If you’re in a competitive market- and who isn’t… you need everything possible going in your favor. While preparing this content, I looked at a shopping site made with a drag and drop builder as part of a hosting package. This advice applies to any online shopping platform whether it’s on a popular open source CMS like Magento or Joomla or WordPress- or part of a proprietary system built and hosted on a server to enable you to build a website yourself.
Our professional website optimization service can provide you with enhanced visibility and more traffic. Our Website SEO services in Melbourne can get your technical issues sorted and start you on the path to better sales.
It’s best if you read through this article and try to do- or access- the items we speak about here. The reason for that, is to determine early on, whether or not your website platform is suitable for SEO at an advanced level, which will eventually be needed in a competitive space.
If you cannot access the level of changes discussed here, it’s better to accept early on in the piece, that you need to move to a professional website eCommerce platform- and stop spinning your wheels.
Silo Your Products Carefully
This is very important. Your website information architecture- how things are categorised within the menu, how menu items are set out in the navigation bar- these things matter a lot.
If you are hoping to rank in Google for the products you sell or even more ambitiously- for the higher level categories like “street wear”, “iPhone cases” or similarly positioned competitive products, then you really need to have all the boxes ticked, because competition is ferocious. Competing against other sellers via adwordsMake sure that any product- or any page- does not have two separate URLs. For example if you have a red shirt which is a long sleeved shirt for ladies, don’t have that item appearing at shirts/long-sleeved/red as well as shirts/ladies/long-sleeved/red as it’s a duplicate URL and definitely a rank-buster.
Use Best-Practice URLs
While we’re on the subject of URLs, something like Gold_iDuster_p/ip4063.htm is a really bad example of a URL ending, but even worse would be something like /products/view/?name=sc93. The first example contains capitalisation as well as characters which don’t make sense to users or search engines, and you would be denying yourself some ranking points using URLs like that. A better example would be phone-cases/gold-iphone-duster-bumper -notice there’s no thinking required- you know exactly what to expect at that URL and search engines would index that URL with more understanding than the original example.
Before you go changing all your URLs you should fully understand how to implement 301 redirects within your htaccess file, or you’ll suddenly end up with pages sitting in Google’s index, which will say “Page Not Found- Error 404” when clicked by a visitor. In time that will correct itself- but what won’t ever fix itself up will be the collection of links on social media, within emails and other websites which link to you. That’s not good!
get professional help on your htaccess file, and remember you’ll need to make a new sitemap too. Hopefully you do have one already!
Be Sure You Can Edit Core Files
Of all the online shopping systems, Magento would have the most SEO compliant characteristics out of the box. Being able to modify core files- the php files which run the site, allows you to tune the performance more precisely, and not be bound to the “show-bag” standard of most online shopping systems. The guiltiest eCommerce sites and online shops are by far the ones which are “drag and drop”. They contain more chunkiness to allow for likely errors the average person could make when building such a site. It’s a bit like putting airbags and disc brakes on a supermarket trolley- overkill!
The problem most people encounter is that they want to edit core files of the proprietary CMS and their server-based system won’t allow that. We’ve seen this a number of times. If yours is a business that plans to grow and become a real player against your competitors, you need the very best tools at your disposal.
In particular the system or the server should allow you to chose whether or not your website name is appended to your page titles (we recommend a “no” on that one), and you shouldn’t be limited to a certain number of characters for meta descriptions. Remember- server based- or host-based drag and drop builders aren’t made to rumble in the SEO space. People who are in online commerce to make the biggest impact, use a world class system which allows open-source accessibility and editing of core files.
Much like balancing and blueprinting the engine of a normal car- same engine in the same chassis performs significantly better when everything is tuned to perfection.
Don’t Have Thin Pages
This can be a killer of Google rank, and it’s something we see often. People have products featured in their own unique page (great idea) but seem to have nothing to say on those product pages. Make sure you can bulk out a description, make the content unique- ensure that same content is not available anywhere else online. Lifting product descriptions from other websites, or manufacturers’ sites is bad.
It will get you penalised.
If you show a range of products on a category page- like a page that leads with shirts, phone cases or head wear- be sure to have content worthy of being ranked.
This means you should:
- Ensure your on-page text has enough depth in what it says, to both:
- Provide your visitors with the best information about what it is you sell- even better than the manufacturer’s information
- Establish your website’s authority in the eyes of search engines, as being worthy of front page rank
- Check that each product has a great page where visitors can read more about that item- and that it’s only one click to get there from the category page
- Pay attention to your images- blurry, low resolution images don’t give a great user experience- don’t take images from other websites, it harms your rank
Speaking of images… most online store webmasters build a site with the idea that people don’t want to read text- they just want to look at images. That’s ok if everyone thinks like that… but you’d be amazed at how different some people are. they research what they’re buying, read up on it- especially if they are in the information gathering phase of the buying cycle. Those visitors will get more from the words than the pictures- and search engines need some text to fully appreciate what’s on a page. Don’t restrict yourself to one medium of sharing information. Images, infographics, text, video and audio files all work well.
