There's a common question we hear from customers - "I have a great store with great products, but I'm not selling much through it. How do I improve my storefront sales?"
An Intro to e-Commerce Search Engine Optimization
SureDone Storefronts are great for e-commerce search engine optimization. We have taken a lot of care to incorporate plenty of modern SEO features into them. Page titles, meta descriptions, canonicals, schema markup for items, footer links, Google shopping feeds, sitemaps and more. And if you're using one of our templates, you can be assured it's mobile optimized and "responsive". You can Google each one of these to see their importance. I've included some links below.
But there's more to e-commerce search engine optimization (SEO). The items I've described above are what are called "on-page optimization" in the world of SEO. They are hints and triggers for Google to better understand what your page is all about when it's indexed and included in their vast database of the world's content. Things like page H1 tags on a page tell google, "This section of the page is about XYZ." And footer links help Google figure out which are the most important pages on your website. Make sure you take advantage of all of these features in SureDone. Not all of them are automatic (like filling out meta descriptions on each page). And having lots of relevant words on each page - especially your home page - is a great thing to do.
On-page optimization is great, but as we said above - there's more to e-commerce search engine optimization than just the elements on a page.
What is the importance of ranking on Google?
Studies have shown that the top five results for a Google search get 68% of the clicks. That's huge! And the more competitive a phrase is (think "credit cards" or "auto insurance price quotes"), the more people click on these first five links and the more opportunity there is for massive increases in the businesses that appear there. Conversely, links on pages 2 and 3 get 5.59% of the clicks combined! That's not very helpful when you're trying to grow a business.
Today, your website might appear for 500 different search terms. Some of them might be short phrases (also called short tail keywords) like "car bumper" or "gold rings". Some of them might be longer phrases (also called long tail keywords) like "exhaust for a 1998 porsche 993" or "best t-shirts to give to your wife on valentine's day". You might appear on page 3 or 4, or 10, of the Google Search Engine Result Pages (also called SERPs).
One of the goals of e-commerce SEO is to increase the number of search terms (both short tail and long tail) that can be used to find you. Another goal is to move where you're found in the SERPs from page 10 to page 1. And while it's great to be ranked high for short tail phrases since they are less specific, it's easier to get ranked high for long tail phrases.
The more phrases people can find you for, the more traffic will be pushed to your website. If you rank for 500 search terms, and one person clicks on each of those terms, you'll have 500 people visiting your site. If you rank for 5,000 search terms, and one person clicks on each of those terms, you'll have 5,000 people visiting your site. And the closer to the top of the first page of Google you get for those terms, the more people are likely to click on on the link to your site. So now you have three, four or five people clicking on those 5,000 links, driving tens of thousands of visitors to your site.
And, as we said above, it's easier to get ranked at the top of page one for long tail phrases. You'll find that people spend a huge amount of money to rank for short tail phrases. When we say huge, we mean it. Some of the most competitive short tail phrases will require companies to spend upwards of $100,000 per month to rank in the top five for. Long tail phrases, on the other hand, don't take a lot of effort or money.
So how do I Rank my E-Commerce Website on Google?
This is a great question, and because Google is constantly changing their algorithms, how you can rank changes on a frequent basis. There are all sorts of ways to get incremental gains in rankings and traffic, but we'll focus on the big two because they are the most effective for websites that don't rank today. There's a great quote from an SEO consultant - "The days of SEO being a game where you outsmart algorithms is over. Today content strategy and valuable, sustainable strategies are essential - not just tricks and links.” This is ridiculously important, as Google has implemented all sorts of their own strategies to figure out when someone is trying to trick them - and your site could actually be removed from Google if you are found to be employing them.
The first approach is what's called "Content Marketing".
Content marketing is literally what it sounds like. It means creating great relevant content on your website. The word "relevant" is very, well, relevant here. Google doesn't like it when you post irrelevant information on your website, so putting an article on the the history of the Superbowl on a website about clothing wouldn't make much sense. Google could actually lower your rankings for articles like that. However, an article on the evolution of Superbowl uniforms, or on the ten coolest team football jersey's, would be appropriate on a clothing website. Especially if you sold team branded clothing.
But what is "content"? In its simplest form (and least expensive to create), it can be articles and blog entries about a subject. Google loves these, Especially when they contain links to other sources of authority (e.g. links you used to do your research), pictures and other multimedia items. Google likes to know you've done your research, and they have algorithms to verify this. You can't just make stuff up, and it can't be what's called "thin" content - content that doesn't really inform the user or leave them with anything more than they already knew.
But there are other forms of content. Here are some of the most popular: Infographics, Videos, Lists (think top 10 ways for...), curative posts (here are ten resources for...), guides, surveys, interviews, giveaways, awards, contests (best pictures, best videos, etc.), widgets (embed our "Time until the Superbowl countdown clock" on your website), and news articles.
The Elements of an Article
We'll talk about the "marketing" component of content marketing in a moment, but first let me talk about the important elements of blog entries and articles:
- You should pick a primary topic as opposed to dancing around several related topics.
- It's a bit old school, but you should pick a few different phrases that you would like the article to rank for, and repeat this 5-10 times throughout the article. For example, this article is about how to rank your e-Commerce website, and we'd love for people to be able to search for "how to rank my e-commerce website" and find this.
- It should be at least 750 words in length.
- It should include pictures to illustrate your message.
- It should include links to other websites that are relevant to the topic you are discussing - preferably not wikipedia links but rather links to journals, respected blogs and other genuine non-spammy websites.
- It should be relevant to your website in some way.
- You should break it into multiple sections and use headlines to explain what each section is about (for those of you that know HTML, we recommend the use of H2 or H3 tags for headlines - you should only have a single H1 tag on a page).
How Much Content do I Need?
- Companies that published 401+ total posts on their site generated 3x more traffic and 3x more leads as companies that published 0-100 total posts.
- Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month generated 3.5x more traffic than those that published 3-4 posts per month and 4.5x more leads.
What About the "Marketing" in "Content Marketing"?
- Including a variety of social share buttons on your article for viewers to share it with their own audiences
- Local and National News (hard to get publicity, but it's free!)
- E-Mail blasts (use products like MailChimp to push out your message daily, weekly, monthly to subscribers)
- Social Media (consider using a product like HootSuite to pre-schedule pushing your new content to all of your social media)
- Press Releases (sites like PRNewsWire and PRWeb can push your press releases out to hundreds of sites for a fee)
- Pay Per Click (PPC)/Social Ads (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, etc. - this strategy can work great but you need to balance the cost vs. profits)
- Link Building (We'll discuss this below)