Free, recurring, targeted, and high-converting traffic; that’s what tactical eCommerce SEO will give you. However, even though the benefit is low-hanging fruit for online stores, it’s not the easiest to pick. Why?
One is because of the constantly evolving search engine algorithms, the more you need to invest in SEO tools to get up to speed with these disruptions. And two, the sea of information on the web is primarily focused on general SEO advice. As a result, only a few guides are compiled primarily to address the SEO needs of eCommerce entrepreneurs.
Thankfully, we’ve cracked the eCommerce SEO nut for you, and here is the guide you need to excel in eCommerce. The points this eCommerce SEO the definitive guide will discuss will help you increase eCommerce traffic. Most importantly, it’ll help you surmount key SEO challenges and keep up with the competition to boost sales and grow your bottom line.
We’ve heard it over and over again–SEO is crucial for businesses that want to have a robust online presence. Indeed, 61% of digital marketers claim that improving SEO helps grow their organic presence. But what exactly is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the strategic process of making your website more discoverable in search engine result pages (SERPs). Put in plain English; SEO is an art that entails optimizing a website around targeted keywords to boost the ranking on SERPs.
That being said, eCommerce SEO means SEO techniques that are precisely crafted for online stores. When it comes to eCommerce, SEO implies honing your website to deliver the best possible results for the findability of your products. In other words, it’s all about ensuring that when users search for a product that you sell, it’s served as the first option.
If you want to have a deeper understanding of this arena, be sure to study this compilation of SEO statistics.
To understand why eCommerce is essential, you need to understand what consumers do before buying a product online. Apparently, many begin the hunt on their favorite search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. What you should know is that consumers have a perpetual proclivity towards products on the first page of SERPs.
This means, to claim a lion share of organic search, your products must claim a spot on the first page. Organic search drives online store traffic. To put this to perspective, organic search trumps other non-organic search channels, including referrals (8%), social media (3.3%), and paid ads (1.9%).
Source: SEMrush (2017)
As you can see, you can drive a sizeable amount of traffic to your eCommerce store without using paid ads. However, you need a well-orchestrated and executed eCommerce SEO strategy to reel in highly interested and qualified leads.
One grievous mistake eCommerce entrepreneurs make is tying their SEO strategy around on-page techniques only. eCommerce SEO is a lot more than this. To reap optimal benefits, you need to upgrade your website to deliver the experience consumers crave. At the same time, you should optimize your online store for search engines to make it easy to find.
Back in 2008, the keyword was a mainstay in SEO. Actually, finding a nice keyword was a sure way of ranking on Google SERPs. And it worked. Fast forward to today, the importance of the keyword in the site rank is waning.
Google has made a lot of changes, like the introduction of RankBrain, Hummingbird, Penguin, and Panda algorithms, and the keyword fortune is well on a downward spiral. Moreover, the evolution of machine learning and artificial intelligence has made Google smarter. Today, the Google algorithm has made massive strides towards understanding human language and interpreting it.
As a result, cramming webpages with keywords is no longer as productive as it used to be. The Google search algorithm has advanced, becoming harder and harder to beat with simple keyword optimizing methods. Nowadays, keyword optimization is playing second fiddle to factors like behavioral elements and naturally produced content.
However, make no mistake—keyword optimization still matters, and it won’t disappear anytime soon.
Here is why.
According to Search Engine Land, there are more than 200 elements that affect the position of your website in Google search results. To find out where the keyword ranks, SEMrush analyzed the most prominent factors. Out of 17 key ranking elements, “keyword in the anchor” was ranked 12th, “keyword in the body” (13), “keyword density” (14), “keyword in the title” (15), and “keyword in meta” (16).
The study by SEMrush also deduced that 18% of domains ranking for high volume keyword don’t mention the keyword in the body. Besides, AHREFs found that of the pages ranking in the top 10 for a specific keyword, 75% don’t mention the keyword anywhere in the body.
As you can see, there are benefits for businesses that reside in the extremes of the keyword spectrum. However, it would be suicidal for any eCommerce business to sit on any of these ends. You need not discount the value of keywords. But still, you shouldn’t overrate the importance of keywords. Instead, you should endeavor to find the right balance between the two.
