For more than thirty years I owned three brick & mortar wallpaper stores in the Houston area. Some years were better than others but overall I was able to provide a very nice lifestyle for my family and myself.
When sales started gradually declining in the early 2000s I took the advice of a close friend of mine who used to own his own wallpaper store in San Antonio who told me shut down my three stores and start doing all my business over the internet. I was skeptical but I knew that I had to start doing something difference, otherwise, it would only be a matter of time before I was fully out of business.
My son went to school to be a programmer and I got him to design a website for me in asp.net. It took him a few months to build the code but by 2006 almost all my sales were coming from the Internet. It started as a trickle but my Internet sales have grown every single year since my website went live.
The following are some things I have learned from my own personal experiences and some mistakes I have seen others do and as a result have not been as successful as I am. Keep in mind, this information specifically relates to e-commerce websites.
I have learned that Google loves content. This was the mistake we made at first. My son is a great programmer but it wasn't until 2010 that our website had a lick of content on it. This is also the reason why our sales grew really slow during the first four years. We had built a nice customer base that knew who we were but I am positive that we were not getting very much organic traffic to our website until we added what I like to refer as "blah blah."
Google likes words and optimally you want several blocks of text on not only your home page but on all of your landing pages. I am in the process of building a new template that will allow me to place unique content on many of the product pages as well.
I see a lot of ecommerce websites with little to no content. If you think this is you then I would suggest you change that, pronto.
Keyword stuffing used to work. There was a time when saying the same word over and over again actually helped you in the search results. The people who did my search engine optimization at first did that and it helped help a lot.
Now it doesn't work anymore and I have seen those sites that keyword stuff get weeded out. I have learned to cut down of keyword stuffing myself. On many category pages instead of saying "wallpaper" I say "prints" so that I do not oversaturate my website with that keyword.
Post Panda and Penguin, I can confidentially say that your most keyword is the keyword you will definitely not rank for. You only need your targeted keyword in your text 8% of the time. Any more than that is just overkill these days.
Manufacturers Description and Item Numbers
If you are an online retailer then you probably download the products via an Excell database your supplier gives you. Depending on what you sale there could be 20-50 other websites with the exact same products as you.
Think about all those websites with the same product descriptions and numbers on them. That is a lot of duplicate content! Google hates that. The last thing they want is one hundred websites saying the exact same thing on them.
What does that mean for you as an online retailer? It means you are going to have to take the time and painstakingly write your own descriptions. Its long, it's tedious but it's absolutely necessary if your individual pages to rank for anything.
Do not use the manufacturers auto generated Meta titles and descriptions either. Create your own so that you stand out from the other retailers who all have the exact same Meta data.
No Link Building or Bad Link Building
Nobody is going to promote your website for you. You need to be on Facebook, Twiiter, Pinterest and Google+ actively promoting your retail store. You can do this by hosting giveaways or sending influential bloggers free stuff for a product review.
Try to keep article and directory submissions to a minimal. They do not work like they used to. Drip them in slowly but do not overdo them. In fact, do not overdo anything. There is no one tool or way that works. You just need to be active online and always looking for solid ways to build exposure to your website. Make a blog, network on Facebook, join forums and participate in associations related to your industry.
Do not use the same anchor text over and over again. This cannot be emphasized enough. Your brand name as well as "click here and "this one" should be what you use as your anchor text. Stay away from exact phrase anchor as much as possible because I am 100% by now it's a negative ranking signal for Google. They know that companies with a lot of exact match anchor text links are trying to manipulate their algorithm and cast your website to page 20 (aka oblivion) very quickly.
You will find that most online retailers are lazy. They just want to have a website, load new products on their website and make money. They do not write original content and do not change any Meta titles or descriptions. Very little legit link building is done because it takes too much time.
Don't be one of the lazy ones. Take some time and do everything right. Think of your online store as a long term investment. Go slow, make your own content, build quality links through social networking and watch your sales skyrocket each year.
About Author: This post was written by Doyle Sumrall of Total Wall covering. You can visit totalwallcovering.com to take a look at his website. Besides owning several ecommerce websites related to home décor, he also blogs about online marketing tips that others can follow to be successful as well.