In this lesson, you will learn:
- How search engines operate
- Short tail vs. long tail keywords
- Image titles and descriptions
- Page titles and meta decriptions
- Locating your BigCommerce sitemap URL

The first thing to know about SEO, is that it means Search Engine Optimization. Now, there are many things to know about SEO including; all the different ranking factors, search engine algorithm updates, and so on. It can get a little complicated.
Don’t fret though, the first steps in knowing how to optimize your online store begins by understanding the main goals of search engines. So a search engine, like Google, wants to take the time to learn about the structure and overall contents of a website.
This helps them determine what content is best so they can deliver the most targeted results when someone completes a search query.
Imagine the World Wide Web as a network of stops in a big city subway system and each stop is represented as a unique webpage. To know what pages to recommend, a search engines sends out “search bots” to crawl web site links and content, index the pages they’ve found, and rank those pages according to their complex guidelines,
known as “algorithms.”
What SEO means
How Search Engines work
Areas of your Bigcommerce store that can help your SEO
What makes SEO frustrating, is a) all websites must do it b) search engines work at their own pace and by their own rules that they don’t always fully share. This means, you might not see traffic or start to rank right away, even if you do everything perfectly. It can take anywhere from 6 days, to 6 months to up to a year to begin to rank “organically.” Organic results refer to those results that are free, as compared to paid results. Also, you should know that the major rules for SEO, never really change.
The biggest, overarching rule is that you should create content for users, not search engines. Aim to provide an online store with great content and a shopping experience that users enjoy - you’re likely on the path to success.
Ok, let’s start from the top with this SEO business. Someone goes to a search engine and types the word “dog.” In search engine land, this is referred to as a “short-tail keyword.” It’s simple, and not very targeted. This type of query indicates someone who is not focused. Perhaps they’re killing time on Saturday morning. Look at how many results were found. That is a lot of competition, which means it will be tough to rank for
that keyword.
Now, a user types the words “bamboo martingale dog collar.” Comparatively, this search query is more targeted which means it has has far less competition. Our online store selling martingale dog collars is more likely to rank well and be selected vs the keyword “dog.” These longer keyword phrases are referred to as “long-tail keywords.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, the word “dog” will appear all over a website selling dog collars but we will not strategically place it in key areas and fields. We do want to place long-tail keywords as they are far more specific and indicate a shopper is getting ready to possibly purchase an item. That’s the difference.
In order to gain the right traffic, you’ll want to conduct “keyword research” to uncover the keywords that are most likely to convert. From there, we will help you develop a strategy for which keywords you will place strategically throughout your online store’s content. This “content” can include all kinds of things like page titles, product descriptions, images descriptions and much more. Targeting long-tail keywords with low competition and higher conversion rates means you’re more likely to rank well
enough, for searchers to find your result, click on it, and visit your online store.
Of course, we’re here to help you learn more about SEO and keywords in this video.
However you can also check out our “Additional Resources” will dive in more deeply on the concepts behind SEO and keyword optimization, provide strategy guidelines, and even step-by-step how-tos.
For now, here is a high-level overview of just some of the things you can do to optimize your site for search engines and users alike.
First, no matter how you add or edit images on your Bigcommerce store, you can provide an image description. One of the most important places to do this, is on your product pages as they tend to draw in the most targeted traffic. Anytime you edit or add images to the product description area you may add image description and title.
When using the WYSIWYG editor, select add image, and then click the appearance tab, and complete the image title and image description fields by simply describing what’s in the image. Again, that isn’t exclusive to your product pages, but anywhere and anytime you use a WYSIWYG editor. You’ll always want to complete the image title and “description” fields for any and all image
Since search engines can’t “see” an image, the text you produce will help provide more context to search engines, but will also help your page rank when an image search is completed. Image searches are a huge trend these days, especially for those users who are looking to buy a product or service online.
Next, you’ll find throughout your Bigcommerce control panel you have the ability to customize your page titles and meta descriptions. These are the results you see when you perform a search. Customizing these fields can not only help you rank, but can help increase the rate in which potential shoppers click on your results and entice them to visit your site.
As an example, when you are editing a product inside of your control panel, you can go to the “other details” tab to find the dedicated SEO fields for that product. By taking the time to highlight things like; your product features, customer benefits or any special offers like free shipping or discounts, you can really set yourself apart from your competition in the search results.
The best part is, you can customize these fields for your; homepage, category pages, brand pages, additional web pages and blog posts.
Last but certainly not least, we create your dynamic sitemap for you and make it easy to submit it to search engines. This task triggers search engine robots to crawl and index your pages much sooner than if you let your website just sit out there waiting to be discovered.
In the meantime, Bigcommerce is taking care of more complicated things while you get started including; 301 redirects, canonical tags, proper page architecture, leveraging our Content Delivery Network, or CDN, and human friendly URLS. Of course, our platform allows for you to take the reigns on these things when you’re ready, but out of the gate, we have automated these time consuming tasks that can greatly affect your ranking.
Also, feel free to ask questions in our Community of expert clients and staff or take things a step further and reach out to some of our Partners to help you in developing, implementing, tracking and improving your SEO strategy.
Those are just a few examples of tools Bigcommerce provides! Again check out those additional resources to get started earning your spot in search engine rankings.