced.
     
  5. Write and publish articles and press releases: When you have something newsworthy going on, such as a new brand of products being offered on your ecommerce site, publish a press release about it. Take advantage of the power of content, for both marketing and link building. It is important that anything you publish is of great quality, value, and relevancy. On many publishing platforms, you are allowed to add links in the content. This is your opportunity to build an optimized link back to your ecommerce site. Just be sure to do this ethically, and use only relevant anchor text that reflects the topic of the article or press release.
     
  6. Create product video highlights: Video is becoming huge for search engine optimization, especially for ecommerce SEO. Creating videos that highlight the features of products is a great way to both earn and build links. You can earn links by offering informative videos that people will want to link to. You can also build a link to your ecommerce site or product page in the video's description on YouTube. Develop a YouTube channel for your ecommerce site and start creating videos of some of your highest margin products.

     
  7. Offer resources, tools, info and/or freebies: Whether you create product pages with tools and information on sizing and specification, or offer free incentives and add-ons for purchases, the name of the game here incentivize. When you create incentivizing offers, your customers are likely to share the goods by linking to your site. Make your incentives unique and be creative with how you pitch them to your customers. Again, social media is an effective tool to use for strategies like these.

There are tons more link building strategies for ecommerce SEO. One platform we have to mention is Pinterest. Here you can pin your product images to you 'pin board' where other viewers can see them. Not only does this build a link back to your product page, but gives your product additional exposure on the web.

Link building for ecommerce SEO demands creativity and responsibility. Be responsible and ethical in how you link, as well as creative in capturing the attention and interests of your target market.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of our Ecommerce SEO Specialists here at ClickCentric SEO.

Visit Tyler on Google+

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