Successfully optimizing your website for an increase in leads, traffic and sales strongly depend on a comprehensive approach to SEO. For entrepreneurs entering the eCommerce space, an effective SEO strategy will help them rank higher in search engine results, increasing a store’s visibility, attracting potential customers and driving traffic.
However, compared to SEO for content-focused websites, SEO for e-commerce is more than just adding keywords, blogs, and backlinking to your website. Optimizing an eCommerce website is significantly different, concentrating on leads and conversions while competing against millions of other online retailers. While different, taking the right approach to eCommerce SEO can propel your business forward, helping your online store’s visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). To get an idea of how eCommerce SEO works let's take a look at the basics, then we’ll dive into some practical strategies that you can work into your operations, setting you up for SEO success.
If you want to speak to a strategist about implementing these SEO best practices for your eCommerce site, feel free to get in contact with our digital agency at email@example.com
What is Ecommerce SEO?
SEO for eCommerce tackles the first obstacle to successfully running an online store- getting new customers on your site. If you’re unfamiliar with eCommerce SEO it usually involves optimizing your website’s headlines, product descriptions, and metadata, along with internal links, and formatting the navigational structure of the site for the best search and user experience.
For small and medium-sized business owners your products might be accessible on the web, but are they discoverable? Increasingly online shoppers are using search engines to find products and services, fitting them into their buying process, therefore a good SEO strategy is an imperative addition to any eCommerce brand’s digital marketing strategy.
What do consumers do when they need a product or service? Many perform Google searches. A recent study by SEMrush found that 37.5% of all online traffic came from searches while nChannel found that 44% of online shoppers begin their shopping by using a search engine. They’re looking for options, tips, comparisons, and other information to help them make informed decisions.
With this in mind, your team should aim to develop and publish product pages built to pull in traffic from search engines. More so, SEO can improve how your store stands out, differentiating it on a value proposition level including pricing, benefits, experience and more. Once you get people to your site, you can engage them with high-quality products, attractive copy, and encouraging calls to action, making your store useful to customers and encouraging visibility on SERPs.
Missing out on applying an SEO strategy can prove to be a heavy drawback for your website as it won’t appear on SERPs, resulting in a loss in traffic and qualified plus interested customers.
Quick pointer: As you plan on building out your eCommerce SEO strategy, Don’t overlook your static, non-product-oriented pages on your site, such as your website’s:
- About page
- Contact page
- F.A.Q. page
- Blog articles
- Help centre answers
Further along, we’ll take a closer look at how creating a list of short and long-tail keywords for those pages with the help of various online tools can push your web pages to be a cut above the competition.
How to Develop an Ecommerce SEO Strategy
For new and even experienced business owners building up your SEO ranking can at first seem daunting but by starting with some best practices you’ll be able to incrementally improve your standing with time and consistency.
Here are 5 steps to work into your strategy building process that’ll help save you time and effort:
Identify Priority Pages: To begin optimizing your e-commerce product pages take a look at your most successful pages, the ones you want your customers to focus on and your flagship products. From there you’ll optimize these product pages and progressively apply your strategy across the board.
Perform Keyword Research: Take some time to research the specific keywords, phrases and terms used by your prospective customers when looking for the items you list online. Ubersuggest is an excellent tool for this purpose, with a free and paid version that helps identify long-tail and related keywords to any topic or word.
Establish an SEO Workflow: SEO requires you to meet lots of specific requirements. Choosing keywords, adding metadata, naming your images correctly, adding image alternate attributes, and incorporating related keywords all fall under this category.
Improve the Usability of Your Site: Enhance your site’s user experience - UX for design, visual appeal and discoverability. Covering everything from navigation, ease of use, and the overall “feel” of the website, as well as building out a responsive site for your eCommerce website can also improve your search results.
Perform a Competitive Analyst: Consider conducting a keyword analysis of your top SEO competitors’ sites along with a survey of your competitors’ backlink profiles and then implement these findings on your own eCommerce site.
Best Practices for Your Ecommerce SEO Strategy
Now that we have a viewpoint on how eCommerce SEO can help your online business, let’s look at some best practices to move the needle on your website’s delivery.
