Online stores need to have a strong organic presence in search engines, which are a vital marketing source for producing online sales, only if it is done properly. With these tips, your ecommerce website will start producing qualified organic traffic that will lead to more sales. Not interested in more sales? Don’t bother reading this full article.
Now that I have your attention, let’s start thinking about what ecommerce SEO really is. SEO is an umbrella term for hundreds of tiny details that need to be monitored, or optimized, for your website and marketing strategy. They all work together under the “SEO” umbrella to create a solid foundation for search engine crawlers and users.
So what is ecommerce SEO? Ecommerce websites are their own entity because they are an online store versus a service provider. The end goal is essentially the same for both business types. However, the online store is where your customers actually convert, versus a customer service rep answering the phone engaging with a customer. In both cases, the website is the online storefront. Wouldn’t you want to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for?
These ecommerce on-page SEO tips will help:
- Increase visitor behavior metrics
- Increase organic traffic
- Increase leads from organic traffic
1. Research Keywords and Develop a Plan
This part is easy right? You know what term you want to rank for. Just optimize the entire site with that one term, right? Wrong. Over-optimizing is irrelevant with today’s search engine algorithms. They’re a lot smarter than five years ago.
Run a crawl report of your website and compile all of your top level navigation pages, product category pages, and sub-category pages into a priority list, starting with the top level navigation first. From there, you want to identify a focus keyword that could be potentially optimized for each of these pages. This is where keyword research and strategy development come together.
A tip here is to think of terms that are going to actually convert if that page started ranking for that term. Is it long-tail enough? If not, consider trying out long-tail keywords, since they are going to provide fewer but more-qualified visitors to the page.
2. Optimize Each Page with Focus Keywords
Now that you’ve identified what the focus keywords are for each important landing page of the shopping cart, it’s time to optimize the page with that term. Some important areas of the page you could potentially place the term include: header tags, alt tags, meta title, meta description, website copy, and call to action.
If the page is lacking in content, consider beefing it up. Search engines will not understand what the page is about without a little snippet of content. Adding unique, high quality content to that category page could help tremendously.
3. Optimize the Website Architecture Structure
This is where a lot of ecommerce websites drop the ball. Website architecture tells the story of your website and how it’s supposed to be laid out.
To know if your website needs to be architected, take the crawl report that was organized by priority order. Do the URLs show exactly where in the site that product or category page lives? For example, when looking at a product category URL, it should be structured as follows: example.com/parent-category/sub-category/.
The URLs are your website’s breadcrumbs for search engines. If there is not a clear path laid out for the search engines, they will not see the value of a page, since all of the other pages on your site are weighted as the same value.
Certain shopping carts will have the option to structure the URLs so that when a product is added, it will automatically create the correct URL for the product. Talk to your shopping cart support team for more information about setting up a proper website navigation structure.
Not only are the URLs important to optimize, but also the navigation itself. What makes sense for users? What are your most important product categories that you would like to promote? Having an easy-to-navigate website will reduce confusion and help users easily find the top products that you’re looking to sell.
4. Write Unique Product Descriptions
Yes, UNIQUE. I know this can seem like a huge task to some, but it’s worth it. Having duplicate product descriptions from the manufacturer site will just devalue your product pages and even prevent them from obtaining higher rankings. Rewriting the product descriptions in your own words will help crawlers and users understand the item better. If anything, the product page is your sales page for the product. It needs to be well written and optimized for both users and search engines in order to get the sale, period.
5. Optimize Individual Product Pages
Product pages make up the majority of most ecommerce sites. It can take months to optimize each and every product page, but it should be an ongoing effort to optimize each individual page. If product pages don’t have any SEO, how are potential new users going to find your product? Optimize, test, and optimize more.
6. Encourage Customers to Review or Rate Your Products
Enabling the reviews feature on each individual product page will help entice customers to rate the product. Understandably, it can be difficult to rate a product that hasn’t been received by the customer yet. One way to lure your customers to rate the product is to utilize email marketing and send a follow-up email after they’ve received the shipment. Encourage them to rate the product with some sort of counter offer.
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Giving your customer a reason to rate your product will help increase product rankings because unique content is being added by others to that specific page. Also, positive rating stars can be great clickbait for your product when it shows up in the search results.
7. Include Product Installation Videos When Applicable
Selling a product that requires installation? More content is needed for these types of products. Videos are a great way to show your customers how to properly install or assemble the product when they receive it at home. Include these videos on your website or even the product page itself.
The more user engagement on your website, the more trusted your site will become in your industry.
8. Optimize the Mobile Shopping Experience
It was predicted a few years ago that mobile search would eventually exceed desktop. That prediction is now a reality. According to Smart Insights, so far in 2015, users are spending more time on their mobile device than their desktop. If your website is optimized for mobile with a responsive design, then your website will most likely provide a positive mobile experience. If it’s not, your organic traffic could suffer if your competition is already ahead in the game.
It’s important to test your website on a mobile device to make sure users can easily navigate from a product to the shopping cart checkout. Having a one-page checkout option would be a perfect way to optimize your website for a better mobile shopping experience. Users can easily become frustrated when they have to go through multiple pages just to purchase the product when they’re on their phone.
9. Internal Search Feature Optimization
There is more than one search engine you should be considering when optimizing your ecommerce site. The internal search functionality on your website is just as important because it allows users to engage with your site easily and find exactly what they’re looking for, which means more sales.
Your internal search must have a customizable algorithm that can handle misspellings and keyword variations and be able to sort through all of your products, among other functions. There are third party search companies that have built this feature already and can customize your website’s search functionality for your specific products.
10. Check for Website Errors Regularly
Ecommerce websites often have thousands of pages. Errors can easily be missed if the site is not properly managed. Run a crawl report monthly or quarterly to know if there are any 301 or 404 errors. You want to manage the 301 redirects since you don’t want internal links passing through a redirect, so your internal links need to be constantly updated to be relevant to the current site architecture. Monitoring the site’s health in Google Search Console and other third party tools is a great way to maintain a healthy website that search engine crawlers will index regularly.
Ecommerce SEO is never going to be “complete.” Optimization can go on and on, especially with a larger product website. When an ecommerce website receives ongoing optimization and maintenance, it begins to shine in the search results.
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