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Marketing | Sep 21
Elise Dopson on May 25, 2021 (last modified on May 24, 2021) • 18 minute read
SEO is pretty straightforward when it comes to blogging. But, when it comes to ecommerce and optimizing your online store for search? That’s a whole new ballgame.
You’ve got product and category pages to think about.
…Not to mention the added pressure of making sales to prove that SEO is something your marketing team should focus on.
So, how do you turn a product or service-based website into one that dominates the SERPs and attracts a bunch of high-quality leads or customers?
The answer is Ecommerce SEO.
Let’s dive in.
Considering 44% of people start their online shopping journey with a Google search and that the number 1 result in Google gets 31.7% of all clicks, ranking at the top of search engines should be a priority if you own or manage an ecommerce website.
The benefits of eCommerce SEO are endless, from helping to drive traffic and increasing sales, to creating brand awareness, as well as helping you engage with previous site visitors that didn’t make a purchase (remarketing campaign).
Furthermore, when we asked our experts to tell us the channel that delivers the best results for their ecommerce website 42% of them said SEO.
Why? Because although SEO requires an upfront investment and long-term commitment, it drives a sustainable flow of traffic–if you get it right.
In other words: You don’t need to constantly plough cash into it to see results, like PPC or paid social media campaigns.
A bit of upfront SEO work pays in dividends for years to come.
Editor’s Note: Visualize your SEO and Ecommerce data in Databox through any of our robust integrations
Fancy getting in on the SEO action and driving more organic visitors to your ecommerce store?
We wanted to find out the best tips that actually impact your most important SEO metrics.
Our experts shared the following tips:
We wanted to find out the most important SEO tactics for ecommerce companies. Our experts voted “optimizing for keywords” as the most important:
One of those experts is Directive‘s Liam Barnes, who recommends to “research high volume searches for exact product-based keywords, and ensure that your pages are properly targeting those product keywords.”
Charlie Tatum of Digital Ads Optimism explains: “When doing keyword research for your website, you’ll see that a variety of different keywords lead users to your website. Some users are looking for a particular piece of information about a specific industry, and others are looking to make a purchase right then and there.”
“I recommend optimizing your website first for keywords that indicate a user is looking to purchase the goods or services you offer. Look for keywords that are directly related to products or types of products.”
“After that, pay attention to keywords that will further establish your brand as an authority in your industry,” Tatum adds.
Additionally, you can use Amazon’s search bar and product listings to help you identify relevant keywords and keyword variations that can help your store rank higher and better.
This is helpful considering, 63% of retail consumers start their product search on Amazon.
Editor’s note: Need an easy way to track and analyze your sales engagement from Amazon? Connect Amazon Seller Central to Databox and track all your sales efforts on one screen.
You know that keywords are important. But are there any “SEO quick wins” you can use to skyrocket your ecommerce SEO strategy?
Yes; Kelly Media‘s Forrest Kelly advises to “look and see what they are already ranking for, specifically the keywords that are ranking on the 2nd page. Oftentimes including that keyword in your title tag will be enough to take it from page two to page one.”
Want to know what do you rank for? Check which keywords your pages are already ranking for with our Google Analytics SEO Dashboard. You’ll be able to see the terms driving traffic, along with their bounce rate and goal completions:
Rebecca Winslow of Flashion Statement recommends to “think like your ideal customer—how would they search for your product? What questions would they be asking?”
“Being able to answer questions that come up on Google Snippets and optimize for them is a great way to build authority for your brand and help your SEO,” Winslow adds.
Here’s a superb example of an engaging product description from method:
Insightland‘s Irena Zobniów adds that this could be a competitive advantage: “Many online stores have the same descriptions from the manufacturer, which means that they are not unique to search engine robots, therefore they are less likely to rank high in search engines.”
“By creating unique product descriptions it will let you stand out from the competition.”
You’re likely using a lot of your time to optimize product pages for SEO. They’re the URLs that drive the big bucks, right?
Adam Bastock argues that by optimizing your ecommerce category pages, you can target “broader keywords further up the funnel.” You can also:
“Brick and mortar stores may have a “bath and bedding” section, but that doesn’t make sense from an ecommerce SEO perspective,” Terakeet‘s Jonas Sickler explains.
