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  • 1. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page2 Table of Contents 1.0 Introduction to Ecommerce And SEO 1.1 Marketing for an Ecommerce site - Why SEO is your best bet?......................................... 6 1.2 Ecommerce SEO Project Challenges ..............................................................................8 1.3 Personal Attributes of Enterprise level SEO Executive .................................................... 9 1.4 Leading Enterprise level SEO Projects ..........................................................................11 2.0 How search Engines Work? 2.1 URL Discovery ............................................................................................................13 2.2 Webpage Crawl...........................................................................................................13 2.3 Indexation ................................................................................................................. 14 2.5 Information Retrieval ................................................................................................. 14 2.5 Ranking......................................................................................................................15 3.0 Optimize your Ecommerce Website - One piece at the time 3.1 Improving Crawling and Indexation............................................................................. 16 3.2 Keyword Research for Ecommerce Sites .......................................................................22 3.3 Optimizing Your Site Content ......................................................................................32 3.5 Link Building 101 for ecommerce sites ......................................................................... 62 3.6 Driving traffic through structured data and rich snippets ...............................................75 3.7 Building your online store’s social presence.................................................................. 80 4.0 Advanced Ecommerce SEO Solutions....................................... 84 4.1 Future proof your online store from SEO penalties ....................................................... 84 4.2 Optimize your site for multi-device world .................................................................... 88 4.4 Optimizing your online store for International audience ............................................... 90 4.5 Faceted navigation best practices ............................................................................... 93
  • 2. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page3 4.6 Infinite Scroll – Common Pitfalls and Fix...................................................................... 98 4.7 Pagination SEO Best practices .................................................................................... 99 4.8 Perfecting Site Architecture for Ecommerce Sites .......................................................105 4.9 Enterprise SEO Toolkit..............................................................................................115 5.0 Converting Visitors into Buyers 5.1 Ecommerce Conversion Optimization.........................................................................121 5.2 Role of SEO in improving conversion rates. .................................................................127 6.0 Complete Website Technical Audit 6.1 Getting started with Technical SEO............................................................................130 6.2 Preparing your site’s SEO Audit Report and Checklist..................................................131 7.0 Managing Ecommerce SEO Project 7.1 Getting Buy-ins.........................................................................................................221 7.2 Getting SEO Done.....................................................................................................224 7.3 SEO Measurement ....................................................................................................229 7.4 Measuring Link Building Campaigns ...........................................................................232 7.5 SEO Reporting ..........................................................................................................234
  • 3. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page4 About This Guide What does this guide contain? Most Ecommerce SEO guides are limited to listing of few optimization and marketing techniques. In this SEO guide we made sure that important aspects of Ecommerce SEO including analytics, measurement, technical SEO, project management and advanced solutions are covered. Effort has been made to make the guide precise and actionable to Internet marketers of all levels. Who should read this guide? Ecommerce SEO Managers or executives looking to lead and execute their site’s SEO, Internet marketers looking to learn Ecommerce SEO or any ecommerce business marketing head looking to learn the role of SEO in their online store marketing marketing mix. How to use this guide best? Focus of this book is to help SEOs come up with answers to complex Ecommerce SEO problems by themselves.The guide links out to few blog posts to give you a deeper understanding of the concepts. Also present is a technical SEO checklist to help you tick of changes you implemented on the site. The guide will be updated with content on a regular basis. Make sure you bookmark this page for future reference.
  • 4. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page5 About the Author Arun Kothapally specializes in SEO and is a big time lover of data smart digital marketing. He currently works with PurpleTalk as a SEO manager. His experience is spread across B2B, B2C, product and services marketing. He is a market motive and Inbound certified marketing practitioner. He holds a Technical Degree from JNTU, Hyderabad and is a trained and certified on Web graphics design by Arena Animation. You can connect with him on Email Twitter Linkedin Website
  • 5. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page6 1. Introduction to Ecommerce and SEO 1.1 Marketing for an Ecommerce site - Why SEO is your best bet? The marketing world is dominated by the idea that you have to pour money in to advertising to make money. Ecommerce businesses are running after investors as if running a business is all about raising money. With customer eyeballs distributed across various online stores on various devices, getting a customer to return to your online store has become an ever growing challenge. Online retailers have been struggling to increase conversion rates beyond 2% mark for more than a decade. Low conversion rates and ever increasing Ad bid rates have increased the cost of acquisition per user. This in turn has reduced the profit margins of most online retail businesses. Running on negative revenue or no profit no loss model was very much the trend in retail when the medium of sales was offline. Offline retail is over taken by the idea that you can't make money without spending money. All though this model makes sense for offline retail or an online business with millions of funding this model won't work for bootstrapped businesses and ecommerce startups with low funding. A smart business is a business that measures what it spends, knows the ROI of their marketing efforts and concentrates on organic growth instead of going by the “raise more burn more” mentality. Off all the organic ways of driving traffic to your site, SEO is the most popular and effective way of driving traffic to your online store for 5 strong reasons - 1. Lowers cost per user acquisition – Simple optimization techniques have the potential to drive traffic to your site at zero cost. Hiring a good SEO agency,
  • 6. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page7 buying tools and getting content curated although costs you the overall cost for acquiring a single user is far less compared to other online/offline marketing channels. 2. Scalable – Once SEO is integrated in to the process and your team is educated about basic optimization techniques, SEO becomes like an inbound marketing machine which generates sales as an when a new product is added. However if you are depended on a paid advertising scheme you will have to invest more money, make a new creative and launch a new Ad in your Google Adwords account to drive revenue every time you launch a new category or product on your online store. 3. Small Team – An enterprise level SEO is an architect who brings SEO knowledge to the table and makes sure the site is built on SEO best practices. All you need is 1-3 SEO team, who can train, execute and strategize SEO for long- term returns. 4. SEO traffic has higher conversion rates – SEO traffic has higher conversion rates as it is a form of marketing, which reaches a customer who is already interested in the product. SEO is a popular form of permission marketing, which targets people who are already looking for the product without interrupting them. 5. Long-term benefits – A page optimized on your site today has a potential to rank in search engine as long as the webpage is alive. A one-time effort has potential to drive traffic to your site for many months and years to come without much regular effort.
  • 7. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page8 1.2 Ecommerce SEO Project Challenges Driving an ecommerce SEO project may not be easy all the time. It is quite natural to come across various hurdles that include both internal and external factors. 1. Too many brand advocates – The content marketing campaign that you believe will bring loads of traffic and links may not be in line with company's values or budget. You might have decided to put the links to high traffic keyword pages on the homepage but the management may be more keen on selling what it thinks is right. 2. Permission the enemy of speed – Enterprise SEO is often filled with gatekeepers and people whose approval is a must to get cooperation from their team. Permission all though helps the management know all about the happenings in the project, permission often hampers speed and dampens motivation of the employee looking to execute his most dear idea. 3. Slow project turnarounds – May be you are looking to automate your page titles and URLs for your online store but the developer in your team is already overloaded with work. There is nothing you can do in this case other than to make sure that the SEO recommendations are prioritized in their schedule. 4. When key people quit – Gone are the days when people used to marry themselves to a company for decades. People-quitting workplaces is quite a common norm and every member of the organization must be ready just in case. SEO progress may take a back seat if one of your team member or someone from the tech staff quits. 5. Cross team culture hurdles - Once you are pushing SEO through your organization you will have to meet and interact with many teams outside your department. Each one of these teams may have people with different mindsets and working style. The problem gets worse when they can't understand SEO and you have a tough time explaining its value to them.
  • 8. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page9 6. Decisions taken without SEO in mind – Sometimes your management may decide to launch a new section within your online store which they believe will increase value of the offering. Many pages may be added to the site, which may be duplicate of a page already on site. Your tech team might decide to put product description in a JavaScript tab just to make the website more glossy. All though this may seem appropriate to developer or every person on your management or product team there are high chances that SEO traffic could take a hit as a result. 1.3 Personal Attributes of an Enterprise level SEO Executive I always believed success is an inside out approach. The calmer you are on the inside better the chances of you succeeding in a project. All though SEO skills are important to push things in an organization one needs to have qualities far bigger than just SEO. Patience – We SEOs are pretty good at performing SEO audits, coming up with set of recommendations, strategy and even communicating the same to your team. But when it comes to getting SEO done we need to get access to “people and resources”. And 9 put of 10 times these two things won't follow your plan. The first 3 months of execution of SEO is usually difficult, as it needs you to adapt to the new project and work culture. SEO takes up to 6 months to show tangible results. During this time you have to face many questions and explanations from C level team on lack of traffic growth. And to face all the push backs and questions patience pays a crucial role.
  • 9. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page10 Holistic SEO Knowledge – A good SEO lead should have knowledge on all key SEO concepts. Knowledge is a key differentiating factor between a beginner and an expert. Once you develop sound knowledge and brand yourself accordingly you can command more seriousness towards your recommendations. Once you develop authority and are approachable, people are more likely to consult you for SEO advice. Communication – When it comes to a project as big as ecommerce no job is a private job and no success is an individual's success. Goals, possible outcomes, and individual's contribution to the project have to be clearly communicated to earn the trust and cooperation of your sub ordinates. Listing SEO goals and explaining how it meets the business objective will help get the much-needed buy in from your senior management.
  • 10. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page11 1.4 Leading Enterprise level SEO Projects The Internet marketing industry is very good at sharing their experience and SEO concepts with their peers. But rarely do they discuss the importance of other roles a SEO will have to play during his career. We Internet marketers often play many roles that don’t come along with our “Job Description”. SEOs who adapt seamlessly with different roles are the ones who will “get shit done”. Consultant – Quite often your merchandizing department may be interested in knowing fast and slow moving products. You with thorough knowledge on analytics should be able to give valuable insights and suggestions to your merchandizing team. Trainer – Training doesn't necessarily mean educating people about the ins and outs of SEO. Training may include making people from different departments understand the value of SEO and optimization process that enhances site's SEO. For example, in order to have highly optimized product descriptions it is important that you explain your content team about the importance of keyword targeting and its role in generating sales for the company. Knowledge Head – When your team is stuck with analytics or SEO related question you should be the first person they should look towards. There is plenty of bad advice on the web and you branding yourself as an SEO expert in your company will make sure your peers look towards you for advice. This ensures the online store's SEO is in safe hands. Data Analyst – We are being pounded with data from all sides. Slip in a code on all pages of your site and you are given a data puke of everything your visitor is doing on your site. Data is useless until you draw actionable conclusions from them. Your role as a data analyst is to dig out meaningful trends from data and give insights to your technical, design, merchandizing and C-level management team. High page load time
  • 11. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page12 in Google analytics section could be good input to your tech team. High traffic from different screen sizes serve as good proof to convince your design team to make the site responsive. Project Management – There may be situations where in you might need a certain custom feature built by your technical team. In order to communicate it to the technical team you should document the list of requirements with prototypes. This may include many project management tasks like making estimates, following up with progress, getting buy-ins, documentation and reporting. Documentation – Documenting current progress and goals will help you know progress and will be easy to hand over projects to other team members. For instance, documenting site audits every quarter helps you know all critical issues of the past, which got resolved and new issues which needs focus. Be a Visionary – Buy the idea that your company stands for and communicate the same to your team. When it comes to SEO thinking long term is the safest and most sustainable way to grow a business. Having a long-term SEO vision and getting people to buy in to it helps you face the short-term pressures from management better. Worth Reading Tips for effective project management (2012 Edition) – Tom Critchlow What makes for a good SEO manager – Richard Baxter Tips for effective SEO Project Management – Justin Briggs
  • 12. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page13 2. How Search Engines Work? In order that Google ranks your online store it is important that the Google bot crawls your site’s web pages and also indexes it. As SEO professionals our work is to help search engines discover new content in shortest amount of time and also optimize the site to achieve higher ranking. A typical ecommerce site gets multiple products added to it on a regular basis. These product pages often lie very deep in the architecture, which makes it very difficult for search engines to access these pages. Once search engines access these pages it is also important to make sure that these pages get good link equity and PageRank so that they can compete with other pages on the search results page. 2.1 URL Discovery In order for a search engine to crawl a web page it has to discover it first. In order to make search engine discover your site’s latest pages you will have to have links from pages on the web that are crawled frequently. These include social networks like twitter, Google+ and high authority blogs. Once we have our latest links listed in highly active pages on the web Google bot will discover new pages on your site faster. 2.2 Webpage Crawl To understand the content on a page a search engine first has to crawl through a web page. Without this a search engine can neither rank the page nor can it understand the content on it. In order for a search engines to crawl all important pages, your site should be made crawl friendly. A good crawl friendly online store should NOT have -  Duplicate content  Misleading or chained redirects  Content and links in non parse able JavaScript
  • 13. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page14  Deep level architectures  Broken links  Soft 404 pages  Dead end pages Making crawl friendly website also helps Google pass PageRank and other link values to deeper level pages better. This is a critical factor as it helps inner/deeper level pages rank better in search engines. 2.3 Indexation In order to achieve a rank in Google or any other search engine it is a must that the search engine indexes the particular web page. Once a page is crawled Google makes a choice on whether to add the page in its index based on various factors like quality, user experience and originality of the document. Keeping a tab on number of indexed pages and the total number of pages on site is important, as it will help you discover the pages that have not yet been indexed. You can check the number of pages ever crawled and total number of indexed pages in Google Webmaster Tool’s Health > Index Status section.
  • 14. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page15 Once a web document is stored in Google’s index the data is retrieved when a user types in a query. When the user search engines enter a particular query use various methods to search for the documents within its index that are relevant to the query. It uses information retrieval systems like keyword usages, number of times the keyword phrase was used in a document, co-occurrence of the keyword with a particular topic and other complex factors that determines the topical relevance of the document. 2.5 Ranking Once a web page is in Google's index it gets eligible to rank. When a search query is requested by the user Google searches from its huge collection of web indexes and returns results based on more than 200+ ranking factors. Apart from these 200 ranking factors various other factors like personalization and freshness of the query play important role in ranking of a website. A job of a SEO is to make sure that different pages on the website are optimized using best practices so that both the user acquires value and the search engines understands the website better. Worth Reading How Search Works – The official Google guide How search engines operate - SEOmoz Technical SEO Guide to Crawling, Indexing and Ranking 2.5 Information Retrieval
  • 15. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page16 3. Optimizing your Online Store one piece at a time 3.1 Improving Crawling and Indexation The job of a search engine spider is to discover new content and to discover when existing pages get updated with new content. Search engines have separate methods which decide which pages of a website to crawl, how often to crawl a website and how deeply to crawl a website. Once a crawler enters your website it takes a look at your site’s robots.txt file which tells which folders to crawl and which folders to ignore. A crawler starts crawling pages and along its way records all URLs it finds and adds them to a big list of URLs for it to crawl later. In order to make your online store crawl friendly there is a lot you can do. By using few simple tweaks and off site strategies you can get all your pages crawled by Google. Following are few simple techniques listed below will help search engine bots crawl your site effectively. Product discovery via feeds Getting back links to your latest pages/products is a good way to get them discovered. By using product feeds you can make your online store's new page get back links and hence search engine spider's attention. Create a dynamic RSS feed of all products on your site and submit them to top RSS and product feed directories. This will make new product pages discovery easier. Multiple Dynamic XML sitemaps A sitemap is a simple list of URLs of all pages on your site. It is a way of making it easy for search engines to see the latest pages on your site. Remember that Google ignores
  • 16. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page17 links in sitemap beyond 50000 or a file size lesser than 10MB. If your online store has links over 50000 then the best practice is to use multiple sitemaps. You can have sitemaps for products in each category and also have a sitemap listing all categories and sub categories. Sitemaps are again divided based on content and medium types. One can have sitemaps for mobile, video and images. There are many free and paid tools that build sitemaps instantly. You can build a sitemap manually using this free guide from Google. Arrest duplicate content Duplicate content are of 2 types. The first kind of duplicate content is caused due to same or similar content on your website and an external webpage. The second kind occurs when 2 different web pages on the same site have same or nearly same content. The duplicate content of the first kind can be fought using Digital Millennium Copyright Act a law that protects digital content owners right over his or her intellectual property. In cases where you find a website stealing your content or aping your product you can notify Google and bring the web page de-indexed. You can notify Google about DMCA infringement here. (Login to see the form) The second kind of duplicate content is caused due to same content on different pages. This kind of duplicate content is one of the major technical SEO challenges for large sites. All though duplicate content doesn't cause any direct penalty it can push a site in to Google’s low quality website radar. Duplicate content on site can cause 1. Depletion of link juice – Once a search engine decides to index both versions of duplicate/near duplicate pages the PageRank and the link value is split. Hence
  • 17. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page18 the consolidation of link juice that should have happened on a single page will now be distributed between 2 similar pages. This will reduce the ranking capability of both the pages. 2. Crawl budget depletion - Before crawling a website Google has a limited crawl budget. The Google spider crawls the website within this time. If the duplicate content issue is not addressed the crawler spends time crawling multiple versions of the same page and this may cause other important pages be left uncrawled. 3. Keyword cannibalization - When Google bot sees that more than one page optimized for the same keyword term it doesn't understand which page is the most appropriate page and may decide to rank a lower quality page. This conflict is caused by duplicate content and the concept is usually referred to as keyword cannibalization. 4. Ranking of wrong landing page – Many modern search engines have learned up to a certain extent on finding the original page and its duplicate variations. However, due to few shortcomings within its algorithms it may misunderstand a duplicate page to be original and rank it as a result. This duplicate page may have low conversion rates and may provide a bad user experience. 5. By managing duplicate content on your online store you can make sure the right page gets all the link value, gets ranked in Google and acquires valuable traffic and conversions. Site’s Directory of Links Directories are a list of all URLs on site organized on basis of alphabets/brand/products/style or any other attribute. A good directory should contain links to all pages and should be dynamic. A dynamic directory ensures that links to all the new pages are easily accessible by the Google spider. Make sure the directory has
  • 18. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page19 flat architecture so that the crawler reaches the deepest level pages within few steps. Directories are not usually user preferred way of navigating a website so it a best practice to “NoIndex” them. Make sure you use the following Meta Robots tag in the <head> section so that the links are followed but the directory pages are not indexed. <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX"> Improve PageRank of Home and Category Level Pages The depth at which links from a page is crawled is directly proportional to the PageRank of the particular page. In other words pages that have higher PageRank get crawled at a deeper level. The same has been suggested by Matt Cutts in his interview with Eric Enge. When Google visits a page with higher PageRank the links on the page have a higher probability of getting crawled. This points us to the fact that homepage and category/subcategory pages with higher PageRank will help Google bots discover deeper level product pages effectively. New product pages on your site usually have a link from the category page of the website. So make sure that your sub category and category pages receive the necessary back links and have links from homepage. This will ensure these pages get high PageRank and the links on it gets crawled. If the category or sub category of the website has good number of back links then the product pages linked from it have higher chances of getting crawled and indexed. Improve quality of content Content quality, which is measured on uniqueness and originality, is one big decisive factor on whether Google decides to index a page or not. Higher the quality of content
  • 19. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page20 higher is the chances of the page getting indexed. A good online store can have in depth content about the product like customer reviews, multiple images of the product, detailed specifications and in depth product review. Get Social Links Google actively monitors social sites like twitter to find latest trends and discover new content. This helps Google rank sites based on temporal relevance. Getting your web page links shared actively crawled social sites like twitter/Google+ will help your site get crawled more frequently. A brand can improve its social presence by using few simple techniques - 1. Encouraging users to share products on social networks. 2. Have highly engaging social presence on Twitter, FaceBook and other social channels. 3. Integrate social activity in to your online store like FaceBook signups/comments and twitter authorized logins. Ping services Ping services like pingomatic pings your web pages to different search engines like Yahoo, Google and Bing. Using pingomatic service will ensure your most recent pages are pinged to top search engines. This will increase the possibility of search engines discovering and crawling your latest pages within few minutes it is published. You can even submit URL for inclusion in Google's index here. Improve page speed Since the crawl budget for any site is limited it is important that your online store pages load faster so that search engine bots crawls more number of pages within the
  • 20. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page21 stipulated time. There are many tools that give a grade for your site's speed and performance. Tools like Pingdom also gives a set of detailed recommendations that will improve your site speed. Block useless folders using Robots.txt Quite often there are pages on your online store that offers zero value to search engines and users. Blocking such folders will make sure search engine bots spend more of their time on crawling other important pages. Few pages which you may want to block could be user accounts, admin, catalog search, search results page, JavaScripts and CSS files. If your online store uses Magento CMS then consider using this robots.txt for your online store. Improve site architecture In order for Google to reach your product and deeper level pages it is necessary to have a flat architecture. Good relevant internal linking is also important for perfecting site architecture. Once the site architecture is improved search engines will be able to crawl up to your product pages and also pass the necessary link equity. Make sure server gives right response code It is important that the server sends the right response code for all web pages. Doing so will help search engines crawl websites more efficiently as it understands content on the page instantly. If the server response code is 200 OK but the content displayed on the site is that of a 404 page then this will result in Google crawling the page. This eats up certain amount of crawl budget set by Google. These issues are usually considered as Soft 404.
  • 21. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page22 Replace all internal links pointing to 404 pages Google crawls the web by visiting one page to another via a hyperlink. When a search engine hits a broken link on a page its crawl efficiency is reduced. This is because 404 pages halt the progress of the spider. To check broken links you can use any tool freely available. Few tools you can have a try with is Xenu Link Sleuth, Screaming Frog, Brokenlinkcheck 3.2 Keyword Research for Ecommerce Sites Keyword research is the most intrinsic part of any SEO strategy. Well thought out and researched keywords can help your online store achieve more sales and traffic with lesser link building and SEO efforts. All though keyword research has been stressed a lot by many experts in the internet marketing industry numerous keyword opportunities are missed by brands both big and small. There are 3 reasons for this - 1. "Honey I know my keywords" attitude - No you don't. Knowing few keywords that your management feels is important is not enough. The money is in the long tail that can be discovered only through a holistic research. 2. Keyword research is tedious. Keyword research often includes tedious data collection and spreadsheet work. Keyword research isn't for SEOs who get bored easily. 3. Keyword research needs lateral thinking. A single well charted out process is not sufficient to find the best keywords.
  • 22. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page23 The keyword research approach you take for an ecommerce site is quite different from other sites. Apart from its SEO benefits a solid keyword research answers key business questions like  Which products you should start or stop selling?  Which products will attract more sales?  Which words to use on website to get more traffic? There are basically 2 approaches which one can use to find keywords for an ecommerce business. Bottom up approach - In this method the list of categories and products form the basis for keyword research process. The research is done using the existing data from analytics and webmasters and doing keyword research for existing products and categories. This method is easy as the keyword to URL mapping for each keyword is already done. Top down approach - This method of research is done at the level of industry/niche. It takes in to account the various product/keyword possibilities in a particular niche. Of the 2 approaches I prefer the second approach as it gives more insights about the industry and also exposes the missed out business opportunities. Once you have a list of target keywords we can generate content ideas, define link building strategy, establish a structure of the website and achieve keyword optimization better. Following steps is a dive in to top down approach of keyword research for ecommerce sites.
