Many e-retailers are already aware of the fact that optimising the SEO for their online shop should be a top priority, however how many actually know what exactly needs to be optimised?
To answer this question simply, it is basically everything that can be read by a web crawler and indexed in a search engine database. So this means that you need to pay attention to titles, description text, link, images and every last bit of code.
The main aim of optimisation should be to make it easier and faster for a search engine to find this content. While the principle is relatively simple to understand, the ‘how’ and ‘where’ to start can get progressively intricate. In this article, Twenga Solutions explores 3 different areas that can easily be optimised with the help of free online tools.
1. Create a sitemap, or optimise an existing one
One of the best ways to help a search engine discover your content is to use a sitemap, which is a document that lists which pages and files in your website are available for search engine indexation. A good sitemap makes it easy for search engines to explore your website or online shop.
You can optimise a sitemap in several ways:
- Keep them up-to-date: It is generally recommended to use a dynamic or automatic sitemap that updates itself each time you make changes to your website.
- Manage page priority: Tell the crawl robot when to come back to verify changes on your website and which pages are priorities. You can give the robot instructions to visit a determined set of pages every day, every week or every month depending on the frequency of updates or changes they go through.
- Verify sitemap compliance: Site maps normally follow specific search engine protocols depending on what the companies or organisations behind the search engines decide.
Tip: use sitemaps.org to verify your current sitemap or create a new one.
2. Improve your website speed
You can have the shiniest and most optimised website on the web, but it won’t mean anything if your web pages are slow to load.
Because search engines have a reputation to uphold and aim to provide the best user experience, they are not so keen on recommending slow pages. Modern ranking algorithms take the loading speed of a website very seriously and we could say that the longer your page takes to load, the lower it will rank in relation to your competitors.
Tip: You should consider that most top-ranking websites as of 2016 take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds to load, some even less than a second. To help you see how well you’re doing, you can use online resources including Pingdom and PageSpeed Tools by Google to determine the loading speed for your website or online shop.
3. Focus on internal links and link anchors
You probably already know that links can be text, images or representations of buttons you can click on to ‘jump’ to other pages or files. However, did you know that text links in particular (and mainly their anchors) can make a world of difference to your website’s internal linking structure?
The main thing you need to understand is that text links are made up of three basic components:
- Hyperlinks: A set of instructions that inform the browser to render a link. Browsers follow this HTML or Hypertext Markup Language to interpret and display web pages.
- Anchor or keyword text: The word or phrase used to ‘name’ the link.
- Appearance or decoration: The visual representation of the link, which is often made to stand out and inform the user that it’s clickable. The text can be a different colour, underlined, in bold, etc.
For example, if the anchor is Shoes for Women, the link is clearly telling users and web crawlers that behind the link and according to its anchor text phrasing, that they will find shoes for women.
However if we had displayed the anchor as Shoes for Women, we would be telling the search engine crawler to only take into account Women, which of course is extremely poor practice.
Optimising your anchors:
Matching anchor phrases to potential searches is one of the many recommended best practices of SEO and using Google Autocomplete can help you understand what users are looking for:
- Go to google.com
- Start typing a phrase followed by any letter of the alphabet
- Wait for phrases to appear below the search field
For example, while looking for ‘sandals + flip flops” and while typing the first two letters of flip: “fl” Google Autocomplete gives us the following phrases and we learn that not only are ‘sandal flip flops’ sought after but also ‘flat sandals’
Use these simple tips and free tools to help you get started with your SEO strategy and keep an eye out for our next articles, where we will explain other ways to improve your e-commerce website.