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Why should you care about eCommerce SEO?
It’s no secret that each and every year, the internet scoops up more and more of the overall sales throughout the world. Many shop owners believe they are fighting a big bad giant when it comes to selling their products/services online, but if anything, it empowers you to have more sales than you could have possibly ever had previously. Getting your products on your website is a start, but eCommerce SEO brings success.
The most important thing to understand is that people are actively searching for the product/service that you have. Doesn’t it make sense to show up in the Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and allow that person to purchase it from you instead of your competitors?
Follow the points below and you’re bound to see an increase in the number of sales you get from people who have found you on Google.
1 - Conduct effective keyword research
Keyword research should be the foundation of your SEO strategy, especially for your onsite SEO. Done well, it will provide you with direction for the kind of content that you should be trying to rank for. It will also help to determine how easy/difficult it may be to rank for those terms.
For eCommerce, you can do your own research or reverse engineer what your competitors are doing. You want high volume keywords with low levels of competition, which means lots of people are searching for these terms, but there aren’t many sites that are attempting to rank for them yet. Make sure you choose highly relevant keywords when you’re optimizing your eCommerce pages to ensure qualified visitors.
2 - Include 5 bullet points of product benefits
There’s a lot of debate about whether your product pages should use sentence descriptions or bullet points. Use bullet points for product benefits, as this makes for a better user experience. If you want evidence that this works, look at literally any product listing on Amazon. We’ve included an example from Amazon below, where you can see the 5 bullet points listed. They work because they are quick to read and digest.
Five bullet points are ideal to get across the key points without overdoing it. You can then partner these with a few short sentences which add more storytelling and strengthen your product’s brand image with some more detail about the product and get the best of both worlds.
3 - Optimize images for search and conversion
Make use of your images to help you with your SEO. Optimize your images for search before uploading them to the site. Rename them using your keywords, and use your image alt-tags to get your keyword in again, and to explain what the image is for those using screen readers.
Avoid cheesy stock photos and instead, use high-quality imagery that offers context to your products. For example, use images to show more detailed or alternative views of the product, or offer the ability to zoom for those people who wish to look at your products more closely.
4 - Ensure that your website loads fast
Slow load times can be a killer for your website. People want results fast and if your site is taking a long time to load, they’re going to hit the back button and move onto one of your competitor’s websites instead. A one-second delay eats away 7% of your website’s conversion rate.
Speed up your pages by optimizing images, enabling compression of images, and improve your server response times. You can also help site speeds by reducing the number of redirects. Strip back any bells and whistles on the page that are slowing things down and keep it simple.
5 - Test your website on mobile devices
Your site needs to work correctly on mobile devices, like phones and tablets. A massive amount of traffic comes from mobile devices, so if a user finds your site doesn’t work properly on a mobile, you’ll lose them. As of March 2021, Google will only index mobile responsive websites.
Thoroughly test your site on mobile devices. Does it scale properly on different devices, or do images move around and look strange? Is text still easily readable on a small screen? Can you easily click on any buttons or are they too small and awkward? Test properly, and be certain your site works as well on mobile devices as it does on a desktop. You wouldn’t believe how much online shopping people do on their mobile.
6 - Write enticing titles and descriptions
Write strong titles and descriptions that will draw in your customers, and improve your SEO. Using your keyword research, work in your target keywords in your page and product titles, and throughout your descriptions. Mention a feature, and then describe the benefit for the buyer.
Use Schema markup so Google knows something is a product description, but make sure you’re writing for humans first, and Google second. There is most certainly a balance to be found here between CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
Descriptions need to get across all the key benefits of your product and explain clearly why someone should want it, as well as why they should buy it from you over others. Answer any questions that someone may have while considering your product to help them decide to buy.
7 - Optimize for out-of-stock products
Out-of-stock products can be off-putting for customers, but you can optimize these pages to help you keep customers engaged and wanting to buy from you, rather than look for the product elsewhere. Too many eCommerce stores literally throw away business when it comes to this.
Add CTAs (Call-To-Actions) for people to sign-up to be alerted when the product comes back into stock, with an estimate of when this will be. Allow them to reserve the product for when it does come back in stock. You could also allow them to pre-order, as long as you are clear about the delay in shipping. Manage expectations to avoid annoying your customers. Just do something to avoid them going to your competitors!
