The topic of SEO (search engine optimization) should not only be of high importance for marketing managers and marketing executives. In the battle for new customers, search engine optimization is an essential component of search engine marketing alongside search engine advertising (SEA) and is therefore highly relevant for commercial website operators – be they individuals, agencies or large companies. The central goal: potential customers should find and visit the website of the entrepreneur via Google, for example, so that they can be won as new customers in the best case.
What is SEO exactly?
SEO encompasses “all knowledge, skills and techniques [.] with which the target to be optimized is made easier to be found in the organic search results of search engines through higher rankings for various search terms.”1 Due to the better visibility, more potential customers land on the corresponding website and the chance of leads is increased.
Here it is important to consider both areas of SEO: offpage SEO (all measures beyond the own website) and onpage SEO (all measures on the own website). Onpage SEO involves optimizing strategic aspects of one’s own website: e.g. keywords in texts or technical requirements that are positively evaluated by the search engines’ algorithms. Offpage SEO, on the other hand, includes for example the generation of backlinks, i.e. links that refer to one’s own website from an external website. A high number of reputable backlinks is rated with a higher authority by search engines such as Google, as this indicates that the respective website presumably offers “good” or “worth knowing” content that is most likely to be a suitable answer to a searcher’s query. In general, Google’s interest is to provide searchers as quickly as possible with a satisfactory answer to their search query. Consequently, Google shows websites that are classified as most suitable by the algorithm on the first places of the search results.
1 Andre, Alpar; Markus, Koczy; Maik, Metzen, SEO – Strategie, Taktik und Technik: Online-Marketing mittels effektiver Suchmaschinenoptimierung. Wiesbaden: Springer Gabler 2015.
Why should online shop operators also improve their SEO? What should you pay attention to?
Many shop owners are familiar with this situation: the online shop is set up, the ordering process works and the first product range is online. Since there is never enough time and in the initial rush other things were more important, writing search engine optimized texts, headlines and URLs often falls under the table; true to the motto: “I can always do that later”.
But at the latest after the rather bad rankings in the search results, it becomes clear: something has to change! Easier said than done because the necessary adjustments can unfortunately not be processed in one go in online store systems like Magento. Thus, the task turns into a tiresome drudgery.
This post is not intended to be a SEO tutorial. It is rather about giving online shop operators a general understanding of search engine results. A good ranking in the search engines is important for every store operator, yet it should not be disregarded that an online store should not be designed optimally for search engines alone, but primarily for customers. The good ranking should therefore be achieved alongside.
Which criteria are evaluated by the Google algorithm?
With regards to onpage SEO the following aspects are relevant:
- Frequency of the search term/key word
- Position in the document
- Website title
- Text placement within the website
- Meta description
Frequency of the search term/key word
When we talk about search term, it is equivalent to the often used keyword. To create a high relevance for the search engine, the content of the web page should contain the search term to about three to five percent. A search engine processes texts statistically, which means in simplified terms that it first considers each word separately and counts its occurrence. Once all the words have been counted, it compares the number of occurrences with the total number of words. Words that occur frequently have a higher relevance. But beware: the artificially frequent use of the search term in the texts, in addition to poor readability, leads to the fact that the search engine notices this manipulation and “punishes” the website by giving it a lower rating. To avoid this, synonyms for the search term should also be used in a balanced way.
Position in the document
In addition to the frequency of the search term, its position on the web page is also important for the search engine. The four most important positions are briefly presented here. If a search term is included in all four positions, its relevance for the search engine increases.
The URL of a web page is an important element for customers as well as search engines to rank the relevance of a page. The URL should support the search term just like all other texts on the page. The optimization already starts with the choice of the domain name. Since the domain is included in every URL, a search term used here has a high relevance for all associated pages.
Magento already comes with many features that are important for optimization. For example, the category paths are resolved in the URL by default when URL rewrites are enabled.
The website title is another relevant feature for the search engine to assign search terms to the website. For customers, the title is at least as important, as it appears first in the search engine’s search results lists and thus significantly influences the decision whether a customer visits the shop or not.
Headings are an important element for customers to recognize what the website is about. Headings subdivide long texts and provide a summary of what the customer can expect in the respective area. The search engine also takes advantage of this and weights search terms in headings more heavily than search terms in the body text that follows.
Text placement within the website
Similar to headlines, it is particularly important for customers what is written at the beginning of the web page. If they do not immediately find what they were looking for there, they quickly click on the next search result. The search engine also takes this into account and ranks search terms that are used at the beginning of the web page higher than those that appear at the end of a web page.
What does this mean for the shop operator? If a product description is very detailed and cannot be shortened, it is advisable to first write a summary with the most important product features and place it at the beginning of the website. This not only helps the customer, but also leads to a better rating by the search engine.
The meta description is the final element of onpage optimization in this article. It is an especially important element, since e.g. Google uses it to describe hits in the search results list. If no meta description is specified, Google automatically forms a “relevant” short description, which often does not appeal to customers. When entering the meta description, attention should be paid to the length. Descriptions with less than 80 characters are only displayed in single lines and reduce the visibility in the results list. Descriptions that exceed 156 characters will be cut off. It is advisable to choose a description that is between 80 and 156 characters long and self-contained. Similar to the previous points, you should also place the search term at the begining of the meta description.
SEO maintenance made easy: How cobby helps optimizing SEO product data
Maintaining the meta data of products or landing pages within a website is usually rather difficult: Often, the corresponding products have to be called up manually and edited individually, which can be very time-consuming and nerve-wracking if there is a large number of products. Or users have to jump from one page to the next in the backend to be able to enter the respective meta data.
Good to know that Excel with its formulas makes the maintenance of a lot of data much easier – and even better that cobby creates the connection to your online store. This way, you have all the necessary data at hand in one Excel list and can also edit a lot of data in one go using the familiar formulas, such as the chain function. The changes are live visible in the online store with one click.