Here at PalmettoSoft, we treat our e-commerce clients differently from others. Don’t worry, we’re not saying that we give them better service than everyone else! But we do have to modify their services a bit because of the unusual nature of an e-commerce website. Following a “standard” SEO strategy in the field of e-commerce would be a mistake, and could even incur ranking penalties from Google—definitely not the result we want for our clients! Here are some of the ways our e-commerce SEO agency tailors its services for our online retail clients.
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Talking Directly to Google
Many folks outside the digital marketing and web design worlds have the impression that once you build a great website, Google will automatically start adding its pages to its search results. That is technically true, but it will happen very slowly, and not to the extent you hope for, unless you communicate directly with Google and speed the process along.
When the website you’re optimizing is an e-commerce site, it’s even more important that your SEO provider talks with Google and Bing, guiding their indexing software (usually referred to as “spiders”) in analyzing the pages of your website in the way that makes the most sense. Here are some of the most critical examples.
Overall Website Structure
The average e-commerce website has a very large number of pages—one for each product, plus additional pages for categories, a contact page, perhaps a blog or “About Us” page, and more. This sprawling design will be difficult for Google to analyze unless your SEO provider supplies some help. This help involves placing internal links between pages in a logical manner. The search engine spiders rely heavily on links to make sense of a website’s structure, so a carefully constructed internal link network is key to quickly showing Google how your website works and relates to itself.
A separate sitemap is another essential feature of e-commerce SEO services. A clear sitemap makes it even easier for the search engines to see the overall shape of the website and direct search engine users to the right pages for the phrases they’re expressing interest in.
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Dealing With Duplicate Content
If there’s one cardinal rule in SEO that can’t be broken, it’s the prohibition on duplicating content, whether in the form of copying text from other websites or just repeating the same blocks of copy on different pages of your own site. In the majority of cases, duplicate content represents laziness, lack of concern for the quality of the visitor’s experience, or outright theft of ideas from other people. But an e-commerce website is a special case.
If you sell eight slightly varied versions of the same handbag, for example, all eight of those product pages will inevitably share a large percentage of their text. That’s a legitimate situation, but Google can easily flag it as lazy duplication of content unless your SEO manager communicates directly with the search engine and explains what’s going on.
It’s not easy to make your e-commerce site visible to shoppers!
Positive customer reviews are the lifeblood of an e-commerce website. Fortunately, Google makes it possible for e-commerce websites to display their overall star rating (out of five) within their search results entries. But it doesn’t happen automatically. Simply having customer reviews on your website doesn’t mean that Google will compile them for you and display your overall score. Once again, your e-commerce SEO agency needs to communicate with Google, providing the customer review score in the format that Google is looking for. Once that is done, your search results will enjoy a huge advantage over competing websites that haven’t yet taken the time to link their customer reviews with the search engines.
These are just a few of the specific actions that a great e-commerce SEO professional takes on behalf of an online retail or wholesale client. A complex online commerce system requires an even more complex SEO strategy, but it’s essential if you expect to stay competitive on the search results pages—the portal through which the enormous majority of your potential paying customers will find your website.