As a highly-publicized UPS survey pointed out last June, e-commerce isn’t just an alternative to brick and mortar, but the new status quo of retail. Where previously shoppers might have consulted the yellow pages, today people are hitting search engines and social media for recommendations, reviews, and information before they make a purchase decision. If you run an online storefront, good SEO isn’t just about jamming keywords on a page, it’s about getting information to users in easy-to-parse formats and getting your page to show up in the results for questions your business can help its customers answer. Here are a few tips for a solid, successful SEO strategy, and make sure to check out our tips to optimize your site for Google’s recent Hummingbird update.
Write clea information-dense headlines
A strong headline, as any student journalist can tell you, grabs the reader’s attention and lets him or her know if the page will contain information relevant to his or her interests. This doesn’t just mean the title tag, either: each discrete piece of information (pages, questions on an FAQ, etc.) should have a concise headline that gives the reader a good idea of what information he or she will find on that page. Strong SEO is strong usability.
Design readable, memorable page URLs
It’s much easier to remember yourwebsite.com/menu than it is to remember yourwebsite.com/#?29. Have a consistent, easy-to-understand navigation folder, and file naming convention. Whether this means editing the settings on your blog to turn on friendly page titles or simply being more careful about how you structure your files (several index.html files in their own folders vs. several *.html files, for example), this is a priority for easy-to-find online info. Set a strategy and stick to it. Future stewards of your website will thank you, as will present users, and you’ll see benefits in your page rankings as well.
Think about ways a customer might search for something you sell, and then search your page for those phrases
For example, you might be an ice cream shop in Tallahassee, but if your page doesn’t include the hours you’re ope your website isn’t going to be of much use in bringing in customers, because a search for Tallahassee Ice Cream hours won’t bring anything up. If there’s a specific phrase that you hear people in your area of business use ofte and it makes sense to do so, then make sure that phrase gets mentioned on your site somewhere. But don’t just cram it in the keywords, either: make sure the content fits organically within the flow of the site.
Give content the majority of real estate on the page
While it’s tempting to fill a page with so much advertising that the reader can’t even find the media he or she is looking for, this is a terrible SEO technique (not to mention it will infuriate your readers and they’ll exit more quickly). Your content should be the focus of the page, so if you’re going to include advertisement, try to keep it to a reasonable amount of space, and if you ca keep it unobtrusive (no flash, no autoplay, and no popping up in front of page content when it first loads, forcing a user interaction).
If you have an app, make sure your mobile page doesn’t bounce users to the homepage when they opt not to install it
This isn’t a great way to retain users, and brief and unrepeated visits are not the kind you want to attract. If you’re going to prompt users to install a mobile app, redirect them to the page they were trying to view if they select “no.” This will keep users on your page longer.