• Ronnie’s Mustache

    Excellent- Trond! I agree with everything you’ve written.

    All of my work is referral-based. Over the last two years I’ve made it clear that we (SEO) need to be involved in every step of the redesign process. From discovery to launch and post-launch.

    Not only does this help avoid potential problems, but it also gets everyone involved inline with what we’re trying to do. And it shifts SEO from a “mystical process” to something that is taken into consideration with every decision throughout the project.

    When clients do call us in “too late,” we let them know that. And we are clear about what WE will require from THEM if they want to be successful.

    One lesson I’ve learned is that something unexpected WILL GO WRONG, no matter how solid your plan is. Anticipating problems and knowing where to look to uncover them is as important as everything we do leading up to launch.

    Tip- Really get to know the ecomm. platforms well. Align yourself w/ great developers because they’re hard to come by and can be a great resource for companies w/ small dev teams.

  • http://www.douglife.com Doug Montgomery

    Hey Trond! First, thanks for this post. I’m in the e-commerce niche currently, and could use in-depth information like this more than you know!

    My question, since you so kindly asked is: You mention “While working with large e-commerce sites, provide developers with information about how to automate the creation of SEO-friendly title tags and meta descriptions for new pages.”

    I’m using Magento at the moment, and I’ve really not found an “automatic” solution for title / description / keyword / image alts. Do you have something in your bag of spices for this?

  • Derek Abbring

    Do you find that most SEO’s are not developers nor designers? I find that I’m wearing multiple hats for nearly every client I handle and I wanted to get some feedback if that is the norm. Nice article, I agree with everything you wrote.

  • scott graham

    really great advice. thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.vaimo.com/ Simen Thorsrud

    Summary: There is only so much automation you can do; you still need to have good data in your product catalog in your website’s back end.

    I work as a tech director for a company that develops Magento sites and I regularly work with Trond. I think I know what he means.

    First of all: by “automatic” I don’t think he means automatically extrapolate good title tags from the product description or other elements. You need to have good information attached to the products from the start. This is important. This means in particular: Product name, short description, description, meta description, image title.

    Usually the process is this:

    Write a good, descriptive product name. What constitues a good product name actually varies from industry to industry. But in general: don’t put meta information like EAN or manufacturer in the product name. If you do it right, you should fetch meta information from their respective back end fields if you want to use them in the title tag or elsewhere. This can be automated.

    Write a short, descriptive “short description” text. Usually I keep within Google’s maximum allowed characters for the meta description tag. This is because I copy this text and paste it directly into the meta description field. Try to imagine what the search results on Google would look like and what you would like users to see there – just below the product name on the search results page. No HTML.

    Write the long description. Again, be as descriptive as possible and keep semantically correct. (list-tags, H-tags etc). Try to be verbose.

    Copy-paste “short description” into the “meta description” field. Don’t bother with the “meta keyword” field.

    We usually just copy-paste the product name into the image descriptions. It would be even better if you described the image exactly. Example: “Closeup of the underside of an old 1930′s era typewriter. It is black and rusty in some places.” But again, we hardly ever do it that thoroughly.

    Now, here is where the “automation” happen:

    Let’s say your SEO department gives you the following advise:

    1) All category pages should be titled like this: “[Category name] – [Website name]”

    Then your developers will do the following (pseudo code) on the category page.

    IF no $category->getShortDescription()
    THEN set title tag to: “[Category name] – [Website name]”

    2) All product pages should have this title tag: “[Product name] ([EAN]) – [Manufacturer] – [Website name]”

    Then your developers use this pseudo code:
    Title tag = “$product->getName() ($product->getEan()) – $product->getManufacturer() – $sitename”

    Hope this clarifies some – and good luck.

  • Ronnie’s Mustache

    Wearing multiple hats is something all good SEO’s have to do. I often find myself playing PM, QA and Analyst roles.

    I’m often tempted…almost compelled, but as a consultant, I’m not actually doing any development or design work. I’ve got preferred partners for those services and I TRY not to bundle them with my own.

  • http://www.aomservices.com/ Derek Abbring

    Thank you for the feedback Ronnie!

  • http://bibianowenceslao.com/ Bibiano Wenceslao

    “Don’t Waste Link Authority On Ineffective Link Structure” – THIS! I’ve met a number of clients who wants to build links but doesn’t want to revise their awful website’s page hierarchy.

    Bookmarked and shared. Thanks for writing this Trond. This piece would be beneficial not only for SEOs, but for devs and designers as well.

  • Rajesh_magar

    Nice article…and Google adword latest Image extension for product listing is great for eCommerce optimization.

  • http://www.click-finders.com/ Mike Glover

    Trond – This is one of the most informative and well written articles I have ever read on eCommerce SEO. You basically covered every aspect in a way that I am sure even the most seasoned eCommerce SEO still learned somehting new!

  • http://www.douglife.com Doug Montgomery

    Simen, I don’t know how to thank you. That last bit was exactly what I needed to relay to my developers, and it has already saved us a ton of time! I owe you a beer good sir!

  • http://www.vaimo.com/ Simen Thorsrud

    Happy to help. :)

  • Angela M. Davis

    Great post! I’ve written a lot about ecommerce SEO in the past, and one area of opportunity a lot of people tend to leave out is the internal site search. If you’ve successfully driven shoppers to your site, but they can’t quickly and easily find the products they want through your navigation, they turn to the search bar.

    I’ve seen lots of ecommerce sites that don’t have an optimized internal search and products don’t show for related queries, so users don’t think you have what they want and they leave your site. I know most people say to disregard the meta keywords, but sometimes site searches actually pull from a product page’s meta keywords, so the keywords are still actually worth optimizing in that case.

