4 Essential Tips To Improving Your On-Site Search Engine

This week we welcome Steve Chou, co-owner of Bumblebee Linens and MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. Within a year of launching, Steve’s online store – Bumblebee Linens – successfully netted over $100,000 in sales. Yes, that’s right – 6 figures in one year.

He then created MyWifeQuitHerJob.com to share expert tips and advice on running a successful online business. Today his blog reaches over 90,000 monthly readers and has been featured by The New York Times and The Huffington Post. We invited him to share expert advice with 4 essential tips to improving your on-site search engine.

If you run your own online store, you probably already know that optimizing for the search engines (especially Google) is essential if you want to drive more traffic to your web site and increase your sales. However, as important as it is to drive traffic to your web site, the real key is keeping visitors on your site – and encouraging them to buy.

Unfortunately, too many online businesses focus so much on optimizing for the big search engines that they completely neglect their own web sites. After teaching ecommerce and running my own online business selling handkerchiefs for many years now, I have learned the value of a good on-site search engine.

Here’s an interesting fact. Most customers that land on my store home page don’t browse for the product they want. Instead, they head directly to the search bar to locate exactly what they want.

If your site isn’t ready to handle those potential customers, you could lose thousands of dollars in business. In fact, the data indicates that more than 95 percent of customers will leave a site immediately if the search doesn’t yield what they are looking for. One bad search, and that customer is gone — and so is your sale.

Out-Of-The-Box Search Solutions Are Not Good Enough

If you blindly add products to your shopping cart database without taking into account your on-site search engine, then guess what? Your on-site search engine is going to suck.
Not too long ago, I analyzed some of the search queries on my site that weren’t returning results for customers. Here were the results:

handkie
hankercheif
women’s hankies
mankerchief

It’s pretty clear, when looking at these terms, why no results were returned. The first two of those are misspelled. The third features an apostrophe that would normally be stripped out of the search string, but wasn’t. The fourth is clearly an attempt to find a handkerchief for a man. All of these items are available in my online store. However, a customer wouldn’t realize this from the search results.

Most ecommerce platforms won’t offer you what you need for an effective search return by default. Misspellings and synonyms could be costing you thousands of dollars, and you might not even realize it. If you want a chance at retaining these would-be customers and converting them to sales, here are 4 things you need to start doing:

1. Understand That Improving Your On-Site Search Engine Is Up To You

It’s true that most of your customers are going to find your products through Google, landing directly on the product page or on a category page. However, even with this reality, there are likely many potential customers using your on-site search tool.

While you don’t need to create Google’s next competitor, you do have to create a localized search engine on your site for your own products. In other words, you will need to populate product specific search terms to help potential customers find relevant results that keep them on your site. Even if you need a little help from a web developer, it is usually worth the investment.

PrestaShop’s onsite search is already pretty good in that it offers auto-completion and search suggestions, but most of work in optimizing your own search engine is going to require work on your part.

2. Log All of Your Searches

You will never be able to think of all the variations on your products. No matter how long you spend trying to pinpoint possible misspellings, syntax errors, punctuation mistakes, and other variations on your products, you will never think of them all. Searchers will constantly surprise you.

If you want a high-level view of what’s happening with search queries on your site, log them all. You can spot patterns and irregularities and adjust accordingly so that, even when searchers make mistakes, they will see results on the page. Here are the main things to watch for as you analyze the queries on your site:

Synonyms: Even if you have good product descriptions that provide alternative words for your merchandise, there is likely another word you haven’t heard of. Make note of those words and direct your on-site search to connect them to the appropriate products.

Plurals, apostrophes, and other punctuation: Make sure that your search strings strip punctuation marks and plurals. You can tinker with the code to make this happen so that errant grammar doesn’t doom your customers’ search results.

Contractions: Many searchers use slang and abbreviations when looking for specific products. Factor these into your search as well.

Misspellings: People will always have trouble spelling. You need to make sure your on-site search takes that into account. Pay attention to “alternative” spellings and common typos so that you can return valid search results when customers make mistakes.

