Every organization with an ecommerce presence wants their site to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs). But with all the hubbub around “white hat” (aka: good) SEO techniques versus those infamous “black hat” (aka: bad) techniques and the constant tweaking of Google’s ranking algorithms, what should you focus on to ensure your ecommerce site performs well?
First and foremost, what’s good for your customer is good for your search engine results rankings. Really–it’s that simple. Search engines reward sites that provide a rich and intuitive user experience for visitors and penalize those whose sites are hard to navigate, that don’t share useful and unique content, that make the visitor wait while a page loads or go through lots of clicks to get to the final destination.
Repeat after me: What’s good for my customer is good for my search engine results ranking. Good–now here are four ways you can improve your ecommerce site’s SEO organically and improve your customer experience at the same time.
- Good meta data, including title and description. This is fundamental stuff, but there are still plenty of sites out there with “Login” as the title of their customer login page. Make sure every page on your site has a unique meta title tag that clearly indicates the information that will be found on the page. Likewise, your meta description should be a brief summary of the page contents using relevent keywords as appropriate. (This is so not the place to list every keyword you think is important for the page. This should be what the user will find on your page.) As far as the meta keywords tag goes–Google has said they don’t take them into account, and rumor has it they may work negatively toward your ranking. My suggestion, do not use this field.
- Unique and relevent content. If I could only recommend one SEO tactic to you at the expense of all others, I would insist that you utilize unique and relevent content on all pages of your site. Why? Unique and relevent content is what SEO is all about. Shoot–unique and relevent content is what the Internet is all about. Remember what I said before about how what’s good for your readers is good for your SERPs? Unique and relevent content is what drives your visitors to visit you. Likewise for search engine crawlers. Every page on your site should have different page content AND meta titles/descriptions.
- Speedy page load times. I cannot stress this one enough and it’s one of those SEO requirements that often get overlooked. But it’s common sense. Think about it–remember when the Internet was only available via dial-up connection? Remember how LOOOOONG it took to load each page? Well, the reality is that your visitors’ attention spans are shorter than ever and the longer it takes for your page to load, the more likely your visitor is to click away. This means you need to create your site in such a way as to maximize page load speed, including optimizing all of your site’s images. (To learn more about image optimization, read this article.)
- Quality links to other reputable and relevent sites on the Internet. In terms of the World Wide Web, linking is sort of like a popularity contest. The more sites that link to you, the more popular your site is presumed to be by search engine bots. The more popular you are, the better the chance you will rank highly in SERPs. But just like in highschool, it’s not about having the most friends, but having the right friends and back links to your site are no different. You want any sites that links to yours to be reliable and relevent to your business. They should be credible and, hopefully, even more popular than you to drive up your popularity score by association. If they are questionable, shady, or you have to buy their link (i.e., buy their friendship) you’re better off without them at all!