Sometimes, the best path to success in SEO is going back to the basics of good old fashioned keyword research and content creation with the end goal in mind: the customer and the conversion.
In this article, I’ll look at a website that was submitted for review from a “Keywords and Content” focus. The site is Restoration Parts Source (RPS), an e-commerce website supplying restoration car parts and accessories for new, vintage and classic U.S. makes and models.
1. Don’t Focus Only On Broad Keywords
In his submission, Michael, RPS’s Web consultant, listed some keywords that are important to them, such as [classic car parts] and [restoration car parts].
While you do want to improve search results for broad keywords like these if you can, the competition can be very high. Plus, you’ll often find the actual business from broad keywords may not be as significant as you expect.
In addition to traffic from broad keywords, we typically see traffic and sales generated from more specific keywords such as [ford mustang parts] that typically return category pages of an e-commerce site in the search results, as well as from searches on specific products themselves such as [Headliner for 1963 Falcon Hardtop], which typically return the product pages in the search results. In fact, for many e-commerce sites, it’s the more specific keywords that are responsible for the majority of the sales.
Ideally, you’ll want to do keyword research for each of the categories and many of the specific products. Test as many of these keywords as possible using a PPC campaign with conversion tracking.
After some time, using site analytics such as Google Analytics, you can get a list of the keywords generating sales from both PPC and organic search. If you focus on improving search results for those keywords, you should increase sales. See Organic Keywords: The First Step In Search Engine Optimization for more information on this.
2. Do Keyword Research For Product Categories & Specific Products
Use a keyword research tool such as the Google AdWords keyword tool to see what people are searching on within your territory for your product categories and specific products. For most e-commerce sites, this will take a fair amount of time; so, start with the important products.
If possible, test the keywords that appear to be relevant in a PPC campaign. Then use the results of the keyword research or the PPC campaign to improve your organic search results. Start with the basics, the HTML Page Titles and the content on the pages.
For example, on the RPS site, the HTML Page Title for the Ford category is simply [Ford Parts]. Not only is this not very enticing when viewed in search results, it is likely too broad. The HTML Page title should help searchers scanning the search results understand what they can expect if they click through to the page. Try to create an enticing message and ideally include one or two important keywords.
If RPS determines that [Ford Restoration Parts] is an important keyword phrase, for example, they might create a more enticing HTML Page Title based on their value statement (which is unclear on the RPS site; see more about this below), and/or based on one or more key features/benefits such as the following (with or without the company name appended at the end):
Discounted Ford Restoration Parts Shipped The Same Day
For more information, see 12 Steps To Optimize A Webpage For Organic Keywords.
3. Add Unique Content On Category Pages To Improve Search Results
Armed with your keyword research and/or results from PPC, add some overview text to your category pages. Yes, on category pages, you don’t want to push your items down too far, but just a couple of sentences can make a difference in search results.
This also gives you a chance to present a sales message to your human visitors, many of whom will land directly on these pages from search results without seeing any messages you may have on your home page.
Here’s an example. Assume that from the results of your PPC testing, you learn that [ford mustang restoration parts] is an important keyword. Do a search on that keyword.
Below is the top organic result I got for a Google search on [ford mustang restoration parts]. Notice in the screen shot below, the reasonably enticing description Google generated for a top ranked listing.
It includes some of the words and phrases searched for in bold such as [Ford Mustang parts], [restoration] and even [restore], which Google knows is a variation of the word “restoration.”
The description above was created by Google directly from the text on the page (see screen shot below).
You can improve your search results, both rankings and click-throughs, by developing similar messages for your category pages that include one or two of the most important keyword phrases for the category. Very often, the search engines will create a description for the search results from the text on the page around occurrences of the keyword the person searched for.
Plus, having the keyword one or more times on the page should help your rankings (don’t stuff it!). You should also create a similarly enticing Meta Description Tag in case the search engine creates a description from it rather than creating a description from the text on the page.
RPS has an issue on some of their category pages which have little category-related text. Some categories have no items at all (this site review is about Keywords and Content, not a User Experience Audit, but I think RPS needs to rethink its navigation system so issues like this do not occur). Hopefully, their site search is helping people find the items they are looking for.
