SEO for Online Retailers

SEO can’t be added on at the end of a ecommerce site redesign as an afterthought. Neither can usability.

Unfortunately, most ecommerce sites are not developed with “SEO” in mind from the beginning. Further complicating the matter, online catalogs are almost always dynamic (i.e. hooked up to a database). This presents potentially insurmountable difficulties to the search engine spiders as they attempt to explore the product catalog.

Consequently, online catalog sites typically only get a small portion of their product inventory included into the search engines. Or they get a large number of duplicate pages indexed, resulting in PageRank dilution that lowers page rankings quite severely. Our analyst report “The State of Search Engine Marketing 1.0” published by Catalog Age magazine, confirmed that fact. We studied the top 100 catalogers in the U.S. and the results were not good news for online retailers.

Building search engine optimization into an online catalog from the ground up means that:

  1. the URL structure does not contain “stop characters”, session IDs, user IDs, or non-essential “flags” or variables. A search engine unfriendly URL structure is the biggest barrier to getting your online catalog fully indexed by Google. And it’s the flaw most common across ecommerce sites.
  2. the site hierarchy and navigation are optimized to pass on the optimal amount of PageRank and Webrank (the measure of a site’s importance in the eyes of Google and Yahoo, respectively) to the most crucial pages.
  3. templates are optimized to maximize rankings of each product/category page for its own unique keyword theme. In other words, every page has a “song” and should be made to “sing.”

    For example, (a site we built) has tens of thousands of product pages in Google, each of them singing different songs. That’s tens of thousands of potential entry points into the site from the search engines. The home page can’t be everything to everybody; it can’t be ranked in the top 10 for every type of seafood that the online shop carries. Thus, it’s up to the product pages and category pages to do the bulk of the work in recruiting search engine users.

The following illustrates the successful application of optimization across differing types of pages with different keyword focis a home page vs. a category page vs. product page (all examples below are on the first page in Google):
Home page: “fresh seafood”
Category page: “lobster and steak”
Product pages: “king crab legs”, “tilapia fish”

Perhaps you don’t have the luxury of building SEO into your site from scratch? No need to worry; we can still help you.

Option 1) We can work with your IT team to fix your site. We work with best-in-class online retailers like Kohl’s, REI, and to audit their site, help them implement URL rewriting, help them overhaul the internal hierarchical linking structure for better PageRank flow, and so forth.

Option 2) If you don’t have the internal resources to implement our recommendations under our guidance, no problem! We’ve got the solution for you, and it requires only the minimalist amount of IT resource. We can set up a search engine friendly alternate path using our patent-pending “proxy” technology, called gravityStream.

Talk to us today about increasing returns on your online catalog investment. Netconcepts’ search engine optimization will increase the number of your website’s pages being indexed and found by key search engines; Google, Yahoo and MSN including category and product pages.