Delivering a great customer experience shouldn't have to wait until someone has clicked on your website. It should begin much earlier in a customer’s online shopping journey as they are searching for the products that you sell.

Too often, searching for the right product online ends abruptly, leaving a customer frustrated due to either an overload of unrelated information or none at all. The cause? Website managers sometimes fail to provide the right keywords to identify their sites or they don't understand what the search engines need to help consumers correctly find and identify that site. As a result, buyers are left to fruitlessly comb the internet until they find what they are looking for.

You can greatly improve your customers' online search experience while driving them to your site through the addition of better HTML tags and metadata. Proper tagging will also help your pages rise to the top of search engine results at no extra cost.

The following strategies will help to guide more customers to your site and get more of your products into their shopping carts.

1. Research how customers talk about your products to build trust: It’s important to gain insight into what certain terms mean to your customers, what categories they think your product falls under, and why they want the product. To do this, start by identifying your customers’ needs and wants. Search popular social media sites to read what consumers are saying about your products, read customer service emails and records, look at how the competition describes its products. If you run a brick-and-mortar store, take the time to actually talk and listen to your shoppers.

By incorporating these familiar descriptions and keywords, your site becomes much easier to find during a consumers’ search and provides them with a good first impression of your company while also building trust.

Trust is also earned by providing thorough, honest product information. Full disclosure of ingredients, country of origin, etc., enables customers to make informed decisions. For example, a parent searching for baby formula for an infant with allergies can quickly determine which products are, and aren't appropriate. That, in turn, often engenders a sense of trust between the retailer and that customer.

2. Learn the search engine lingo: Once you know the common terms and tags that customers are most likely to use when searching for your type of product, then you can begin organizing your content so it can be easily found by search engines.

A search engine crawler relies on HTML header tags and meta tags to decipher the content and purpose of a web page. Header tags such as (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. ) are markup tags to tell a browser how to display the content. Header text also shows up in searches to give the searcher information on the site's contents. For example, a page listing women's athletic pants might use the header tags "athletic," "yoga," "pants" and "women.”

Metatags are invisible to the viewer but not to the search engines, which rely on them to define the purpose of a site. For instance, the <meta title> tag might contain product name, category and brand. A <meta description> after the title should contain phrases that best describe the site. For instance: <Acme Motors, all brands and types of motors, full motor repair services, free ground shipping over $100)>.

3. Keep it consistent: Search engines and crawlers love consistency, both in descriptions and data markup schemes. To do this, use the data markup standards supported by Bing, Google and Yahoo. You should also keep your meta titles and meta descriptions consistent to help crawlers recognize pages from the same sites. You can use up to 160 words in the description, but make sure they're useable for all of a site's pages.

4. Study search engine features. Companies like Google and Bing have many useful webmaster tools, so take the time to learn them.

One such webmaster tool is the URL parameters configuration function which helps site
owners gain more control over which URLs are indexed or dropped. 

Geo-targeting is another valuable tool that Google and, to a lesser extent, Bing provides. Geo-targeting works by determining the geographic location of the online shopper and uses it to select content best suited for that region. That could be advertisements or special deals just for customers in that area, or it might include or exclude specific pages or content based on location.

-Jason Asher, Sales Solution Consultant, NetSuite