3. Allow Customers to Easily Refine Searches

My store sells handkerchiefs. More than half of the products I sell are labeled “handkerchiefs.” This means that someone looking for “hankies” is likely to run into trouble with the search. Most customers aren’t going to stick around when they see the meager results. At the same time, it’s impractical for me to go back and add the search term “hankies” to all of those product search descriptions.

The good news is that you can use a little hack to get around that issue. Rather than displaying no results, or very limited results, you can include a new search link that asks the customer if s/he meant to look for something else. In my case, a search for “hankies” shows this message:

Did you mean to search for “handkerchiefs”?

This method can be applied to a number of misspellings and other errors that surface in customer searches. It’s easy to make this link prominent and clickable so that customers have to put very little effort into changing up the search. They receive better results, and stay on your site rather than abandoning.

4. Add Search-Specific Keywords to Your Products

Now that you’ve analyzed what people are looking for, it’s time to add search-specific keywords to your products. These are keywords that might not appear in your product name or title, and may not appear in the product description. However, you want these products to be listed for certain popular search terms on your site.

“Mother of the bride” is a popular term on my site. However, we don’t want to title or describe hundreds of products using that term. So this term is included in the search terms associated with particular products. This association means that customers can find hundreds of suitable items when they search for “mother of the bride.”

The best way to go about this process is to add the search terms each time you add a new product. Make it part of the routine when you add products to avoid time-consuming mass updates. If you are in a position that requires mass updates, block out time to do it little by little, starting with the most popular terms.

Bottom Line
Your on-site search matters. If you don’t want to lose customers due to frustrating search results, you need to make the effort to improve your on-site search.


With all this great advice, where should you begin? If you’re a PrestaShop merchant, we’ve got you covered with:

4 Steps to Get Started

1. Access and review keywords your customers have searched
         Back Office > Stats > Shop Search

2. Categorize each search word or phrase into
          a. Misspellings or Synonyms
          b. Attributes or Descriptions

3. For each word or phrase under the Misspelling or Synonyms category, figure out which keyword(s) you would like to redirect customers to. Then create redirects for each word.
          Back Office > Preferences > Search

4. For each Attribute or Description, find products that fit those descriptions and add the keyword(s) as tags.
         Back Office > Catalog > Product > Information Tab
(Learn more about managing Tags in our User Guide.)

Want a premium feature to ensure customers always find what they’re looking for? One of our certified agencies has developed the perfect solution. Give suggestions for “no result” searches with the Search AutoCorrection Module.

Not a PrestaShop merchant? Ask yourself, “Does my shopping cart software offer all these features – for free?” If not, it’s time to switch to PrestaShop! (Or help us convince you by testing our demo.)

6 Time-tested Ways to Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts

Did you know that for every 1 shopping cart converted, 2-3 of them are abandoned? According to BI Intelligence, the global average rate for abandoned shopping carts is 71.2%. Want another staggering statistic? The estimated value of these shopping carts is worth approximately $4 trillion.

 

Today, we’re helping you cash in with 6 time-tested ways to reduce abandoned shopping carts. What are you waiting for? Let’s get started converting tentative shoppers into paying customers!

Improve UX with Instant Field Validation

Improve the user experience (UX) of your site, specifically the checkout page with instant field validation. It’s a standard feature in PrestaShop v1.6 that validates each field as customers enter their information on the page. Customers are notified immediately when they make typo errors like adding letters in phone numbers or excluding “@” from their email addresses. Instant field validation helps customers correct errors immediately rather than waiting until after they’ve filled out the page.

In addition to instant field validation, improve the UX by regularly testing your checkout process. Add it to you weekly to-do list. If you don’t have one already, check out our smartest checklists for managing your online store.

Enable Guest Checkout

Need a reason to enable guest checkout? Look no further than its nickname – the $300 Million Button. By allowing customers to check out as a guest, one online retailer saw a 45% increase in orders. Guest checkout allows customers to provide only the information needed to complete their order. Customers also don’t have to remember a username and password. Here’s what instant checkout / guest checkout looks like on Eva varro, a PrestaShop store.