4. Add Unique Content On Product Pages
Adding your own content to product pages, such as unique product descriptions, your own commentary and helpful messages, user reviews, videos and images will likely help improve search results by making your product pages unique. Plus, including additional content on product pages may get your pages returned in more search results because of the additional text.
Finally, and probably most importantly, your content can help increase sales by helping your shoppers make decisions on what to buy and make them feel more comfortable about buying from you.
Use your keyword research and/or the results from your PPC testing initially for the basics, such as creating an enticing HTML Page Title, ideally including one or two important keywords for the product. Also, take the time to write enticing Meta Description tags for your items or, at least, the most important ones.
Include at least some product description text on the product page (see below about using descriptions provided by your vendors). Keep the important product-specific keywords in mind while writing content for the page, but write for your human visitors, not the search engines.
Many of RPS’s product pages are very sparse on product descriptions such as this Headliner for a 1963 – 65 Falcon Hardtop. There’s just a short description and a product number.
Take a look at the search listing for the top ranking site when I searched on [Headliner 1963 Falcon Hardtop]. As with the category page example above, Google created an enticing search description directly from the product description on the page.
Below is the product description for the Dearborn Classics product page that was returned in the search results above.
Using more complete product descriptions such as the above should not only help RPS do better in the search results, it should help improve conversions to sales by providing a stronger, more complete product sales message to their shoppers.
However, it’s important to point out that the product description above used by Dearborn Classics is not unique. I searched on some of it and found the same text being used by many websites. This text is likely being provided by the supplier of these headliners. This is typical of many e-commerce sites that sell products manufactured by others. When the content on your product pages is predominantly the descriptions provided by your suppliers, you’ll be directly competing for rankings with all the other pages that include the same text.
So, when possible, rewrite the description or include a significant amount of your own unique content on the page such as additional product information, your own commentary, additional product images and/or videos, user reviews, etc., (see the next section for more about this).
Automated HTML Page Titles and Meta Description Tags
You won’t be able to write custom HTML Page Titles and Meta description tags for all the items of an e-commerce site that contains hundreds or thousands of items. It’s ideal to use an e-commerce system that creates decent tags using the product headline.
For example, one that creates tags for the HTML Page Title (along with possibly a tag line for the site or the category), while using the first part of the product description on the page for the Meta Description Tag, both of which can be manually overwritten.
5. Give Your E-commerce Site Personality & Build Trust
As I went around the RPS site as a typical shopper, I learned very little about the company and the folks at RPS. When people shop online, they need to feel comfortable before they’ll buy from a company they know little or nothing about.
You can make people feel more comfortable about buying from you by at least employing some basics such as: a professional looking, user-friendly site; a meaningful value statement; a great guaranty and return policy; trust builders like well-known e-commerce security and process badges and seals; user reviews and testimonials, etc.
Make sure these elements are obvious as people shop by putting them, if not on every page, at least prominently one or more pages during the typical buying path (category page to product page to cart, etc.).
You can go much further than the basics and show what sets you apart from the competition while personalizing the site by including: mentions of one or more key personnel; helpful articles and videos; buyers guides; your own commentary about product categories and specific products; additional product information; videos and images, etc.
You could improve conversion rates and improve your search results at the same time by adding unique content to your site, allowing you to reach more searchers. You’ll also likely reach more searchers who are in the early stages of information gathering for a new purchase, giving you the opportunity to influence what they buy and retain them until they are ready to make a purchase.
You can learn more about this in from my earlier blog post, how to how increase e-commerce conversions 2-4x and improve search marketing results by helping shoppers decide what to buy.
6. Increase Page Strength To Compete With Top Ranked Sites
When Michael submitted the site for review, he mentioned how eBay is often one of the top ranking sites for many of RPS’s products. It can be difficult to beat eBay because of their link popularity (page strength, etc.), but you can, in many cases.
In my searches for some of the products RPS carries, other resellers similar to RPS often ranked higher than eBay. Plus, you really don’t have to rank higher than eBay. Getting to the top few positions should give you your fair share of searchers as many people do look at a few results. And, many people may be looking for a supplier directly and not want shop via eBay.
RPS should be able to increase its business from both search results and other referral sites by focusing on improving their link popularity and social media engagement.
Take a look at some of the ideas that can be employed by e-commerce sites in the following articles to help improve link popularity and social engagement.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.