Google, Bing, Yahoo etc etc. Search is still the primary way that potential customers find, research and shop for purchases, by quite a big margin actually. And even with the rise in recommendations via social networks and social media, search is still used to then find the best price or a reputable retailer, or reinforce the recommendation of any brand online.

So having your products & website rank as highly as possible in search engine results is an extremely good thing, and can make a huge difference to the amount that you take in at the checkout desk. In the case of top supermarkets and stores, ranking just one or two places higher can make a difference of millions to their profits, particularly if they are in the ‘top three’ results for a specific search, as those results get 70% of all of our clicky fingers.

Using relevant keywords for our Products

Researching and using the right keywords for your shop is a complete science in itself (we will try and pull together more blogs on this topic), but you can get a long way with some knowledge of the basics. Put simply, the keywords you use in your articles and product descriptions will tell search engines what to categorise your posts and items under.

So you want to find the most relevant, logical words to use, and check that those are the terms being used by the largest number of relevant customers surfing online. Plenty of tools out there like the Google Adwords Keyword tool is a free and easy way to run quick comparisons, and also get suggestions for related terms.

When you’ve got a list of relevant terms, the idea isn’t to fill every post and description with all of them, or endlessly repeat the same one over and over again. The best practice is to use the most important keyword in headlines and opening sentences etc, and then to use a reasonable amount of related terms and similar phrases throughout your articles and descriptions.

Write once, measure twice

It’s important to know whether what you’re doing is making a difference so you can focus your efforts on what is most productive.

In terms of search engine rankings, there are a number of good paid tools available, but if you’re starting out, concentrate on a handful of keywords or phrases, and just manually check your rankings once a month in addition to the name of your site/brand (Just make sure you’re logged out of Google when you’re searching for the terms or you’ll see personalised results).

And for site analytics, Google Analytics is the standard for website analytics which has pretty much all of the features you’d find in any alternative, and can handle millions of users per month when you get that popular! You should be tracking as much of the things you contribute to your site as possible with Google Analytics.

Don’t just look at the overall traffic for your site, but check out the Keywords for the site (Which is under the Traffic Sources link in the main analytics menu). And do the same for individual pages, including your best sellers, to see which keywords are working for you. Refocusing on certain keywords should be an ongoing process and refining this each month is a key component of any eCommerce website.

Your domain name?

It’s worth taking a few moments to consider the domain name you intend to use. Although domains have slowly seen their importance decline in search engine rankings (Although Google keeps the factors in search results as secret as possible), it’s still worthwhile paying attention to certain things, and it’s one of the factors you can definitely control.

  • Having the product name in your domain name is becoming less important. So it’s not as vital to have  or as it used to be.
  • It is worth considering where your main customers will be – are they likely to be in the UK or the US? It’s worth buying the .com and extensions for your business, so you’ll want your main address to be for the right country, and then redirect the others to it. Google webmaster tools allows you now to choose the location of your site. Signing up for Google Webmaster is again free.
  • Age is another factor which isn’t as important as it used to be, but over time a site will become recognised as delivering quality content. The flip side is that you want to make sure if you’re buying a domain name which has been in use, that it hasn’t ever been found to be used for spam or buying paid links etc.
  • Hosting is another factor in determining the location of your site. If you’re using a .com domain name and an American hosting company, Google and Bing are much more likely to assume you’re a U.S business and rank you in searches on but not Again Google Webmaster tools will help you choose the perferred location of your site but there still will be a slight server lag as your site loads from a far away location like the US if you are based in Ireland or the UK.

(Over 200 items are being used by Google, for example, in ranking pages on a website).