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Getting the Most Out of SEO on the IRP

SEO is a fine art and requires lots of tweaking over time – but laying a strong foundation can help to boost overall site visibility on search engines.
Author
06 January 2020 - 10 min read

Good SEO can make all the difference when looking to reach the first page of organic search results on Google (non-paid).

SEO is a fine art and requires lots of tweaking over time – but laying a strong foundation can help to boost overall site visibility on search engines.

The key thing to remember is: the aim of Google and Bing is to surface the most relevant search results based on an individual's search query.

Example: the term 'gift sets'

  • Superdrug appears first for this search query with their online beauty gift guide – extremely relevant in Q4 but also relevant at all other points of the year.
  • Superdrug used a combination of on-page and off-page SEO techniques to achieve this rank with a strong SEO description, internal links to different gift personas (e.g. 'Gifts for him') and external links to the page (backlinks).

SEO tools

There are multiple tools that can help improve your site SEO but we recommend the below combination of free resources and paid tools to ensure you maximise the opportunity on organic keyword terms:

  • Backlinko – a free resource started by Brian Dean with great resources on content writing.
  • Neil Patel – another free resource started by Neil Patel, a YouTube SEO sensation who provides limited access to premium tools in order to wet your SEO appetite.
  • Google Trends – a free Google resource which tracks search term popularity across a set time period in a specific geography. Extremely useful for spotting seasonal trends, up and coming search terms and planning promotional themes.
  • SEMrush – the industry leading SEO and site analysis tool which gives you access to detailed keyword information, trend data, audit tools and more for as little as $99 a month. This tool is great as it helps identify current search volume for key terms, low hanging fruit (the terms to target first based on keyword difficulty i.e how much competition there is) and more.
  • QuestionDB – a free question tool which scours the web for popular topics relating to search queries, e.g. jeans.

Brands and categories

You can update brand and category SEO in bulk or one brand at a time using IRP Admin:

  • Update individually on the Brands.aspx page.
  • Update in bulk using the 'Brands' or 'Categories' template file which you can download on the DataBulkUpdates.aspx page.

Example:

  • SEO Title: House of Fraser – Gifts, Fashion, Beauty, Home, Furniture & Garden
  • SEO Description: Discover men's, women's and kids' luxury clothing, shoes and accessories from the most coveted designer brands at House of Fraser. Shop the latest collections now.
  • SEO Keywords: House of Fraser

Brand-category combination pages

By default, this content is auto-generated by the IRP, usually resulting in sub-optimal SEO which can easily be improved upon to increase organic ranking, especially on more niche brand-category combinations such as 'Kampa Air Awnings'.

This more long-tail search term is more specific and the customer is more likely to be in-market for this product with high purchase intent compared to someone simply searching for 'Kampa'.

You can establish brand-category combinations on the BrandCategoryPageSettings.aspx page – for more information see the Brand Category Page Settings help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

Model page SEO

Much like brand and category pages, you can update the model-level SEO individually or in bulk:

  • To update individually, go to the Models.aspx page, click edit on the model you wish to amend and expand the section called 'Custom SEO'.
  • To update in bulk, go to the DataImportExportOverview.aspx page and download the models file.

Custom Product List pages

Often search terms may not relate to a specific product and are more general, or your category structure may not allow you to adequately target key organic words.

This is where Custom Product List pages come in to play. These pages can be both manual and auto-generated, allowing you to create a page for a specific event or an automated page that will continue to be updated over time.

As with all content pages on the IRP, you can schedule HTML content, enabling you to enrich the on-page SEO and experience.

You can set up Custom Product Lists by going to the CustomProductLists.aspx page, clicking the 'Add New Custom Product List' button at the top-right of the page and choosing to create either a 'Custom Product List' or a 'Custom Criteria List' – for more information see the Custom Product List help topic in the IRP Knowledge Base.

Note: it's important that you fill in the SEO information and ensure the page is included in the sitemap so that search engines such as Google and Bing can index it.

Example: cheap laptops

While you may not have a category called 'cheap shampoos' or really want this to be your key target demographic, it's undeniable that there are over 40,000 searches for this keyword string in the UK every month. Therefore, setting up a custom landing page with buyable products, on page info and good off-page SEO is the first step in driving traffic from this type of search term.

The IRP allows you to choose your target country, create a Custom Product List based on criteria such as 'Sold within the last 30 days', specific brand, category and even attributes. This level of granularization will let you target more niche words and climb the search rankings.

In this example, you may want to limit the page to all laptops under £300. However, everyone's perception of cheap is different so you may also want to include content that allows a customer to compare the specifications of different laptops, or points out the use cases for laptops in this price range to ensure it meets their specific needs.

Content-rich pages

Content-rich pages are used by Google to help answer queries such as 'What is the best hair loss shampoo?' or 'How do I stop my hair falling out?'

Creating these pages couldn't be easier on the IRP. You can either use Custom Content Pages or News Pages to publish this content. Again, it's important to ensure SEO details are filled out in full to ensure the most optimal results.

Example:

The top question relating to hair in the UK each month is how to curl hair with straightener. Writing a targeted article with engaging visuals, publishing YouTube content, etc. on this topic will help you rank highly for this type of query.

Alt tags

Alt tags (alt attributes / alt descriptions) are HTML attributes applied to image tags to provide a text alternative for search engines. You should aspire to have an alt tag for all images on your site. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. Visually-impaired visitors will not be able to see your imagery / banners / content. So it's important to sum up the essence of these images to enrich the user experience of a visually-impaired visitor.
  2. Search engines are incapable of understanding an image in the same way we do. To them it's just a file. It's important to use the alt tag to tell search engines what each image represents. These should be well organised and structured in accordance with the rest of your SEO on-site efforts.

The most important images to get right here are those that are present on every page – banners, heading banners, navigation content and footers in particular. The same images will be on hundreds, if not thousands of different pages on your site, so if you're missing an alt tag, it will generate hundreds, or thousands of errors.

One quick fix can resolve a large amount of 'errors' and make your site much more digestible from a search engine perspective.

404 errors / broken links

It's important that you conduct a regular sweep / audit on your site to look out for broken links and 404 errors.

If a product, category or brand is deactivated for example, it's critical that this is removed from the mobile and desktop navigation.

In a similar way to how alt tags work, an error in your navigation drop down will generate a problem on hundreds or thousands of different pages on your site. Google will see this as a serious problem and an indication that your site is not as well maintained as it could be.

It's therefore imperative to keep up housekeeping and remove any old / incorrect links from your navigation drop down to negate the impact of this.

General optimisation tips

  • Try and answer customer queries in your blog/news articles.
  • Ensure the content you create is easy to link to – backlinks from third parties to your content are the most influential factor in ranking highly on Google search.
  • Ensure when adding an image you are using image alt tags as this is how Google learns what the image references.
  • Focus on high-intent keywords first – tools like Moz and SEMrush let you see the keyword difficulty score and CPC cost. Those with a lower difficulty score and higher CPC costs are likely to return results the quickest.
  • Embed videos in your articles and model pages – according to Backlinko, pages with video content have an 11% better bounce rate than those without. As time on page is a key factor in ranking, increasing rich video content on the page will help boost your ranking.
  • Google favours unique content – don't copy content from manufacturers where possible. Instead, write unique, organic content that is keyword-rich and makes your page stand out.
  • Getting featured on a manufacturer's 'Where to buy?' pages is a great way to increase your organic rank as their domains generally carry a higher domain ranking.
  • Strategically add internal links on key pages, e.g. the 'Men's Clothing' page should link to 'Men's T-Shirts', 'Men's Shirts', etc.
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