The journey continues as our film web site has launched its e-commerce web site for the film and with the configuration still a work in progress, we are starting to turn our focus to getting the site found. Specifically, the task of getting your e-commerce site found is similar in many ways as traditional web site SEO but in other aspects completely different.
During our implementation of an e-commerce site, we evaluated many different types of shopping carts, self-managed and installed, WordPress plugins and out-of-the-box hosted solutions. Initially we went with a WordPress plugin because it was cheaper and we thought it would suit our basic needs. But that had technical issues and we decided to re-evaluate our needs. We ultimately chose the Network Solutions e-commerce package and we found it to be mature and extremely sophisticated yet easy to use for even the most basic of shopping carts. Now I am not here to pitch this solution, but I will say is you get what you pay for in many cases and if you are not a developer or have a development team I would stick with the mature hosted solutions that can probably do the job 99% of the time.
Once we got past the setup, which I will talk about that experience in a separate post, we had to start looking at the external factors of tuning the site for people to find the products and optimize it for search engines. Through this experience, I wanted to give a short list of powerful SEO tips for your e-commerce web site:
- Make sure your e-commerce package integrates with analytics tools – at the very basic level you should be able to hook up your e-commerce system to Google Analytics to track campaigns, traffic and all the other basics. If you use specific analytics packages, you will have to evaluate that to see if it fits your needs.
- Prioritize the best and active sellers on the home page – If you had a physical storefront, you would hide the hot stuff in the back of the store. It would be in the front window to draw people in.
- Create landing pages that have your product name in the URL – Having the product name in a specific URL makes search engines really happy instead of come older systems that have it as a mix of numbers and characters that have no meaning to a search engine. You can also run campaigns to that specific page and track them better with the analytic tools we mentioned earlier.
- Leverage Social Commerce Techniques – This is a fairly new concept, one that I am speaking about at Social Commerce Camp DC, and it revolves around employing collaborative social media tools to assist in online purchasing and selling. Social commerce can be correlated with Search Engine Optimization as a way to build inbound links and generate user content, all of which are tools to improve a website’s search results on a given search engine such as Google.
- Add related links – Got this from SearchEngineLand “SEO is really about leveraging large amounts of pages efficiently, and using that scale to advantage. Related linking accomplishes that very well, but can be an intensive feature to implement and manage (there are several third-party resources for this, including TextWise, SLI Systems, and others)”
- Complete this e-Commerce checklist – This e-Commerce SEO Checklist has great tweaks for on-site, on-page and off-page SEO basics for the e-commerce site. We are currently going through each one in the next two weeks.
- Avoid using “View” or “More” words as anchor text - This is most common mistake committed by most of the e-commerce websites. Many people put a brief description on the product category page about various products and use “View”, “more”, “click here to read more”, etc., beneath every brief description to direct the users to the product pages.
- Find and kill duplicate URLs – This is similar to having duplicate blog content or any other type of content page out there. It results in page dilution and page rank split. SearchEngineLand says “ecommerce sites are especially bad at having multiple versions of product pages. Normally we can find these with site: and inurl: search operators. Pay careful attention to the product level URLs, as this is usually the area duplicate content creeps in (through faceting and sorting of URLs, or through tracking or cookie information appended in the query string). It’s also an area that can cause major negative impact on search rankings. Each product page should have one single, authoritative URL.“
Some other great resources we leveraged for SEO help in our quest to tune the e-commerce site:Google+