 

Avoid Unexpected Fees

Of the people surveyed by Statista, 56% of them abandoned their carts because they were “presented with unexpected costs”. Combat this by clearly displaying the fees you charge, from shipping to taxes and everything in between. You can also use this as a marketing opportunity to promote your shipping specials. PrestaShop store, Hunt and Style uses a threshold free shipping strategy and clearly details it on their homepage banner.

Remember: Customers do not abandon carts because of the fees, it’s finding out about them at checkout that drives them away.

Reassure Customers of your Trustworthiness

Customers want to shop on sites they feel they can trust. Reassure customers by displaying elements of trust like badges from the Better Business Bureau or Google Trusted Sites. Next, clearly display your contact information such as phone number, email address and physical address. Don’t forget to leverage social media to boost your company’s social credibility. Each fan and follower also helps you build customer trust.

Finally, include logos of reputable companies you work with. From payment processing to shipping or even well-known suppliers, they can all help build trust in your site. Johnson’s Popcorn, a PrestaShop store, uses a combination of their contact information and reputable company logos to build trust.

 

Provide Your Customer’s Preferred Payment Methods

Vouchercloud quotes, 59% of customers will abandon a transaction if their preferred payment is not available. The forms of payment methods you offer should be determined by your customers. PrestaShop merchant, Headict, displays a secured payment block in their footer to show customers which payment methods they accept.

Offering customers their preferred payment method extends beyond the payment processor. Don’t forget about your customers’ shopping habits. For example, American customers are accustomed to paying for their order in full. In contrast, customers in many South American countries expect the option to pay in installments. Learn more about international ecommerce trends by checking out the PrestaShop World Tour.

Remind Customers about Their Carts

Sometimes customers just abandon carts. Whether they are not ready to make the purchase or were simply distracted, shopping carts get left behind. However, a cart is not technically considered abandoned if customers come back to complete their purchase. See how Ralph Lauren encourages customers to come back and shop with this reminder email.

Convert abandoned shopping carts with automated reminder emails from the Abandoned Cart Reminder Pro Module. Beyond a reminder, this module personalizes each email to include the products your customers left in their carts.

Conclusion

Reducing abandoned shopping carts is all about addressing customer concerns. Whether it is peace of mind or a just friendly reminder, each of these time-tested ways work because they make the customer more comfortable with shopping on your website. Try one, all or a combination of these methods to find what works for your particular website. Then, let us know which worked best in the comments below.

If you are a PrestaShop merchant running 1.6, track your success with by reviewing the intelligent KPIs on your orders tab. Now an online merchant yet? Download PrestaShop’s ecommerce software to get started today.

DIY Ecommerce Guide to Gorgeous Product Photography

When it comes to ecommerce and online retail, there’s no denying that product photography plays a huge role in customer purchasing behavior. Using beautiful, high-quality images to showcase your products will be your store’s biggest asset for increasing conversions.

We interviewed Thomas Kragelund, CEO of Remove the Background, a seasoned expert at optimizing product images for ecommerce sites. In this DIY ecommerce guide to gorgeous product photography, Thomas answers commonly asked questions and shares professional techniques to help you produce irresistible product images.

What specific photography equipment do you recommend?

Nowadays you don’t need expensive photography equipment to get high quality product images. There are five key factors that will play an important role in the creation of professional product images for your website:

Camera
Studio setup
Lighting
Product styling
Post-production

1. Camera

Everyone has a camera these days, whether it’s built into your phone, an old point-and-shoot or something more on the professional side. You don’t need the best-of-the-best for great product images. At the bare minimum, we suggest that you use a camera that has manual exposure and aperture settings.

2. Studio setup

To create your studio setup, it’s important to find a place where you have enough space to create a simple ‘sweep’ backdrop and that allows you to move around and shoot different product angles. Your living room or a spare room will work just fine but if you take photos on a regular basis we recommend a fixed location because it can take to setup and teardown each session. Also it’s easier to get consistent results when you have a fixed studio in place.

