One upside to an ECommerce business is that there’s no storefront to maintain. No windows to clean, no shelves to stock, no door to lock, no alarm to set.
Instead, companies pour their energy into creating a website that’s attractive and easy for shoppers to navigate and use, and easy for them to find when they search the web for a product or service. One major key in their success is the ability to be found online. Cue Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is the practice of careful website planning to improve where your website appears in search results. By making some changes to improve your website’s SEO, you can work towards higher rankings on the search engine results page (SERP). The higher your company appears, the better for business.
Need proof? Consider this. If your website is on page 2 rather than page 1 of search results, 75 percent of people won’t see it. That’s because three-quarters of web users never click beyond page 1 of search results.
In simple terms, SEO boils down to this. Search engines take a hard look at how well your website serves and caters to your potential customers. Among the things it scrutinizes:
Ranking higher in search results will pay off through increased exposure and in turn, a higher sales potential. Here are some basic rules to follow to improve SEO and rank higher in online searches:
This is a point where many companies fail–we see it all the time when we visit websites and look for recent information, only to find that the most recent blog was posted two years ago.
Keep your site up-to-date with regularly scheduled posts (once a month at minimum is recommended. Be sure that they are long enough to provide value to readers – but avoid the “fluff” or useless filler content. Provide information, somehow tied to your product, that a customer would like to know. Companies find different ways to cover content: some assign one person, usually in marketing, to write them; others rotate the responsibility among several staff members, and many hire a contractor to get the job done.
Here’s another point about content – it doesn’t just have to be a blog. A video interview with one of your key staff about a recent product is content. A series of photos showing homes that have been enhanced by the outdoor lighting systems you sell is content. Customer reviews are content (user-generated content, at that).
If your website features adaptive design (in other words, it works equally well on laptops, desktops and mobile devices) three cheers for you. Google punishes companies that expect their customers to navigate their clunky made-for-desktop website on their smartphones. So, if you haven’t developed a mobile version for your website, you should, for both improved SEO and for your customers. People have little patience with websites that are difficult to navigate, and they’ll be likely to move on to another seller if your website is hard for them to use on a mobile device. Here are tips on how to design for mobile.
What words and phrases would you use if you were going to search for your product online? Those are some of your keywords. Chances are, if you
and your staff sat down and talked about this, you could come up with a good list. But there are a number of good ways to identify your keywords and create a list. Once you have created a list, develop organic ways to include those terms in page content – but don’t go overboard. Keyword stuffing, or forcing keywords into your content, will not help you. Search algorithms will recognize this tactic and punish your site. Focus on finding a middle ground between optimizing for people and computers – but when in doubt, focus on people. Keywords should be used throughout your website: in title tags, meta descriptions, headlines, page headings, alt text for photos and videos and URLs.
A recent study showed that Google search results include images about one-third of the time, so it is important to optimize photos for keywords. For ECommerce, the focus should be on product photos. Not only can these images drive traffic via image search results, but they are often shared and your image quality plays a large part in consumer decision making. Images should also be formatted so that they load quickly, as load speed is a factor that search engines consider in SEO.
Ever notice the lock icon at the top of your browser? This designates a site as https – a more secure connection than http. According to HealthIT.gov, when you see HTTPs, it means the session between a web server and the browser you are using is encrypted. It says, “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (https) is a combination of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) with the Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. TLS is an authentication and security protocol widely implemented in browsers and Web servers. SSL works by using a public key to encrypt data transferred over the SSL connection. Most Web browsers support SSL. It allows you to communicate securely with the web server.”
Instead of marking a site with the secure lock symbol alongside its URL, web browsers mark HTTP sites as “not secure,” and that negatively impacts those sites’ rankings in Google search. In addition to the visual designation, search engines typically will not give as much authority to those http sites compared to https competitors of the same caliber and content. As an ECommerce company that collects credit card and other personal information through your website, having a secure site is critical to protect both you and your customers.
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