Search engine optimization (SEO) varies by site and industry. Some industries are extremely competitive in the online space, whereas others may be less competitive. With ecommerce sites in particular, there are often challenges when discussing SEO. As a result, we find that many ecommerce sites instead turn to paid search as the quick solution.
Why do ecommerce sites typically have a difficult time for SEO?
First, there is often very little content on these site’s pages. Usually the pages consist of images, product names and manufacturer information that are used as product descriptions. Due to this lack of unique content, ecommerce sites at times have a difficult time attracting inbound links (although this isn’t an issue for the giants such as Amazon.com and Zappos.com). Another problem is that on ecommerce sites, non-SEO friendly URLs may be dynamically created. These are URLs that are tremendously lengthy or URLs that don’t contain keywords. And, to top it off, sometimes the URLs are duplicated, which is where there is more than one URL for one page of content. Multiple URLs create duplicate content on one site, and using the same manufacturer information for product descriptions creates duplicate content across many sites. (If you’re familiar at all with SEO, you already know that this is not good for your SEO efforts).
So, what can be done to overcome these obstacles?
The good news is that even though these issues mentioned above are commonly seen, there are ways to help ecommerce sites compete in the organic search results. First and foremost, the site must have a well organized and logical structure for users and search engines. There should be levels of your site — such as category and product level pages. You should also take into consideration the assets you have available. Ecommerce sites have many pages. Use these to your advantage. Add unique content to category level pages. Content is still one of the most important aspects of SEO, and giving the search engines lots of it will be to your benefit. Also, creating content that your competition does not feature can give you a distinct advantage. Don’t forget about those product pages that contain the generic (duplicated) manufacturing information. Try incorporating customer reviews. This way your customers will do the work for you.
Also, don’t forget about other opportunities to add unique content. Blogs, articles, how-tos are all great ways to accomplish this. Keep in mind, your customer should be at the heart of all of your efforts. Therefore with blog posts, how-tos, etc. create content that people are searching for or that will encourage them to share that info elsewhere on the internet (helping you to build your inbound links, which can be viewed as “votes” for your site).
Although not always easy, SEO can be worked into ecommerce websites with a little time and effort. Adding unique content and following SEO Best Practices will lead you to positive results.
Last week, Google officially announced on their blog that “we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed.” What does this mean to webmasters and practitioners of SEO? Not much really, when you take into account that most good SEOs already consider site speed to be a huge part of their optimization efforts. After all, the quicker your site loads, the easier it is for the search engines to get to the most important pages on a site. Site speed is obviously also good for user experience and keeping those bounce rates at a low level.
However, the reason it may be more prudent for the less fastidious SEO to speed up page load times is that the load times are now part of the algorithms in that even if you have a site with great content and inbound links, if your pages take forever to load, Google may see fit to not rank you as high. What are some of the basic housekeeping tips to speed up page load times?
Mozilla Firefox is a browser that provides a lot of Add-ons for its users, and you can find a lot of useful extensions for website developers. Below are a couple extensions explained to help you make the best use of Firefox.
One of the most important parts of developing a website is cross browser checking, for example making sure that the site looks the same in multiple browsers. Firefox provides an extension called user agent switcher, which can be customized with the user agents you need such as Internet Explorer and even mobile user agents. This extension can save you a lot of time when it comes to cross browser testing.
One feature that can save you a lot of time is called GA?, which checks the site to see if it has Google Analytics installed and displays either a color image in the bottom bar of the browser or an uncolored graph to show that it has no GA coding. You can use Firebug to check the GA coding currently on the page quickly, instead of having to view the page source.
A great extension for finding the color value in a part of an image or any part of a site is ColorZilla, this extension will display a little eyedropper on the bottom right bar of the browser and will give you the name of the color, RGB and hex value. This feature combined with Firebug can help you change the color styles of your site in real time without having to make changes to the live css file directly.
After making changes to a site in real time in your browser, you might want to save the look and feel of the new changes made. There is an extension called FireShot that can help you take an image of the whole page or just the part that shows on the browser. This can come in handy if you need to show it to a client or coworker and get their feedback, without actually making the changes to the live site.
Development of sites using Firefox can be a lot easier and faster when using the tools described above. This can help your site load time improve as well as design without having to make any changes to the live site; just making changes in your own browser.