The criterion here is simple. Look for keywords that are easy to rank for, have good search volume, and post high conversion rates. Most importantly, don’t forget to examine the buyer’s intent for the keywords. More often than not, the cost-per-click (CPC) of a keyword tells the full story of the buyer’s intent.
There three ways to land profitable keywords:
Conducting competitor research can be a good starting point. Generally, competitors who rank higher than you have done the heavy lifting for optimizing their websites. The best part is that the competitors’ keyword tactics and ideas are not far away from your sight.
This how you find the keywords you competitor is ranking for:
Type your seed keyword into Google.
Pick the top three competitors. Visit their home, category, and product pages, taking an in-depth look to spot potentially valuable keywords. Ideally, you can use the same keywords as the competitor, but this is not safe. You have to consider your domain authority (DA) vis-a-vis that of the competitor. If the competitor has a higher DA, then consider using their keywords as a springboard.
Amazon.com is a keyword goldmine, especially high buyer intent keywords. To find keywords, visit Amazon.com, and type your seed keyword in the search bar. Amazon will churn out multiple autofill suggestions which make excellent keyword ideas. Copy these keywords in a Google spreadsheet: they are valuable for your SEO campaign.
Lastly, you can find keyword opportunities using leading SEO software tools The marketplace is flooded with keyword tools, including AHREFs, Amazon Keyword Tool (designed to refine keyword research on Amazon), Google Keyword Planner, KeywordTool.io, and MOZ Keyword Explorer.
The best thing about keyword research tools is that they provide all the keyword data you need to make informed decisions. For example, you can determine the keyword difficulty, buyer intent, CPC, and search volume.
The eCommerce website architecture is of paramount importance. It doesn’t matter how big or small your eCommerce website is, the site structure dictates the overall user experience. Also, the website structure plays a significant role in eCommerce SEO.
The rule of thumb here is to keep the structure as simple and solid as possible. This way, it’ll be easy for your visitors to find the product they are looking for in the least possible number of clicks.
Ideally, every webpage should take at most three clicks to access. Why? Remember, the deeper you go into an eCommerce website, the less authority the subsequent pages have. Ultimately, the page authority is a vital SEO factor used by search engines to rank your sites.
So, how do you ensure your site structure is easy to navigate?
In this section, we’ll show you how to create a simple online shop’s site structure. We’ll hold your hand to ensure that your website structure is not only simple but also easy to crawl by the search engines.
The first step to optimizing your site structure is creating a hierarchical structure. Whether you are creating a new website or are just looking to optimize an existing website, having the right hierarchy in place sets you up for big things.
As mentioned earlier, the deepest webpage should be three levels away from the homepage. Generally, you will have the homepage at the top of the structure, then have 2 or 3 levels below. Here is an image to help you visualize how a good site structure looks like:
When creating the hierarchy structure, you need to take into account the result from your keyword research endeavors. The keywords you intend to use will help you optimize the titles and description of the main categories, subcategories, and product pages. Above all, the keywords will give you incredible ideas on how to design your website structure.
Next, you need to come up with a simple navigation structure to replicate the hierarchical structure. Now, the reason you need to get the menu structure right is that it impacts the navigability of your website.
Also, how consumers surf the internet is changing, and traffic from mobile devices is growing. Because of this, you should take into consideration the suitability of your site menu to mobile users. Using the desktop menu as it is won’t work for mobile users. As a result, you need a separate menu for mobile devices.
On the other hand, WooCommerce’s mobile menu is equally impressive.
By now, your hierarchical structure and navigation menu should look good. So, it’s time to create a robust URL structure. What you need to know is that a good URL structure makes it easy for visitors, as well as search engines, to navigate your website. Having a well-defined URL structure helps improve overall traffic to your eCommerce website.
Your URL structure should follow the hierarchical structure of your website. This way, it will be easy for search engines to crawl your website. Most importantly, it’ll help showcase your products, making them easy to find.
For example, if this is your site hierarchy,
Then, the URL for clothes page will look like this:
Breadcrumb is an advanced website navigation function that makes it easy for Google to scan and index your online store. The breadcrumb menu appears at the top of the product or category page. Usually, this menu contains the internal links that help visitors navigate back to the home page or previous page with ease.
The breadcrumbs menu is useful, especially for visitors that need to navigate back and forth between product and category pages.