In order to create the studio you just need a room, a table, a roll of white paper to create a seamless ‘sweep’ backdrop behind the product and some duct tape to secure your white paper sweep. If we have to choose one essential piece of equipment to recommend, a tripod is definitely at the top of the list. Using a tripod to stabilize your camera is a critical part of your setup and will help you to achieve better results in no time.

3. Lighting

This is also one of the most important elements in product photography. If you don’t have proper lighting, your images won’t accurately represent your products. There are different lighting techniques you can use for digital product images such as continuous lighting or flash lighting, however the most important point to remember is to avoid mixing different types of lighting. Doing so will help you capture more realistic product images.

If you are on a budget, we recommend taking advantage of the natural light coming from a window in your studio space. That being said, this option does have some major drawbacks like night time shooting and the ability to achieve consistency on a continuous basis. We strongly recommend spending your first penny on lighting. Two or three sources will do and you will notice the results instantly.

4. Product Styling

In order to get great results as well as reduce time and work required during the post-production phase, we recommend that you thoroughly prepare your products before you start your photo shoot. Here are a few suggestions:

Repair imperfections such as a stains or missing buttons.
Remove labels, stickers, tags and dust.
Use a steamer to eliminate wrinkles and creases.
Show the shape of the product: in case of apparel products, use a mannequin to help your customer gage the fit of the product. For footwear, you can stuff the shoes or even use dental floss to hold up the straps on sandals and heels.

5. Post-production

In this final step your product images should be edited by a graphic designer or professional image retoucher. At a bare minimum, you need to ensure that the color of the product is accurately presented. We also suggest that you make a style guide per product category so that all of your images are edited consistently. You should also take marketplace image standards into account if you plan to sell your products on sites like Amazon or eBay. Create your own style guide by defining the following image specifications for your products:

Size
Margin (Top, bottom, left, right)
Alignment (top, center, bottom)
Background color
Shadow type

For more on digital product image photography best practices you can check out our 3-part DIY series:

DIY 1: Build your own photo studio
DIY 2: Adjust your digital camera settings for product photography
DIY 3: Post-Production tips for beautiful product images

What are the best lighting techniques?

Customers want to know exactly what they will be getting when shopping online and it’s very important to show realistic images of your product. Apart from improving sales, professional and realistic product images can also help reduce returns and customer complaints.

The best lighting technique we can recommend is to avoid mixed lighting. Mixed lighting occurs when you have two or more different light sources are cast on a product (such as fluorescent, incandescent, natural or strobe lighting). Having different types of light can distort the true color of a product and give the wrong impression to your customers. Besides this, mixed lighting can be very difficult to color correct in post-production applications like Photoshop, so it always best to look after the lighting in your studio.

There are two main types of lighting setups that you can utilize:

Continuous lighting: daylight from a large window or strong light bulbs

Flash lighting: either built-in/speedlight or strobes/monolights

If you have a room with natural light, we definitely recommend that you to take advantage of this continuous light source. You can then adjust your camera settings to the lighting in the room to achieve great results. To get the most out of a natural light environment, it’s important to place your setup close to the window and use a white reflector board on the opposite side of the window to ‘bounce’ light back on the product.

On the other hand, if you don’t have easy access to natural light, there are several different lighting setups you can utilize in your studio. The most common setups for professional photographers are:

Built-in flash or speedlights
Strobes/monolights

For amateurs we suggest daylight balanced fluorescent light bulbs, which are easy to work with. They don’t give off heat or use a lot of power and they are fairly cheap.

It can be confusing to decipher which photography and lighting equipment might be best to use for your online business. To simplify things, ask yourself what your main needs are? And what is your purpose for using artificial lighting? These two questions can assist you in determining which lighting kit is best.

For an overview on eCommerce lighting setups you can check out the post:

Lighting Equipment 101

What are the best practices for creating consistent product images and category pages?

We see many websites that have high quality product images but then don’t have consistency on their category pages. This not only distorts your customer’s sense of scale of your products but can also give your site an unpolished look and feel.

