SEO for 2014: Easy on-page optimization Hints

“What is so intriguing and frustrating and amazing about life is that you are always starting over, all of the time, and I really like that.” — Billy Crystal

Search engine optimization is a never-ending headache for many ecommerce entrepreneurs. Regular algorithmic modifications with Google, Bing, and Yahoo can indicate that the efforts you make now could be reversed tomorrow, especially if your search engine optimization plan is gimmicky and centered on attempting to”trick” the motors to liking you. Plus it appears that no matter what you do to increase your content and layout, there’s always something left which could nevertheless be done to make things more successful.

With the beginning of a new year right around the corner, however, it’s a fantastic time to sit down once more and have a look at your search engine optimization strategy, especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur who manages their own search engine optimization efforts in-house.

The Holy Grail of SEO is high PageRank backlinks (i.e. inbound links from other sites to yours), but they’re tough to get, are driven by quality articles, and take months or years to civilization. Creating quality, user-valued, brand-centered content must always be the cornerstone of your search engine optimization efforts, but there are simple, simple on-page matters which you could do to make your site’s pages more appealing to search engines.

Revisit Keyword Research

You are probably already well aware of the major search keywords on which you’d really like to rank ardently. However, it never hurts to do a little bit of new keyword research to insure that your list of target keywords is current.

It’s unrealistic to believe that the huge majority of relatively tiny websites will rank well on thousands of keywords. It is not unrealistic, but to rank well on several dozen key words, particularly if lots of them are not too aggressive to begin with. And just because a specific keyword is not all that competitive does not mean it isn’t rewarding.

For the longest time, Google provided a great, free keyword research tool — called (unsurprisingly) that the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. You can use this tool even if you did not use AdWords. The replacement for this particular tool is the Google Keyword Planner, which is accessible under”Analysis and Tools” on your Google AdWords account.

Even a couple of minutes using a keyword research tool may be of value in focusing your attention on new opportunities for key word”strategy,” whatever that might be.

The objective is to get together a list of anywhere from 100 to 300 key words and key phrases that you think are directly related to the products that you market and which are descriptive of the types of things on your internet store. Some of these will undoubtedly be”short tail” and generic (e.g. you market garden hoses but want to rank on”gardening”) but most will probably be”longer tail” and much more oriented and specific to specific products and categories (e.g.”expandable lightweight garden hoses”).

Formulate a Landing Page Strategy

From there, the next step is to construct a simple spreadsheet with your targeted keywords from the first column, 1 keyword each row of the spreadsheet.

In another column of the spreadsheet, go ahead and list the page on your site which should be the preferred landing page for somebody who searches on that term.

Imagine that you sell birdhouses, for instance. An important key word for you’re”brass birdhouses,” where the landing page for this term may be your category page for brass birdhouses. The expression”cedar birdhouses,” by comparison, would be targeted to a group page for cedar birdhouses.

A more particular look like”little barn wood birdhouse” might target a specific product page that closely matches that description. Likewise, a branded search for a specific product (“Dunwood Classic Redwood Birdhouse”) should aim that specific product page.

One implication of the exercise could be the discovery that a word that you think is significant does not have an appropriate landing page on your website. By way of instance, imagine that your birdhouse web store now only categorizes products by the materials from which they are made.

Nonetheless, imagine that you are interested in targeting people who search based on the size of birdhouses (e.g.”big birdhouse,” or”little birdhouse”). If that’s the event, you should think about developing a new set of product categories that correspond to the key words that you care about. Along with this value in terms of SEO, presenting your goods concerning the categories that customers are considering can definitely influence conversion rates and time-on-site.

Another possible consequence of building this spreadsheet which may surprise you is that you discover that you are always targeting the home page of the website. Even though it’s tempting to want visitors to always come through the front door, the fact remains that landing a relevant interior page on the website will be more successful as a selling tool for many, many hunts.

It is also easier to optimize an interior page for a specific longer-tail search term in contrast to attempting to optimize the home page for each term you care about. And optimizing inside pages on several related long-term search phrases will have the additional advantage of potentially raising the general visibility of higher-level pages on wider term searches.

Optimizing Page Titles

Now it is time to add a third column to your spreadsheet. Go ahead and sort out the current page name for each site page you’ve recorded in your spreadsheet.

Page titles are important to search engines, and they’re relatively easy to optimize. The question now is simple: Is the current page name adequate to your search engine optimization goals, given that you are trying to rank for that specific keyword?

Minimally the page name should be descriptive of the content of the page, and include utilization of the precise keyword you are targeting. By way of instance, if you are trying to acquire a category page to rank on the word”brass birdhouses” then the name of the page must include the word”brass birdhouses.”

