With the vast majority of internet traffic being directed by search engines, how do you get people to come to your site? The simple answer is SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Basically, this is making your site more attractive to people doing searches so the search engines will make your site appear higher on the search results. Most people never look beyond the first page of results, and about 30% will take the first option given. So the trick is to be the first option. How do you do it? Let’s investigate.

Keywords

Your first step is to determine what keywords describe your site. Not just your site, but every page on your site. Sound overwhelming? Well, it can be, but these are the nuts and bolts of you need to build your SEO presence. Luckily there are a lot of tools to help you here. You can search for search terms that are commonly used. The trick here is to know the difference between broad, competitive keywords and what are know as long tail keywords.

Broad keywords are typically short and can be used to describe a wide range of sites. Coffee is a good example. This would describe coffee plantations, coffee roasters, coffee distributors and coffee shops. There’s intense competition to rank high when someone searches for one of these. But only a fraction of the searches made is actually that short. More commonly people search for something like ‘organic espresso coffee shops’. This is an example of a long tail keyword. Ranking high in one of these is easier. Try to generate a list of long tail keywords for each of your pages. Now let’s talk about where they go.

Title Tags

Every page has a name, a title, which is stored in the title tag. Make it descriptive of your page, but if you’ve found the right keywords you should be able to include some of them in the title.

Meta Descriptions

This is a longer description of a page. When your search result appears, this is what a searcher will see (if you’ve filled it in). Make it easy for a person to read, but include keywords here as well.

Product Descriptions

Every product you sell is a separate page. And every product should have its own unique description. Don’t use the same one a competitor uses and don’t use the one on the manufacturer’s site. Search engines will identify these as duplicates and lower your placement.

Page URL

Make sure your store’s platform supports unique, readable addresses for each page. Use keywords here as well and separate words using hyphens (this-is-the-way-it-should-look) to make search engines, and customers, able to read it better. If your site’s domain name can include a keyword, that’s even better.

Image Filenames

Every picture tells a story, but search engines can’t see what’s in a picture. So the filename will help describe it. Use keywords here if possible. Don’t keep cryptic names that aren’t meaningful.

Image Alt Text

As a way to make pages accessible to everyone, images can have text attached to them. Hovering over a picture will usually make this text appear, but also specialized programs for the blind will read out the description. Search engines look for keywords here too.

Page Headers (h1 and h2)

Besides formatting your page to look good, headers are also used by search engines as another place to find keywords.

Sitemap.xml

Be sure your store platform can produce this sitemap file. By providing it for search engines they can be sure to visit every page on your site (that you include) without missing any.

Robots.txt

This is another file search engines use when looking at your site. In this one, you can tell it which pages you want to be indexed and which ones you don’t. You can leave out folders that contain only scripts or your image files while making sure it looks at product pages.

Content

Writing good content attracts readers and search engines are becoming better and better at identifying good content. Put your keywords into your articles, but don’t overdo it. Keyword heavy content will get your site lowered down the search results rather than raised.

Site Structure

Having an easy to navigate site will increase your ranking. Typically, a flat structure with a limited number of layers is preferred by the search engines. This indicates to them that visitors will only have to follow a limited number of links before finding what they want on your site.

Internal Links

Putting links that take you from one place in your site to another can improve your ranking and make it easier for the search engine to work its way through all of your pages. Navigational links are good, as a link in actual content when they occur naturally. As with anything, too much of a good thing can ruin it. Putting in links just for link’s sake, repeating links, and different links with the same anchor text can all lower your ranking.

Apps and Plugins

To help you with setting up all of this you will have some tools built into your store’s platform. But there are also apps, plugins and add ons you can use to fill in any gaps your software doesn’t cover. These can help you do everything from choosing your keywords, to filling in your tags, to creating files. With the proper tools you should be able to quickly make every new product page an SEO friendly one.

Don’t be intimidated by this list. It will be a bit rough at first, but practice will make it easier every time. You’ll quickly gain confidence and your site should start to rise in the search rankings. Be sure to use analytic tools to measure your progress and change things that aren’t working. As you rise in the search results you will get more visitors. Another factor that helps you rise is having more visitors. You are on your way to the top now. The key to success is in the words you choose. Use your words!

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