Many businesses spend all their efforts developing their websites just to fail miserably before their first year. A few that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and have failed come to mind, such as women's clothing stores and several electronic stores. The cemetery of domains that have expired is growing, and many more domains will expire soon.
An ecommerce store is ephemeral; it exists in a complete different world than the regular marketplace. People do not just walk by your storefront and go in when they see your sign; you have to drive them there; you have to figure out a way to bring them directly into your virtual ecommerce store, which only exists electronically.
You could buy internet advertising in the same way you could get an ad in the local newspaper, but you also want to maximize 'foot traffic' as much as possible. Foot traffic comes when you make yourself easy to find by the search engines. Google, Yahoo, and MSN are the three major search engines.
When someone searches the web for something, the search engine tries to find a provider for that person person needs. The search engine is a third party between you and you potential customer. Since the referrer's reputation is also on the line, the search engine makes sure your site is a great match for the customer's needs. In a way, competition is greater than for a brick and mortar store because you are also competitive with online businesses beyond your geographic boundaries. Furthermore, search engines are capable of ranking all of the competitive websites against yours. Because of the increased competition, if you do not know how to optimize your site, it is easy to spend thousands of dollars creating an ecommerce store and not even survive your first year.
Search engine optimization takes time before that vital foot traffic begins to appear and grow. SEO can be completed with online advertising. Remember, however, that traffic from advertising stops the instant you stop advertising, while SEO traffic can continue indefinitely with only periodic maintenance.
The principles of search engine optimization for an ecommerce store are simple, but their execution takes some time and dedication:
- Study your market and see what your customers want. Look for areas where you can compete easily and concentrate your efforts in those areas.
- Perform keyword research to see what prospects are searching for online. Your chances of being found depend on this research.
- Optimize your ecommerce store's content. Customize your content as much as possible. Duplicate content is common on ecommerce sites since product descriptions are typically copied from the manufacture's literature. When a search engine finds duplicate content, it drops its rankings and makes it hard to find through organic searches.
- Do internal search engine optimization of your overall website. Learn the principles of SEO.
- Interconnect the pages of your ecommerce site using more than one navigation option. Make your products easy to find once the customer reaches your site.
- Perform external search engine optimization by developing a linking strategy to relevant and authority sites.
- Get involved in social networks to develop relationships and additional external links.
- Test constantly. Split testing each page can increase your earnings many times over.
These simple steps will help your site come up in the rankings. Do not wait until you have a complete and flashy ecommerce store to bring your website online. Begin with a few pages and start optimizing. Search engines give priority to older websites. Do not wait until everything is perfect. Start with what you have, test, optimize, and succeed.