Practical Ecommerce

Ask an Expert: How to Get Better Search Rankings for Major Keywords

“Ask an Expert is an occasional feature where we ask ecommerce experts questions from online merchants. For this installment, we address a question about ranking on search engines for major keywords. It comes from Jeramie Westbay, owner operator for Crazy Ed’s Roadkill, an online store that sells beef jerky.

For the answer, we turn to Andrew Hazen, the founder and CEO of Prime Visibility, a Long Island, New York-based Internet marketing firm that specializes in search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and return on investment analysis.

If you’d like to submit a question, email Kate Monteith, staff writer, at and we’ll attempt to address it.

Jeramie Westbay

Jeramie Westbay

Jeramie Westbay: “I have spent months trying to improve our overall SEO and our page rank with Google, Bing and other search engines. I have been following expert-recommended strategies, such as keyword optimization, meaningful copy, building the personal brand, and utilizing Google product feed. However, my website still does not get results in a search for the keyword “beef jerky” on Google or Bing. It’s not even in the top 100 pages on Google.

“Does my website have a black mark on it that prevents it from getting some sort of ranking on that major keyword? And, what else can I do to improve our SEO ranking?”


Andrew Hazen

Andrew Hazen

Andrew Hazen: “The search engines do give site penalties, but usually these penalties would prevent your site from ranking for any competitive terms. This doesn’t appear to be the case, as your website has Google PageRank, shows back-links, and ranks for generic and branded name terms.

“This doesn’t mean that you can’t increase your rankings, though. Here are some additional suggestions to help you:

  1. Increase the number of quality links to your site. Links are the lifeblood of search, especially for competitive terms. You don’t necessarily have to pay for links. Obtain more product reviews, and links from local organizations that you are part of, such as chambers of commerce, civic associations, and so on. And, many of these links need to contain the keyword ‘beef jerky’ in the anchor link, not just your brand in order to rank better.
  2. Fix the canonicalization problem with your home page. Currently the home page link in the footer points to, which is a duplicate of your actual home page. There are inbound links pointing to both of these pages, splitting your link juice, which is a concern.
  3. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools. It’s free, easy to use, and gives valuable information on how Google views your site.
  4. Continue building your site. Your site only has five pages. Add in more pages and fresh content so the search engines see the site as living and growing. You can add product pages for the different flavors of beef jerky, recipe pages, and a testimonial page (with video testimonials if possible). Continue doing keyword research and optimizing the new pages with unique terms.”

“No one can guarantee that your site will rank for “beef jerky” overnight, but if you follow the tips above, you should soon start seeing more rankings and traffic for the terms you are targeting.”

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Original Table Lamps February 8, 2010 Reply

    May I suggest you could also add a blog to your site.

    If you stick WordPress in a sub-domain i.e. or perhaps even, you could link to your main site pages from your blog posts using keyword rich anchor text and effectively gain external links (as well as giving keyword rich fodder to the spiders.

    Our site has only been running since October last year and has just crept onto page one of Google UK for the phrase large table lamps.

    This isn’t a product page, it’s a tag page from WordPress which I’ll 301 redirect to a category page when I swap the site to a proper shopping cart solution.

    The page has no external links going to it (apart from Facebook and Twitter) and shows how powerful a blog can be IMHO.

    Good luck with the site tho’.

  2. Louis Camassa February 8, 2010 Reply

    There’s some good advice above. You might want to focus on less competitive keywords to start. For example, use the Google Keyword Tool to analyze the search volume for related keywords. Start with keywords that have lower search volume, and less competition. Beef Jerky might not even be a high sales producing keyword. Try “buy beef jerky”, or “black pepper beef jerky”.

    Would also add the following:

    – Change your meta title and description tags; add your keywords to the beginning

    – Add more content to your site, and work your selected keywords into the content to increase keyword density

    – Add your primary keywords to the beginning of the page content (e.g., within first 50 words after <body> tag)

    – Add your keywords at the end of the page content (e.g., within 50 words before </body> tag)

    – Make your keywords bold within the content

    – Add keywords in the ALT / TITLE attributes of text, images and graphical links on all page

    – Include a some text/a link from the homepage to the content/product pages with your keywords as the anchor text

  3. Nat February 12, 2010 Reply

    For my two cents I’d say that the first tip is the most important. One way to build links quickly is to offer a badge or widget that people can put on their own web sites.