As an online business, it is incredibly important to focus some amount of your time and effort on bringing in visitors to your eCommerce store. You could have the best products on the market and an amazing interface but if you are not ranking on search results, this is not going to be of much use to you.
The SEO techniques that might work for most blogs and news websites are not always right for eCommerce sites that are trying to see growth in their small business and annual sales. Global eCommerce is only growing and by 2021 the global retail eCommerce sales are expected to reach a whopping $4.5 trillion.
Other SEO stats bring to light how 39% of global eCommerce traffic comes from search.
What is eCommerce SEO?
eCommerce SEO includes the techniques that you would use to help boost the rankings of your online store on search engines like Google and Bing. When you search for something on Google, you are taken to the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
As you can see, the first few results are also going to be for products that are paying to rank (paid ads) but it is not really necessary that you invest money in those. This is especially true since 70-80% of all users ignore the paid ads and focus on organic search ads instead.
To feature on the first page of Google as an organic search result, you need to implement the right techniques. The right SEO techniques will help you bring in more traffic and sales which in effect means making more money in the long run.
The wrong techniques or rather the lack of good SEO can not only result in low sales but also potentially hurt your online store.
11 eCommerce SEO Best Practices
So, let us get into it then- what eCommerce practices can help you shoot to the top of Google’s competitive ranking system? Here are some that are worth a look-
#1 Include Relevant Keywords
Whether this is in your blog posts or within your product descriptions, the importance of including relevant keywords in your content cannot be understated. This is what is going to help your product rank and be found by the right people.
If you have not started a blog for your eCommerce store just yet, you can focus on including keywords in your product heading, description, image descriptions, alt tags, subheadings, and meta descriptions.
It is important to note that eCommerce keyword research is different from the other keyword research that you have read about.
For blogs, keywords worth targeting are more informative. So for example, a blog that is all about podcasts would focus on ranking for the long-tail keyword ‘what is the best podcast host’ while an eCommerce store would focus on ranking for ‘best podcast mic’ or ‘best podcasting laptop’.
This logic also applies to websites that offer services such as security services, for example. Smith Thompson’s home security company is a great example of this.
Since most of their Google search results lead directly to their services, they rank for eCommerce keywords rather than informational keywords.
This helps their brand bring in more targeted visitors that are even more likely to invest in their services. You can use a keyword tool like this one by Cognitive SEO to find the right keywords for your website.
While it is possible to rank for keywords without a blog, a good and frequently updated blog definitely makes things easier. A blog is the best to bring in bulk, long-term traffic. No matter how niched down you are, a blog can help. Take iNECTA, a cloud ERP software for the food industry. Their blog is extremely niched down but still manages to bring in tons of traffic that could potentially convert-
#2 Claim Your Google Listings
Online retailers can claim their listings on Google for free but a lot of them do not wind up taking advantage of this opportunity. This allows you to change any incorrect information regarding your business and make it as informative as possible so that when someone searches for your business on Google, they have every possible way of getting in contact with you as an option.
You can do this by creating a Google My Business account that will help you connect with customers and create a great Google profile.
This account also helps you keep track of how customers are finding you and how they are engaging with your business. Think calls, follows, bookings, etc- the analytics offered have it all and can give you a bird’s eye view of what is working for your business.
#3 Site Structure
One of the things that affects your search rankings is how your website is structured. As an eCommerce business, the structure of your website needs to be optimized for user experience.
As an online store, you want to make it easy for visitors to find exactly what they are looking for and for search engines to understand what you are offering. This means creating categories and making sure all of your products fit into the right category when posting.
Obviously, this means constantly keeping track of products you are adding, removing or altering in any way but the payoff is huge. If Google understands what you are all about, that changes everything. You will be able to rank better and for the right terms.
These are a few site structure tips to keep in mind-
Include clickable categories on your homepage
It is always a good idea to include category pages on your homepage so that visitors can find exactly what they are looking for quickly. If your customer cannot find the right product fast enough, your conversion rates drop.
It is not enough for your customer to simply know what your site is about. You need to make it easy for them to find exactly what they need as well. Let us take a look at the language learning website Preply as an example.
As you can see, interested students can easily find the language and tutor they wish to study without having to move around the website for 20 minutes. This means more conversions and sales.
Consider including a ‘New Stock’ or ‘What’s new’ category on your homepage
Including a ‘What’s New’ tab is incredibly popular among fashion brands who want to boost sales and arouse curiosity. The new stock has appeal to it and is likely to get clicked on pretty often.
You can even use this tip and create a ‘Sale’ category which works equally well if not better.
Make sure you do not get too wordy with category names
Make sure your category names are to the point and easy to understand. So, a fashion brand would have women, men, kids or tops, tees, jeans as categories.
You want customers to know exactly where to find whatever they want.
Include the use of breadcrumbs within your category pages
Using breadcrumbs can help with navigation for your user and help them go back to the main page when needed. Breadcrumbs also mean more internal links which are going to help your online store get indexed better.
Google also displays the breadcrumb structure of the website when it comes up in search results so including this when making site structure decisions is a good idea.
#4 Do Not Forget About URLs
It is important to include keywords in your URL and make sure it is easy to read for search engines as well as humans. The aim should be to help a customer (or search engine) understand what the page is about simply through the URL.