The term should also appear early in the name. “Brass Birdhouses for Your Feathered Friends” will be more powerful than”Birds Love Brass Birdhouses” — although I doubt either of the page names are all that good.

Lastly, have a look at the amount of the page title. It is tempting to use a great deal of words from the page name, but hold the length to 70 characters. Search engines will use your page names in the search engine results page when they serve up your page consequently. However, the engines will truncate the result if it goes over 70 characters.

Excellent names will be keyword-rich, but not keyword-stuffed, descriptive of the content on that page, below 70 characters, and invite an individual to click on that outcome, if it showed up on a search engine results page. Do yours?

Optimizing URLs

What goes for the page name often goes equally for the page’s URL. Although there’s a disagreement about what impact dynamic URLs have on search engine results, the simple fact is that most web stores can control their URLs, and product and category pages which have simple static URLs are easier to optimize.

Much like page titles, usage of your keywords in the URL may have advantages. In actuality, you can make a good case for using your page names as, basically, your URLs. By way of instance, if your group page name is”Brass Birdhouses” because you are targeting that keyword, you can create a case for the URL being www.thebirdhousestore.com/brass-birdhouses.html.

But do not just go changing all of your URLs on a whim. Unless you’re developing a brand new site, those pages are probably already indexed by Google, Bing, and other search engines, and simply changing the URL will be catastrophic for your current search engine rank on these pages (searchers clicking on search results will get”Error 404″ page not found errors).

It is possible to change your URLs, but for each change you are going to need to make a 301 redirect. Just about all web store builders have a simple built-in menu for doing so. This is a time-consuming process, but vital.

Moreover, consider how the value a well-written URL attracts is really rather marginal, overall. If a page is standing poorly and you are trying to make it better, then this is a trick worth trying. But if a page ranks well with the present URL, it may be best to just leave it alone.

Optimizing Meta Data

Next comes the page meta data. From an SEO perspective, the”simple fix” meta tag to be worried about is the”description” tag.

In another column on your spreadsheet, paste your current description meta tags for every page on your site that you are targeting.

You may be surprised to find that pages which are critical to your search engine optimization strategy are in fact missing this meta tag entirely. It’s easy to overlook adding that piece of meta data when you are building out a website.

There is not a”trick” to writing excellent description tags which isn’t a part of writing good page titles. Have a look at the descriptions as they are now. Do they use the key words that you are targeting for this page? Are those key words used early in the description itself? Are the page descriptions really descriptive of the content of the pages to which they’re attached?

Much like page names, there are limitations to what the search engines will display with regard to the search results snippets. Hold the comprehensive meta description to no more than 156 characters, ideally, and find those key words featured early in the description, since this can improve click-through rate also.

Finally, just as page names should be unique, so should page descriptions. Don’t use the identical page descriptions for at least 1 page on the website. That should really follow naturally from your general plan, as the keywords you are targeting should also be different for different pages.

Optimizing Page Content

What goes for the other components on your on-page search engine optimization strategy, go evenly to your actual page content on your website.

This likely won’t end up as a pillar in your spreadsheet, but examine the pages that you are targeting and ask yourself the same old question: Do your targeted key words for each page actually appear on the pages themselves?

You will find helpful easy-to-implement strategies for calling a search engine’s attention to specific keywords on a particular landing page. Simply using a keyword more than once is a technique, though you should avoid”keyword stuffing” — the practice of using a specific keyword too much or in awkward ways which are clearly designed to”trick” a search engine but offer no user value.

Another strategy is to use the key words on the page within the context of your H1 (header) tags, essentially, noting to the search engine which the keyword is in the page headline. Much like page names, use the key word early in the headline, and do not use more than 1 pair of H1 tags on the page (that is what H2 through H6 are for).

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Beyond that, bear in mind that retail sites frequently suffer from the problem which category pages and product pages are image-heavy and text-light. This is great for the consumer, really, but the search engines can not do anything with a movie right. The best they could do is to require the pictures ALT tag, which should go with each picture.

Because you want your usage of key words to be relegated to the rest of the text on the page, this likely means that you’re likely to need to do some writing. Try to craft at least 50 to 100 words worth of good, descriptive written articles on each page of your website, including pages. Using this method, you are adding enough content overall the key word usage will be mathematically proportional.

As an aside, but an important one, it is tempting to rely on manufacturer’s product copy when contemplating what to wear a product page. From an SEO perspective, but this is nearly always a mistake as that exact same copy will be used often through the net, leading Google and other search engines to respect your shop as offering nothing especially novel to the user concerning content.

Beyond this, another strategy is to bring some highlighting — such as bold or italics — to key words. Do not expect this to have a great deal of dramatic effect, but every little bit helps.