SEO Practices to Strengthen E-Commerce Fronts

We all know that Search engine optimization (SEO) can be the real deal breaker for any website and it is even more critical for the success of E-Commerce websites, as SEO plays a major role in attracting, converting as well as retaining potential customers. However, performing SEO for E-Commerce sites is highly complicated due to the presence of hundreds and thousands of product listings, which require regular updating. This is the reason why following a set of SEO best practices becomes essential in order to make sure that your site always performs at optimum levels. While reviewing, research and optimization must continue on a regular basis to be successful.

You must focus on few core areas before you can begin performing SEO to get your listings ranked higher on Google search results:

SEO assessment: Begin by performing a comprehensive assessment of your website, so as to identify SEO shortcomings. While it is advisable to perform assessment for your entire website, you must pay special attention to your product pages. This is where majority of the flaws are detected and are also imperative to your website’s performance. Tools such as Screaming Frog can be used to crawl through your images, CSS, links, etc., so that you can identify errors, missing tags, duplicate entries and other issues that can have a negative impact on your site’s rankings.

Keyword research: Keyword research plays a major role in getting your website ranked higher. Targeting wrong keywords can lead to driving low quality traffic and lower sales. Using the right keywords strategically can attract qualified customers and also boost your sales and conversion rates. Perform your research based on keyword relevancy, ranking difficulty and search volume. You may use long-tail keywords relevant to your products, as they have a higher exact-match search volume as well as a significantly lower difficulty ranking when compared to the competition.

Competitor research: Analyze competitors’ website to prepare a list of keywords that are being used by them. Perform research to determine the keywords you wish to compete against. Also, figure out the architecture used by these competing websites. Primarily focus on their product pages to attain better insights about ways to organize your websites navigation.

Create compelling product descriptions: Don’t make the same mistake that most E-Commerce store owners make, i.e. using manufacturer’s product descriptions. Search engines consider this to be a case of duplicated content, which might attract penalties. Product descriptions provide you with an opportunity to create unique, informative and compelling sales copy that boosts sales and conversion rates.

Using long tail keywords: Long tail keywords are highly targeted keywords having three or more words. People using long term keywords usually know what they are searching for, therefore a product page that has been optimized for long term keywords has a greater probability of attracting customers and converting them into sales.

Include customer reviews: It has been estimated that product pages having customer reviews are successful in converting over 58% more visitors, while boosting revenue by over 62%. This is because customer reviews help in establishing credibility and act as a social proof for potential buyers. Product pages featuring customer reviews rank higher since Google rewards pages that are frequently updated with unique content.

Integrate social media on your product pages: Google rankings play a major role in influencing the quality and amount of social media signals since they reflect a page’s relevance. It is advised that you add social sharing buttons for popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., to your product pages in order to allow your customers and prospects to share product information with other potential customers.

Optimize page load speed: As many as 40% of visitors will leave, if your product pages don’t load within 3 seconds, and approximately 80% of your customers won’t return to your site if they are disappointed by your site’s load time. Page load time can be optimized by employing lazy loading, compressing product images and fixing coding issues.

Write appealing metadata: Your product pages need unique, compelling Meta titles and descriptions incorporating popular keywords to increase its visibility. It is considered one of the most crucial aspects of on-page optimization. It is important to note that metadata is usually the first thing your potential customers come across, while making a Google search, so it is best to provide your potential customers with a compelling copy of product description that prompts them to make a purchase.

Include rich snippets: Snippets in the form of coded data can be included in product descriptions to provide more information about the product such as price, availability, etc. Incorporating snippets result in better Click-through-rates (CTR) as well as higher rankings on search results.

Include product images: Quality of your product images have a direct relationship with what your potential customers feel about your products. Always include visually appealing images to help your customers make informed purchase decisions. Also, tag these images with appropriate metadata so that they are easily searchable.

Use search-friendly URLs: Your product page URL’s needs to be unique and should be optimized for main keywords. Appropriate URLs tell search engines what the page is all about while providing visitors with helpful product information.

Optimize your E-Commerce site for mobile: Mobile shopping has reached its peak and it has made it important for you to make your E-Commerce store mobile friendly. It is wise to use a responsive design for your website in order to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers across all platforms. Improving your E-Commerce site’s performance is an ongoing process requiring you to stay updated with SEO best practices at all times. It is advised that you regularly test your website for errors, perform keyword and competitor research, observe Google’s algorithm updates, and make the required changes to optimize your E-Commerce website and provide your customers with a great shopping experience.

Make navigation intuitive: Your website’s architecture can be incremental in attaining higher rankings and providing great user experience. So it is best to organize your product pages into appropriate categories so that it facilitates easy navigation.

Essential E-Commerce Trends for 2012

E-commerce is a constantly changing field with trends that go in and out of style. Staying abreast of these changes ensures that your e-commerce website provides the proper services needed to keep up and overpower the competition. Optimize your website and user experience to ensure the best possible purchasing experience.

1. Social Media: While social media has traditionally been seen as the “be all and end all” for an e-commerce site, the “like” has lost some traction with businesses. It is no longer the most important aspect of an e-commerce website, but having lots of fans still instills customer confidence.