1. Use the Right Keywords
What do best practices for SEO for e-commerce look like? Well, you could start by addressing fundamentals like:
Work to include your primary keyword in your product headline, description, meta description, image alternate attributes, and subheadlines. A pro tip is to add Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI keywords throughout your website. From Semrush, “LSI keywords are words that are related to the main keyword and are seen as semantically relevant.” An example of what this looks like is if your page’s primary keyword is ‘perfume,' then LSI keywords would be things like “fragrance” “cologne,” or “eau de toilette,”. Google has transitioned from indexing a page based on single keywords, instead, their algorithms also use closely related keywords to give context to content.
a) Analyze the Keyword Search Volume, CPC, and User Intent
Perform adequate research on keywords you’re interested in implementing. Try to understand the keyword search volume, how regularly users search for the keyword, and what people are looking for when they use that keyword. Search volume allows you to understand how much interest is in a particular keyword among potential consumers. In short, a high search volume indicates greater popularity, which should result in active searches for that keyword.
You’ll also want to take a look at how competitive the keyword is for paid advertising channels - cost-per-click. CPC gives insight into how much people pay per click when they buy advertising based on a specific keyword. A high CPC indicates an increase in competition, but a good workaround is to find long-tail alternatives.
Lastly, a critical consideration for your SEO strategy is to research keyword intent. Understanding what people want to find when they type a specific keyword into a search engine can increase the effectiveness of your keyword strategy. You can identify keyword intent by looking at the specific phrases and terms people use when looking for an item online. For instance, if someone were to enter the word “car tires”, are they seeking tires to purchase, a mechanic to help with installation or researching different types? If you can’t determine the user intent behind a keyword, add other words to the search string for clarity.
There are two main types of keyword intent you can evaluate; informational keyword intent is used to describe the type of information the searcher is looking for, such as factual queries, and how-tos. Compared to commercial keyword intent where people are looking for information to help them make a purchase these search terms will look like, “buy iPhone” or “find new jacket deals.” Consumers typically use commercial keyword intents when they know what they want but don’t know where to find it yet.
b. Conduct Competitor Research
As you deepen your understanding of keywords relevant to your products and services, your next move is to understand how your competitors are using those keywords and performing in the market. Researching your competitors, particularly those that have already leveraged optimizing their websites, gives you a chance to benchmark your efforts against theirs.
You’ll want to analyze the keywords on their homepages as well as their top product pages, try using the Moz browser extension to see the SEO title and description your competitors use in their title tags. You’ll also want to use tools like SEMrush to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for on both organic and paid searches.
c. Find Backlinks To Your Competition
Another point for analysis is to identify backlinks- inbound links from other websites that link to your website. They can significantly improve your website’s ranking by giving you link authority as well as referral traffic.
How does one do this? Aim to get inbound links from high-quality authority sites, focus on gaining quality links to similar content than having many random or unrelated links. For instance, links attached to anchor text (ie ‘build backlinks’) are much better than links attached to irrelevant text (ie ‘an article we wrote’).
2. Simplify Your Site Architecture
Your site architecture plays a critical function in search optimization, particularly for those adding large volumes of products and categories to their store. Building a distinct hierarchy of navigation, from your homepage to product categories to product listings will make your website more functional on a technical and user experience level.
Search engines will crawl your web pages and catalogue your product listings based on an internal linking structure that is cohesive and connected. Search engine bots also use internal links as a way of determining which pages are more valuable. It’s wise to keep in mind that most advise that users should be able to connect to a product within three clicks to get to any product on your website.
a. Organize Your Category Pages
As you review your site’s architecture, take a look at how many clicks it takes for your customer to reach your products. For instance, if the structure of your eCommerce store is currently Products > Gender > Type of apparel (e.g. Shirts, Jackets, etc.) > Individual products, that will take 4 clicks. Here you can consider revising it to simplify your products into male and female categories from your homepage with a drop-down of the specific products for click-through. Powermapper is a good, easy-to-use tool here for creating and updating sitemaps, it also allows you to generate one-click checkouts.
b. Implement Internal Linking Early On
Upon streamlining your site architecture, it’s time to check that all of your web pages have internal links.
Internal links simply connect pages on the same domain together. They’ll serve two primary functions; boosting eCommerce SEO by revealing how pages are related to one another and increasing the visitors time spent on pages exploring your website.
c. Create Backlinks for Ecommerce SEO
On the other hand, you’ll also want to build backlinks for your eCommerce sites. Google uses them to determine where your pages belong in the SERPs therefore the more backlinks you have from high-quality sites, the more authoritative your site will appear. One way of gaining backlink traction is to guest post on industry/ market-relevant blogs, or you can try to white-hat way to build links. Simply email the owners of blogs relevant to your niche and offer them three or more ideas for potential guest posts.
