SEO is every online business’s secret weapon, as long as they know how to use it. Great ecommerce SEO can make the difference between a business that sells $$$ worth of product every day, and one that stays hidden in the shadows.
SEO for ecommerce differs from usual SEO practices because more emphasis is placed on the products themselves. Focus is squarely on improving conversion rates, product-led copy, and giving customers the ultimate e-tail experience. There is no point in endlessly driving traffic to your store without a sales and product-led strategy.
Not following the right SEO for your online store could be losing you money. The solution? Implementing the right SEO practices and habits for your ecommerce store so it’s easy-to-use for your customers and makes sense to Google.
Here is how to manage ecommerce SEO.
Why is SEO important for your ecommerce store?
SEO is a strategic set of pracctices that allow ecommerce merchants to have longevity and business success in a changing online market. SEO is less expensive than pay-per-click (PPC) and more futureproof than fad-oriented social channels. Good ecommerce SEO will drive more organic traffic to your ecommerce store and encourage repeat sales. Whether you are just starting out or looking to improve an existing online store, take a look at these easy on-site SEO hacks for your ecommerce store.
SEO strategy research: keyword, competitor & content analysis
All good SEO begins with thorough competitor, keyword, and content research. Spend 70% of your time on your SEO strategy on analysis, and only 30% on actual implementation.
Research is the best way to map out your site structure, category pages, title tags, and it forms the basis of your blogging and content strategy. Without research, you will have nothing to benchmark your online store against, and you may miss out on crucial keyword and SEO opportunities.
For good ecommerce keyword research you need to think about:
- Buyer intent: is this keyword going to convert? Does it show buyer intent, or are they just looking for information?
- Funnel keywords: how do these keywords and phrases map onto my sales funnel? Do I need to focus on more sales-oriented keywords?
- Intercept keywords like “alternatives to X”, “best X for X”, “X vs. Y” are great for hijacking traffic from high-traffic competitors and sites. Use tables for an extra powerful SEO boost.
- Branded vs. non-branded terms: are you running after non-branded (or branded) terms too hard and missing out on other opportunities?
Research-led SEO content tips
- Amazon is a great SEO research tool for your online store. The search function offers useful insights to customers’ shopping behaviors, and how they buy online. You can also look at Amazon’s product organization for inspiration for your own store (although be careful not to copy them too much as they do operate on a slightly different model to traditional one-brand online stores)
- Write killer product content – amazing product descriptions are sales pitches and a chance to hit keywords and optimize your site. Use them wisely.
- Don’t ignore category descriptions – these can be another great way to add more keywords to your site naturally…and they add a lot value to customers.
- Create more content for your site that doesn’t directly apply to a specific product. Buying guides and helpful tutorials are perfect for SEO.
Tip: Content doesn’t always have to be written. It also can take the form of photos, graphics and videos. Use the right SEO practices for this type of content so your site continues to shine.
Focus your attention on technical SEO for your online store
It’s all well and good focusing time on your marketing strategy and writing great content, but if you neglect the technical side of SEO, your site will instantly become less search-friendly.
Even though modern content management systems do a pretty good job of dealing with SEO conventions out-of-the-box, every ecommerce business still needs to invest some time and budget on getting the technical aspects of search marketing just right. Larger websites quickly decay and a lack of appreciation for technical onsite elements can slow sites down and introduce errors into the index.
Things like user experience (UX), indexing, usability, page speed, and metadata all contribute to your site’s overall success: take a holistic approach with your SEO strategy, and don’t neglect your site’s technical environment.
- Get to grips with the basics of site crawling and indexing to better understand your site and how you can improve its current crawl budget. Indexing is a common pain point for ecommerce websites with multiple products and product categories.
- Conduct an audit of your site to identify any current indexing or usability issues and how you can fix them. Depending on your content management system (CMS), you may be able to fix some smaller SEO issues like 301 redirects and browser caching yourself with plugins and add-ons. Recognize when an issue is too big to handle in-house and seek expert input where needed. There is always room for improvement!
- Free SEO tools and browser plugins, like SEOquake, are great at giving you an overview of your website performance, but they can only tell you so much. It’s easy to get sucked in by ‘free SEO audits’ and not really get much value out of the advice. You will probably need to ask for expert advice to help you fix complex issues with your site: a little money spent on technical SEO now means that your business will grow in the right (digital) direction!
Tip: Using an ecommerce platform means you can spend less money on web development, and more money with professionals who can help optimize your site. A good ecommerce store needs to look good, but don’t ignore the technical SEO elements that should underpin an attractive site design. Never get an ecommerce website developed by people who do not understand SEO: it is a disaster waiting to happen.
Keep adding to your analysis arsenal with SEO tools & web analytics
Data is at the heart of any good ecommerce search strategy. The only definitive way to know your SEO tactics are working is by using dedicated tools that give you constant data from your site. Domain authority and trust flow can be good indicators of your site’s power and backlinks, whilst other tools can show you more in-depth data and metrics. Get comfortable and familiar with core SEO KPIs so that you keep track of progress.
- Use free tools like Screaming Frog to crawl your site in real time and get important data about on-site optimization and metadata.
- Use Google Tag Manager to take your Google Analytics to the next level and really get granular with your attribution models. Every ecommerce marketing campaign needs to be tracked in this way.
- Paid tools will give you more information about your site and traffic opportunities. Tools like Moz, Majestic and SEMrush offer a range of good features that will open up a plethora of information about your site and areas for improvement: use these to help you optimize for competitive keywords.
- Hook your SEO tools up with key sales data like customer lifetime value and average order value to help you work out the effectiveness of your SEO strategies. You may find that you need to shift SEO focus in function of sales data and seasonality for example. SEO is supposed to bring you in more money, not prop up empty vanity metrics.
- Check your website’s metrics frequently. It’s recommended you have a deep dive every two weeks so that your SEO strategy remains agile and reactive.
SEO doesn’t have an immediate impact, so don’t be put off by slow results. For many SEO problems there are no quick-fix solutions.
Tip: Don’t get too caught up in endlessly analyzing data and site metrics for parts of the site that don’t really matter for customers. Only focus on ones that make the most sense for improving customer experience.
Link building for ecommerce SEO
Links boost your site’s power and help to create a web from your site to others, connecting the dots for Google to understand what your site is all about. It will increase organic traffic to your site, which will in turn increase conversions. Both internal and external links throughout your site will increase your site’s power and create a strong and successful online business.
Just make sure you are not falling foul of Google guidelines and engaging in spammy link building tactics: this could actually harm your website.
- Outreach to relevant blogs in your niche to guest post on their site. Some will be happy to have informative and interesting guest posts on their site, and you can then include a backlink to your site in your author byline. Buying guides and how-to posts always do very well.
- Run campaigns that encourage people link to your site. Things like discounts and major offers or give-aways are great for building links.
- Work with influencers to help boost website traffic. Make sure you pick influencer partners that work for your brand.
- Use internal links for SEO and create a better user experience for customers. Make sure you do not confuse search engine crawlers with bad internal lanks or concentrate link authority on the wrong pages.
Tip: Links from powerful websites will establish more power to your site. Aim for other sites that already have a lot of power to increase your own. Do not bother with spammy websites.
SEO is a crucial component in doing well online, and ecommerce is no exception. Keeping up-to-date with new SEO practices and maintaining an optimized site will increase traffic and allow your store to grow and flourish. What SEO improvements can you make to your online store today?