“You won’t be able to properly optimize ecommerce category pages that combine unrelated products, which means they won’t rank well for anything. That’s a huge problem because ecommerce category pages often rank for the highest volume, broadest set of keywords.”
Packhelp‘s Phil Forbes adds: “More often than not, category pages can be optimized for generic keywords and plurals (Nintendo t-shirts) whereas product page SEO involves optimizing for product-specific keywords ‘donkey-kong shirt’.”
“If you sell a range of donkey kong t-shirts, then your ‘donkey kong’ category page should be the main place for your keyword, and you’ll have less, but more specific keywords for your product page.”
“My one tip for marketers to improve the search engine rankings would be to optimize their product descriptions, landing pages, and internal link structure,” says David Temperli of NOLIOS International.
“Optimize in the sense that the content should strongly reflect the buyer’s intent (i.e. provide a solution to their problem). This kind of optimization can be achieved through a detailed analysis of the site/page with SEO tools such as Ahrefs and/or Page Optimizer Pro.”
(You might also see this as “optimizing for search intent,” but it basically means the same thing: The intention someone has when searching for a specific term.)
Summarizing, Jessica Herbine of Trinity Insight adds: “From title tags to header tags and copy blocks, when it comes to content writing for ecommerce sites, there should be plenty for readers to digest so that they understand what you’re selling, and what makes your products or services better than the competition’s.”
“If people aren’t sure what they’ll find on your eCommerce pages, you can bet Google won’t position them as high in the search results.”
“The past three algorithms Google has rolled about, have been all about security for the end-user (the customer). They want to sort out scamming websites, fake news, and dangerous content,” writes Simon Elkjær of Nutimo Consult ApS.
“They categorize the websites in question as Y.M.Y.L (Your Money and Your Life). And according to Google General Guidelines, all websites that manage a money-transfer or transaction are in this Y.M.Y.L category.”
“This means that all e-commerce websites are under scrutiny from Google, and in Google’s eyes, you are “guilty until proven innocent”. In other words, you need to prove to Google and the visitors of your website that you are a real company.”
Elkjær explains that you should follow the EAT guidelines:
“Do so, by showcasing your address, phone, email, and all other information about the company, in a very prominent way,” Elkjær adds.
“One tip I would provide is don’t overlook adding structured data to your product pages,” GBPN‘s Geoffrey Rose says.
“By adding the correct structured data you could get stars (rating), price and availability (in-stock, out-of-stock, etc) added to your SERPs. Adding structured data to your products will also help search engines better understand what your product is.”
Here’s what structured data for a product page looks like in practice:
Ridgeway‘s Nick Maynard explains: “Schema mark-up helps spiders and searchers better understand the contents of your page and rich results (including anything from item price to stock availability) increases qualified CTR and future-proofs your site in the expanding ecommerce marketplace.”
Phil Hoey of Quotezone.co.uk adds: “This type of structured data can dramatically improve how your product listings appear in search results because it increases the odds that Google will display them as a product listing with thumbnail images, pricing details, stock quantities, special offer details etc.”
“There is some evidence that structured data can directly improve a product listing’s rankings, but even if the real correlation is less direct that using structured data on ecommerce sites can improve a product listing’s clickthrough rate (which can, in turn, result in higher ecommerce rankings).”
(Our experts back this up; 89% believe that structured data increases organic click-through rates.)
COFORGE‘s Eric Melillo says: “These days you can use eCommerce software like Yoast and other WordPress plugins, as well as platforms like Shopify to help add the necessary Schema and give the store an advantage in search results.”
…Maybe that’s why Shopify came out on top as the best ecommerce site builder for SEO:
In fact, Robert Taylor of Advantix Digital “recently finished a project with a client following this tip. Their developers coded the product details, price, review, rating, and other elements to dynamically update based on the count and average of reviews.”
“This was applied to all 800+ product pages, and now those products display in the search results with Rich Snippets – including gold review stars, an aggregate rating score, and count of ratings.”