3. Optimize Product Pages
Many small and medium-sized companies fail to optimize their product pages, falling short by simply writing a few lines of text about each product and throwing up an image or video. Steer clear of this pitfall by publishing high-quality product information and imagery so that search engines like Google can find them. Here are the specific features you’ll work on.
a. Product Name
Your product’s name as it appears on your website is important as it also serves as the SEO title and URL of your product page. This is why you’ll want to consider adding common search terms or keyword phrases to the title of your products. For example, if you are selling perfumes, be sure to include the brand’s name, “Versace” in the product name. That way, the keyword also ends up in the SEO title and URL.
b. Image Optimization
Along with the product title and URL, you’ll also want to be conscious of the images associated with your product. Your customers expect high-quality images that allow them to peruse the product listed, giving them a chance to practice their buying decision. With this in place, they’re more likely to purchase products that are clearly depicted from as many angles as possible. On the other hand, they’re more likely to leave a listing with limited or pixelated imagery and may compromise your market position.
Images not only affect your customers but also your search optimization. To properly optimize your images you’ll want to start with the filename, don’t add images that default with IMG1123.jpg instead use the product’s name as the file name, this should include your targeted keywords.
Also, when adding your images to your product page, including the product name and keywords in the ALT text for the image. This gives your images an increased chance of appearing in Google Image Search or in the main search results page.
Boost your customers' confidence by also including videos on your product pages, giving your audience a chance to remotely review and further their buying decision. The videos can deliver multiple types of delivery including basic information about your product, an instructional how-to video on ways to use your product or customer testimonials explaining the experience with the product and your brand. A quick pro tip is to also publish these videos on Youtube, giving you greater reach across Youtube’s network, attracting and engaging their audience.
d. Customer Reviews
Nearly seven out of ten internet users in the US say they would look for customer reviews on their phones while in-store before approaching an employee” (eMarketer, 2019). Reviews are incredibly useful to small businesses as they give customers the confidence to try out new products. Psychological customer reviews on a website or product listing validates the quality and the value that product or service promises. ”
4. Use Responsive Design
As you review your website you’ll also want to implement responsive design to your eCommerce website to better improve the usability of the pages. The number of smartphone users is rising rapidly, according to Statista, there are currently 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide and “more than half (55.4 percent) of internet users use their mobile phones to purchase products online and seven in ten (69.4 percent) say they use shopping apps on their mobile devices – be it a phone or a tablet” (DataReportal, 2021).
With this in mind, you’ll be further motivated to build a mobile responsive site given Google’s mobile-first index uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.
a. Reduce Page Load Speed
Your page load speed can be a major hindrance to your eCommerce site earning search engine rank for both desktop and mobile. Naturally, the faster your pages load, the better Google will rank you but how do you decrease page load speed? By focusing on removing any unnecessary elements from your page that are excessive or demanding too much from your servers such as huge background images, or outdated plugins or add-ons. If you’re not sure about your current speeds, you can test it at Cloudflare or try Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool.
What should you do if your site is too slow? For some, they might have to consider changing their web hosting provider but for others, the site may simply have too much content for your server to handle, or too many scripts are slowing down your load times.
Best Ecommerce SEO Tools
Before we conclude, here's a quick list of helpful websites that you might find useful in improving your on-page and off-page SEO for greater visibility in the search engines.
MOZ - Find link-building opportunities by using MOZ. This platform is good for when you want to track and measure keywords or analyze your competitors’ page metrics. Offering both a free and paid version you’ll be able to explore at either tier giving you a chance to fuel your eCommerce SEO strategy.
Ubersuggest - Use Ubersuggest tool to identify, research and find related keywords that’d best suit your eCommerce site that'll help boost your rankings.
Ahrefs - Ahrefs is great for finding backlinks to your site as well as to your competitors’ sites, use it to optimize and track your eCommerce SEO efforts. For instance, where someone links to your competitor’s site you’ll be able to spot this and engage that person to build a relationship. Thereafter you can offer to link to his or her site, and vice versa by sharing one of your publications that their audience might be interested in.
ScreamingFrog - Use ScreamingFrog to optimize and correct issues with your site such as broken links, missing meta descriptions, and duplicate content. When you identify those problems, create redirects or add missing content so you don’t get penalized in the search engines.
Staying current with the latest marketing trends and techniques is crucial for any successful eCommerce website. It’s important to deliver relevant, interesting and valuable content and products that match the needs of your target market but to also work with the technical guides so that you can rank more effectively on SERPs.
To learn more strategies for optimizing your eCommerce business’ traffic, and online sales or if you need help building out your eCommerce SEO strategy get in touch with us at Xeno Leads, we help companies scale their digital strategies across multiple channels through SEO, PPC, and social media, earning more leads, more revenue, and more profit. Tell us about your project at: firstname.lastname@example.org