  • 23. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page24 STEP 1: CREATE YOUR FIRST SET OF KEYWORDS In order to initiate your keyword research process you should have your initial set of keywords. These keywords will help you chart and dig deeper in to long tail keywords. You can easily create your first list of keywords by using -  Keyword brainstorming - Brainstorming for keywords is a useful and quick way of having the first set of keywords in hand. The best method of brainstorming for keywords is to talk to people who have been in the business for a long enough time (usually top management). Develop an understanding of the industry you are working on. Any SEO with industry awareness should be able to churn out few good keywords easily.  Check analytics and Google webmaster tools data - Google analytics and webmaster tools provide a wealth of data on top keywords and average rank of your website for a particular keyword. Google webmaster gives you a fair idea on which keywords you are ranking already in the Traffic > Search Queries section.  Sniff your competitor keywords - Your competition might have been in business longer than you and should have figured out few high traffic keywords. The good news is that you can easily steal these keywords using many free tools online. One way of doing this is by visiting the competitor's website and checking
  • 24. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page25 out Meta title/descriptions/keywords in the source code of the website (CTRL + U). This will uncover the phrases and terms which are very dear to your competition. Another way to uncover the trophy keywords of your competition is by checking out their back link anchor texts. Anchor texts are often words used to define a website or call to action. Ex: best shopping site or Shop here. These keywords can be discovered by using At this stage it is important to not care about the number of searches/difficulty of the keyword. Numbers will be taken care of as we go deeper in to the keyword research process. STEP 2: LIST ALL POSSIBLE PRODUCTS IN YOUR NICHE Pick a top retailer in your niche who has all possible product types, categories and sub categories in your niche. (Example: Casual shoes, sandals and sports shoes in Footwear
  • 25. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page26 section) If you are an apparel retailer then a good choice could be Kohl's or Macy's. Once you pick an online store list all the product types per category. This is tedious but is one of the key steps in the process. Make sure you list all the product types(categories) and NOT care for products which are not on your site. Once you have the list of products we can go ahead with our keyword research using free tools like Google and uber suggest. Listing all product types (categories) is critical; as it will point out possible keywords and business opportunities you are missing. STEP 3 : LIST ALL GOOGLE SUGGESTED KEYWORDS UberSuggest is one of my favorite keyword research tools. This tool lists all the Google suggestions that appear in drop down for a particular keyword. In the below example (image) the keyword t-shirt gives a list of suggestions off which you can select the ones which are most relevant to your business. While selecting keywords use your judgment. For an online apparel business, keywords like t-shirt printer and t -shirt heat press are not relevant hence will remain unselected.
  • 26. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page27 The above process should be repeated for each and every product type to make your keyword research comprehensive. All sorted keywords should be placed in an excel
  • 27. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page28 sheet with each sheet representing a category/subcategory (sport shoes, gum boots, belts, watches). I like calling this file keyword master. STEP 4: LIST ALL KEYWORDS MENTIONED IN GOOGLE RELATED SEARCHES Google often suggests related searches at the bottom of search listings. These searches are a good measure of what people search for. Google related searches are keywords that have same topical relevance as the query searched. Do a Google search for all product categories and sub categories in Google and Bing and pick the related search terms. Unfortunately I was not able to find a simpler or automated way of doing this. For now copy and paste in to a notepad/excel. For best shopping related keywords type your query in Google shopping page.
  • 28. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page29 Add all these keywords to your keyword master segregated based on category or subcategory per sheet. Make sure you remove duplicate keywords from the list to make the list exact and future calculations easy. STEP 5: FIND KEYWORD METRICS Now that we have a set of keywords with us it is time to find which of these keywords have high number of search volumes and how easy or difficult it is to rank for the keyword. By end of this step we will have a list of keywords and their respective metrics so that we can make educated choices. For this purpose we will use 5 metrics. 1. Search volumes - Search volumes give us a good idea about how many people actually search for a keyword. The most reliable tool is Google Adwords Keyword planner. 2. User Intent Rating - Just because a keyword has high volume of searches and low difficulty level it doesn't mean we have to try to rank for it. In few cases,
  • 29. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page30 users searching for such keywords may have low purchase intent. For instance, a user searching for "red t-shirt with pockets" may have higher intent to make a purchase than a person who simply searches for "t-shirts for men". By using a simple rating system we can find out which keywords have higher chances of converting a user in to a customer. User intent rating is used here as we can't have consistent conversion rate data for each keyword. 3. Average Product Price - Average price of the product helps us in calculation of the revenue possible through the particular product. 4. Revenue Rating - Revenue rating gives us a rough measure of how high or low the revenue generated from a keyword could be. It is calculated as the product of search volume, user intent rating and average product price. Remember that this revenue rating is not the revenue you will generate from the particular keyword. 5. Keyword Difficulty - Keyword difficulty is the amount of effort needed to rank high in Google. This metric can be found out from SEOmoz keyword difficulty tool. This tool weighs different metrics including domain authority, inbound links and other factors of ranking website and gives a percentage ranking from 0- 100%. Higher the number, higher is the difficulty to rank for the keyword phrase.
  • 30. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page31 STEP 6: WEED OUT LOW REVENUE TERMS Sort the keywords list from "highest revenue rating" to least. Once we have got our revenue ratings and list of keywords it is time to weed out keywords that result in low revenue. Once we remove these keywords we have our 2nd set of keywords with us. STEP 7: MAP KEYWORDS TO PAGES Once we have our keywords we will have to match them to appropriate pages. This will help us know which pages have to be ranked for which keyword. This mapping will also help us in on page keyword targeting. For the keywords which you don't have any category or product page pass them to your merchandising team and inform them about the missed business opportunity.
  • 31. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page32 STEP 8: PICK PRIMARY TARGET TERM PER PAGE The best way to improve your chances of ranking is by picking a single keyword phrase and optimizing the page for the same. Once optimized other keywords with close topical relevance can be used within the copy to get traffic for more keywords. The best way to pick a single target term per page is to check the keyword phrase with highest revenue rating and least or moderate keyword difficulty. If your site is relatively new then it is difficult to rank for highly competitive terms. In such cases picking a keyword phrase with least to moderate difficulty is a safe bet. Recommended Reading Using Keyword Research to hook more ecommerce customers – James Agate Which keyword phrases should you rank for? - Shopify Keyword Research for Ecommerce Sites - Himanshu Maximizing Keyword Spread for Ecommerce sites – SEO Nick 3.3 Optimizing Your Site Content In order to get the most out of search traffic it is crucial to optimize every page of your online store. Optimizing content for keywords and building topical relevance helps Google know what a particular page is most relevant to and ranks them accordingly. Here are few important aspects every SEO has to look in to in order to optimize different pages on an online store. a. Employ Keyword Targeting b. Consolidate Content c. Fight Duplicate Content d. Leverage User Generated Content
  • 32. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page33 3.3.a Keyword targeting for better ranking In order to rank for keywords it is important to have right content relevant to the page or product. Relevant content gets SEO brownie points. Apart from relevant content that both user and search engines understand it is important to practice few SEO pointers that help you target a page for the right keyword better. H1 Tag The <h1> tag should contain the exact product name and a relevant keyword. <h1> tag is the most important heading tag hence having the most important keyword(Product name or Category Keyword) in it is crucial. URL A SEO friendly URL should be short, have appropriate keywords and should be clean without any sessions ids. Currently many Ecommerce CMS have features wherein one can manually customize the URL with keywords. SEO optimized URLs is an important ranking factor and an online store owner should make sure that the ecommerce platform he is choosing should have customizable URLs feature. In open source software Magento, Wordpress and Opencart have customizable URL while in hosted ecommerce space Bigcommerce, Shopify and Volusion have customizable URLs. Title Title is one of the important ranking factor in Google algorithm and is also the text which users see when your site in listed on Google search results page. The title of your product or category page should contain the most relevant primary keyword. A proper SEO optimized title should target the primary keyword, attract clicks and should be below 70 characters in width.
  • 33. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page34 Meta Description Meta description is the snippets of text that gets displayed when a webpage gets listen on a search engine results page. Meta description should be highly relevant to the document and have relevant keywords and marketing messages to draw the user's attention. Ideal length of a Meta Description is 160 characters. Beyond which Google cuts out the text and will not be visible to the user. Social Sharing Buttons Social links and chatter about your brand is one of the most untapped ranking factors. Links from social sites like FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube have impact on search rankings. An average user likes sharing interesting among his social circle. Having social sharing buttons on all pages of your site and making it visible to the average user will give you valuable social links and traffic. Internal linking Any seasoned SEO will agree that internal linking has an important role in ranking of a web page. Smart internal linking increases the SEO value of the linked to page and the value of the linking page. Internal linking helps different levels of pages acquire the much needed link equity. Few of the strategies which an ecommerce site could use to improve internal links to product pages is  Linking to it from home page featured products section  Links from category pages  Links from other product pages with similar style and in same category
  • 34. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page35 High Quality images with descriptive file name and alt text Crisp and clean images go a long way in selling the product to your users. High quality images are most likely to attract links and social shares than a low-resolution image. Use alt text with product name. This will raise the chances of your product image appearing in Google search. Use descriptive image file names. For example use Hello-kitty-toaster.png rather than 123.png. Give users an option to embed your image in their blogs. This way you can attract links to your product pages too. Structured Data and Rich Snippet text Structured data is a system, which helps a search engine understand more about the content on a page. Schema markup for instance is a html markup recognized by all major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. Using schema product specification you can specify various attributes of the product including name, brand, dimensions, color and other key aspects. Every listing on a search results page has snippet of text which shows the text preview of relevant text from the listed website. With Rich snippets your listing can give more information to the user upfront. Using structured data you can communicate product information like ratings, number of reviews, availability, pricing, shipping and breadcrumbs to the searcher even before visiting your online store.
  • 35. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page36 Customer Reviews – Pages with rich content get the Google brownie points and are often the ones that get ranked higher. By giving power to the user through customer reviews relevant content will be added to different pages of your site on a regular basis. This content will improve the ranking power of your product page and will also increase the conversion rate of your online store. Product Description – Product description is a content section which you can explain the product in detail. Often a product can be searched for more than a couple of ways. Product descriptions are content sections where you can include other keywords you are targeting. Higher the detailing of the product higher are its chances of ranking well in search engines for long tail keywords. Improve site speed Site speed is one of the Google algorithm ranking factor. All though no great correlation has been recorded between page speed and Google ranking fast sites help reduce bounce rate, increases user engagement, increases social shares and back links. Simple tweaks to your online store's product page can go a long way in improving its speed. Optimize the product image to reduce load time. Use PNG over JPEG. Minimize use of external use of JavaScript and CSS. Use browser caching to serve pages faster to your return visitors. Use plugins to speed up your online store. Major ecommerce platforms like Magento have plugins to speed up your site. If you are using Magento, Fooman Speedster is very effective plugin to improve site speed.
  • 36. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page37 Recommended Reading 11 Keyword Targeting Mistakes – Luna Metrics Perfecting On-Page Optimization for Ecommerce Websites 3.3.b Consolidate content on your online store Often in an ecommerce site or any dynamic website, pages are created which often are of less value. Search engines consider every URL as a new page and the page may receive some SEO value as a result. This results in many unworthy pages getting the link value but the most worthwhile pages miss out on this link juice. This results in a loss of ranking opportunity of important pages on your site. Consolidating all this content and link value on to a single page will help us streamline all link value to the most important pages of the website. If the content is not consolidated it may cause issues related to duplicate content, thin content and crawling and indexation. Consolidating content on your site using Google's suggested best practices helps Google consolidate ranking signals on to important pages and crawl your site more effectively. In an ecommerce site there are many cases where content is often held loose and valuable ranking opportunities is missed. Discussed below are most popular reasons for "leaky SEO" and how best one can control damage.
  • 37. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page38 Pagination When there are too many products on a page they are usually displayed in a series of pages. This results in creation of multiple pages which are generated dynamically as and when new products are added. Pagination helps users go through an array of products systematically but it causes serious SEO issues. A paginated series not following SEO best practices will cause loss of consolidation of rank signals both of which stops web pages from ranking in search engines. To prevent such issues it is critical that the website abides by the best practices as suggested by Google. Out of Stock Products Sometimes products go out of stock on your online store. In such cases the product page will have no value to the user as he/she can't make a purchase. Dealing with such issues will help consolidate content.
  • 38. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page39 The best possible solution from SEO perspective would be to give a temporary 302/307 redirect to the nearest possible category or product. This ensures that the user is redirected to a page where he can take an action. If there is no appropriate alternative for the product then it is advised to list closely related products. Products that differ on a single attribute Few online stores display variants of the same product in separate product pages. This often makes content on these pages very similar to its variants. A t-shirts store which displays various colors of its t-shirts on site for the same style/brand often ends up having multiple product pages with near duplicate content. This is a conflicting situation for search engine bots as multiple pages are built targeting the same keyword. This situation is often called keyword cannibalization in SEO industry terms. The best practice in this case is to list products based on model or style instead of variants like price or color. This will consolidate content on a single page and the product page will have better chance of ranking in search engines. The following flowchart by Rand Fishkin will help you decide whether a particular page should be added or consolidated with other similar pages.
  • 39. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page40 Consolidating Multi Language and Regional websites If your online store serves in multiple countries like Spain, Germany or France then it may be useful to have multiple versions of the site each serving a different language in different regions. All though this practice is best for international users lack of proper SEO implementation may lead to loss of valuable local ranking and traffic. In order for webmasters to help Google search bots handle such cases appropriately Google introduced rel="alternate" hreflang="x" tag. Using this tag one can tell Google that the page in context is an alternate version of main website and the language of the page is defined by the hreflang reference. In case your online store ( is based out of US but you receive orders and ship products to countries like
  • 40. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page41 Spain - France - Germany - UK - then consolidating the signals across all the 5 domains helps Google rank each of the domains in their respective countries. This is best done in 3 steps Choose your primary domain. Since in this case your business is based out of US we shall choose as the primary domain. Use canonical tag across each page of all the remaining sites. Make sure that each page is canonically pointing to its concurrent page to get the best results. In this case should canonically point to Implement rel="alternate" hreflang="x" on all the pages of each domain. In this case we have to use the below code in the <head> section of each domain. <link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="" / Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
  • 41. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page42 On the page which does not target any language ( the code should look like <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x-default” href=””> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="" /> Pagination Issues When the number of products in a category reduces, sometimes the last page in the paginated series will no longer display any products and displays a page with no products on it. For instance, if your apparel store has 35 t-shirts with up to 10 t-shirts displayed on each page of the paginated series then the last page (page 4) has 5 products. When 5 t- shirts are removed from the inventory then the last page of the paginated series page 4(?page=4) will have no products to display. The resultant page thus formed has very thin or no content. The best practice in this case is to do a temporary 302 redirect the last page to last but one page which in this case is Page 3(?page=3). Once the category is filled with new products the redirect should be removed to let page function as normal.
  • 42. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page43 Expired Products Many online stores discontinue products and pull down the subsequent page as they no longer serve any purpose to the user. All though this is OK from the user’s perspective, not having a strategy for expired products would only mean loss of search traffic and loss of valuable back links. In such cases it is advised to do a 301 permanent redirect of the product to the most similar product or the nearest sub category so that the relevancy is restored, link juice is retained and users have other options to choose from. Solve Soft 404 Errors When a server sees that there is no content on a page then it typically throws a 404 error. 404 error is a HTTP response code which tells the browser and search engines that the page does not exist. The content displayed on the page is entirely unrelated to HTTP response returned by the server. However in certain cases it may so happen that the page does not show any content and yet the response code shown by the server is 200 OK. This may happen when the content which previously existed on the site is pulled down but the server still continues to show a HTTP response code other than 404 or 410. This often results in Google crawler spend time crawling unimportant pages which have no ranking potential. This will lead to depletion of pre-defined crawl budget and as a result Google crawler may miss out on other important pages.
  • 43. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page44 Reasons for soft 404s in an ecommerce site When a product is removed ideally the product should redirect to the alternative product or to the nearest category. But when a webmaster doesn't follow this practice and blindly removes the page without making sure of server giving a 404 response code then a soft 404 page situation is created. The other reason a soft 404 could be created is due to inactive categories. When I was working on an ecommerce site ( I saw a ton of category level links being shown as soft 404 pages. On further investigation I realized that the pages were appearing as the web developer created the categories for all products upfront even before products were added to it. This made categories pages index able but had no content on it. Luckily spotting 404 errors is easy. Google notifies webmasters about soft 404 errors through webmaster tools when it encounters such pages during its crawl function. Once
  • 44. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page45 you solve them by giving an appropriate HTTP response code Google spider can crawl your site more effectively. 3.3.c Fight Duplicate Content Duplicate content is an issue faced by most large sites. All though duplicate content on site doesn't cause a Google penalty in most cases handling duplicate content appropriately and consolidating link value will help your online store SEO in a large way. Having duplicate content on site can cause one or more of the following issues 1. All though search engines have learned up to a certain extent on dealing with duplicate content it still can't make a right guess on picking the original page. This may lead to the high converting page being dropped from the index or may not receive the much needed link juice. 2. High number of duplicate pages depletes the limited crawl budget for the site. Before crawling a website Google has a limited crawl budget. The Google spider crawls the website within this time. If the duplicate content issue is not addressed the crawler spends time crawling multiple versions of the same page. This may leave out other important or new pages to be crawled. 3. Distribution of link juice among similar pages - Once a search engine decides to index both versions of duplicate/near duplicate pages the PageRank and the link value is split. Hence the consolidation of link juice which should have happened on a single page will now be distributed among 2 similar pages reducing the ranking capability of both the pages. Duplicate issues unlike other technical issues go unnoticed because - 1. Most free SEO tools are not competent enough to sniff out duplicate pages.
  • 45. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page46 2. No control over URL generation. Most custom CMS and enterprise level ecommerce platforms don't give complete control of URL generation to the webmaster. This may lead to generation of URLs without even the webmaster knowing about it. 3. In an online store, rearrangement of products within the page often results in duplicate pages. Due to filters, product sorting options and pagination the content of the page remains same but the products get jumbled up. It is difficult to make note of such cases. How to Identify Duplicate content? The first step in solving the problem is defining it. Once we find the possible reasons for duplicate content we can solve it by using redirects, canonical tag or by no indexing a page. Google Webmasters Tools - Google Webmaster tool offers a wealth of data regarding the health of your website. In order to find possible duplicate content on your online store a quick way is to scan through pages having similar titles. GWT offers a simple HTML improvements section wherein all such issues can be reported.
  • 46. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page47 Virante Duplicate Content Checker - This tool quickly does header checks and returns the list of duplicate content issues with your online store. All though not a comprehensive tool it is a good way to find major issues with your site quickly. Screaming Frog - Screaming frog crawls through thousands of pages on your site and returns the titles, descriptions, status codes and other useful metrics. By grouping HTML pages with same titles together you can find out duplicate content and also figure out the possible reason for the same. All though the above tools are useful in spotting duplicate pages it is not effective in spotting all duplicate pages due to crawler limitations and inability to read and compare on page content.
  • 47. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page48 Common techniques used to fight duplicate content issue 1. 301 redirect - 301 redirect is a permanent redirect of a page. When a Google bot encounters this redirect it passes major part of SEO value of the page it is redirected to. 301 Redirect as suggested by Google>> 2. Canonical Tag - Canonical tag is used to signify Google that the current page is a duplicate version of the page referred to. For instance a canonical tag in the header section of shoes/men.html?affint=ShoeFlyMenu&source=fm pointing to shoes.html suggests Google that the original page is Rel=Canonical tag is used in the header <head> section of the page. 3. Meta Robots noindex - Meta Robots is a header tag given on page to notify Google bot on how to deal with a particular page. When a Google bot visits a page with a tag like <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX"> with in the <head> tag it decides not to index the page but crawl through links on the page. 4. Solve URL parameters through GWT - Google webmaster tool has a feature using which you can tell Google how to handle certain parameters. Using this feature you can block or notify Google to treat a certain set of urls the same. 5. Robots.txt - Robots.txt is a simple text command file which communicates to the search engine which folders to crawl and which folders to ignore. By using Robots.txt file one can block the pages and folders that can cause duplicate
  • 48. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page49 content issue. All though not an effective way of fighting duplicate content Robots.txt is often used as a last resort when NONE of the above techniques can be implemented. Mentioned below are the fixes that will help arrest duplicate content on your ecommerce site in future. 1. Faceted Navigation Faceted navigation is an alternative way for users to browse through the search/category pages. Faceted navigation makes use of filters using which a user can narrow products quickly. All though faceted navigation offers great utility to users it causes its own issues when it comes to SEO. To conquer such a situation it is important that duplicate variations of the URLs points to the canonical version of the page. 2. Products Sorting Few online stores have an option to sort products based on based on price, discount, popularity or date. In such cases new URLs produced but the products listed are the same. This leads to a duplicate content issue as more than 2 URLs show up the same set of products. Solutions: Use a canonical tag for all urls appearing through product sorting. In this case Redlily uses a canonical tag on
  • 49. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page50 girls?dir=asc&order=popular page pointing to girls. 3. Pagination URLs Sometimes when pagination is not addressed well it causes duplicate content issues. Usually paginated URLs have ?page(page number) associated with it. Example: In certain cases like for ?page1 the products listed are same as that of non paginated URL. Solution: Redirect all ?page1 pages to the front category page. 4. Manufacturer descriptions Every manufacturer gives their own description about the brand and the product. Using the same product descriptions in your online store will mark your product pages as duplicates of other websites. Product descriptions given by the manufacturer usually are placed on the manufacturer’s website and are often copied by others selling the same product. Solution: Write your own unique product descriptions. It is the uniqueness of the content which matters more than the number of words. If you feel getting unique descriptions written for each product is time consuming and expensive then combine content out from a high quality spinner along with hand written snippets of text. 5. Near Duplicates due to similar products
  • 50. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page51 In few cases products which differ only in few attributes are displayed as separate products. A t-shirt with the same design but having multiple colors may be displayed as separate products. In such cases the titles and content of the 2 pages are nearly same. So these pages stand as near duplicates. Solution: Don't list products on your site based on attributes. List them based on style instead. An Internet tablet like iPad mini has 2 versions 16BG/32GB. Having a single page for iPad with memory as a product attribute is the best way forward. 6. User Navigation based URLS Many ecommerce CMS including Magento often generate urls based on user navigation. For instance, for a site like Redlily the user who navigates through boys > Accessories > bags on O3 Kids Racecar Backpack With Snack Cooler will be shown the url cooler. Whereas a user directly landing on the O3 Kids Racecar Backpack With Snack Cooler page will end up on the url with-snack-cooler. These kinds of issues are quite common with Magento and Open Cart. Solution: Firstly choose a SEO friendly URL version which you want Google to index and rank. Apply a rel=canonical tag in the <head> section of the duplicate page with the reference pointing to the original page. In this case Redlily chose snack-cooler as its original page and kids-racecar-backpack-with-snack-cooler as its duplicate page. Hence uses a canonical tag which points to the original page.
