Online Retail SEO – 6 Tips for Rankings Success

By Campbell Phillips | 20 Mar 2013

Not every online retail business can afford to invest large amounts into SEO. Instead, ensure staff understand the basics and how their roles contribute.

Whether it’s the untried e-commerce beginner or a veteran practitioner, everyone can benefit from up-to-date SEO pointers – particularly when it comes to online retailers.

It’s not that online retailers don’t do SEO well (some don’t, but I wouldn’t say they’re in the majority). Instead, online retail ventures often have so many moving parts to juggle that it becomes a struggle to find resources enough to service them all. Unfortunately, SEO expertise is often the first thing to lapse in this scenario.

Has your organisation lost its SEO leadership after multiple Panda and Penguin updates? Are you relying on expensive SEO ‘specialists’ that don’t seem capable of speaking english? Most businesses can benefit from improving their in-house  grasp of SEO practices, and that means ensuring all online-dedicated staff have at least a basic understanding.

In order to get you started, Power Retail presents 6 Tips for Online Retail Rankings Success below. These pointers are listed in order of importance, so start with No.1 and work through the list. Remember! This is only the basics and should not be considered an exhaustive, all-in-one SEO guide.

6 Tips for Online Retail Rankings Success

  1. Ensure your pages are optimised to include the correct SEO-relevant features – The anatomy of every page is crucial. That means you need a unique page title, a metadescription, an H1 (header) and URL. Avoid using exactly the same wording in each of these, but at the same time it is important to include relevant keywords, preferably towards the beginning of each.
  2. Register with Google’s Webmaster Tools ASAP! – By gaining access to Webmaster Tools sooner rather than later, you will be able to accurately monitor your site’s SEO performance and become aware of broken links and such almost as soon as they occur.
  3. Examine the way URLs are created – Some e-commerce platforms and CMSs don’t necessarily generate ‘good’ URLs, so it’s worthwhile checking how yours look whenever a new page is created. URLs should explain exactly what a page is about, as well as where it sits within a website, without any unnecessary duplication of keywords. Eg.: http://www.virtualgrocery.com.au/fresh-produce/apples. A common mistake here is to include category page keywords at the product page level – this results in an unnecessary duplication of terms (for example, http://www.virtualgrocery.com.au/fresh-produce/fresh-produce-apples).
  4. Submit a sitemap to Webmaster Tools regularly – It’s always best to be proactive when it comes to your rankings success. Don’t wait for Google to detect a problem after you’ve already accumulated dozens on your site. Instead, submit your XML sitemap into Webmaster Tools whenever you make a significant change to the structure of your website.
  5. Optimise product descriptions – Just like the anatomy of the page itself, the information and structure of product descriptions is integral to rankings success, increasing the likelihood of your website AND your product pages ranking high in Google Search. This includes a unique product title, short description, long description and metadescription. Keep in mind that your metadescription doesn’t necessarily need to be as creative as the others, but it still needs to make grammatical sense!
  6. Optimise product images – Don’t forget all the different types of information that you can attribute to photos and other graphics. Google can’t ‘see’ pictures, so optimise picture titles, alt tags and descriptions to inform the search engine what your images are about.

Have you found any other tricks that are great for improving online retail visibility in Google Search? Leave a comment in the fields below this article to contribute.