Take a look at the Amazon listing below. They immediately inform you that they don’t have the product, but they don’t let you go elsewhere. They still give you the option to buy it now, whilst informing you of when they should have stock, and when you should receive the delivery.
8 - Don’t neglect your heading tags
Headings break up your copy into manageable chunks that make your content easier to read. By using proper heading tags, you’re also telling Google what different parts of the page are about. Usually, all of your headings will have relevant keywords, helping Google connect the dots.
Don’t just bold or underline text, you need to use proper tags. Your main page title should be a ‘H1’. Sub-headings are in H2. Further headings will be in H3, and so on from there. This makes your page easy to read and improves your UX design. Page structure can really help with SEO.
9 - Use blogs for ‘Top-of-Funnel’ marketing
Treat your blog as a showroom. It’s not where people will come to buy from you, but they will go there to learn more about you and your products. They will preview what you have to offer, and decide whether they want to go any further. Do not neglect customers at this stage.
If someone visits your blog, you know they’re interested in what you have to say, so you should be aiming to capture their email addresses, tag them for later advertising, or encourage them to click on an offer. Use your blog as a starting point & move the visitor through your funnel.
10 - Regularly crawl your website for errors
Broken things on your website look bad to users and they won’t stick around while you fix it. Run regular website crawls/scans for any errors and get them fixed as soon as possible. These can help you to resolve any issues before Google has a chance to detect them on your site.
Look for broken images, broken links, error messages, out-dated plug-ins, and any other technical problems that may be present on your site. Broken links can be resolved with a ‘301’ redirect, which tells your website’s server where to send users if they click on one of the broken links.
You’re half way through the list, congratulations! Take a break from reading and relax with this comprehensive video that ahrefs have created. We’ve already covered some of the points from the video to boost your eCommerce SEO and we’ll go over some more of them as we continue.
11 - Add FAQs that customers may have
FAQs are a great way to pack in information in an easily digestible way. Use FAQs to answer any questions that your customer may have. For example, if you sell power tools, you might list questions about use, storage, battery life, suggested safety equipment, and perhaps manuals.
Use Schema markup (a small piece of code) for these FAQs, as then Google will recognize what they are. When someone searches a question that you have answered, Google knows that your website contains the information that the searcher needs and will deliver your content as an optimized snippet, driving more engaged customers your way. FAQs are a great way to improve your Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
12 - Follow an effective URL structure
A good URL structure will help your site to index properly and improves user experience. When it comes to working out the best structures for your URLs, you need to think about usability, indexing, great keywords, keeping it short, and using folders (/page) in an appropriate way.
The appearance of a URL can tell a site user about the page they’re going to land on. It can also reduce the risk of crawl errors when your URLs are structured properly. Use URLs as another place to naturally work in your keywords, giving more context to what your page is about.
- Nonsense to both humans and Google – https://yourwebsite.com/category271/subcategory706/productcode1183/
- Readable to both humans and Google – https://yourwebsite.com/clothing/women/dresses
13 - Remember to optimize category pages
Every page on your site should be optimized so you can benefit from every possible source of traffic, including your store category pages. Start by optimizing your meta titles and descriptions. Use relevant headings, and thread your keywords where relevant through the on-page text.
This is another important reason to have your product pages set up with the correct image optimization, product titles, and so on, as your category pages will just be a collection of these. Make sure any linked text (also known as anchor text) is relevant to what you’re linking to.
Take a look at the image below of the category page for Nintendo Switch from Smyths Toys. They’ve gotten so much right with this page. There are further sub-categories that are easily accessible, they’ve used brand attributes cleverly, they default sort by bestsellers, etc.
14 - Display breadcrumbs on your pages
Breadcrumbs on your product pages make it easier to navigate around your site, and can keep people on your site longer. For example, if they are looking at a particular product but think it’s not quite right, breadcrumbs mean they can easily click back out to the category to look at other options. An example of breadcrumbs seen on a fashion website would be Clothing >> Women >> Dresses >> Summer Dresses
Using breadcrumbs on your eCommerce website can lead to a better user experience as in order to go up a level or two in your online catalog, your website visitor can easily click the link from within the breadcrumbs to take them back to their requested page for continued shopping.
