The power of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in e-commerce should never be underestimated. It attracts and drives organic traffic to e-commerce sites free of charge while increasing the number of potential sales. E-commerce SEO has been proven more authentic and valuable in terms of getting organic traffic as compared to paid traffic. Thus, making use of best SEO practices will definitely be critical in increasing any online shop’s sales and profits in the long haul.
While most online marketers may not be conversant with SEO, increasing your advertising budget with the hopes of increasing organic traffic to your e-commerce site is not enough. Rather, it takes more than just that, and with these 10 ways to improve e-commerce SEO, the chances for your site ranking higher in search engines and being found by potential customers increases tremendously.
1. Research and Identify Opportunities.
It is obvious that in any e-commerce site, certain products, product categories or site pages will often rank higher compared to others. Identifying the exact reason why they attract a higher ranking on search engines lets you know how to handle every product page or category page depending on its power to drive traffic. Using tools such as SEMRush and Google Analytics comes in handy at this point. These tools will provide comprehensive data about your e-commerce site’s traffic, keywords searched and linking sites. With this information, you will know where to focus your e-commerce SEO efforts by building backlinks from the most common linking sites, using the highest-ranking keywords and knowing your competitors.
Keyword research is also a very important part of e-commerce SEO. With a tool such as the Google Keyword Tool, you can search for different keywords and phrases and get information on how much traffic they attract monthly or yearly, any related keywords and the respective daily, monthly or yearly traffic of these keywords, geographical locations that have more online visitors searching for particular keywords, and more vital information. With this in hand, you will be able to know exactly what keywords to incorporate into their e-commerce website so as to rank higher in search engines and attract more traffic and potential buyers as compared to their competitors.
2. Identify Site Problems and Fix Them.
An online shopper finding a that one product they have been searching for a very long time, and then clicking on it, only to find a 404 error, a broken link or an “Out of Stock” message is the most frustrating experience. It is unfortunate that most online marketers do not work on keeping their sites up to date. Online stores are often rotating, with new stock coming in and other products running out of stock. However, the constant updating of website data may eventually lead to problems with links and display.
It helps to always be in touch with your e-commerce website, knowing any products that are about to be out of stock and those that already are. You also need to check any internal or external links that may be dead or broken and get them fixed immediately. This prevents the formation of Google crawler traps that make it seem like your whole site has problems. Old pages and product links categories should be completely removed from the Google index and the website’s sitemaps to prevent browsers from displaying any of the outdated information from your e-commerce website. This increases your site’s credibility, thus earning more trust from your customers.
2. Optimize the Site’s Meta Descriptions.
Meta descriptions are the short explanations about a particular website or webpage that appear right below the title in organic searches in search engines. This is what customers see when they search for your products in search engines, and it holds the power to either send them away or get them to click the link to your website. Use this power to raise your click-through rate and get more organic traffic to your site by making the meta descriptions as dynamic as they could be. In addition to making the meta description attractive, make sure to include useful information such as the product name, brand, product category, its target audience and its uses if possible.
Most marketers usually don’t have enough time and manpower to frequently update meta descriptions for their incoming and outgoing stock, thus Google and most other search engines will often use the first 150 characters of the content as a meta description. As much as creating a dynamic introduction for your e-commerce content may work at times, this method is not as effective in product pages.
Instead of this, the marketer has the option to use “Concatenation schemes” that offer easier, faster and cost-effective meta descriptions, especially for small online businesses. These schemes structure the meta descriptions to display common entities such as product name, brand, subcategory and category within a well-constructed phrase that works universally for every product, while keeping each of them unique, at the same time.
4. Make Use of Reviews for Search Engines.
Instead of having plain meta descriptions appearing in online searches, having product or company reviews displayed could have a great impact in earning your customers’ trust. In fact, research shows that 08% of customers trust online reviews just like recommendations and referrals from friends. Encouraging your present customers to leave testimonials, reviews, and ratings of your products or site is the first step to achieving this. This helps drive new customers to your site because they have a solid basis of what you offer and the credibility of your online shop.
The second step is ensuring that the reviews and ratings are visible in search engine results. With the recently updated “Cowie Rich Snippets”, it is much easier to include snippets of reviews, images, videos, events and business information among others. To have these rich snippets displayed in your site’s search results, you can have a unique HTML code process, and then it is embedded and published with your content. It helps if the reviews and ratings displayed are positive and keyword rich. Allowing search engines to read your product reviews is probably the ultimate method to not only get organic traffic to your site but also get genuinely interested potential customers who have been searching for a trustworthy online shop.
5. Use Clear and Unique Product Descriptions.
The need for unique content on the internet can never be overemphasized. Google search loves clear and unique content, and this applies to product descriptions too. Strive to write the product descriptions from its manufacturer in a more interesting and subtle way; to not only attract leads, but also to make it easier for search engine crawlers to analyze and understand what the site offers. However, you should make sure to get every product features and specifications right as per the manufacturer’s descriptions.