In order to avoid this, we recommend that you create a style guide for your product images that details the size, crop, margin, alignment, background and shadow requirements for each of your product categories.

This style guide can be used as a reference by your in-house graphic designers or by external teams if you decide to outsource the product image editing process. Either way, this will assure that you get the same quality results on your site, each and every time.

How do you recommend taking photos that highlight details?

As a general rule of thumb, the more information you provide about your products, the better shopping experience and the fewer returns you will receive. The information you provide on your products comes from two main sources: product descriptions and product images. Thus, publishing multiple, high-quality images of each product is critical to the success of your online business.

 

We recommend shooting from many different angles so your customers can appreciate the color, material and trims details of your products. Showing different angles such as front and back, both sides and a 45-degree angle shot is a great place to start.

Some websites have a zoom functionality to see the details of your product. It’s really important that potential customers can zoom in on the item to see the areas that they might be interested in. This is definitely a great tool, however we also recommend that you provide additional images that specifically highlight the main details of the product to grab your customers’ attention. Be sure to include shots that reveal the most important details of the product such as logos, special embroidery, gems/stones, ribbons, trims and/or other unique characteristics.

How can we make sure to show the accurate color of product images?

There is perhaps nothing more alienating for online shoppers than inaccurate color representations in product photos. Customers can feel frustrated, dissatisfied, and even deceived when they receive a product that is colored differently than what they saw on the online product page.

It is imperative for online retailers to represent the colors of their products accurately, and the first step to achieve quality results starts in the studio. As we mentioned earlier, it is critical that you avoid mixed lighting as this can significantly impact product color.

Besides this, it is good to know how to use a ‘grey card’ to your advantage. A grey card is designed to help photographers to adjust their exposure and white balance settings consistently by providing a reference point. This reference point will set a white balance, or color balance, point for a particular image set and all images captured thereafter. The reference point will prompt your camera to compensate for any illuminant color in the space where you plan to shoot by adjusting the white balance and/or color profile.

Another important factor to take into account is converting edited photos into a web-ready color space profile. Color space is a specific range of colors that can be presented in a given image. Some options for color spaces are Adobe RGB, CMYK, and SRGB. Without the correct color space, colors of products will look totally different when viewed on different computer screens and web browsers. SRGB is the best color space profile to keep your images consistent and vibrant no matter the channel or device.

Finally, you should make your final color adjustments in a post-production program like Adobe Photoshop to perfect your product images. Be sure to work with a skilled image editor that can take your studio images and convert them into highly commercial, web-ready product photos. Happy shooting!

About RemoveTheBackground.com

Remove The Background is the leading product image editing service for internet retailers, bloggers, designers, photographers, and webmasters.

The company’s roots are in Denmark where the company was founded in 2011. RTB is now an international family and has offices in North America (USA, Canada), Europe (UK, Germany, France, Benelux, Spain, Nordic) and Asia (Vietnam).

Sign-up today and get 3 free product images!

Learn more at www.RemoveTheBackground.com

SEO Experts | Neil Patel of KISSmetrics and QuickSprout Gives SEO Advice for Ecommerce

We welcome Neil Patel, co-founder of Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics and Hello Bar. He has cemented himself as a top marketing authority. Forbes named him one of the Top 10 online marketers. Even President Obama recognized Neil as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of thirty. He has teamed up with PrestaShop moderator Lesley Paone of dh42 to give smart SEO pointers for anyone starting an online Ecommerce store.

 

  1. What would be your first steps in starting SEO for a newly launched e-commerce site?

    I would focus on fixing on page issues. With ecommerce sites there is a lack of unique content on most product pages, products usually aren’t interlinked and the code can be sloppy. I would fix these issues first as it is low hanging fruit.

  2. Do you think every e-commerce site needs a blog?

    No, for some it doesn’t make sense. For example, I were to sell bidets, creating a blog on that topic probably wouldn’t do too well.

