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Tips For Merchants: Keep On Top Of Your SEO

A couple of months ago I took over the SEO for a [deleted] retailer …

When I first took over the SEO-work I knew that there'll be a massive amount of work to strip out all the old-fashioned and, in its day uber-seo, that worked very well for ages - but not now! But I also knew that I was given a day a month to fix it. So it was a case of prioritising what's most important.

The client has given me the go-ahead to talk about so that's fine. He bought the business off the previous owners and was run through the site but it looks like he didn't see all if its idiosyncrasies! The system was developed by a number of people using different technologies over a number of years. Up steps Lee saying we'll give it a go. Boy I didn't expect the CMS systems to be such a nightmare! Things that look as if they work didn't, things that should realistically only affect one feature affected other things such as the title tags and the directory used in the links - simultaneously!!!

I've had to re-focus the site's SEO towards a white-hat situation and I'm still miles away from achieving it! I've also moved the site away from a total obsession from the "head" keywords (how apt) towards the more long-tail stuff. As a result pages per visit, time spent on the site per visit and conversion rates have increased markedly. Also deduping has led to an increase in visits to the product pages.

So here's some tips for merchants that are setting out with a new site or are looking at using a new design agency to complete or extend a site:

1) Even if you're in a highly competitive market and in for the long-term don't do dark-grey hat SEO like pages of miss-spellings that draw in the same products and pages as the correct spellings.

2) Don't link to and accept links from any Tom, Dick or Harry! The links should be editorially give and based on merit - other than Page Rank.

3) Ensure that the key areas of title, meta description, link text, link architecture and page content can be easily updated. In fact you should be able to update them in isolation without affecting the other areas of the site.

4) You should work hard to add value by creating detailed product pages that really inform your users as to the benefits of buying that specific product over a competing one also create something like I did with their sex toy blog to allow them greater control over the variable content on their site and to also allow them to break a proportion of the site out of the main template.

5) Decide if you're going to compete on price or quality as this will determine the use of the active keywords in your matrix.

6) Keep boiler-plates and templated features to a minimum.

7) Keep the site updated with fresh, relevant & useful content

8) Try and offer something that your competitors don't - whether it's content, approach, products, price or whatever!

9) Think long term with everything you do.

10) Keep up-to-date with your SEO. Make sure that the methods you tried last year are still relevant this year. Scrub that think "month"!

It all sounds so simple doesn't it! But there are many online retailers and big brand sites in every industry that have really made life difficult by going overboard with their SEO in the past. Just think!

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