For example, uSERP does a good job of this with all of their blog posts. Here is one they have for a post on link building statistics–
You can easily understand exactly what their blog post is going to be all about by simply looking at their URL.
You also keep your URL short (about 50 characters is ideal). A good way to do this is by not including useless words like the, and, of, but, etc.
Keep it simple, understandable, and concise.
#5 Competitor Research
If you have no eCommerce experience and have no clue what you are doing, a good idea would be to look towards your competitors to understand what they are doing right.
A really good way to do this is by looking at similar DA or DR websites and what keywords they are ranking for. If they are almost as established as you are, there is a good probability you can rank for the same keywords.
You can use Ahrefs or a similar keyword research tool to find the keywords they are ranking for.
This will help you create an excel sheet full of awesome keywords that you can target. For other tips like site optimization, image creation, etc; you could look at more established websites like Amazon or Etsy.
You can even find what tools and services they are using if you want ideas when building your website. This could include the theme of their site, the plugins they use, or even what landing page software they have invested in.
#6 Make Sure You Do Not Have Any Duplicate Content on Your Website
Having duplicate content on your website is bad for SEO which is why redirecting one of the two similar resources to the other is always a good idea.
You can use a tool like Ahrefs to find duplicate content on your website by using their Site Audit feature that helps you crawl internal pages. Site Audit > Internal Pages > Content Quality
Using this tool, you can find duplicate pages on your website that have different URLs but the exact same content. We do not want that.
So, you can go ahead and redirect one of them. This is a good SEO technique to keep in mind because it helps Google trust your content. You can do this about once every three months as part of your site maintenance.
#7 Link Building: Target Websites Your Competitors Are Getting Links From
Backlinks are the currency of the internet and the more you have, the richer you are.
Google views a backlink from another website as a vote of confidence in yours. So, if you manage to get a backlink from Forbes or Business Insider, it is like your boss giving you a recommendation.
When link building, I would suggest only targeting websites with a DR of over 50. How do you find those sites worth reaching out to?
The same logic we used to find competitor keywords can be used to find websites that could possibly help your backlink profile.
Sites that have linked to your competitors are likely to find your content or site equally link-worthy. You can use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SemRush to find sites that your competitors are ranking for and then reach out to those websites’ content teams.
When it comes to finding websites worth getting links from, I also like to focus on companies that do blogger outreach for clients because it is literally their job to find good websites to get links from.
Looking at the FatJoe blogger outreach samples, for example, you will notice that they consistently target high DA bloggers. You can use the Ahrefs ‘Referring Domains’ tab to find which sites link to them.
You can either guest post on the site, or suggest adding a link to a piece of useful information you have created that you think could be useful to their audience.
This way you are not wasting your time sending cold emails to prospects that are probably not going to reply, and you get to build a solid and enviable backlink profile.
#8 Include Customer Reviews
Including customer reviews on your website is a great way to show Google what your product is all about since the customer is likely to use similar keywords or mention a keyword you haven’t. This will help Google rank you for new terms and better understand the product you are selling.
Reviews also convince other customers to buy the product and increases the likelihood of them trusting your website.
You could even consider showcasing what other well-known experts and influencers in your industry are saying about your product (influencer marketing), how many customers already trust your products, and on which popular publications you and your products have already mentioned.
A great example of this is what Loganix is doing on their keyword research page. They’re using all of the aforementioned tactics to build trust with their potential customers while also converting their valuable SEO traffic.
#9 301 redirect Expired Product URLs
A permanent redirect will help you show search engines where old products of yours have moved to. This means that instead of sacrificing a few sales, customers will be redirected to the right page.
It should also be noted that when you redirect a page, it is the new page’s domain authority and page rank that get taken into account. So, your old page will stop being indexed by Google and the new page will rank in its place.
If you do not use a 301 redirect, your page will come up as a 404 error which means a loss of sales, traffic, and search engines’ trust. Multiple 404 pages are an annoyance to search engines like Google because this means they do not know when to rank your pages and which ones will suddenly get taken down.
Having no 404 errors and redirecting to the right page could mean sending link juice and customers in the right direction.
#10 An ‘International Option’
A good way to build links to your website is by reaching out to similar websites in another region. For example, if you are selling washing machines in the United States, you could reach out to someone who is doing the same in Ireland.
You could then suggest that they add a link to your website on their product pages as a ‘U.S option for the same product’. In exchange, you would do the same for his website. This way you are helping customers find the right product in the right place, increasing sales, and building links all at the same time.
Amazon does an awesome job of this by including the option to switch between countries. You can do this by selecting the address tab on their website and selecting the country you are in to redirect yourself to the relevant website.
#11 Create Linkworthy Content
Linkworthy content is content that can only be referred to as link magnets. This type of content is long-form, thorough, and in-depth.
It can be a guide, a list of statistics, an amazing infographic, quotes from experts in the industry, or a list of resources. This type of content is commonly linked to in other posts which means the more guides and long-form content you have- the better.
Brain from Backlinko is well-known for his long-form content so taking a leaf out of his book is a good place to start.
Wrapping it up
A good SEO strategy will serve as the base for your online store. If you follow these tips, I can bet you will rank ten times better and find success more easily. SEO is not always complicated and you really need to just stick to the basics to get results.
Once you start seeing results, you can make tweaks where necessary and maintain what you already have.