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Optimizing Search Results for Ecommerce

Sep 1, 2011

For many ecommerce merchants, customer traffic arrives primarily through search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Putting a business' name and link in front of online shoppers is a crucial component to a successful business. Moreover, experts say that a two pronged approach is key. First, ecommerce retailers need to get their link at the top of search rankings, and the link text has to be so compelling that shoppers will click on the link when they see it.

Focus On Keywords
With the newest algorithms employed by search engines, a desired keyword will only drive search results if there is true, relevant content about that keyword on the webpage. According to Ryan Woolley of Search Engine Watch, the game has changed. "The world of organic search has evolved dramatically over the past ten years, as has the search engines results page itself," he writes. "Without relevance, you're dead in the water. Forget about ranking for a keyword that doesn't appear on your site. It's that simple." Woolley points to different kinds of keywords that create different kinds of results. "Head" terms drive volume and brand exposure, but do not necessarily bring shoppers to the site who will click a "Buy" button. "Tail" terms may not generate lots of traffic, but each shopper they bring in is more likely to make a purchase.

Ecommerce merchants need to stop overemphasizing head terms, Woolley writes, and focus on tail terms that actually result in sales. He suggests diving deeper into traffic reports and search results pages to find the tail terms that an ecommerce merchant needs. "Many ranking reports only capture a sample of the total number of keywords you rank for in the first place," Woolley explains. "Businesses are often sitting on thousands of valuable keywords ranking on pages three, four, or five, that they aren't even aware of or focusing on, because they don't appear on a rankings report."

James Agate of SEO Moz has some tips for using Google Analytics to pick out the keywords that are generating the most revenue, rather than the highest traffic. "Log in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the keywords option located under the traffic sources tab. Select ecommerce from the tab options inside the keyword report, and then sort by revenue," he writes. "You should now have an ordered list of your highest revenue keywords. Spend some time investigating their 'true' performance."

Controlling The Results Page
So great, maybe you rank on the first page, but will a shopper click on your link? Not unless the page result promises what the shopper seeks.

According to Kabir Bedi of PromotionWorld.com, the correct URL makes a huge difference. "For an ecommerce website to perform extremely well on search engines, the best way is to structure URLs thoughtfully," he says. "An idea is to put the high-ranking or content keywords in the URL of the website pages, to improve the ranking of the website. It is not essential to fit the exact keywords, as relativity building is yet another important technique."

Zack Yidrim of My Toy Wonders sells remote control helicopters online, and he recently launched a new website just for these products. "We have a new website called wholesale-rc-helicopters.com," he says. He picked the URL to maximize his search results for his sought out terms. "That's our new website that we launched about ten or 15 days ago, and it's for wholesale trade only," Yidrim says. "Better search results were the main strategy, to be more easily found on the Internet. If you click on our product, you see our products. If you click on our parts page, you see the parts. These are all optimized." Yidrim went to a pro for help with his optimization. "We hired a very good web developer and we bought several optimization URL clouds. We published the new site just a couple of weeks ago, and now we are ranking number 40 or 41 on Google. Our images are ranking in the top ten," he notes.

Jake Goldblum of Search Engine Land suggests that these techniques do not require outside help. "There are five major parts of SEO that you can move in-house, and save your company between $20,000 to $120,000 dollars a year," he writes. Those include using just one H1 tag per page, and putting relevant keywords in it. He also suggests building valid, valuable links to sites elsewhere on the Net, but not to link farms and spam sites, which can lower rankings. It can take time and effort to forge meaningful links with bloggers and others, Goldblum says, but these are the most valuable links.

What Not To Do
Whether a retailer is optimizing for good search results by hand or through a consultant, there are pitfalls to look out for. Matt McGee of Search Engine Land has identified 20 "Fatal Mistakes," and several relate to search engine optimization. Do not stuff too many keywords into page text, meta tags, and so forth, which can actually hurt a site's ranking. Do not make a site that is hard for Google to crawl, for example, with too much Flash or incorrect robots.txt files. He also suggests against fretting over keyword density, obsessing over PageRank, and checking on how a ranking changes every day.

On Squidoo, a list of don'ts include some basics such as avoiding hidden text and hidden links, making multiple versions of pages (one for bots and one for humans), and creating fake content out of keyword stew. "When humans get to those pages and read, 'Red widgets are real red and widgety, so get your red widget before the red widgets are gone,' they will think you and your business are idiots," says the Squidoo tips.

With the current system of checks that all major search engines are using, a e-tailer's best bet is not to scam, fool, or game the system. Instead, create genuine content about actual merchandise, be honest about product and services, be smart about labeling everything well, and make websites that are valuable to shoppers. They'll be grateful, and the search results will follow.

For more information, contact:
My Toy Wonders
Wholesale RC Helicopters
472 E.4th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel.: 213-628-2000
Email: info@wholesale-rc-helicopters.com
Websites: mytoywonders.com, wholesale-rc-helicopters.com

Topic: Web Tech Tips

Related Articles: search results 

Article ID: 1492

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