13 SEO Improvement Ideas for E-Commerce Sites
For most e-commerce sites the online marketing mix is made up of paid and non-paid traffic channels. The biggest and most cost effective non-paid marketing channel is organic web search traffic. If you agree and are looking improve your search engine optimization potential (SEO) for 2010, here are a couple of tried and tested tips.
- Ensure unique page metadata – Each page on your site must have relevant metadata based on the keywords you’re trying to rank for. To optimize your site for Google, limit the page title to 70 characters and the page description to 140 characters.
- Improve your content – Search engines (Google especially) value good quality content which should be seen as a long-term SEO strategy. Consider adding editorial product reviews, how-to pages and guides to complement your products.
- Optimize product images – Optimizing images for users means ensuring all images are of high quality and (if possible) including more than one image per product. Optimizing images for search in order to gain organic traffic from Google image search means using the product title as the file name and using alt text.
- Unify homepage versions – Some e-commerce sites have multiple versions of their homepage which will result in poorer performance. The most common issue is having non www and www versions. To test how many versions of your page exist use a content duplication checker.
- Improve navigation – The idea behind improving navigation is to keep product pages and category pages close to the main root. This will help search engines find and index the page quicker. Think about keeping your product pages one level from the root, for example www.sitename.com/product-title.html instead of www.sitename.com/category/sub-category/product-title.html
- Enhance internal linking – Linking smartly between products and categories can help your SEO by giving certain pages more authority. For example, breadcrumbs are useful to link from product pages back to the category page, but also linking from your FAQ section to a product or even between products helps.
- Improve loading times – The time taken to load a page is important for SEO and for increasing conversion rates. To test how quickly (or not) your pages are loading and to view helpful suggestions use a page analyzer.
- Add site maps – an HTML site map and XML site maps will help both potential customers and search engines. The XML site map is useful in indicating to the engines which pages are available on the site and to ensure as many as possible get into the index. The HTML site map is used to allow customers to find product and category pages quickly.
- Improve on-page SEO – Turning the product title into an H1 tag and other sub titles into an H2 or H3 tag will increase the page’s SEO potential. Together with image optimization this is known as on-site optimization.
- Find and fix 404 pages – Error pages resulting from old product pages or badly configured files might have some SEO value and should therefore be fixed. If you’re using Google Analytics you can easily find these pages and fix or redirect them to a more appropriate page.
- Encourage customer reviews – Customer reviews for product pages can help persuade potential customers to make purchases and they can also be very useful for SEO. Because search engines will see fresh content every time they visit the page it will make the product page more important and increase its crawling rate (i.e. how often search engines visit the page).
Encourage link sharing – One of the most important parts of SEO is building the number of links pointing to inner product pages. If you have many SKUs, a smart strategy is to use your customers to spread the word by encouraging sharing. Embedding a social sharing button such as AddThis or ShareThis will give customers sharing tools which are free and easy to use.
- Make small changes and test – You shouldn’t make huge changes to an established site. By making too many changes at once, you’ll find it hard to understand and analyze what has worked and what hasn’t. Consider making small changes and always test the outcome before continuing with further changes.
Good luck with your SEO efforts for 2010.guest post, Michelle Strassburg, SEO, Wood and Beyond