To make a profit, helping people find you easily is a top priority. That’s where SEO comes into play.
This in-depth guide will help you:
- Find out how eCommerce SEO functions
- Learn why the SERP position is so important to a website
- Understand which steps you need to take to improve rankings
What is ecommerce SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a marketing method for getting more organic traffic from search engines such as Google.
Although paid ads will attract more people as well, SEO will cost you a lot less. Moreover, it can help you yield better results in the long run. Paid ads are hindered by things like ad blockers and ad blindness -- and they only work when you’re investing money into them.
In ecommerce, SEO requires you to optimize meta- and product descriptions, headlines, website speed, and design, and many other things.
Why does your SERP position matter?
Every day, Google processes roughly 3.5 billion searches. That amounts to around 40,000 searches every second.
A good number of these searches are product-related. That means there are plenty of opportunities to grab shoppers’ attention.
But most people are aware of this fact.
As a result, there are literally millions of stores around the Internet. The competition is fierce. Failing to rank on the first page of Google will result in total failure for one simple reason.
When looking for a web store, most people only look at the first few results. That’s not a hunch -- it’s backed up by the latest research. A recent study conducted by Chitika revealed that the first organic result on Google usually gets 95% of traffic.
Although thousands of ecommerce store owners invest huge amounts of money into optimization annually, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it right.
That’s why you need to ensure that you’re concentrating on important aspects of your website to avoid spending needless amounts of money.
If you want people to find your products easily, follow these 10 steps…
1. Take care of your structure
The way your site is organized plays a major role in your optimization efforts. Two basic elements every ecommerce website needs to have::
This type of navigation allows customers to know what page they’re on, without constantly looking at the URL bar above. If you want to see good use of breadcrumb navigation, then visit Dormify’s official site.
You also need to have clear and clean URLs. That means your URL address needs to be easy to read. Let’s say you’re selling suits online and that your domain name is www.suitshopping.com. You don’t want URLs to be made up out of random characters.
You want to have them clean for two reasons: a) to make sure Google indexes the site quickly b) help visitors navigate the website easily. Here’s how URLs should/shouldn’t look:
- Messy URL: https://www.suitshopping.com/index.php?page=blog
- Clean URL: https://www.suitshopping.com/blog
With clear navigation, you’ll ensure that Google indexes your website properly and that visitors can find their way around the site seamlessly.
2. Research and target long-tail keywords
When it comes to keywords, instead of going for one-word-long, general keywords, targeting long-tail ones should be your priority.
If you’re just starting out, you can’t expect to compete with the big dogs for general keywords -- no matter your market or niche.
That’s the only way you’ll see results.
Just take Sportsman’s Warehouse for example. If you’re into camping or fishing, you’ve probably heard about their website. Five years ago, they were competing for major, hard-to-rank-for keywords like “finishing equipment” and “camping gear.”
Then, in 2015, they started focusing on more specific, long-tail keywords. After 12 months, they tripled their ROI. Compared to the year before, they saw a 31% increase in organic search and a 25% rise in organic revenue.
3. Optimize your product pages properly
As an online merchant, your objective is to sell as many products as you can, right? Naturally, one of your biggest concerns needs to be making sure that product pages not only look great but that they’re optimized with Google algorithm in mind.
Product descriptions need to contain the correct keywords and all of the images have to be tagged properly. You also can’t forget to optimize your:
- H1/H2/H3 Tags - On-page text used by Google to interpret website content
- Meta Titles - Bits of HTML code that tell Google the title of the page
- Meta Descriptions - Piece of code that says Google what the page is about
You also can’t forget about product page design.
Take the case of Lightproof, for instance. It shows how a small change can mean a lot to your bottom line. By simply making a change to their CTA button, the electronic accessory company managed to increase its monthly revenue by 16%.
4. Ensure that your site is friendly for mobile
Whether you’re aware of it or not, a large portion of visitors will visit your store via smartphone.
The number of mobile shoppers is surprisingly high.
Consider this: last year on Black Friday, a third of people only shopped on their mobile devices. So while a mobile-first approach will help you rank better - mobile optimization is now officially a ranking factor - but it will also increase sales.