  • Muhammad Dadu

    I have been using all these techniques on a website selling beds via http://ukbedspecialist.com. However they have not been effective… any suggestions

  • http://www.aomservices.com/ Derek Abbring

    That is smart to build it into the contract, thanks for the feedback Matthew

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Angela, nice point, thank you. You’re correct about the need to optimize large sites with extensive catalogs for internal search, ensuring that meta data (keywords and description) is inserted in an intuitive and useful manner. This can be easily done when SEO experts are involved at the planning phase… but becomes infinitely harder to slap on later.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your kind words. The idea for this column came about when I noticed a lack of detailed SEO information related to huge ecommerce stores and tried to fill a gap in existing information. Glad to hear that you found it helpful.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Nick, thank you for chiming in. Yes, writers are critical to the success of the process, for sure. Without content, SEO cannot be effective – I’ll dedicate an entire column to this issue shortly. It’s effective writing that made possible the kind of results I detailed in last month’s article on how I doubled revenue with SEO (see http://searchengineland.com/how-to-double-your-revenue-with-seo-157799 )

    In this post, I focused on establishing a foundation, doing the groundwork, and putting in place the technological platform upon which to construct large e-commerce online stores/websites, with typically thousands of pages. It’s like laying a strong, secure foundation upon which to build the house… and at that stage, writing has a really important role. In my view, it’s easier to start optimizing and achieving better results when the technical SEO fundamentals are in place, working FOR us and not against us. Then it’s easier to be effective more quickly with content and on-page SEO.

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Thank you very much for this concise explanation, Simen :-)

  • http://SEOnomics.com/ Trond Lyngbø

    Great to hear your approach to handling this tricky issue. You’re absolutely right about the need to align with crack developers, and treat every expert on the team with respect and dignity that befits their importance to the overall success of our collective efforts. They’ll also help quickly resolve the inevitable problem that’s bound to creep into bigger projects.

  • http://www.20milesnorth.com Spokane Web Designer

    I find I spend most of my time writing description copy. When you first get to a project, they often have 1-2 sentences for a product along with a title. I try to stretch it to 2-3 paragraphs at a minimum.

  • http://www.20milesnorth.com/ Rob Jenkins

    I took a look at at one product just to see, the White Ottoman bed. I know there will be varying opinions on this, but I would recommend you did not muddle your product title tags with a duplication of your home page title tag at the end. I would also put the product name first and then nix the pricing in the title tag. For instance:

    ON SALE! – White Ottoman Bed – £240.00 – Buy Beds Online | Huge Sale Beds at UK Bed Specialist

    would become something more like this:

    White Ottoman Bed – Lift up bed with storage – UK Bed Specialist

    In Firefox I also see a number ’1′ to the left of your bed frames drop down.

    I also see a copy error (guessing if I see one on the only product I look at there are more)
    The sentence below is missing the ‘d’ in bed
    The Ottoman Be is our best seller and is also available in Brown, Black and White.

  • http://www.20milesnorth.com/ Rob Jenkins

    One more thing, link your bottom social buttons to actual social profiles, not the profile websites.

  • Ronnie’s Mustache

    I’ve always found it tough to convince companies to write their own descriptions, and not just use the manufacturers’.

    For sites w/ 10,000+ SKU’s it can be a difficult task. That’s why it’s important to get people working on the descriptions, images, videos and all product related data early on in the project.

    I’ve found that having them work on small groups of items works best. Start w/ the top 50-100 products or so. Doing this will give you a good idea of how long it will take to get everything done. And it allows a system to be put in place or improved upon.

    When the copywriters ask, “What’s the best way to write for SEO?” I give them a few brief guidelines and tell them, “…to write without thinking about SEO. Focus on great copy that sells.”

  • http://www.20milesnorth.com/ Rob Jenkins

    I agree completely, the large sites typically have more employees at their disposal, but I often end up either getting approval to bill for me writing them, or giving specific instructions to the product guy/gal and 3 other people who have been deemed having free time.

  • stracy

    We just had a RV this morning at our agency in Paris with an e-merchant who owns an e-commerce site since 2006 a little bit frustrated and fed up with web agencies.

    You bet, they’ve changed agencies 6 times in 7 years and still don’t have an SEO optimized e-commerce site !!!

    The problem is that they’ve been in contact with web developper agencies and web design agencies so they have a site that’s ok goodlookingwise, but everything needs to be optimized as far as SEO is concerned. And I mean EVERYTHING.

    Url structure

    duplicate content product discriptions

    call to action buttons

    alt image texte

    meta tags

    Everything

    I told them that the problem is that they have a nice well designed car with a great motor, but it’s sitting o the parkinglot of the factory. Nobody has brought it to the store to be sold.

    They got the picture all right, but competition has taken marketshares from their business the last 2 years and they just manage to level off. So they only have a limitted budget left to try to fix things up.

    They wasted time and money for 7 years.

    That’s the cost of not taking SEO into account right from the very beginning.

    And that’s what we all face. People calling for help becaus they built an e-commerce site that just isn’t visible in the search engines.

    Great post, that high lights ounce again the biggest and most common mistake’s e-merchants do when designing an e-commerce site.

  • http://webemergence.com/blog/ WebEmergence

    All great SEO tips, thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.techofweb.com/ Atul Bansal

    A complete article on SEO I wud say.. But it gives me a thought that a Web Developer should be Web Designer and SEO too….

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Avoiding duplication of content can be achieve by adequate preliminary planning. Inform your web developer of the potential for and causes of content duplication before coding begins.Thanks for sharing this info!