You’ve got two options for getting website traffic from Google – search engine optimization (SEO) and paid advertising. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages, but it’s hard to argue with the numbers – organic search results get 80 to 90 percent more clicks than paid ads.
If you’re not optimizing your site to generate search traffic by getting to the first page of Google search results, you’re leaving money on the table.
Let’s look at how to set up an effective Ecommerce SEO strategy.
Creating an Ecommerce SEO Strategy
The first step in optimizing your Ecommerce website for Google is to plan your strategy. If you wade into SEO without an effective strategy, you might see some results, but taking the time to make a plan first will be far more effective.
There are several steps involved in creating a plan:
- Make a list of all the pages and products on your online store.
- Go through the list and rank their importance so you can focus on the highest value pages first.
- Do some competitive research on all your major competitors to find their strengths and any weaknesses you can exploit.
Gathering all this information upfront will make it easier to decide where to focus your SEO efforts in the short, medium, and long term.
Keyword Research for Ecommerce Sites
Once you’ve got your “inventory” of pages to optimize, it’s time to do some keyword research, so you know what terms to target with your SEO efforts.
Keywords are the foundation of search engine optimization. They are the words and phrases that people search for in Google. When someone searches for a word or phrase that’s related to a product you sell, you want your site to be at or near the top of the results.
There are several things to look at when choosing the keywords you want to target:
- Search volume or the number of searches done for that keyword.
- Cost-per-click (CPC) on Google Ads: you won’t pay for clicks with SEO but a higher CPC usually means the keyword is more valuable.
- User intent
What is User Intent?
User intent is important but overlooking it is a common marketing mistake. People search for different things when they’re looking for information versus looking to buy.
For example, if someone searches for the keyword “iPhone” they could be interested in buying one but they could also be looking for information about the phone, help with using their iPhone, or any number of other things.
On the other hand, if a user searches for “iPhone 11 deals” there’s a better chance they’re planning on buying one. You’ll get more qualified organic traffic if you optimize your product pages for keywords with high buying intent.
Every page on your site should be targeting one primary keyword but you can work other related words into the content to capture more search rankings. Google uses a technology called latent semantic indexing or LSI to identify the topic of any given webpage. Working these related keywords into your content helps Google understand what your page is about.
How to Find Keywords
If you’re familiar with your market you can probably come up with a reasonable number of keywords related to the products you sell. The problem is, your customers may not be as familiar with the market and could be searching for phrases you would never consider.
According to Google, 15 percent of searches have never been searched before. That means 85 percent of searches get repeated. In your keyword research, you should try and identify these long-tail keywords. While the overall search volume for these terms might be lower, they often have a high user purchase intent
You can use tools like Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Planner to uncover keywords that people are searching for in your market. If you sell products that are found on Amazon, you can also use Amazon Suggest and Amazon’s category names to get plenty of keywords to target.
Building an Effective Ecommerce Website Structure
Your website structure plays an important part in search engine optimization. If your site is poorly structured, it can prevent Google from indexing it properly. And if Google can’t index your web pages, they’re not going to show up in the search results.
Ecommerce stores are usually almost entirely made up of category and product pages. To get the best results, you should add some non-product pages to your site to flesh it out a bit. Some of the common pages you should consider include:
- Home page – optimize this page but it shouldn’t be your main focus.
- About us – optimize this page for information about your business.
- FAQ – include frequently asked questions about your products but also include more general questions about your market to target people searching for information.
- Blog – a blog can be a great entry point to your site and lead generation tool to get people into your sales funnel early in the buying cycle.
- Help/support – including help or support information on your site helps your customers but also lets you expand your SEO efforts.
Effective Site Navigation & Site Architecture
Simple, easy-to-follow site navigation makes it easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for but it also helps with SEO. Google’s crawler is like any other visitor to the site – it will find more information when the navigation structure is easy to figure out.
Use a “silo” site structure for your website. Your home page should link to category pages which then link to either sub-category or product pages.