  • 51. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page52 7. Arrest all Session Ids In order to track return customers to your online store you may have to use user sessions. Cookies are one way of doing this. But most search engines don't store cookies. The alternative to this method is session ids. Session ids are dynamic variables created to store information about a user session or change settings for a user session. These session ids get added to the URL as the user navigates through different urls. So a simple URL like will have multiple versions like, shirts.html?session_is=9898989 and so on. Solution: The best possible solution for this is to stop session ids from appearing at the first place. If this is not possible then you should use the webmaster parameters section as shown below.
  • 52. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page53 8. Referral Tags Referral tags are used as a way to track traffic coming from campaigns. A URL for display Ad on Yahoo may look something like this 72&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Stickers In the above URL &utm_source=yahoo, &utm_medium=cpc and utm_campaign=stickers are the referral tags used by marketers to track the campaign performance All though referral tags are great way to track conversions and traffic from campaigns they sometimes pose a duplicate content threat as multiple urls have the same content. Solution: There are 2 ways to solve the issue, one is by using a canonical tag across the product/category page or eliminate the referral tag parameters by using Google Webmaster tools.
  • 53. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page54 9. Print and Mobile Pages If your online site has a print the page option and captures the entire page in a PDF then it is best to block such PDFs as they carry the same content as in non-print version. If your online store has a mobile version and if proper practices are not followed it may lead to duplicate content issue. A mobile version of your site may display content which is very similar to your regular site. Once Google bot crawls your mobile site it may find the mobile version of site to be a duplicate of the regular site. A simple 2-step process should prevent this from happening Move your mobile site to subdomain like or Block the regular "Googlebot" from accessing and block "Googlebot-mobile" from accessing regular version of the site. Remember to use the robots.txt file in the respective sub-domain root folders. 10. Search vs Category Pages
  • 54. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page55 Sometimes search pages on site have content very close to content on category pages. This issue occurs when a search page includes a query which matches a category page. A search page for hats could seem like this and if your online store has a category for hats the URL could be But ultimately the two pages have same products which are hats. The best way to deal with such duplicate issues is by redirecting search page for the query to nearest category page. Magneto has this option in built within the system. If the redirect can't be implemented canonical tag or in worst case Meta Robots noindex has to be implemented on the search page. 11. www vs non-www versions Quite often few websites have 2 versions. One with "www" which is and the other without the "www" which is All though search engines like Google and Bing have gotten smart enough in treating both the versions of the site as same many search engines still have issues with such cases. It is best to redirect the non-www version of the website to www version using a 301 redirect to solve this duplicate content issue. 3.3.d Leveraging User Generated Content for SEO A website without comments, discussion or reviews is so 1995. Users like reading what others have to say about a particular product instead of just reading bland product descriptions. People are producing content all the time and sharing it on the web. By giving your customers a platform to talk about your product you are not only building community but also adding much needed content to your pages. The most common
  • 55. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page56 user generated form of content that we see in an ecommerce site is customer reviews. Having user-generated content has 4 primary SEO benefits -  Increases CTR via rich snippets - Once you have customer reviews on your site we can display the “ratings and number of reviews of a product” in the snippet section of the search results page. People are more inclined to visit sites that have customer reviews and ratings hence there is high chance that your listing gets more attention and click through on the search results page.  Helps target long tail SEO - The way user talks or searches online is way different from what we usually assume. By giving power to the user many long tail keywords are added which helps your product page rank for other keywords which your keyword research process couldn’t discover. Keyword searches like “Portable water heaters vs water geysers” can not be targeted on a normal product page but by giving the power to add content to the user you can have many keywords on the page which people actually search for.  Increase content richness of the page - By having detailed in depth content the page richness and relevance increase. With customers adding content to your pages regularly the content remains fresh.  Increases conversion rates - According to Internet Retailer, you can increase your online store’s conversion rate by 14-76% by adding product reviews to your online store. Which could mean thousands of dollars in extra revenue per month. Verified customer reviews act as a social proof and any bad points about the product being openly listed on the site will show your transparency to your customers.
  • 56. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page57 When displaying customer reviews on your site it is important that few SEO best practices are followed to get the maximum benefit. The content in the comments should not be placed in Javascript, iframes or flash. Google and most of the popular search engines still have trouble indexing content under JavaScript or flash. Your online store may have products with many reviews and you can’t display all reviews on a single page. In order to make all reviews visible and draw SEO value we can take one of the following approaches Pagination of comments - Pagination of comments will lead to clicks on subsequent pages leading to change of URL. In case of change of URL make sure that the canonical tag points from the commented URL to the original version of the URL. Infinite Scroll - Infinite scroll is a system which loads reviews/content as an when a user scrolls down. Typical infinite scrolls use javascripts and hence block search bots from accessing content. In this case the javascript fallback version of the infinite scroll should have all the content listed. This makes sure all customer reviews are shown to the Google search bot also along with the user. 3.4 Site speed and performance optimization The web has matured over the last 2 decades and web users can easily distinguish between high and low performance websites. If a user finds an online store slow he or she can easily switch to a competitor’s website within few seconds. Slow websites are trusted less by the user and often deters the perception of a brand in the user’s mind. Technical considerations of customer reviews
  • 57. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page58 It is not just the small retailers but also the big retailers like Amazon see a revenue drop of 1% for every 100ms increase in load time. Faster websites lead to better conversions and improves a user’s experience. On large websites, the number of pages indexed is limited by number of pages crawled. The faster the site responds greater the number of pages. With increasing number of mobile shoppers online retailers should optimize the site for speed and performance of mobile versions of the website also. With growing web standards and user’s demand for fast loading website Google has made Site speed as a ranking factor in its algorithms. All else being equal a faster site should rank better than a slower one. Here is the list of most impactful changes which will improve your online store’s speed in a large way. Content Delivery Network - Content delivery networks are large set of servers that deliver content from multiple locations across the globe. This helps to improve website performance by loading the content faster. Your site may have many static files like images, flash scripts, files and applications that needs frequent loading. In content delivery systems instead of serving these files from a locally hosted server the content is delivered from a server closest to the user’s location. This ensures that the page is displayed for the user in the shortest amount of time. Using a content delivery system to display your site’s images helps your web page load the image faster. So the user can spend time viewing the product image till the remaining elements of the page get loaded. And the web server can load multiple elements on a page by sourcing content or files from different servers.
  • 58. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page59 Lazy load of images On category or home pages usually there are many products listed and loading all the images at once could reduce the site speed drastically. To sustain online store speed in such cases a simple Javascript function like Lazyload is useful. LazyLoad is a free JavaScript utility which loads javascript and CSS files on demand. Lazyload will load the images only upon demand which in this case is only when a user scrolls further down. This helps user see the first set of data instantly without having to wait for all images on the page to load. To use the lazyload module visit github. Ajax ecommerce product search Ajax search is faster than traditional search technologies. Ajax is used by popular search engines like Google and Yahoo helping them provide users the results fast. Unlike classical HTML pages that reload a page on every request Ajax search updates the related section without reloading the page making it much faster. Leverage Browser caching It is possible that your online store has many returning visitors. Many static files like logo, style.css, buy button are common across the site. Leveraging browser caching means the same static files need not load every time a user visits a new page. By using a HTTP header via .htaccess you can tell the browser how long to cache a particular file. This method also helps returning visitors have a faster browsing experience on site which also improves customer delight.
  • 59. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page60 Combine all external JavaScript and CSS Each time a browser comes across a script it makes a server request and each time there is a server request the speed of a website drops further. Also in certain cases the external javascript on your site may be running on a slow server thus reducing your online store’s speed. To arrest this issue we have to combine all external javascripts and CSS files in a single file to help reduce number of server requests when a site is refreshed. Minify CSS, HTML and JavaScript Minification involves removal of all unnecessary characters in source code without changing the functionality. By minifying the code the file size reduces making the overall web page file size less bulky. Developers use CSS, HTML and javascript to remove unnecessary characters and shorten the file size. Free online tools like and CSS minifier helps you minify files fast. Use Gzip compression By compressing CSS, HTML and JS files you can reduce their file size to up to 50-70% of the total size. This means faster loading web pages. By using Gzip compression you are reducing the traffic between your web servers and browsers. To know if your website is
  • 60. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page61 already using gzip compression use this tool from feedthebot. Reduce server response time Server response time is the time needed to start the rendering of an HTML page. Lower the response time better it is for a site’s performance. It is a best practice to keep the response time of site lesser than 200ms. A site could have high server response times due to slow database queries, routing, frameworks or low cache memory. To reduce the server response time you will have to consult your hosting provider’s support documents and learn the best server configuration which will reduce the response time. Remove unnecessary scripts Higher the number of scripts on a page higher are the server requests which means higher the time taken by a web page to load. Often there could be scripts installed on your webpage for temporary purposes like A/B testing, heatmap analysis, ad network
  • 61. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page62 code and so on. Often webmasters forget to remove these scripts from the web page when the scripts are no longer needed thus increasing load time. Enable Keep-Alive In order to load a web page a browser requests access to a file. This communication happens for every file it needs to load a page completely. By using Keep-Alive header the server lets the browser take all files available to load the page in a single go. To enable keep alive you should add a HTTP header request to your pages. If you use a .htaccess file then you can add the Keep-Alive command to your site by using the following code <ifModule mod_headers.c> Header set Connection keep-alive </ifModule> Optimize your site images Having images with large file sizes can slow down the website drastically. By optimizing the images for web and devices you can easily have a balance between aesthetic appeal and lower file size. To optimize your images you can use a free online service or use Photoshop’s famous “save for web and devices” feature. 3.5 Link Building 101 for ecommerce sites Link building or online marketing is one of the most defining factors in SEO success. High authority back links pointing to your online store not only boosts your search ranking but will future proof your ecommerce business from Google link based penalties. All though there are numerous linking strategies not all can be used in
  • 62. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page63 ecommerce domain. Ecommerce websites need a different approach to build links due to various constraints and challenges. News and blog posts go viral if the content is enticing enough and as a result attract huge number of high quality links. Ecommerce websites unlike blog/news/forums have difficulty acquiring links naturally as product pages have no creative content to attract attention. To attract links to an ecommerce site link building needs a lot more creative approach. Following strategies are the best way to acquire links specifically to an ecommerce site. Few of these techniques can be applied to any website. Curate list posts People love lists. People share lists. People link to lists. List posts are classical content marketing technique. List posts have been a proven method to get back links for over the last decade. If you have an eCommerce site with good number of products then there are good chances that you can make meaningful list of products. If you have an online mobile store then "Top 10 Android phones 2013" or "Best smartphones under $400" is a good way to engage people in content and also get few natural (social and editorial) backlinks. Amazon the biggest retailer exploits user generated lists to capture audience. Leverage Relationships Every company has relationships with investors, advisers, friends, employees and family. Leveraging people in your immediate network to get referrals from their blogs is easy. And most likely they would be more than willing to lend their helping hand. All
  • 63. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page64 you have to do is hustle and push your peers to share your website URL on their blogs and social networks. CSS directories There are over hundred CSS directories which accept sites completely built on CSS. Many of these CSS galleries have high domain authority and PageRank. Getting a link from these sites is often easy and is a low hanging fruit in link building. You can submit your site to these galleries manually in a single afternoon or pay $20 to escape the boring work. Blogger Contests Blogs are hubs for valuable back links. Motivating bloggers with incentives is a good way of getting valuable links. Instead of directly approaching them for links it is best to run a contest with an objective to get links and brand mentions. A well thought out and well executed blogger contest may even get hundreds of relevant links and tons of social chatter.
  • 64. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page65 Embed images and videos Images and videos are great link building assets. Copying content is easy and most bloggers do and more so often without linking back to the original source. On the other hand images and videos can't be replicated easily so giving an embed option for your videos and images helps you get links back to your site or product pages. Have an active blog An ecommerce site with a blog can be a great link building and audience engagement asset. With blogs you can have the liberty to be innovative and creative with content. Build a story around your products and engage users with high quality graphical content.
  • 65. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page66 Infographics Infographics marketing is a great way to drive traffic and high quality back links to your online store. A good infographic should be relevant to your target audience, easily digestible and aesthetically pleasing. In content dominated world images and videos get higher visibility than text. Choose a topic which is relevant to your brand and something which your audience would like reading. ("Toaster Buying Guide", "The whey protein powder story") 1. Research and collect data about the topic. 2. Display the facts in an engaging format like a graphical representation or a stop motion video. 3. Promote the infographic by leveraging your social networks and relationships with bloggers. 4. Reach out to influential bloggers in your space and share your newly made infographic. Submit product feeds to comparison-shopping sites There are many sites like, where you can submit your products. These sites list products from various sites and compares products specifications and price of similar products so that a user can make an educated choice. Once you submit your products feed the site lists your products in appropriate category, which will get your site relevant back links to product pages.
  • 66. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page67 Category pages are great landing pages to optimize for big money keywords. If your category page attracts good links then the PageRank and other link metrics has scope of sinking deeper in to the site architecture. A good practice in building great category pages is having a design which has a creative twist. Remarkable designs attract links. Get listed on manufacturer site Often manufacturers list various online stores where their products are sold. In case they didn't mention your online store a simple email reminding them their partnership could earn you a free link. These links are often relevant to your niche and often such websites have high domain authority too. On the Melissa and Doug retailers page it lists all the major retailers who sell their products online. The advantage of these links is that it is both free and very relevant to your product niche. Great category pages
  • 67. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page68 Use fresh web explorer's new tool called the fresh mentions helps you find the latest link opportunities. The moment you enter your brand name or a keyword which your brand could be associated with fresh mentions explorer searches from across its data and lists various pages where the brand name was mentioned. In certain cases a website may mention your brand but may not link to your website. You can reach out to such bloggers or editors and suggest them to link back to your site.
  • 68. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page69 Sponsor relevant Meetups Meetups are where people with similar interests gather and share knowledge and experiences. Sponsoring meetups which are very relevant to your brand is a good branding exercise and also gets few links and social chatter. Once you sponsor a meetup you can also earn a link through the meetup group homepage.
  • 69. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page70 Sell products that are remarkable Otaku is a Japanese term used for people extremely obsessive about certain interests. The term was first used in the marketing community by Seth Godin. Seth Godin explains that remarkable products get talked about and goes viral. And viral content gets links more often. If you have a printed tshirt store print tshirts which have lyrics/image of a upcoming celebrity to ride the trend wagon. This weird Hilary Clinton nutcracker got links from 27 different domains including high authority sites like and not because Amazon went out to promote the product. It got links because it was remarkable. Affiliate marketing There are many publishers, Internet marketers and bloggers looking for main/part time income. Affiliate marketing involves a publisher and an advertiser (YOU). Once a publisher signs up for your affiliate program he can promote your products on his blog or social networks. When a user buys the product by clicking through the link the publisher gets a fixed commission. The advantage of this type of marketing is that you spend money only when a purchase is made. This technique also gets you free back links pointing to your website. All though Google usually discount's value passed through affiliate links it does crawl through linked to page. And since the links are pointed to deep pages there are good chances of search engines discovering new pages.
  • 70. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page71 Coupons marketing There are many sites like, Retailmenot and Fatwallet which share discount coupons with their site users. Reaching to top coupon sites with large audience with discount coupons will not only help drive traffic to your site but will also build much needed links to internal product pages. Don't let coupon publishers sign up as affiliates. Instead give them a unique coupon code which will help you and the publisher track sales. This will ensure the link from the publisher is non affiliate and your site will get the necessary SEO value which is absent when the back link has an affiliate id. Online PR A good PR agency can get you good online chatter about your brand. In few cases it can drive links pointing to your site. Building awareness about your brand in news and magazines help your prospects remember your brand name. And he or she may refer to his peers about you during online conversations. Send free stuff for review Launching a new product that you truly believe in? Send a few of them to bloggers in your industry vertical and request a review. According to law of reciprocity "A person is more likely to do work in your favor if you help him/her out first."
  • 71. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page72 Sending out free stuff to authority bloggers for review has been long used strategy of many big manufactures like Samsung and Google to create buzz. Make sure you persuade the authority bloggers in your niche to review your product. Once an influential blogger covers your products persuading the smaller ones is a downhill task. Social sharing links Since 2010 Google has been taking in to account various social signals to determine the ranking of a website. With the influence of social links only going to increase in coming days it is important for brands to encourage users to share their products on social sites. These social links will help your brand gain more trust from Google and sometimes pass other link related values like PageRank and anchor text. Multiple link citation There are few websites where 2-3 of your competitors have a link from the same page. Chances are that the web page talks about your industry or is suggesting few good websites in your niche. Getting a link from such pages is easy as your competitor already has a link from it. You can reach out to the author of the post and explain about your business and how you are alternative to the websites he mentioned in his post. Product video promotions Many video sharing sites accept links in the description section. You can promote your online store's advertisement or product video in these websites and earn a back link. If you find the promotion process very manual or tedious
  • 72. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page73 you can use a Fiverr service provider for the same. This service is something which I benefited from. Produce and Promote widgets/Badges Widgets are great tools to attract large number of back links. Widgets need a onetime technical investment and have a lifetime of marketing scope making it one of the best link building assets. You can even pay blogger's to place the widget in their sidebar. Make sure the widget's JavaScript fall back version has crawl able links so that you get the much needed Google link value. In the below image trip advisor has a link smartly hiding within t as if it is a part of the image. This way the aesthetics of the widget is maintained which will further increase chances of bloggers putting the widgets on their blog. Leverage business partnerships Once you are in ecommerce business you may need to tie up with various vendors, distributors, logistics company, payment gateway providers or a technical support provider. All these businesses usually have websites. As a business entity you can reach out to these businesses and offer to write a testimonial as a gratitude for their trusted partnership and earn a link back.
  • 73. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page74 There are many website directories where you can submit your online store URL and get back links. The advantage of this technique is that you can control the anchor text of the link. Make sure you submit only to the best directories since few of them are spammy and could do more bad than good to your SEO efforts. Sniff out competitor back links Your competitor might have done a ton of research and built few high quality back links. These links can be easily discovered by using online tools like ahrefs or The advantage of this technique is that you can discover which powerful links are making your competitor rank within a span of few minutes. Once you sniff out your competitor's links you can devise a strategy to acquire each type of link. Acquire an authority blog There may be many authority blogs in your niche and few of them may be ready to be sold. Acquiring such blogs has 3 important benefits Authority blogs can drive traffic to your online store if linked from prominent places. Redirecting the blog to your online store can get you both targeted traffic and SEO value. It increases your company evaluation. You can buy high authority blogs on flippa. Submit your site URL to web directories
  • 74. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page75 Getting links from domains that have high level of topical relevance is a very strong link signal. High quality thematic links establishes your online brand as an authority in a certain niche. Buying thematic links in the form of editorial coverage or homepage links or even widgets can give you high quality links without much hustle. Be sure to not get links from sponsored sections or any other place which signals Google that the link is paid. Forum participation Many people discuss latest deals, coupons and discounts on online shopping related forums. Participation in forums can get you few links that can drive highly relevant traffic and also acquire links which pass PageRank. 3.6 Driving traffic through structured data and rich snippets Your online store ranking on the first page of Google doesn’t guarantee traffic. Your search listing has to compete against 7-10 other websites crying for attention. Rich snippets is the proven way to increase traffic/CTR to your website. Users can understand the content on the page due to the HTML formatting and the context. But search engines lack this understanding. Micro data tells search engines more information about the product like shipping, availability and price. Your search listing can show data like product price, availability and price by using Microdata or Microformats or RDFa markup. Using these markups you can give Google better idea about the content on your site and display the same on the search engine results page. Buy thematic links
  • 75. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page76 Rich snippet implementation If you are registered with Google merchants account then all you have to do is use a canonical tag on your product page so that Google maps the crawled page to the page for which the rich snippet should be shown. If you don’t have a Google Merchants account then you can implement rich snippets by using the markup below. For implementing structured data you need to specify both product data and offer/offer aggregate data.  Product data contains information of the product like name, image, brand, identifier and other important aspect that defines the product.  Offer data is about finer details of the product like price, currency, shipping and other minute aspects that help a user arrive at a decision.  Offer aggregate on the other hand is used in cases where multiple sellers are selling a single product. If your site is a marketplace then use offer aggregate in your micro data format. Lets discuss few of the most important structured data formats which can give good ranking and click through boost to your search listing. Product Name – Defining the name of a product is not same as writing it in the <h1> or <h2> tag of the page. In order to give better idea to search engines that the page being crawled is an ecommerce product page using the “name” property is the best way to go.
  • 76. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page77 Product Image – Once you define a product image property for the image URL Google can display the product image within the rich snippet. This is another big attention grabber as images draw instant attention on a page which is heavily loaded with text. Product Description - In order for Google to understand more about the product wrapping the product description property around the content will help Google pick more keywords about the product. Product Brand – Quite often people search for products based on their favorite brand. If they are searching for a product and your listing displays their favorite brand he or she is more likely to click on your online store listing. With micro data you can make search engines know the brand of the product being sold. User Ratings – Ratings give your online store visitors a good overall on the product purchase experience. The user rating stars in the rich snippet can grab a prospect’s attention instantly. Price – Price is a property that comes under offer data. Google lists the price of the product in its search listing. Search engine users are ore likely to click through your online store if they find your product price to be affordable. Shipping - Often few products have a free shipping offer. This message can be proudly displayed on your search listing using micro data. Breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs is a navigation system within site that helps user navigate between various pages within various category levels with ease. Using rich snippets the same can be listed on search listing page. This gives your search listing have more clickable area hence higher the chance of people visiting your website. Availability – People are more likely to visit your online store if they see your product in stock. Using data structures and rich snippets you can inform the user about product availability even before the user visits your store.
