BigCommerce SEO as a practical activity: strategies, troubleshooting and how to's are never enough

Manuel C. Published on 09 February, 2012

Ecommerce store owners are ready to pay quite a lot for BigCommerce SEOand it doesn't always have to be the case. In our articles about optimization we point out many ideas, tips and how to's we find in order to help you manage this activity at a basic level and thus saving you some money in the process.

Unfortunately, many store owners think that throwing some keywords in the meta description and title is enough and get frustrated pretty easily when Google does not send them more traffic. Since search engines see your website the same as any other website on the web you need to keep a close eye on the minimum demands: give your customers what they are searching for mainly rich, custom product descriptions so they can make an informed decision.

This is why, for every e-commerce store you need to have at least a broad strategy and employ basic tactics.

Difference between strategies and tactics and how much is SEO worth to you

Neil Patel, from Kiss Metrics explains what the difference between strategy and tactics is in a very simple way: most of the strategy articles are, in fact, tactics articles. A strategy is to complete a goal using different tactics.

The strategy answers to the question why and usually if formulated like this: a plan to use some actions in order to fulfill a goal. "I want to rank high in SERPs by using link building, on-page optimization and getting as many shares as possible."

In the previous phrase you can spot the tactics: link building, optimization, shares. Tactics answer to the question what?. So, next time when you see a strategy post you can clearly define what they are talking about. If you haven't built a strategy and you're just fiddling through hoping that all it will be good then disappointment is just around the corner. Read more about strategies here.

Without even trying to understand what a strategy is it will be hard to assess how much is SEO worth. When talking about the costs Search Engine Land has some useful analogies, since this activity cannot be easily assessed.

On one side it costs as much as you want to invest to and it brings the benefits accordingly. I mean, if your investment (in time, energy or money) is shallow the results will be... unsatisfactory.

Reading through the article form Search Engine Land it is obvious that SEO costs must take into account:

  • your needs - planning, basic or advanced SEO
  • the risks - in house SEO or outsourcing to someone who knows what they are doing
  • the interconnected elements - inbound marketing, social networks

To some, even the basic activity of keyword research might lead them to a total halt. This might be the case when they should try and go the route of SEO consulting. SEO shouldn't cost you a fortune so why not try and request a quote from us?

Be your own detective: find technical flaws and tracking errors in no time

SEO Moz explains how you can find the technical flaws that could hurt your SEO in less than 60 minutes. We are very lucky to have access to free tools that can help us do our own detective work.

BigCommerce stores have some minuses I discussed about a while back, but if you are careful and correct those you still need to make sure there are no broken links, unnecessary redirects or duplicate content.

The above post outlines the usage of impressive tools like Screaming Frog, which I use and like very much. this SEO tool is your own and personal crawler that checks your site and then spits up a table full with valuable data.

With it you can see many things, but I will outline here only two:

  • broken links - see the Response codes column: 404 is a broken link and needs to be corrected
  • duplicate content - see in Internal Crawl - Hash tag column. if the same hash is in multiple URLs then you have a duplicate content issue

Another interesting tool is AnalyticsCheckUp.com and it looks at your site to find pages that have a broken analytics code or that have that code missing.

Since BigCommerce stores have a box where you can insert the analytics code in Settings - Analytics Settings, the issue with the missing code is pretty rare. most often, when the traffic or ecommerce are not tracked correctly is because they do not use the traditional script. More on this here.

Since tracking is very important in all things SEO do not forget to read about troubleshooting tracking issues on Search Engine Land.

5 ultimate How To's to tidy up your BigCommerce SEO

As I wrote in the title, there is always enough to learn when it comes to SEO. Google says SEO is good, we say the same thing. One thing that SEO has taught me is the fact that you need to be relevant in your niche and look at efficiency. Doing SEO just to make sure you have covered all the bases is not good enough. You need to do it to win.

Since SEO is 100% about doing practical things to increase traffic and form there to get more sales it requires a certain degree of self education. Being honest to your self and your expectations is one of the first steps in understanding how SEO is done.

The following SEO how to's will help brighten up the light in regards to what you need to do specifically:

  1. How to Build an Advanced Keyword Analysis Report in Excel - a comprehensive guide on making the Excel tables speak out loud the history and the analysis of your traffic. Once you get to understand what the column mean and how to create pivot tables you will get to love poking around between rows and column.
  2. 7 Ways to Lower Your Website’s Bounce Rate - Mashable is mainly a blog, but these tips are very welcome even for ecommerce stores. Since many BigCommerce store owners prefer to have a custom design and tweak things here and there by using external widgets, it is important to pay attention to loading times, the design used and if the customers understand what the store is trying to sell within the first few seconds. And no, if you do not have design skills do not try to make changes yourself. You will scare people away and your bounce rate will increase. Having a high bounce rate impacts your SEO so it is better to let professionals do their job. Do not be afraid to ask for help (even paid).
  3. Do This, Not That: SEO Content Edition! - this article lists three main thing to do in order to get more traffic and gain some more visibility: use videos for competitive keywords, update old pages that have already ranked and use group interviews to gain some nice backlinks. Videos have the ability to be listed higher in SERPs than your pages so make use of them as often as you can. If you have pages that ranks ok for a given keyword, do not try to create another page to rank for the same keyword, instead update the old one. And finally, request some interviews from several people in your niche and publish those. They will link back to you if they accept to participate.
  4. Managing PPC Through The Fog Of Long Tail Keywords - this nice guide shows a clear and simple way to get rid of the long tail keywords that do not bring any traffic when running CPC campaigns. Although CPC is not SEO, the basic SEO principles of using relevance in keyword targeting applies here too.
  5. The 10 Golden Rules to Attracting Authority Links - another useful guide from Neil Patel. Attracting authority links can be done using some tactics that can be used as of now. You can create some neat images and, when people use them, they will link tot he source: you. Or try to do some guest posting. Or hang out where your audience is. These and many other pieces of advice can be found in the article mentioned.

"Why do I have to read all this"? Even if you are a BigCommerce store owner who can afford to hire a SEO consultancy firm that doesn't mean that being ignorant is bliss. You may not know where your money goes or why. You do not need to know all the nuts and bolts of the trade but self education can help your self streamline your selling activities.

I think that most unfortunate online sellers focus more on the fact that they sell products, but forget that they have to sell an experience. And this is why selling gets to be a frustrating affair.

SEO as a good experience and not as a requirement

Optimization is required.

But looking at SEO as an external "must", a "thing" that you "have" to do and that you'd rather not "do" can be extremely frustrating. This happens when you move away form the core of it: common sense.

SEO, with all the strategies, tactics, and many how to's has only one thing at its roots: common sense. It is about giving your customers the information that they want in an easy to digest way. And it is expected from all of us who want to sell something online (an idea, an image, a concept, a product, a service) to have it in us. Thus, SEO should not be looked at as an activity that we are forced to do, but it should come from within.

SEO should come naturally once you let common sense take over.

Manuel C. Published on 09 February, 2012