Your Guide to E-Commerce SEO
Search engine optimization is something that I've personally been doing for over 15 years. As some things have changed and others haven't, I've stayed true to the idea of what Google and other search engines are trying to do; provide good results. So if you've been doing SEO as long as I have you'll know that for the most part, SEO hasn't actually changed, but the way people have used the internet has. So, today I'm going to be talking about SEO from the standpoint of an E-commerce owner and will hit on the main items you and everyone else should be focusing on.
To start, let's go with what SEO is not, but has been used as such anyway. First, there was keyword stuffing, you know, overfilling your page with the same keywords over and over again, hiding some in your white background by making your text white... man, this was such a bad idea then and a definite no-no now. There's no reason to do this, there never really was unless you were of the less scrupulous kind. Second, it was all about buying links, get them here, buy them there, whoever has a link to buy, I'm there. Have that conversation over Gmail today and that link is worthless... buying a link, period, nearly makes them worthless. I say nearly because you could have a sponsored post link to you, as long as they tag that link correctly. As there are more black hat methods than I can possibly cover and still keep your attention, I'll stop here.
You see, SEO has always been about providing a search engine, information in a fashion it can understand so that it can index the page appropriately and show it to interested people when they search. So if you've only ever focused on that, you're going down the right path. Today, search engines have an easier and easier time deciphering what a page is about and there are really only a few markers that you need to hit for this to happen. While it may sound complicated to start, there's really only a handful of HTML tags you need to become comfortable with. If you think that's scary, jump over to a blog written by my wife, a non-programmer, talking about her journey with HTML and its usefulness in life.
The first tags I'll talk about are the first tags of the page. The first one being, the title tag. This tag is formed:
Whatever is contained within this tag, in this case, "Dog Toys", will be displayed as the page's title. This title can be seen as the text in the tab of your browser. This title is the same text that is often displayed by a search engine when a search is performed.
The next tag to become familiar with is thetag. This tag holds special meaning to browsers and will contain the tags script and meta. The items inside this tag aren't shown to a user but are used by search engines and by your browser to display your page.
<head> <meta></meta> <script></script> </head>
The meta tag we were just speaking about will have an attribute called "name". This attribute is added to the tag so that it looks like this . Inside this name attribute, we'll put the word "description". This tells search engines that this meta tag contains the description of the page. The tag also contains a second attribute called "content". This content attribute will contain the text description of this page. While not all search engines still use this tag, it is one that shouldn't be skipped.
<head> <meta name="" content="" /> </head>
<head> <script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=AW"></script> <script> fbq('track', 'PageView'); </script> </head>
The next items I'll talk about will allow you to change the way text appears on your page and what that text does if someone clicks on it. First is the bold tag, b or strong, then we have the italic tag: i and the underline tag: u. There are more, but those should get you far.
<b></b> or <strong></strong> <i></i> <u></u>
Next, we can make text link to another page, either on our website or another one entirely with the anchor tag, written: . You'll notice an attribute called 'href', which is what stores the value of the URL you want the link to go to when clicked. If you want to reach another website, it must start with either http:// or https://. When linking to another page on your website the page's file name is used, for example: https://www.mysite.com/pagename.ext, this includes its file extension. Inside the two tags is the text you wish to display. So if you want to display the word 'Services', it would look like this:
The last text decoration item is used to call out the major sections of a web page. Think of these as titles to the content below them. These titles are called 'headers' and the tag is an H with a number. Where the number of the opening tag corresponds to the closing tag. If you haven't caught the closing tag, it's the same as an opening tag, but contains a forward slash after the left caret. Your 1 tag is the most important on the page and the higher the number the less important the information is, typically not going past a 5. You may have more than one H1 tag on a page, but, you may also want to rethink the structure of the page.
<h1>Header Goes Here</h1> <h2></h2> <h3></h3> <h4></h4> <h5></h5>
The last tag that I'll cover is the image tag or img. The image tag has two attributes we'll be using, they are the 'src' or source and the 'alt'. The base tag looks like this:
<img src="" alt="" />
Note the forward slash here is just before the end. This is because the tag is known as "self closing", which is a fancy way of saying, it doesn't have a closing tag. Inside the source attribute, we put the local or remote file path to the image we wish to display. This could be as simple as "img/my_img.jpg" or a full URL "https://images.google.com/myimage.jpg". Inside the alt attribute, we'll put a short description of what the image is, ideally by using one of our keywords.
<img src="https://images.google.com/myimage.jpg" alt="My Image" />
The last item I want to cover is your filing system for your website. As we get into SEO basics, you'll want to make sure that your website's filing system aligns with your service. Especially in the E-commerce industry. This is because this structure can either help search engines dissect your website, or it can hurt them. See a good file structure allows a user and robots to read a URL and start to understand what a page is about before it even loads. Say you sell cookies on your website and this is your URL: http://www.beststore.com/product_id=1... That URL doesn't tell me anything about your product. If it was instead structured as: https://store.beststore.com/snacks/cookies/chocolate/dozen/, this not only tells me what this product is about, but it tells me more about your store. One, I know it's a store, because the URL tells me so. Then I know there is a category of snacks, a subcategory of cookies, an option for chocolate and that they are available by the dozen, which provides so much more information. It is a bit surprising that everyone's websites aren't structured this way.
Okay, so it's a mouthful and then some. But now you know the basic tags you need for SEO. As for performing SEO for your website, download my free "How to do On-Page SEO" and it'll walk you through the steps you need to take today and what steps you need to take moving forward to keep your website's SEO up to date. If at any point you have questions, please feel free to drop me a line.