Steer SEO from the PIM system

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is used to get an online presence among the top results delivered by search engines. It's what makes a website visible to Internet users and ultimately helps to achieve higher sales figures. Because pages that are not among the top results or at least within the upper range run the risk to be overlooked by potential customers. There are many factors that must be considered for such an optimization, if you would like to get the attention of potential customers. Not only on-page (= applied directly on the website), but also off-page (= services running "off" the website) there are a number of measures you can take to put the finishing touches on webshops or a website.

On-page measures

Product descriptions

Product descriptions should never be missing. Of course, no standard product descriptions provided by the manufacturer should be used. Such texts are considered "non-unique", because many providers simply copy and add them to their product descriptions. Instead, you should ensure that the content of your product descriptions is unique. Create individual descriptions that differentiate your product from those of others thereby creating "unique content".

In doing so, you should, however, make sure to consider Pareto's principle (also known as "80-20 rule"). This principle indicates that in many cases. 80% of results can be achieved with 20% of the total effort. For an online shop with a wide range of variations, it would take too much effort to write individual articles for each individual product; therefore, this unique content should initially be created for the most popular and most important products. That means for those with the largest margins. The conclusion is that these product categories are in the focus of any optimization efforts. The category page is located further up in the search results and helps customers to search for individual products.

Of course, you cannot prevent that there is a certain amount of "duplicate content" in the product description, but there are many possibilities to prevent this and create unique content instead:

1.) Offer added value

Make sure that the self-written texts are detailed descriptions and contain subheadings. They should provide added value for your customers and help them choosing a product. For this reason, you should avoid unattractive, low-quality content and rely on high-quality descriptions instead. For example, you can offer your customers information about what they have to keep in mind if they want to buy products from a certain category. You should also try to approach customers on an emotional level. Leave out lengthy technical descriptions and prefer to write stories about your product that your customers can identify with.
Avoid a constant repetition of your keyword. Texts with lots of repetitions are exhausting to read for customers and might be classified as spam by search engines, which in turn results in a deterioration of the rankings. Alternatively, you may use synonyms of your keyword to offer some variety.

Another way to make your text more interesting is just by placing parts of it in the footer or sidebars. Thus, you avoid that long, detailed descriptions occupy valuable space for your products in the visible area, and, at the same time, make your customers want to learn more. Create a "hinged" text, where only a few rows are shown. If the customer clicks on "Continue reading..." the remaining text folds up or the window scrolls down automatically, where the remaining text will be shown.



If you would like to offer added value to your customers, you should not forget to use internal links. They are used to guide them through the shop and help them navigate their way to their desired product. Thus, you have the opportunity to show them new product pages that have perhaps not even been indexed by the search engine.

2.) Customers create unique content

A very entertaining possibility is to offer your customers the option to write a review of the products or use their posts from social media networks. These comments and texts that create free unique content for your product are referred to as "content customization". Including your customers in this way is so important as about 70% of all buying decisions are made only after reading reviews of other customers. These reviews can bring about some real benefits:
On the one hand, they lead to a higher conversion rate, i.e. the ratio between Web visitors and transactions, in your online store as well as to more clicks through the rating stars that your customers award. On the other hand, you have unique content in your reviews, which are not congruent with those of others. The result is a higher ranking, because search engines reward this high degree of individuality.

3.) Prevent duplicate content with PIM

There are several ways to prevent the occurrence of duplicate content. First, you should use the manufacturers' descriptions in the data feeds for external websites as price search engines or similar, and self-written articles in your online shop. By doing so, you can ensure that the unique content is exclusively located on your website.
You should additionally use meta tags, Canonical tags and no-follow tags, if a product page appears several times in different categories, to tell the search engines that there is only one original page and that the others shall not be indexed. This will prevent that identical pages are identified as spam and you don't have to worry about duplicate content. Professional websitest use PIM software like Alterra PIM to steer product data output.

4.) Prevent content theft

Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with copyright law. If many stores copy your unique content, this will result in duplicates in the Internet, which in turn has the effect that your unique content becomes non-unique content. The problem with this is the fact that search engines cannot always determine which content was online first. In the worst case, it may even lead to a situation where your page is classified as a duplicate – with dire consequences for your ranking. Therefore you should always make use of Google's free, easy-to-use tool "Google Alerts". There, you are given the opportunity to enter your self-created texts. In the case of a content theft, the tool will notify you immediately by e-mail. This puts you in a position to initiate countermeasures and take legal action where appropriate.

