How to do SEO for your eCommerce site

When you purchase online, the truth is you are unable to try or verify any of the items you want to buy. 

Nevertheless, eCommerce is experiencing the biggest boom since its inception.  It’s fair to say that people have morphed from ‘midnight snackers’, to ‘midnight shoppers’.

Online shopping is now not only becoming a past-time for many people, but it also saves time and money from heading out to the mall, spending on gas and parking. 

For eCommerce business owners, the growing trend in buying online (plus through using mobile devices) has two different meanings:

There’s no more need to have to educate users about online purchasing.

And

There are far more digital online buyers than before.

However, with that comes a lot of competition in the market, so you need to be smart to be on top.

This is where SEO comes in and plays the most significant part of your success with your online shopping strategy. 

In this article, I try to help you arrange your online store to be both customer-friendly but just as importantly, SEO-friendly as both need to be on-point to succeed.

We will start from the beginning and the basics and move on from there. 

Ecommerce SEO

The basics of Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the discipline of getting your website to rank higher on the search engines results pages, known in the digital world as ‘SERPs’. Ecommerce SEO is all about special SEO tactics used for eCommerce websites.

When a person who is browsing the internet types in a search phrase, the search engines use an algorithm to return an extensive list of web pages that match the search term. These pages are ranked in order due to the relevance they hold of that particular search term. 

It is a known fact that over 60% of search traffic goes to the pages that are ranked 1-3 on the first page. 

Another humbling statistic is that over 90% of all traffic gathered comes from the first page. So, as you can imagine the competition to get onto that first page is fierce, and a lot of work may be needed if you are not a niche business. 

Visibility means everything in online business today, and SEO is essential to get you there. More visibility means more outreach, resulting in more business and profits.  

The more your webpage is attractive to to the search engines algorithm, the higher you will rank on the SERPs and become more visible. 

So, as an investment, it is definitely worth it.

On-Page SEO Factors

Your eCommerce website is the starting place where you get the SEO wheels turning. The search engines look at several factors when they are crawling through your pages, looking to see if you match the search terms. 

Here are the most important factors:

site structure

keywords

page URL

images alt-text

title tag

meta-descriptions

content

internal links

The content you have published on your site will inform the algorithm of whether your pages(s) is/are relevant to the user who is searching.

Site Structure

Your site structure has a big part to play in rankings.  The way in which your pages will link with each other has a bearing on results. The search engines use link structures that affects how it indexes your pages. 

If you get your site structure on-point, your pages and sub-pages will be easily found by the search engines when they are crawling.

Remember, it is not just about being able to be found by the search engines, but a good site structure is paramount to offering a premium user experience (UX). 

Enabling clients to find and purchase products easily is the key to successful eCommerce. 

Keywords

There are many different types of keywords and search enquiries that people use in order to find suitable products. 

Keywords and SEO go hand-in-hand. Establishing what searchers are searching for in your arena is the stepping stone to success.  

Once you have looked into that aspect, you will have a list of search trends that will stand you in good stead to grab some of that attention. This is where the optimisation process begins, and you start placing those keywords throughout your website. 

Your primary and most potent keywords are to be placed in your titles and others placed in meta-descriptions and images tags.

Page URL

Ensuring your pages URL is SEO friendly is another way to improve your rankings. Including the main keyword to be targeted is a must. Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the online address for each and every page. 

URLs get displayed on browsers and SERPs.  These come in two different types – static and dynamic. 

Search engines, of course, understand both versions, but for humans’ dynamic URLs are extremely difficult to understand. 

Using a static URL is easier to be able to place one of your main keywords as opposed to a dynamic URL.

Here are a few good practices to keep in mind when it comes to URLs:

It is always better to using hyphens (-) rather than underscores (_).  The reasoning behind this is Google, for example, will read underscores (_) as one single word rather than separate them. Here is a prime example, if you were to type:

Once_upon_a_time – Google would read that as a single word:

Onceuponatime.  Which naturally will cause you problems.  

So, try to keep your URL as brief as you can, make it descriptive and of course, relevant. You want your visitor to be able to tell at a glance exactly what you do, what you sell and what your company is about. 

If your URL, had at the end of it – ‘/shipping-and-returns’ it would be instantly apparent that the page related to shipping and returns, terms and conditions, it’s relatively straightforward right?

Look to pick the most relevant keywords and use them in the URLs address to help the optimising process. 

Images and Alt-text

Images are not ranked by search engines as images, there are read as ‘alt-text’. Here is where you need to use alt-text in order to help the search engines understand the actual meaning of what your image represents. 

When you are describing your image also be sure to use some of your focused keywords.

Meta-description and Title-tag

Title-tags define what a website stands for in a concise and transparent manner. Look at keeping it short, with a maximum of 60 characters. Be sure to include a couple of your most relevant keywords and your brand name.

A title tag plays a leading role in SEO as it appears in the search engine result pages (SERPs).

With eCommerce, you will find that a short title description is not enough for some browsers to understand what you represent fully.  The meta-description provides you with the opportunity to adequately explain what you offer and what products you are selling.

You are given between 150-160 characters to utilise in your meta-description.  Try to use this to engage the searcher.  If your meta is boring, remember there are plenty of other options out there just a click away, therefore affecting your click-through-rate.

Links

Internal links are links that drive through to your other pages. These help the search engine to crawl through your site based upon the search term that is being used; this aids the search engine to index each page as they crawl through. 

Content

Content has become the industries buzz word this year, and it is a vital cog in the wheel of eCommerce. 

Optimising engaging content is everything in today’s online world. Content used correctly, with smart placement of keywords, fun, quirky and engaging is what keeps people on your site and keep them clicking through to the point-of-sale. 

Using the right number of natural keywords are your key to success, don’t overuse them however as the search engines will pick-up on the overuse of specific keywords and actually downgrade you rather than make you more visible. Everything must be natural. 

Off-page Factors

Off-page SEO involves getting and building links from other areas of the internet to your website.  Previously eCommerce SEO managers would place suitable links all over the site including forums, in directories and comment sections, and also buy links from different sites.

However, these techniques have been picked up by Google and the other search engines and now are flagged under an industry term called ‘Black Hat SEO’. Black Hat will be penalised and can result in a significant drop-off on the SERPS and take months to recover from.  

So, today you must look to take a different approach to keep your page from any such trouble. 

The trending way to utilise off-page SEO is to look to build relationships, not necessarily links. 

Social media has become an excellent platform for achieving this, as I mentioned earlier in the post. 

Engaging content is a sure way to keep people on your site; it is also an ideal way to gain followers. So, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter could end up sharing your content with others. This then can become a yellow brick road of backlinks from people who want to know more about your products and create a storm of natural backlinks of which the algorithms will respond to and rank you higher. 

Any time someone visits your eCommerce store from another website, you have gained a backlink. The more backlinks you gain the algorithms see you as being popular and rank you higher on their searches. 

Summary

2021 represents the highest number of internet searches ever seen.  It also represents the highest amount of online shopping ever conducted. 

You have the chance of taking advantage of this unique situation, but SEO has to be at the forefront of your mind in order to be successful.  My advice is to use an SEO company that specialises in eCommerce SEO. 

In many cases, you need to do what you do best and concentrate on your products, let the digital experts do the rest and expand your business that way.  Good luck!

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