The common mistake many people make when building an e-commerce website is to assume that customers will automatically find their website. Sellers might offer the lowest prices, best product selection, or most interesting site design on the Web. They might also assume that success in another business medium will translate to instant online profits. However, customers must be able to find your site before they will visit it!
- Choose the Right URL (domain name) for your Webstore
- Design your Site with your Visitors in Mind
- Utilize the Title, Description, Keyword, and Alt Tags
- Identify Relevant Keywords and Key Phrases to Target for your Site
- Use Textual Tags
- Create Relevant Content for your Website
- Create Good Internal Links
- Get Good Incoming Links
- Get an Analytics Package to Monitor your Site
Choose the Right URL (domain name) for your Webstore
- Using a keyword, term, or phrase in the actual domain name can slightly increase the value that search engines may place on your site. However, search engines do not read words in your URL if they run together.
- A URL’s age may influence the value that search engines place on documents hosted there. Older sites are generally considered more trustworthy than newer sites as they have established a record of legitimacy.
- Two or more hyphens in a domain name may indicate a lower quality or spam-ridden site. This data may be used by search engines to reduce the rankings of a site or its hosted documents.
- Choose your extension carefully (.com, .net, and .biz are all commercial extensions that are available to anyone, but .com is by far the most popular). A return visitor may think “.com” when searching for your site on the Web, so you want an extension that is obvious.
- Major search engines do not like duplicate content, especially when it is the exact same content, just on different URLs. As a result, they could end up penalizing your site by hiding it in the search results.
Design your Site with your Visitors in Mind
Utilize the Title, Description, and Alt Tags
- Meta tags, which are embedded in the HTML of your site, notify search engines crawling your site what a particular page is about. The important types of meta-tags include the title, description. These should match keywords or key phrases that appear in the body of the page itself.
- The title meta-tag is the text that visitors see at the top of their browsers and is the text displayed when visitors bookmark your page. Some search engines consider this very important when they crawl your site as they use it to determine the content of your website. Create a title tag that includes your site’s key phrase, so that it accurately describes your site and makes sense to visitors. The title meta-tag should be descriptive, but you should try to keep it under 150 characters.
- The description meta-tag is used to present information that people may see when the search engine displays the site in a list among all other similar sites. This text may influence whether someone clicks on your site. The description meta-tag should be informative but not have more than 250 characters. It should relay keyword phrases that are also in the title and the actual content on your site. You should put the most important keywords at the beginning of the description.
- Alt tags (or image tags) – If you scroll over images on a Web page, “alt tag” text that describes the image will often appear. Search engines crawl the text in the alt tag as they do other content on your site. Using this tag allows the search engines to make sense of your website’s images since they cannot actually interpret or read any text contained within an image. The alt text is also presented if an image is broken. Alt tags should normally be four to five words and reference one of the keywords or keyword phrases representing the item in the image.
- Webstore automatically adds alt tags to the images on your uploaded products based the product titles.
- For non-product images placed using the image widget, you can create your own alt tags.
Identify Relevant Keywords and Key Phrases to Target for your Site
Here are recommended best practices for creating an initial list of keywords:
- Ask your friends what phrases they might use to find products you sell.
- Look at some of your competitors’ meta-tags (go to their website, select the Source (or Page Source, this varies by browser) option on the View browser menu, and look in the HTML code for their keyword meta-tags).
- Think of words you might use if you knew nothing about your products other than the fact that you wanted to buy one.
- Consider phrases that people in the industry would use to search for products you sell.
- Try to create longer phrases (four or more words) that combine smaller phrases.
- Google AdWords Keyword Tool– The Google AdWords KeyWord Tool helps you to generate keyword ideas through either keyword description or your website content. It provides the relevant keyword searches on Google as well as their search volume information.
- Overture Keyword – The Overture Keyword tool helps you to evaluate potential keywords by providing you with related terms and data on how many times that term was searched on the previous month. For more information on this tool, see: http://inventory.overture.com.
- WordTracker – WordTracker is a fee-based service that allows you to search popular keyword phrases. WordTracker is the most popular in the SEO industry, as it offers a good search term database and is easy to use. You can easily find information on a variety of sites on the Web.
- Identify six to ten keyword phrases that people might search on to find a site like yours and build a theme around these terms.
- Include the most important keywords relating to your products in the first 15 to 20 words of text.
- Place your most important keywords in headings or headers.
- Close the body of the page by including your keywords in text.
- Put bold or italics around your core keywords.
- Consider placing your more important keywords in a list of bullets or numbered items.
- Create links to other locations on your website, and include your keywords in the link text.
