If shoppers never find your ecommerce site, the best web design, customer support, and products will be useless in helping you make sales. That's why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial art that online retailers need to master. However, it is an art, not a science, because search engine companies, like Google and Bing, hate to reveal the secret algorithms that judge the worthiness of a page. Therefore, you have to be willing to experiment, to listen to experts, and to keep changing it up as the algorithms change.
According to SEO guru Mark Jackson, a tech company CEO writing for SearchEngineWatch, website owners should be aware of ten different kinds of page content. He emphasizes that content is king, and that the highest quality content consists of paragraphs and images that real human beings would actually find useful. Search engines are becoming increasingly savvy in detecting and blacklisting "content" such as keyword-filled and computer generated "fake" text, or pages of links without any context. Here are the categories of content Jackson highlights as genuinely useful.
Blog posts give retailers a chance to answer customer questions before they ask them. Offer product knowledge, solutions to problems, and context-sensible keyword links that will lead people looking for information to your site. Company information on Facebook lets you interact with your readers using a voice tailored to your business. However, do not rely only on advertising copy and self promotion. Twitter is another avenue a company can use to have conversations with customers, so make your content helpful here. Finally, use blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to keep customers engaged across multiple channels.
Images are another way to draw web shoppers and search engines. Make sure you are using tags correctly on your images so that search engines can categorize them. Put your video content on YouTube, and make sure the adjacent text is descriptive and relevant. Link back to your site from YouTube as well.
Do not neglect other text-based content, including press releases and news articles. These should reflect important announcements such as a new product launch or signing a big client. Make sure you have a section on your own site for press releases, and distribute them through PR channels. You can also generate valuable content on your site through a Frequently Asked Questions list. It is better for inquiring shoppers to find answers on a retailer's site rather than somewhere else on the Web.
Finally, user generated content, especially product reviews, can be invaluable in putting useful text on otherwise bare pages. Make shopper comments and contributions a part of your content strategy, especially if you are having a hard time creating your own content. As Jackson says, "As much as things have changed in SEO, especially over the past two years, some things remain a constant. Content in all of its forms is what will drive you to success."
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