February 25, 2010

SEO Tips for Ecommerce Sites


Hostway Team

By Emele Maisey

Before implementing the SEO tips below, you must first do thorough keyword (key-phrase) research. Do not guess what people are typing in the search engines. After all, what's the point in showing up in the top position on Google for a phrase that no one searches for?

Images, Flash and Content

Image-heavy sites and Web sites made purely with Flash may look pretty but they aren't good in terms of SEO. Search engine robots cannot “read” what an image says nor can they recognize Flash or Javascript. This is why you should include alt tags with a description for images, and use plain text for headlines and subheads, not a graphical type treatment.

Content is king. A Web site must have plenty of content to be successful with SEO. Write a unique description for each of your products and include customer testimonials. Don't just copy and paste details from the manufacturer's Web site—everyone does that.

Name images with part, if not all, of the key-phrase, rather than—img_203494.jpg, upload product-name.jpg.

Use a unique alt tag on each product image to describe what it is, include the researched key-phrase along with the make and model where appropriate.

Pages and URLs

Where possible, URLs should be based on keywords, not random IDs. For example www.mysite.com/womens-shoes rather than www.mysite.com/?ID=2579. Also, it's best if you use a hyphen to separate words.

Make your index/home page count. Do not use a splash page or a full-page Flash intro. Use text-based content and a selection of thumbnail images along with anchor text and the search engines will love it.

Build an HTML site map and link to it in your navigation. Not very interesting for humans, but it's a fantastic way for search engine spiders to find all of your products and links, enabling them to index your pages.

Navigation and Anchor Text

Use text links for navigation. Drop-down menus, graphics and Javascript aren't good for SEO. If you must use these, be sure to have your navigation as plain text links at the bottom of your Web site as well.

For “Buy Now” links, consider adding the product name such as “Buy Product Name Now." Also, avoid using “Click Here” or “More Info” links – Instead use anchor text along the lines of “More Birthday Cards." For an added boost you can also use title attributions in links.


Use an H1 tag for the title of the page and H2 tags on category pages for each individual product name. A page should only have one H1 tag but can have several H2 tags and H3 tags.

Each page of your Web site should have a unique title tag. It's best if this matches the H1 tag, but if you must have your business name in the title tag, use it at the end.

It is widely believed in the SEO community that keyword meta tags offer little to no SEO value for a Web site. But if you do use them, make the keyword meta tag different on each page of your site. Use keywords that are relevant to the page, not the Web site as a whole.

About the Author

Emele Maisey is a Web site designer and small business owner. She first started her small ecommerce Web site selling handmade cards and gifts in 2004. She then opened her own Web design and search engine optimization business in 2008 to help other small business owners succeed online.

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