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The Importance of SEO Rankings for eCommerce

SEO Rankings in ecommerce

SEO efforts become increasingly important in ecommerce for two key reasons: They generate new traffic and organize content in ways that create a compelling user experience that drives conversions. Search engine ranking criteria gradually approach perfection by finding the most relevant websites for search queries, so SEO optimization not only drives traffic but also generates other benefits such as higher conversions, more sophisticated targeting and better brand promotion. The Wolfgang Digital 2014 report found that 40 percent of ecommerce interactions originated from organic searches and that 41 percent of conversions resulted from those searches.[1] SEO drives traffic, and it's not enough just to make the first page for as many keywords as possible. Getting the number-one ranking is extremely important according to a research study by Search Engine Watch that revealed some convincing statistics. The study found that websites with a top ranking enjoyed click-through rate or CTR of 36.4 percent while number-two ranked websites only averaged a 12.5 percent CTR. Number-three ranked sites dropped to 9.5 CTRs.[2] Simple math demonstrates the value of an optimized site, but the question that remains is how to achieve a top ranking when competitors are vying for the same spots for multiple keywords.[3]

Best Practices for Getting High ecommerce SEO Rankings

The single most effective strategy for ranking highly in generic searches consists of researching long-tail keywords for the home page and product pages. Optimizing for long-tail keywords is the easiest way to get to a top ranking, but it won't do much good unless the keywords are highly relevant to other products on the site or if the keywords are too broad buyer to attract the right type of buyer. Google's AdWords Keyword Tool offers useful ways to gauge exact matches of long-tail keywords for different local markets that marketers want to target. Optimizing for local searches is a powerful strategy for reaching the number-one spot in different markets, and it doesn't matter where buyers live when they buy from global suppliers; it's just important to get buyers to the site. Going after short and simple keywords can prove to be a futile strategy due to the high competition for those terms that major retailers and wholesalers tend to dominate. Moz can help strategists refine their keywords by showing which keywords a company's competitors are using and their Domain Authority and Page Authority rankings. It's easy to see how a company compares with its competitors for certain keywords so that it can optimize for those keywords where the company has the higher ranking. Marketers can determine the Moz score for any website by adding the free Moz toolbar to a Firefox or Chrome browser. The tool also proves useful for determining the DA and PA of potential outbound links for a B2B platform so that marketers don't inadvertently link to companies with low authority-ranking and page-ranking scores.

Focusing on Google's Ranking Algorithms

Google still maintains a commanding lead in the number of searches it handles, and anyone who conducts thousands of searches can explain why in a simple statement: Google's algorithms are better at decoding semantic meaning. The company continually refines its ranking formulas to deliver better results and interpret what people really mean based on their profiles, search history and other BI like social behavior. All these resources play roles in interpreting queries and delivering responsive results, and B2B companies can strengthen their SEO efforts by following Google's lead and optimizing their sites based on Google best practices that include:

  • Optimizing sites for mobile marketing
  • Nurturing relationships that involve extended sales cycles
  • Demonstrating a strong online presence that includes social media interactions
  • Adding valuable microdata like high-quality images and rich snippets
  • Coding for HTML navigation and transparency
  • Incorporating long-tail keywords that precisely define products and services
  • Branding a company
  • Creating a strong UX and UI
  • Posting high-quality content that incorporates SEO best practices
  • Developing high-quality links with authoritative websites
  • Featuring product reviews, testimonials, FAQs and other resources
  • Removing broken links as quickly as possible
  • Using a unique META title and description tag on every website page
  • Making internal searches user-friendly, which also makes them search-spider friendly


Using AdWords Campaigns to Refine Keyword Strategy<

Even companies that don't traditionally use pay-per-click advertising can benefit in organic searches by using these PPC campaigns to refine their keyword strategies and test new keywords to find phrases that attract customers and result in conversions. Marketers can track and quantify their results from AdWords campaigns to strengthen their keyword strategies based on demographic analytics, traffic, conversions while generating high-quality leads and sales in the process. It's easy to follow the website journeys that result in completed sales. The data are invaluable for assessing keyword competitiveness and effectiveness, website usability and other key metrics. AdWords campaigns can also help to develop keyword ideas and related groups of terms, and analytics data reveal how many searches Google gets for different keyword variations.

