Search engine rankings are an essential factor to consider when you have a website that needs more traffic. If your website doesn’t have a good position in the rankings then no-one will find it, so you need to make sure that your website is ranked highly enough to be seen. The other important quality to getting high traffic to your site is having a nice arsenal of links. The more links that you have to your site the more traffic you will get, but also, the more links to your site the more search engines like your site. Keeping a nice supply of links pointing at your site requires similar precautions and practices as getting high search engine listings.
I think it is fair to say that no SEO firm can absolutely promise you a number 1 position in Google, Yahoo! or Bing (the three major search engines). There are a number of different factors at play, one of which is the amount of competition for a particular ranking and the skill of the SEO going after the ranking. However, with persistence, it is not unrealistic to increase your page rank and also occupy a number 1 position for many of your search terms. Although search engines have some characteristics in common with a free market, I don’t think it is true to say that your site will just flow naturally into its “rightful” position. For that reason, if ranking is important to you, I advise at least paying attention to some basic tips to manage your sites positioning.
Search engine optimization is often broken down into on-page and off-page optimization. It is a general rule of thumb that content is the single most important on-page (or on-site) factor. There is sense to this as the content not only tells the search engines what your site is about but also, and more importantly, you potential buyers. As an ecommerce site owner, much of your content will be devoted to product descriptions. Many ecommerce sites are merely shopping carts with a minimum of textual description. This is fine; such site can and do become successful, but your product pages are a perfect opportunity to provide highly relevant content. Product descriptions should be natural and written for people. If possible, I suggest that the descriptions be 2 to 3 hundred words. However, you must use your common sense; it may not be possible for every description to be 300 words. Some may only require 150 words. The point is to make the best use of opportunities to give the search engines (and your visitors) meaningful content. Your keywords and phrases should appear in the product category, product headline, and once or twice in the brief description.
When determining an SEO strategy, it is important to be aware those search engines do not “see” graphic elements. In other words, devote your attention to optimizing all text elements and avoid the use of words and phrases in images if you want those words to be recognized by the search engines. Do not misunderstand this to mean that you should avoid images. Images and video are great, especially for an ecommerce site because you want to make your products as real as possible. One way to combine images with text is to take advantage of the Alt tag. The Alt tag is part of the coding of the site and allows you to add a text description (with your keywords) to the image. For an example of how this works, go to site such as eBay and put your mouse cursor over an image. A tiny text box will pop up with a brief description. That is the Alt tag at work. If you site uses many graphic elements and minimal text, use the Alt tag to add (not stuff) additional keyword relevant descriptive text.
The key text elements to be aware of include your site title, article titles, product description titles, menu names, headlines, and any category listings, as well. Keeping in mind that your text should be as natural as possible, you want to try and include your main keywords where it is appropriate. This accomplishes two main objectives–first, it allows your visitors to use your site efficiently and second, it accurately informs the search engines about your site. I also suggest that you pay attention to your site’s organizational structure. As with any site, you want your ecommerce site menus and categories to accurately, efficiently, and logically move the search engines and your human visitors around your site. With respect to your human visitors, you want your product pages to be as few clicks away from the main page as possible. The faster your visitors can get to your product pages, the better.
This next point is probably more important than anything written so far. There is a general consensus in the SEO field that links from other sites leading back to your site are potentially more powerful in terms of SEO than any other factor. Back links are those words and phrases that you click on that take you to some other site. The exact words and phrases you click are called “anchor text.” For the purposes of ecommerce SEO, you want the anchor text of your back links to include keywords and phrases and are highly relevant to your site and products. To give you an idea how powerful this is, it is possible to force a site that has virtually no content on it to rank well on the basis of back links alone. You can actually “trick” the search engines to do this with a sufficient number of back links. Now, you as an ecommerce owner are not interested in tricks; what I want you to understand is that your SEO strategy should include the creation and acquisition of back links.
Although both on-page and off-page optimization are important, please take away from this an inkling of the power of back linking. The goal of your SEO strategy is to make your ecommerce site rank as high in the search engines for as many of your keywords as possible. The reason you want this is to allow as much natural, targeted traffic to your site as possible. By targeted traffic, I mean visitors who are already interested and looking for the products you sell. There are many sources of back links. Some of the most common include, article directory submission, site submission to search engine directories, RSS feed submission, social bookmarking, submitting pages to social news sites such Propeller or Digg, publishing on social blogging platforms such as Tumbler, creating profile links on forums and other sites allowing profiles pages. There are many such sources of links; how you link and how you use back link can greatly influence your site’s position in the search engines and amount of natural traffic it receives.
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