Keen to begin optimising your online store to get better results from search engines?
Here I outline some basic areas and research papers you may want to consider when optimising your website as well as those which professionals are likely to undertake.
One key factor to take note of is that while a large part of the SEO can be carried out as an initial project, a fair bit of the work will be ongoing.
For SEO to work well it needs to be viewed as an ongoing process of continual improvement and refinement, in line with monitoring changes with the search engine indexing and your competitive environment as well as your online store itself.
But the investment you put into SEO is worth the effort. If you manage to push your key products up the search engines to be listed on the first page of results near the top. This can be worth thousands if not more to your company.
Stage 1 – Investigation
Any company that offers SEO as a service should offer an initial investigation process which covers a set of tasks such as:
- Business Scoping
- Website Audit
- Keyword/ Phrase Research
- Competitor Analysis
- Trend Analysis
Stage 2 – Architecture and On Page Alterations
One of the first areas you want to look at is your site architecture. You don’t want to go optimising your stores product pages with inbound links and then have the products page address change. There are ways to avoid losing your links with redirects but it can be complicated so it is better to just get it right from the start.
If your store has been online for some time then tread with caution when it comes to altering your architecture. There have been many examples of where inexperienced web companies dabbling in SEO make changes to a well performing site and then have it drop down in rankings and not return to its previous rankings for some time. When selecting your provider ensure that they specialise in SEO and they have solid case studies to back them up.
There are ways to prevent the loss of URLs with redirects in many cases.
One basic addition to your site is a site map. A site map ensures search engines can find your pages easily and index them. If you use Magento it already creates one for you which is nice and simple!
Theme and Design
This can be an issue for some. Loading time, linking and images can all have an effect on your SEO and need to be taken into consideration during the design process..
It is important that the theme is also optimised for load time as this will have an effect on your rankings. The faster your site can load the better. You can use online tools to check the speed of your site.
Any good web company should invest time into the following areas:
- Technical Alterations
- Analytics Set Up
- Article and Product Formatting
- On page SEO
Your on page SEO should ideally be carried out when the products or articles are initially entered. This will save you time and hassle later on as it is a page by page process.
You want to ensure your content and product pages utilise the basics for SEO when it comes to copy. Make sure your most important keywords for that article or product are in the title. You generally also want the most important text close to the top of the page. To bring emphasis to phrases within your articles you can use the various header tags using the largest header tags for the most important phrases. CSS can be used so that the header tags do not mess up your pages with headings in the middle of paragraphs.
Search engines love both unique and new content. Try to update your articles on a regular basis as this will help your site rank higher and also give you a chance to be news worthy and publish content around the hot topics of the current time. Unique content is always better than copied or republished content when it comes to the search engine point of view.
Longtail Key Phrases
If you have a basic understanding in this area you will know that you should be targeting long tail key words more than short. Not only is the competition for the shorter phrases high but the searcher has often not drilled down or carried out the research and come to specific products they are researching. The long tail keywords will present the highest chances of conversions and the most value to you in the majority of cases.
There are a number of tools and techniques you can use to workout ideal phrases which we will cover in future articles.
You must be careful not to over optimise your pages by adding your key phrases over and over. The search engines will often spot this and it will not help your page rankings.
Your key phrases should be placed in the first and top most part of your copy and also in the titles where possible.
Images & Flash
If you want to have your images indexed by search engines use ‘alt image’ tags to give an image alternative text. Also give the file name an appropriate and relevant name.
If you really want a well optimised site then it is best to avoid flash altogether. Flash can be a tough one as it inhibits the ability of search engines to index anything within the flash files. If you are going to use it do so sparingly.
Stage 3 – Off Page
Link Building and Social Mentions Strategy
Once you have optimised your content your off page strategies become more important in keeping your results moving forward. The sooner you can begin your off page strategies the better as it takes time in both obtaining valuable links and anchor text as well as time for it to take effect in search engines.
In short, Google rates websites higher the more popular they are. The more websites which link to you the better when it comes to your rankings. Websites that are high authority or importance in Google’s eyes provide much more valuable links than say pages or websites that contain very few in bound links or importance from the search engine point of view.
You will also want to gain both links to your site in general such as to the homepage and also deep links to specific pages, sections or landing pages.
Some basic areas your SEO professional may consider utilising include:
- Social Media
- Upstream / Downstream Suppliers
- Content Provision
Where to Gain Links From
There is a plethora of ways to obtain links. We will mention some of the more straight forward techniques.
Both upstream and downstream business’s you are associated with is always a good place to start.
Not only does the authority of the websites linking to you matter, but also the relevance of the content. If the page or website websites which link to you lacks any kind of relevance to the content on your site then the link will be of less benefit than if it did contain related content.
This is also where anchor text comes in to play. When a site links to yours, you also want to try and obtain links that have anchor text which represent a key phrase on a specific page or one of the key phrases for your site in general.
Depending on the industry you are in some will suit you better and there may even be some unique opportunities that present themselves because of your position.
Some other areas to gain links from may include:
- A simple links page of related services in your industry – swap links with others
- Contact related site and offer copy or editorial services
- Forums and online discussion points
- Provide other companies testimonials and references
This is really just the beginning of possible link building strategies. There are many more you can implement. Just how you go about it and the various options we will discuss in future. There are also best practice ways to both approach people and implement these strategies.
Push for Social Mentions
While there is a lot of debate in this area there is much evidence out there that suggests that social media and your mentions on the various media such as Twitter, Facebook and Digg for example, all contribute to SEO results. While the ‘no follow’ rule did once limit if a link contributed or not to search engine rankings, it has now become a grey area with much evidence pointing to social mentions contributing.
Facebook, Twitter and social book marking are a good and relatively easy place to begin. As you become more experienced you can then look at heading down the route of video, forums and other more advanced areas.
What not to do!
Don’t spam your links. All too often websites set up bots or send out a staff member to post comments and forum posts on other sites in a very obvious and spam like manner. Whatever you do, avoid this at all costs. Your posts and comments should always be contributing something constructive.
When it comes to linking to other sites don’t link to spammer or sites that may have a bad reputation as this could impact on your own rankings in search engines.
For those using Magento you will be happy to know that is it is a relatively search engine friendly system. One of the many advantages of using this rock solid platform is that it is reasonably well setup for SEO out of the box with the latest version.
Magento features powerful SEO control in the admin area of the site, URL rewrites, meta information for your products, a site map that auto generates along with generation of popular search terms.
We will look at each area in more depth and address more advanced techniques in future articles.
The main factor with SEO is not to give up. Results can take time to be noticeable and it can take months for your hard work to start producing results.
Keep track of your efforts so you don’t forget where what you have done and where you have been. Try implement something small every week rather than trying to do it all at once. And remember that the above is an ongoing and cyclical process where your SEO strategy needs to constantly evolve. If you want to achieve great results then hire experienced professionals to implement a sound strategy for your search engine optimisation.
Author bio: Carol James, writer and editor EssayLab
I’m an academic writer at EssayLab is a great service that provides write proficient school essay help for people of all school star. Our objective is to simpleness your high school studies and gives everyone a possibility to flourishing without having excess strain.