SEO can be a complex, lengthy process. Thankfully, there are some quick and easy SEO techniques that are so simple they should never be overlooked. With some easy to implement updates to WordPress you can dramatically improve your prospects for more traffic, more purchases, more engagement with your customers, and keep them coming back. Spending the small amount of time on your WordPress site translates into your customers spending a large amount of time with you and your offerings.
Whether you are launching a new product, updating an existing product, or figuring out what to do with a product page for a product that no longer exists, keep in mind these tips below. You can ensure that not only will search engines know what’s happening with your store (and why), but your customers will get the same treatment. Make sure they aren’t greeted with a blank page, but rather a rich environment that won’t drive them away. Don’t leave them hanging!
Out with the Old…
You’ve sold out of the last product model and your company won’t be selling it again. Just delete the product page? Not so fast. If the item will never be in stock again, you don’t just want it to disappear. Your rank and search authority could erode, and bookmarks will return 404s. Neither of which will serve your business very well.
Alternatively, consider the following:
Redirect the page with a 301 redirect. If you are using WordPress for example, you can use a plugin like Simple 301 Redirects to make this process simple. Redirect your customers from a missing or expired product to a parent product page, or a similar product, a new model, or any other relevant content page to keep them on the site instead of leaving. If you know what they were trying to look for, steer them somewhere where they could find a satisfactory alternative and you and your customer will be happier with your effort.
Consider reusing that URL to hold another product or newer product. This works well when model numbers or specific SKUs are not important to the product. Just recycle it into a new form, and the search engine will re-index the page and update your results accordingly. New product, same search engine authority!
You may also be in a position where you actually don’t want any products remnants to remain. The product and it’s URL are just not worth keeping around. In this case, you can still provide valuable information to a search engine and keep your SEO clean and tidy. Try the 410 for WordPress plugin, which can redirect these products to a 410 ‘this item is gone’ code, which will alert search engines that your product won’t be coming back, and they shouldn’t bother looking for it again. This is a simple way to ensure a seamless communication with search engines that won’t keep them guessing.
In with the New
Launching a new product? A new suite of offerings? Great! Let’s discuss how strong SEO can effortlessly get your product more exposure!
Search Engines love having relevant data to display on a results page. Make sure that if your products weren’t marked up with Schema.org markup for products during, that you do so as soon as possible. The correct markup here means search engines can take your simple URL and grab all that rich product data and display it in a much more elegant fashion. Fortunately most high quality themes for ecommerce are built this way, but take a look and ensure yours is too.
Using the same plugin mentioned above (Simple 301 Redirects) you should also fix URLs to have a readable structure. This really helps search engines know exactly how your information should be ordered. For example, say you are selling art supplies. For your main catalog of pencils, typically the URL would be in the format of yoursite.com/pencils. Easy enough. But your products within that category should be treated the same way. If your mechanical pencils URLs display on the page yoursite.com/mechanicalpencils, consider 301ing that page to be /pencils/mechanicalpencils. This logic makes it easier (and faster) for search engines to sort through your catalog, and will help your page rank rise as a result. Keep this in mind as you develop or update your site.
A featured or new products area on the homepage is also a great idea to get those results into a search engine faster. The goal here is to make it dead simple to find the new stuff. Keep your best foot forward and make those products visible! Customers appreciate being able to easily browse this new content and keeps them excited to keep coming back, just to see what’s new. Take advantage and sate their curiosity!
Every Page Counts
New and older products aside, you should attempt to have as many pages as possible show valuable, relevant content. Search engines love the distinction between pages, and customers really love to be engaged. Don’t just display a list and call it a day.
Your category pages are essentially mini-homepages in their own right, so treat them the same way! Featured within categories, related items, descriptive text related to the product, and testimonials can really add some valuable engaging content. Unique category descriptions are a great way to improve page ranking and avoiding a search engine from thinking you have duplicate content. Duplicate content is very bad for search engine ranking and authority. Avoid this at all costs! Think of it this way – you can keep your customers informed and boost your page rank simultaneously!
If you aren’t already using social networks to your advantage, definitely consider incorporating them with new products, sales, seasonal products, and the like. Social networking does great things for your visibilty, and cross linking across all of those sites builds your authority in search engines organically and painlessly. Make sure your descriptive text is unique for all products, such that any given product will show unique results when shared across networks. Consider adding plugins like Open Graph, Social Stream, Share This, and Microblog (to name a few) to make the process of content sharing easy and predictable.
A Little goes a Long Way
This is not an exhaustive list of SEO best practices, but are representative of relatively easy to implement changes that can product drastic positive results. Visibility and engagement are the name of the game, but what’s key to understand is how this features improve customer engagement and search engine visibility at the same time. It’s a complete no-brainer to execute these kinds of updates and fixes considering how simple they are in deployment. Every little tweak counts.