With another holiday shopping season upon us, maximizing product visibility in the e-Commerce market is one of retailers’ biggest hurdles. Keyword-rich product descriptions are important, but that alone won’t be enough to differentiate your product lists from your competition’s this holiday season.
It’s predicted this holiday season’s consumer online shopping spree will be US$ 54.47 billion. To capture a significant chunk of that, retailers must rethink their strategy for pushing their inventory through the digital static to the front of shoppers’ screens.
From ensuring your site is architecturally sound for top search engine rankings, to actively seeking out online customer reviews, retailers can make easy tweaks to their websites to ensure their inventory is in plain view.
Here are five defined strategies retailers can implement to boost their products’ visibility:
1. Have a Clear Website Blueprint
Before pouring time and money into search engine optimization efforts, make sure your website has an SEO-friendly foundation. Every website needs logical site architecture to ensure that search engine crawlers can index each page effectively. Consistency in your naming conventions, sitemaps, header tags, internal links and inbound links provides search engines with a clear blueprint of your site, allowing them to determine which keywords match your offerings.
Create clean informative page titles, metatags and spider friendly URLs. Without a thoughtful structure, search engines are forced to guess your specialty, resulting in unrelated, untargeted traffic onto your site.
2. Avoid Duplicate Content
Few pain points lower a website’s search ranking faster than duplicate content. Google and other search engines refrain from listing substantially similar web pages in search results, pushing websites loaded with redundant content further to the bottom, if not off the first page.
With many e-Commerce retailers battling holiday time constraints, repetitive content becomes a major issue. Too often, online merchants copy and paste manufacturer product descriptions onto their website to save time -- that’s missing a unique opportunity to add SEO value. Always rewrite product descriptions to guarantee that they’re tailored to your site, that they speak to your specific audience’s needs and that they are rich with important keywords.
Be careful not to create duplicate content inadvertently by showing the same results on two separate URLs (for example, if the only shoes your website sold were Nike, but clicking on “shoes” or “Nike” yielded different pages with the same products). Avoid these SEO penalties by sketching out a logical taxonomy for your pages, using canonical URLs and having an easy-to-use redirect tool, so you don’t need to be a web programmer to correct the problem.
3. Quality Links Matter
It is no surprise that the Web churns out large amounts of spam; SEOmoz estimates around 60 percent of all web pages fall on the more questionable side of the trustworthy spectrum. In order to provide web users with the highest quality search results, search engines analyze links to gauge a website’s trust and popularity.
Collecting link-backs from popular and highly trusted domains boosts your own site’s credibility, resulting in a significant increase in your SERP ranking. Links from industry-specific websites versus links from general or irrelevant sites speak louder to your own reputation, and boost your site’s placement above the fold. Google also considers internal links when evaluating your page rank, so be sure to incorporate internal links in your overall linking strategy.
4. Encourage Product Reviews
Search engine crawlers like exclusive, regularly updated content. Allowing and encouraging customer reviews is a strategic way to deliver just this. When groups of online retailers post the same standardized product descriptions, their sites’ “freshness” gets diminished, resulting in poor search rankings.
Customer reviews (typically written from the shopper’s first person perspective) are personalized, individual chunks of content; more on-site product reviews increases the chance of ranking in long-tail searches. While many retailers allow product reviews, very few actively seek them from consumers despite the small amount of time and effort it requires. A week or two after any purchase, make sure to follow up with shoppers to ask them to write review or recommend their items. Structure your ratings content to gain SEO value from Google Rich Snippets.
5. Integrate a Variety of Keywords
Google primarily ranks web pages on the overlap between a query’s keywords and a website’s content, making it necessary to weave important industry terms throughout your site. Utilize title tags, metatags, product descriptions, page headers and subheads to better optimize each product page for search engines. Place your most valuable keywords in your URLs to differentiate your website and make individual pages more detectable. Some keywords might be overused within your industry, so don’t hesitate to go with long-tail keywords. The more specific the keyword sequence, the less competition you’ll have in reaching your target audience.
Image courtesy of JMiks (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: Interested in reading more of Diane's suggestions on optimizing your online offerings? Why not read Holiday Promotion Checklist: Seven Factors Your Deal Needs to Have