SEO rules to consider when setting up Jigoshop

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WordPress has evolved to be well-optimised for your content to appear at the top of Google, and we’ve built Jigoshop to build on this in logical ways to follow the best-practice for Search Engine Optimisation. So this is the first in a series of blog posts to help you rank as highly as possible in search engine results to get relevant customers and make more money via your Jigoshop store.

Why is SEO important for eCommerce?

Search is still the primary way that potential customers find, research and shop for purchases, by quite a big margin. And even with the rise in recommendations via social networks and social media, search is still used to then find the best price or a reputable retailer, or reinforce the recommendation.

So having your products rank as highly as possible in search engine results is an extremely good thing, and can make a huge difference to your bottom line. In the case of top supermarkets and stores, ranking just one or two places higher can make a difference of millions to their profits, particularly if they are in the ‘top three’ results for a specific search, as those results get 70% of all clicks.

Step 1: The aim of the domain?

Domain Names Before you start installing WordPress and Jigoshop, it’s worth taking a few moments to consider the domain name you intend to use. Although domains have slowly seen their importance decline in search engine rankings (Although Google keeps the factors in search results as secret as possible, the entire SEO industry is dedicated to trying to uncover them), it’s still worthwhile paying attention to certain things, and it’s one of the factors you can definitely control.

  • Having the product name in your domain name is becoming less important. So it’s not as vital to have www.cheapdressesshop.com or www.bargainfishingbait.com as it used to be.
  • It is worth considering where your main customers will be – are they likely to be in the UK or the US? It’s worth buying the .com and .co.uk extensions for your business, so you’ll want your main address to be for the right country, and then redirect the others to it.
  • Age is another factor which isn’t as important as it used to be, but over time a site will become recognised as delivering quality content. The flip side is that you want to make sure if you’re buying a domain name which has been in use, that it hasn’t ever been found to be used for spam or buying paid links etc.
  • Hosting is another factor in determining the location of your site. If you’re using a .com domain name and an American hosting company, Google and Bing are much more likely to assume you’re a U.S business and rank you in searches on Google.com but not Google.co.uk

These are some of the main factors affecting domains and hosting from an SEO perspective. The basic message is that what you do with your domain is far more important in ranking that the domain name itself, but it’s a contributing factor (Over 200 are being used by Google, for example, in ranking pages on a website).

Why WordPress + eCommerce works well?

Minneapolis St. Paul WordPress User Group #1There’s a big benefit in building an eCommerce platform with WordPress – as a long-established, evolved and improved blogging platform, WordPress works very well in getting content indexed and ranked by search engines.

So it makes sense to retain the blogging elements of WordPress to promote your store with regularly updated, relevant, and quality content. Don’t feel you have to recommend an actual product every day, but set a consistent and regular schedule for blog posts, and write about related areas. For instance, if you are selling calendars of trains, why not write about each of the trains being featured? That’s 12 potential blog posts per calendar!

Use relevant keywords for your products:

Keyword-stuffing: not just a web phenomenon.Researching and using the right keywords for your shop is a complete science in itself, but you can get a long way with some knowledge of the basics. Put simply, the keywords you use in your articles and product descriptions will tell search engines what to categorise your posts and items under.

So you want to find the most relevant, logical words to use, and check that those are the terms being used by the largest number of relevant customers. The Google Adwords Keyword tool is a free and easy way to run quick comparisons, and also get suggestions for related terms.

When you’ve got a list of relevant terms, the idea isn’t to ‘stuff’ every post and description with all of them, or endlessly repeat the same one over and over again. The best practice is to use the most important keyword in headlines and opening sentences etc, and then to use a reasonable amount of related terms and similar phrases throughout your articles and descriptions.

Write once, measure twice

Tape MeasureIt’s important to know whether what you’re doing is making a difference so you can focus your efforts on what is most productive.

In terms of search engine rankings, there are a number of good paid tools available, but if you’re starting out, concentrate on a handful of keywords or phrases, and just manually check your rankings once a month in addition to the name of your site/brand (Just make sure you’re logged out of Google when you’re searching for the terms or you’ll see personalised results).

And for site analytics, Google Analytics is the standard for free website analytics which has pretty much all of the features you’d find in a paid alternative, and can handle millions of users per month when you get that popular! You can either insert the code provided by Google manually, or there are a range of WordPress plugins to assist you, such as the aptly named WordPress Google Analytics Plugin.

Don’t just look at the overall traffic for your site, but check out the Keywords for the site (Which is under the Traffic Sources link in the main analytics menu). And do the same for individual pages, including your best sellers, to see which keywords are working for you.

What eCommerce SEO and Marketing questions do you have?

We’ll be sharing more tips, advice and guides to promoting, monitoring and improving your Jigoshop eCommerce store in the future, so why not share any questions you’ve got in the comments, or the Jigoshop support forums? Or if you’d rather enquire privately, just email me directly at [email protected] and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

Comments

  • bigbadboy

    “Hosting is another factor in determing the location of your site.”

    Besides ‘determing’ spelt wrong, this is a huge mis-conception.
    On the whole people are not going to have a huge traffic demand for their site so having it hosted in the UK or US doesn’t really make any difference.

    If, for example, I was running a campaign aimed at Japanese market and expecting a huge spike in traffic then I would look at cloning/ mirroring onto a Japan based server merely to facilitate the campaign traffic but as far as the SEs are concerned, it matters not as long as the connection is of good quality.

    For the general Joe, this is not likely to be needed.

    • Dan Thornton

      Hi bigbadboy and thanks for the comment – I’ll take the hit on the mispelling (now corrected – cheers!), but although SEO is always open to a lot of debate, hosting location is definitely a factor in ranking for local search engine results pages.

      It’s definitely less of a factor that it used to be in the list of 200+, but having had it confirmed by some senior people at the main search engine companies, plus having tested it myself on some of my own sites, there are definite differences between google.com and google.co.uk results, and the traffic levels from different countries for content which only has hosting/domain extension as the difference.

      And whilst we aren’t all expecting to get millions of users each day on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to futureproof when it’s relatively simple, just in case you get an unexpected huge spike for some reason (e.g. picked up by Reddit or Slashdot, which have both happened to me at various points)

  • bigbadboy

    Obviously I can only go on my experience but of all the 15 years I’ve been in this industry I’ve never seen proof even after my own tests – On this one we will need to agree to disagree.

    On your point about future-proofing – most definitely agree with you. What’s the point of building anything if the main aim is not to be huge?

    • Dan Thornton

      Glad we can respectfully disagree – testing SEO theories is always a tricky business due to the difficulty of isolating every other possible variable, and I’m certainly open to the idea that the importance has been reduced to the point where it might be negligible, but I have asked some respected SEO experts both from the search companies and from agencies to add their experiences to my own testing, and it still seems to be a factor from all of the evidence I’ve seen and had shared.

      Probably the best way to look at domain/hosting location is that at the worst case, it won’t hurt, and in the best case it will help!

      • vincent

        Regarding “a .com domain name and an American hosting company, Google and Bing are much more likely to assume you’re a U.S business”

        The good thing about Google and why it’s so good is that it doesn’t assume too much.

        If you use the Webmaster tools, you can set your website via:
        > Site configuration > Settings > Geographic target
        I do this for every site and proved to work as they get higher search listings/pagerank for the nominated country for same keywords than on other country specific Google searches.

        • Dan Thornton

          Good point – I should have mentioned Webmaster Tools, although there are a lot of people I know who are still unaware of what they are, and how to verify their site etc…

          Post on how to use Webmaster Tools coming up in the future!

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