If you’re a small business offering online products, chances are you’re hosting your site with a third-party specialist in ecommerce hosting. You are probably also taking advantage of their Content Management System (CMS) and online payment processing facilities to do the hard work for you. It’s often the most cost-efficient way to get your products online and ensures transactions are secure. But, even harnessing the power of their existing infrastructure, you’ll still encounter a few challenges when optimising your content for search. Let’s look at the six common ones you’ll need to address.
- Poor Product Descriptions
If you’re a small business it is easier for you to generate informative, useful content than it is for the large corporations. That’s because you offer a much smaller range of products so you can pay more attention to detail. For each product page:
- develop your own, unique content.
- be honest and truthful about your products and services.
- focus on providing useful information rather than pushy sales tactics—think short, sharp, and informative.
- customise your product descriptions so that they match what people are searching for and the questions they are asking i.e. know your audience!
- if your product has subtle variations, include them on the same page rather than making new pages for each.
- include images and possibly video so they can see as well as read!
- Missing customer reviews
Hand-in-hand with good product descriptions are customer reviews. Include them at the bottom of the page. Regularly moderate the reviews to remove any that are irrelevant or “spammy”. Don’t remove negative reviews; instead, learn from them by fixing the concerns. Then you can reply to the review to say it has been addressed. That shows you actively engage with your customers and care about their satisfaction!
- Duplicate information
Repeating identical information can lead to your content being penalised in search engines. That’s why you shouldn’t just copy manufacturer product descriptions. But even within your own content be careful not to copy-paste identical information. In fact, as part of your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) you should also identify which pages you consider to be canonical (i.e. the authoritative version) so that search engine crawlers don’t penalise you for having similar content.
- Unoptimised pages
This is where you have to apply the underlying SEO techniques to ensure your content ranks as well as is possible in search results.
- make sure you include meta data such as descriptions. All images should have an ALT tag so that search engines can index them. Video content should also have supporting descriptions added.
- ensure your content is informative—remember, it is about your customer not you. “Empty text” will see you rank lower in search results.
- Make use of long-tailed keywords and unbranded keywords. Often short-tailed keywords will be heavily skewed in favour of the big, popular ecommerce sites so there is an opportunity to boost your ranking by looking at the more “wordy” queries people are searching for.
- make sure each page title is unique and the page’s URL is user-friendly (i.e. products/7675254636.html means nothing whereas products/shirt-jungle-style.html does).
- Poor user experience
Unfortunately, some of the restrictions imposed by Content Management Systems may limit your ability to optimise the user experience in the way you’d like e.g. the ambiguous dynamically-generated product URLs mentioned above. But there are several areas where you can invest time to get things right.
- use a consistent, attractive theme for your content. Use sensible colour schemes. Don’t overboard with text—break up “walls of text” with whitespace.
- make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.
- include easy ways for your customers to contact you.
- design your website to be mobile-friendly since mobile devices are where most searches originate from.
- ensure that your navigation system is easy to use and logical, especially on small screens devices.
- Reputable Host
Make sure you research your webhost before you sign up. While affordability is a major consideration, reputation matters too. As a client website you actually inherit your host’s reputation! If they specialize in online casino sites you probably don’t want to host with them. Start by looking at Amazon Web Services (AWS). They are secure, have excellent uptime, and a great reputation.