Use Textual Tags
Create Relevant Content for your Website
Create Good Internal Links
- Increase Text Links:
Search engines consider the anchor text for a link as very important in terms of what information will be discovered when a visitor clicks through that link. When a search engine crawls that link and goes to the linked page, it will associate the destination page as being relevant to the anchor text on the link that was clicked through. Because of this, avoid using the phrase “Click here” on a link and, instead, use a relevant keyword.For example, if you are referring a customer to more information about a “men’s titanium watch” elsewhere on your website, the anchor text within the hyperlink should be “men’s titanium watch.” Search engines also look at the text around the link to gauge the importance of the anchor text within the link, so you want relevant content.
- Link to related items such as accessories or related products:
Adding links on your product pages that point to related products or accessories improves internal linking, and also helps increase your sales. Amazon Webstore can provide automatic links to related items when a visitor clicks on a product page on your site.
- Create key internal links and text links in footers:
Footer links are at the bottom of every page and help visitors and search engine spiders navigate your site. The footer section allows you to create internal links to key parts of your site, including Home, About Us, Return Policy, and Shipping Policy pages. Using link text in your footers provides you another opportunity to optimize text within links. For example, the link text in the “Home” and “About Us” footer links should include your actual company’s name (for example, “Amazon.com Home,” “About Amazon.com”).
- Optimize Proper Navigation Links:
Most websites include a navigation structure that provides links to other locations on a website. This is usually on the left side of the page. Because a search engine’s tendency is to “read” left to right, the navigation is usually one of the first things read by a search engine spider. Because of this, these links are given more importance. Make sure that you place your primary keywords as text on the links in your navigation structure.
- Create a site map:
Site maps are models that display the pages on a website, and help visitors navigate their way. You can simply sketch a site map with paper and pencil to create a visual map of your website, the pages, and the links. For example, you would want your FAQ, Return Policy, and Contact Us pages to be in the same location of your site map. When you add and create pages to your website, think of ways to organize similar pages to help your customers find what they need. You will also want to include a site map link in your footer.Webstore automatically submits and sends your XML site map to major search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. For more information, see XML Site Maps.
Get Good Incoming links
Search engines take into account at least two major factors when they use incoming links to rank your site for a particular search phrase (which, in turn, determines how high your site ranks in the search engine results pages):
- The total number of incoming external relevant links
- The importance of the sites linking to your site
When you develop your Linking Strategy:
- Submit your website to appropriate sites and ask that they link to your site as a reference because it will benefit their visitors.
- When a site links to you, encourage its owner to place a keyword in the link’s description to increase the relevance of a keyword on your site.
- Find out who is linking to your competition. Use Google’s “link:” command to see the back links of your competition. For example, type “http://www.yoursite.com” (without the quotation marks) into Google search. Try to get links from the same sites as your competitors.
- Avoid reciprocal linking, links farms, link scams, Free for All (FFA) link sites, and any other unnatural links. They may not necessarily affect you, but they can potentially lower your ranking.
- Submit articles related to your business to article sites where your article contains a text link back to your site (for example, ezinearticles.com).
- Post to blogs on topics related to the products you sell, with your entry containing a live anchor text link back to your site.
- If you have the Google Toolbar installed (highly recommended), you can see the Google Page Rank (GPR) for a specific site or page on the Web. Quite simply (and the algorithm behind GPR is anything but simple), the GPR is a numeric value that represents how important a page is on the Internet.
- The Google Toolbar Page Rank measures page rank from zero to 10 and is usually updated every three months. Google figures that when one page links to another page, it is effectively casting a vote for the other page. The more votes cast for a page, the more important the page must be, and generally the higher the page rank. Many people hypothesize that the GPR value is determined through a logarithmic scale, but Google has not disclosed their precise calculation methods.
- Page rank by itself does not do anything. However, if your site is optimized and has a strong GPR, it will be much more likely to jump into the top results for targeted keywords. While page rank cannot be explicitly controlled, it can be influenced through linking efforts both on and off the site (that is, the use of accessories, similarities, blogs, etc). Links from other sites can specifically help increase the keyword relevance of your page. This is done with the text in the link (any text contained within the link itself is attributed to the linked page). Because of this, it is important to ensure that any links to a page on the site contain relevant, descriptive text (for example, “look here for great titanium watches”) rather than non-descriptive text (for example, “click here”).
Get an Analytics Package to Monitor your Site
- How many people visited your site
- How many of those visitors were unique visitors
- The number of return visitors
- How visitors came to the site (for example, by following a link, through a bookmark, or by typing your website’s URL in the browser)
- What keywords visitors searched on in the search engine to get to the website
- What keywords visitors typed in a websites search box
- How long visitors stayed on a site
- What links visitors clicked on and when they left the site
- Tracking e-mail and pay-per-click marketing campaigns
- Determining a site’s conversion rate (number of visitors to orders generated)