Aim for no more than three clicks to get to product pages with well structured internal linking. Any more than that and Google’s crawler may not index everything. Beyond this causing issues with Google, user experience issues may cause customers to leave your website because they can’t find what they’re looking for.
Breadcrumb navigation is a good tool from both a human visitor and a Google crawler perspective. Every page will show the “breadcrumb trail” that led to that page, making it easy to navigate up and down the site structure.
Product Pages and Category Page Optimization
The most important factor in optimizing your product pages is to use a unique, targeted title on each page. This can be a lot of work if you have a large number of products but the effort will be worth it in the long run.
A lot of Ecommerce sites use a standard template for the title and meta description on every product page. They’re often almost identical on every page with a couple of unique words. This makes it hard for Google to figure out what any given page is actually about.
The title also shows up in other places that your potential visitors will see like on Facebook or other social media sites if someone shares the page and in the Google search results. They’ll be more likely to click on it if the title is well-written and targeted to what they’re looking for.
Your product category pages are important landing pages on your website that can serve as entrance points for search. Ensure these pages are well optimized and aligned with your keyword research.
Optimizing Your Product Page Content
Product pages are often an overlooked source of SEO opportunity.
Flesh out the content on your product pages as much as possible and add modifier words like buy, cheap, and best to target long-tail searches. Customize your product description to be descriptive, answer user questions, and be helpful. Comprehensive, well-written product descriptions can make a significant difference in your product page SEO.
Be careful not to take shortcuts here. While it might be tempting to borrow the product description from a manufacturer, duplicate content can cause your page to be filtered from search results.
In your main heading for your product page, make sure you use your target keyword for that product. This will help provide a high degree of relevancy for this search term.
You should also consider adding reviews to your product pages. As customers write reviews, they will add to the amount of content on the page. And because they’re about that product, the content will likely be very well targeted.
Adding video to your product pages where appropriate will also help with your SEO. You can host the videos on YouTube and embed them on your product pages. This also lets them act as lead generation tools for people who find the video on the YouTube site then click through to your website from there.
International Ecommerce Considerations
If you’re an Ecommerce company that operates across country borders, there are additional considerations for your website.
Use the Hreflang tag on your website to indicate to Google the language and region your website is targeting. While it’s only a signal and not a directive, when combined with a proper international SEO website structure, the hreflang tag can help your website rank better in these other regions.
Technical SEO for Ecommerce Sites
Technical SEO has to do with things like the coding of your web pages, the hosting service you use, page markup, and other “behind the scenes” aspects of your Ecommerce website.
One of the most important things to implement from a technical perspective is to ensure your site is running entirely on the HTTPS protocol. If you’re running an Ecommerce site that accepts payments, this should be a given but some sites run the payment processing through HTTPS while using HTTP for everything else. HTTPS is a known search ranking factor.
Google has started blocking mixed content by default. Mixed content means some HTTPS and some HTTP. Google considers this when ranking sites as well so if your site isn’t using HTTPS everywhere, it’s going to drop out of sight in the search results.
The depth of technical optimization you can complete for your Ecommerce website might depend on your Ecommerce platform. Woocommerce, Shopify, and Magento are common Ecommerce platforms and each has pros and cons when it comes to technical SEO optimization.
Ecommerce Website Performance
Another thing that will affect both your SERPs and how long visitors stay on your site is the speed it loads. If your web pages take more than 3 seconds to load, you’re going to lose visitors who click back and try another result in Google.
And every extra second means you lose more and more people.
Optimizing the loading time for every page on your site as well as overall site speed will help it rank higher and keep the visitors you do get. This means you need to use a high-quality web host with enough resources to support the number of visitors you typically get at one time (with room to grow).
You should also optimize the content on your pages, particularly images. Compress the images so they load as fast as possible while still maintaining the quality.
The performance of your website has a strong influence on your overall website conversion rate and should not be ignored.
Add ALT and TITLE tags to your images: this helps with accessibility for people with usability challenges but it also helps with SEO.
Search engines are on a constant quest to display more relevant information to its users. One way it does this is through rich snippets.
