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With the current state of the web, you can literally order anything online and have it delivered to your front door. Yes, even bread, eggs and milk. If you are starting your own e-commerce business, then get ready for a major challenge. E-commerce sites often have thousands of pages, making them an extremely challenging SEO issue. Properly linking these pages together, and especially obtaining links to the actual product pages from external sites, is a very difficult and time consuming task.
In many ways, this makes SEO for e-commerce sites a whole different beast from trying to rank a blog. Here are a few things you can do to make this task more manageable.
1. Create an SEO Keyword Field In Your Database
Inevitably, an e-commerce site is powered by a database complete with product names, prices, and other variables. Include a keyword field in this database so that it is always immediately clear what keyword you are trying to rank this product for. This is extremely useful for your link building efforts, your product description and title optimization, and countless other tasks.
2. Optimize Your Product Detail Page
This is by far your most important content. All product pages must have the following pieces:
– A Product Name – The title of the page should be the product name, which should include all relevant keywords in as few words as possible. Every product name should be unique and it should be clear to users what each product is.
– Price – The price should be easy to find and prominent, or you will end up irritating your users who are trying to shop. The price is one of the first things that users look for, so be sure to put the “buy” button right next to the price so that it is easy to find as well.
– Buy Button – The buy button should be prominent, colorful, and easy to spot. It should almost always be “above the fold” so that users don’t need to scroll down in order to find it. Keep in mind that words can have different meaning in different cultures. “Add to basket” is more appropriate than “add to cart” in the UK, for example.
The product name and title tag should be closely related or identical, and certainly contain the keyword. All content on the page should be crawlable. Avoid duplicate content at all costs, and for the same reason do everything you can to avoid using the manufacturer’s description as the product description, since all of the other e-commerce sites will be using the same content.
3. Avoid Session ID Duplicate Content
If your site uses session IDs, it’s possible that your site has duplicate content which could cause it to be penalized and buried in the search results. Session IDs are used for security reasons and to make sure that all transactions are traceable, but they also create a unique URL for every visitor who starts making a purchase.
Be sure to edit robots.txt so that the search engines don’t end up getting confused by all of this extra content. Even if your site doesn’t get penalized by duplicate content, it can make your site’s structure unclear in a way that harms rankings.
4. Product RSS Feed and Site Map
By submitting your RSS feed to relevant aggregators you can pick up tons of backlinks which can help improve your site rankings. Google Base is a good example of the type of aggregator to submit to. Site maps can also be incredibly helpful for e-commerce sites since their indexes are so large and there is always the possibility that certain pages won’t get crawled and indexed.
5. Find a SEO friendly shopping cart
Finding a SEO friendly shopping cart software can actually be quite a difficult process. Look for shopping cart software that is explicitly marketed as being SEO friendly. Don’t assume that this is taken care of just because your shopping cart software is expensive. Obviously there are incredible solutions on the web at affordable prices, but just because the first one sounds good does not mean it’s the best.
6. Go Social
Be sure to add social sharing buttons so that your best products can spread by word of mouth. Allow users to leave their own reviews in order to improve participation and to get feedback. Pay attention to your analytics to see where the buying funnel leads. Make sure that your site is fully integrated with analytics so that you are capturing all of the relevant data.
E-commerce sites are very difficult to optimize for SEO, but they need it perhaps even more than any other type of site. These tips should provide a good road map to get you started, but be sure to do your research and test everything extensively.
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