10 insider tips for increasing the search engine visibility of your online store

24.10.2013 -

My job is to find ways to improve search results and make sure that search engines find websites, so I can't help wondering why so many online stores out there get even the most basic things wrong.

First of all, who would open a new brick-and-mortar store in a location where no-one can find it? And indeed, I haven’t seen many brick-and-mortar stores that sell products in their shipping boxes without any sort of presentation, that neglect point-of-sale advertising, place products on shelves at random, hide shopping carts behind the shelves, or tell you at the checkout counter that this store only accepts a certain credit card.

I don’t think any online retailer really wants to be in a situation where more than two thirds of the customers who have placed items in their shopping cart leave the store without completing the transaction.

If you’d like to see an example of a great online store, check out Schwan’s. It’s one of the most profitable online grocery stores in the world. At Schwan’s, the first thing you notice is the images. The product images show cooked dishes on plates instead of packaged goods. In addition, the products are organized by customer groups. Are you looking for meals for one or a dessert to go with your low-cal diet? And if you aren’t sure how to prepare a dish, you can find preparation instructions, nutrition facts and how-to videos for cooking on the product pages.

Ten tips on how to make your online store search engine friendly and more profitable:

1. Do research on the search terms that people use to find your products online
Of course, it’s worth using well-known brand names, but it’s also good to have a plain English search term that describes the product. It’s great if a product has a unique name, but if you don’t use everyday terms as well you’ll lose a significant amount of search engine-generated traffic.

2. Add a clear navigation to your site
You can help your customers to find products they want in your online service by creating a target group-oriented navigation system that is based on common sense. It will also help search engines to parse the information correctly.

3. Create a separate landing page for each product category
Many visitors that come to your store through a search engine won’t yet have a specific product in mind. They need general product descriptions, and will also find comparisons of product features and applications helpful.

4. Write a detailed product description for each product
This step requires in-depth knowledge of the product. Product descriptions are important, because search engines won’t find a product page that contains very little text. Online store doesn’t have a sales clerks on hand ready to tell customers more about the products, so every piece of information that customers may need must be found on the product page. Online shoppers will also be grateful for the chance to ask questions in a live chat with customer services.

5. Use high-quality photos and videos
Great photos are the key to selling your products. Videos that demonstrate how a product is used in real life can encourage entirely new customers to buy the product.

6. Make it easy for your customers to share product information and special offers in social media
Commenting and wishlist features in social media make it easy to share product information. In addition, satisfied customers can also share their enthusiasm. You should also decide well in advance how you’ll react to comments, because people tend to get upset if you ignore criticism.

7. Make sure that customers can access your site with different devices
Mobile sales are growing fast: one out of five Finns buys products using a mobile device and fifty percent use mobile devices to search for product information.

8. Offer different payment options

In Finland, customers like to pay directly from their bank account. Fewer people will buy your products if you insist on payment by credit card. Other payment options could also include cash on delivery and billing after delivery.

9. Track and analyze
An online store without analytics is just drifting aimlessly, especially if you don’t track the impact of changes you’ve implemented. Search engine organic keyword visits and revenue will tell you how solid your online store’s search engine visibility is. You can also use analytics to calculate the performance of different marketing channels and use these results when you decide on future investments.

10. Test your online service all the time
Every online service can be improved. Test your texts, images, graphic elements, navigation, price and product teasers. A number of small improvements throughout the year will accumulate into big results.

Juha Vuohelainen

Juha Vuohelainen

As a Senior Consultant in web marketing I work closely with customers’ marketing officers and I really enjoy seeing the results presented in customer projects. Web marketing has developed from separate online campaigns to strategic long-term customer communication, which requires full commitment of CXOs in the company. The best results are gained through co-operation with companies that challenge you and have deeper understanding of online business. That is why I enjoy training and delivering up-to-date information to my customers.

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