Thursday, September 23, 2010

SEO and eCommerce Merchandising

At Ideal Interface we have various clients who have eCommerce websites. Having done SEO work for them, including strategy and implementation consulting, I thought I'd post on some ways you can leverage your online trading site to benefit your company's search engine optimisation efforts.
  1. Give you products the names that people are looking for
    If you want to target search users who are looking for a "red patent shoe", then calling your product "scarlet platform brogue" isn't going to help as much.
  2. Provide decent product descriptions
    The supporting content you provide on the page will help the search engine spiders to understand your page better. Also try to include alternative words to target the long tail of search (Hint: you might want to mention "scarlet platform brogue" here, but again only if people will search for that term)
  3. Ensure your site navigation (and therefore your directory structure) includes keywords and that these are replicated in your page titles and breadcrumbs.
    E.g. footwear > shoes > smart shoes > red patent shoe
  4. Use of on-site search for keyword research
    Take a look at the terms that users type into your on-site search and you'll learn a lot about what they are looking for. Obviously these will be different to the terms that users type into the major search engines (e.g. they don't tend to search too often for your site name in on-site search, rather your brands or products) but they will be terms that real users type in expecting to find things.
    You'll also find out (if your search is clever enough) the terms that bring up no products. (Hint: this could either be highlighting a problem with the way you describe products or be an opportunity in the making).
  5. Optimise your entire site to ensure spidering and indexing by search engines
    As well as making sure every page of your site is coded to standards and that you're taking full advantage of Semantic HTML, you should use tools such as the Google Webmaster services that are freely available. 
  6. Create a dynamic sitemap.xml
    If your product catalogue is constantly changing, then I  recommend the use of a dynamic sitemap.xml file. This is a technical file that sits in the root directory of your site and tells the search engines all the indexable pages your have. A sitemap.xml file should be created each time your website product catalogue is created and will save you effort of manually updating it
Does anyone have any further suggestions?
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