For ecommerce companies, utilizing search engines is one of the most important things you will do in order to have a successful brand. However, before you can have your website highly ranked on Google and other search engines, you first have to understand exactly how search engines work and what is needed on your end to get noticed. This process, search engine optimization (SEO), is admittedly difficult to fully master. With technology changing almost daily, it takes a lot of time and effort to stay on top of all the trends, algorithm changes, and more. Before getting too overwhelmed, first take some time to learn the basics. As with all new concepts, developing a solid foundation of knowledge is always best before trying to understand all of the advanced details and nuances.
How do search engines see my site?
Search engines view websites through the use of software programs. Google, for example, uses its own software called Googlebot. That system has a crawler that goes out and “crawls” or indexes all of the webpages that are out there on the Internet and reports back with the findings. The other top search engines (Yahoo and Bing) have similar software programs that do the same thing.
Web crawlers collect a lot of information from your website, including all of the written content, the HTML code of the page, and pages that you link to. As a crawler comes across links, it explores them and indexes the content there, moves on to another link, and so on. All of this information is then stored in databases. All of that data is indexed, keeping it organized and sorted.
Web crawlers are constantly being sent out over the Internet, as there are always new websites being created, and existing websites are constantly being updated. You can even see how often your site is being crawled through the use of a free program like Google Webmaster Tools.
In this example you can see that this particular website was crawled almost everyday, and on average 17 pages a day were crawled. You can use this same tool to help understand if your website is being crawled, and if so, how often.
If you notice that your website isn’t being crawled, you might want to start putting fresh content up frequently. Uploading new content to your website is the easiest way to get Google and other search engines to come to your website more often. If you are a small ecommerce brand and don’t have new products coming to your website all of the time, keep in mind you can always run a blog on your site. Blogs are great for so many reasons, but in this case they give you a perfect opportunity to frequently update your website with new content, which will keep the crawlers coming back more and more.
How do they determine which sites are listed first?
This is likely the most frequently asked question regarding SEO, and also the most difficult to answer. Everyone wants to know how to get their website to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). If there were a simple answer, all websites would be sure to do what was required, and that would be it. Sadly, it is not that simple. In fact, no one actually knows entirely what it takes to get a website ranking first.
Instead, what we do know is that search engines use algorithms to determine the ranking of websites. For example, Google has several different algorithms (some are listed above) to help determine results rankings. What makes up these algorithms is lesser known, and kept highly secret. Google is more forthcoming about certain aspects of their algorithms, specifically the concept of ranking signals. These signals help determine which websites deserve to be listed at the top of results pages. For example, recently Google made being mobile-friendly one of their ranking signals. This means that if your website is mobile-friendly, you are good to go, but if it isn’t, you will likely notice that your website will start ranking lower.
There are around 200 ranking signals that Google uses, and no one knows all of them. Plenty are known, which comes in handy when checking over the SEO of your website. Not all of them bear equal weight, but they all work together to form the various algorithms that are being used.
Can my website still be found without doing any SEO?
The short answer is yes, but don’t let that fool you. Especially for new ecommerce brands, the main way you will get people to discover you is by showing up when people search for whatever it is that you have to offer. If you aren’t optimizing your site, there is no way it will show up on results pages, even if someone is searching for the exact product you offer.
While you can also be discovered in other areas, such as through social media platforms, you don’t want to assume that that is going to be enough. Search engines are still the primary way that people search for products. Don’t miss out on that traffic simply because you think you can do well enough in other areas.
How do I know if what I am doing is working?
Once you get started on optimizing your site, you are going to want to know if what you are doing is working. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there that will measure everything for you. While some tools you have to pay for, there are plenty of free options out there, such as Google Analytics. Whatever tool you decide to use, make sure you are taking the time to analyze the data in order to see what is going on with your site. Use the data to make adjustments where needed. The Internet will also be your greatest resource when figuring this out, and don’t forget that. There are countless guides out there that will help you set up your account and will help you analyze your data when it starts coming in. While it is a lot of work, SEO is something that you can do on your own if you decide you want to.
What does the future of SEO look like?
As with all things tech, things are always changing. SEO is no different, especially because of new ways that people are searching for things. In particular, mobile search and voice search has become increasingly popular. Just last year Google confirmed that more Google searches take place on mobile phones than on computers in ten countries- with one of those countries being the United States. Additionally, 84% of time that people spend on mobile is spent within specific apps, as opposed to on a web browser.
That makes things tricky for SEO purposes because the way that data is displayed and found within apps is very different than traditional search engine ways. New content for apps is largely found through the App Store and Google Play store, not a typical search engine. With search capabilities still in the beginning stages, it is likely that optimizing app store searches will be a future priority for plenty of brands. For now, make sure your existing content is mobile-friendly in order to meet current mobile requirements.
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