I got some feedback on my last post about getting ranked. You said it was thin and you wanted more. I’m happy to comply. Here are my top 10 tips for using WordPress and OrderStorm eCommerce together to get your storefront, categories and products indexed and ranked by the search engines. Some of this may seem very basic, but I see a lot of stores and want to cover everything for our customers that are new to selling online.
- Use the Google XML Sitemaps plugin, http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/.
- Settings – pretty permalinks.
- Product and Category page Permalinks in the OrderStorm sys admin area.
- Use keywords in your product names and product descriptions.
- Write blog posts about your products and categories of products.
- Blog often, use keywords and use tags.
- Add static pages to your website with white-paper style information on your product lines.
- Use Seo plugins.
- Use video.
- Get a marketing plan.
OrderStorm eCommerce is fully integrated with this sitemap plugin. All of your categories and products will be added automatically to the sitemap. I usually leave the default settings for everything except frequencies and priorities. These I set carefully based on how often content is changing. You could back off the default frequencies of indexing the home page and the priority of the home pages unless you are changing your home page with daily specials.
The only quirky thing about this plugin is that it will periodically re-build the sitemap automatically and sometimes this process fails. Check your sitemap frequently. If you notice that the last re-build failed, you can easily re-build manually. You probably should re-build the sitemap manually every time you add a new category or a batch of new products and not just wait for the search engine to come around again.
In the WordPress dashboard under Settings/Permalinks, you can change the permalink settings to ‘Custom Structure’. The custom structure should be /%category%/%postname%/. This custom structure will give the search engines keywords for your pages and products. The other options for using post numbers and dates do not tell the search engines enough about the content of the page.
We recommend that you change the permalink for the product page and the category page that are installed with the OrderStorm eCommerce plugin with something more appropriate to your store than orderstorm-ecommerce-category-page, like a keyword. However, we need to know what you change the slug to so we know where the plugin shortcode is. If we don’t know the name of the page where our shortcode is, we can’t send data. Go to Settings/Product Page and enter the new product page permalink. Set ‘use product page permalink’ to True. Do the same on the Category Page tab.
Make sure your product name and seo-slug for that product use a keyword. If your product is a vaporizer, don’t use ‘Cold-be-gone’ as the product name and seo slug. Use ‘The Cold-be-gone vaporizer’. In your short description, don’t say ‘Cold-be-gone will relieve your misery. Buy one now.’ Instead, use your keyword and say ‘Cold-be-gone is the best vaporizer on the market and will relieve your misery in record breaking time.’ I am always surprised by how many products I see that do not use a major keyword in the product name or description. It is a lost opportunity.
Its easy to come up with blogging ideas when you are blogging about your products. You can blog about your categories with an overview of the products within or about specific products. Its good to blog about new products when you add items to your store. Include a link from the blog to that specific product or category page. If you are blogging about a product, use the OrderStorm product detail shortcodes. That way you can draw the product information from the database. Example, if you are discussing the product and mention the price, you can use the shortcode for the current sale price to display the price of the item in the blog. If you raise the selling price of the item a year later, the price will be automatically updated in your blog post as it is coming from the database.
From what I read, a regular blogging schedule of three times a week or more is required for the search engines to take your blog seriously. Even if you blog less frequently, the search engines will take note of the tags you assign to each post which should be your carefully researched keywords. Use all the WordPress post options – tags, excerpt and categories (never let your posts be in the ‘Uncategorized’ category.
Adding a product library is a classic on-page SEO technique. This is where WordPress shines. This content library can be a hundred pages of information on each product, the various uses of each product or anything you can think of as long as you focus on a set of related keywords per page. For example, if you sell an industrial cleaner, you can write an article on how to clean 100 different types of stains and messes with your product. If you sell ski jackets, you can write 100 pages of articles on cleaning your jacket, all about hoods, different fabrics, different zippers and on and on. Go for a minimum of 800 words each. Very effective.
Use an SEO plugin like All in one SEO or Yoast so you can exercise tight control over page titles and descriptions. Each page on your site can have a separate title and description using the keywords that best represent the content on the page. Remember that All in one SEO comes with the canonical URLs check by default – you must uncheck the canonical URL setting for your products in OrderStorm eCommerce to get properly indexed.
Google gives a lot of extra trust and weight to sites with original video content and WordPress handles video very smoothly. You can get double duty out of your videos. Video submission to video sharing sites is becoming one of the most effective tools to drive high quality traffic to your website. You can increase both your rank and traffic by submitting your videos to the top 30 or so video sharing sites, such as YouTube.com, Metacafe.com, Vimeo.com etc. Here’s an international list of 100 video sharing sites.
I have saved the most important tip for last. Your marketing plan is seriously important. On-page SEO is necessary and worthwhile but it leaves you completely dependent on the search engines and vulnerable to algorithm changes – do not rely on the whims of the search engines for your livelihood! Your marketing plan should focus on driving traffic to your website without the search engines. Email marketing is still the workhorse of the e-commerce industry. Work on building your mailing list. What else can you do to drive traffic to your site? Catalogs, sponsorships, a channel marketing strategy using affiliates or value added re-sellers, a celebrity spokesperson, make friends with your industry’s bloggers, launch a PR campaign etc.
Please add your comments to this list if you have any great ideas that I missed for on-page SEO.