SEO for eCommerce is a practice that can help you reach your business goals by bringing a large number of users to your site without the use of paid ads. If you start ranking organically in search engines with the help of SEO, your eCommerce store can continue to make sales without continually having to pump funds into your marketing strategy.
eCommerce for SEO is all about getting your products in front of users that are already searching for what you have to offer. It’s finding a very targeted audience without the use of paid advertising. Doesn’t that sound like every business owner’s dream? Keep reading to learn exactly what you can do to improve your eCommerce store SEO, drive traffic to your website, and increase the number of sales you are making on a daily basis.
What is SEO for eCommerce?
eCommerce search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your pages to rank organically on search engine results pages. Ideally, you want your products to rank on the first page of SERPs (search engine results pages), and the closer to the top, the better.
Studies show that 23% of clicks go to the first result in SERPs, the second results get 20%, and the percentages drop significantly from there. The last result on page 1 is only getting 2% of the clicks. So you can see just how important it is to rank near the top of page 1.
SEO practices for eCommerce are targeted toward two main themes:
- Optimizing pages so that search engines like Google understand exactly what they are about. This allows Google to rank you for relevant search queries.
- Optimizing pages so that they are user-friendly, satisfy user intent, and provide a good experience for those visiting the page.
Your Guide to Creating an eCommerce SEO Strategy
SEO strategy for eCommerce websites may sound intimidating, but in reality, it’s a combination of tactics that together, can make a huge difference. If you are ready to drive traffic to your website, implement these SEO practices correctly to see results.
Base Every Page On Keyword Research
Keyword research should be at the foundation of every page that you create on your website, whether it be a product page, category page, or blog post. Keyword research is the act of collecting data about what users are actually searching for.
Use A Good Keyword Research Tool
Keyword research can be done on various tools such as:
Different tools provide you with different levels of information about the keywords you are searching for, but we will focus on Ahrefs as it provides the most in-depth data. You can expect to find out:
- How many people are searching for that particular keyword every month.
- Of those people searching, how many are clicking through to a website (this is important because some search queries are now answered by Google, so fewer users are actually opening a web page).
- How difficult it will be to rank for the keyword (this is measured by the number of links that you will need to acquire to your page to rank in the top 10 for that particular keyword).
- Search suggestions or matching phrases (if the keyword you originally searched is not providing the data you hoped, you can look through similar search terms to find keywords with better data).
- The top pages ranking for that keyword (this allows you to see what Google is looking for when ranking pages for this particular keyword. Pay attention to the information provided, the format it is provided in, and the word count of each of these pages).
In general, you want your pages to target keywords that are being searched for as frequently as possible, are accumulating clicks to top-ranking web pages, and have a low keyword difficulty (meaning you won’t have to acquire a large number of links in order to rank for that particular keyword).
Optimize Your Product Pages
Your product pages should be optimized for keywords that are relevant, and that people are actually searching for. You can do this on the keyword research tools mentioned above. For instance, if you sell cat t-shirts, the words ‘cat t-shirt’ may not be your best keyword. You should also research phrases such as:
- Cats t-shirt
- Printed cat t-shirt
- Cotton cat t-shirt
Another way to do keyword research is to start typing phrases into eCommerce marketplaces such as Amazon. They will provide a list of suggestions that will give you an idea as to how popular a search term really is. It will also provide valuable insights into the supporting keywords that can be used.
If you continue using the cat t-shirt analogy, things like the color, material, or the name of a specific cartoon may pop up. If they are relevant to your product, it would be a good idea to add those valuable supporting keywords to the title or the description of your product.
Create Supporting Content In Content Clusters
If you want to start ranking for keywords within your niche, then it’s important to create content clusters. This means covering a topic in its entirety before moving on to the next. For instance, if you sell kitchen appliances on your eCommerce store, and you recently uploaded a product page for your kettle, then it would be a good idea to create supporting content for that product page.
What is supporting content? It’s blog content that can internally link to your product page but provides valuable information for the reader. These supporting pages also provide another way to bring traffic to your website.
If you were to write supporting blog posts for your kettle product, you could create content around the following:
- How to keep your kettle clean
- Kettles that last a long time
- How to make kettle bread
While these pieces of content are unlikely to convert into a sale, they create relevancy in your niche. This is something search engines like to see, and they will be more likely to rank your product pages if you have informational supporting content.
Create A Well-Thought-Out Website Structure
When you’re creating your site structure and category pages, it’s important to think about the future. You want to create a site structure that won’t require adjustments every time a category is added to the site. Remember to allow for expansion well into the future.
It’s also important to make sure that your product pages are no further than 4 clicks away from the homepage. If you can get this down to 2 or 3 clicks, that’s even better. The closer your important pages are to your homepage, the easier and faster they will be indexed by search engine crawlers. This also makes it easier for users to navigate your website.