  • 77. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page78 Reviews – Reviews are a good way to inform users about what other users have to say about the product. Many online shoppers prefer reading online reviews before purchasing a product. Users will be more willing to visit your online store if they see Rich Snippets Code Example To see how top online retailers use rich snippets we will use Apple’s new iPhone 5S case product page. When I searched on Google for “iPhone 5s cases I was shown the following result. Apple’s official website comes is the first listing and comes along with a rich snippet which lists various details about the product like ratings, number of reviews, price and availability. If you dig deeper in to the code you will see that the HTML code around various elements like price, currency, rating and reviews are wrapped around with special
  • 78. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page79 classes or attributes. These classes are defined by schema markup that is a unified system search engines use to better understand the content on a page. Following piece of code mentions about the organization/Brand that made the product, which in this case is apple. The code below makes items like price, availability of the product and currency appear in the rich snippet section. Attributes like “availability”, “priceCurrency” and “price” have been used to define product availability, currency and product price respectively. Also appearing in the rich snippets is the breadcrumb showing the navigation to the destination page. This is served by the To display the rating and reviews of the product used the attributes “ratingvalue” and “reviewcount”.
  • 79. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page80 Testing Rich Snippets and Structured Data To help webmasters test rich snippets implementation on their site Google itself has come out with a structured data testing tool. Using the tool you can find out which elements of structured data you have implemented well and aren’t. You can test your product page’s structured data here. 3.7 Building your online store’s social presence The discussion on whether social signals have an impact on SEO is a thing of the past. Making your online store more social media friendly helps your online store get valuable social shares. Social shares helps your pages rank higher in search. In order to take advantage of this ranking factor it is a good practice to encourage social sharing on your ecommerce site. Place social sharing buttons on all pages The simplest way of getting your online store attract lot of social chatter is by integrating social media share buttons on all pages of your site. Site visitors often share products or collections that are appealing. Leveraging such audience will not only drive traffic from social media sites like twitter, Pinterest, Google + and Facebook but also boosts social signals of the page and website.
  • 80. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page81 Integrate Social Comments With the advent of Web 2.0 the Internet has become more conversational. Many people look forward to have conversations online and also rave or rant about products they care about. Facebook's social comments system makes comments visible on your online store and the commentator's Facebook wall with a link pointing back to your site. Zovi has very interactive Facebook conversations on their product pages.
  • 81. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page82 Curate List Posts Plain list of products or product pages rarely get social shares as they are often not worth sharing. In order for a brand to get more social presence it has to create content which is more share worthy. One such type of content which fits well with an ecommerce business and also gets social attention is list posts. List posts like “10 valentine’s day gifts to woo your girl” or “10 Spooky Halloween costumes” make great posts for social media audience.
  • 82. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page83 Request shares after purchase Once a user completes a purchase he or she is more susceptible to further offers from you. This is a great time to utilize the idle user's time by encouraging social sharing of the product or even ask them to follow you on social networks like twitter and Facebook. Redbus does this best. The moment a ticket is bought the landing page displays a confirmation message along with a follow us on Facebook widget and social sharing buttons which a user can use to share his activity with his friends. Increase Social Profile authority Once your brand builds good following on social networks like twitter, Facebook and Pinterest the chances of your content getting shared or going viral is high. Your social followers have higher tendency to share your content than few random visitors hitting your site. Having strong social media profile presence helps in quick indexation of newly launched products. Social shares from social profiles with authority boost ranking potential of the page. With Google+ shares predicted to have high influence on ranking in the future it is best advised that brands build an audience on Google's own social property.
  • 83. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page84 4. Advanced Ecommerce SEO Solutions 4.1 Future proof your online store from SEO penalties More than 3 billion searches happen on Google daily. And search engine optimization is the most used strategy by online businesses to acquire the attention of a potential customer. Although following the best website practices as suggested by Google or Bing often helps a website rank high in Google many ecommerce businesses sleep walk their way in to penalties. Even the top ecommerce sites like Toysrus, JCPenny and inter flora have been penalized for link manipulation. Be it an aggressive desire to outrank your competition or not weighing out the consequences of negative SEO, SEO professionals often jeopardize a site for multitude of reasons. Looking for short terms gains SEOs often forget that gaining Google's trust and authority has its own long term returns. Google Panda and Penguin are the most popular penalties that have toppled the biggest of businesses like Ezine articles, Hubpages, and Search engines have zero tolerance towards manipulative link tactics and poor user experience. The situation gets worse as both Panda and Penguin updates are site wide penalties. So a small negligence towards a certain section of the site can result in the entire site getting tanked. Recovering from a panda or penguin penalty is not easy and the time taken for Google to revoke the manual action off your site takes many weeks or months. Losing free SEO traffic also means increase in cost per user acquisition and decreased profit margins. It is important as a business owner or a SEO professional to make sure the business is not jeopardized because of bad judgment, bad information or wrongly assessed risks. Below are few most significant things which an ecommerce business has to follow to defend it against all future search engine penalties.
  • 84. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page85 High quality original content Google panda is an algorithm that is built on human quality raters. It takes in to account what kind of content do humans generally like. This new level of intelligence eliminates possibility of content written just to please search engines from ranking. Having product pages which dive in to the detailed specs, benefits, reviews, videos, unique manufacturer or brand description and images help build over all page quality of the site. Stop spinning content, stop using description given by manufacturer and stop having content that doesn't provide any value to the user. HomeDepot is one site whose product page is a good example of having great on page content. It has reviews, specifications, product description, link to product user guide, warranty and other information needed to make an educated choice. Stop over engineering the link graph Google and Bing have got extremely smart with their algorithms when it comes to detecting link spam and link networks. Building links that unnaturally inflate exact anchor texts or having too many followed backlinks could send spam signals to Google. SE Nuke, Xrumer blasts and link wheel type campaigns will go only so far and could prove fatal to your online store business in the future. Here is a great perspective on why having a natural link profile is important. Make sure your site's link profile is in close resemblance with your industry's top ranking site. Don't rely solely on submission based link building. Don't buy plans which promise hundreds of links within a week. Link building is like growing a farm you need patience with a dash of hustle.
  • 85. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page86 Make your Brand more social Getting your brand talked around on the social web helps boost your social signals. One of the direct advantages of having strong conversations about your brand online is the inbound links and brand mentions. Google will pay more and more emphasis on Google plus for ranking signals in the future. Brands that are social, breeds trust among the consumers and this could even mean Google use social signals as a major attribute in its trust rank. Strictly arrest duplicate content After the advent of the panda update arresting duplicate content has become the core of technical SEO. Duplicate content not only splits the SEO and link juice among similar pages but often is a sign of low quality or poorly maintained site. When your online store has high number of duplicate pages it may even result in a domain level ranking drop. Know your site URLs, do a detailed audit of your site, make proper use of redirects, canonical tags and NoIndex directives. Weed out thin pages Thin pages are pages within your site that have no useful content for the user. A site with too many thin pages is a signal of low quality. Any page that has less uniqueness compared to other pages on site or has very less information for the user is considered to be a thin page by Google. Weeding out such pages by no indexing, redirection or adding content is crucial. Improve your pages with videos and images, add richer and more meaningful product descriptions, remove unnecessary pages and use redirects and canonical tag to good effect.
  • 86. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page87 Diversify marketing channels We often hear that keeping all eggs in one basket is dangerous. The same holds true with business and marketing. In 2012 alone Google has rolled out about 400 changes to its search algorithm. It has become more and more difficult for webmasters to keep updated with the latest changes to Google algorithms. Chasing the algorithm is a thing of the past. A single Google penalty has put many startups and established businesses future under jeopardy. A smart Digital marketer will make sure this traffic is not entirely dependent on Google. Instead he would use various channels like email, affiliate, social media, advertising and content marketing. Remove links which may raise spam signals You might have used one of those "100s of high quality anchor text optimized profile links" services and got away with it about 5 years ago. But this tactic is a sure way to get your online store penalized. Having a prolonged history of spammy back links pointing to your site is bad for SEO. If you have engaged in such activities it is best to visit such sites and get your link removed or change the exact match anchor text with branded or partial match anchor text. Don't over optimize your site It is not new that having keyword in titles and internal anchors helps your site rank better in search. But the decade long cat and mouse game between webmasters and search algorithms has seen many webmasters going overboard in optimizing internal links, titles and content. Google takes strict notice of such sites and often places an over optimization penalty.
  • 87. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page88 1. Make sure your titles are something which will make user click on. 2. Make internal links both actionable and relevant instead of stuffing it with keywords. 3. Get rid of keyword stuffed footers. Optimize your site for search engines but build it for users The single most important thing to remember for SEOs and online store owners is to build a site following Google and Bing suggested practices. Search algorithms have smartly integrated many user based ratings in to its algorithm like user experience, page layout, brand mentions, on page time and social signals. All of which needs a webmaster/SEO to think from a user perspective. Help Google find, crawl and index your site. Build a site users will love and talk about. Make SEO a part of the project workflow. Make SEO strategic Not tactical. 4.2 Optimize your site for multi-device world With a plethora of devices of various screen sizes hitting the market since over the last decade the way people consume content has changed dramatically. The content consumed on traditional desktops is now being consumed on multitude of browsers, operating systems and in devices of various screen sizes. Though this has helped users access content anywhere anytime this digital disruption has posed both a challenge and an opportunity for SEOs. There are 3 ways you can optimize a site to acquire mobile traffic as recommended by Google.  Build a mobile specific website with different URLs  Serve a single URL with different content for mobile and desktop users.
  • 88. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page89  Use a responsive design Google highly recommends serving a single URL across all devices. This shows Google’s inclination towards responsive design for mobile SEO instead of a separate mobile site. Make your web site Responsive Responsive web design is web design approach that provides users easy navigation and viewing experience in multiple devices. Responsive design is implemented by writing a different stylesheet for different screen sizes. This way you can make your site look great on more than one device. While making responsive design it is important to check which screen sizes are the most popular among your site audience and build the responsive design accordingly. When it comes to driving traffic from various mobile sites it is not enough to build a responsive site. It is important to make search engines realize that your site is build for various device screen sizes. In order for this it should be able to access all your CSS and JavaScript files. So in case you are blocking any CSS or JS files in your robots.txt unblock it.
  • 89. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page90 4.4 Optimizing your online store for International audience If you are looking to expand your business in multiple countries then your current website may not be enough to drive traffic to site. If your business is based in USA and you are looking to ship to customers in Spain it is important to have your website served in Spanish language rather than English. All though churning out pages by translating the existing pages in to different languages will serve the user well search engines look at such content as a duplicate. Resulting in not indexing the page or ranking of inappropriate page for the country. In order for webmasters to help Google search bots handle such cases appropriately Google introduced rel="alternate" hreflang="x" tag. Using this tag one can tell Google that the page in context is an alternate version of main website and the language of the page is defined by the hreflang reference. When it comes to international SEO you can target an international audience either by language or country or both. Your store’s international pages can be of any of the following forms – Sub Directory Sub Domain Country specific TLD In case your online store( is based out of US but you receive orders and ship products to countries like Spain - France - Germany -
  • 90. Page91 UK - then consolidating the signals across all the 5 domains helps Google rank each of the domains in their respective countries. This is best done in 3 steps Choose your primary domain. Since in this case your business is based out of US we shall choose as the primary domain. Use canonical tag across each page of all the remaining sites. Make sure that each page is canonically pointing to its concurrent page to get the best results. In this case should canonically point to Implement rel="alternate" hreflang="x" on all the pages of each domain. In this case we have to use the below code in the <head> section of each domain. <link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="" /> On the page which doesn't target any language ( the code should look like Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
  • 91. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page92 The above practice can be implemented even if your site uses sub directory or sub domain for its country pages. Alternative Just if you are not able to implement the markup the alternative way to optimize your country pages is by using a sitemap with rel-alternate-hreflang annotations. This way you can tell Google in what all languages a website is available. The sitemap for the above example should something like the code below. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset xmlns="" xmlns:xhtml=""> <url> <loc></loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href=""/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr” href="”/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="> </url> <url> <loc></loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href=""/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr” href="”/> <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x-default” href=””> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="" /> <link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="" />
  • 92. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page93 <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de” href="> </url> <url> <loc></loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href=""/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="”/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk” href="> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="> </url> <url> <loc></loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href=""/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="”/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="> </url> <url> <loc></loc> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="es" href=""/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr" href="”/> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-uk" href="> <xhtml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="de” href="> </url> </urlset> 4.5 Faceted navigation best practices
  • 93. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page94 Faceted search or navigation is a way of refining a broad category of products in to what a user demands. Faceted Navigation unlike traditional navigation gives users a choice to discover items based on more than one dimension. For instance, if a user who has landed on your site is looking for a Nike Red color small sized Tshirt within a price range of $25-$50 then faceted navigation can help him find his desired group of products within a few clicks. Faceted navigation is often called as faceted search or in few cases simply called as filters. Faceted Search gives users a list of aspects/facets to refine or narrow their search to their most desired product. Though faceted navigation helps users narrow down their search quickly it is not the same case with search engine bots. Search engine bots like Google, Bing or Yahoo read content very differently compared to users. This is what makes search engine optimization such an important aspect. Faceted navigation causes two major SEO issues in an ecommerce site - 1. Duplicate/Near Duplicate Pages - For a search crawler a new URL is considered as a new page. And when it encounters two urls with the same content then it considers one page to be a duplicate of the other. If a site has large number of pages with duplicate or near duplicate pages then a site’s overall ranking on search engine may begin to dip. In adverse cases it may even cause a penalty. 2. Eats up your crawl budget - Every site is assigned a crawl budget by Google. A Google bot crawls the websites only for that duration of time and if the assigned crawl budget is over Google bot leaves the website. This may result in few of your most important pages to be left uncrawled. Whenever a facet is selected a new URL/page is created. Faceted navigation creates numerous pages for every single facet and also for multiple combinations of facet. Often few of these pages are considered as duplicates or near duplicates by search engines although they appear different to the user. If the search spider is not informed before hand to not index the duplicate pages then lot of time is wasted crawling duplicate
  • 94. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page95 pages. And due to the limited crawl budget search engines often miss out on other important pages. How faceted search causes duplicate content Consider an ecommerce site with tons of shirts with plenty of styles(brands, sizes, prices, color and material). In the first case I filtered the navigation by choosing small size tshirt first and then the brand Adidas. The resultant URL of the page was s.html?affint=ClothFlyMenu&source=fm&lc=Size(Link) In the second case I filtered the navigation by choosing Adidas as my brand followed by small as my tshirt size. In such a case the URL which appeared is s/adidas.html?affint=ClothFlyMenu&source=fm&lc=Brands(Link) All though the 2 urls appear to be same if you look carefully the first URL has adidas/small-s while the second URL has small-s/adidas. If you visit both the urls you will see that both the pages are exactly same. This is just one such case. Higher the number of facets implies higher number of duplicate pages. The situation gets worse as we rarely can find out the duplicate URLs generated, as the links are mostly dynamic. Once we handle this issue well we can make our faceted navigation lot more SEO friendly.
  • 95. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page96 Step 1: Make a list of facets which you believe has lot of search demand. For instance, if your site sells diamond pendants and one of your facets is "oval cut" then make a quick keyword search and find out number of people looking for "Oval Cut diamond pendant". If you see a good number of people looking for the product through search engines then you should decide to get this page indexed. Make a list of all such keywords to pages sets that have good search demand. Step 2: Check which of these pages have near duplicate and list the page. These pages will help us in Step 3. Step 3: Make static pages for all these search pages which have high demand and redirect the appropriate faceted search pages (duplicates) to the static page. Once we have static pages for all such pages with high search demand we can have cleaner urls with mostly searched keywords. OR If you feel there are too many static pages and is not technically feasible then a good practice is to make these faceted pages crawl able. But make sure each of these pages have a different Meta Title. For instance, a title for your t shirts page could be "Shop Tshirts Online in India" but a faceted search page title should be "Shop Red Tshirts Online in India". Change of the Meta title is the most forgotten SEO technique with filters. By default the change of a facet doesn't change the Meta Title and this is another reason why Google may consider all the pages as near duplicates. Once we consider indexing these pages, it is important that we make sure each page has a different Meta Title.
  • 96. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page97 Step 4: Now we will have to block out or use canonical tag on all the remaining pages. With Step 3 we have separated URLs we want to get indexed away from urls which needs to be blocked. For the pages which don't have much search value you could take one of the 4 actions below - Priority 1: Use a rel=canonical tag pointing to parent/category page. The canonical tag is a simple header html tag which tells search bot that the given page is a duplicate of an another page. Simple canonical tag on a faceted page could look like <link rel="canonical" href=" Shirts.html" /> Priority 2: Prevent Google from crawling pages by mentioning the parameter in Google Webmaster Tools.
  • 97. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page98 Block the unnecessary pages using Meta robots noindex tag. This signifies to Google that the page in consideration is not to be indexed but all links on it are to be followed and appropriate SEO and link values to be passed. <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX"> Priority 4: Block the keyword parameters using robots.txt file. Blocking urls using robots.txt is not effective way but is often the most technically feasible. The above steps should solve your faceted navs SEO issue. While there are many other solutions, the above solution is the most comprehensive and fool proof as it separates the useful faceted pages from the pages that need to be blocked. 4.6 Infinite Scroll – Common Pitfalls and Fix Infinite scroll is functionality which loads content automatically the moment user scrolls down. In infinite scroll the content expands itself endlessly until all products are displayed or until the user stops scrolling down. All though infinite scroll provides many intuitive and functional benefits it has its own issues with search engine crawl due to JavaScript. Search engines however advanced they may be have issues with crawling content hidden in JavaScript and Ajax pages. All though search engines like Google and Bing can crawl document writes in JavaScript it still has issues with picking images and crawling in to deeper level pages. Also, low end search engines are totally incapable of crawling content hidden in JavaScript so you may miss out on a small traffic if your website is not optimized for all search engines. In order that most of your product pages are crawled it is important that the links to those pages are accessible by the Google bot. So it is important that all product pages Priority 3:
  • 98. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page99 are reachable by Google bot and not cause any duplicate content issue at the same time. The below process solves the infinite scroll Google crawl issue most effectively. Step 1: Make sure the category/listing page degrades gracefully when the JavaScript is disabled. The design of your site with and without JavaScript should be intuitive for the user. Step 2: Have a paginated series or a complete list of products on a single page for the JavaScript disabled version of the search page. Step 3: Hide the CSS styling and <div> tag of paginated section using JavaScript on the JavaScript enabled version. Step 4: Make sure the paginated pages are not indexed but the links followed by using meta robots tag - <META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX">. This will prevent unnecessary pages from getting indexed. Once you follow the above steps you will have both a system that easily lets search bots crawl through different pages and also one that consolidates link value on to a single page.
  • 99. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page100 Pagination and its issues has long been a challenge for many online store webmasters. The ever-increasing number of products and paginated series makes the problem all the more difficult to control. Since most ecommerce sites use pagination and most SEOs hardly care to look in to this issue here is some advice that should help you out. Pagination is a practice which is used to segregate long form content in to different pages and link these series of pages together. It happens with few ecommerce site that due to many products in a search or category listings page the content is split among different pages to improve the user experience. If all products/content is displayed on a single page the user will have to scroll long and will not have an idea of how many products he has viewed. For preventing all such hassles pagination is a common practice. Pagination is a great way to display information but is not entirely search engine spider friendly. By following a set of best practices you can improve search spider's crawl effectiveness and also weed out thin/duplicate pages. Pagination effects search engine optimization is 3 ways 1. Crawl Depth - A category with thousands of products may need multiple pages and since all pages can't be linked from every other page a search engine bot can't crawl through deeper level pages easily. A search engine bot should ideally reach a page within few steps. This doesn't happen when the pagination links are not optimized for SEO. 2. Lack of consolidation of ranking signals - Sometimes due to internal linking structure or external links a paginated URL (?page=100 or ?page=77) may have higher link/SEO value. However this page may NOT be the ideal landing page for a user to visit. 4.7 Pagination SEO Best practices
  • 100. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page101 3. It is important to consolidate the link value and other ranking signals on to a single most important page of the paginated series. (usually the first page) Thin content - Due to pagination certain pages may have less to no amount of content. For a category which has 31 products shown at 10 products each page the last page (?page=4) will have only 1 product and lot less content. Pagination Best Practices for SEO We can solve each of above issues by using a set of Google prescribed techniques and practices. View All page + Canonical This technique has been suggested by Google as a best practice to deal with pagination. In this case a view all page is created in which all the products are displayed and the individual paginated pages canonically point to the view all page. Once this is done 2 things are achieved. First the ranking signals of all paginated pages are consolidated on to a single page and secondly all products have a link from the top level page.
  • 101. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page102 Since all pages are pointed to view all page the view all page will rank in Google and attract traffic. All though this solves the issue the view all page may have many products on a single page and this could give a bad experience to the user. Use Rel="next/Prev" Tag Rel="next/Prev" is a tag which is used by Google to better understand the paginated series. Using this tag a webmaster can tell which page is the next page in the paginated series and which page is prior to it. Doing so Google understands content better and also consolidates the link value and ranking signals of all such pages on to a single page which is usually the first page. Limit number of paginated pages By increasing number of categories or subcategories you can limit the number of products which appear in each category which implies lesser number of paginated pages. Having more subcategories will also help the user in navigating to the right product faster without the pain of searching for it or using filters.
  • 102. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page103 The other way of limiting number of pages is by having many products per page. Having large number of products displayed per page implies lesser paginated pages. Make sure that you strike a balance between user experience and SEO. Having too many products on a single page may leave user go through tiresome scrolling. Infinite scroll Infinite scroll is a JavaScript functionality that is used as an alternative to pagination. In few ecommerce sites in order to prevent the hassles of pagination the products are made to load/appear as and when a user scrolls to the end of the page. So all products reside on a single page and shown on demand. Sort by products option to user In many ecommerce sites the user is given control on how many products he can view per page. All though this is a great usability feature it may lead to duplicate content issues. Usually when a user lists the products based on his liking the URL changes. This can
  • 103. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page104 cause creation of multiple dynamic URLs for every page in the paginated series. The best way to prevent this is by using an Ajax/JavaScript for the sort function such that the resultant URL appears with a hash tag. Link to deeper level pages from every other page Once a site uses a paginated series the crawler may not be able to access the deeper level pages in the paginated series. Consider a paginated series as shown below In this case a search bot has to go through 3 levels deep to discover the last page in the series which is ?page=28. However for a site like Macy's the link to the last page can be accessed from the first page itself. Also it is important to note that it is not sufficient to link to the last page in the series. For a site with 100's of paginated pages many pages in between may not get crawled or discovered by search engines. A good work around for such cases is linking to few pages from in between the paginated series.
