By Brit Finnegan, Lead Designer and SEO Manager
Now that you have a few SEO tips and best practices in your arsenal, let’s talk about how to implement these tricks, and how Nomad erpCommerce makes it easy to optimize SEO for eCommerce–whether you’re a novice or expert.
What is Search Engine Optimization, or SEO?
In a nutshell, search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of building a website that is geared toward search engine algorithms (Google, Yahoo, Bing) to make that site the most favorable in search engine results pages or SERPs. It’s both a science and an art, as it involves using relevant keywords and keyphrases in a website’s content in order to attract potential customers.
How does SEO work?
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing rank on two factors when returning search results: relevance and authority. With a combination of high relevance and authority, websites rise to the top of SERPs.
How is relevance determined? Based on the search term that the user enters, relevance is determined by how closely the content on a website page matches the user’s search. When a user enters a search term, the search engine returns results from the “most likely” matching result to the “least likely” matching result.
For example, imagine that a user searches for “men’s running clothes.” The search engine will analyze all of the webpages that it has crawled and pick out the content it believes to be the most relevant to “men’s running clothes.” Then, it considers a website’s authority.
How is authority determined? A website gains authority when other trusted sites link to that site, with each trusted link viewed as a positive vote for your content.
For example, imagine that your website sells men’s running clothes. You were able to get a top fitness magazine’s website to do an online review of your running clothes on their website, and they also included a link to your website within the review. The presence of this link to your site on the popular fitness magazine’s website gives your site increased authority.
Types of SEO: White Hat vs. Black Hat
There are two types of SEO: white hat and black hat. White hat SEO follows the guidelines set by the major search engines and involves no deception. This type of SEO produces long-lasting results that engage users and keeps them visiting your website. White hat is the type of SEO that is considered best practice, and the type that we discuss below in our tips to improve your eCommerce site’s SEO.
White hat SEO is characterized by:
- A focus on enhancing relevance and authority (as explained above in “How does SEO work?”)
- Matching URLs, Page Titles, Headings and Inbound Links: These elements of your website are very important in the practice of SEO. URLs, page titles, headings and inbound links that are short, simple and contain your targeted keywords help optimize SEO.
- Low bounce rate: Text that reads well, is engaging and keeps users on the page for a reasonable amount of time results in what’s referred to as a low bounce rate. Conversely, a page has a high bounce rate when a user lands on it but then leaves right away. The lower the better in this case.
Black hat SEO is a form of SEO that website creators use to purposefully deceive search engines. It is not a recommended best practice, and in fact, can result in a website being banned or penalized by a search engine.
Black hat SEO is characterized by:
- Keyword stuffing: Littering a site with keywords and phrases for the sake of squeezing as many as possible onto a page, in a site’s meta tags, or through hidden text by setting the text color to the same color as the page’s background is not considered a best practice.
- Unrelated keywords: The practice of using keywords that are unrelated to a site or page’s content is also not considered best practice. For example, imagine again that you are targeting the keyphrase “men’s running clothes,” and in an attempt to rank higher in SERPs, you use the words “men’s running clothes” in your children’s footwear pages.
- Cloaking: The practice of presenting different data to a search engine’s spiders than you present to your user is considered black hat SEO.
- Duplicate content: Search engines penalize duplicate content in an attempt to minimize malicious attempts to improve SEO. Whether intentional or unintentional, the practice of using the same content on more than one page of your website can be considered black hat SEO, and can hurt your rankings.
- Link farms: Another black hat practice is link farming – or the creation of multiple websites that link to one another in an attempt to increase link building, or increase a website’s authority. Often, websites involved in a link farm are not viewed as credible by search engines, so this type of link building is not beneficial in building a website’s authority but is in fact detrimental as search engines penalize this behavior.
How can I improve my eCommerce site’s SEO?
Now that you know a little about what SEO is and how it works, what can you do to improve your eCommerce site’s SEO? Generally, sites that get millions of views each year will get higher results in the rankings because they are seen as authorities. But, with a smaller site, you can still improve your SEO rankings and increase traffic. Here are a few tips for building rankings:
- Use social media, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to drive clients to your website and increase traffic, which increases rankings.
- Increase your website’s authority through links from partners, relevant industry clients and product review sites that direct users to your site and products.
- Create a blog for your website and regularly post relevant content using your targeted keywords and phrases.
- Take full advantage of your website’s URLs, page titles and headings. These should clearly represent what your site and your site’s pages are about, and should contain your targeted keywords.
- Most importantly, the rule that will never die in marketing is “content is king.” Writing new, up-to-date, relevant and engaging content about your products and services will keep customers coming back for more and attract new customers. Become the subject matter expert on a product or service and you will always draw a crowd.
While many larger organizations have the budgets to hire technology marketing professionals who make entire careers of optimizing websites for SEO, with a little practice, guidance and close attention to your eCommerce website’s analytics, SMBs can also harness the power of SEO without an enterprise budget.
We’ve only just scratched the surface of SEO and the powerful impact that it can have on your eCommerce website’s search rankings, but continue to follow our blog for more tips and SEO best practices for SMB eCommerce!
Brit Finnegan is the Lead Designer and SEO Manager at Sniperdyne.
Other blogs in the series:
To learn more about how our manufacturing and distribution customers utilize Nomad’s eCommerce and ERP integration, visit our website.