Posted on July 16, 2014 at 15:38 PM
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most overlooked areas of marketing for businesses. You can’t see it, and you certainly don’t understand it, so why bother paying an SEO marketer to do it for you? Come sit by us, grasshopper, and listen to the song of our people.
Many businesses who have developed their e-commerce website seriously underestimated the amount of time it takes to optimize their site. Good, quality images and a great checkout system are all needed, but there are a few things that also need as much attention as the things customers can see. These are the almighty meta tags, meta descriptions, and page titles. Lastly, product descriptions that customers read have a few best practices, too.
Tackling meta tags and descriptions, as well as page titles and product descriptions, can be a very daunting task. The sheer amount of text that has to be written for an e-commerce site with a lot of products is overwhelming, but the benefit of well-written content goes far beyond what the customer can see. Google crawls this content, which determines your ranking in search engine results. Let’s put it this way; search engine results are what get you found, and being found is paramount to getting sales. And sales pay the bills.
Meta Descriptions and Page Titles/URLs
Meta descriptions are what consumers see as a quick synopsis of a search result. Each page on your website should include a meta description that is keyword rich so that Google can display the results appropriate to what someone might be searching for. Let’s use an example.
Amazon, who naturally ranks high on this sort of search, shows a great example of SEO best practices. Check out their result.
First, let’s look at their page title, which includes partial keyword matches, ‘sell’ and ‘online’. This particular page talks about how to sell products on Amazon, a great match for the search we entered.
Next, you’ll see that the page URL includes the word ‘sell’, giving it further relevance for what we want to read about. Google likes to see this.
Lastly, Amazon includes a brief description of the page so that the consumer can determine if this page is exactly what they are looking for, and which also gives Google additional content to crawl for semantic search algorithms. They used keywords ‘sell’ and ‘online’ in the page description. Their only no-no? Their page description is too long, so it gets cut off before the end of the description. Page descriptions shouldn’t exceed the character limit whenever possible.
Tagging a page is also very important, but can’t be seen by consumers in a search result. By adding tags (simple 1-3 word descriptors) to the back end of your website pages, Google can further hone what your pages are about and rank accordingly. They are beneficial and necessary. If you aren’t using any of these opportunities to optimize your site, you’re being penalized by Google, and nobody likes sitting in a corner.
Many businesses take the easy route with product descriptions on their e-commerce sites, copying and pasting descriptions from the manufacturer or other source directly onto their own site. We’ll say this nicely: Don’t do that. Google frowns upon duplicate content found and will penalize your site if/when they find it, decreasing your chances at a higher ranking. Manufacturers also tend to focus on specifications important to a re-seller. Your content should focus on benefits that are enticing to a consumer. In other words, consumers want to know about the battery life of a flashlight, not the metal coils used in it.
Secondly, never duplicate your own content elsewhere on your site. This is important for sites that sell different products from the same collection or similar products in different sizes or colors (this doesn’t apply if you have selection options on the same page). Each description should be unique. Think of these descriptions as online sales people. Don’t forget to include keywords in your descriptions, too. For the aforementioned flashlight, use keywords relevant to the product, such as ‘flashlight’, ‘battery operated’, ‘camping light’, etc.
Lastly, while you may want to regale your customers with lengthy descriptions because you think it may help your product sell, you should keep your descriptions concise. You can be witty and still keep it short. Consumers want to make a quick decision and they won’t read past the first sentence or two. Have a lot of specs that need to be disclosed? Add tabbed content areas so customers can elect to read more if they feel inclined. Those areas are still indexed by Google, too.
SEO is a necessary branch of a comprehensive marketing strategy. If you have a website, it should be optimized. Install Google Analytics to your site if you haven’t already so you can track progress and visitor traffic, among other things. The bottom line: if you aren’t nerdy enough to handle it yourself, hire an SEO marketer. You’ll increase your sales and your wallet will thank you.