  • 104. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page105 Pagination SEO Don'ts 1. Do NOT noindex all paginated pages. This will de-index all the valuable content and Google will treat that page content as a single piece of content all though it is NOT. 2. Do NOT use a canonical tag on all pages in series. Canonical tag should be applied on duplicate/near duplicate pages only. 3. Do NOT use Google Webmaster's parameter tool to eliminate the Paginated URLs. This will eliminate the paginated urls from search engines index which we surely don't want. 4. Do NOT nofollow links to deeper level pages. PageRank should be allowed to flow naturally through the entire site. 5. Do NOT use the same title on all paginated pages. Very often all paginated pages on the site have the same title as that of in the first page. This happens because all leading ecommerce CMS use the first page title across all the pages by default. This gives search engines an appearance as if multiple pages are targeting the same keyword. All though pagination and its issues have not been stressed a lot in the SEO community its relevance with ecommerce SEO is quite high. At the initial stages of the online store the problem may look insignificant. But as the ecommerce site grows in size pagination can be a pain point. The motto to deal with pagination is "start early and fare better." 4.8 Perfecting Site Architecture for Ecommerce Sites When it comes to SEO site architecture is often overlooked and mistakenly thought to be internal linking. All though internal linking is one aspect of site architecture it is crucial that basic principles of information architecture are followed to reap maximum
  • 105. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page106 SEO benefit. A data driven approach to site architecture is far more fruitful than pushing few links on the site and calling it a day. Most large ecommerce sites have 3 common issues pertaining to site architecture - Non scale able Link Building A large ecommerce site may have thousands of pages but not all pages on the site have ability to attract links. Neither can we build links to each of those pages as the number of pages is too high. So the best way forward is to make sure highly popular pages on your online store shares its link equity with other pages. Optimizing site architecture ensures that even the deepest and the most important pages get enough link and SEO value to compete in search engines. Deep level pages don't get indexed Since products get added daily and not all products get an opportunity to get a link from powerful home/category pages the Google crawler may not even reach the end page. This often leaves multitude of product pages uncrawled making it lose out on free search engine traffic. Deep/product pages rarely have ranking ability Even though deeper level pages get crawled and indexed due to social sharing or sitemap the page may not necessarily have link equity to compete in search engines. It is because of the above 3 reasons it is important that we optimize the site architecture in a way that it is both convenient for search engines and also usable. Having a optimized site architecture has its own benefits -
  • 106. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page107  Promotes crawling and indexation of deeper level product pages.  Distributes link equity to important money pages.  Increases the overall relevance and ranking ability of the linking and the linked to page. Having a site architecture which fits with SEO should abide by 7 basic principles Flat Architecture Flat architecture is an important type of architecture for SEO and usability. Flat architecture is about having the most important links linked from the home or top level pages. Lesser the number of clicks needed to reach the product page flatter is the site architecture. Sometimes the most important high converting product pages are buried deep and this may result in the page not getting enough link juice to rank. One way to improve ranking of such pages is by promoting them up higher in hierarchy so that Google passes more link value. Shown below are two examples on how Deep and flat architecture differ
  • 107. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page108 Information Silos It is not enough to push internal links onto a page and call it a day. Having a logical structure to category, sub category and product pages helps search bots understand and crawl your site better. A well constructed silo consists of logical grouping of products under appropriate labels. For instance if your online store sells electronics then a sub category "camera accessories" best fits in the category "Camera" rather than electronic accessories. In the same way, if your store sells kitchen and home appliances then a toaster is a better fit under "kitchen appliances" category rather than in home appliances. More on Silos for SEO and Keyword Research
  • 108. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page109 Relevant Internal Linking Links are one way Google bot crawls through the web. Internal linking helps Google bot crawl through various pages of your ecommerce store effectively and frequently. Good internal linking passes PageRank and anchor text value. Relevant internal linking boosts the on page SEO value of the linking page. Linking pages which have the same topical relevance helps both the linked and the linking page. Sometimes even few thin pages on your online store can compete and rank in search if they are linked to from within the site’s most powerful pages. Even the anchor text used to link a particular page also helps search bots understand the content and topic of the linked to page. Link Consolidation Link consolidation (Original post) is a technique which is used to culminate closely related pages on to a single page. This helps PageRank flow to the most important pages only. Using this technique a site's terms, policies, about and contact section can be clubbed in to a single page so that the PageRank flows to other important pages. Following image shows how link consolidation works
  • 109. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page110 So in the above case instead of distributing a page's SEO value over 6 different pages it has been consolidated on to a single page. Thus we utilize both crawl budget and PageRank effectively. Most important links from top of the page Not all links on the page pass the same amount of link juice. Google has its own algorithm which decides which link on a particular page should pass how much value.
  • 110. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page111 It is now an established fact in the SEO community that internal/external links emerging from editorial text or navigation bar are of higher value than sidebar and footer links. To get the best SEO value from internal linking it is important that highly competitive pages are linked from running editorial texts or navigation bar. Kill Dead End Pages Dead end pages are pages which don't link out to any other page. Dead end pages stand alone and don't necessarily link back to any other page. This makes other pages miss out on the link equity which can be passed by these pages. Replace Broken Links Broken links are links pointing to 404 pages. It may happen that a certain page was pulled down but the link pointing to the page was still in place. Instead of a broken link if the link points to a page which has a ranking potential the internal pagerank is retained. Broken links are also bad for usability and it affects your ecommerce site's SEO negatively. Breadcrumbs Breadcrumbs are trails of links which helps user navigate back and forth through pages. By using rich snippets information around breadcrumbs one can tell search engine bots about the informational structuring of the site. Once you use breadcrumbs along with micro data on your page Google will identify the content on the page and have a good understanding about the topical structure of the site. The same can be shown in search results pages.
  • 111. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page112 In the example below the breadcrumbs above the product image signifies "Tollyjoy Anti Skid Socks - Navy" a product under the sub category of Baby Accessories. Data Driven Approach to Site Architecture It is often easy to push a bunch of site architecture best practices to the UI designer and wait for the implementation to happen. But the fun is where the details are. In order to perfect your site architecture you should know the  Strongest pages on your site - Identify pages on site which has highest internal or external links.  Pages which are crawled frequently - Links from pages which are crawled frequently helps quick indexation of new pages.  The most important (money) pages on your site - Identify the most important revenue generating product or category pages. Once we know the above attributes we can move forward and collect data for all of them on a single sheet. After which we can find which pages can pass high value to which money/product page with which anchor text.
  • 112. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page113 Making a list of top money pages helps you find out which of the pages needs most of the valuable links from home and other strong pages on the site. If you are an apparel retailer the top money pages could be t-shirts, skirts, dresses or watches. The top money pages can be found out in 2 ways, one is using Google adwords tool and the other one is by using your past sales data. Make a list of product categories which made you the most money. STEP 2: FIND LIST OF RESPECTIVE TARGET KEYWORD SETS Once you are done with the list of top pages it is time to list the target set of keywords per page. Using multiple anchor texts for links are important as using a single anchor text throughout the site may raise spam signals and doesn't appear natural to the user. For instance a page listing men tshirts could be linked to with keywords like "Men Tshirts" or "Tshirts for Men". You can find the number of searches for each of your keywords using Google Keyword Planner. STEP 3: LIST OF PAGES WITH MAXIMUM LINK JUICE AND PAGE AUTHORITY Now that we know our top money keywords and target terms it is time to find the most powerful pages on site which pass maximum link juice to your money/product page. The easiest way of spotting pages with maximum link juice is by using tools like ahrefs or Using these tools we can find the number of linking domains, inbound links and page authority of various pages of an ecommerce site. STEP 1: MAKE A LIST OF TOP MONEY PAGES
  • 113. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page114 Once you download the list of top pages on your site you need to arrange them chronologically so that the top money pages of your site gets a link from most popular pages of your site. STEP 4: LIST OF PAGES WITH MAXIMUM NUMBER OF INTERNAL LINK JUICE Not all powerful pages have high number of inbound links. There are many pages on site which get crawled frequently and have good number of links pointing to them. These pages can be used to pass valuable link juice to other pages on site which drives higher revenue. The method was invented by Mike Pantoliana from distilled.
  • 114. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page115 The method uses an excel sheet filled with few formulas and crawl data from screaming frog crawler. Using excel one can find the most important pages with highest internal PageRank. You may download the excel sheet from here. It is best to use the method without columns for target terms or competition as we have already found out keyword phrases and most important money pages in step 1 and 2. Now that we have found the pages with highest internal and external link juice we can link to our money keywords using the anchor text of our choice. 4.9 Enterprise SEO Toolkit Ecommerce SEO calls for huge sites with lot of data and never ending excel sheets. While the excel sheet and advanced visualization is something which you can't avoid we can greatly simplify complex tasks. When it comes to picking tools for enterprise SEO there are few important considerations to make - 1. The tool should NOT have dependencies on other team members. If you want to make A/B tests then depending on your tech team for implementation would only delay each release and will interfere with your scheduled roadmap.
  • 115. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page116 2. The tool should be good enough to handle large number of data. To know all the pages for a small site a simple online tool or Google analytics can give you a big insight. But for an ecommerce site with thousands of pages high end tools is needed. 3. Should have huge backlinks index. Link explorer tools with large indexes help you uncover competitor backlinks and discover new link opportunities. 4. Specialists over all Rounders - When choosing a SEO tool for enterprise level project it is wise to choose a tool that is a specialist. Although tools like Moz analytics and Raven tools give good insights they don’t give deep insights on links and pages like or screamingfrog. Following are the tools which I personally found to help me find better answers to burning SEO questions. Here is a quick run on what they are where you can get them. Screamingfrog - Screamingfrog is by far the best SEO web crawling tool available on the web. The best part of the tool is its variety of features which is needed to solve SEO problems related to crawling and optimization. Using Screamingfrog you can crawl through thousands of pages on your online store, find 404 pages, broken links, chained redirects, meta titles, descriptions, site architecture, image optimization and a lot more. Screamingfrog is available for a 99 Euro yearly subscription. A free version is also available for download but it has a limit of 500 links. Opensiteexplorer - Opensiteexplorer is one of the most comprehensive link analysis tool in the market. Unlike other tools opensiteexplorer gives a SEOmoz defined metric called domain and page authority. These metrics have are sum total of link metrics pointing to a web page or website. With open site explorer you can see in which all social networks did your site’s link got shared, compare your link graph against your
  • 116. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page117 competitor, backlink anchor texts,find the top pages of your site and discover new link opportunities in real time. Opensiteexplorer’s limited edition is available for free for all web users but if you want to avail all its features you should buy SEOmoz toolkit at a monthly subscription of $99. Ahrefs - Compared to SEOmoz Ahrefs has a larger link index and gives higher quantitative measure of all your backlinks. Ahrefs has almost all features which opensiteexplorer has and is priced cheaper at $79. Few of the other notable features of ahrefs are Distribution of link types, backlink cctlds, raw backlinks export up to 20 million, exportable backlinks report and upto 50,000 crawled pages. The tool is ideal if you like large data and love doing the research yourself. Jirafe - Jirafe is a ecommerce analytics plugin which integrates with popular enterprise level ecommerce softwares like Magento. Jirafe integrates with ecommerce platforms and gives valuable data which can’t be given by Google analytics. Due to its close integration with the inventory it can give more insightful takeaways about various products on your online store than Google analytics. Google Analytics - Google analytics is a free tool used by millions of webmasters to measure their site’s performance. Using Google analytics you can track basic information like visitors, bounce rate, pageviews and other advanced metrics like revenue per channel, conversion rate, visitors flow and average order value. All though Google analytics is a free tool which captures reliable data it doesn’t give quick insights
  • 117. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page118 about your site upfront. It needs some data digging to get meaningful takeaways from Google analytics. Pingdom - Pingdom is my favorite site speed checker tools. All though it does exactly the same job as the other websites do the detail in which each recommendation is explained is something which sets it apart. For each recommendation it gives a grade which helps you know how much of improvement is still left for each change. Google Docs - Google docs is my favorite collaboration tool. The best part of this tool is its simplicity and real time updates. With bunch of features like excel, presentations and
  • 118. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page119 word editing Google docs is very much everything a SEO needs to collaborate with his/her team members. Google Webmaster Tools - Google webmaster tools is the official tool provided by Google to help webmasters optimize their site for the web better. Verifying your online store using Google webmaster tools is a basic yet very important step. Once verified you can find out various issues with your site like duplicate content, crawling issues, number of pages indexed, crawl errors, time taken for a page to download, ranking and impressions per keyword. The best of this is totally free and just needs your existing Google account. Crazyegg - Crazyegg is a heatmap tool used to find where your site users are clicking across your page. By using heatmap tools you can find out which functionality of your site is being used extensively by users and which of them are getting totally ignored. Crazyegg also gives a list of various traffic sources and how traffic from each of these sources use your site. Other key features in Crazyegg is the scrollmap, mobile site heatmaps and downloadable reports. Visual Web Optimizer - A/B testing helps you know which version of your site’s page is most used by your site visitors. A/B testing is a scientific way of testing your site’s performance instead of relying on gut instinct. A typical A/B test involves lot of technical team dependency. This could slow down your test launch speed and frequency. To fight such situation there are quite a few A/B testing tools using which you can start an A/B test within few minutes and measure success. Visual website optimizer is one such tool. Using visual website optimizer you can measure not just conversion but also see which version of the website drives the highest revenue,
  • 119. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page120 average order value or profit per unit making it more appropriate for ecommerce websites.
  • 120. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page121 5. Converting Visitors into buyers 5.1 Ecommerce Conversion Optimization Driving traffic to your website is just half your work. Traffic alone doesn't drive sales a user has to take his credit card out and buy. A seasoned SEO should understand his responsibility in increasing conversion rates for his client's business. A healthy conversion rate is sum total of regular testing, listening to user feedback, pricing and user experience. If your client is big online retailer chances are that even an improvement of 1% in conversion rate could mean thousands of dollars more per month. An online store can do a lot to improve conversion rate of the website. Here are few simple things which both small and big online stores can implement to see an immediate rise in conversion rates. Product Images The problem with online retail is that the customer can't touch and feel the product before purchasing it. This leaves the customer with many questions about the product like texture, color, size and quantity. Product images/videos is the single most important feature of an ecommerce store which will answer these basic questions of the user. A well taken product image goes a long way in communicating what the product is about to the user rather than a tedious chunk of text. A good ecommerce product image should have a  Closeup view of the product – Closer the product a user feels higher will be his confidence while purchasing it. Product shots taken in close up will help the user examine the finer details like trust certificates, ingredients and the texture of the product.
  • 121. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page122  Multiple angles of the product – Unless you are selling a 2 dimensional product you must have photographs which were taken in multiple angles. This gives user better understanding of the product and the confidence of buying a real product.  Multiple product colors and styles – Few of your products may have different colors and styles. Having an image of each of them help people understand what they are buying better. If you are selling tshirts online then it is important that you have photos for each color of tshirts in the same style. Complete product information Higher the price of the product higher the research a user would do before making a purchase. It is best practice to help users find all information related to the product at one place. Once you engage your user with high quality content with enough attention to detailing he or she is highly likely to buy a product form you. Ratings, Reviews and community Ecommerce sites with ratings and reviews have proved to have higher conversion rates compared to sites which doesn't have any reviews or ratings. Reviews from verified customers will act as a social proof and is a good measure of how good or bad a particular product is. People are more likely to be impressed when a community is raving about your product. Product specifications and details are good but recommendations are killer.
  • 122. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page123 Most successful businesses have a unique selling point which lures people into their store. It is important to communicate your unique selling proposition to your site visitors as it positions yourself against your competition. If you provide free shipping to all customers in your country then say so. If you have a sale going on a popular product then make sure the messaging repeated across the site. Apart from the messaging it is important to communicate your USP at the right moment. Product page, shopping cart and checkout page are the most important pages where a user makes a choice. Communicating the same to your site visitors during this time will help you increase conversions. Remove friction through the checkout process Friction during a product purchase basically refers to difficulty faced by a user during his time on site. During a checkout process users often face many hurdles which either halts his progress or creates uncertainty or fear in the consumer's mind. Many of these hurdles can be removed or minimized. Kill registration while checkout – Have guest checkout instead. According to a study by Toluna about 25.3% of the customers would abandon a purchase if they had to register before buying. Educate user about delivery, returns and payment options before and during the checkout process. The user should not need to leave a product page just to discover the delivery policy. Stamp your Unique Selling Propositions across your site
  • 123. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page124 Have multiple payment and shipping options. Paypal has one of the largest base of subscribers. Paypal buttons are something which a user recognizes and trusts. If possible provide a Paypal checkout option to your customers. Make products discoverable - Search, nav and filters When an online store has thousands of products, navigation alone won't help a user find the right product. This may prevent a user from find the product he is looking for and may leave the site as a result. In order to prevent this, an online store should have internal links pointing to relevant products, list popular products, on various pages, have a search box which delivers accurate search results, navigation and sub navigation menus and filters. Once you make it easy for users to discover the product he is looking for and other products which are similar he or she can make a purchasing decision. Fight the 7 basic ecommerce fear Fear is human being's basic emotion and assuring safe shopping will guarantee more sales. 1. Fear of credit card information being stolen - 2. "It's not a 'real' store" - 3. "I can't tell what the product is really like" 4. Needing help from a salesperson 5. "You'll sell my information" 6. Not being able to track orders 7. "If I don't like it, I'll be stuck with it"
  • 124. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page125 ReMarketing through email and Ads According to Baymard institute a ecommerce research company about 67.45% of the online store carts are abandoned. Which means more than 2/3rd of the people who add products to shopping cart leave the site and never return to complete their purchase. This is quite a lot of sales lost. However there are few effective ways through which one can target these users. Abandoned Cart Emails – Very often many potential customers add their favorite products to their cart but they won't complete the purchase. Usually these users are looking for better deals else where or waiting for the prices to drop. These users can be made to finish their purchase by emailing them about their unfinished purchase. To increase the conversion further you may even send a coupon code to these customers. Retargeting through Ads – Through Ad networks like Google you can retarget your site visitors through display advertising. This is both a great branding exercise and a proven way to increase sales and conversion rates. Get your pricing right It is needless to say that product pricing plays a key role in a user's purchasing decision. With many comparison shopping engines any internet user can easily find out the best price of the product online without going through the pain of visiting multiple websites. Keeping your prices lower than your immediate competition is a big win but with ever changing market, diminishing profit margins and increasing number of competitors having low prices may not be possible. This can be countered using three different tactics
  • 125. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page126 Have other variants of the same product which your competitor doesn't have. This will attract users who are looking for the particular size to your site in spite of your price being higher. For instance many online stores may have a particular tshirt price far lower than your product but may not cater to all sizes like XXL or S. In such cases make sure you have these sizes and sell the product for a premium price. Don't compete Amazon – Very often the product you are selling may be on sale for a lot lower price at Amazon and eBay. Competing a retailer giant on price is a upheaval task. Instead be better at content and Give Support and teach – If you are a niche online store one way to differentiate yourself from other massive competitors is through unique user friendly content which shows your expertise on the product. People will prefer buying from you even if you are selling the product for a premium price if you display your thought leadership in the subject and also promise to give support. A/B Tests on various pages A/B testing is a simple process of finding which of your 2 pages is more likely to generate more results. It is the method of validating a particular version of a page before rolling out it to all your users. A/B tests rely more on actual data and user feedback instead of mere intuition or guesswork. Using A/B tests you can improve the conversion rates and user engagement of your online store. By driving different set of traffic to different versions of page and measuring engagement metrics like bounce rate, pages per visit, time on site, sign ups and sales you can find which version of your page is more liked by your site users.
  • 126. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page127 Constantly testing various elements of your online store like “buy button”, checkout process, background colors, image size or featured products widgets can help you increase your site's conversion rate and revenue. With many A/B testing tools like Optimizely and Visualwebsiteoptimizer running a A/B test is easy now and doesn't need much technical assistance. Improve Speed and Performance Amazon loses about 1% of sales for every 100milli seconds delay in website load. Assuming you are not Amazon this Sites which load faster . Once a user has a positive experience on your online store it is highly likely that he would return. It is 2013 already and Internet as the world knows is more than decade old. Users are very well used to fast loading websites because of the likes of FaceBook, Google and Amazon. Optimize for revenue or profits NOT conversion rates - Think about the business not your personal ego wins. 5.2 Role of SEO in improving conversion rates. Your online store's conversion rate need not always depends on on-site features like UI/content. Another key aspect that determines conversion rates is the quality of traffic that visits your site. Pulling in a bunch of visitors to your site bombarding emails to non- targeted users is easy but visitors that visit your site through such means hardly convert. Ranking alone will not guarantee sales one has to rank his site for the right keyword in order to generate sales. Not all keywords generate the same number of
  • 127. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page128 sales so it is important to crack down conversion rates at the keyword level so that we can focus our ranking efforts accordingly. There are 9 cases that you should consider to do a conversion audit on your site - 1. Keywords which have higher conversion rates but not many sales – These keywords phrases have low number of sales either due to low customer demand, low number of clicks on your search listing or bad ranking of your online store for the particular keyword. In such cases experiment with Titles. Attract clicks using better titles. Also find which other keywords which users are using to find your products that also have higher searches. 2. Keywords which have low conversion rates but higher number of sales – Often a page may attract high number of sales but has low conversions. This indicates popular demand but low customer interest in making the sale. In this case experiment with pricing, have more content, take better product images and do a thorough conversion rate optimization audit to uncover the page's shortcomings. 3. Keywords which have high conversion rates and high number of sales – These are your biggest winners. Drive more relevant traffic to these pages by linking to them from homepage. Discover what other similar keywords can you optimize your page. 4. Keywords that have low conversion rate and low number of sales. Analyze the landing pages of these keywords and ask the following questions 5. Does this product have enough online demand? 6. Is the pricing of the product higher than the rest of the competition? 7. Is there any element on this page that is different from other high converting pages? 8. Is the ranking for the pages good enough to get traffic?
  • 128. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page129 9. Does the title or schema data attract users to click on the product listing? The conversion rates per keyword can be found using Google analytics. Once Google analytics is installed and the goals are set you can find the conversion rates per keyword in the Traffic > Sources > Organic section.
