Having a web site is of little use if your potential customers cannot find it. Many new customers find products and sites by using a search engine such as Google. Designing a site so that it will be ranked higher in search results is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO.) ShopSite is setup to be search engine friendly with many features that enable your site and product pages to be optimized for higher search engine rankings.
Perhaps one of the most important features for SEO is a static page. These are regular web pages that end in .html or htm as opposed to dynamic pages that end in .asp or .php. A Search Engine can display can easily index static pages faster for your shoppers.
Many other SEO features available in ShopSite are best setup and configured by merchants, tailored to their store and their store's content. Below are some helpful tips for merchants when setting up their website to rank higher in search engines and be more useful to their customers.
ShopSite allows you to specify each page and product more information page file name. Although ShopSite version 12 and newer will automatically generate a page file name based on the name of the page or product you are creating, it is often a good idea for merchants to double check that the page or product file name has the keywords that best describe that page or product. It is a good idea to include page/product specific keywords in file names, but still keep the file name short enough. Separate words with dashes rather than underscores; search engines typically view dashes as spaces. Below are some guidelines for page and product more information page file names. You can also read more about setting up your site structure and page file names in Google's Organizing Your Site Structure Tutorial
Images are important for 3 very big reasons. The first is for the page that the image is on; an image can add to the keywords that search engines see with both the image file name and the image alt tag. The second, and probably more important reason is that all major search engines allow customers to search just images. This means that not only can webpages be indexed so that customers have a way of finding your website and your products, but your images can be indexed and will link back to your pages and products. Third, images bring excitement and interest to your page. Search engines are getting smarter every year; a page that has tons of keywords but has little user interest won't even be competition for a page that is interesting to users but may not have any specific keyword phrases on it. Because of these three reasons, you will want to pay special attention to how you are naming your images, and where you are using your images, even before uploading your images into ShopSite. You may also want to checkout Google's Image Publishing Guidelines.
Your images can be indexed by search engines the same way your pages can be indexed by search engines, so the file naming structure and rules on images should follow the same guidelines that your page and product file names have.
The difference between the image file name and the image alt tag is that the image alt tag uses spaces and has a few more descriptive words than the product file name. With that in mind, the alt tag for my image "brown-puppy-on-blue-shirt.jpg" might be something like "Brown Puppy Face Printed On Blue T-Shirt."
Images should be visually appealing or visually descriptive to your readers. You want your readers to want to share your webpage with their friends, and pictures can help. Not only that, but with social media links, often times an image is included. For example, if you share a link on facebook, facebook may display the relevant images from that page with the link, so make sure the images fit with the theme of the page, and draw customer's attention.
If an image is too large, it may take too long to load and will cause customers to give up waiting and leave, so make sure your pictures load quick, and are optimized at the size that you would like to have them displayed at. One other thing to keep in mind with images, images should not contain text. Any text on your page should be regular text that is readable by users and search engines.
Every page and every product more information page in ShopSite has a field for a page title, page meta keywords and page meta description. Although the meta keywords aren't used much (if at all) by search engines, both the title and meta descriptions are still used for both search engine ranking, as well as are displayed in search engine results. If you do not specify a page or product more information page title, the page name or product name will be used. The page title is displayed in the top of the browser as the title in search results. Below are some guidelines to help you build useful titles and meta descriptions, you can also checkout Google's suggestions for creating Page Titles and Meta Descriptions.
The very best thing that you can do for your website in the eyes of search engines is provide unique, well written, fresh, authoritative content for each page. Doable, right? Yeah, it sounds just as hard as it is. Content is a big task for any site owner, but is well worth the time, energy and money that is put into it. Don't fill your pages with repetitive keywords (keyword stuffing), and boring content that no one will actually read. Instead, make your pages something that a reader or potential customer will want to read. Below are some basic guidelines for content on your store pages. You can also checkout Google's Quality Content Guidelines
With search engines studying what people like, they are able to more accurately rank websites based on the user experience. "User Experience" is quite broad, so lets try to break it down into a few manageable bites. Starting with the look and feel of your website, is your website pleasing to the eye? Next, take a look at your website's message, does your website have lots of ads all vying for your viewer's attention? You can view a few more questions below to narrow in on areas that might be weakening your user's experience.
A "Site Map" is an HTML equivalent of a "table of contents" for a site. A "Sitemap" is a file in HTML or XML format used to provide information about pages on a site to search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN. ShopSite can automatically create an XML sitemap, which has information about any ShopSite generated pages, including store pages and product more information pages. For help setting up your ShopSite store to automaticaly submit regular updated sitemaps to Google, you can view this video tutorial for setting up your Google sitemap in ShopSite.