Running an online store is an exciting prospect, but you need great SEO in order to succeed. Without SEO your store will struggle to gain visibility and sales will suffer. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘if I build it, they’ll come.’ Work hard on your store’s SEO from day one and keep tweaking and optimizing it as you respond to users and the market. Here are the top things you need to factor into any eCommerce store – new or old!
Page purpose: Be Clear
It’s very important that every page on your eCommerce store is optimized for the correct keywords. You may have lots of similar products, so you need to make sure that they aren’t competing in search.
- Conduct thematic keyword research to ensure that you correctly identify and differentiate your product pages. Look at the keywords in your page title, your meta descriptions, your headings, and your body copy. Brand names are popular eCommerce search terms, as are product dimensions and descriptions. Use these keywords to differentiate your products from your competitors and other similar lines.
- Having a clear page purpose is not just better for SEO, it’s also much better for users. Instead of trying to do too many things on one page, focus on having extremely clear and well thought-out pages.
- Include optimized category and product descriptions wherever possible to improve your relevancy scores.
- Not sure where to start? Check out Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday on eCommerce pages.
Keyword and Competitor Research: Be Thorough
There are a ton of places you should look to find your keywords – go beyond Google. Use Amazon and tools like Ubersuggest to build a holistic view of user language. Using your keywords well is about knowing your niche inside out, and back to front. Here are some tips on how to find the right keywords for your site.
- Think about user intent and optimize your store for longer, more specific phrases and words with commercial intent like ‘buy’ and ‘online’.
- People often search for reviews online – start gathering some for your store.
- Read your competitors’ sites and blogs to get a feel for what’s working for them. Try to see how you can come in and change the game: what’s your USP?
- If your product is competing with the market leader – could you create some landing pages around how you are the perfect ‘alternative’?
- Focus on keyword opportunities and validation: what is the market like for that keyword? How will you be able to compete? Is this a phrase that converts?
- Number one rule: the keywords you use must match page purpose. Optimizing for a great keyword that doesn’t make sense for your product is an SEO waste.
Site Architecture: Be Smart
Think about how you’ve organized your site, especially its categories and product pages. Your site’s information architecture will impact your SEO silo structure – make sure that yours includes plenty of internal links that help search engines and users map out your store correctly.
SEO authority is concentrated in your site’s product and category pages (which tend to be the most important pages for eCommerce). This concentrated authority helps these pages rank in Google, and it also boosts indexation.
Link Building: Be Friendly
Many of the best eCommerce link building methods rely on relationships – take a people-first approach to promotion.
- Cultivate relationships with influencers over email and social media and you’ll be able to approach them for product reviews or shoutouts much easier.
- People like to share brands that are interesting and that add value – invest in you brand story in order to maximize your shareability.
- Don’t go for huge national figures, focus on local and relevant influencers who are talking to your ideal customer and audience already.
URLs: Be Strategic
URLs that change their parameters when customers search for products or change the product features (color, size etc.) can cause a lot of SEO and user experience (UX) trouble.
- Make sure that any inbound or internal links always link to permanent URLs, not dynamic ones, for the best SEO results.
- Use the rel=canonical tag to point any dynamic URLs back to the original page to avoid any duplicate content issues.
- From a usability perspective, try to avoid long and over-complex URLs. Keep product selection as simple as possible.
Page Copy: Be Unique
Your product pages are your number one opportunity to sell to your audience. They need to be the culmination not only of SEO, but everything else that you do.
There are few rookie mistakes people make on their product pages:
- In a desperate effort to improve rankings, you may feel the need to keyword stuff your pages. The problem with keyword stuffing is that it doesn’t encourage natural language. Invest in quality copywriting, instead of inserting loads of keywords.
- When it comes to describing your products, try to move away from purely functional manufacturing language, and talk about your products like you explaining them to a friend. Include important information like features, size, color, etc. but don’t forget to talk about the real value of your product.
- A great way to incorporate value is to include dynamic features like video, interactive product photos, reviews, testimonials, and even user generated content. SEO is much more than just keywords; it’s also about engaging the user and offering a good user experience.
- By showing customers that people have been happy to purchase the product numerous times, you’ll be able to build a relationship of trust. Invest into integrating compelling social proof content into your customer journey.
Image and Video: Be Visual
Thanks to social media, eCommerce has become a lot more visual.
- Users expect to be able to see a product from many angles before they make a purchase decision. Give your customers plenty of visual evidence of how your products work. Make sure that product dimension and features are obvious, and that the product color is true to life. There is nothing like a misleading picture to bring an eCommerce store bad reviews and return.
- Shoot product photography in interesting and relevant locations; don’t just go with a boring and black background. Keep product images consistent and try to build a coherent brand presence.
- Make sure that you optimize images with as much information as you can; keep the language natural, but orient it around your keyword themes.
- Video is an absolutely crucial engagement tool. Videos are there to promote and showcase your products, but they can also be a source of product information and may even help you in your customer service efforts.
Optimum Performance: Be Fast
For the best SEO results you want a web environment that’s optimized for speed and that you can easily change yourself. Having to call a developer every time you need to update a product category is NOT an efficient way of working.
- Constantly prune your web environment: delete products that don’t sell, check any redirects, fix any 404s, check your crawl status. Keep on top of your backend environment – it has a big impact on usability.
- Invest in the right eCommerce solution. You could use a WordPress eCommerce plugin, or you could go with a Shopify buy button (or plugin) and add it to your existing site. (Shopify is a popular and easy eCommerce solution that you can benefit from as a WordPress user). Whatever you choose, prioritize SEO and easy content management.
Great eCommerce SEO comes from great market knowledge. Make sure that you validate your products and your keywords before you charge ahead with a full optimization plan! A core component of great SEO strategy is meticulous planning – what are you planning to achieve in 2017?