  • 129. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page130 6.1 Getting started with Technical SEO A webmaster wanting to be good at the technical side of SEO should have a grasp over how search engines work, how the web is built, basic programming languages and understand various nuances of web development. The web is more tech than marketing and understanding its ins and outs will give every digital marketer an edge over his or her competition. In order to do a technical audit on a large site like an online store or a classifieds site, you should have sophisticated crawlers in your arsenal. Low end free tools available on the net will give you only superficial SEO insights. For a site which gets thousands of URLs created on the fly it is important to have tools which can crawl through the website deeply and come up with a list of SEO attributes for each page. Two of the most sophisticated crawlers available online are Xenu and ScreamingFrog. Both these crawlers are free and quite effective in crawling large websites. However, Screamingfrog has a limit of 500 links on the free version. On the other hand Xenu Link Sleuth has lot less features as compared to screaming frog. I use ScreamingFrog subscribed version(99 Euros/year) for technical SEO audits as it helps me analyze advanced SEO aspects like chained redirects, canonical tags and speed. All though a great tool if you run ScreamingFrog on your site it may fail to discover few URLs on your site. This may be due to improper internal linking within the site or the crawl limit set on your server. Best way to crawl your site using Screaming Frog In order to do our technical audit thoroughly we have to be able to get a list of all URLs on your site. Ask your development team for this list. Run ScreamingFrog crawl using the mode > list function. Export these details as a spreadsheet for better analysis. 6. SEO Technical Audit
  • 130. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page131 6.2 Preparing your site’s SEO Audit Report Making a comprehensive SEO audit for a large ecommerce, classifieds or media site often demands patience. One may have to spend numerous hours on data crunching, concluding actionable takeaways and running around for data. In spite of all the hard work chances are that you miss out on few major issues like duplicate content and pages without proper titles. Missing out on any SEO aspect would only mean lost opportunity for improvement. To make sure your online store’s SEO audit is thorough here is a comprehensive checklist that covers various aspects of technical SEO audit including crawl ability, on- page optimization, technical issues, link development, site architecture, speed and performance and keyword targeting. Instead of making this a regular checklist I have added a tutorial on how to check for each technical aspect, theoretical notes to support the claim and also recommendations section where the best practices for the change are recommended. Also provided are boxes to tick off each issue as you go through the list incase you are reading this book on print. Lets get started!
  • 131. Is your site crawl friendly?  Does your site have a Robots.txt file?  Are any key pages gefng blocked due to Robots.txt file?  Does any page on your site give wrong status code?  Does your site have a directory? Does the directory have links to all the pages?  Does your Are any soW 404 pages showing up?  Are there any broken links on your site?  Are all pages indexed in Google?  How does your site look in its text only version? Is any key content hidden?  How does your important pages have good number of internal links?  Are you using the right redirect?  How many of your pages are indexed by Google?  Do you host other mirror sites? Are they indexed by Google?  Does your site have a sitemap?  Does your sitemap follow protocol?  Is there dirt in your sitemap?  Did you submit your Sitemap to Google and Bing?  Did your sitemaps separately for each category?  Have you “no indexed” cart, checkout and thank you pages?
  • 132. Is your site crawl friendly? Does your site have a Robots.txt file? Check  This file is usually found in the root folder of your website. Example  • • Here is mine: hIp://  Recommenda>on  If your site doesn’t have a robots.txt file then it is highly recommended to use  one. Robots.txt files are great way to manage crawl budget and in few cases used  to fight duplicate content issues. The complete guide to using a robots.txt fileis  documented here by Google  hIps://  Notes  The robots file is a simple command/instruc4on file used to direct bots in crawling  a website. Usually robots have a tendency to crawl a website/page in a random  fashion. This may lead the bot in to unnecessary folders and files which have low  quality content and offer no business value. To prevent such issues a robots.txt  file is used.  Yes  No 
  • 133. Is your site crawl friendly? Are any key pages getting blocked due to Robots.txt file? Check  Go to your site’s robots.txt file and see whether any folder containing important  pages has been disallowed. For example, if you blocked your terms and condi4ons  page using disallow: /toc and you have a page /toc/legal which you want to be  crawled and indexed then blocking the whole folder may stop Google bot from  accessing toc/legal page.    Recommenda>on  Before blocking a folder make a mental note of all possible pages under the  folder. Once done list the ones which are important. If you see there are quite a  few important pages under it then don’t use the disallow op4on. Instead use meta  “noindex” on each unimportant page.    Notes  Blocking important pages may result in Google bot not crawling the page’s  content. This may result in loss of valuable traffic and sales.  Yes  No 
  • 134. Is your site crawl friendly? Does any page on your site give wrong status code? Check  There are many ways to check the HTTP status codes of various pages on a site.  Using screaming Frog you can find response codes of all your site pages. Another  way to find wrong response code is to look if you got any soW 404 errors report in your Google Webmaster Tools.  Notes  HTTP status codes are server response codes which are generated when a user tries to access a page on your site. It is important that all your pages send the  right response codes so that when search engine bots access a page it will  understand whether to crawl it or not.  Yes  No 
  • 135. Is your site crawl friendly? Does your site have a directory? Does the directory have links to all the pages? Check  To check whether a site has a directory or not just scroll to the footer and look for  small links poin4ng to various pages filled with links. To know whether the  directory has all the links you must have a count of total number of links on your  site. A person with access to your online store’s database can find this list through  simple SQL commands.                      Yes  No 
  • 136. Recommenda>on  It is important for a directory to have a proper structure. Having more than 200  links on a single page is not going to serve the purpose as most of those links will  be ignored. Following prac4ces could help you build a great link directory ‐  • Have a flat architecture. The link to the deepest level page should be  accessible within 3‐4 steps from the homepage.  • Directory pages should be set to “noindex, follow” to prevent it compete  against pages already on site.  • No page should have more than 200 links.  • The directory pages should have link to all pages on site and should be  dynamic. The directory should update itself automa4cally as and when a  page is created.    Notes  Directory is a set of pages on the website which contain links to sum total of all  pages on the web site. Directory pages are created only to provide an alterna4ve  path for search bots to reach new content. Directories make deep level pages  accessible within few clicks.   
  • 137. Is your site crawl friendly? Does your site have any soft 404 pages? Check  SoW 404 errors are reported by Google in Google Webmaster tools. The list of  pages showing soW 404s are listed in crawl errors sec4on of Google webmaster  tools.    Recommenda>on  SoW 404 errors are easy to detect and solve .     Step 1: Open up Google webmaster tools and check for soW 404 errors in the  crawl errors sec4on.  Step 2: Find whether the page is 404 page by doing a manual check. If the page is  not found page then it should give a 404 response.  Step 3: If it is a proper page but lacks tangible content it should be 301 redirected  to an appropriate page on the site.     Notes  SoW 404s are 404 pages which return 200 OK response. OWen webmasters create  custom not found pages but forget to return the server status code of 404 this  causes search engines to wrongly understand content on a page.  Yes  No 
  • 138. Is your site crawl friendly? Are there any broken links on your site? Check  All broken links on a site can be checked using Screaming Frog Tool in 3 simple  steps.     Step 1: Configure the crawl such that only HTML pages of your website is crawled.  This can be done by visi4ng the configura4on > Spider sefngs in Screaming Frog  top menu. In the pop up which is revealed uncheck .css,.js and all other types of  files which are not HTML. The pop up should look like the image below.    Yes  No 
  • 139. Step 2: Once the crawl is completed with these sefngs you will find a list of HTML  URLs discovered by screaming frog. These URLs are your complete list of html pages.  Hit on the status codes column to sort the URLs based on status codes. This makes  the 404 pages visible.   Step 3: Click on each of these 404 pages visit the in links sec4on at the boIom of the  tool. These in links are pages which are poin4ng to pages which give 404 errors. (broken links).  Step 4: Export the data using Advanced Exporter in the menu column.                  Step 5: Repeat the same procedure for all 404 pages discovered.  Tip: Use the Anchor text sec4on in the footer to find out the exact broken link  manually faster.     Recommenda>ons:  Once you find the broken links it is important to fix them on priority as they affect  both the user experience on the site and SEO. This issue can be solved by any of  these 3 methods.  Replace the broken link with the right URL. If the URL itself is false then remove the  link all together or replace the link with a link to a relevant page.  If the page has  been removed then 301 redirect the URL to the most appropriate page on your site.   
  • 140. Notes: Broken links makes it difficult for a search engine bot crawl your website. As a  result many of your pages may not get the necessary PageRank. It is important to  remove or replace all broken links on your site as it is bad for user experience and it  can affect your page’s SEO nega4vely. 
  • 141. Is your site crawl friendly? Are all important pages indexed in Google? Check  To check whether your site’s important pages are indexed first you have to  manually make a list of all products/categories which are important to your  business. Once done enter each of those urls in If the url doesn’t  show up in the first page then most certainly the page is not indexed.     Recommenda>on  There could be many reasons a page is not indexed by Google. Most of the 4mes  the reasons boils down to technical or content issues. Few things which could be  done to improve the chances of a page get indexed are  • Point links to non indexed pages from relevant popular pages.  • Improve the content on the page with unique text.  • Add the links to non indexed pages in the sitemap.  • Promote the links on social media sites like TwiIer.    Notes  Indexed pages are documents which Google thinks is worth having it in its  database. To make a site rank, first it is important for it to get indexed. In order  for it to get indexed it should to accessible to Google and should have share  worthy content on it.  Yes  No 
  • 142. Is your site crawl friendly? How does your site look in its text only version? Is any key content hidden? Check:   Method 1: Copy the URL you want to see the text only version for and  enter it in Google. Once entered go to the cached version of the site as  shown in the below image.   Yes  No 
  • 143. Once you visit the cached version click on the “Text only version” link to the top  right. The resultant page denotes how Google has stored your page in its index.                Method 2: Download a text browser like LYNX and open the webpage in it. This will  show the exact way the page is rendered and read by the search bot.  Although method 1 is more exact method 2 is preferred as it is a more scalable way  of browsing through loads of text only version of a page.  Recommenda>on  If the text version of the search box seems spammy and irrelevant to the actual  page then it is beIer to get rid of it. OWen search box dropdowns appear as text to  search engines and some4mes important content in Javascript is not parsed by  Google.  Notes  The way Google reads content on your site is quite different from a user. Some4mes  a user may read a lot more content on a page than a search bot and some4mes it  may be the opposite. Ul4mately it is how Google bot reads and perceives your site  content is how your site page’s get ranked. Since search bots go through only the  text only version of the page it is important that every webmaster has good  understanding of how every page on their site appears in text only version of the  site.   
  • 144. Is your site crawl friendly? How does your important pages have good number of internal links? Check:   Firstly, make a list of most important pages in terms of revenue. You  can take cues from Google Analy4cs Ecommerce > Product  Performance sec4on. Once Screaming Frog is done with scrolling your  complete website make a list and pick each of the links which you think  are very important to your business. Look for the inlinks column in  screaming frog. These links give you the total number of links poin4ng  to a par4cular page.    Yes  No 
  • 145. Recommenda>on:  If you see that your most important pages have low number of links analyze in what  all places could that par4cular page get a link from. If you are selling bags and a  par4cular kind of bag say “Angry Birds Backpack” is not gefng enough internal link  love then try placing the link in the footer, sidebar or even on the homepage as a  part of featured products. Many Ecommerce CMSs allow you to list popular  products based on sales data. Thus gefng your hero pages both links and user  aIen4on.     Notes:  It is important that the most important pages of your site have high number of links  poin4ng towards it from other popular and relevant pages. This ensures that these  pages get the much needed PageRank a much needed ingredient for high rankings.   
  • 146. Is your site crawl friendly? Are you using the right redirect? Check:   Using Screaming Frog you can easily find out whether all your site redirects are  following the right protocol. Once you run the crawl func4on the tool lists the  status codes of all pages it visits. If the page in considera4on needs to be moved  permanently a 301 redirect has to be used else a temporary redirect(302) should  be used.    Recommenda>on:  The need for redirects appears at various stages for an ecommerce site.  Some4mes certain products may be removed from your online store in a certain  category. In such cases a category which needed 10 pages to display all the  products may need only 8. In such a case the the page 9 and 10 will have no  products to display and may either return a 404 error or appear as a soW 404 to  Google bot. To stop this from happening it is best to do a 302 temporary redirect  of page 9 and 10 to page 8 and remove the redirect when new products are  added to the category.       Yes  No 
  • 147. If the product is out of stock ‐ In such cases the ideal thing to do is to let user be  no4fied when the product will be back in stock. If the product will be out of stock  for an uncertain 4me a 302 redirect to the appropriate category or product will  keep users interest and reserve link equity of the page.     When products are removed most ecommerce sites show 404 pages when the  URLs are hit. This is bad both from user and SEO point of view. Instead, the page  should be redirected to an appropriate page in the category or a relevant product  page.     Notes:   A 301 redirect by web standards stands for a permanent redirect. The same  suggests to Google or other search engines that the page has been permanently  moved to a new loca4on. By taking this instruc4on Google transfers majority of the  link authority of the old url to its new des4na4on URL.  
  • 148. Is your site crawl friendly? How many of your pages are indexed by Google? Check:   The fastest way to check number of pages of your site which are indexed in  Google is to do a command in Google. The number of results  returned by Google is a near approxima4on of the number of indexed pages.    Yes  No 
  • 149. If you want to know how many pages have been crawled and the 4meline of  how your indexed pages have increased or decreased then use Google  webmaster Tools.     Recommenda>on:   If the number of indexed pages is far less than expected it could mean that  Google is not able to access many pages on your site. If the number of indexed  pages are very high chances are that the system is crea4ng URLs which you are  not aware of.      Notes:  High or low number of indexed pages by itself doesn’t signify anything about  your site’s SEO grade. Having a bloated indexed pages may be due to too many  duplicate URLs while a low number of indexed pages could mean Google not  able to crawl most of your pages. 
  • 150. Is your site crawl friendly? Do you host other mirror sites? Are they indexed by Google? Check:   Copy a small chunk of text from one of your site pages and search it in Google. If  any domain other than your site shows up and displays the same content then  that could be a possible mirror site. To check whether mirror sites are being  served from your own domain then check for all domains which is being served  from your original site’s IP. Good chances are that all those domains have a site  iden4cal to yours.     Recommenda>on:   If you see that many mirror sites are being served from your own IP then talk to  the management and get approval for redirec4ng or closing down or no indexing  these mirror pages.     Notes:  Mirror sites are sites which are 100% iden4cal to your own site. It may so happen  the management built a site on mul4ple domains before s4cking with a single  domain for its business transac4on. In such cases the old site could actually be  very iden4cal to the new one and both may be part of Google’s index.   Yes  No 
  • 151. Is your site crawl friendly? Does your site have a sitemap? Check:   Sitemaps are usually uploaded in the root folder of the website. If you have access  to your database files then you can make a quick look up for .xml files. If not then  type If the sitemap exists it may show up here. If  you s4ll can’t find visit sitemaps sec4on in Google webmaster tools just incase the  webmaster earlier added it to Google.     Recommenda>on:   It is best to have an XML sitemap instead of a HTML page as the prior can also  used to submit the links to Google.     Notes:   Sitemap is a simple list of links on your website. Sitemaps are a great way to tell  Google all the different list of URLs on your site. Sitemaps are par4cularly useful if  you have dynamic website where urls are created on the run.   Yes  No 
  • 152. Is your site crawl friendly? Does your sitemap follow protocol? Check:   An ideal sitemap should adhere to the following protocol  The Sitemap should  Begin with an opening <urlset> tag and end with a closing </urlset> tag.  Specify the namespace within the <urlset> tag.  Include a <url> entry for each URL, as a parent XML tag.  Include a <loc> child entry for each <url> parent tag.     Recommenda>on:  It is highly advised to have a sitemap as it makes it easy for Google to access  various links on your site.   An ideal sitemap should not have more than 50,000 links.   Make sure you make a XML sitemap in a Google recommended format.  Ideally a sitemap should be dynamic for maximum effect.   Yes  No 
  • 153. Is your site crawl friendly? Is there dirt in your sitemap? Check:  Bad URLs in your site map can be spoIed using your exis4ng sitemap and  Screaming Frog crawler. Using Screaming Frog you can crawl urls based on a list.  For this you have to follow these 3 simple steps     Step 1: Visit the mode sec4on and select the list mode op4on                              Step 2: Click on select file. Select sitemap from the file type dropdown.    Yes  No 
  • 154.                         Step 3: AWer selec4ng your sitemap click on start to start the crawl. And observe the results.                           
  • 155. If there are too many links with not found or 301 and 302 redirects there is a good  chance than your sitemap is ineffec4ve.    Recommenda>on:   Remove all links from your sitemaps which you feel have low amount of content or  give wrong status codes and prepare a fresh sitemap.    Note:  Duane Forrester in his interview with Eric Enge men4oned that a sitemap should not  have more than 1% of its links poin4ng to irrelevant or broken links. Once the sitemap  has more than 1% dirt in the sitemap Bing bot starts losing trust in the sitemap. This  implies the immense significance search bots give to sitemaps. 
  • 156. Is your site crawl friendly? Did you submit your Sitemap to Google and Bing? Check:   If you are not registered with Google and bing webmaster tools then you haven’t  submiIed your sitemaps. In case you have registered then in order make this  check you will have visit the sitemaps sec4on in the Crawl > Sitemaps sec4on in  GWT.                    Recommenda>on:  Submifng sitemaps to Google and Bing will help search bots discover all your urls  quickly. This will ensure faster crawling and a possible indexa4on.  Yes  No 
  • 157. Is your site crawl friendly? Did your sitemaps separately for each category? Check:   If you have mul4ple sitemaps then it should show up in your root folder.                      Recommenda>on:  Make sure you make sitemap for each category of your site. This will help you  segment and find out the crawl and indexa4on problems within your site beIer.  Yes  No 
  • 158. Is your site crawl friendly? Have you “no indexed” cart, checkout and thank you pages? Check:   Go to each of these pages and search for a meta robots “noindex” aIribute in the  <head> sec4on of the page’s html source. If there is no such tag chances are than  these pages could be indexed or be indexed by Google in the future.    Recommenda>on:  Use a meta robots “noindex” in the <head> sec4on of each of these pages in  order to stop search engines from indexing such pages.    Notes:   Shopping cart pages, login and thank you page hardly have a content value. Hence  it is suggested to stop search engine bots from indexing these pages.  Yes  No 
  • 159. Are your site’s pages keyword rich?   Does your most important pages have at least 1 paragraph of text?    Are any of your site pages thin on content?  Is your site content updated regularly?  Do you have a schema markup for the site?  Does your 4tle tag start with a keyword?   Do all your site page’s have an <h1> tag?   Does your page have primary keyword in a <h1> tag?   DO you have keywords in meta descrip4ons?   Is your primary keyword repeated mul4ple 4mes in the  copy?   Does your site have alt text for all images?   Does your site images have proper file name?   Are you targe4ng 2,3,4 word phrases?   Does your site have duplicate page 4tles, descrip4ons and  URLs? 
  • 160. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Does your most important pages have at least 1 paragraph of text? Check:   Screaming Frog has a column wherein you can see the total number of words on a  page. Sort the column to see pages with low number of words. See if any of these  pages are important for your business. And add relevant content to boost its  search rankings.    Recommenda>on:   If your product page doesn’t have the necessary content then add relevant  content so that Google gets to know more about the page.     Notes:   Ecommerce category pages usually have very low content on it. This oWen stops  the page from ranking in search engines. By adding relevant op4mized content to  such pages improves the traffic to the site.   Yes  No 
  • 161. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Are any of your site pages thin on content? Check:   Using Ahrefs you can find out which pages on your site have less than 50 words on  it. You can sign up for a FREE 7 day trial for the same. If you don’t own the tool  then using ScreamingFrog you can find the number of words per page by running  a simple crawl.     Recommenda>on:   If there are many thin pages on your site you could use a canonical tag or a 301  redirect if there is page relevant to it. If there is no appropriate page then the  content of the page should be improved by adding relevant content. For an online  store thin content pages can be taken care of by having user generated content  on site in the form of customer reviews.     Notes:   Thin pages are pages which have liIle or no significant content. A site with too  many thin pages could be perceived as a low quality website by Google.   Yes  No 
  • 162. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Is your site content updated regularly? Check:  Is your online store adding new products and categories regularly? If so new  pages are automa4cally being added to your online store. If you are ac4vely  blogging on your website then you are crea4ng new pages. If your online store is  aIrac4ng customer reviews your pages are gefng updated with new content.     Recommenda>on:  Make it a point to have a blog or resources sec4on and write relevant content on  a regular basis.    Notes:  It is important to add fresh content to exis4ng pages and create new pages on a  regular basis as this will ensure Google and other search engine bots crawl  through your website on a regular basis and discover more pages in the process.   Yes  No 
  • 163. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Do you have a schema markup for the site? Check:   Go to your product, contact and blog post page’s html source code and look for  words like “itempprop” or “schema” or “data‐vocabulary”. If the words are not  present then it is quite likely that the page doesn’t have any schema markup.    Recommenda>on:   Schema helps your search engine lis4ng get rich snippets. Apart from this a lot can  be no4fied to search engines about your product like brand, color, reviews, SKU,  model, weight, dimensions.    Notes:   Schema is a HTML markup which helps search bots understand the content on the  website beIer. A user can understand that a par4cular piece of text is an address  or a recipe but Search engine bots read them as plain text unless the content is  wrapped under a set of defined schema aIributes.   Yes  No 
  • 164. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Does your title tag start with a keyword? Check:   Title of the page can be found by hovering over your browser’s tab. To check  keyword in 4tle for all pages on your online store   Step 1: Use a tool like Xenu or Screamingfrog and make a list of URLs and their  corresponding 4tles.  Step 2: Sort the 4tles using text to columns. If the first 2 columns doesn’t contain  any keyword then you should consider revising the 4tle for the page.     Recommenda>on:   If your 4tle starts of as “Free shipping on all Reebok Tshirts” it could be reframed  as “ReeBok Tshirts at Zero Shipping cost” the second 4tle makes both the  keyword appear in the first 2 words and also doesn’t compromise on the click bait  ‐ “Zero Shipping Cost”.     Notes:  If the first two words of the 4tle doesn’t contain any keyword then your chances  of clicks and ranking could be low. Gefng your most important keywords as close  as possible to the leW corner will increase your chances of the URL gefng clicked.   Yes  No 
  • 165. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Do all your site page’s have an <h1> tag? Check:  Crawl your site using ScreamingFrog or Xenu. AWer the crawl take a .csv version of  all pages of your site. Visit the <h1> length column and sort it in ascending format.  The pages which show <h1> tag length as “0” don’t have a H1 tag.     Recommenda>on:  Due to lack of awareness some4mes few designers use <h2> tag for the main  heading just because it fits in the design. If the page doesn’t have <h1> then you  could use <h2> or tag as an alterna4ve.  Yes  No 
  • 166. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Does your page have primary keyword in a <h1> tag? Check:   Go to one of your site’s page and look in to its HTML source code and check for  the text wrapped in <h1> tags. To check the same for a large number of sites take  an export of your crawl report in Xenu or ScreamingFrog and go through h1 tags  column. Check which H1s have no keywords in them.  Yes  No 
  • 167. Recommenda>on:  Make sure your primary keyword phrase starts within the first 2 words of the  <h1> tag for maximum effect. Always use your primary and most difficult to rank  for keyword in the H1 tag. Also make the heading interes4ng so that you acquire  social shares. 
