The Ecommerce Site Owner’s Guide To Search Marketing For 2012

Today’s blog post comes to us from Gillian Muessig, Founding President of SEOmoz

SEO is more than SEO. In 1999, it was enough to make sure that keywords were on your landing pages and that your website was crawl-able. By 2003, it was a good idea to add keyword rich text to your H tags, and create horizontal adjust site architecture, and building inbound links took up most of an SEO’s time.

Fast forward to 2012. Social signals are strong and increasing in importance. The industry is maturing and expanding. The Internet marketer’s organic toolbox has a new name: Inbound Marketing or Earned Media Marketing. The distinction is significant. This collection of tools is growing and changing to accommodate major shifts in the search engine algorithms.

Gianluca Fiorelli recently posted this simple graphic illustrating the expanded inbound marketing landscape:

Technical SEO Short List

You’ll still need to tend to the basic SEO of your e-commerce website:

Is Your Site?

Log into Google Webmaster tools and/or SEOmoz’ campaign management platform. Look for broken links, 404 pages, horizontal site architecture (good) or deep vertical architecture (you need 4 or more links to get to the page you really want – bad).

Can The Search Engine Algorithims Easily Understand What Your Page Is About?

Name your pages sensibly and consistently, avoiding numbers, ampersands, and other non-intuitive designations. MyWebsite.com/products/083%#?=2ys12844962 is bad. CoolCoats.com/women/coats/winter is good.
Image tags, page titles, keywords in the text on the page, and clear navigation help search engines understand what your page is about and where to show it in their results.

Build Links-They Are Still The Cornerstone of The Structure Of The Web

Links are how the web is put together. It’s how we jump from page to page and how search bots discover and understand the context (aka: neighborhood) in which your page exists. Continue to build valuable links to your website. Avoid directories, link exchange groups, and other scammy tactics.

Pro-Active Marketing Short List

Outreach

Write guest blogs for relevant sites and link back to your own site to provide real value for the reader. Write your own blog and keep it updated at least once weekly. Promote the posts through social media outlets such as twitter, facebook, Linkedin, email, and industry specific social media groups. Comment on other people’s blogs and make note of the new post you wrote where it’s relevant to do so. Connect with news media outlets on and offline to get your story or stories out; reporters need good news sources as much as you need to get your news out.

Social Media

Don’t underestimate the value of brand communities in Social Media. Create and keep up your Facebook presence. Offer deals, specials, and invite-only events to your Facebook fans. This gives them a reason to “like” you on Facebook. It always seems silly to me that companies beg me to “follow us on Facebook” without providing me a single good reason why I should bother.

Set up a Twitter account and use it. At first, only you and your staff will follow you. That’s ok. After each sale, ask folks to follow you on Twitter to receive a discount on their next order. When they do follow you, d-tweet (send them a direct tweet) with their discount code. Again, give them a good reason to follow you. Then entertain them with 2-7 tweets a week about the industry, celebrity news if appropriate (ie: someone famous is wearing something you sell this week) or just the weather in your town now and then. Offer them useful things: sales, pre-sales, Twitter-only deals. Offer them advice: how to wear this, match that, pair this item, use that tool, etc. If the advice is a blog post, useTwitter to promote your blog posts.

Brand Community

Create a sense of inclusion and community through your Social Media outreach efforts. Ask for feedback, suggestions, and help making a decision about your product lines, etc. Engaging your customers in growing your business makes them vested in your success and connects them in personal ways. This creates friendship, loyalty and long term success for your e-commerce enterprise.

Here’s to a successful 2012. See you all in San Diego for the Miva Merchant Conference, March 7-10, 2012. Don’t miss it. if you’re serious about your e-commerce business. It’s not for folks who are just playing around. This is the conference that will give you the tools, support, and community to bring it to the next level.

Gillian Muessig
Founding President SEOmoz
CEO Coach at WebmasterRadio.fm
@SEOmoz & @SEOmom