Exceptional content sets your e-commerce site apart from most other websites that copy Amazon and manufacturer descriptions word by word. These kinds of descriptions comply with the search engine algorithm Panda. The Panda algorithm focuses on increasing quality, relevance and originality, which in turn increases ease of access to your site’s content. If your product descriptions are original, high quality and relevant to the market, then your site will be ranked higher for its respective keywords. This is especially useful if you sell directly via your site. However, if you sell via third-party sites, then you will have to follow their terms and conditions when it comes to writing product descriptions,
6. Consider Using Local SEO.
As much as the internet has turned the world into a small village, the amount of content on the World Wide Web doesn’t allow any new website to automatically get an audience. This is the reason why local e-commerce SEO is the path most online marketers have chosen to follow. Local SEO is especially vital for e-commerce businesses with a physical location. You should strive to build relevant local content to improve search engine performance for any searches pointing to your geographical location. For instance, basing your e-commerce site on the general keyword “electronics for sale” won’t get you above big e-commerce companies dealing with electronics such as Amazon. On the other hand, optimizing your product descriptions for a more specific local keyword, “electronics for sale in Atlanta, Georgia” will make it easier for anyone within and around Atlanta to find you easily.
This has been made even better by the Google maps and location feature that is common among Smartphone users. Since the highest percentage of people access the internet via Smartphones and tablets, every time they search for a product, the search engine results that come up first are those of businesses around them. This thus increases visibility to relevant leads and in turn, more potential customers visiting your website. Endeavor to include useful information that will guide new users to access both your online and physical operations with ease. Operating hours, user reviews and contact information are just but a few of what should be displayed in search engines.
7. Use Keyword-Rich Canonical URL’s.
In a bid to make it easier for visitors to just type in web addresses leading to the product, most marketers usually shorten their URL’s into a very brief code. Unfortunately, you lose most of the SEO, benefits of a keyword-rich URL by doing so. Using canonical URL’s that incorporates all the useful keywords into a single URL leading to your product page is vital SEO practice. This makes it easier for search engine crawlers to find the relevant keywords for online shoppers, thus linking them to your e-commerce site. This, in turn, promotes your website’s search engine ranking.
On the other hand, other online marketers usually break down multiple keywords and use them in different URL’s that lead to the same product. While this may seem like a great strategy to get more visitors to purchase the product, it doesn’t add value to your e-commerce SEO. Canonical URL’s combine all these keywords into a single URL that is crawled by search engine crawlers thus ranking the site higher in internet searches. This is actually the web address version of long tail Keywords that offer both an explanation of what the product is all about as well as increased visibility.
8. Shorten Architecture Depth
Ease of navigation is one of the major factors that can ensure that the customers of an e-commerce website find their desired products fast and easily. Limiting the number of categories and subcategories they need to navigate to find the product is one of the steps to ensure a hassle-free online shopping experience for shoppers. Well, the easier it is for visitors to find products, the easier it gets for search engine crawlers to navigate and capture all the necessary keywords and information for the relevant customers on the internet.
Having fewer categories and subcategories on your site reduces the number of subfolders that should be crawled and ranked. This, in turn, places your eCommerce site at a position of authority among others that deal in similar products, thus promoting reach to your products. Reducing the number of categories that need to be navigated buries all the small categories that are of very little use. This, in turn, increases the probability of every subcategory being assigned a higher value by Google as it contains a larger number of relevant products as compared to what would have been of the tiny subcategories.
9. Add the Previous/Next Tags.
Backlinking is one of the most essential processes of SEO. In addition to links from other sites, an SEO optimized eCommerce site should also have links that connect pages and other elements within the site. Including the previous and next tags that connect pages, categories and related content within your online store helps a great deal in ensuring navigation is a breeze. Rather than having separate pages that have no connection, it helps to connect them with the next/previous tags so that Google and other search engines can know that they are connected. In this way, each of these pages will not compete against each other for ranking. Rather, if one page ranks high, there will be a connection to these other pages, thus improving their SEO ranking too.
Linking pages and products in an eCommerce website consolidates important parameters that would have otherwise been less valuable if there was no connection between the pages, products or categories. You may also include the “view all”, “recommended products” or “related products” options to make access and visibility even easier.
10. Index One Ecommerce Website Version.
As much as most people are not aware of this, having multiple website versions indexed by Google reduces the probability of ranking high in search engines. This is actually, because each of these versions will be a duplicate of each other, which is basically a turn off for Google and other search engines. In addition to that, each of these website versions will be competing to be ranked top by search engines, thus diluting the value of your website.
For instance, rather than ranking http://youronlineshop.com as well as http://www.youronlineshop.corn, it helps to choose just one version to index. Certain SEO tools such as SEMRush and Google Analytics can be used to identify any duplicate URL that has been indexed for your site. Having a single website version uploaded to Google index will promote its authority among sites within a similar niche or industry.
Ecommerce is ruling the world in this digital era, thanks to its convenience and reliability. Even though there are thousands of ecommerce sites across the internet, ranking high in search engines is achievable, especially with the eCommerce SEO techniques discussed here. It may take a while for you to see the results, but remember, good SEO is a lifetime investment and it may actually bring your online store useful organic traffic for the rest of your life. As a marketer or SEO expert, it is of utter importance to keep updating yourself on any changes and updates related to SEO as they keep advancing with time.