Image optimization

To prevent long and unnecessary loading times of your images, it is important to optimize them. Select high-quality material and make sure that the images not too small, but also not too big. It is recommended that they have a size of at least 320 pixels and a maximum size of 1280 pixels per edge. Also, you should use JPG or PNG formats and keep the file size as small as possible, since all of these factors affect the loading times. Use "Alt tags" and "Title tags" with the appropriate keyword to describe the pictures. Create also an alternative text, which contains the keyword, in case the image does not load.
When multiple images are used, it is also useful to number them for a better customer orientation.

What to do when product ranges change

Product range changes mainly occur in catalog selling businesses. The question is how we should deal with it. It would be a big mistake to simply delete the URLs of the items that you wish to pull from the range. If these are products to which you owe your current ranking, you will slip in the ranking after you deleted the URL automatically – which can cause a drop in sales in the worst case. To counteract this scenario, there are some possibilities how you can avoid deleting an important URL:

You can forward the URLs of deleted products using a 301 redirect. This has the effect that the search results will not display the old (outdated) page, but the forwarded page. However, the redirect target should be also relevant for the keywords of the old page. Therefore, it would be best if you redirect the URL of a deleted product to a page, where a similar product can be found.

As this is too costly and time-consuming, you should simply set up an automatic forwarding on the appropriate category page. The customer is automatically redirected to pages with similar products.

Ideally, you use URLs that contain the keyword, such as product name, manufacturer, brand or similar. This helps the users orient themselves and conveys trustworthiness. And in turn it has the effect that you have unique content in your URLs.

What to do when a product is currently out of stock

The product page should in no case be deleted or replaced. Just indicate that the desired product is currently out of stock and offer alternatives to your customers. For example, you could offer the same product in a different color, other models, or a comparable product of another brand. Best of all, you offer the customer the option to receive a notification when the product is back in stock or allow them to pre-order it.

Off-page measures

Rich Snippets

As search engines evaluate, above all, the click rates for their rankings, it makes sense to have Rich Snippets. First, we should clear up what Rich Snippets are. Rich Snippets are embedded additional information, for example in the form of images, latest news, prices, ratings by stars or testimonials. As a result, the user has insight into whether the offered page is relevant for them or not. As a seller you can use Rich Snippets to draw attention to your content. You will get your Rich Snippets with the help of microdata. The product and review data in the source text of the site are marked with a special HTML code. This signals a search engine what data should be displayed as Rich Snippets.
Using a data highlighter you can highlight information relevant for Rich Snippets in your shop to tell where these data come from. Keep in mind that this information should not be longer than two or three lines. This measure takes only little time and is also very efficient.

Linking

Make sure that lots of links refer to your shop, because the more links you have the higher is the ranking of your shop. For example, you could make use of your contacts and ask your sales partners and suppliers to place links to your shop. Using these off-page measures you can increase the popularity and visibility of your store significantly.

How does Alterra PIM support the implementation of these measures?

With the help of Alterra PIM it's easy to implement all of the above measures. Regarding the creation of texts, Alterra PIM supports the use of – amongst other things – formats, paragraph and character style sheets. Furthermore, texts can be presented in several languages simultaneously, with standard dictionaries for every language. But you can also set up customer-specific dictionaries. Alterra PIM also supports your image data and document management. Storing data on a file server and/or database system are not a problem. Image data can be classified using DAM and any image formats are supported. In addition, the assignment of documents to products and variant management is possible. At the product level, the software supports you with the definition and management of product trees. It is also possible to classify attribute groups for the product trees and define relationships between products. This could be a great help in case of product range changes or products that are currently not available. Of course, these are just some of the many benefits of Alterra PIM. If you wish to learn more, please visit the following website: www.sepia.de.

As you can see, a website can be optimized in many ways. Even the smallest adjustments can help to ensure that you get more clicks and achieve a higher ranking. It is therefore quite easy to generate higher revenues with a "pimped-up" website. But please keep in mind that even with all the possible measures of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) taken, it nevertheless takes a while before measurable success occurs because the search engines will need some time to realize these changes. Another factor is how popular and contested the upper ranks in your category are. It is important to remember: A search engine optimized website leads to more clicks and a higher ranking. Your site will be perceived more easily and you gain more potential customers. Your visibility rises and you benefit from a positive image with increasing sales figures and a higher return on investment. Fortunately, it is an ever-repeating cycle from which both you and your customers can benefit.

 

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Sepia GmbH & Co. KG

Ernst-Gnoss-Strasse 22
D-40219 Düsseldorf  - Germany

Phone: +49 211 51 419 75
Fax: +49 211 51 419 65 
E-Mail: info@sepia.de

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