2. Customer Reviews: Testimonials and reviews have always been an important part of the online shopping experience. Customers are getting smarter and starting to learn how to differentiate between fake and real reviews. Allow customers to comment using social media and methods that offer a level of identity verification. Don’t cut the negative reviews either, instead, respond to the review online to show that the company cares about satisfying its customers.

3. Purchasing Options: E-commerce sites are moving more toward combining brick-and-mortar and online purchasing. Stores that can combine the online experience with the traditional benefits of a physical location will see increased sales and profits.

4. Conversion Marketing: Constantly testing product purchase pathways and finding the best website design to guide the customer from first introduction to final purchase is essential to a successful e-commerce website. Using analytic tools and other site-monitoring tools provides users with an enhanced website experience and results in more profits.

5. Mobile Ordering: Ordering via a mobile phone has become more and more common. For mobile shops to work, display products in a way that makes navigation easy and fast. Mobile phones are generally slower than regular computer connections, so website owners should concentrate on finding ways to create mobile apps and programming that provides a fast and easy shopping experience.

6. Tablet PCs: Tablet PCs are becoming more popular and are expected to increase e-commerce sales. Offering the ability for customers to download an application for your store and keeping in mind tablet users when designing the website improves the its overall effectiveness.

7. Video: Search engines are placing an increasing emphasis on websites that produce video content. One only has to complete a web search to see that many now include a few videos at the top of the results. Creating instructional videos and product explanations using video is a growing trend in e-commerce.

8. Service: Never underestimate the power of quality customer service. When pricing and ease of ordering is the same across the board for several websites, you must find other ways to differentiate your services. The trend toward providing customers with personal attention and service is growing rapidly.

9. Upscale Websites: Luxury retailers must find ways to move to the web while continuing to create an image of superiority. Accomplish this through exclusive offers for the highest paying customers, free expedited service for those who spend over a certain amount, and the ability to offer unmatched support and help with products.

10. Image Quality: Image quality has become increasingly important. Websites used to use lower quality images to save bandwidth. Now, a website must have high-definition versions of each product so that customers can easily scrutinize an item before purchasing online.

What Is Social Commerce Anyway?

So what exactly is “social commerce”? In short, social commerce is selling with social media, online media that supports user contributions and social interaction. It’s selling with the current “Big Five”.

The Big Five Include:

1. Facebook
2. Youtube
3. Twitter
4. LinkedIn
5. Pinterest

And some other social media platforms like Google+, Instagram and Qoura.

In 17th century, the French playwright Moliere used the term “Social Commerce”.

Here, social commerce termed “social transactions” in which reputations and public “social” images were exchanged instead of money. Sports brand Nike has recently revived this idea with an innovative custom Facebook application that allows people to bid for and buy Nike sneakers with their reputation rather than money-in the form of points earned through Nike+ applications.

Social commerce is about using social media as “transactional media” to complete sales transactions, but in some of the most innovative cases of social commerce, no money changes hands.

Industry thought-leader Steve Rubel from the PR firm Edelman sums up the umbrella term of social commerce nicely: social commerce is about “creating places where people can collaborate online, find goods and services, get advice from trusted individuals and then purchase them.”

Social Applications for E-Commerce Sites that enable vendors to collect and share user feedback-ratings, reviews, and recommendations-on their site and through their customers’ social networks, and personalize the e-commerce experience. These apps range from simple social sharing plug-ins that add sharing buttons such as the Pinterest “Pin” button to product pages, to social plug-ins that add Amazon-style ratings and reviews features to an e-commerce site. These apps not only accelerate and amplify the word of mouth, but can also allow vendors to predict demand and offer personalized recommendations based on similarities between shopper profiles.

E-Commerce Applications for Social Sites that help vendors sell directly in social media such as from their blog, YouTube channel, or Facebook Page. These range from simple storefront plug-ins that republish an external e-commerce site on a social media page to standalone e-commerce applications for social media.

E-commerce apps for social media sites have been particularly popular with small and medium-size businesses, providing a cost-effective and simple alternative to maintaining a traditional e-commerce site. Market leader Payvment currently has over 150,000 businesses using its social media e-commerce application.

Mobile Applications for In-store Social Shopping that help people shop smarter by shopping together via mobile handsets. These range from mobile apps for “group-buying,” which allow people to get store discounts by clubbing together and buying in bulk, to mobile apps that help store visitors get instant feedback from their friends on whether or what to buy. Mobile apps for in-store social shopping also include so-called “check-in” apps such as foursquare, which reward people for sharing where they are shopping, as well as a new generation of mobile “ACT” apps (Assistive Consumer Technology), which add a social “augmented reality” layer to the store experience, displaying shared reviews, ratings, and recommendations when the handset is pointed at particular products.

Web Applications for Social Shopping that support vendors to promote and sell their products on sites where share, shoppers congregate, exchange, and buy. These range from shopping club sites such as Fab and Gilt that run regular retail events for to community-based vendors, marketplaces such as Shoply and Etsy which allow vendors to cultivate one-to-one relationships with their customers. Web apps for social shopping also contain platforms such as The Fancy, Pinterest and Svpply which offer gathered and curated product selections-as well as sites such as Made.com, which allow designers to submit product designs, which if popular, go into production.