A Few Quick Tips for Ecommerce Sites

A Few Quick Tips for Ecommerce Sites

I rank pretty high for specific terms when it comes to ecommerce, even though I haven't written a post in a while. I have learned a lot through running an ecommerce site. In fact, it has helped with my blogging and internet marketing more than you can imagine and vice versa.

I am surprised at how many techniques and methods to promote sites don't cross boundaries. Bloggers have proprietary methods. Ecommerce webmasters have proprietary methods. Old school internet marketers have proprietary methods. I just refused to see the lines and used what worked. So if you don't have an ecommerce site, this post may help you anyway. One of the best ways to make inroads in a industry is refuse to play by the rules and bring some rules from related ones. Make your mantra "use what works" rather than "this is how it's done".

The boss has the internet bug. So much so, he sold the other part of the business. At one time, we installed doors and windows locally. But after a year with me messing with the site, it is now the main source of income and the other part of the business is going byebye.

So a few more tips that I can think along with a refresher on past tips, because the importance of the past tips have become even more apparent now with more time.

Build a Good Category Structure

I didn't learn about silo sites until lately, but I think this falls under the same category. You have a better chance of ranking for "blue mp3 players" if you have a page dedicated to it. If your mp3 players are all jumbled together, you are now competing against other's trying to rank for mp3 players.

Just group like things together. It's that easy to begin with. What make's sense? What will help customers not have to use the search box? Look at Ebay's categories or other sites in your niche. If you follow a route that make's it easy for your customers, you have naturally optimized your site for the search engines. Your site will be separated into very tight vertical categories with like items all together. A person looking for a "blue mp3 player" will be greeted to a page where that phrase occurs ten times just because you created a good structure.

You can question where to break the categories. With the mp3 player example, no one may search for "blue mp3 players" specifically. They may search by features or size. Use your stats to guide you once you start getting traffic. If someone is finding your site by searching for "4 GB mp3 player", maybe the structure needs to be based on size.

To tell you the truth, I like a loose category structure better, more like a tagging system. That way categories can cross lines. You can have a "blue mp3 player" page and a "4 GB mp3 player" page.

Get Everything You Can Online

I believe in a shotgun approach to SEO especially when you either have a lot of content or a lot of products. A huge site gathers a lot of longtail hits. Over 17,000 phrases were used by our visitors to reach one of our sites last month. None of these could have been guessed beforehand. So throw up the site and throw as much inventory as you can at it. Then, see what you get. We have about 4000 products online with at least that much to go.

A Bird in the Hand

After the products are up or during putting them online, get links to your site in any way that you can. You are getting links to raise your whole site up en masse in the search engine results.

Don't chase terms until you start having them come in especially if you have never dealt with keywords. You have no idea how the people buying your products will search until they do. I messed around with SEO and affiliate marketing before I did any ecommerce work. I had no clue.

When they do come in, take a top down approach and start bumping your site up for the terms you actually get hits for. I almost came up with a formula for why this works called PKEI or personal keyword effectivity index and it goes like this:

PKEI = (Amount of hits you get for the term) X (Your site's position in the SERP's for the term)

It's not that straightforward but that's the way it works. I wanted to write a post not work out the formula. If you get 100 hits a month for "green ipod" and your position is 10 in Google, that 100 hits is hiding a lot of potential. Moving to number one will blow you away. The move from #2 to #1 is rather dramatic also but not as much. And if you are on the second page of the results and still get a decent amount of hits, moving to the first page will open up the flood gates.

Of course, this has to be balanced with your actual ability to increase a page's rank in the search engines. If you are on page ten and you still get hits for a term, yes, that term has potential, but can you move it that far. It's not really until you get on the first page that the changes start becoming dramatic.

Become Your Own Competitor

We have two sites that we sell on. For certain specific terms, our pages are the #1,#2,#3, and #4 results for the term. The first time I saw it, I laughed my ass off. We pretty much blanketed the first page.

The second site began because of a different product line worthy of it's own site, even though it was the same type product. The results were an accident.

Don't Just Sell

Write articles and put them on your site. Add a blog. Do something to get the people who are looking for answer's to a question your product solves to buy.

Ecommerce software is behind the times. I am going to tell you that right now. There is no Wordpress easiness to them. There is no SEO easiness to them without editing a mass of files. And you are basically stuck with the structure.

A blog in a subdirectory or subdomain lets you play a little. The amount of tweaking you can do to a product listing or category structure is limited. Use the blog as a strategic tool to bring in hits and direct search engine traffic.

Who Exactly Are Your Competitors

A great question to ask. We started out thinking that locksmiths and window installers anywhere were our competitors. Not so. We sell parts and we sell them to installers just as much a do-it-yourselfers. So we built a site connected to ours where installers can list their businesses. It helps them. It helps us. And it helps customers who bought a part and have no clue what to do with it.

And a lot of the times, your vendor is not your competitor. If you sell a lot of their products, give them a call and tell them a link from their site will help you sell more of their products.

Mimic More Competitive Industries

If it was easy to get your site where it is, it's not going to be for long. And you have just learned that there is really not much to learn from your direct competitors. Follow them so far. See where they get their links.

But then choose another industry. As an affiliate, I always followed porn, online gambling and home loans to name a few. Not that I was going to promote those products. But I figured if I used their techniques to promote what I was promoting, I would be ahead of affiliates in my niche.

Be an Early Adopter

There are new technologies coming out daily. You can be the first or you can cry when you are the last. Just because your niche is not tech related does not mean that the cutting edge technologies won't help you. Take a few leaps.


Stephan Miller

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Kansas City Software Engineer and Author

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