Your website needs two types of sitemaps: an XML and a User sitemap. The XML sitemap is submitted to the search engines and is indispensable to every website.
On the other hand, User sitemap is not mandatory, but it’s beneficial to have. A well-structured User sitemap should display vital categories and subcategories of your eCommerce store on one page. This makes it easy for website visitors to find what they want.
Usually, on-page SEO encompasses all the things you do within your webpages to help your eCommerce website rank higher. On-page optimization is a pillar of eCommerce SEO. When done right, it leads to benefits that transcend ranking: it drives more traffic, increases conversion, and helps engage users.
When it comes to on-page SEO, two areas demand your attention, namely:
Let’s tackle these areas comprehensively:
When category pages rank better, visitors find the products that you sell with ease. Ultimately, it increases website traffic, streamlines lead capturing, and improves conversion rates.
However, these benefits can be hard to come by, especially if your category pages are not properly optimized. To increase traffic and boost sales, follow the steps below:
That’s it, the simple formula of optimizing your category pages. Optimize all your category pages and ensure all the aspects are finetuned. Once everything is done, move on to the product pages.
Basically, you just need to repeat all the optimization steps for category pages. But, there are two major tweaks with product page optimizations.
Keep in mind that when writing the product description, you’ll have to use the primary keyword. At the same time, you should sprinkle a few LSI keywords to all the content.
The number of words you should write in product descriptions is a controversial topic. Some content marketing experts prefer having it long (2000 words), mainly because long-form content ranks better on Google. On the other hand, others claim 1000 words is the sweet spot and that product reviews make up for the remaining 1000 words. We’ll leave this open, do your research, and find the perfect length for product description.
Be that as it may, product reviews are essential for eCommerce SEO. They increase user engagement and boost conversion rates. For this reason, if you are not collecting reviews, time is ripe to start leveraging user reviews to generate more leads. Installing a reliable review app such as Yotpo can be a good start.
Here is a recommended structure for product description:
The infographic below gives you detailed information regarding on-page SEO for product pages.
So far, much of our discussion has revolved around keywords. Now, it’s time to focus on the technical side of eCommerce SEO. The technical side touches on things that you do to your website to enhance the user experience, site speed, and mobile-friendliness. In other words, technical SEO is all about auditing your eCommerce website to improve performance.
Ready? Let’s get started!
This is the first and most important step when auditing your website. To successfully crawl your website, you need a tool such as Screaming Frog (premium) or Beam Us Up (free). Crawling your website can reveal things that jeopardize the success of your SEO strategy. It pinpoints things such as:
The site crawling tools, scrutinizes your website, leaving no stone unturned to generate a comprehensive website audit report. Make sure to address all the highlighted issues decisively and thoroughly.
How many versions of your website are browsable?
A visitor can access your website in numerous ways:
Ensure that only one of these versions is browsable, then make the others 301 redirects to the canonical websites version. Preferably, you should make https://www.mywebsite.com version browsable. This is because it bears the HTTPS extension, which is a hallmark of website security or encryption.
Using the HTTPS extension boosts user experience and contributes towards better Google ranking. According to one study by SEMrush, nearly 60-65% of websites that use HTTPS extension rank on page one of Google SERPs.
Optimizing your home page’s SEO is as simple as following these steps:
Ever since Google introduced the Panda algorithm, duplicate content became a detriment. In some serious cases, duplicate content land you a harsh penalty from Google. To be on the safe side, you should ensure that every bit of your content is unique.
With a premium plagiarism checker tool, you can easily spot duplicate content issues. For example, Copyscape has a batch tool that allows you to identify duplicate URLs. This way, you can easily flush the potentially harmful content to boost website performance.
Search your brand name on Google. Are you the first search result? If you are not a brand-new business, then your brand should be served up as the first option. If it’s not, you should act fast to avert the imminent danger.
Now, search for your brand name using the Google “site” operator. For example, “site:financesonline.com.”
The results will show the number of pages on your website that have been indexed (190,000 in our case). If this number is more than that of the URLs in your website crawl report, then there is a problem. This could mean that there are plenty of junk pages like blog category pages, product pages, or tag pages that are being categorized.