15 - Discover and link to orphan pages
Orphan pages are pages that aren’t linked to any other part of your website. This means that a user doesn’t know where to go for more information because your page isn’t linked to anything else on your site. Worry not though as these can be easy to find and include a link to.
Run a website crawl for pages with no inbound internal links. Analyze these results and resolve any orphan pages to bring them into your site structure. Run these crawls on a regular basis (at least monthly) so you can find any issues and fix them before they cause you any problems.
16 - Steal your competitor’s marketing tactics
Pay attention to what your competition is doing. If you can see that their tactics are delivering great results for them, then you can steal their ideas and adapt them for yourself. Simply do a search for your main keywords, see who is ranking, look at those sites, and make notes.
For example, if you can see they’re ranking for certain industry-specific content, take a critical look at how they have built that content. What is it that is making it work so well? What keywords have they targeted? How have they encouraged readers to share the content further? Did they use quality images? Take the keywords & create your own unique content, and note any clever tricks to encourage sharing the content further.
Take a look at the image below to see just a small amount of keywords that Amazon (UK) rank for with the word ‘jeans’ in the URL or keyword. Don’t let all the different metrics overwhelm you if you’re new to this. This is just to give you an idea of how to discover competitor keywords.
17 - Build relevant and authoritative backlinks
Backlinks tell search engines that your site is relevant, trustworthy, and packed with knowledge, but you need to get these links from relevant quality sites. Your friends and family tweeting your link is nice but doesn’t do anything really to move the needle, whereas a high-ranking industry site including a link to your site on their blog, for example, will help greatly. Remember, backlinks are always quality over quantity.
Build backlinks by creating content that is relevant and interesting so people will want to share it. Arrange to guest post on relevant sites so you can show off your expertise while building links. You could also try to be asked to comment on relevant news stories to get links on news sites. We’ve actually created a whole blog post that goes into detail on 20 ways to build more backlinks to improve your website’s rankings.
18 - Keep your SSL security certificate valid
SSL allows sensitive information such as credit card numbers, login credentials, and other personal information to be submitted safely and securely through encryption. Keep your SSL certificate valid, so that your site has that all-important green padlock icon by the URL that tells users (and Google) that it’s secure. Google are not interested in sending their users to potentially unsafe websites, so this is quite important.
The green padlock icon helps users to feel confident that if they’re putting in personal and payment information that their details are being kept safe. This is essential for eCommerce, as you’re asking people for credit card information. They need to know that they can trust you.
19 - Use the holidays to your advantage
The holiday rush can be a great way to generate more income, but you need to make sure you’re well prepared for the extra website traffic. Use each upcoming holiday to your advantage by marketing specific offers, discount codes, and other deals to drive more traffic and sales.
Make a calendar schedule for holidays throughout the year. This can include New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, etc. Every single year, eCommerce sites see a spike particularly during Black Friday through Cyber Monday. This can be a potential goldmine.
20 - Measure positive results in Google Analytics
If you’re putting all this work in, you need to know what is delivering the results for you. Google Analytics can give you a lot of this information, from what someone typed into Google to find your website (make sure you have Google Search Console connected), to which site they were on when they clicked on a link to your product page. Make use of all this incredibly valuable information as it shows where to focus future efforts.
If you can see something is working well for you, such as seeing that guest post that you wrote generated a lot of clicks, you can do more of it, and build on that success to drive even more customers to your site. Finally, make sure to have eCommerce goals set up in Google Analytics.
If you focus your efforts on implementing the points that have been mentioned above in this article, you’re bound to see an increase in your eCommerce sales from customers who have discovered your website via Google. SEO may take time, but the results can be incredible.
eCommerce is becoming more competitive as time goes by, the number of online sales, and online shoppers continue to increase each year. We would highly encourage any eCommerce store owners to take action on the steps mentioned, this will give you an incredible head start.
We’d like to finish off by thanking you for taking the time to read these tips and we hope they brought you value. We wish you the best of luck!
– The team at Launch Site Boost.
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