  • 168. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? DO you have keywords in meta descriptions? Check:  A webpage’s meta descrip4on can be seen by looking in to its HTML source  <head> sec4on. To look at the meta descrip4on of all pages on your site check for  the meta descrip4on column in Screaming Frog.    Recommenda>on:   Meta descrip4on is the text which is shown to the search engine user as a peek  view in to the web page. Stuffing your meta descrip4on with keywords is not an  effec4ve way of aIrac4ng clicks. Mix both effec4ve copywri4ng phrases like “FREE  Shipping”, “FREE quote” and “Best Prices” with relevant keywords to aIract  traffic.    Notes:   Meta Descrip4on is a text which is usually displayed in Google search engine  results page as a snippet.  Yes  No 
  • 169. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Is your primary keyword repeated multiple times in the copy?   Check:   To check number of 4mes a keyword has been repeated you can use SEOBoo k’s  keyword density tool. Although keyword density has no relevance in to day’s SEO the tool gives you a good idea of which keywords are domina4ng yo ur page in  general.     Recommenda>on:   Repea4ng the keyword mul4ple 4mes doesn’t correlate to higher rankings. A SEO  op4mized page use different words to make sense to the user and garner search  engine trust ‐     • Use synonyms  • Use different preposi4ons  • Use keyword phrases of different length  • Use natural language  Yes  No 
  • 170. Notes:   Keyword frequency and varia4on helps a web page improve its relevance to a  par4cular topic. Repea4ng the keyword in a way it is meaningful to the user helps  the page to rank beIer. Queries used by the user are oWen very complex and  depends on their vocabulary skills. It is important to use varia4ons of the keyword in  order to make your page rank for all keywords have the same user intent.   
  • 171. Are your pages Keyword Rich? Does your site have alt text for all images? Check:   If you are a chrome user right click on one of your product images and select  “inspect element”. The HTML shown in the window which opens up in the boIom  should have an alt=”XYZ” aIribute.          To find a list of images on your site which doesn’t have an alt text use Screaming  Frog’s advanced reports sec4on.       Yes  No 
  • 172. Recommenda>ons:   Use defini4ve alt texts. The alt text men4oned should include specifics like color  and dimensions of the product. If there are mul4ple colors of the product then  each colored product image should have the alt text along with the color. For  example, if you have a range of polo necked T‐Shirts with 8 varia4ons of color on it  then the green color tshirt image alt text could be “polo necked tshirt green”.     Notes:   Alt text is the text which is displayed in cases when and where the image fails to  load. This alterna4ve text tells Google and other search engines what the image is  about.   
  • 173. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Does your site images have proper file name? Check:  File name of an image can be found by right clicking on the image and opening the  image in a new tab. The filename of the image is the text which trails aWer the last  slash. This text should have keywords relevant to the image.     Recommenda>ons:  All your product images should have proper file names. The file names should be  the exact representa4on of what the image is about. If it is a size 32 brown reebok  tshirt then that is what the image has to say. Keeping the image filename highly  specific helps your product images rank for long tail keywords in Google image  search.     Notes:  Keyword op4mized filenames helps your product images show up on Google  image search.  Yes  No 
  • 174. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Are you targeting 2,3,4 word phrases? Recommenda>ons:   In order to discover more long tail keywords use This tool  scrapes Google suggest result and displays in a list form for easy copy and paste.                            Notes:   More the specificity of the query a user uses to land on your site higher are the  chances of conversion. 2,3 and 4 worded keyword phrases have the highest  conversion rates compared to single keywords.  Yes  No 
  • 175. Are your site’s pages keyword rich? Does your site have duplicate page titles, descriptions and URLs? Check:   Login to Google Webmaster tools and look for HTML improvements in the search  appearances sec4on. If Googlebot comes across any 2 pages having similar 4tles  or meta descrip4ons it gets listed here.     Recommenda>ons:   Make sure that each page of your site has a unique 4tle, URL and descrip4on. If  you see 2 pages with similar 4tles can be clubbed into a single page then do it. If 2  different pages of your site have the same content then 301 redirect one to the  other. If 2 pages on your site have same 4tles and trying to rank for almost similar  keywords then think how you can differen4ate one of the pages and target a  different set of users for each page.     Notes:   Keywords in page 4tles and URLs influence rankings in a large way hence they  have to be craWed with care.  Yes  No 
  • 176. Are your pages built for SEO?   Is your URL short and user friendly?  Does the URL include relevant keywords?  Does your URL have excessive parameters?  Are your page 4tles and descrip4ons too long?   Are your product descrip4ons unique?   Does your online store use rich snippets?   Does your site have a video sitemap?   Are your videos embeddable?   Do you have schema markup for your videos? 
  • 177. Are your pages built with SEO? Is your URL short and user friendly? Check:   Make a list of all urls on your site with the help of your developer or run a simple  crawl using a script. Once you have a list of URLs skim through it diligently and see  which URLs appear to be unnaturally long. Pick the ones which are too long and  figure out how you can shorten them. To find the character length of each URL  use Len() func4on in excel. Anything above 100 should be up for review.     Recommenda>on:   It is a good prac4ce to keep URL characters below 100. Although this isn’t a hard  rule keeping it below 100 should keep your URLs shorter than most other pages  on the web.     Notes:   Keeping the URL short is a Google recommended SEO prac4ce. Keeping the URL  short helps the user remember the link beIer and is more likely to aIract social  share and backlinks.  Yes  No 
  • 178. Are your pages built with SEO? Does the URL include relevant keywords? Check:   Once you have a list of URLs in a .csv file you can use a “text to columns” func4on  to separate the slug from the domain name. Once done see whether the urls have  keywords or just filled with stop words and PHP ids. Make a tag cloud of the slugs  using hIp:// and see if the right keywords have the highest  density.     Recommenda>on:   A keyword rich URL can help you score few valuable SEO points against your  compe4tor who has liIle or no control over his URL. Choose a CMS which gives  you control over the URL. Once you have control over the URL you can add  keywords which are sure to get you traffic.  Examples: Magento, WordPress     Notes:   Keywords in URL plays a vital role in telling Google what the page is about. A well  thought out URL will not only improve your on‐page SEO but also improves the  scope for social shares.  Yes  No 
  • 179. Are your pages built with SEO? Does your URL have excessive parameters? Check:   Once you have a list of all url slugs of your site run a filter for common characters  like “?” “_” and “&”. Check for numbers within the URLs. Numbers occur in URL  mainly due to page or product ids.     Recommenda>on:   If your site’s CMS is built on PHP and runs on Apache server then you can arrest all  PHP session ids using a .htaccess file. Complete tutorial here. Remember to  rewrite all ugly URLs to a cleaner version and also use 301 redirect from the old  version of the URL to the new one to retain all the link equity of the page.     Notes:   URLs which have too many parameters and numbers have many downsides.  Firstly ugly URLs get shared less and are oWen clicked less through from the search  engine results page. Secondly too many parameters may make the URL too long.  Cleaner the URL beIer the op4miza4on.   Yes  No 
  • 180. Are your pages built with SEO? Are your page titles and descriptions too long? Check:   Crawl through your site and make a list of URLs along with each of its Title and  Descrip4on. If your crawler is Xenu or Screaming Frog you the 4tle and descrip4on  length can is given. If you don’t have the character lengths of 4tles and  descrip4ons then use =len() excel formula to find the number of characters for all  your site Meta data.     Recommenda>on:   Mix your keyword op4mized with your Business USP to drive click to your website.  For example a 4tle like “Pink Hello KiIy Headphones” could be replaced with  “Pink Hello KiIy Headphones with Free Shipping”. While the descrip4on could be  worded as “Buy pink hello kiIy headphones online. Avail free shipping on select  hello kiIy merchandise.”     Notes:   Ideally a Meta Title of a page should be less than 56‐58 characters. This ensures  that all the text in the 4tle is displayed on the search results page when your site’s  lis4ng is displayed. A proper meta descrip4on should summarize everything about  the page in less than 160 characters. Your 4tle and descrip4on should have both  the primary and secondary keyword you want to target for that par4cular page.   Yes  No 
  • 181. Are your pages built with SEO? Are your product descriptions unique? Check:   Signup for a paid version of copyscape and copy and paste your product  descrip4ons into the box and check for duplicates. If copyscape finds duplicates it  highlights common words between your page content and other external website  content.     Recommenda>on:   Always choose to craW your own product descrip4on. Refrain from using product  descrip4ons given by the manufacturer. Manufacturer provided product  descrip4ons are oWen used by many small online retailers.  Since the content is  displayed on mul4ple websites. Using the same content will add no value to your  product pages.     Notes:   Since many 4mes the same product could be sold by many online retailers your  product descrip4on may not be unique enough. In such cases some4mes the  product descrip4on given by the manufacturer is copied and pasted blindly which  may make Google consider the page to have copied content.   Yes  No 
  • 182. Are your pages built with SEO? Does your online store use rich snippets? Check:   You can check/test for rich snippets on your site using Google’s own Structured  data tool. Using this tool you can find out how your site’s lis4ng would appear in  search results.                  Recommenda>on:   Every product has 5‐7 details which can appear as rich snippets in Google SERPs.  Out of these the most important are ra4ngs, number of reviews, price and  shipping. This is because they are the most basic decision making points for a  user. Ra4ngs are the best way to grab aIen4on as they are displayed in a  different color and a product with a good ra4ng is more sought aWer by the user.      Yes  No 
  • 183. Notes:   Rich snippets are a way of communica4ng to the user what the product is about  even before he visits your page. If a user who is searching for belgian chocolates  sees that your online store offers free giWing and shipping he or she is more likely  to click and learn more about your product that other lis4ngs on that page. You can  use rich snippets for various offers on an online store.   
  • 184. Are your pages built with SEO? Does your site have a video sitemap? Check:   To check whether the past webmaster installed the video sitemap just go through  the root folder of your site and check for video links on all sitemaps of your site.     Recommenda>on:   When you are crea4ng a video sitemap make sure it follows the  video sitemap protocol as suggested by Google. Once the sitemap is created  upload it on your online store’s root folder and submit it to Google webmaster  tools.     Notes:   Using a video to display the product has its own advantages from SEO and  conversion point of view.  1. Videos help users understand the product beIer leading to beIer  conversions.  2. Videos can be used as a way to aIract links through embed codes and  submissions to video based sites.  3. Videos can rank beIer due to universal search and can get lot more aIen4on  and click through.  Yes  No 
  • 185. Are your pages built with SEO? Are your videos embeddable? Check:   Go to one of your site page where a video is being used. Click/hover over the  video to discover embed/share op4ons. Look below or around the video for  shareable op4ons. If you don’t see any such op4ons good chances are that your   website doesn’t make use of embed codes.                      Recommenda>on:   Put an extra text link poin4ng to your product page within the embed code so that  people head back to the original product page aWer viewing the product video  elsewhere. This will generate extra link and valuable relevant traffic.  Yes  No 
  • 186. Notes:   Embeddable videos makes it easy for web publishers share the videos from your  site on their blogs/web pages. For instance an affiliate marketer looking to  promote your products may want to educate users beIer about your products  with an informa4ve video. Making the video embeddable will make it easy for  bloggers to create content for their users  
  • 187. Are your pages built with SEO? Do you have schema markup for your videos? Check:   You can find pages which have schema markup by using Screamingfrog crawl with  filters. Use “contains : hIp://” op4on in the  configura4on > crawl and wait for the Screaming Frog tool to give a list of pages  which use a video schema markup.     Notes:   By op4mizing videos for search engine you can take advantage of Google’s  universal search. Videos if op4mized can outrank even compe44ve websites. If  you use product videos on your online store it is a good prac4ce to use schema  markup across it to op4mize your page and outrank your compe44on. For  instance when I searched for Google plus for top rankings SEOmoz’s whiteboard  Friday came up as a top result.   Yes  No 
  • 188. Is your site fast enough?   Are your top money pages slow?   Are CSS and JavaScript files Minified    Does your website leverage browser caching?   Does your site have chained redirects?   Are your products op4mized for speed   Are any of your pages heavily loaded with Flash, JavaScript  and iFrames?  
  • 189. Is your site fast enough? Are your top money pages slow? Check:   Once you have a list of top selling products on your site it is easy to find their load  4mes using Google analy4cs and a Vlookup func4on in excel. Log in to your  Google analy4cs dashboard and go to Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings  sec4on. If you have tens of thousands of pages then it is best suggested to search  for each money page url using the advanced search box op4on as downloading  thousands of URL could be tedious. If your online store has few thousand pages  then export the url list in a .csv file and do a VLOOKUP func4on for top money  pages.     Recommenda>on:  Run the Google page speed test for all popular pages on your site. Google Page  speed test gives a list of personalized recommenda4ons which can help you  improve your site’s speed in a large way.   Yes  No 
  • 190. Is your site fast enough? Are CSS and JavaScript files Minified Check:   Check: Use tool.pingdom or Google page Speed test and run a test on various  pages of your site. For an online store you want to run this test on the home,  category, product and checkout page. Google Speed Test Tool also gives you list of  all CSS and javascript files which could be minified.      Yes  No 
  • 191. Recommenda>on:  Run the Google page speed test for all popular pages on your site. Google Page  speed test gives a list of personalized recommenda4ons which can help you  improve your site’s speed.    
  • 192. Is your site fast enough? Does your website leverage browser caching? Check:   To see whether all your popular pages are leveraging browser caching just run the  test on The tool gives a score for each aspect of page speed  under the performance grade sec4on. Click on the arrow to the right and see  which files could be cached further.                    Notes:   Files like CSS, images and JavaScript usually take lot of 4me to load. By enabling  HTTP caching on your site, when the site is visited for the first 4me a small copy of  the HTML page is stored locally. This cached copy is shown to users on subsequent  visits making the experience beIer for returning visitors.    Yes  No 
  • 193. Is your site fast enough? Does your site have chained redirects? Check:   Run a thorough crawl of your site by excluding .css,.js and other unnecessary files.  Once the crawl is done select the “Chained Redirects”  op4on under the Reports  sec4on in the top Menu to download all the chain of redirects.  Recommenda>on:   Remove the redirect chains and make all urls in the chain point to a single URL  instead. This method of redirects has 2 major advantages over chained redirects.  Preserves more link juice and passes it on to a more deserving page.  Good for user experience as it doesn’t harm site speed.                           Yes  No 
  • 194. Is your site fast enough? Are your images optimized for speed? Check:   Download a list of image filenames and file sizes from Screaming Frog and check  for images which are too big in size. Images which are 1 MB and above in size  have to be re‐op4mized to improve page performance.    Recommenda>on:   Crop out extra white spaces in the graphic. Use CSS to create white spaces around  the image instead. Save images using save for web and devices. Choose an image  such that you maintain an op4mum balance between visual appeal and file size.    Notes:   Slow loading images can increase the load 4me of a page. Images which are not  op4mized for size can bring down the average load 4me for the site and could  even hurt your SEO rankings.  Yes  No 
  • 195. Is your site fast enough? Are any of your pages heavily loaded with Flash, JavaScript and iFrames? Check:   While configuring the screaming frog spider check both JavaScript and .swf to  make Screaming Frog crawl both flash and JavaScript files.                              Yes  No 
  • 196. To find the pages which have iframe on them use a “custom filter” from the  configura4on sec4on in the top menu. Enter <iframe> in the filter, hit OK and  run the spider.                  Recommenda>on:  Flash and JavaScript when not op4mized for speed makes the web page to load  slowly. Few of the techniques which could be used to arrest this could be   • Limi4ng the use of flash by using HTML 5.  • Combining all external JavaScript.  • Minifying JavaScript code.     
  • 197. Are your site technical issues  fixed?   Is your server based in target business loca4on area?   Is your site op4mized for mobile devices?   Is your site using faceted naviga4on? If yes have you  placed a strategy for duplicate content?   Does your site have infinite scroll? If yes have you placed  a strategy for crawl issues?   Is your site op4mized for interna4onal SEO traffic?  
  • 198. Are your site technical issues fixed? Is your server based in target business location area? Check:   Unless you are using cloud servers it is possible that your web server has a  par4cular geo loca4on. You can find your server loca4on of your website by  finding the IP address of your site and then looking up the IP in IP loca4on finder.  This can also be done by using simple online tools like Find IP address and  GeoIpAddress tool.     Notes:   Sites which have web servers in their target business loca4on get local ranking  boost. For instance if your main customer base is in Netherlands then having your  servers based in Netherlands or in a country in close proximity to Netherlands will  help your website rank well.     Recommenda>on:   With most websites looking to host their data on the cloud this ranking factor  could well go obsolete in a few years from now. However if you are looking to  score every frac4on of SEO value for your site then host your servers in a loca4on  where your largest poten4al customer base exist.  Yes  No 
  • 199. Are your site technical issues fixed? Is your site optimized for mobile devices? Check:   A site is op4mized for mobile if either it has a mobile version of the site or if the  site is responsive. You can check the responsiveness of a website by using free  online tools like amiresponsive. Ask your developer if the site has any mobile  version of the site and take the URL. Mobile version of the site is usually placed in  the or of the site. So make sure you  check these sub domains.    Recommenda>on:   If you are using responsive design make sure you are allowing Google and other  search engine bots to access your .css and .js files. This will allow search engines  to understand the CSS and know that the site has a responsive design.    Notes:   Millions of searches happen on mobile devices per day. And search engines favor  sites which are op4mized for mobile device experience for higher ranking. Sites  which are op4mized for a mobile device are more likely to appear at the top of a  result when compared to a site which is not op4mized for the par4cular screen  size.   Yes  No 
  • 200. Are your site technical issues fixed? Is your site using faceted navigation? If yes have you placed a strategy for duplicate content? Check:   Faceted naviga4on or filters are alterna4ve ways of narrowing a search lis4ng.  These systems are usually employed in large ecommerce or classified sites.  Faceted naviga4on can be found on the category page of your online store.     Recommenda>on:   If it is technically not possible to apply canonical or nofollow tags on the desired  pages then you can use Google’s webmaster tools to no4fy Google on how to deal  with certain parameters which occur due to faceted naviga4on.  Yes  No 
  • 201. Notes:   Consider an ecommerce site with tons of shirts with plenty of styles(brands,  sizes, prices, color and material). In the first case I filtered the naviga4on by  choosing small size tshirt first and then the brand Adidas. The resultant URL of  the page was  hIp://‐shopping/men/apparels/t‐Shirts/adidas/small‐s.html? affint=ClothFlyMenu&source=fm&lc=Size(Link)    In the second case I filtered the naviga4on by choosing Adidas as my brand  followed by small as my tshirt size. In such a case the URL which appeared is   hIp://‐shopping/men/apparels/t‐Shirts/small‐s/adidas.html? affint=ClothFlyMenu&source=fm&lc=Brands(Link)     All though the 2 urls appear to be same if you look carefully the first URL  hasadidas/small‐s while the second URL has small‐s/adidas. If you visit both the  urls you will see that both the pages are exactly same. To arrest this kind of  duplicate content you should use an appropriate canonical or noindex tag.  
  • 202. Are your site technical issues fixed? Does your site have infinite scroll? If yes have you placed a strategy for crawl issues? Check:  Infinite Scroll is usually used on category level pages of an online store. They are  used when lot of content needs to be shown on a single page. Visit your category  level pages and see if the products are loading by itself upon every scroll. If so,  then your site is probably using infinite scroll.    Recommenda>on:   Infinite Scroll crawl issue can be solved by having a clean javascript fallback  version which is both user friendly and something which can be read by Google.  Since Google can’t parse all JavaScript it is necessary that the JS version of the site  has links to all products or have a paginated links so that the bot can crawl  through all the links.    Notes:  Infinite scroll is a javascript func4on which loads more content only when the user  scrolls down. Infinite scroll is an alterna4ve to pagina4on and has been many  popular content sites like TwiIer and FaceBook.   Yes  No 
  • 203. Are your site technical issues fixed? Is your site optimized for international SEO traffic? Check:   Ask your management team for their businesses target markets. List the countries  and strategize on how to drive organic traffic from these countries.    Recommenda>on:   If the site has different na4ve language then you can op4mize the local site using  Google’s own suggested technique of rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” tag aIribute.  Using this tag once can tell Google that the page in context is an alternate version  of main website and the language of the page being as defined by the hreflang.    Notes:  If your online store serves in mul4ple countries like Spain, Germany or France  then it may be useful to have mul4ple versions of the site each serving different  language in different region. All though this prac4ce is best for interna4onal users  lack of proper SEO implementa4on may make you lose out on valuable ranking  value and in certain cases can even cause duplicate content issues. So gefng your  interna4onal SEO is as cri4cal as any other aspect your site’s SEO.   Yes  No 
  • 204. Does your site have the right  architecture?   Does your site follow the right informa4on architecture?    Are your top money pages linked from the Home Page?   Does your site use Breadcrumbs?   Are all your site pages gefng sufficient internal link  weightage?   Does your Home Page have a link from every other page  on your site?   Are any of your pages more than 5 levels deep? 
  • 205. Does your site have the right architecture? Does your site follow the right information architecture? Check:   Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and browse through the site. See if it is easy  for you to move from one page to another easily without much thought. If you  feel stuck with “what to do next” then good chances are that your site has an  informa4on architecture problem.    Recommenda>on:   A well constructed silo consists of logical grouping of products under appropriate  labels. For instance if your online store sells electronics then a sub category  “camera accessories” best fits in the category “Camera” rather than electronics  accessories. In the same way if your store sells kitchen and home appliances then  a toaster is a beIer fit under “kitchen appliances” category than in home  appliances.    Notes:   Having a logical informa4on architecture helps search bots understand the  thema4c relevance of a page and site. A well constructed silo consists of logical  grouping of products under appropriate labels.   Yes  No 
  • 206. Does your site have the right architecture? Are your top money pages linked from the Home Page? Check:   Make a list of categories and products which generates the most revenue. Once  done visit your site’s homepage and look whether it has links to all your popular  pages. If your homepage has too many link for a manual check download all links  in a .csv file using SEOBook SEO Xray. Do a Vlookup func4on of your money pages  against Homepage Links and see which of the key money pages are missing out.     Recommenda>on:   Since having a bunch of links from homepage may not fit well with your UI. To  make all popular pages get links without screwing up the UI you could use various  sec4ons on homepage like  • Popular Products  • Most Searched Products  • Popular in <Category>  • Most Bought  • Currently trending  Having these widgets/sec4on will grab user aIen4on and the text link drives SEO  value.  Yes  No 
  • 207. Notes:   Homepage is oWen the most popular page on your site as it naturally aIracts  more links and traffic. Since homepage has highest Pagerank and link equity it is  a best prac4ce to flow all the valuable SEO equity to other important pages on  the site by linking to it from the homepage.    