SEO Drives Traffic More Efficiently

Despite numerous inefficiencies, business-to-business websites most often experience site abandonment because of poor SEO targeting that attracts the wrong type of customer like retail shoppers. Driving traffic to a website requires refining keyword strategy based on the keywords that buyers use when searching for products and services and developing the brand so that it seems authoritative and responsive to users. Savvy marketers add value to their platforms by providing clear internal navigation architecture, additional content, social links, proprietary apps and strong, user-friendly features. Catalogs, subcatalogs and product information pages can strengthen SEO, but catalogs aren't the only areas where content is needed. Content ideas for strengthening the platform's brand and authority include:

  • Links to blogs that discuss how to use the company's products
  • Product reviews and testimonials
  • Press releases about new products, the company and industry news
  • User manuals
  • Product demos
  • Social media posts and alternative customer service pages
  • Videos, images, white papers and other resources


Site Structure and Internal Architecture

Site architecture is critical to user navigation and SEO, so it's important to design the site with flat architecture that uses as few clicks as possible to move around the site. Architecture affects usability, conversion rates and SEO rankings, so it's worth scrapping or redesigning any site that has become confusing, complex and disorganized due to business growth and gradual changes and additions that have created a cobbled-together website. Clean architecture speeds page loads, optimizes internal searches and helps websites rank higher in SEO. Research shows that people abandon websites within 3 seconds if they load too slowly.

Optimizing Schema Markup

Although Google says it doesn't use microdata in SEO rankings, best practices argue in favor of including this information because it helps to optimize click-through rates and provides additional data that Google can use to interpret information on any given Web page. SEO improves conversions--appearing at the top of the list isn’t the only metric to consider. Convincing users to click on the link depends on how relevant the link is, so including more information like microdata should boost SEO results and increase conversion rates.

Fine-Tuning Manufacturer Descriptions to Eliminate Duplicate Content

Most ecommerce websites sell goods from many manufacturers and often insert their suppliers' descriptions in product catalogs. Search engines find the same copy on multiple websites and downgrade their rankings because the companies used duplicate content. Search engines become confused by duplicate content, which causes them to display many pages with the same copy, choose the first instance or throw out all websites that are using the duplicate content--especially when unique-copy alternatives are available. Creating unique copy for products prevents downgrades or random choices of the first duplicate content that the search robots process. Fine-tuning the copy with additional information, product reviews, multiple images and other copywriting strategies can differentiate listings, optimize websites for more precise long-tail keywords and convince search engines that a company's listing needs to be at or near the top of SERPs.

Optimizing Images

ALT tags carry valuable information about website images that search engines can scan to boost a site's relevance. A yellow box appears when a cursor hovers over the image, and Google can read this information to learn what's in the image. Websites can use keywords here without it counting against them as over-optimization.

Planning Internal Links

Google looks at multiple internal links suspiciously, so the best practice is to use internal links sparingly where they fit naturally. This approach also prevents confusing users with too many options and complex internal architecture that's hard to follow logically. Creating a sitemap helps users and Google's search robots navigate the site quickly to find information. It's also important to use unique anchor text for each internal link because using the same anchor text confuses customers and search engines.

SEO Improves Conversions

Professional SEO services improve conversions by providing better user experiences, easier navigation, more precise customer targeting and intuitive catalog searches. Everything that websites do to improve organic search results generates dividends by increasing conversion rates. The more accurately buyers are targeted, the more likely they'll eventually buy even when the process involves complex buying procedures and long lead times. The reasons why conversions are tied to best SEO practices include:

  • Increasing link potential to authoritative sites adds value to customers.
  • Developing stronger ties to social media improves targeting, personalization and branding.
  • Simplifying mobile research and ordering strengthens SEO and conversions.
  • Making product information easier to find builds customer trust.
  • Encouraging proper formatting and layouts improves the user experience,
  • Providing higher quality content strengthens SEO and conversion rates regardless of the audience that's targeted.
  • Ensuring that site functions and broken links are regularly monitored and removed prevents buyer frustration.
  • Using multimedia content applications to seal the deal strengthens authority and site rankings.
  • Optimizing images generates empathy, increases loyalty and trust and curates the user's website experience.


Working with an Experienced SEO Developer

In today's highly competitive B2B markets, simple design and website development aren't enough to guarantee successful online marketing. You need a content-development strategy to impress both search engines and users who prefer getting their information from articles instead of ads. The right development associate can help your company keep up with the rapidly evolving, detail-oriented work that SEO services involve. Choosing a knowledgeable company that understands the B2B process simplifies keeping up-to-date on Google's algorithms and offers other solutions such as integrating keywords into website content, marketing campaigns, social media channels, images and website features. Strong B2B platform integrations automate many processes such as detailed site reporting, gathering BI about your competitors' SEO strategies and continuously monitoring SEO results so that updates and improvements are easy to manage.
[1] Irish E-Commerce Study Q2 2014
[2] SEO School #2: 12 Most Important On-Page Ranking Factors in ecommerce
3] The Ultimate Guide to SEO for E-commerce Websites

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