Having a great website with tons of nifty products is fabulous—but only if shoppers can find you. Beating out the competition when it comes to search engine rankings is actually quite simple if you know what steps to take in order to make that happen. Here are ten search engine optimization tips for your Bigcommerce store to get you started.
#1: Do Appropriate Keyword Research
Knowing what keywords shoppers are actually looking for is an essential first step to getting your page ranking higher. Thankfully, Google provides webmasters around the globe an exciting and easy-to-use tool to make this process much less confusing—the AdWords Keyword Planner. Simply log on, add a few phrases or words that describe your ecommerce store, and hit submit. The planner will spit out a list of the top search results with the exact number of people who use them each month. Think of it as a mini-cheat sheet for all the rest of your Bigcommerce SEO efforts. You will also want to pay attention to longtail keywords, which are essentially keyword phrases versus individual keywords. Not only do these phrases offer a greater chance of ranking, they allow you to specifically target shoppers in a unique way.
#2: Know Who Your Competition Is
One of the most overlooked facets to optimizing a website is failure to review what the competition is already ranking for. The easiest way to do this is to open up a web browser, go to Google, and type in the exact keyword you want to target. Then, look at the list of pages that pop up. Do you see a bunch of corporate brands with gazillion dollar marketing budgets in your industry? Or do you see minor sites, like Jane’s Beauty Parlor and Jack’s Automotive Shop? What about Wikipedia, Pinterest, eBay, HubSpot, and others? Look for terms that have a somewhat high volume of searches (as discovered with the research tool above) and relatively few competitor websites clamoring for traffic from the same search term. (Note: While Pinterest and eBay are fairly large sites, the pages that show up in search engine rankings for minor terms are often easy to push down in the listings if you have the right SEO setup for your website.)
#3: Add Alt Images to Each Product Photo
To understand how product photos affect organic search engine optimization, it is important to realize what their initial purpose was. Once upon a time in a land not-so far away, alt tags were created to help the blind and otherwise visually impaired understand what images look like on the internet. For example, instead of being able to actually see a boy with his dog, a specialized browser audibly reads the alt tag description on the page for the shopper to hear. When it comes to creating ideal Bigcommerce SEO conditions, you also have to realize that search engines are essentially blind in that they see only text and not images. In order to boost your rankings, it is important that every image—including product photos, marketing banners, and others—have keyword-optimized tags included. (Hint: You can easily add these in the back end of Bigcommerce.)
#4: Keep It Relevant (and Not Too Stuffy)
When it comes to Bigcommerce SEO, stuffing your site with irrelevant keywords is a big no-no. (In fact, Google and other search engines actually see this as a cardinal sin worthy of sinking your site fifty pages or more in the rankings. Not a good thing.) Thus, it is important to choose one or two keywords per page that adequately describe what you’re selling, who you are, and what your brand is all about.
#5: Forget the META Keywords
Its time to move on….If search engine optimization were the same as fashion trends, you’d hear industry experts say that META keywords are “so-o-o last season!” While there is a lovely box in the Bigcommerce back end that allows you to place them, don’t even worry about it. Google and Bing quit looking at these terms back in 2009, making filling them out a waste of your time.
#6: Never Use Duplicate Content
When you have tons of products, it can be quite tempting to just use product description and/or content given to you from the manufacturer. Do not do this. Let’s repeat… Do. Not. Do. This. Why? Search engines will find the same content on your site as a competitor who carries identical products and the manufacturer’s website itself. This causes you possible penalization for having “copied” content from a higher-ranking page and will actually hurt you in the long run. Instead, write the descriptions yourself and incorporate one or two highly targeted keywords into the page.
#7: Name Your Images the Right Way
While we already discussed images and alt tags, it is important to realize what you name an image also affects Bigcommerce SEO. Leaving a product photo listed as “342_IMG.jpg” tells shoppers and search engines nothing about what is displayed should they not be able to see the image when they pull up your site. Instead, opt for actual names before you upload the images, such as “GreenPolkaDotVase.jpg.” But, what if you’ve always left the images with random names? Change them as soon as possible and get into the habit of naming them correctly as you add new ones to your ecommerce store.
#8: Remember Your META Titles and Descriptions
META may sound like some global disease you read about in the news or crumbly cheese from the grocery store, but it is actually a pretty vital component to organic search optimization. Make sure your META page titles and descriptions include one or two relevant keywords. You will also want to make sure you create a unique and engaging META description, as this is what appears on the actual search engine page and encourages shoppers to click on your link versus another. (For tips on how to effectively write these, click here.)
#9: Have a Blog
Many ecommerce retailers think that having a website is enough and skip the overall blog process. The truth of the matter is that having a blog is critical to your search engine ranking success. Not only does this allow shoppers to stay informed and see you as an industry expert, it provides relevance that search engines love. Short end of the story, blog about your business and do it often. However, what you actually write about is critical and (again) relevance is crucial. For example, if you sell shoes within your Bigcommerce store and you blog about current celebrity trends, Google sees this as an attempt to inform the masses. However, if you own an online shoe store and write about transmission parts for blue Honda Accords, you will most likely be penalized for lack of relevance. Need help figuring out what to write about? Learn more from Copyblogger. (Psst. Did you know Bigcommerce has a built-in blog feature? This makes adding content an absolute cinch from the backend dashboard. Wow!)
#10: Think Like a Shopper
When you first opened your ecommerce website, you probably heard that you should “think like a shopper.” This is actually true when it comes to search engine optimization, too. One of the easiest ways to boost your ranking is to open up Google (or Bing) and type in keywords like you are shopping for whatever product your site sells. See what comes up and whether or not your page is listed. Then, put this keywords into the process outlined in the steps above.
BONUS BIGCOMMERCE SEO TIP!
It is super important to remember that search engine optimization shouldn’t be an afterthought. Rather, it helps to consider it during the ecommerce site design process and implement methods as you build out your Bigcommerce store. Of course, if you’ve read this entire post and think a nap sounds a whole lot better than actually taking these steps—don’t fret. At Redhead Labs, we have a team of dedicated SEO-aficionados ready to help you grow your website’s rank and take your conversions to a whole new level. Ready to get started? Contact us today for further details.