The importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for ecommerce businesses can’t be overstated. A staggering 85% of consumers use Google Search for shopping and product discovery, and 75% of searchers click on first page results.
What is SEO? For ecommerce sites who deal with increased competition, SEO means ranking high on search results to drive traffic. And it’s is a complex business–there are many elements that affect how search engines rank, identify, and present your site. In this post, we’re sharing some SEO tips for those new to ecommerce, in addition to the key steps involved in building a strong SEO strategy.
Scope out the competition first
Before you start your SEO journey, take a look at your competitors first. Search Google for the products and services you sell, or common questions that your customers are consistently asking. The results on the first page will reveal which of your competitors are doing SEO well.
Note the following about the results:
- What pages are appearing in the search results? This can include competitors’ home pages, blog posts, and product pages.
- Do their products, web images, or logos appear in the image search results?
- What specific keywords or phrases are they using across their site and in their content consistently?
- What type of content are they creating that resonates with their audiences? See if they are producing more tutorials, blog posts, or videos that get high engagement.
And, more broadly, what are they doing that you aren’t?
This will help you understand how your competitors are covering your subject area and expose gaps you can immediately fill. It will also provide a strong foundation for your SEO strategy.
How to build an SEO strategy for ecommerce:
Step 1: Conduct keyword research.
Keyword research is about identifying all the relevant keywords related to your business and products. Research all the different keywords and phrases that your customers would use to search and find your products. Brainstorm short phrases, long sentences, specific keywords, terms and anything else that is remotely related to your product line. The goal is to generate a huge list of phrases and keywords that can be narrowed down later.
These tools will show you the corresponding search volume for your chosen terms and how competitive they are. You can use this information to determine which keywords are most valuable to rank for, and what is realistic to pursue given your resources.
For example, you may not be able to rank for a keyword like “content marketing” because it has a high search volume and is highly competitive, with multiple large companies ranking for the term. However, the goal is to find more niche terms or longtail keywords that have solid monthly search volume with low or medium competition.
Step 2: Incorporate keywords in site updates and new content.
Make sure whatever keywords you focus on are incorporated throughout any fresh content you produce. However, be mindful of keyword stuffing to the point where the content unreadable. Search engines penalize sites that do this. Keywords need to be inserted naturally and add to the flow of content, whether that’s an article, home page copy, product description, or meta description.
Audit your existing pages and update them with your new keyword list. Prioritize your time by tackling the pages that currently have the highest incoming traffic. To learn which pages those are, utilize Google Analytics, Site Explorer, or SEM Rush which can help you sort your reports by traffic.
Step 3: Write strong meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are the short summaries that appear under the link in a Google search page like these:
Meta descriptions serve two purposes:
- They inform search engines what the page is about to help them classify and categorize the page.
- They inform people what the article, site, or page is about.
There’s an art to writing strong meta descriptions. First, you should include the necessary target keyword and ensure it’s consistent with the keyword for the page or content being linked to. Then you need to write a description that piques interest and drives people to click.
Here are some tips for better meta descriptions:
- Use active voice. This will help make your content actionable and push readers to click on your link.
- Be specific and avoid fluff. Give consumers only necessary details.
- Ensure your description matches what the page covers. Be accurate.
- Include a call to action, describing what your readers will get from clicking.
Step 4: Optimize for mobile.
Approximately 51% of internet users only access the web from a smartphone, and it’s estimated that by 2025 that number will increase to almost 73%. But web pages are still primarily built for desktop first. And not optimizing your site for mobile affects your SEO ranking.
Recently, Google released AMP, a stripped-down form of HTML, aimed to help mobile pages load faster and improve the user experience. We’ve created a series to help you ensure your web pages are AMP compatible and thus, optimized for mobile here in What is AMP? and 3 Ways to Validate AMP for WordPress.
You can run periodic checks to see mobile-friendly your ecommerce site is and gain insight on what you can improve.
Step 5: Create a workflow to update pages.
Once you’ve identified the pages that drive the most traffic to your site, you’ll need to create a workflow to tick off every SEO requirement for these pages. Then continue that work to other pages of your site as you see fit.
Your workflow should include the process of how you’ll update each page and the specific order in which you will execute different tasks. It should also include exactly who will take on different roles as you continue to add more web pages to your site.
Step 6: Check your pages.
Google changes their algorithm frequently in order to ensure websites are updated on a regular basis. Perform regular audits of your pages to broken links, duplicated content, image load issues, and 404 pages. Those errors will count against you and your search rankings.
Thankfully, you don’t need to go through each web page and element yourself. Websites like Screaming Frog and Site Audit will analyze the SEO of your pages and tell you what needs to be changed to fix any errors.
Step 7: Update and measure often.
We’re all prone to human error. Once your strategy has been implemented, it’s important to update and measure your SEO tactics often. Don’t get complacent and seek ways to improve and iterate.
Checking your SEO results will help you to understand how your ecommerce website is performing and if you need to reassess your strategy to make additional changes. We’ve put together a list of four ways to measure your SEO to help you get started.
A strong strategy to improve SEO for ecommerce gives your site the best chance of appearing on the first page of search results. And it makes it easier for customers to find your products and buy. Using the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to driving more traffic and sales.