It seems everybody is talking about SEO today, and it’s even more important if you have an ecommerce website in a competitive market.

According to eMarketer April 2013, online retail sales will grow from $225.5 billion in 2012 to a staggering $434.2 billion in 2017!  That is amazing growth and amazing opportunity- if you’re smart.  These figures demonstrate the importance for ecommerce websites to employ effective search engine optimization.

Regardless of your shopping cart platform, there are several simple things you can do to effectively optimize nearly any ecommerce website for SEO:

1. Choose the Right Keywords

Selecting the right keywords for search engine optimization is absolutely essential. When optimizing an ecommerce website, it’s important to remember to optimize across the entire buying or thought cycle.  And as the examples below demonstrate, it’s also important to optimize for long tail keywords – keyword phrases that contain 3-6 words.

For example, someone looking for a new elliptical may search for the following:

  • Top elliptical ratings
  • Best elliptical under $1000
  • Horizon Fitness EX59 Elliptical
  • Horizon Fitness EX59 Elliptical ratings
  • Customer reviews Horizon Fitness EX59 Elliptical

Here’s an example of the search history for a parent wanting to purchase a new puppy for a child:

  • The best dogs for kids
  • Are beagles good with toddlers?
  • How to care for beagles
  • How much should I pay for a beagle puppy?
  • Beagle breeders in Atlanta

Users today will typically perform multiple searches on multiple devices across different user sessions before making a purchase. This means that it’s important for your site to be found as many times as possible during this process. This creates a sense of credibility and brand awareness – even before the sale.

2. Write Unique, Keyword Rich Page Titles

The Title tag is probably the most important piece of information on your web page.  The Title is what is displayed at the top of browser tab, but more importantly it’s the clickable text in search engine results.  Google typically displays 70 characters of the Title tag, so it’s important that users see the relevant keywords first, but do not spam up your Titles with an incoherent list of keywords.When optimizing an ecommerce website, be sure to include the product name (and possibly the manufacturer SKU) in the Title.  Many potential customers will search by the product number rather than the name to ensure they find the exact product they are looking for.  Here are a couple samples:

Category Page:

Makita Power Saws – Power Tools by Makita | Home Improvement Depot
or
Home Improvement Depot | Makita Power Tools & Power Saws

Product Page:

Makita 7-1/4 in. Magnesium Circular Saw (Model # 5007MG) | Home Depot
or
Home Depot | Makita 7-1/4 in. Magnesium Circular Saw (Model # 5007MG)

Finally, if your shopping cart software has this feature, be sure to write a keyword rich product description for your Description meta tag. This should be one sentence.  Be sure to include the name of the product, the manufacturer, and the model number in a single sentence with a clear value proposition.

3. Beef Up Product Descriptions

Too many times on ecommerce websites, vendors will display the exact same product description that comes from the manufacturer. This information is often provided to the company in an Excel file or other format that is imported into the shopping cart as is.  If you want your ecommerce website to rank well in search engines, however, you need to take the time to beef up your product descriptions – using related keywords.  You should write a longer, unique product description for every major product on your site.  You can also add product specifications, reviews, features and “more info” areas to create additional content for your product.  But be sure this is unique content. Don’t simply copy/paste the same paragraph and change the product name.

4. Optimize Product Categories

This is related to your keyword research above. When doing SEO on an ecommerce website, don’t forget to optimize your categories and sub-categories.  In fact, often your keyword research can help determine how to organize your products in the first place and what categories to use.Most shopping cart platforms will have a text field for the category description that is displayed above the product list on the category pages.  Use this field to write a 2-300 word optimized description of the category. It’s true that today Google is looking for longer, authority pages, but you have to balance what Google wants as far as page size with the usability of your website. You don’t want your content to push your product list down the page below the fold.  If possible, you might see if your shopping cart software has a second field that can be displayed below your product list.  This can be very useful and enable you to wrap your products in a few paragraphs of optimized content.  Be sure to include an H2 tag in the second field with a keyword optimized sub-header.

5. Optimize Images

Many times users will use Google’s image search when looking for a specific product.  It’s possible to click from the image results to the website, so it’s important to name each of your images with the product name, manufacturer and possibly the SKU.  For example, a picture of a Sony digital camera may be:

sony-cyber-shot-digital-camera-dscrx100.jpg

Also, when possible, be sure to include multiple, optimized images for every product.

6. Add Social Sharing Buttons

Today social sharing buttons are vital for SEO, and it’s good for business.  Booz & Co. found that sales of physical goods through online social networks will grow by 93% per year in the U.S., reaching $14 billion by 2015! Additionally, the same study found that 27% of shoppers were willing to buy through social media.  And to top it off, Google now includes social sharing as part of its ranking algorithm, so it’s not something you want to neglect.And be sure to position these buttons on the page so that it’s easy to relate the icons to the product and not the site in general.  People are more apt to share a new product they are purchasing or want to get advice about rather than your website in general.  Additionally, make sure the sharing icons do not obstruct the user’s path to purchase.  Make sure to keep a clear, simply purchasing path.

7. Create a Blog for Product Reviews and “How To’s”

Creating a blog to optimize your shopping cart is a great idea.  A simple blog will enable you to write keyword-focused product reviews, customer testimonials, integrate how-to videos, tutorials or product comparisons.  There’s only so much content you can incorporate into a product details page on a shopping cart, so using a simple WordPress blog can supplement your shopping cart SEO.

Can We Help You?

If you need helping optimizing your shopping cart website for SEO, feel free to talk to one of our Atlanta SEO consultants today. We’ve love to chat with you about your website and search engine optimization needs.