Using MightyMerchant to Optimize Your Website For Search Engines
Achieving success in the search engines requires understanding of SEO principles, good execution, and patience.
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Gaining top placement for competitive terms requires that your site has a strong off-site profile. This means that other high-quality sites are linking to your site, you have gained a range of social media citations, and the search engines can tell that the Internet community considers your site an important source of information.
- On-site optimization of the individual pages of your site is also very important. We have included instructions below for the basics of optimizing your site. We recommend you follow these instructions as a first step to having a site that will be successful in the search engines.
- Google is very clear about what they are looking for in a high-quality website. Above all, you want to provide high-quality content for your users. We recommend that you review their Webmaster Guidelines. Google will tell you all the approaches you should and shouldn't do.
Using MightyMerchant for On-Site Optimization
We have developed MightyMerchant from the ground up with search engine optimization in mind. Our system makes it easy for you to optimize your keywords, page titles, and descriptive text, which are some of the main elements that the search engines will evaluate when ranking your site.
Search Engine Optimization is deceptively challenging and is markedly more difficult than it was in the earlier years of the web (2000-2010).
Keep in mind, that search engine optimization is a time-intensive task that requires considerable thought and analysis. If you want to do your own optimization, MightyMerchant's Site Manager will make the job easy. If you prefer to leave the optimization to the pros, please ask us to recommend a firm that is dedicated to Search Engine Optimization.
Keywords and Keyword Phrases
Keywords and keywords phrases are the words that someone types in the search field when doing a web search. One of your main objectives in developing your list of keyword phrases is to come up with specific phrases and variations that will separate you from the pack and that will help your site come up at the top of the search engines for shoppers who know exactly what they want and are searching for something specific.
You want to target specific keyword phrases to specific pages on your site. Be creative. You don't need (or want) to use the same keyword phrase on every product. For example, if you're selling suntan lotion, one product may have the keyword phrase "hypoallergenic 30 SPF suntan lotion" and another product has the keyword phrase "15 SPF skin protection". Optimizing 10 pages on your site for the same keyword is pointless; optimizing 10 pages for 1-3 keywords each is much more effective.
IMPORTANT: Do not repeat the same page title, meta description or keywords on multiple pages. This will signal to the search engines that all the pages with shared information have essentially the same content and you will greatly diminish your success in the search engines!
Here are some criteria to keep in mind when creating keyword phrases:
- For your main categories, utilize your most competitive and slightly more general phrases. Use more specific phrases on your product pages that complement the product being sold on the page.
- Limit the number of words in your search phrases. Think about two-five word phrases rather than generic words. For example, "natural treatments for diaper rash" is better than just "diaper rash."
- Think variety. If you have a lot of products that are similar, don't use the same keyword phrases on all of them. The goal is to think of as many possible combinations as possible. Tip: Ask your friends to think of some keywords they might use to find you're products.
- If possible, use your keywords in your category and product names and descriptions. The more you can weave relevant keywords into your site, the better your site will be received by the search engines. Well, we should qualify that statement. You definitely don't want to repeat the same phrase or words over an over again. Repeating a phrase 2-3 times on a particular page is more than adequate. The key rule is to write text that is relevant, useful, and geared toward toward the people who will be visiting your site.
How Much Do You Want to Do?
Your Site Manager optimization features allow you to do as much or as little as you want with regards to search optimizing your site. If you have a finite amount of time, we recommend that you optimize the Page Titles for the Home Page and primary categories of your site. If you have more time to devote to Search Engine Optimization, we encourage you to optimize the subcategories and individual product pages of your site.
- Setting relevant Page Titles and descriptive text that shows up on the pages is of primary importance.
- Adding Meta Descriptions is a good step to take, but if your time is limited, we recommend focusing on the Page Titles and text that appears on the pages.
Here are the specifics of how to optimize your site:
1. Come up with a List of Specific Keyword Phrases
We recommend starting off by doing a little brainstorming. Write down a list of what you feel are your most relevant and important phrases. Try to get inside of the minds of your customers and think about what people will really search for when they are ready to buy your products. To get started, we recommend developing a list of 10-25 of your most important phrases. Later on, you can expand your list.
2. Set Your Defaults
To set optimization defaults, fill in the following fields on the "More Settings" page in your Site Manager. You can access the "More Settings" page, by first clicking the "Settings" link in the top navigation bar and then clicking "More Settings" in the row beneath it. Enter these settings:
- Default Page Title: Customers will likely not search for your store name unless it has strong public recognition. Be sure to lead with the most important keywords in your default title. For example: Umbrellas and Rain Gear from the Rainy Day Store
- Meta Description: This is a sentence or two describing your website that is often shown with your link in search results. (You will not see the Meta Description content on your site unless you view the source in your browser.) For example: Datahost creates professional eCommerce websites designed to provide straightforward online shopping, bundled with a simple site management system for website updates. A great all-in-one solution for your online business.
