BigCommerce SEO is one of the most misunderstood activities an e-commerce store owner has to deal with. Search Engine Optimization is an art and science in its self, but not something you should spend a fortune on.
Common terms and misconceptions
SEO with Bigcommerce is not as easy as it seems, but with a little documentation you can optimize your store to get better positions in SERP - the search engine results page.
- Having a BigCommerce store will bring you in the first page of Google - This is not the case. Bigcommerce offers you the possibility to fill in SEO title, description and keywords, but you won't rank if you let them blank as many do. When editing a product do not forget to got to Other tab and fill in those details to reflect the main topics about your product.
- I have a small PageRank, my online business will die - Also not true. PageRank is only one of the 200 signals/metrics Google uses to see the importance of your store. More important is the domain authority, age and backlinks. So, stop running after PageRank and start working on getting high quality links form big sites that are well respected. Why PageRank is not so important can be seen in this video.
- Domains do not have PageRank, pages do - True. When you hear somebody telling you that a given domain has a big PageRank simply fire that guy or send him to the learning board. PageRank is for pages only. So when you see that store.com has a big PageRank then you know that the index page of that site has that given score.
- Once you have the first position you're all set - False. In a highly competitive keyword fight you need to post/publish pages for a given keyword at least once a week to maintain your current ranking. Also, work on getting always new good backlinks. SEO means that you need to constantly work and fight your way to remain in the best positions. It is not a thing once done and then you can forget about it.
- I have to spend a fortune on SEO work - False. Basic SEO, like the one we will discuss here, can be done by everyone who understands the core functions of this activity. Yes, that means that you will have to learn a LOT, but you'll save thousands of dollars.
- SEO is too complicated - False. The core function of SEO activity is to optimize your pages in order to get the best rankings possible. At the most basic level you need to see what are the main topics that your product applies to. If you sell inkjet printers then you can see that the main topics for them are: inkjet printer, office printer, home printer, small office inkjet printer, cheap inkjet printer, high quality printer. These words define your printer, and guess what: these words ARE your keywords that you will be using during SEO for your products. This is where it all starts!
- Having a ton of backlinks will save me - True and false. If those links come from sites with authority then you are saved. On the other side, if you get thousands of links from sites that are bar none for Google you won't get better rankings. A link form CNN values way more than 50 links from an unknown site, regardless of the PageRank of the page that link is located on. We do not recommend using automated tools for backlink building or link exchange. They do not offer value. Instead, if you get too many links in a short period of time Google may sense that something is not right and drop you from you position.
- I've done SEO by the book, but nothing has changed - True. Doing SEO won't bring you in the best positions right on the spot. It may take even weeks or months before you will be able to show up in pages 3, 2 or 1. And that means that you need to constantly work on your optimization.
SEO documentation and sources everyone must have
In order to understand what to do to rank well in Google we need to read and learn about the methods and actions that need to be done in the line of SEO.
I will list below some of the most important sources - documents and websites - we all need to have bookmarked:
- Google SEO Starter Guide - If it's about getting traffic form Google we must ask it first in order to get some relevant information on how to do make things happen. this pdf guide has to be your first stop in the world of optimization for search engines.
- Basic Webmaster guidelines - You will submit your sitemap to Google and most of details about your site will come from your webmasters account. The pieces of advice from that page are basic, but many do not follow them.
- Simple pieces of advice from Google regarding SEO - It's all about getting organic traffic and answering some of the most basic questions. You will find them by clicking the link.
- What is PageRank good for? - If you use it as your primary metric, don't. Stop. It was seen as a pillar of SEO some good years ago, but now it's only one of the 200 signals Google is using to search rankings.
- SEOMoz beginners guide to SEO - This guide is visually appealing and easy to understand. You won't become a SEO guru but surely you will be part of the few who really understand what optimization really is about.
- Easy steps for Keyword Research - SEOMoz presents a few easy steps in keyword research,t he activity that let's you find out what keywords/variants to use to get better rankings.
- Aaron Wall's SEO Book blog - Aaron Wall gives a lot of free advice on his blog so you need to subscribe to it in order to get in line with SEO.
- Search Engine Land - Another respected site I am subscribed to. It offers news from SEO world and trending topic in this activity. A must for every SEO wannabe.
- SEOMoz Blog - They have developed some interesting SEO tools and have the MOZRank in place. Good to have them close when you need an expert opinion about search engine rankings.
- Google Webmasters Help on YouTube - Matt Cutts answers your questions in one minute long videos. You need an advice directly form Google. This YouTube channel has lots of instructional videos. It will not explain allt he things in detail, but you will find out what Google thinks about a topic of another regarding, of course, the world of search.
SEO Tools to help you easily decide how to choose your keywords and optimizations
- Keyword Research guide and tools - SEOMoz has gone above and beyond and built a very nice guide which lists keyword research tools and how to use them. Good to be read at least two times.
- Chrome Extensions for SEO - among them WooRank is the easiest to use and understand. It shows over 50 metrics and gives even SEO rating. Used it plenty of times by now.
- SEO doctor for Firefox - You will get loading times, usage of tags, and get nice diagnosis for webmasters.
- Google Insights for Search - here you will be able to see what are the trending keywords for your business or for the products you sell. You can even see an animated timeline with trends for search on a particular keyword. Also, rising searches gives you a heads up and lets you take into account other variations too.
- Google AdWords Traffic Estimator - Google takes your money, but it won't do this without letting you know what you get in return. This tools will highlight the amount of traffic you might get when advertising with Google.
Bigcommerce SEO Bible Intro conclusions
These sources, documents and tools are very important so do not forget to check them all and understand the basic principles of how Google indexes the web, how SEO works or how we can save money by doing most of this job our selves.
In the next chapters we will be using what we've learned here and apply it in our stores, step by step. From choosing the right URL for your domain to using parameters to refine the store crawling we will discuss many of the issues that BigCommerce has on the SEO side and we will solve them together.