|Achieving osCommerce Organic SEO (2)|
Continued with Achieving osCommerce Organic SEO (1)
Internal and external links
Another element of organic SEO that’s just as important as your site content is the links on your pages. Links can be incoming, outgoing, or internal. And where those links lead or come from is as important as the context in which the links are provided.
When links first became a criteria by which crawlers ranked web sites, many black-hat SEO users rushed to create link farms. These were pages full of nothing but web links, some of which led to relevant information and some of which led to sites in no way related to the topic of the web site. It didn’t take long for search engine designers and programmers to catch on to these shady practices and change the way that crawlers use links to rank sites.
Today, links must usually be related to the content of the page, and they must link to something relevant to that content. In other words, if your links don’t go to or lead in from pages that match the keywords that you’re using, they will be of little value to you.
The balance of links that are included on your page is also relevant. Too many links and your site could be labeled as a link farm. Too few and you’ll lose out to sites that have more and better-targeted links.
Your best option when including links on your osCommerce Templates store is to link to the pages you know for sure are relevant to your site content. Don’t include a link unless you’re sure it will have value to your users, and then take the time to pursue links into your site from them as well.
One other type of link, the internal link, is also important. This is a navigational link that leads users from one product page to another on your site. The navigation of your site (which is what these links are, essentially) should be intuitive, and natural in progression. And you should also include a site map.
Your site map not only makes it easier for crawlers to index every page of your site, but it also makes it easier for users to find their way around in it. Ideally, users will never have to rely on the site map; however, it’s nice for it to be there in the event that they either need it or simply want to click directly to the product page they’re seeking.
How you design your site map is a matter of preference. Some organizations create site maps that only include the top two levels of pages. Others include ones that go three levels down or deeper. Whatever level of depth you think will be required by the majority of users is how deep your site map should go. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that site maps can become just as overwhelming as any other navigational structure if there are hundreds of pages in your site.
Design your site map so it’s easy to decipher and will take users to the pages they are seeking without difficulty and confusion.
User experience is a little harder to quantify than other site-ranking elements. It’s easy to say that users will find your site simple to use, that they will find the information or products that they’re seeking, or that they will have reason to return to your site. But in practice, that’s a little more difficult to achieve.
So, how in the world can a site gain search engine ranking by user experience? It’s fairly simple really. Search engines today are smarter than they have ever been. They may not be able to make you a grilled cheese sandwich, but they can certainly keep track of what results users click when they run a search. Those result selections are essential to adding to the organic ranking of your osCommerce site. Here’s a scenario. Say you search for something like health-insurance information. When the search results come up, how are you going to choose which results to look at? Most users read the small descriptive lines that are included with the search engine ranking and select from those.
In most cases, the sites that are visited are those sites that are highest in the rankings. But search engines also monitor which sites are actually clicked on, so let’s say you search through the results and click a link on the fifth page. And suppose several other people do so as well.