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3 Things You Must Do to Improve SEO

Done together, these SEO tips and tricks can have a significant impact on your Web traffic.

Q: What are the three most important things a small to medium-size merchant can do to improve search engine placement?

A: Many e-commerce retailers are in a position to improve SEO for their websites and increase Web traffic simply by engaging in the following basic SEO tips. No secrets, spamming, special software or trickery is required. What is required is that you do all of these on a regular basis. If your company is not doing all of them on a regular basis, you are likely missing out on a very large amount of free Web traffic.

SEO Tip No. 1. Clean up those 404 errors!

When a product is sold out and the page is taken offline, what happens to any links that might have been going to that product page? For most small to medium-size retailers, these go to a 404 error page. Any value those links might have had—gone!

The good news is, with a Google Webmaster Tools account, you can see all the links you have that go to 404 pages and recoup their value by redirecting them to similar products or category pages. Webmaster Tools will even tell you which pages have backlinks going to them.

If you have not looked at this before, prepare to be shocked. Websites that have been online for years that have never addressed this issue often have thousands of incoming links going to a 404 error page on their site.

You can sign up for a Google Webmaster Tools account here. Once you’ve identified the problem links, there should be some function within the admin area of your shopping cart that will allow you to enable 301 redirects.

SEO Tip No. 2. Submit a product feed to Google

You can set up a new account by going to It’s likely that many of the terms that describe products you are selling trigger Google shopping results, which often show up at the top of the page. Google uses product feeds submitted through Google Merchant Center to show those results. It’s a free way to increase Web traffic, and Google will index and show your products regardless of whether you are using its payment processing service.

There are still many small to medium-size e-commerce sites that either copy manufacturer descriptions or provide no descriptions at all

If you don’t know how to create a feed, there are companies like that can simplify the process.

You may have also noticed with some queries that Google Adwords ads with pictures show up. These are working off of the same product feed, and you have the option to show similar ads by connecting your merchant account to your Adwords account.

SEO Tip No. 3. Write original keyworded descriptions for every product

I saved this for last because chances are you have read or been told this dozens of times. Everyone wants to save time, so, despite this widespread knowledge, there are still many small to medium-size e-commerce sites that either copy manufacturer descriptions or provide no descriptions at all.

Another common error is assuming you or your writers know what keywords to use without looking them up before writing each product description.

If you are using any of these shortcuts, stop! You’re killing your chance to rank any of your product pages. Always use a keyword tool to determine the queries your potential customers are using, and write them into the titles and detailed descriptions. Just Google “keyword tool,” and you will see several options. Google’s keyword tool is free, but be sure to check the “exact” box under Match Types to see how many people are using that exact query, rather than all those that include the keyword within other queries.

If you have an Adwords account you can find the keyword tool within the tools and analysis tab. Using the Adwords route will save you the time of needing to periodically enter a captcha code.

You may already be engaged in some of these practices, but is your company doing all three? All of these SEO tips have the potential to help you increase Web traffic or reclaim huge amounts of Web traffic. If you are not doing all three, then these are the “low hanging fruit” that should be first on your list in improving SEO for your website.

About the author

Kent Hinesley
Kent Hinesley is a consultant with He specializes in helping local businesses take advantage of their best opportunities for increasing site traffic and conversions. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Great article. I agree that unique product descriptions are really important. Not only are they good for SEO, but they are even more important for customers. Customers looks to see well-written, good descriptions, because it helps them know they are buying the right thing.

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