The best part? Taylor adds: “These more attractive search results doubled the clickthrough rate for product pages, leading to more purchases.”
It’s tough to master the balance of blog and SEO content.
When doing content writing for ecommerce sites, you might want to write about how awesome your products are–but if that isn’t formatted in a way that’s easy for people to read, you won’t see results in the SERPs.
“Most ecommerce sites criminally underrate the potential of content marketing to drive traffic and actual conversions to their stores,” writes Alex Birkett of Omniscient Digital.
“Beyond basic ecommerce SEO best practices (proper ecommerce site architecture, unique product descriptions, etc.), you can and should write content to rank for valuable product-related terms. You can usually rank them much easier than product pages and hit similar user intent.”
Birkett explains: “For example, “best red wine” gets 7.2K monthly search volume according to Ahrefs, and it does imply that the searcher is interested in trying or finding the best red wine. So why wouldn’t a company like winc.com write a post about that?”
“It’s a great way to capture high intent and high traffic terms using informational content as opposed to commercial product pages,” Birkett adds.
As does Darren Cottingham of DT Driver Training: “Whatever your product is, write as many detailed articles and create videos about the use and features of your product and point them to the product itself. It’s hard to contain all this information in the product listing itself.”
“You should use these articles and videos on your website, YouTube, Vimeo and other channels (e.g. LinkedIn, Medium, etc). If you can get 5-10 articles on your website, all pointing to your product page, you’ll cover many of the queries users will have about your product.”
Cottingham continues: “You’ll be found for long-tail keywords and the explanation of the benefits of your product will lead the reader to view the product itself.”
“Multiple links internally back to the product will strengthen the SEO on that page, plus any backlinks from other websites will reinforce that.”
Zivadream‘s Lynell Ross summarizes: “If you can produce helpful videos that are relevant to your product, it’s an easy way to get in front of potential customers and funnel them to your website or ecommerce store.”
Fancy an easier way to track whether your blog content is paying off? Grab our Google Analytics Content Analysis dashboard to find out, and share the results with your team:
Octiv Digital‘s Jeff Romero thinks “marketers need to make sure the right pages are being crawled with the right crawl budget.”
Romero has “worked on e-commerce client sites where Google is crawling pages that don’t need to be crawled often. Crawling should be prioritized for pages that change often (like product pages) and those with the most search volume.”
Radomir Basta of Four Dots adds: “Ecommerce sites often waste crawl budgets on unimportant or less important product pages/categories while the most important ones are being either neglected or crawled less frequently.”
“This means they are missing on opportunities their competition might be using wisely – i.e. efficient crawling, indexing and potentially higher rankings for the most important (aka top-selling) products and categories.”
Basta continues: “URLs with lots of folders and parameters may pose major crawl issues for the search engines. In some cases, the “spider traps” created by complex eCommerce URLs would even prevent the engines from indexing a site.”
AGY47‘s Sharon Gwati-Mudzuzu adds: “To improve and maintain good crawl efficiency, ensure you disallow parts of your website that do not need to be crawled, have an up-to-date, accurate sitemap and improve site performance.”
Image search was recently declared as being “back from the dead.”
That’s why Kris Olin of Social Media Revolver recommends to “do proper SEO on your images because images are highly relevant on Google searches when people are considering purchasing products.”
“Pay attention to the image meta tag as well as the actual name of the image file. Both need to describe the product in a few carefully chosen (and researched) keywords,” Olin says.
Mailbird‘s Andrea Loubier summarizes: “Be sure to keep your image sizes under 100 kb, and always include alt text with a good keyword.”
“One thing that is often overlooked when it comes to content writing for ecommerce websites is meta descriptions for product pages,” says Hosting Canada‘s Gary Stevens.
“If someone is looking for a specific product and stumbles upon your website on a SERP, the only information they have to go off of is the meta description.”
Stevens adds: “Updating meta descriptions doesn’t necessarily improve your rankings but it does increase the click-through rate,” Stevens continues. “If you have a meta description that catches the attention of a Google searcher, it could be all the difference between them clicking on your website or another.”
