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Easing the Rankings Climb for eCommerce

by Derek Smith

Scrap the ice axe and crampons, buddy.

Getting your eCommerce site to climb up those search engine ranking pages doesn’t have to feel like you’re climbing Mt. Everest. Your climb to the heights of eCommerce success can become much easier with some proper focus on content and architecture.

An eCommerce website is no different than any other site when it comes to the amount of content needed to climb in rankings. But how many different ways can you write about khaki pants? Or computer batteries? Or drill bits?

Get creative, or hire somebody who is – and make sure to avoid duplicate content. Uniqueness is key. Having a large amount of content is great, but search engines are also getting increasingly adept at gauging the quality of content in different ways.

One way to gauge quality involves analyzing semantics using a model similar to Latent Dirichlet Allocation . This process allows Google and Bing to analyze the contextual relevance of a document by comparing it to millions of others.

You also need to have great product descriptions on your category pages as well as robust descriptions on your product pages.

Another analysis factor involves site visitor statistics. It’s a good sign if visitors are hanging out on your site for extended periods of time; conversely, it’s a bad sign if they’re leaving right away.

Bottom line: eCommerce sites need to develop a long-term content creation strategy that includes unique and relevant content for each page on the site.

Want a great example? There’s none better than Amazon.com, where the pages are chock full of information on product specifications, pricing, accessories, availability and reviews.

Architecture

Ok, you probably grew up with the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale like I did. Remember how the clever Hansel drops some bread crumbs so they can find their way home?

When it comes to eCommerce, you want your visitors – those virtual Hansels and Gretels traipsing across the internet – to have breadcrumbs that help them easily navigate your site. That is, you want to ensure they can go back and forth between different product pages without losing their place and getting frustrated. (After all, longer stays translate to better conversion.)

Breadcrumbs are extremely useful for eCommerce sites because the sites tend to have so many pages. Don’t use breadcrumbs as your site’s primary navigation; they should be used as a secondary navigation that assists visitors in finding their way between pages. Also make sure that each page in a breadcrumb has useful and relevant content that will get readers in a buying mood.

Check out this Smashing Magazine article that lays out some examples and best practices for breadcrumbs.

Also make sure you have a search bar on your site. Some visitors know exactly what they’re looking for and they’ll get turned off if they can’t quickly find it.

Search Engine Navigation

All right, so hopefully that climb to the top doesn’t look like Mt. Everest anymore. We’ve got one more area to cover before you ditch the crampons – creating a sitemap to make sure your pages are on Google’s radar.

Google Webmaster Central explains that “In its simplest terms, a XML Sitemap—usually called Sitemap, with a capital S—is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process.”

Indexation is key because the more pages you have indexed in Google, the greater chance you have of people visiting your pages. And, of course, getting more visitors translates to more potential sales conversions.

So have you had frustrations with setting up the architecture or getting the right content on your eCommerce site? Has the climb up the ranking pages really seemed like Mt. Everest? We’d love to hear your perspective. Leave us a comment in the field below.

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