Search engine optimization (SEO) is an integral part of any e-commerce venture. Your online store may be well-stocked, with plenty of wares to choose from, and you may have a great support team ready to answer any questions that your customers may have, but without SEO, how can your site be seen?
For the uninitiated, SEO is the practice by which you tweak every aspect of your site to allow search engines to quickly see and access your website. With great SEO application, you’ll be more likely to show up in search results. SEO applies primarily to king-of-the-hill Google, but many of the same adjustments also work for search services such as Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo.
What are the first steps to helping your site be seen by more people? Let’s take a look.
- Have a compelling URL
The World Wide Web has been a core part of our lives for the past twenty-odd years, and granted, securing an exceptional URL is getting more and more difficult. Not all of us can be Shopping.com. However, there are plenty of them left. You just have to be creative.
Make up a quirky, memorable word that represents you and your brand, and let that identity permeate throughout your store. Integrate this branding throughout your site, so that people know who you are.
Having great domain hosting is also highly recommended. Your shop is presumably here for the long haul, so make sure that you get a provider that is reliable and will support you throughout the years.
- Reduce duplicate content
Barraging Google with an avalanche of content once worked for black hat SEO, but that era is long gone. These days, having a proliferation of marginally different content is actually penalized by search engines.
For an online store, duplicate content is a reality that can’t be avoided. Let’s say that you sell shirts—of course you’re going to have that baby tee in pink, and orange, and yellow, right? A great way to address this issue is to place canonical tags on the “flagship” version of that shirt. The red one, perhaps?
A barrage of similar items when using your in-store search will also be frowned upon, and will be seen as stuffing. Paginate your search results so that both search engines and your end user—nobody likes being assaulted by data and options all at once—will be happy.
- Use search-friendly categories
When adding categories to your store, make sure that they are easily readable by humans and search engines alike. Take that as no strange numbers or symbols cluttering up the site. So, in your sweater store, if people want to look for a certain type of sweater, make sure that the URL is simple and to the point. That means sweetsweaters.com/vnecks, or sweetsweaters.com/hoodies. Google (and your customers) will thank and reward you.
Employ effective internal linking as well. Make sure that all of the v-necks are under the v-neck category, and all of the hoodies are under the hoodie category. This streamlines the entire operations of the site and will let Google index it more optimally.
- Ensure that your site loads fast
Even though you’re rocking that 50mbps connection, many people around the world are not. Google, in its widespread inclusivity, factors your site loading speed into account when deciding to award you higher search rankings. There’s a lot of websites that provides free content about how to create your own website and also provide advanced tutorials on how to optimize your own website.
Streamline your site elements accordingly. Minimize the instances of images on your site—let them be clickable if your users wish, but do not impose. Animated flash images are a big no-no, as they load really slow and cannot be accessed by mobile devices. Again, let them be optional. Run extensive tests to see how fast your site loads on a variety of different connections.
A faster site loading speed will enrich your customers’ user experience, letting them browse more and hopefully, be so pleased that they will buy your wares or avail your services.
- Provide a mobile service
Since the original iPhone and iPad were launched, the increasing ubiquity of smartphones and tablets meant that the amount of people using the Internet on their mobile devices has similarly increased. A whopping 31 percent of mobile users primarily use those devices to go online, forsaking the desktop entirely. Plus, 58 percent of mobile users also expect that browsing the Internet on their phones is as fast or even faster than using their PCs.
To facilitate this belief, you must make sure that you have a mobile version of your store as well. Thankfully, modern website design practically guarantees this. However, you may need to add security, so that your customers can shop using their phones with peace of mind.
Getting yourself out there is one of the hardest parts of any online endeavor. It’s easy to get lost in the waves of content that appear on the Web on a daily basis. These are just some of the first steps to making yourself known, so make sure that you apply them well.