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Six tips to help improve the SEO of your E-commerce site

As a marketer, one of your goals is to increase sales by bringing in more revenue. You want site traffic that is high in quantity, but also in quality – you need it to convert.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is just one of many tools in your tool kit. Think about how often you click on the second or third page of search results on Google, Bing or Yahoo! Not very often. If you don’t appear on the first page, you really need to improve SEO. SLI Systems has pulled together six top tips to help marketers get their SEO right:

  1. Determine which webpages generate the most traffic and focus efforts there

By focusing your initial SEO efforts on the stronger pages with the most potential, you can more easily drive up revenue with fewer tweaks. Plus, when you focus on a smaller section of your site, it makes it easier to monitor the progress. You can compare the ranking of those pages before and after your changes to see what’s most effective.

Since improving SEO takes time and careful attention, you want to make sure the improvements you’ve made are successful before moving on. Traffic and revenue gains from the first round of changes will then justify further changes to other areas of the site.

Remember, you don’t have to be perfect with SEO – there’s no score, just a ranking. You only need to be better than your competition, and you win!

  1. Create user-friendly pages for different topics

A well-ranked webpage must have quality content that is focused on one particular topic, with a headline and a URL that reflects the topic. Content needs to be in concise, plain language – containing just enough detail to be understandable but not repetitive.

Also, it’s important to make the URL user-friendly. Here are some basic principles:

  • Minimise length to fewer than 100 characters
  • Use real words, not numbers or special characters
  • Remove articles like “the,” “and” and “an”
  • Use hyphens to separate words
  • Be consistent in your use of lowercase or uppercase words in your URLs. Whichever you choose, follow the same style for all.
  1. Increase positive signals and reduce negative signals

Once your analytics, Webmaster Tools, site pages and URLs are properly set up (you can access more information on these tools here), it’s time to monitor, tweak and repeat on a regular basis. Your Webmaster Tools will become your best friend, as they offer insight into how you can increase the positive signals and reduce the negative signals that will affect your site’s SEO. Positive signals to watch and improve include:

  • Mobile friendliness – The degree to which your site is mobile friendly will affect your SEO. As of April 2015, mobile friendliness is a significant ranking factor for Google and Bing.
  • Keyword rankings – When your site contains relevant, quality content related to search phrases frequently used by visitors of Internet search engines, then these are positive signals for your SEO. Avoid the temptation to pack more of those high ranking keywords into every page of your site – this could backfire and send out negative signals. Instead, use the keyword data to guide your content development and focus.
  • Links from other sites to yours – The links you naturally earn from sites with high domain authority equate to positive signals that increase your rankings. So create standout blogs and provide valuable industry news through social media and PR efforts. When you deliver information that others want to share, you truly earn links that boost your overall SEO efforts.
  1. Use third-party tools to further improve

There are hundreds of third-party tools available to further improve your SEO. When you want to take your SEO further than Steps 1-3, take a look at a few of these resources to see what might work well for you. Also, don’t forget to look at what third-party tools your direct competitors are using – if they’re more successful than your site in SEO, it’s a good idea to know what they’re doing to get there.

Here are a few popular third-party SEO tools:

  • Moz, SEM Rush, Search Metrics – Several inexpensive, powerful tools that track your ranking of keywords over periods of time include Moz, SEM Rush and Search Metrics. These tools can also show you when a competitor started a campaign that targets your keywords.
  • SpyFu – For between $79 and $1,000 per month, SpyFu shows you your competitors’ most profitable keywords and ads. This offers insight into their success so you can build a strategy to beat them at it!
  • Screaming Frog – This low-cost tool crawls your site and provides an onsite SEO audit so you know where to improve SEO elements like URL, page title, meta description or duplicate page issues. Screaming Frog can also reveal issues with your site navigation and discoverability of content.
  • Google Instant Search – For an incredibly simple, free tool for keyword discovery, start typing a keyword into a Google search box to see which suggested, common search phrases pop up first. As an example, when you type “pants for,” you’re shown different suggestions than when you type “jeans for.” Discover common search phrases by typing keywords into Google’s search box.
  • Ubersuggest – Another easy-to-use tool for keyword generation, Ubersuggest.org is a free resource where you can plug in keywords, choose a language and source, and receive further keyword suggestions.
  1. Consider the power of user-generated content

User-generated content in the form of ratings and reviews can deliver powerful SEO benefits to your e-commerce site. Many e-commerce platforms, including Magento, now have built-in ratings and reviews. If you haven’t incorporated ratings and reviews into your e-commerce site, here’s why you should:

  • Rankings for unique terms used in reviews – The language used by reviewers can help products rank for terms they may not have ranked for without the review information.
  • Social proof – Favourable reviews and ratings act as social proof. Studies show that products are purchased more often when there is proof that other consumers liked those products as well.

Keep in mind that ratings and reviews only help your page rankings if they are part of the pages themselves. They must be visible as part of initial page loads, without use of iframes and without hiding the information behind tabbed or accordion-type controls. We recommend showing ratings and review information only after several reviews have been collected. Otherwise a low review count might negatively impact the perception of desirability for the products on your site.

  1. Consider user-generated SEO to boost quality traffic

User-generated SEO is a process of automatically producing user-generated category pages. These pages are created for search phrases with known high levels of interaction, as determined by the activities of site visitors. These auto-generated category pages are crawled and indexed, which allows them to rank well for search phrases that you may want to target specifically.

User-generated SEO allows you to capture a high ranking positon for the “long tail” of searches without endless manual setup of landing pages. The result is more traffic and higher revenue. For more information on taking advantage of user generated SEO, read SLI’s new whitepaper here.

Mark Brixton 1About the Author:

Written by Mark Brixton, Vice President, SLI Systems Australia.

SLI Systems (SLI.NZ) enables the world’s leading e-commerce retailers to accelerate sales by connecting shoppers with the products they’re most likely to buy. With offerings that include site search, navigation, merchandising, mobile, product recommendations and user-generated SEO, SLI is the most chosen cloud-based site search provider to U.S. Internet Retailer Top 1,000 retailers. The company’s patented technology continuously learns from the actions of visitors to deliver the most relevant results possible. Whether via PC, tablet or phone, a site powered by SLI delivers the kind of satisfying search experience that increases conversion rates, secures brand loyalty and results in higher order values. SLI operates on five continents. For more information, visit http://www.sli-systems.com.

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