Search engine optimization (SEO)  is one of the most difficult areas of web work. Essentially, SEO is the building of a website in a manner that makes it easier to find in search engines. While this sounds simple enough, SEO is complicated by a number of factors which makes it a nightmare for individuals just starting out in ecommerce.

The largest factor concerning SEO is information or misinformation. There are many companies and individuals who make their living selling SEO. I have read and seen outrageous amounts of money being required for SEO services. Having felt the loss of SEO cost, and I have learned a few things that will provide some clarity for beginner in SEO.

The first thing that one needs to understand concerning SEO is that in order to understand how to optimize a website for search engines, you need to understand how a search engine works. Well, herein lies the problem. No one really knows 100% how search engines work.  Google and Bing search engines are proprietary information so the exact nature of these engines is not publicly known. Anyone telling you that they know entirely how the search engine works is lying. What is known about search engines is what companies and individuals have learned by trial and error as well as what the search engines suggest. Google and Bing provide Webmaster Tools for this very purpose. There are lots of companies and individuals who are going to swear that they can get traffic to your site and some of them can, but if someone is telling you that they have some secret method of getting your site to the front page of Google or Bing they are most likely lying.

There are a few things that you need to understand about SEO when you are just starting out. If you follow these basic fundamental concepts you will optimize your site and then be able to advance into deeper marketing strategies.

Domain Name

Most people think that a domain name should naturally be the name of the business. This is true to some extent if people search for your business by name. The problem with choosing a domain name is that the domain URL actually impacts SEO. If your domain name is a name that people will search for then it will come up in search engines better than names less likely to be searched. This is called domain keywording and essentially it is the naming of a domain based upon what people would search. For example, say you are selling gourmet peanut butter. People often name their businesses after themselves such as Bobspeanutbutter.com While this is fine to do if you own a brick and mortar business, it might be better to purchase a domain that better reflects search engine results such as gourmetpeanutbutter.com This is goofy area because you want your domain to be your business name so you may decide to go with the first name. The problem with this is that Bobspeanutbutter.com will require a lot more branding effort. My suggestion here is to research names and your brand in order to determine the best possible name that can also rank well in search. 

Designing Product Pages
Once you have chosen a domain name you will begin designing your product and content pages. When designing products the same URL principal applies. When you create a page the page name becomes part of the URL. Say you have a product call Apple Spice Peanut Butter. Gourmetpeanutbutter.com will become gourmetpeanutbutter/applespicepeanutbutter.com

So your product names become part of the URLs and this is what makes the title of the product so important. If someone is searching for gourmet peanut butter apple flavored then they will likely find your page. However, if your customers are searching for just gourmet peanut butter or a different flavor, then you may show up less in the search engine. For this reason, it requires that you have a really strong understanding of your customers and what they are likely to search for on the internet. The more you understand your consumer the better you will be able to focus your content more exactly. 

The standard approach to building pages is to create a title and description as well as tags. No matter what platform you are using there will be an area in which to enter title, description, and normally a tag area. The basic way that product pages work is by entering a title, description, tags, product SKU, inventory amount, price, and product variants. Most of this information is easily entered because it is about your product which you know and understand. However, this is where content becomes important.

Depending upon what you are selling is going to be an extremely large factor in your ability to optimize your site with search engines. A product like gourmet peanut butter (if it has unique flavors) may be easier to optimize than a more common product such as plain peanut butter. The reason for this is due to competition. The more competitive the industry the more competing content that exists within that industry. This is where designing your description is going to be very important. You are going to need to design a description that is unique and relevant to your product. This is where selling online becomes complicated. If you have 20 products then writing unique descriptions for these products is not too difficult. However, if you have thousands of products, you will have a lot of work on your hands or you will need to rely on standard manufacturers descriptions. For instance, if you are selling electronic goods and accessories it would be impractical to write unique content for thousands of web pages. 

Let’s start with the small product line first. Let’s say you have a limited product line. With a limited product line of say 1-100 products, you can comfortably create product descriptions over time. So what is the best product description? Well, essentially you want to describe the product and why it is worth buying. Imagine that you are selling your product over the phone or in your store. What would you sell your potential customer? By creating a product description that fully describes the product and sells it- you will naturally keyword the product for search engines. If you are writing for your customer you should naturally create a description that is SEO friendly. Search engines are getting smarter and smarter and they can actually determine if content is relevant or if it is redundant. There is a saying in SEO circles that “Content is King”. This is perhaps the most important concept that you can learn when starting your online business. Having well-written, relevant, and comprehensive content is the most important aspect to getting into search engines.

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