  3. What do you think are the most important factors in getting product pages to rank high in search engines?

    External links. If you don’t have enough external links, especially for an ecommerce site where the space is crowded, you won’t rank well. You have to build more links that are relevant than competitors.

  4. Do you have any suggestions for drop shippers that use a product feed with no unique descriptions?

    I would pay a college student to rewrite the descriptions. It is a tedious task, but it needs to be done.

  5. How would you go about link building for an e-commerce site?

    I would follow the tactics in this guide:

  6. What are “local citations”? Do you think they are important for e-commerce sites that sell to a whole country, several countries, or even worldwide?

    It’s when a local business or a local site mentions your brand or website. There isn’t a ton of data on how this impacts rankings yet, but I do think this is important as a lot of sites may mention you but not link. This could potentially help you boost your rankings in the long run as it is “natural” to have a lot of sites mentioning you even if they don’t link. Whether you are targeting a city or the whole world, having more citations can’t hurt…

  7. When an e-commerce website has product pages for products that will never be in stock again, how would you handle them for SEO? Remove the page? Leave the pages up with an Out of Stock message? Redirect the page to other products or something else?

    I usually remove them as it creates a poor user experience by having them. Some may say keep them as it helps with traffic, but the last thing you want to do is create a poor user experience.

  8. Do you have any suggestions on how category pages should be handled in relation to duplicate content and thin content?

    I typically don’t index category pages as you don’t really need them. It creates more duplicate content and isn’t really necessary unless you have thousands of products.

  9. What are some tips you can give online merchants looking to hire an SEO firm to handle their e-commerce website?

    Look for someone who has a good track record. Talk with their past clients and find out the results they received.

  10. Can you explain how your products (you can focus on one or them all, I will delete this area as well.) would help Prestashop merchants?

    Crazy Egg can help you identify where people are clicking and where they aren’t. You can use this data to optimize the placement of web page elements like check out buttons or product images/descriptions. This will help you maximize your conversion rate.

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Thanks for reading this edition of our SEO Experts Series. What are you waiting for? Start applying this SEO advice today. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts and questions. Have a great search day.

SEO Experts | Jon Henshaw of RavenTools Speaks on SEO and Ecommerce

In our last edition of the SEO Expert Series, we interviewed Rand Fishkin of Moz. Today, we have the pleasure of meeting with with Jon Henshaw, Co-Founder & CMO of Raven Internet Marketing Tools. You might have seen him speaking at the largest online marketing conferences such as PubCon, SMX, SearchFest, SES and others. He teamed up with PrestaShop Moderator, Lesley Paone of dh42 to give you his insights into how SEO, PrestaShop and ecommerce work together.

  1. What would be your first steps in starting SEO for a newly launched e-commerce site?

    Most new e-commerce sites suffer from big problems that can be fixed easily. So the very first thing I would do is crawl and analyze it using our Site Auditor. My initial focus would be on identifying and fixing visibility issues. For example, I would want to know if any of my pages are accidently being blocked by robots.txt. I would follow that with fixing any blocked pages, broken links and/or broken images. Once you fix the search engine visibility, navigation and coding errors, you can then focus your energy on optimizing the META data and content of the site.

  2. Do you think every e-commerce site needs a blog?

    A blog can be quite valuable for an e-commerce site. If done well, an e-commerce blog can funnel significant traffic to product pages and assist in converting that traffic. A few examples of blog posts that work well include new product reviews, announcements, top 10 lists and personal interest stories that tie in relevant products and services. Blogs also provide a casual medium for communicating changes to the site that users might find interesting. So, the short answer is yes. E-commerce sites need a blog.

  3. What do you think are the most important factors in getting product pages to rank high in search engines?

    Many e-commerce pages suffer from duplicate content. So, the first factor I would focus on is uniqueness. The goal should be to make a product page hyper-focused on the actual product. That means possibly having longer, unique product descriptions and including additional collateral like original videos, reviews and other content that can’t be found anywhere else. The perfect product page would be one that gives people a reason to share and link to, versus a page that simply exists for a shopper to add to a cart.

