- Make Sure Google Can Visit Your Website Development:
A common mistake for new websites is to forget to change the robots.txt file to allow search engines to crawl your pages. Without changing this, you are stopping any traffic to your website.
- Minimize Internal Redirects and Broken Links:
For any vital internal redirects, such as a site wide capitalization redirect, implement a 301 redirect. This ensures page rank strength is passed on (with a 15% dissipation). 302 redirects are seen as ‘temporary’ and pass on no strength! Any internal links should not be broken – never link internally to a page that redirects to another page or returns an error page, simply change the link to the correct destination. Also, ensure URL formatting correctly returns a 404 for any bad URLs, with an interesting error page to keep users on your website.
- Add Descriptive Alt Attributes to All Images:
This is vital for both search engines and users. Images with descriptive alt attributes (such as ‘a sunny beachside hotel in Cannes, France’) containing keywords appropriate to the page will be more likely to rank in Google Images. Optimized alt attributes also contribute to the overall ranking of the landing page, and can be useful for any blind or partially sighted users requiring an audio description of the image.
- Optimize All Meta Data, and Fill in the Blanks:
Titles and descriptions are a great opportunity to boost your keyword mentions for a page – add an optimized title and description to each page, with a consistent structure throughout your site and the chances of you ranking for your keywords will be higher than if you do not. Titles should be less than 57 characters; descriptions should be less than 156 characters.
- Keep Page Load Speed to a Minimum:
Google’s guidelines specify each page should take no longer than 2-4 seconds to load. If you have slow pages, the most common causes are large images (which can be made smaller) or videos.
- Check your Website and External Websites for Duplicate Content:
You should never duplicate your own content; it will cause content where two pages are fighting to rank for the same keywords. Google will not know which page to rank – so you are more than likely to find you will not rank at all. Check for any externally duplicated by searching for a snippet of your content in a search engine within quotation marks. Anything that comes up has duplicated your content – ask them to remove it, or change yours to be unique.
- Create Page Tags with a Hierarchy:
Each page should have a <h1> and <h2> tag, with relevant keywords to the page. Do not make the mistake of using page tags to aid ease of formatting in the CSS. It will likely lead to many irrelevant page tags and dilute the relevancy of the page. Your page tags should match your content, in terms of both structure and keywords. Any less important page tags should be given a <h3> or <h4>, following a hierarchy structure up to <h6>. Never use <h> tags in the header or footer as you will consequently duplicate the tags across every page of your website.
- Correctly Implement Canonicalization:
Make sure your entire site follows the same structure for URLs – either ‘www’ or ‘non-www’. Whichever version you choose, implement a site-wide 301 redirect rule to ensure any URL entered incorrectly then redirects to the correct version of the same page.
- Create Content which is Both SEO and User Friendly:
Write content for the terms you know your users are going to search for. Make your content engaging and optimized to most relevant terms for the page. Content is ‘King’ and contributes to so many ranking factors. Spend time on your content with thorough keyword research – it will be good to you in the long run.
- Detox your External Back links Regularly:
Go through all of your backlinks and make sure each one is following Google Webmaster Guidelines – if not, you are putting your site at risk of a penalty by not actioning them. Any links which do not follow the guidelines should be requested to be removed and placed in your disavow file, which then gets uploaded to Webmaster Search Console.
SEO is about sales not traffic:
51% of senior marketers focus their online marketing efforts on search and keywords, and a further 48% believe that optimization of their ecommerce site is key. However less than 40% of marketers emphasized the importance of converting retail website leads into customers.
To get the best return on SEO investment however, marketing expenditure should be focused on creating sales, effectively flipping the current budget breakdown. The focus of any multi-channel retail SEO campaign must always be creating sales. Anything else is simply wasteful. Optimize your ecommerce web pages to influence your customers rather than Google if you want to get a proper return on your SEO investment.
So the top 5 SEO actions you can take for your own multi-channel retail website are:
- Create original website content that people want to read.
- Reach out to your customer base and retail industry experts, encouraging them to create organic links to your ecommerce site for you.
- Always use a native speaker when creating content for regional websites.
- Use PPC to complement your organic SEO efforts, not as a replacement.
- Always focus on SEO for sales, not clicks.