Pay Attention To Technical SEO
Technical aspects of SEO for eCommerce stores are ones that are not seen by users, but still, play a large role in the SEO performance of your website. These off-page SEO tactics should be taken care of, even though they cannot always be seen or noticed by the user.
Improve Your Site Loading Speed
The rate at which your website loads is important because the longer it takes for a web page to load, the more likely users are to leave the page. Stats show that if your website takes less than 2 seconds to load, bounce rates generally sit at around 9%.
However, if your website takes over 5 seconds to load, your bounce rate will skyrocket to as much as 38%. If you want to check how long your website takes to load, you can use Google’s page speed insights tool. If your website is loading slowly, it can provide you with ways you can optimize your page speed to load faster.
Optimize Your Website With Metadata
Metadata refers to the data that you provide for search engines that users can’t see. In its most basic form, it consists of:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Alt text
These should be filled in for each and every page to ensure that search engine crawlers correctly understand your content at every turn.
Create A Good Internal Linking Structure
Your internal link structure is the links that point from pages on your website to other pages. There are a couple of ways you can go about creating an internal link structure, but one of them is to create a user sitemap. Please note that this is different from the XML sitemap spoken about later on.
A user sitemap is a page that contains links to all your most important pages. This would be your category pages as well as your product pages (unless those are changing on a very frequent basis).
You can also do this by linking from your blog content to relevant product pages to ensure that you are creating a network of powerful and applicable content.
Optimize Your Images
Your images can also be optimized using the best SEO practices. This means ensuring that they are the right size. It’s recommended that images are less than 200kb or they may start slowing down the website.
You also want to optimize your images by giving them relevant alt text. This is the text that the search engine sees and uses to find out what is contained within the image (because search engine crawlers can’t actually decipher images at this point).
The more specific you get with your alt text, the deeper understanding search engine crawlers will have of the image, and they will be able to rank the image in Google Image Search. This provides yet another way for users to click through to your website.
If you are writing alt text for an image of a silver kettle, try to make it as specific as possible, e.g “silver kettle with black handle”, or “electronic silver kettle on red countertop”.
Create An XML Sitemap And Robots.txt File
These are complex HTML pages that should be handled by a developer or skilled SEO specialist, but it’s important that your site has both of these elements. Your XML sitemap is a list of all the URLs on your website that you would like crawled by search engines.
Your robots.txt file is an instruction manual that explains to crawlers how you would like them to crawl your website, and whether there is anything you don’t want to be crawled. For eCommerce sites, this would be your login page because you don’t want search engines crawling your client’s personal details. This blocks search engines from crawling the personal details that are contained behind login pages.
You also need to link to your XML sitemap in your robots.txt file to make it easier for crawlers to efficiently crawl your eCommerce site.
Set Up Tracking
In order to adjust and modify your strategy along the way, it’s important to track your website performance. This allows you to see which pages are actually bringing traffic to your website, and which ones could do with some work.
You will also need to monitor the number of sales being made from each page. For eCommerce stores using Sage 300, Sage X3, Microsoft Dynamics Business Central, and Netsuite, commercebuild’s platform allows you to track this metric using our powerful eCommerce platform.
Optimize Your Product Pages
If you want to make sales, then ranking your product pages in SERPs is the best way to do that. Your product will appear when people search for what you are selling. This has a great long-term payoff because you can keep selling your product without the need for paid ads.
Target A Specific Keyword
You want to target one specific keyword with your product pages. This keyword should be decided on after thorough keyword research. You should also add semantic keywords to your title and within your product description.
Amazon has some great examples of this, words are used in the title that people relate to kettles and may be searching alongside your main keyword. When we type the words “silver kettle” into Amazon, the first result title is “OPUX Pour Over Coffee Kettle with Gooseneck | Stainless Steel Coffee Tea Kettle with Thermometer 40 oz, Stovetop Induction Goose Necked Kettle Slow Pour Drip Spout (1.2 Liter, 40 fl oz) Silver”.
The seller has literally listed all related keywords. While it’s unnecessary to list an excessive number of possible semantic keywords, try to aim for at least one or two other semantic keywords to increase the number of relevant searches that your product might appear in.
Choose A Keyword-Rich URL
When choosing your URL for any of your pages, it’s important to keep a few principles in mind.
- Keep your URLs short
- ONLY use your target keyword in the URL
- Don’t add stop words to the URL (“a”, “the”, “is”, “are”)
Create Keyword-Rich And User-Friendly Product Descriptions
In order to rank a page in SERPs, it needs a decent amount of content. This is so that search engine crawlers have enough information to work with. Your product descriptions should give users all the relevant information about the product and contain keywords relevant to the product.