  4. Do you have any suggestions for drop shippers that use a product feed with no unique descriptions?

    If you’re using content that everyone else is using for their product pages, then getting your product pages to rank will be very difficult. Similar to my previous answer, drop shippers need to find a way to make their product pages unique and present value to both the visitor and search engines.

  5. How would you go about link building for an e-commerce site?

    I would find and reach out to sites that are relevant to my site’s focus and products. I would then explore both advertising and editorial options with them. I would be less interested in whether or not the link uses the nofollow and more interested in whether or not the site has a sizable audience that will drive targeted traffic to my site. Not only is that more effective, both in the short and long term, it also provides me with more options to present to site owners. For example, it may be worth it to get a “sponsored” review if there’s a good chance it will still provide exposure to my brand and product(s).
    The truth is, there are many tactics that work well for e-commerce sites. One tactic I like in particular is creating special destination pages that are altruistic in nature and/or provide interesting tools or statistics that visitors will want to share and discuss on blogs and social media. After a successful campaign with that page, the e-commerce site can then promote their product(s) on it or redirect it to a relevant category or product page while still maintaining some of the original content.

  6. What are “local citations”? Do you think they are important for e-commerce sites that sell to a whole country, several countries, or even worldwide?

    Local Citations are when other sites mention your business name, address and other contact details. If done well, they can help boost search engine visibility in both local and personalized results. Their importance to e-commerce sites that aren’t based in a particular city is marginal.
    However, it’s possible that e-commerce sites could take advantage of local citations from a worldwide perspective. For example, you could create country specific e-commerce sites that use a related Top Level Domain (TLD) for each country and are written in that country’s primary language. It’s key to make sure each country’s specific site is not a direct copy of the other. Instead, the home page and supporting pages should take into account cultural norms and find other ways to make their product pages unique. You would essentially be making variants of each site; any link building, content marketing and local citations would be specific to that country.

  7. When an e-commerce website has product pages for products that will never be in stock again, how would you handle them for SEO? Remove the page? Leave the pages up with an Out of Stock message? Redirect the page to other products or something else?

    It depends on search engine visibility and traffic, the backlink profile and related referral traffic, and whether or not the e-commerce site has other products that are good replacements. With that being said, my general inclination is to do a 301 redirect to a relevant category or product page. I don’t like the negative message it sends to users when you have a product page for something that no longer exists. If you keep that live, the user is more likely to bounce and try to find the product somewhere else, so you might as well try to capture them with a more positive experience.

  8. Do you have any suggestions on how category pages should be handled in relation to duplicate content and thin content?

    E-commerce sites should treat category pages similar to how blogs should be handling category pages. If you want a category page to perform well, make the percentage of unique content higher than the list of short and duplicated titles and short descriptions. Turn the category page into a true destination page where product listing aren’t the sole focus of the page.

  9. What are some tips you can give online merchants looking to hire an SEO firm to handle their e-commerce website?

    A good SEO firm should be heavily focused on Information Architecture (IA). The starting place for good search engine visibility is optimized IA. The second thing is a solid content strategy. That includes content for category and product pages and also general content marketing initiatives. Aside from effective strategies and techniques, they should be focused on reporting performance. And by performance, I don’t mean where the site ranks. I mean reports that can show an increase in organic traffic and goal conversions from that traffic.

  10. Can you explain how Raven Tools would help PrestaShop merchants?

    I think Raven could help PrestaShop merchants in several ways. The first thing I would recommend is that they use the Site Auditor to automatically diagnose and quickly fix any issues they might have on their site. The next thing would be to connect their Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools accounts with Raven. That would allow them to monitor and report on their site performance, including the ability to know which keywords drive the most traffic to their site. Then I would have them connect their social network accounts, like Twitter and Facebook, and use Raven to schedule posts throughout the week that share the type of content I’ve described in this interview. There’s a lot more they could do with Raven, but those are some of the bigger things that come to mind.

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Thanks for reading, leave your comments below and stay tuned for more great tips from SEO Experts next week!