Spot these pages and include a no-index meta tag in the HTML code of each page. This way, the page will not appear in Google search. Ultimately, nonindexing these pages will save you the crawl budget and make it easy for Google to crawl your website.
Local SEO and eCommerce are mutually exclusive. Right? Right, at least that’s how eCommerce store owners take it. But, do you know that as an online store owner, you can reap significant benefit from local SEO?
Yes, enhancing your local SEO can give you an edge over your competitors and boost your business’ online visibility. Local SEO empowers your brand to target and reach a wider consumer base.
However, we can’t forget to mention that local SEO is not for every eCommerce business. Ideally, it’s for you if you want to increase local site traffic or if you have a physical store.
Here are a few things to do to optimize local SEO for eCommerce.
Google My Business is a free online business listing. Google designed this cool feature to help brands increase visibility on Google maps and during Google local searches. Once Google verifies your business, go ahead, and optimize it to appear in local searches.
The goal should be to propel your business to feature in the Local Pack. A Local Pack is a list of three local businesses that are shown on the first page of Google search results. The best thing is that even without a local presence and with the right marketing strategy, your eCommerce business can appear on the Local Pack.
To make it to the Local Pack, build local citations. Local citation means getting backlinks from local magazines, news outlets, press releases, websites, and other local media. Besides, get as many links on local websites as you can. This way, you will boost your overall domain authority (DA) and improve your local rankings.
You already know the importance of keywords to your online marketing strategy. Now, when it comes to local SEO for eCommerce, perhaps no strategy outranks keyword optimization. However, keywords for local SEO are different from those that you use in traditional SEO.
In this case, you should target geo-specific keywords to attract local traffic. Ideally, you should use geotargeted copies on your landing page, website, social media posts, and in advertisements. Some of the keywords to target include:
This is just the tip of the iceberg. As such, you need to delve deeper into terms that the local audience search frequently. One way is by using Google Trends to spot the frequently-used terms.
Local search engine algorithms love local reviews. As a result, you should learn how to make the most of your online reviews. Interestingly, online reviews help you establish your brand, build trust, and boost local search rankings.
All the things we’ve mentioned above can count for nothing if the user experience is not up to the standards. User experience entails all the things that impact the usability of your website. There are many elements that can be changed to make your website more usable.
Here we’ll touch on all the most important things:
Long-form content on a page can divert the visitors’ attention and draw them away from the “add to cart” button. You don’t want this to happen to your website, and if it’s happening, you can easily turn things around.
First, ensure that your content is organized with tabs or accordions. Tabs reduce clutter and increase the usability of your website. They help you present a considerable amount of content in an easy-to-read format.
Most importantly, tabs and accordions allow your online store visitors to find the details they need, such as user reviews and sizing info, without a struggle. Ultimately, accordion-style tabs, deliver the right information, and holds the visitor’s hand down the sales funnel. Put simply. The style ensures that content doesn’t distract visitors from the ultimate goal: sales.
Are you using visuals in your content? Again, long-form content is a ticking bomb for your eCommerce website, especially if it doesn’t include enough visuals. If your eCommerce website doesn’t feature high-quality product images, then you’re staring at a bleak future. No matter how hard you try, hitting the sales target will remain elusive.
You should leverage emerging technologies such as 360-degree view and zoom. These technologies help boost user engagement on your website. That said, you need to add images and optimize them so that they don’t affect page speed or the overall site’s load time. Also, each image should include alt text (with keyword) to make them searchable by search engines.
A lower bounce rate is the holy grail for every eCommerce entrepreneur. What you should know is that page speed and bounce rates are inversely related. This means, the longer the page load time, the higher the bounce rate. A report by Think With Google found that a few seconds of delay in page load time can cause massive bounce rates.
In fact, according to Kissmetric, 47% of your consumers expect your website to load in 2 seconds or less. Plus, if your website takes over three seconds to load, 40% of consumers will abandon your online stores. From the data, the importance of fast page load speed is as clear as day. As such, your site load speed needs to be a top priority.
Here are some helpful tips to boost page site and ultimately the site speed:
Other useful tips include:
As we mentioned in our earlier discussion, Google has already made numerous changes to its search algorithm. Yet still, more changes are on the way. There’s no doubt about that. However, even with all these changes, two ranking factors have stood the test of time: content and links.