They all work well for search engine optimisation. It’s how you optimise an eCommerce website selling products. The added bonus is that you also optimise your website and content for people, who come to your online store seeking information that leads them to a sale.
Do the Technical Stuff- Get it Right
Make sure that your on-page SEO is perfect. All links should show titles, all menu bar links should display their titles too- those little yellow boxes that show some text on mouse over should be visible when you roll your cursor over the link.
Pay attention to these elements:
- Page titles
- Page meta descriptions
- Keyword use throughout the page
- Heading tags
- Optimise your images – for search engines and for visitors by:
- Reducing file size, with a professional grade editor for faster loading times
- Use descriptive file names, image titles and alt tags- so that Google learns through semantics in search, what your page is really about;
- Ensure all your images are unique- Google knows when you have stolen them- and will penalise you for it
- Use deep linking within your site to guide visitors to other pages- and external websites which might be helpful to them and provide a better overall experience
- Ensure your pages load quickly- use external style sheets and minimise Java script
- Ensure you manage deleted products or discontinued lines, with appropriate redirects- never let a 404 “Page not Found” error appear anywhere on your website
- Maintain your website’s security- some shopping cart and online shop platforms are absolute beehives of holes for hackers.
That last point deserves a bit of extra space here.
Be diligent with patching extensions and core systems, and test patches on a backup copy of your website on a staging server first. If your eCommerce website gets hacked, it’s likely that you’ll not know for quite some time. Hackers primarily operate quietly- either stealing data like credit card details of your customers- or diverting your hard-earned organic referral traffic (people who click on a link to your website from within Google) over to the hacker’s site. The hacker can either blatantly sell something else on their site like little pills or casino memberships- or create a website to look like yours and steal your traffic and your sales. Most of the time you will never know it happened- because when you enter your website URL in your browser, your site will load normally.
It’s only the hard-earned organic search-referral traffic which gets stolen.
Not Everybody Sees Things As You Do
Have you had an accessibility check done on your website? People who are deaf and people who are blind- folks who use mobility aids when surfing need to have a great user experience too. Googlebot crawls your eCommerce website or online store and sees it through the eyes of the blind, so work on your user experience. Your website needs to work for all user-levels. It shouldn’t require a programming genius to complete a credit card purchase through your store. You’re in with a chance to build a very loyal customer base and following if your website works for visitors of all ability levels.
Mobile friendliness of websites is a ranking factor- as are all the points outlined here. Have you tried competing a transaction on your online shop, using the shopping cart and checkout system on a mobile with a small screen, in portrait orientation?How does it all stack up?Are touch events far enough apart that you don’t accidentally activate the wrong pages and delete products, or purchase unwanted multiples? What about typing in a credit card number- is this a pain-free experience on a small screen?
Give People More Ways to Pay
It’s great to be able to capture data and do email campaigns. Not every customer wants to create an account for later- so let people either pay with a credit card or use Paypal so they can just complete their transaction and move on. Not everybody wants to enter a credit card number- people use mobile devices on trains and public transport and might prefer a more secure way of paying, like Paypal.
Ensure Your Site is Built for Growth and Sharing
This point takes you in to the future, beyond where you are today. Ensure you can add products and categories easily- make sure your site navigation has been developed to allow for growth and expansion. How easy is it for people to share what you offer, by way of reviews and social media posts? Get all the free publicity you can, including citations. Place “share” buttons and perhaps run a social media widget or two on your website. It’s good to spread your efforts around, and be seen- but remember to fish where the fish are feeding. Social media can be a fantastic consumer of your spare time- be sure it’s paying you for your effort.
SEO is Ongoing
This is true with all websites. The real search engine optimisation work begins once a site goes live. All the heavy lifting is done and the structures and future framework get put in place during the build and the design, but the real action happens after launch. There’s no quick fix, there’s definitely no shortcut and if you reckon it’s tough going juggling SEO and a day job- don’t worry your competitors face the same obstacles too.For professional SEO services for online shops, Magento, eCommerce and selling anything on the internet, head to our SEO office contact page and complete an inquiry form. Expert-level internet marketing will make a difference. If you need supercharged, seo performance enhanced web development, so you can be the next big brand of tomorrow, we can help with easy monthly payment plans that won’t break your budget.