Here’s what to do:
- Make website/store design is responsive
- Keep the page loading time on mobile low
- Create a simple checkout for mobile shoppers
Also, read about the Google mobile penalty. That way, you’ll know if you’re doing anything wrong.
5. Add sitemap to Google Search Console
Most popular platforms - including Shopify and WooCommerce - generate a sitemap automatically, you should still take things a bit further. By that, we mean that you should go ahead and add your own sitemap to Google Search Console.
Why is this so important?
You want Google to index every page you’ve created correctly. From basic to product pages, ensuring that Google has found all of the pages will validate your efforts.
If you’ve never submitted anything to GSC, here’s a quick guide on how to submit your sitemap.
6. Optimize your page loading time
Letting your website become too slow is a huge mistake. They don’t say that we live in an age of instant gratification for nothing. Here’s the catch: the slower the site is, the less popular it is.
Slow loading speeds can hinder your entire sales funnel. 52% of shoppers (on mobile) will leave your site if it doesn't load right away. So if you don’t want to start losing customers quickly, do everything in your power to keep things fast.
When it comes to loading speeds, every millisecond counts. Having your website a second slower than it was initially can cost you a lot.
A one-second delay in loading time can reduce your conversion rate by 7%. If your website is bringing in $10,000 monthly, it will cost you $700. On a yearly level, that amounts to $8,400, which is not a small sum by any stretch of the imagination.
7. Invest more in content creation
No matter how many times we hear it and how cliché it sounds at this point, content will always be king. After all, it appeals both to people and Google.
As HubSpot explains, people who prioritize content creation are 13X more likely to see a positive return on their investment. Content creation may be hard work, but it’s more than worth it.
Your blog needs to be updated on a regular basis. Whether you want to invest in article, audio, or video creation, it doesn’t really matter. How much content you need to create and at what frequency you should post it is all up to you.
Consider using social media and email marketing to distribute your content for wider reach.
8. Create content that’s easy to digest
Let’s stay on the topic of content creation for a bit. Most people will not read every single word you write. Research shows that less than 2 in 10 people will read an entire web page before leaving it.
People want to find the thing they’re looking for quickly.
They don’t want to spend an hour going through material only to read a few sentences they wanted. That’s why you need to keep your paragraphs short, easy to digest, and scan.
9. Work out a link building strategy
We’ve been talking about ranking so much thus far, but we still haven’t discussed the most effective technique for improving your SERP rank: link building.
If you haven’t heard about link building, here’s an explanation: this is a practice of building one-way hyperlinks to improve visibility on Google. Some of the more widely-used strategies include outreach, guest posting, and broken link building.
The more people link back to your site, the more valuable your store is in the eyes of Google. The problem with ecommerce link building is that many websites don’t want to link to someone selling something. That’s why you need to get creative:
- Affiliate Marketing: You can always offer discount codes and landing pages to affiliate websites in your industry to give them the initiative to help you with a backlink.
- Resource Sections: Create guides and educational content for your blog and reach out to blogs in your niche to get featured in their “resources” section.
- Bloggers + Giveaways: Run giveaways with influencers and bloggers in your industry to score backlinks, brand exposure, and social reach.
10. Don’t forget about internal linking
Let’s face it: not all pages are created equal. Some are more Google-friendly than others. This can be used to your advantage. Use popular pages on the site to refer consumers to product pages to create link equality.
By placing links to products on these high-ranking pages, you’ll drive more visitors to the shopping section of your website.
Interlinking also contributes to organic visits. Just take a look at Ninja Outreach and their effort. By ensuring that their pages are strategically interlinked, they managed to increase their organic traffic by a staggering 40%.
Start investing in SEO ASAP
Getting organic traffic has never been easy for any niche, nor will it ever be. In ecommerce, it can be especially challenging. Unlike PPC, it can take several months to see results from an SEO campaign.
Does this mean that SEO is not worth it? Of course, it is. Standing out in Google is important for every store. (If you have a Shopify, check out our guide to Shopify SEO.)
Before launching your very first campaign, here’s what you need to remember:
- Without optimization, your business as a whole will definitely suffer
- The higher you rank, the more visitors will you be able to attract
- If you want to do SEO correctly, take it one step at a time and be patient