E-Commerce currently drives the web (crazy) and thus optimising these sites is one of the biggest businesses. From small mom & pop sites to major multinationals, selling is big business and capturing that free, organic traffic is one part of the overall business strategy.
When I first started optimising e-commerce sites, you made a change and saw the difference almost instantly in the search results. The URL was key along with the title tag in order to drive traffic to your e-commerce site. AhÖ those were the days. I miss them sometimesÖ
These days, we have shopping comparison sites, cluttered SERPs and people driven online for shopping by both desire and offline advertising. Getting to the top and staying top is only part of the recipe but how do you do it?
When I joined the business I used to work for, they specialised in importing items from the US and Canada to sell to the UK market. They were purely online and back when they started in 1996, they were one of the first in their niche online. We worked on optimising for specifically UK terms and designed everything around UK purchasers. These were, after all, imported goods available in the US and as such, no market was perceived in that area of the world.
That was a completely incorrect assumption. Within six months of launching, they were selling a steady stream of articles back in to the US and Canada. Within a year, the US had become a major market for their goods. Copywriting, tags and descriptions were hastily being rewritten in order to optimise for both markets at the same time.
More recently, I found myself on three separate occasions needing to source something non-locally and fiding it difficult because the sites were highly optimised for local only traffic. While this was a mistake being made in 1996, Iím surprised to see it still being made in 2007.
Target your ecommerce site for more than local traffic. Jewellery is something where US searchers and UK searchers will almost never find the same results. Far beyond the targeting Google already does, spelling will also factor in. Jewelry, whether sterling silver or gold, is one of the more competitive areas Iíve had to optimise for. See there with the two different spellings?
Optimise, optimise, optimise. And you know I donít mean be spammy. I talk at conferences about easy things you can do to improve your site rankings Ė simple things like keyword research, good title tags, image alt tags, header use, internal and external linking with anchor text, site architecture and more. Catch me at a conference (with an offering of chocolate) and youíll have as much of my time as you need *smiles*
Donít cannibalise your keywords. I know you may specialise in horse jewellery* and your charms may be the most sought-after in the world but if Iím looking for that Godzilla charm I saw on your site, itís almost impossible for me to find it when every page has the same title and description.
Donít put your shop name first. Yes, I know you are Janeís Specialist Sexy Shoe and Slinky Salamander Shop* as I see your logo and name in the top right corner of every page. Put that at the start of every title tag and I canít see whatís on that page.
Run a list. OK, this isnít strictly SEO but Iím an online marketing gal and this is a big bugbear of mine. Iím lazy and Iíll spend more money with you if you tell me what you have, why I want it and make it easy for me to buy it. Start a list, make it double opt-in and keep it clean. Donít spam me Ė make it interesting.
Blog. Rule the SERPs by having relevant content and sell more by helping people. You know Iím going to buy that bread maker after Iíve read your review, downloaded your recipes and gotten my mouth watering with your descriptions of how yummy it could be.
The SEO-Chicks have a wealth of information about this topic Ė read the blog posts here and read them again. Copy them out by hand to help you remember them. Set them to music. Do whatever you have to but donít be a spammer and donít ignore it unless you like languishing.
*Names changed to protect the