New to Ecommerce? Key Basics to Help Your Site Fly

As an ecommerce site owner, you can never have too much traffic provided that it’s reasonably targeted and interested in your products. You may well ask if the search engine optimization of your site is worth the trouble. And the answer, if you feel that natural search engine driven visitors are important, is a resounding “yes!” The point of ecommerce SEO from your perspective is to allow the Google, Yahoo!, and Bing to send you as many potential buyers as possible. Although some people hold that sites move up and down in the search engines naturally according to their “natural” relevant to a particular subject, I think that is naive. There is nothing natural at all about search engines and in order to rank well, your site must meet the requirements of the search engines’ algorithms. Following some basic SEO tips can help insure that you have some measure of control over the rankings your site receives.

As an ecommerce site owner, you can never have too much traffic provided that it’s reasonably targeted and interested in your products. You may well ask if the search engine optimization of your site is worth the trouble. And the answer, if you feel that natural search engine driven visitors are important, is a resounding “yes!” The point of ecommerce SEO from your perspective is to allow the Google, Yahoo!, and Bing to send you as many potential buyers as possible. Although some people hold that sites move up and down in the search engines naturally according to their “natural” relevant to a particular subject, I think that is naive. There is nothing natural at all about search engines and in order to rank well, your site must meet the requirements of the search engines’ algorithms. Following some basic SEO tips can help insure that you have some measure of control over the rankings your site receives.

There are many different factors at work that determine search engine ranking. I believe that Google alone takes into account at least 200 such factors, but that does not really concern you. The fact is no SEO business can absolutely guarantee you a number 1 position for any keyword. However, it is perfectly realistic to expect to influence search engine ranking and with work you can often get the ranking you want for many of your desired keywords. How you accomplish that and the longevity of the results depends on your skill as an SEO. If done well, stable rankings can bring you a predictable traffic flow over the long term. However, search engines are not truly free markets with respect to ranking, and for that reason it is important that actively manage your site’s positioning with SEO basics.

Site content is essential to good, on-page search engine optimization. A rule of thumb is that you want as much relevant content on your site as possible. As an ecommerce site owner, your site’s content will probably be driven and to some degree limited by the services and products you sell. If your site is a shopping cart with many products, I would suggest that you try to give each product a description of at least 2 to 3 hundred words (if possible). Try to place the keyword or phrase (or a close variation) that you expect buyers to use in their search queries in the product headline and description. Make the description with the placement of your keywords as natural as possible. Remember, you want your site and descriptions to be natural and pleasing to your human visitors. If you can’t do 300 words then do 200; if you can’t do a natural 200 words, than do 150. If you have a small site and are only selling a few products, consider integrating a blog into your site. This is a very easy and practical way to add hundreds, if not thousands of relevant pages to your site.

From the perspective of a search engine, only the text elements of your site count as content. Search engines do not register or “see” graphics, and for you this means that you want to be sure that all search engine important content is in text, not in a picture displaying words and phrases. If your site uses many images, as yours might if you have an ecommerce shopping cart, you can get search engine benefit from those graphics by using the Alt tag. The Alt tag is part of the coding that only the search engine sees, and it allows you to include a keyword rich description with your image. If you have never heard of this before, you can see an example by going to a site such Yahoo! or Google and holding the mouse cursor over an image. You will notice that a tiny text box pops up with a description. It is the Alt tag that allows the inclusion of the text, and search engines to respond to this bit of content. Adding text to the Alt tag is very easy, and almost any WYSIWYG html editor will allow you to do this automatically.

What are the essential on-page, text elements? These include your site title, menu names, category listings, headlines, sub-titles, article titles, articles, product descriptions, and titles of descriptions. I also include the organization of the site as this is driven by both the coding and textual navigation of the site. Ideally, all of your menu names, category listings and link anchor text will lead the search engines smoothly and effortlessly around your site. You visitors, too, should also find the navigation simple and logical, and site design should allow your buyers to reach your product pages with the least amount of trouble, preferably in 1 to 3 clicks. The fewer clicks it takes to get to a product page the better.

Speaking of links, the general consensus of the SEO community is that the number and quality of back links pointing to your site is the most important aspect of SEO. You can focus back links on the main page of your site, on your site’s internal product pages, or on other sites that themselves have back links pointing to your domain. The power of links is so great that you can actually have a page or domain that is badly organized with hardly any or zero significant content and still rank well if you have a sufficient number of links even if those link are of low quality. Although on-page SEO is important and standard practice, the anchor text of the links pointing to your site carries much greater weight and punch than just on-page textual optimization by itself.

The point is to convey how important back links are to SEO. With an ecommerce site, the point for you is to assume as high a search engine ranking for as many keywords as possible in order to drive as much natural, interested traffic to your site as possible. Common sources of back links include RSS feeds, social bookmarking sites, social news sites (such as Digg), profile pages from sites that allow creation of profiles, social publishing platforms such as Tumblr, Squidoo, and Hubpages, reciprocal links, blog comments, article directory submissions, search engine directory submissions, purchased text links, press releases, free blogging sites such as WordPress.com and Blogspot.com, and ads posted on classified ad sites. This is just a sampling of available back link sources to help you start thinking of the possibilities. You can point links back to your site, at other pages linking back to your site, and you can create networks of links and aim them wherever you want in order to target search engine attention in the manner that best suits your site’s SEO needs.

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