Backlinks, especially those from authority websites, boost your website’s Google ranking more than virtually any other ranking factor. This magnifies the importance of the eCommerce link building process. Link building is regarded as the most powerful off-page SEO technique.
However, the process is effort-centric and a little more intricate, but this shouldn’t be a reason not to try it. There are four linking building opportunities that we consider to the most effective:
Additionally, there’s a host of link building techniques out there. Better still, link building doesn’t have to start with the complicated methods. Guest posting on authoritative blogs can be an easy start for your link building process. Explore the viable options to find a few that work for your website and pursue them to fruition.
Time and again, you’ve heard the phrase “content is king.” Content marketing ranks as one of the hottest marketing trends in the most recent years. In fact, with 75% of digital marketers increasing investments in content marketing, its clear content marketing is here to stay.
Besides, 60% of B2C and 63% of B2B marketers hold content marketing with high regard. If you have yet to implement content marketing for your eCommerce businesses, that move is long overdue. There are things you need to start doing today to enhance your eCommerce SEO and drive organic traffic to your websites. They include:
However, to make the most out of the above-mentioned opportunities, you must tailor the content to the target audience. This means doing the following:
The beauty of content marketing is that when perfectly executed, it helps increase user engagement and builds brand loyalty. Most importantly, content marketing increases customer trust. Moreover, it ensures that traffic comes back to your website without you having to spend a single penny on ads.
By now, you should have a better understanding of how eCommerce sites improve SEO. We’ve detailed all the things that you need to do to boost traffic for eCommerce sites. You’ve all the handy tips at your fingertips. However, if you think ticking all these boxes marks the end of the lengthy process, think again. Apparently, this is only the start of your success story. You know why? You can always improve the result of each SEO strategy.
But to improve the performance of your eCommerce SEO, first, you should quantify the results of your efforts. As you may notice, gauging the success of your SEO efforts isn’t straightforward. The process is time-consuming and effort-centric owing to the number of website metrics to track. However, there is no other way to tell whether your SEO efforts are bearing fruits.
The signs are subtle and incremental, and it can take a while to know if you are on the right track. Basically, you will know your efforts are bearing fruits if you see small increases in site ranking.
One of the most effective methods of tracking your website’s progress is using Google Analytics. This is a free tool that enables you to measure engagement metrics as well as organic traffic volume.
With Google Analytics features, it’s easy to visualize search ranking improvements. An increase in search traffic is a welcome sign. Besides, you can monitor the search traffic that your landing page is reaching for an extra clue about your performance.
Some SEO tools like Ahrefs provide a built-in website rank monitoring feature. The tool enables you to monitor search rankings, compare your progress to that of competitors, and see the overall search visibility.
Even though the Ahrefs rank tool is not 100% accurate, it gives you a hint about your site rankings. The best part is that this cool tool can be set to deliver notifications when the rankings rise or fall. Ideally, you should check your rankings regularly, say every week.
Generally, both Google Analytics and Ahrefs keep you in the loop about your website ranking. Knowing where you stand is just as important as implementing all the eCommerce SEO strategies. Besides, you can use one of the best eCommerce analytics software to gain insights into the customer experience. This way, you will be in a better position to grow site rankings and boost sales.
That was quite a dense read. Right? The fact that you have followed the eCommerce SEO checklist to this end is a clear testament of your determination and zeal to grow your bottom line. Luckily for you, these are the very qualities demonstrated by successful eCommerce entrepreneurs.
But, remember eCommerce entrepreneurship comes with its fair share of challenges. The biggest of them all is implementing eCommerce SEO strategies you have just read. Many entrepreneurs in this niche struggle with SEO. Many get these vital SEO techniques wrong and end up suffering the consequences. eCommerce SEO plays a significant role and can impede or spur the growth of your business, depending on how its executed.
To get it right, train your sight on implementing the strategies we discussed above in a strategic manner. Pursue these strategies relentlessly, and for sure, the desired results will come your way. Most importantly, don’t confine yourself to only the mentioned strategies. Leave your options open, study the arena critically, and keep researching for better alternatives.
Most importantly, you should learn to generate high-qualified leads and use the leads to grow your business. You can read our guide to learn how to grow your business with lead generation for more information.
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