How to improve your SEO for ecommerce stores.
Ecommerce is an ever growing—and ever competitive—field for many businesses. While the Internet has opened opportunities for many businesses to reach niche audiences in ways never seen before, it also puts the pressure on businesses to raise their profile.
This is where SEO comes into play. SEO for ecommerce is much like SEO in general, but with a few extra adjustments unique to the online marketplace. If you’re looking for ways to improve SEO for your ecommerce store, here’s where to start.
1. Begin with Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis
A good keyword strategy comes in two parts: knowing what you want to rank for, and knowing which keywords will be battlegrounds between you and your competitors.
Your own keywords should center around words and phrases relevant to your business. Don’t waste time chasing down irrelevant keywords, just because they have a high search volume. It won’t do you any good to rank for “car parts” if you actually sell shoes.
You will also need a healthy mix of short and long keywords. For instance, if you identify a few short keywords with mid-to-high volume, you can iterate off these to form longer key phrases. For example, “leather shoes” can become “men’s brown leather shoes.” This will be more relevant as you develop your categories and site structure, which we’ll get to in a minute.
It also pays to look at what your competitors are trying to rank for. Doing so will give you an insight into their ranking strategy, and indicate valuable targets for your own strategy.
In doing this, be sure to weigh up your competition before you begin targeting the same words and phrases. If they’re a much more established brand, it will take you a while to begin outranking them. Instead, try to begin ranking for keywords they haven’t targeted yet. As you build up your domain strength, you can start challenging their territory more.
2. Build Your On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization is just as important for ecommerce SEO as for any other website. A few key areas to look at include:
- Meta data. Focus on meta titles and meta descriptions. Your meta titles should include your key words, your brand, and relevant category information. Meta descriptions should include these things as well, but written out in clear language. No keyword stuffing here.
- Header tags. Structure the content on your page using header tags. These give you additional places to include keywords where appropriate, but also allow for easy scanning.
- Product descriptions. Don’t just copy these from the manufacturer, as this can lead to duplicate content issues. Instead, use this space to write your own descriptions. This is a fantastic chance for you to sell your product, so take charge!
- Internal linking. Do you have related products? Important buyer’s guide pages? A sizing chart? Internal linking can help build the overall strength of your on-page SEO.
- Product images. Don’t forget to include keywords and descriptive language in your alt tags. While it doesn’t comprise the bulk of your site traffic, it can draw in visitors from Google, and it improves the overall usability of your site.
3. Use Website Structure and Hierarchy
Ecommerce stores need well-structured sites to help visitors navigate their product catalogs. This should reflect itself in your URL structure as well as in the design of your site. Features such as product filters and breadcrumb navigation improve the overall usability of your ecommerce store, while your URL structure helps Google and your visitors alike understand how your site is ordered.
For instance, a poorly structured URL might include confusing product IDs or random punctuation marks. These look messy, and don’t add any useful information for the user or Google.
On the other hand, a well-designed URL structure would look something like: www.mystore.com/category/subcategory/product. You can see from this structure that pages follow a logical order, and it’s easy to see how each individual page relates to the others on the site.
4. Enable Markup for Rich Snippets
Rich snippets—or structured data—are a relatively new Google feature, but one that can really drive up your search rankings and grow organic traffic. Rich snippets feature extra bits of data in search results, giving the buyer more information before they click on a link.
For your ecommerce store, this can include information such as the product price, its availability, the store location, and even user reviews. Because this extra information is so useful to online searchers, it means they are more likely to click on results. These pages also tend to rank higher than those without rich snippets.
If you want to use rich snippets on your website, Googles structured markup helper is a good place to start.
5. Optimize for Mobile
Finally, don’t neglect your mobile users. Increasingly, online shoppers are turning to their phones to browse products and save items for later purchase. If they can’t access your site, they’ll quickly turn elsewhere.
Mobile optimization used to mean a responsive design, but these days it means a lot more. Because mobile users tend to be on their phones in more lively environments (on the street, in a restaurant, etc.), there are more draws on their attention. Your sight needs to be fast to keep up. It should also be lightweight, so that it doesn’t eat up a visitor’s data plan, and so that it will load well even if their connection is poor.
Finally, look at the usability of your site. Can visitors access the menu? Navigate pages? If they can’t, they will bounce, and that will affect your rankings.
SEO for ecommerce is crucial to stay competitive online.
As an online store, search results are your lifeblood. They’re your best opportunity to target online users who are literally searching for your product with the intent to make a purchase. And while it takes time and effort to stay on top of your SEO, it’s also the best return on investment your business can make.
Don’t take your search results for granted—get out there and optimize.