SEO for online retailers is the process of improving a website
potential in order to gain more organic non-paid traffic from the major
search engines. Normally, SEO uplift doesn’t happen overnight and it
can take a long while to rank well for non brand key terms.

The rule of
thumb is this: the more competition a relative term has, the harder you’ll
find it to rank for the term. With that said, you’ve got to start
somewhere and there at least 50 ways I can think of to improve your SEO.   

Choose your hosting provider carefully

1. If you’re targeting one specific region, say the UK, ensure that the physical IP address is country specific which will improve the likelihood of ranking in the UK

2. Always opt for a fixed IP address even if it costs slightly more

3. Run an IP address search to ensure the IP address hasn’t been black listed before. Domain Tools are an excellent source for quick IP address lookup

4. Ensure the server returns accurate response:

  • 200 OK The request has succeeded – As an example you should see this server response for your homepage (
  • 301 Moved Permanently – As an example you should see this server response for your non www version of your homepage (
  • 302 Found – Use this server response only if you are redirecting temporary
  • 404 Not Found – Always display a correct 404 response so you can get an indication when a page is broken for better user experience

Increase crawl rates because you can never get enough of Google

5. To check when your site was last crawled and indexed, search for and play with “date range” advanced search options

6. Update the site’s content as often as possible. For online retailers, new promotions and offers offer a fantastic opportunity to update their content

7. Ensure pages are loading quickly by analyzing your code, content and images. Web Page Analyzer is an excellent source to analyze a page load time

8. Fix duplicate content issue such as having two versions of your homepage, for example and

9. Add an XML site map and submit it to the major search engines

Ensure image optimisation across the site to enjoy traffic from Google image search

9. Keep images on a folder level rather than a subdomain so is better than

10. Use a descriptive name for the image, such as the product name

11. Use alt text for all your images and use a descriptive name again for the image alt text name

12. Use caption by placing a small description directly under, on top or on the side of your image

13. When possible save the image as jpg format

14. Use a free tool such as xenu to find images with no alt text

Ensure metadata optimisation to get high level of qualified traffic

15. Ensure that every page has unique metadata in terms of page title and page description

16. Limited page title to 70 characters and page description to 150 characters

17. Don’t bother too much about keywords, do something else

18. Optimise each page around one key term

19. Place the most important term first, followed by a soft (non spammy) call to action and brand

20. For product pages, opt for an auto generate metadata solution based on + at

21. Use AdWords ads to test the best text for better CTR by creating a few ad variation in AdWords which include your key term

Content is truly king

22. Every page should have unique content which reads well for users (and therefore for the search engine spiders as well)

23. Don’t repeat the key term more than 3 times so to avoid keyword stuffing

24. Place the key term in the page H1 title, image alt text and once in bold

25. Use “recommended products” to link between similar products to increase their relevancy

Apply essential URL and coding tweaks

26. Use robot.txt to block parts of the site you don’t wish the engines to index

27. Offer an HTML site map which is auto updated based on the XML site map

28. For sites running on PHP use an .htaccess file to avoid content duplication

29. Use breadcrumbs navigation across the site for better user experience and SEO

30. From time to time, view your site using a text browser such as SEO Browser to “see” how spiders are likely to find your on page content

31. If your site architecture has more than three levels, restructure it so to m

ake the information more accessible to both users and spiders

32. Keep URLs short for better SEO and to create a better viral effect as short URLs are more memorable

33. Include your key term such as a product title in the URL

Apply essential maintenance from time to time

34. Fix all your 404 errors and consider redirecting to a more appropriate page

35. When products are removed from stock or discontinued ensure that a 301 is placed to the main category or to a similar product

36. When linking to another site, consider checking whether you’re linking to a bad neighborhood using a free tool such as text link checker

37. If you have multiple domains unify around one domain using a 301 redirect taking into account links pointing to each domain, domain age and the domain name

The Google PageRank issue

38. Don’t pay too much attention to Google PR as it won’t effect your ranking

39. If you want to control page rank, use a nofollow HTML attribute on pages such as “terms and conditions”, “privacy policy” etc

Content is king, so start blogging

40. Place your blog on a directory level so rather than a sub domain

41. Blogging at least once a week will help increase your crawl rate

42. Read The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For Your Blog

Get more links, otherwise no one will see you

43. If you’re considering directories as part if your link acquisition, focus on quality reviewed directories such as Yahoo and Best of the Web

44. Don’t pay for links, you’ll get caught at some point

45. Help your customers help you by placing on each page an easy way to share content using a sharing tool such as AddToAny

46. Ask for links take 1 – place a nice soft request in your website sale confirmation email to link back to your site

47. Ask for links take 2 – ask your suppliers and contractors for a link

48. Give blogger prior notice of new products and ask for a review

49. Offer great products at competitive prices and the links will come organically

50. Kick off a social media strategy to encourage discussion (and links) on social networks and other user-powered sites