- Meta Keywords: These are your top keyword phrases that someone may use to find your site through a search. Example: simple site management system - shopping cart website design. We recommend limiting the list to five phrases.
3. Optimize your Categories
We recommend starting with your top-level categories in your Product Catalog and working your way down through your site. Some sites have tens of thousands of products and some only have five pages in total. If you have twenty or less pages on your site, in total, you should be able to optimize the entire site without too much trouble. If you have a big site, you should focus on the pages that you think will bring you the most traction and revenue.
Here is a good place to start:
- In your Site Manager, bring up a list of your main categories by clicking either the "catalog" or "Top" links. Bring up a list of subcategories by clicking "View Subcategories" located next to any of the main categories.
- For each category, click the "Optimize" link located to the left of the Find field.
- If you have a Content-Only site, you likely want to click "Optimize" at the top level of your Site Manager and optimize your top-level categories.
You have access to the following fields:
This is the browser page title (the one that shows in the blue bar at the top of your monitor). If your category or product names do not already include the exact keywords you are going for, you'll want to use this field to set the page title. We suggest creating a phrase that people are likely to search for, using appropriate keywords for the product. Limit the page title to 1-3 phrases.
The default page title for category and product pages on your site is "category name" or "product name: category name, respectively. So, if thee values on the "Optimize" page are blank, that does not mean you don't have a page title for that page. MightyMerchant will generate a page title for you, if you have not entered any text for the optimized page title. Often the automatic page titles work well, but we do recommend that you take the time to properly optimize your page titles.
Keywords (This field is of very limited value)
Keywords appear in the Meta Keyword field that is only visible in your page's source code. The default for keywords is whatever information you have set for the Meta Keywords field on your "settings" page. Meta keywords have been badly abused over many years and search engines put almost no value in them. We recommend ignoring these, or leaving them for a day when you have nothing else to do. If you are like many business owners, this day will never come!
If you do want to use this field, we recommend entering several short words or phrases. Limit the total number of characters to 150.
URL Words/Web Page Address
This is the web page address of the page. The default is to use an abbreviated version of the product/item or category name for a particular page. Some search engines may give pages a slight edge if the web page address contains keywords. Please review these important points:
- If your page receives a lot of traffic, don't change the web page address. The page will still be found if you do, but you may lose some of your traffic.
- If this is a new page, we recommend entering a web page address that closely mirrors one of your target keyword phrases for this page, the default web page address is often a good choice.
The default value for meta description is the product description on product pages and the category description on category pages. If you enter text in the meta description area, it will override the default. The meta description is used by some search engines as the description that shows on the search results. You won't see this on the web page unless you look at the source code (View > Source).
4. Optimize your Products
Follow the guidelines listed above for the category optimization. The principles are the same, but for the products you will likely focus on more specific phrases and keywords related to the product you are working on.
- Bring up a list of products/items within each category by clicking "View Items" located next to the category name.
- Click the "Optimize" link located to the left of the Find field.
- Enter the optimization for each product.
5. Refine your Product and Category Headings and Descriptions
This step is an important one! The search engines will usually reward you for having a site that is useful and relevant. If you take the time to creatively write product and category descriptions that fully describe your product line, you will have a site that is helpful for your customers as well as easily accessible to search engine spiders.
The Headings of your pages are particularly important. This is the text that usually appears in large bold text at the top of your pages. Working your keyword phrases in the the Product Name or Category Name fields, can help with the SEO relevance of your pages. Keeping the headings short and readable while working in your keywords can be a real balancing act!
Go into the text description area for each product and category and make sure you are including your key phrases as you describe your offerings. You want to naturally include your keywords and phrases. They don't need to appear in the exact same order as you have them in your title or keyword field, but do your best to weave them into the descriptions.
6. Add Additional Pages
Once you have completed your category and product optimization, take some time to click around your site. Pay close attention to the titles in the browser title bars and the text that appears on your pages? Do you feel you have covered the range of keywords and variations adequately? If not, you can consider adding an additional informational category to your site. In this category, you can create pages that will contain further information about your products and services. The pages will serve the two-fold purpose of giving your customers more relevant information about your products and giving you the opportunity to create more content on your site in which you can weave in your relevant keywords.
Note: If you add an extra category, you might need to get assistance from Datahost Tech Support to make sure that the new category is correctly linked from your main template.
7. Monitor and Adjust
Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing process. Once you have optimized your site, you want to watch how the site shows up in the major search engines and make adjustments as necessary. How to ensure that your site does get indexed and how to do search engine analysis is beyond the scope of this article, but you can
check out our other Website Promotion articles for more information.
There are also companies that will help you optimize your site, but you need to be careful. If a company emails you about search engine optimization and they offer a deal that's too good to be true, it probably is. Search Engine Optimization is deceptively difficult. At its core, is the simple practice of writing clear, concise, and relevant text. Understanding how to effectively weave keywords into your pages is an art that takes some practice and continual adjustment as the search engines adjust the way they rate websites.