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5 SEO Tips for Online Retailers

Posted on Nov 13th, 2009
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    Retail SEO

    Online retail websites face a unique set of obstacles when it comes to improving sales through better search engine visibility.  Repetitive product descriptions, a lack of content and frequent churn of products can all be hurdles to overcome. But with these specific tips for retail search engine optimization, online retailers can turn those challenges into opportunities and maximize their organic search traffic.

    1. Add fresh content to the website. Many online retail websites focus on selling products rather than informing and providing value to customers, and hence severely lack content. It’s a good idea to include pages on a retail site that are purely content-based. Not only will informative, optimized content improve search rankings, it can help retailers sell more products by engaging customers.

    Try these ideas for adding fresh content to an online retail site:

    • Add customer success stories and case studies to the website.
    • Create a blog to provide relevant industry news, tips and product offerings.
    • Incorporate a resource section on the site with relevant white papers and other content.

    2. Eliminate repetitive copy. Another issue online retailers face is that many of their products are significantly similar, with only slight variations. As such, product descriptions tend to use very similar copy. And if other retailers sell the same products, their descriptions are likely similar as well.

    Avoid being penalized by the search engines for duplicate content by writing product descriptions that are as unique as possible. Highlight the most distinguishing characteristics of products to avoid duplicate copy. Lastly, ensure keyword phrases aren’t repeated too many times throughout descriptions. It’s an easy mistake considering target keywords are likely found in the name or description of most, if not every, product.

    Not only will this technique contribute to improved search rankings, but user experience will be enhanced as well.

    3. Draw traffic to static pages. For many online retailers, products are frequently added and removed from their website, some as often as every month or every week.  Adding fresh content to a site provides SEO benefits, but removing it can quickly negate any advantages, as it takes time for search engines to index content.

    To maneuver around this roadblock, draw traffic to more static pages, rather than revolving pages. For example, instead of focusing SEO on individual product pages, focus on product category pages.

    4. Don’t forget to optimize PDF product catalogs. For many retailers, it’s a common practice to offer a product catalog in PDF format on their website. When devoting time to optimizing HTML pages on a website, it’s essential not to forget about the catalog or any other PDF files. Remember these key points when optimizing PDF files:

    • Create text-based PDFs, rather than designing them in an image-based program, so that the search engines have text to read.
    • Optimize as you would an HTML page, incorporating keywords in headlines, copy and meta descriptions, and including anchor text hyperlinks.
    • Post a smaller sized PDF to avoid search engines – and customers –  deserting the PDF before accessing its content.
    • Remember to complete the document properties, particularly the title.

    5. Optimize images for search engines. SEO doesn’t end with HTML pages and PDF files. Online retailers’ sites are full of images. Why not leverage those images to gain better search rankings? Including alt text and optimized captions can all contribute to improved rankings in the search engines. Plus, images found via the search engines have the potential to be shared and linked to across the web, also contributing to improved rankings.

    Have you implemented creative SEO tips for ecommerce and online retail web sites? What tips would you add to this list?