Once you’ve made the commitment to running an eCommerce business, you want to make sure your website strategy is as effective as possible at reaching potential customers and staying connected to current and returning ones. Running an eCommerce business is not so different from a bricks-and-mortar one, but a main difference is the ability to reach customers at any time and from any location. While this effectively expands the pool of people you can potentially sell to, it also increases your competition in the marketplace. If you’re looking to make sure your online selling is as targeted as possible, here are 10 important factors to consider when evaluating your business’ eCommerce SEO:
eCommerce SEO Research: Part 1
There are two kinds of research you need to be on lookout for: Business competition and Keywords. The first is fairly straightforward; you need to know who your competitors are, where they are trying to position themselves in the marketplace, and how your business offerings are different. This is a constantly shifting landscape, so if you haven’t conducted a survey of your online (and traditional) competitors in awhile, now is the time to get started. Information can be collected through business publications that cater to your sector, talking to customers, and online searches. Get into the habit of performing a competitor scan on a regular basis to stay on top of changes that may impact your bottom-line.
eCommerce SEO Research: Part 2
Keyword research is essential if you want your eCommerce business and products to be found online. Failing to do so is the equivalent of a traditional store keeping the doors locked and the blinds drawn. What do they sell? What kind of store is it? Is it an empty building? When you’ve made the investment to create a quality eCommerce website, it’s worth the time and effort to invest in keyword research – that way the most important pages on your website will be optimized for search, and your products will be described in accurate, relevant terms that speak directly to search volume. Tools such as Google’s AdWords Keyword search and Moz can help determine which keywords pertain to your business and are popular amongst online searchers in your targeted geographic area.
Make Those Keywords Work for You
Once you have your keyword research in place, you need to make sure the keywords, terms, and phrases are appropriate placed in the right places. These places include the page title, headline text, body or paragraph text, image file names and alt tags, meta tags and URLs. Remember to sound natural with your keywords. While your webpages are indexed and ranked by search engines they are also read by humans, so if your text sounds artificial or “spammy” they’ll quickly leave. Take your time to find and create the perfect balance so that your keyword-infused text reads naturally and comfortably.
Wipe Out Website Errors!
Having the best keywords in the world won’t help your business if you have technical or usability issues with your website. Do you have broken links, duplicate page content or missing meta tags? Can your visitors find all the information they need? Google’s Webmaster Tools and Moz can help you determine where the problems are so your eCommerce site isn’t penalized in SEO rankings. What about your website’s speed or your website’s appearing on mobile devices? If pages and images take an unnecessarily long time to load, or don’t look appealing on smartphones or tablets, potential customers are not going to stick around – and will most likely ending buying what they are looking for from a competitor.
Make Each Web Page the Best it Can Be
Every page on your website should have a function – but is that function clear to your customers or visitors? (and is it clear to you?) If you cannot state what the goal of a particular page is, or if your visitors are confused, you’re losing customers. Make sure that all language is easily understood, directions are accurate, and images or photos relevant to the focus of that page. Add in customer testimonials where appropriate, offer links to related or supplemental content, encourage visitors to connect to your social media accounts, and make it quick and simple for visitors to reach out to you when they have a question. And don’t forget to offer visitors an easy-to-use navigation structure! When you optimize your eCommerce website for keywords, you stand a greater chance of visitors organically finding your site without going to the homepage first. Give those visitors a way to quickly get their bearings with simple navigation items such as “breadcrumb” trails (e.g., Home > Products > Gift Cards).
Don’t Forget Product Images and Photographs!
You’ve created an eCommerce website because you have products you want to sell and in order to interest buyers in those products you need to provide them with an accurate description and a photograph or image. When placing your product images be sure the filename is accurate, and take a moment to specify the alt tags and image description. Setting this information is helpful to not only boost your SEO, but to also ensure that your photos appear in image search results. Also, remember that the larger the image size, the longer it will take to load. Try to strike a balance between maintaining image quality (especially if you are selling very detailed products such as artwork or clothing) and quick load times.
Product Reviews are Essential
Including product reviews for the items you are selling is essential as the placement of reviews can boost your sales conversions anywhere from 15 to 75%. Numerous studies have shown that visitors do read and consider product reviews as part of their decision-making process, so be sure to incorporate an online mechanism into your eCommerce website for encouraging past customers to offer their feedback. It is also helpful to email customers a few days after they have received their purchase to make sure their expectations have been met and to encourage them to leave a review on your website. In addition to helping customers who are “browsing” your products, these product reviews can also boost your SEO rankings as they provide new, fresh content for search engines to identify and index.
Encourage Customers to Connect on Social Media
Having active social media channels that are appropriate to your business are very necessary in the online retail environment. Social media allows customers to connect with your business, your brand, your products, in a way that is convenient and fun for them. Whether you choose to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn or any of the other specialty social platforms, be sure to develop a content marketing strategy (you can link to other article here???) so you can leverage your social media presence for the best return on investment. Social media is a great way to “keep a finger on the pulse” of your customer base, and get almost immediate feedback on new products you may be considering or offering, special events, sales, and more. Remember, an effective social media presence is more than just “likes”, shares, and re-tweets. Sure, it’s fun and exciting when your business account is very popular and posts go viral – but you want to make sure all that interest drives people back to your eCommerce site so they can make purchases!
Add Blog Articles into Your eCommerce Website
Adding a blog to your website is very helpful for incorporating keywords that are secondary to your business or have a speciality niche focus. With each blog article you can build content around a particular keyword or phrase that isn’t appropriate or applicable to the main pages of your website. By following all of the best practices for “making those keywords works for you” (see #3 at the top of this article) with each blog article, your end result will be a blog post that is useful to your customers, easy to read, and helps give your business an SEO boost as well.
Make SEO Monitoring a Regular Habit
When you’re running an eCommerce business your main focus is to increase sales. All activities and efforts need to be directed toward this end goal – and that includes making sure your website is performing at its peak and recognized by search engines. When you take the time and make the investment to ensure that SEO, website usability, and technical development are done correctly, you will see an increase in organic search traffic, and that increase in visitors will in turn result in an increase in lead generation, sales, and repeat customers. But the most important take-away from this article is that SEO isn’t a one-shot activity but a kind of routine maintenance that you regularly schedule and perform. By staying on top of the latest search trends in your business sector and adjusting your website content accordingly, you’ll be poised and ready for any and all prospective shoppers who start an online search for a product or service you want to sell them.