  • 208. Does your site have the right architecture? Does your site use Breadcrumbs? Check:   Breadcrumbs is a naviga4on trail which usually appears at the top of a page. It is  usually found on category/sub‐category and product level pages.     Recommenda>on:   Apart from using breadcrumbs on site use a rich snippets markup against each  breadcrumb element. This enables the breadcrumb to appear as links on the  search results page lis4ng. Giving the searcher more op4ons to click through.      Notes:   Breadcrumbs communicate to the user the depth of his visit and gives an  alterna4ve way of going back and forth between mul4ple pages in the same  category. Apart from the user benefits it helps search engines understand the  thema4c structure of the site.   Yes  No 
  • 209. Does your site have the right architecture? Are all your site pages getting sufficient internal link weightage? Check:  Use any of your favorite website crawler and export all internal links in a .csv file.  Look for the “inlinks” column and arrange the links in ascending order. This makes  all pages with very few internal links appear on the top.  Recommenda>on:   In order to increase internal linking between various product pages you could use  widgets or sec4on on your product pages like  • Related products  • Other products in this category  • People who bought these also bought  Using these sec4ons we can provide value to the user and also pass PageRank to  large number of pages.     Notes:   Increasing internal linking between various pages on site helps Google discover  new pages, pass PageRank and other link metrics like anchor text to different  pages. Internal linking also helps build the SEO value of the linking page.   Yes  No 
  • 210. Does your site have the right architecture? Does your Home Page have a link from every other page on your site? Check:  Go to your product, category, sub‐category and other pages and see if the logo or  the naviga4on link is linked to the homepage.   Look for your header sec4on and see if it has a link to the home page.    Recommenda>on:  Link your Online Store’s logo to the homepage of the site. This makes sure all the  pages link to the homepage. Thus ensuring good usability and site architecture.  Yes  No 
  • 211. Does your site have the right architecture? Are any of your pages more than 5 levels deep? Check:   Choose one of your website crawler and run the spider. Once you export the  crawl report look for “level” column. This number gives you the depth at which  the page is from the HomePage.    Recommenda>on:   It is important to keep your site architecture as flat as possible. Having a flat  architecture implies making all pages accessible within few clicks from the  Homepage. Flat architectures help search engines discover more pages and also  facilitates passage of more link equity to deeper level pages.  Yes  No 
  • 212. Notes:  Flat architecture implies having the most important links linked from the home  page. Lesser the number of clicks needed to reach the product page flaIer is the  site architecture. Some4mes the most important high conver4ng product pages  are buried deep and this may result in the page not gefng enough link juice to  rank. By having all such pages accessible within few clicks from home page you  can drive lot more traffic and revenue to your business.   
  • 213. How is your off‐site SEO  Marke>ng?   Which anchor texts are compe4tors using for internal linking?   Which anchor texts are used by compe4tors for backlinks?   Does your site link velocity seem natural?  Do you have links from relevant sources?  Does your site have backlinks from country specific TLDs?   Do you have backlinks from high authority sites?
  • 214. How good is your Off Site Marketing? Which anchor texts are competitors using for internal linking? Check:   All anchor texts can be found by using the advanced export feature in  ScremingFrog. Once you run a crawl func4on on your compe4tors website export  all the anchor texts using the advanced Export > All anchor texts sec4on   Yes  No 
  • 215. Recommenda>ons:   If one of your compe4tor has a reputa4on of ranking well for compe44ve  keywords without a strong back link profile high chances are that their internal  anchor texts are keyword op4mized. Once you get the list of anchor texts using the  method above try seeing which of these anchor texts have high search demand by  using Google’s Keyword planner. If you find a hot keyword plan how you can use  the keyword to op4mize your page’s beIer.   
  • 216. How good is your Off Site Marketing? Which anchor texts are used by competitors for backlinks? Check:   There are more than one way for finding out the anchor texts which compe4tors  use for back links. 2 great tools which let you know your compe4tors anchor texts  are Ahrefs and Opensiteexplorer. Search for your compe4tor’s URL in and click on the “Anchor Text” tab.   Yes  No 
  • 217. Recommenda>on:   Download the list of anchor texts and the number of backlinks in an excel sheet for  each of your compe4tor. Segregate the words in three buckets   Branded keywords  Exact Match keywords  Par4al Match Keywords  Once done find which paIerns are most commonly found for top rankings sites in  your industry. Closer your link profile matches these sites higher the chances of the  site ranking high in search engines.  Following is an example analysis for the keyword “online shopping” in                      Notes:   Anchor texts are signals to Google which signifies the topical and contextual  relevance of the des4na4on URL. The anchor texts which compe4tors use for back  links is a good measure of which keywords your compe4tor is trying to rank for. You  can consider the same keywords for both on and off page ac4vi4es. 
  • 218. How good is your Off Site Marketing? Does your site link velocity seem natural? Check:   Majes4c SEO gives a backlinks trend to your site for the last 90 days. You can  compare this trend against your top 5 ranking compe4tors and see if your link  profile matches well.    Recommenda>on:   If you find your link profile is unnatural then dig in to your backlinks you have  acquired in the last 90 days. Figure out which links among them are from  suspicious/malicious website. Use Google’s disavow tool to men4on these spam  links to Google.    Notes:  Link velocity is measure of number of links acquired over a period of 4me. Sudden  spurts of backlinks from suspicious sites could trigger spam signals while having a  flat link graph could mean lack of trac4on for your product or service. If your link  velocity is very unnatural compared to other players in your niche then Google  may not trust your site as much.  Yes  No 
  • 219. How good is your Off Site Marketing? Do you have links from relevant sources? Check:   Visit and search for your domain in the search box. Click on the  Refering > Domains link on the leW sidebar. Displayed here is a list of all domains  which link to your website.    Notes:   Having links from relevant websites helps build your site’s thema4c relevance.  Gefng links from other players in the niche helps your site build topical  relevance.  Yes  No 
  • 220. How good is your Off Site Marketing? Does your site have backlinks from country specific TLDs? Check  Visit and enter your online store’s domain. Scroll down to see  distribu4on of backlinks from various countries CTLDs. Following is a picture for  CTLDs distribu4on of website with Indian target market.                  Recommenda>on  Search in Google for “YOUR MARKET KEYWORD” inurl:”YOUR COUNTRY TLD” to  discover link opportuni4es that match your target market segment. In case your  furniture business in based out of London then search for “Bean Bags”  Yes  No 
  • 221. How good is your Off Site Marketing? Do you have backlinks from high authority sites? Check  Visit and search for insights on your domain. The tool gives a  list of websites which link back to your online store. The last column “Domain  Authority” is a measure of how popular a website’s link graph is. If your site has  links from websites with domain authority more than 80 then it implies that your  website has links from authority site.                      Notes  Having links from high authority websites builds trust factor. Links from high  authority site in your niche helps you build topical relevance and acquire valuable  link equity.  Yes  No 
  • 222. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page221 7. Managing Ecommerce SEO Project 7.1 Getting Buy-ins If there is one thing about ecommerce SEO I have failed miserably then it has to be getting buy in for SEO from the management and technical team. It was the first day of my new ecommerce SEO project. I felt both challenged and excited. My challenge was tons of duplicate content issues to be fixed and excitement was yet another chance to learn more on SEO. With a child like joy in my heart I went into my cozy cubicle with my favorite SEO tools and a huge mug of coffee. And started doing what I like best - technical SEO audit. By end of the day I had a huge list of recommendations that were ready to be pushed to the technical team. I was all excited to see the new changes live and wait for the CEO's pat on my back. But none of it happened! The presentation adorned my desktop, the project manager said this needs to be done, the technical team said OK and the CEO said cool. There was no apparent reason why the changes suggested never got implemented. The problem was NOT in the presentation of requirement nor was it in lack of proper communication. The problem was in not communicating the value of SEO to management and technical team. The problem was in not communicating the importance of their role and their contribution in the bigger scheme of things. Upon self-analysis I realized that I failed to answer 3 major questions to management and my team -
  • 223. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page222 1. Why is SEO important? 2. What are the effects of each particular change and how it will help our online store's ranking? 3. Why should the team reschedule their priorities? Moment of clarity After repeated failure I have come to an understanding of how a SEO professional can get approval from management and technical team to prioritize SEO. Another thing I realized that the way we communicate SEO to management and technical team should be different. Enterprise level SEO needs approval from various management levels and getting the changes pushed on to the site needs a dash of hustle and spokesmanship. Getting management approval for SEO 1. Communicate the ROI of SEO - The best way to communicate the value of SEO to the CEO or the top level management is to talk numbers. Explain how much effort and money in to SEO gives how many returns. Compare revenue generated due to SEO against other revenue generation channels. 2. Explain how competitors are eating our market share because they have better SEO. Nothing hurts a business owner more than knowing that the competition is stealing his share. Compare your site's traffic to your competitors and give projections on how getting a better ranking will help the business grow stronger. 3. Communicate how SEO has the least cost per acquisition - Optimizing a site for search engines is purely based on sweat equity. If you are working with a start up then pitching SEO as a "free marketing" channel will lit the eye balls of the 'C' level executives. Prove how SEO generates a customer at a very low rate and compare its user acquisition numbers to other marketing channels.
  • 224. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page223 4. Use Google penalties to your advantage - It is human nature for people to pay attention to something when there is a fear of losing it. A convincing story on how a certain site lost its business due to Panda or Penguin penalties could be a good way to get approval for SEO faster. For instance, we all know that large amount of duplicate content can hurt a site. The same can be communicated by pitching examples of how other sites lost their rankings and the same can happen to your site too. 5. Explain the long term benefits of SEO - Once a page of your site is indexed and optimized for search engines the page has a potential to draw traffic for years and decades to come. A small investment in SEO today has potential to give returns for a full life time of the business. Getting approval from technical team Communicate how their awesome work will get recognition once the website gets popular. Give help resources and guide them through the procedure of getting changes done. Research is often painful and could lead one to the wrong resources. Instead it is best to enclose the tutorial links and documents to make it easy for the developer. Communicate the effects of previous technical SEO changes and say Thank you. It is human nature to feel motivated on seeing the impact of past work. Communicating the progress will help developers see how they are contributing to project. Use Google analytics annotations and give proof of how the technical changes helped them achieve the target.
  • 225. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page224 7.2 Getting SEO Done After a year in to my SEO career I realized the importance of project management in SEO. Performing site audits and documenting the requirements is only part of a SEO's job. Getting SEO changes implemented on site is also a critical task as it is the sole purpose why we do SEO audits and document recommendations in the first place. As SEO professionals we have a habit of putting our best efforts to recommend changes and help out developers with tutorials but we rarely go an extra mile to see to it that the changes are implemented. The reason for this particular attitude is the idea "It is not my Job". But the truth is everything related to SEO is your job. If SEO wins it is your team's effort. If SEO fails it is your fault. If the changes don't get implemented it is your fault! If any of your team member commits to an action that may hurt your site's SEO then it is your fault! If the management doesn't approve SEO then it is your fault!
  • 226. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page225 2 point formula to get SEO done 1. The first step to getting things done is taking ownership of the project from strategy to implementation. 2. The second step to getting SEO implemented is hustle. As Tom Critchlow of distilled rightly said - To move the needle in a small company you need hustle, but to move the needle in an enterprise company you need project management. - Tom Critchlow Long Lists won’t get done Another key thing that happened with me both in my personal and professional life is that long to do lists rarely get done. Time and again I have seen that when a long list of SEO recommendations are given to the developer few of the most important changes gets skipped out. Instead a short and "must to do" list is way more effective. Jason Fried in his book Rework has given phenomenal advice for startups and working professionals. Following advice is a true kicker Break that long list down into a bunch of smaller lists. For example, break a single list of a hundred items into ten lists of ten items. That means when you finish an item on a list, you've completed 10 percent of that list, instead of 1 percent.
  • 227. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page226 Yes, you still have the same amount of stuff left to do. But now you can look at the small picture and find satisfaction, motivation, and progress. That's a lot better than staring at the huge picture and being terrified and demoralized. "Terrified and demoralized" that is what happens with the tech staff when you push out all your recommendations at once. Stick to a "short must to do" list rather than a "long to do list". Better than long lists is the process. And the process below is something which I have seen work best. STEP 1: DOCUMENT THE LIST OF SEO RECOMMENDATIONS Documentation of SEO recommendations should be clear, concise and actionable. You may use powerpoint, word docs or excel sheets for the same. A SEO suggestions document should include 1. What to do? - (Example - Use 301 Redirect on all expired product pages.) 2. Why to do? - (Example - 301 Redirects help Google consolidate link value on to valuable pages which have a potential to rank.) 3. How to do? - (Example - A 301 redirect can be done in multiple ways. Two of which are through HTTP headers and .htaccess file. Here is the official Google guide explaining the same.)
  • 228. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page227 STEP 2: PRIORITIZE THE RECOMMENDATIONS Since long to do list rarely work and short "must do" lists are a way to go prioritization is key. Make lists of most important SEO changes to be done in priority 1 list. Important SEO recommendations like change of Meta Titles or 301 redirects should be in priority 1 list. While schema markup or <h2> tag implementation could be in priority 2 list. For the best output it is best to share priority 1 list first and have less critical changes for future incremental changes. STEP 3: CREATE A CHECKLIST OF ALL TASKS TO BE DELIVERED Documents are difficult to scan through. At the end of the project it is easier to check what got accomplished and which changes are yet to be implemented when it is in form of a list. I use my iPad mini to tick off once the changes are accomplished and I find it pretty easy that way. A simple notepad or a to do list on your phone should do the job. STEP 4: COMMUNICATE THE SEO RECOMMENDATIONS WITH YOUR TEAM A short 15 min meet should communicate all the requirements to the tech, design and content team. To get the most out of the meeting come prepared with data to back our claims. Above all assign responsibilities for each task and ask for a delivery date for the same. This ensures a single person is accountable for a task and results in higher possibility of work getting done. STEP 5: FOLLOW UP Following up with the tech staff on implementation of the SEO suggestions helps SEO remain a priority and also find whether the developer is stuck with implementation of
  • 229. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page228 code. If you don't walk a few inches out of your desk to know the progress on SEO implementation no one in your team should ideally give a damn! For follow up choose face to face conversations over phone. If your workstation is far away choose phone over email. Bonus tip: Keep the top management in the email loop to get the implementation done faster. STEP 6: SUPPORT It is important that you provide the necessary support to your designer, developer and content writer during the entire website optimization process. You can't train a UI designer to make SEO friendly websites within a few casual encounters. Nor can you educate a copywriter about keyword targeting within few minutes. The best way to support the SEO implementation is by including yourself in the process. Till the time your tech and content writing staff understands the basics of SEO it is important that you to give knowledge and implementation support through resources and tutorials. STEP 7: GOOGLE DOCS FOR THE WIN To get SEO done it does NOT need phenomenal amount of project management skills nor does it need sophisticated project management tools. A simple Google doc with tasks to be done, person responsible, target date and task status shared across the whole team and management is good enough tool to track progress. If you are looking for a project management tool then a simple tool like Trello is good enough. STEP 8: COMMUNICATE RESULTS Communicating the results with your team helps build rapport and positions you well to push the second set of SEO recommendations. People are more inclined to work in your favor when they see that their past work had a good impact.
  • 230. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page229 7.3 SEO Measurement To measure the progress of your SEO campaigns it is necessary to define metrics that have a business impact. All though free tools like Google analytics give a data puke of metrics not the entire have a direct business impact nor do they help us during the time of decision-making. Choosing the wrong metrics has 2 major consequences - Choosing the wrong metrics can get you fired. For instance a metric like PageRank is a bad metric to measure your self. The reasons are Google updates toolbar PageRank only 3-4 times a day. Metrics which doesn’t tell you “what to do next” are not worth measuring. Because no action or decision can ever arrive out of a vanity metric there is no point of measuring it. It is important that a SEO professional chooses the right metrics beforehand and stick to these metrics for checking progress of his or her SEO efforts every cycle/month/quarter. 1. Non-Branded Organic Traffic Non-branded SEO traffic is the number of visitors who visit your online store organically using keyword which don’t include your brand name. Non branded organic visitors are a true measure of how your website is doing on the search results page. For instance “red tshirts zappos” is a search made by a person who is expecting to land on red tshirts page on zappos website. On the other had a person searching for “red tshirts” usually don’t have an intent to land on a particular website. In the above example a person visiting your site through a
  • 231. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page230 organic search using a keyword “red tshirts” come under non branded organic visitor. To find the non-branded search traffic you will have to use Google analytics advanced segments. Exclude branded keyword searches by using the following regular expression. brand name| | www.brandname | brand name mispelled| If your non branded search traffic is less then chances are high that your online store is not well optimized or you are targeting highly competitive keywords. 2. Conversion rate of SEO traffic People flock your site but if they don’t buy from you the very purpose of starting an ecommerce business is defeated. Conversion rate is the number of purchases per visitor. To get a better insight find the conversion rate per search term. This
  • 232. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page231 will help you prioritize the anchor texts and landing pages for your link building efforts. Conversion rate ratio = No of purchases/Total number of visitors Your sites SEO traffic may have a low conversion because of one or more of the following reasons - you are targeting the wrong keywords - your site has very few persuasive elements See what all UI/UX changes can be done to increase your conversion rates. Check which keywords and landing pages have high conversion rate and build links to those pages. 3. SEO vs other revenue generation channels Measuring success of SEO against other marketing channels helps you prove the value of SEO to your CMO or higher management. While making managerial decisions for budget and hiring it is easier for the management to make a choice if you give numbers specific to SEO. For instance if just 3 months of SEO efforts has helped organic traffic generate 10% of your company’s revenue chances are high that you can pitch in for an extra SEO member hire or ask for money to buy tools or links. There are basically 2 different metrics that you should use to compare SEO with other marketing channels like PPC, social media, coupons and partnerships.  Cost per user acquisition – The total amount of money invested in SEO efforts divided by total number of customers acquired gives you the cost per user acquisition. Typically the amount of money invested in SEO is ‘Zero’ but since for enterprise level SEO money may go in to tools, links, content and people. In spite of this the cost per user acquisition is very low compared to most other marketing channels. This is a great unique selling point when you are pitching SEO to management.
  • 233. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page232  Total revenue – The cost per user acquisition of a marketing channel may be high doesn’t mean it has high level business impact. Revenues generated through SEO should be compared against other channels like affiliate, email, PPC and social media. If the revenue generated is low figure out which keyword opportunities you are missing. Also find out which keywords have high conversion rates and concentrate on ranking better for the same. 7.4 Measuring Link Building Campaigns Measuring progress achieved and work accomplished is a healthy habit which every smart marketer should have. When it comes to link building it is important to keep track of work done as the results achieved can rarely be correlated. Keeping track of work done and mapping them to results gives us a fair idea of how effective your link building campaigns are. Measuring link building progress will also helps us get approval from management for resources like content, design and money. We can measure the progress and return on investment of a link building campaign by using simple free tools like Google analytics and As in all cases to measure something we should first define the metrics. And measure the progress of those metrics across weeks/months/quarters. 1. Cost per link acquired In order to acquire links you may need to hire a designer to building graphics and landing pages. You may also need to hire a developer for building widgets or hire a content writer to get masterful content written. At times you may need to buy advanced link building tools like Ontolo or link research tools to find what is going on with your link profile. Since none of these comes for free we will have to spend money for it. This link building investment compared against the number
  • 234. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page233 of links acquired will give you an idea of how much you spent per link. Lower the better and better the ROI of your SEO in total. 2. Link quality Link building is like farming. You evaluate the website plan a strategy to acquire a link and carefully plant a link with the right anchor text. Few pointers for measuring link quality could be  Domain Authority of the linking site - Links from websites which have high domain authority builds trust factor and give higher ranking ability to your online store.  Easy of acquisition - More difficult it is to acquire a link higher the value. Submission based link building is dying and Google has started to give value to links where the webmaster has no control over the anchor text.  Anchor text - Optimized anchor texts helps the linked page to rank for the keyword mentioned in the anchor text.  Link location - Back links form editorial sections and from beginning of the document pass higher link value. While links from footers and sidebars have very little value.  Government/hero website links - Links from government, education and charity website is a trust signal. Getting few will put your online store in Google's good books. 3. Link Diversity Pushing a site wide link in a blogroll section and getting thousands of backlinks hardly works anymore. Google has started to consider all sitewide links as a single link. Building links from diversified sources that needs different link acquisition strategies is something that Google trusts and appreciates. Getting different types of links including site wide, editorial, social, comments and news diversifies the link profile and makes your online store sustain future Google link penalties.
  • 235. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page234 4. Sales generated through referral traffic Link building with SEO in mind is very narrow and will go only so far. A professional link builder should think link building beyond SEO. A great link is a link that drives relevant traffic and generates sales. Once you setup your Google analytics ecommerce tracking you can easily measure the revenue generated from every referral. 5. Ranking for targeted terms After finding your biggest money keywords it is time to build links to your money pages by targeting these anchor texts. Building links to top money pages helps increase their ranking. Always remember to use a mix and match of "keyword+ Brand name", "Brand name" and "keyword name" as anchor texts to rank for these keywords. This tutorial from Geoff Kenyon explains in detail how you can choose the right anchor texts to build links. Link Building/marketing is an active process and needs regular work. Tracking work and progress made on a day-to-day basis is a stepping stone to measuring a campaign's effectiveness. 7.5 SEO Reporting While reporting SEO in your team it is important to completely understand to whom you are communicating the results. If you are reporting to your management then report business metrics like revenue, cost per user acquisition and other key metrics. If you are reporting to technical team then communicate how the changes helped increase website hits. A good actionable SEO report should contain all of the following aspects - Show current standings
  • 236. Ecommerce SEO Blueprint by Arun Kothapally Page235 Show your current non branded SEO traffic, number of pages ranking in search and keyword rankings. Set Goals Goals should be set by asking simple questions. What is your business target for the coming month/quarter? How much of it can be contributed through Google search traffic? What should be the traffic and conversion rates to achieve the business goal? Show Results – Show how your goals have been met or by how much you fell short. Keep track of all SEO changes till date by using Google analytics annotations feature. Once management sees progress due to technical changes they will more willing to prioritizing SEO in future.
  • 237. Share it with me at What do you think about this book? With ever changing algorithms it is quite possible that few of the techniques mentioned in this book become inapplicable few months down the line. Like most Internet marketers I have learned SEO by reading content online and applying techniques and experiments on my personal and official projects. I am open to feedback, suggestions and link requests. Please drop me an email or give a shout out on Twitter. I will accommodate your suggestions and give you due credit for the same. You can reach me at