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How To: An Entrepreneur Improves SEO for Her eCommerce Site

by Jill Foster on November 30, 2009

Iris Feedback

Without a doubt, one of the most important considerations when building a business online is implementing a plan for search engine optimization (SEO). Although supported by your marketing activities such as blogging, networking, emails and newsletters, SEO is a primary tool in making your site visible to online shoppers.

There are a few key steps to creating an effective basic SEO plan:

1. Choose the right keywords
The very first thing to do is determine which keywords will be the most effective at drawing visitors to your site. It is a simple concept: find out which words people are using when searching for your product online and determine which ones will most effectively draw relevant visitors to your site.

The trick is to think like a shopper, not an industry insider, when brainstorming terms.

For help, utilize the Google Keyword Tool to uncover key search terms related to your product.

2. Properly utilize the keywords already on your site
There are several places that you should be sure to include your keywords: within the text on your website pages, title tags, meta description, meta keywords and H1 tags. Since each of these plays a different role in the search engine process for evaluating and ranking websites, it is important that you don’t overlook any of them. For example, while the search engines will use the meta keywords to index your site, potential customers won’t see them. However, customers will see your title tags (which will ideally contain your company name and a short description of your site contents utilizing your keywords) and your meta description i.e. think of the short blurb that appears beneath each of the results during a Google search.

A blog is another way to incorporate your keywords into your site and provide fresh content for the search engines. Plus a blog also gives you the ability to communicate directly with customers and potential customers and show the human side of your business.

3. Create backlinks
Search engines will rank your site more favorably if it finds links to your site on other relevant sites. By relevant, I mean it logically pertains to your product. For instance, I sell contemporary furniture and lighting at 17th and Riggs so I strive to have furniture industry websites and blogs link to my site. One way to obtain the backlinks is through providing feedback and information on other relevant blogs.

(Image Iris Feedback by Tie Guy II, Creative Commons)

Of course, it is also a fun way to keep up to date with the latest industry news, innovations, etc., and of course a great way to build relationships with others in similar lines of work.

Refining your plan
I recently met Pat Shah of SurchSquad, a provider of SEO services at the Grow Smart Business Conference – DC’s regional small business event this year. Pat offered to perform an audit of my ecommerce site to determine where I could improve my SEO plan.

His in depth look at my ecommerce site
It was eye-opening and provided me with a few targeted items I could do to improve my search engine results.

One of them was to conduct a keyword study as described above. I had done this before, but had not necessarily put myself in the shoes of a potential shopper as I should have done.

Pat explained my site incorporated “words/terminology that describe your products, but does not match what surfers are looking for.” As an example, he explained the term ”home furnishings” has over 60,000 daily searches… The tags on your site say “furnishings” or “high quality home furnishings,” but not “home furnishings” alone.” He instructed me to “better align the text… with actual search queries, not product offerings.”

Since I have several hundred products
I need to change the data for each individual product. And I’ve decided to approach it as a process – updating several products a day, optimizing the descriptions and tags properly to make them as effective as possible.

One of the best things about SEO is that you have complete control over the information on your website and therefore the ability to control your rankings in the search engines to a great extent.

So even incremental changes could improve your results.

I hope this has provided you with a basic idea of how to go about optimizing your ecommerce website. For a more comprehensive look at the basics of SEO, I suggest referencing Pat’s small business SEO guide.

Free to you!
He’s also been generous enough to offer to field questions and to provide a free SEO/site consultation for Women Grow Business readers. You can reach him at pat(at)surchsquad(dot)com.

Do you have any tips or SEO must-dos to share?

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Guest post by Rebecca Malik, president of online contemporary furniture business 17th and Riggs. Rebecca thrives off of beautiful home design and explores related conversation at her blog The View from 17th and Riggs. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband (…and growing pet family). Rebecca welcomes your visit at her blog or www.Twitter.com/RebeccaSM.

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