Pay Close Attention To User Experience
You want to provide users with a great user experience on your product pages. This means having text in varied formats (bold, italic, and bullet points). Have buttons that are easily visible so that users can easily add the item to their cart.
Navigate your website the way a user would to ensure that there are no snags along the way. If there is an issue at some point in the order process, then you know that is an area where users are probably dropping off.
Create A Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is creating informational content that’s main aim is to provide value for the potential customer. This content acts as supporting content for your product posts, and acts as a way to bring more traffic to your website, and pique the interest of other potential customers.
It’s best to aim to publish at least 3 – 4 posts a month in order to keep the content on your eCommerce store fresh. This is also a good signal to search engines that you are continually working on and improving your website.
Build Links To Your Website
Links from other websites are an important ranking factor and sign of authority. The more high-quality links your eCommerce store has from other domains, the more perceived authority it is thought to have by search engines.
There are a couple of different link types that you should aim to acquire for your eCommerce store:
- Guest posts – write content for other people’s websites and insert a link to your website.
- Link inserts – ask other websites to insert a link to your website in their already existing content.
- Profile – create profiles on social media platforms and link back to your eCommerce store.
- Directory – get your eCommerce store listed on online directories.
It’s good to aim for a good spread of different kinds of links so that it is not seen as unnatural by search engines.
Focus On EAT (Expertise, Authority, And Trust)
Expertise, authority, and trust have become a huge ranking factor in search engine algorithms. You need to let search engines know that you are qualified to write about the topics that are present on your website. This is easier to do in some niches than in others.
Set Up The Right Pages
If you want to display your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, there are a couple of pages you need to add to your website:
- Terms & conditions page
- Author OR about us page
Encourage Product Reviews
If you allow people to leave reviews on your website, it acts as social proof. Users are far more willing to trust your eCommerce store and the products you sell if they see other people have enjoyed using them.
These reviews also act as a sign of authority to search engines who are able to see that people have rated your products for their high quality.
Audit Your Website
It’s good to take a critical look at your website content on a regular basis. You’ll want to use Google Search Console to analyze your pages every 4 – 6 months. What are you looking for? Ideally, you want to look for posts to optimize so that they can rank on the first page, or even in the top 3 SERP results.
Look For Pages To Optimize
Head over to your Google Search Console data and take a deep dive into the queries you are ranking for on each of your product pages. If a page is ranking in the top 10 (but not as well as position 1 or 2) for most of its top-performing keywords, then it has great potential.
Once you have picked out a page to be optimized, look at the Google Search Console data to see what relevant queries (keywords) the page is ranking for. Ensure that those keywords are included in the post if they are not present already and ensure that the page is targeting the relevant keyword that is bringing the most traffic to your website.
Go through the page and see if it has the potential for content to be added. Test all the links and buttons on the page to see that they are working correctly. Ensure that all images are the correct size.
You are basically testing that the page is as healthy as it can be from an SEO perspective while adding keywords into the post where possible.
Pay Attention To Cannibalization
While looking through your pages in Google Search Console, look out for any pages that could be cannibalizing. What does this mean? Pages that are going after keywords that are too similar have the chance of cannibalizing, which is when search engines don’t know which page you would like to rank for that particular keyword.
If you have two pages that could be cannibalizing, consider changing the target keyword of the page that is performing the worst so that the overlap in the target keyword is less severe.
Use Schema Markup To Increase CTR (Click-Through Rate)
Schema markup is the data that is portrayed about a product directly under its title in search engine results pages. This can be things like the star rating of a product, or on recipe pages – how long an item takes to make. The latter can be useful for your blog content.
Search Engine Land indicates that the use of schema markup could increase your click-through rate by as much as 30%. This is a significant amount of users who click through to your website that you could have the opportunity to convert. Search engines also like to rank pages with schema higher in SERPs because they provide more information for users right off the bat.
How Can commercebuild Help With eCommerce SEO?
If you are using Sage 300, Sage X3, Microsoft Dynamics Business Central, and Netsuite ERP systems, the Commercebuild B2B eCommerce and B2C eCommerce platforms can help to improve your SEO with integrated functionalities.
Out of the box, you will enjoy an optimized buying process with advanced marketing and sales capabilities. All you need to do is keyword research to ensure the products you are selling are ranking for relevant keywords that users are actually searching for.
SEO For eCommerce Businesses
If you follow the steps and guidelines outlined above correctly, you’ll drive traffic to your eCommerce store and increase your sales. Are you ready to make your eCommerce store a success with eCommerce SEO? Commercebuild’s built-in SEO functionality can simplify each step of the process for you. Contact us to find out how!
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