A complete introduction to eCommerce SEO
SEO for eCommerce is completely different from traditional SEO. It requires skills across multiple disciplines. As an eCommerce SEO, you need an in-depth understanding of human psychology for a mass of customer profiles, which is essential for conversion rate optimisation, analytics, social media, and selling.
To top it off, you also need to understand the economy, usability and user experience, technical SEO, as well as PPC. The best eCommerce SEO specialists also have deep insight and understanding of the digital and retail world and know how to bring them together.
If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. But don’t despair – we’ve broken it all down for you here, covering everything you need to know to improve your eCommerce SEO.
Get your keywords right and that’s half the job done!
Your keywords are the first thing you need to get right. Our top tip: don’t be too broad or too competitive.
Too broad, and you’ll end up with a ridiculous bounce rate and a poor conversion rate because people who click on your site won’t be able to find what they’re looking for. Too competitive and you’ll be up against sites with more authority and more trust, meaning it can take a really long time to achieve high rankings.
Include site search when conducting your keyword research to see what your customers are looking for. They might be looking for products you don’t have, which can give you ideas for expanding your retail offering. It’ll also allow you to look at what people are searching for compared to what’s selling, to help you spot potential issues and areas of improvement.
Tip about how to find the right keywords
First of all, you need to find your niche, what separates you from your competitors. You then you need to use the right tool to find those keywords (I use an active Google Ads account and SearchMetrics). Once you’ve found your niche, you need to refine your keywords and find out how competitive they are and prioritise them.
Make sure site is optimised for those keywords. Use them in:
- Headers and subheaders
- Image file names
- alt tags
- Meta title and description
When creating content for your eCommerce site:
- Avoid keyword cannibalisation: This is what happens when you try to rank for loads of keywords across several pages. Google picked up on this in 2008 and its Panda algorithm is programmed to punish it in real time.
- Don’t keyword stuff: Use your blog posts for keywords that you can’t get into any other content. This helps develop awesome and unique content that your customers will read and share.
- Write for people, not search engines: Google’s algorithm now rewards sites that create great content and penalises sites that keyword stuff or use other tactics that can be seen as manipulative.
Technical SEO: Clean your house before people come over
Do you clean up your house before inviting people over? Yes! So why don’t you do the same for your site?
If you don’t get your technical SEO right, none of your hard work will index and you’ve just flushed away all that budget spent on outreach. Make some nice clean URLs, add detailed breadcrumbs, make the journey from viewing to purchasing as simple and as straightforward as possible, speed up your page loading times, check for 404 and 302 redirects and, for my sake and your own, make sure you’re on HTTPS!
Part of this involves conducting periodic SEO analysis. SEO is not static, nor is your eCommerce website. Your site and code will change. A developer may, with the best intentions at heart, fix one problem but create another.
Design for mobile and desktop. Right now, there’s no question that Amazon rules eCommerce. It’s only recently that more people have started shopping on Amazon on their mobile rather than their desktop and the balance is still pretty tight, make sure you are not missing out.
Schema.org is a nice easy converter – I’m sure you all know about it, but it wouldn’t be an eCommerce blog if I didn’t mention it. Use it wisely and you’ll get stars next to your name, which can improve your conversion rate.
Make sure you have quality content!
When Google first released the Panda algorithm, quality content became a top priority for any site. This is easy to fix – for example, product pages need to be more than just pages with a photo and blurbs about a product. Vue does this extremely well.
Amazon features customer product reviews, photos, and videos. To increase your SEO rankings, you also need to have custom product descriptions.
Things to always remember when implementing onsite content:
Duplicate content is the enemy
The downside is, many eCommerce stores have a large amount of duplicate content as a result of product descriptions and lists, which can get penalised.
Assess your site and look for ways to reduce the amount of redundant and duplicate content. Careful usage of the canonical tag can help avoid these problems as well.
Be wary of filters
I say be wary because, in terms of UX, they are great as they to help your users find the products most relevant to them, pushing up your conversions.
The issue in terms of SEO is that most filtering systems generate unique URLs for every type of filter search, which means that one site could have thousands of indexed pages, all with duplicate content issues. As a result, it can make your site look like a content farm in the eyes of Google.
Make sure you blog
Creating blog content can assist in ranking your eCommerce business for additional keywords that might not have a place on your main website. Plus, you can capitalize on long-tail keywords.
Sell to humans, not search engines!
I read a really interesting blog by our very own Jen Derrick about this very subject, which will help you create product copy that speaks to both Google and your customers.
Another thing to remember – add a “psychology” layer to your content. Manufacturer’s descriptions are often dull and technical because they have to be. People, however, buy based on emotion! Use language that people will respond to, while still being clear about what you’re selling.
Images are really important as well – make sure to use one that are high quality, and make sure product images aren’t too large, or they will slow your page speed. Don’t forget the importance of image search: add appropriate alternative text to all images and videos.
You need GA analysis to help prioritize areas for improvement
As Stephen Kenwright once said, “be like Amazon and beat Google at search.”
How do you do this? By using the right tools, you can see the keywords your customers are searching for on your site and use them to calculate the revenue they generate.
Make sure you track the clicks you want and don’t want and build dashboards containing actionable information. Better yet, speak to Emma Barnes because this is hard and you need someone who lives and breathes it to get it right.
Conduct relevant CRO
The best way to describe how to do well in CRO is to put the focus on the user. Test absolutely everything, collect information, and use that information to make sure you continue evolving.
Think like a customer and map out their journey! The downfall of ecommerce that your customer can’t touch your products before they make a decision. Currently there’s no solution for this, unless you’re able to send out free samples or trial products.
Making the journey from viewing your product to purchasing as simple and as clean as possible can help to improve the customer experience, along with having a clear returns policy and shipping information.
Always test! Before, during, and after you launch any ecommerce business, you should invest in testing and analytics. Think like the customer and figure out what’s working, what’s not, and the why behind those answers.
Don’t rely solely on PPC (but also don’t forget it)
Most companies fall back on a pay per click (PPC) strategy to create visibility for their store. The truth is that PPC costs continue to go up and once you stop paying for placement, your online presence can disappear.
Some customers have an inherent distrust of sponsored links, banners, and other online ads, meaning we can’t solely rely on a PPC strategy – we need organic search too!
That said, PPC is a heavyweight in the ecommerce market, and it’s important to find a place that suits your brand and your customers. When implementing PPC:
- Test ads that compel people to purchase
- Sell in a unique way
- Purchase intent keywords
Intertwine your email and social
Social media works well. Endorsements and reviews from happy users or customers will not only enhance your SEO campaign but also boost sales conversions.
Have social integrated into your site to build a community of happy buyers. The easiest way to do this? Fill in Google My Business, Facebook, and Twitter business forms.
Final thoughts on the future of eCommerce
What can we expect for SEO eCommerce in the not too distant future? Be prepared for the rise of voice search. The stats indicate that it’s not going to be long before more than half of all search is done without a screen.
So, when your customer asks Alexa, Siri, Google, or Cortana to add toothpaste to your shopping list, how do you make sure that it’s your toothpaste? What happens when all eCommerce is Amazon? Why is Dan just answering our questions with more questions? Because I’m hoping your naturally inquisitive nature will entice you to reach out and ask me these questions in person! Get in touch with me at [email protected]