Using rich snippets can help you stand out in the serps. There are 4 main organic rich snippets you can leverage on your Ecommerce website:
- Ratings and Reviews
You can use Google’s Structured Data Website Markup Helper to generate the code then have it installed on your website by your webmaster.
Sitemap & Robots.txt
Your sitemap and robots.txt files provide important directives to how Google’s bot will crawl your website.
Leveraging Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a tool offered by Google that lets you enter various bits of information about your company such as contact information, location, and business hours. If you have physical locations, this is a must-have piece of the SEO puzzle since it has huge benefits for local SEO.
But even if you’re completely web-based, it’s still a good idea to claim your GMB page and flesh it out with information about your Ecommerce store. Google uses the information on this page in other places, adding information to your listing in their search results for example.
This also lets you create a “canonical” source of information for Google. If you don’t create your GMB page, other people could post incorrect information or unscrupulous competitors could post misleading information about your business and Google wouldn’t have an easy way to determine what’s right and what’s wrong.
Content Marketing for Ecommerce
Links are often looked upon as rocket fuel in the SEO world. Unfortunately, on Ecommerce sites, it can be difficult to build links directly to product pages.
Content marketing can make this easier by developing resources, informational content, infographics, tools, and other assets that are more likely to be linked to. Third-party websites are much more likely to link to an infographic than a product page. Content marketing and link building go hand in hand. While getting more backlinks is easier said than done, a well thought out and executed strategy will help make it easier.
Through proper website structure, including a topic-cluster content model and internal linking, you can help boost up your “money pages” with your content marketing strategy.
Ecommerce SEO Tools
There are lots of tools and services that can help with your SEO efforts. Google provides some itself, such as the Google Keyword Planner and Google Analytics. Others are offered by other companies with data they collect themselves.
Going beyond the Google Keyword Planner, you should look at Ubersuggest and Answer the Public. They’re both great sources of keywords to target on your product pages and other parts of your site.
SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Crazy Egg, and MOZ will help you optimize your pages and track the actions of your visitors once they arrive on your site.
You should use an analytics tool to track the visitors on your site, see what pages are most popular, determine conversion rates on individual products, and various other metrics. There are several good tools available but Google Analytics is one of the best, it’s powerful and free to use.
We recommend customization your Google Analytics installation to track conversion events and goals on your website (i.e. purchases). This will allow you to track purchases against what marketing source delivered the user, ultimately enabling you to optimize your marketing spend.
If you want to stay up-to-date on the latest SEO news, there are lots of “secret societies” in places like Slack. You can join these groups – some at a cost and some for free – to get information and news about the SEO world.
Ecommerce SEO Maintenance
After you’ve completed an initial comprehensive SEO optimization for your Ecommerce business, you’ll want to continue your efforts to keep growing in rankings with an ongoing SEO campaign.
Here’s a sample checklist of SEO tasks to regularly complete:
- Monitor for technical issues. Use a tool like SEMrush to monitor for site technical issues that might pop up like: broken links, slow loading pages, duplicate content, and more.
- Ongoing content optimization. Monitor how Google is ranking your homepage, category pages, and product pages. Continue to optimize these over time to respond to algorithm changes and competitor content changes.
- Respond to algorithm changes. Google changes its algorithm a lot. Monitor ongoing trends and signals from Google to keep your website well positioned to rank well into the future.
- Analyze Click-Through Rates and Conversion Rates. While this isn’t a specific SEO task, monitoring how users flow through your site and where they drop off can provide important intelligence into ways to increase your revenue without changing your marketing spend.
Do You Need to Become an SEO Expert?
While there are lots of places you can turn for up-to-the-minute SEO advice, it can be time-consuming to stay abreast of all the latest changes. Google is notorious for changing things with little or no warning so it’s a bit of a cat-and-mouse game.
If you’d rather focus on what your business does best and leave the search engine optimization to an Ecommerce SEO company, Konstruct Digital can help.
Our award-winning team stays up-to-date with all the latest strategies and technologies so we can help you rank better on Google, find more customers, and improve your profits. Get a free SEO audit today and see what we can do for your business’ bottom line.