Mostly Blogging‘s Janice Wald shares a quick hack: “Use the MozBar, a free Chrome extension. When you use the MozBar you can see your competitors’ meta descriptions. This enables you to write a more convincing meta description so consumers click on your link on Google.”
“My primary tip would be to start with the technical SEO to ensure that the website is running smooth and fast – this is essential for both user-friendliness but also from an SEO perspective,” says Karel Räppo of Bryton.
“If the website is slow, there is no point in writing high-quality content if the user simply closes the tab after the website has been loading for too long.”
It’s true–and likely why pages with a faster loading speed tend to rank higher in organic results.
Sparxoo‘s David Capece explains: “If you have a fast and well-designed site, not only is that a signal Google uses in ranking sites you will also convert more of your organic search traffic. There is no use increasing your organic traffic if it doesn’t convert.”
Keep tabs on your page load speed with this free Google Analytics (Site Speed Overview) dashboard template. It displays your average page load time, page load time per device, bounce rate, and pageviews on one dashboard – giving you a complete picture of how the load speed is affecting incoming traffic.
When doing ecommerce SEO, Robbie Richards recommends “crawling the website with Screaming Frog to extract all the “indexable” pages. i.e. URLs that can drive traffic from the search engines.”
“Analyze the results to ensure your site doesn’t have any index bloat that could cause thin or duplicate content issues. Common culprits are parameterized URLs generated by product filters that generate indexed pages. Or, internal site search strings that generate indexed URLs.”
Richards continues: “For larger sites selling dozens or hundreds of different products that are filterable by things like size, color, price etc, this can cause major content issues, and potential penalty risks. If this is happening, set exclusions in your robots.txt file.”
Producing value content and sharing them on social media will reach a lot of people who will, in turn, share your content with their friends and family which all help you rank in search engines.
Steven van Vessum of ContentKing advises to “focus on delivering an amazing user experience (UX), and you’ll see that being rewarded with better search engine rankings, more organic traffic and more conversions because Google’s is quantifying UX signals and uses them in their algorithms!”
“Most of the last Google updates we’ve seen actually touch on this, so it’s an important trend in SEO and I strongly believe UX will only become more important to SEO.”
“Site navigation and internal linking between products and categories are some of the ways to improve search rankings for ecommerce sites,” says Danish Maniyar.
“Site navigation helps shoppers find products quickly and easily. Good navigation improves the online shopping experience and helps merchants increase sales and profits. Internal links help Google. They can help your customers more.”
The best part about this ecommerce SEO tip? It’s easy–and can be combined with selling tactics like upselling.
Simply add an internal link to a more expensive product on a product page, and encourage your customers to click through (with the goal of purchasing.)
Use this Link Analysis dashboard template to identify relationships between visits by source, unique pageviews, and incoming internal links
“When it comes to boosting search rankings, there’s one area that online retailers routinely overlook: “generic” seasonal traffic,” Growcode‘s Pawel Ogonowski says.
“During holidays like Black Friday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and so on, buyers are entering a myriad of open-ended seasonal keywords into the search engines. Phrases like:
…are some examples.”
Ogonowski says that retailers can take advantage by creating “dedicated landing pages to target these keywords. They can then include links to specific product and ecommerce category pages.”
“We’ve also found that it’s better to create one page for each holiday and update it every year, rather than create a new page every time a particular holiday swings around. This strategy allows retailers to leverage links and other search factors over the long term.”
“It’s essential to update pages before the holiday period begins (at least 45 days) and use a generic URL like www.store.com/black-friday. Add date-specific information to title tags, copy, headlines, and so on.”
Ogonowski summarizes: “Retailers that use this strategy can sometimes double their ecommerce website traffic by picking up on under-targeted but high-volume keywords.”
These ecommerce SEO tips are bound to help you boost organic traffic–and hopefully, sales from your new wave of visitors.
Additionally, as Igor Avidon of Avidon Marketing Group puts it “make sure that your SEO efforts align with your brand because dissonance between pure SEO optimization and brand considerations can create an ugly experience for your customers.”
“Your SEO (on-page copy, internal links, navigation elements, etc) needs to work hand-in-hand with your brand (storytelling, use of product images, content, etc) in order to create synergy for your store.”
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