The term “SEO” may sound foreign to many startup merchants, but understanding what it is and how it works can make your e-commerce business boom. Short for search engine optimization, SEO helps your website rank higher in search engine results, get more visitors, and ultimately boost your revenue.
However, there are good ways (white hat) and bad ways (black hat) of optimizing your SEO. Black hat techniques can give your business a bad image, so I recommend you avoid them. Follow my white hat SEO tips and your e-commerce business will soon be on its way to optimizing your search engine results!
1. Use META Tags
A META tag is a special HTML tag that lets you provide information about a specific page on your site. The most important attributes within the META tags are the description and keyword attributes. The description and keyword attributes are exactly that — a short description and the most important keywords found on the page. META descriptions should be less than 155 characters long, an accurate description of what a visitor will find on the page, and should incorporate your most important keywords.
2. Incorporate Relevant Keywords
META keywords can help focus your writing as well we help searchers find your site. The first thing you should do when writing the META keyword attribute is make a list of all of the words or phrases you would like to use for each individual page. To help you decide what words will work best, use analytics tools to see what searchers are looking for most often. Visiting your competitors’ websites to see what keywords and phrases they’re using will also help.
Next, list your keywords and phrases in order of their importance using commas to separate. Let’s say that you sell lamps. One of your product pages is for a Better Homes and Gardens Victorian floor lamp. Better Homes and Gardens should be your first keyword for the page, and Victorian floor lamp should be your second. You could even combine the two into one keyword for users who search for that specific lamp. Keep in mind that keywords can be a word or a phrase, and you can list up to 25 of them — although you may want to focus your keywords on three to five important key words or phrases.
Now you need to incorporate these META keywords and keyword phrases into the body of your page. Let search engines know how important these words are to you by including them in headings, sub-headings and link text, and by using them at least three times on the page.
3. Create Clear, Descriptive URLs
Search engines like Google look at URLs when filtering search results, so the URL you create for your website should reflect what’s on the page. A good URL for that Victorian floor lamp would be http://www.yoururl.com/better-homes-and-gardens-victorian-floor-lamp as opposed to http://www.yoururl.com/product04884687.html. Clear, descriptive URLs will also let searchers know what they’ll find on your page.
4. Write Meaningful Anchor Text
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. When writing the anchor text, make sure it relates to the attached link. For instance, if you’re anchor text reads “Victorian floor lamps,” but it links to a page selling televisions, then that will only hinder your SEO ranking.
5. Know How to Build Backlinks
A backlink is a link to your website from another website. Google views backlinks as votes, and uses them to help determine your website’s PageRank (PR) — based on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best. However, not all backlinks hold the same weight. If you have a backlink from a website with a PR2, it won’t be as affective as a backlink coming from a website with a PR7.
There are several ways to gain backlinks, but one of the most popular techniques is through guest blogging — publishing a post on someone else’s blog that links back to your website. Writing guest blog posts related to your specialty will also help build your online reputation. Additional backlinking strategies include:
- Creating a Resources or Partners page and exchange links with others looking to build their backlinks
- Submitting your website to online business directories, niche category directories, and social book marking sites
- Signing up for social media websites and include your URL in the profile section
- Writing legitimate comments on blogs and making sure you include your website’s URL
6. Always Interlink Between Pages
Similar to backlinking, internal links connect to pages within your website. It’s not as powerful of a strategy as backlinking, but Google loves interlinking, so it needs to happen. Make sure the internal links make sense and are useful for your visitors — don’t stick in a link just for the sake of SEO. Don’t forget about your blog (if you have one, and if you don’t well, then you should!) when interlinking. Here are some good ideas for internal links:
- Landing page to landing page
- Landing page to blog post
- Landing page to FAQ question
- Blog post to blog post
- Blog post to landing page
- Blog post to definition (if you work in an industry with specific jargon)
7. Write Image Descriptions
Since Web crawlers only search text, it’s important to include an accurate description of the images you use on your site. A Web crawler, also known as a spider, crawls across the World Wide Web in search of fresh, new content. Use important keywords in your image descriptions so spiders will know when to show them in search results.
8. Update your Content
Search engines like to offer the most up-to-date results in search inquiries, so make sure you’re updating your website’s content on a regular basis. Updating your content will increase traffic no only from Web crawlers seeking it out, but also from your customers wanting to see what new content you have on your site.
There are so many SEO optimization tips for websites — what are some of your favorite tips? How do you measure the success of your website?