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SEO for E-Commerce

So you’ve spent months maybe even years building up your e-commerce site but you still aren’t getting any traffic. Sound familiar? Here is a handy guide on how to build up traffic for your e-commerce site. 

Sometimes the people you sell to don’t even know what they are searching for. So they’ll definitely appreciate it if you can anticipate their intent if you happen to sell the product they are looking for. 

The reality is however, you need to optimise your e-commerce site for SEO to target the right buyers. 

With so many build-it-yourself options like Shopify, BigCommerce and Wix, it’s difficult to know where to get started. 

The truth is there is no one size fits all solution for SEO, much less e-commerce SEO. 

Up until now, you’ll of probably had a pretty basic relationship with your e-commerce website. You may have uploaded your product photos, added a description to each product and maybe added a few category pages. 

And up until now, that’s worked fine. 

Now you’ve been hearing that all the top e-commerce websites like ASOS, The Body Shop and more are all structured around SEO. 

So it seems quite daunting, doesn’t it? 

If it doesn’t it should.

So now we’re going to take a deeper look into the world of e-commerce SEO. 

Why Does SEO Even Matter for Ecommerce? 

Gaining new customers can be hard, and if you aren’t being found by search engines it’s especially difficult, bordering on impossible if you aren’t doing any marketing. 

And obviously for your e-commerce business to thrive the way you want, you need customers. 

The issue being, getting customers’ attention is expensive. 

In the apparel industry, the average cost per click is around 89 cents and the average cost per action is just under $10, according to WordStream. 

You might end up spending thousands just to gain a small number of new customers. 

BUT

If you use SEO you can gain free organic traffic by getting your site to show up on the search engine results page (known as the SERP). 

Seems pretty good, doesn’t it? Especially considering 32% of shoppers turn to Google when they are ready to make a purchase. 

So what do you need to do to get started with SEO? 

Keyword Research

Every second there are 91,568 searches on Google, that’s 5 and a half million a minute. 

So, a lot. 

Even crazier than that is that the average consumer process 100,500 digital words daily

So with this much competition how do you stand out? 

To reach your consumers you need to start with a targeted keywords list. Creating a list of targeted keywords list. 

Creating a targeted, internet-based keyword list is the first step into developing an e-commerce SEO strategy. 

But, before we drive into how to do keyword research, it’s important to cover a few different types of keywords: Short-tail and long-tail. 

So what’s the difference?

Short-tail keywords are shorter terms users are more likely to search for. For example “Curtains”. These keywords can drive a large amount of traffic but are hard to rank for and the traffic you bring in is not necessarily traffic that converts.

Long-tail keywords on the other hand are longer and typically much more specific. For example “light blocking thermal curtains”. So these long-tail keywords drive in lower amounts of traffic but that traffic is more relevant and therefore more likely to convert.

So how do you find long-tail keywords?

  1. Make a list of your short term keywords and expand on them. Here’s an example:
  1. Choose one product name (example: Blackout Cotton Bedding) and enter the product into google and any SEO tool such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. 

Here are some examples you can get just from google:

Don’t forget to take a look at the people also ask section, which can provide even more long-tail keywords.

And right at the bottom of the page, you can find even more:

  1. If you are optimising product descriptions, go even further with your keyword research to work out the intent behind each keyword. 

For example, I expanded on “cotton bedding” by just using google search results and ended up with this: 

This is where people get e-commerce SEO so drastically wrong. 

Everyone and their mother who sells bedding would want to rank first for “cotton bedding” but unless you have endless time and money you simply aren’t going to outrank all of the top companies. 

  1. So once you start filling up on keywords it’s time to categorise your keywords based on informational keywords that would make for great blog posts and purchase intent keywords that drive your conversions.

← Purchase Intent 

← informational 

Site Architecture

Listen up, if you’ve been looking for an excuse to revamp your website this is it.

Site architecture is just how you organise your site. It is crucial for all e-commerce sites mostly due to the sheer number of products e-commerce sites can have. 

The site architecture allows you to map out how the user flows through your site. And as the site owner, you want to be able to work out which pages do the best. 

Creating a bad user experience with your site architecture can hurt your SEO. If you want to see how to do it properly take a look at those big brands we mentioned earlier like ASOS. 

As a rule of thumb, it should take the user at most three clicks to get back to your homepage. 

Before building (or rebuilding) your navigation and sire structure, walk through a mind-mapping process 

Ask yourself the following questions.

  • What search queries do consumers use before they get to your site? 
  • What search queries do your users use on your site?
  • Which pages on your site get the most traffic?
  • What are the top exit pages? 

Now decide on your navigation. Do you want a drop-down menu? Make sure it’s in HTML then or search engines cant find it. 

Make sure to keep the number of links you have in mind too. Moz recommends no more than 100 links per page at max. 

As we mentioned earlier, use your short-tail keywords to decide what you want to name your category pages. 

Use your short-tail keywords in your page title, page header and the top 200-word paragraph. 

Technical SEO

With an e-commerce website, technical SEO will be a task you have to do regularly. It is no longer just sitemaps and meta tags. 

The line between technical SEO and on-page SEO are blurred and continue to do so. 

It’s easier than ever to build a website with clean URLs, correct internal linking and primarily without stacked redirects. 

So let’s dive into the technical side of SEO that will step your site up a level. 

Implement Schema Markup

How great would it be if google solved our daily dilemma of sites not getting found? 

Well. Use rich snippets and schema markup and you’re able to highlight certain bits of information for search engines. 

With an e-commerce site, you are going to want to use two types of schema markup. They are:

Product Schema Markup – This needs the product name and price. You can also add in an image, description, URL and brand name. Here’s an example of product schema: 

Review Schema Markup – This requires two types of markup. Aggregate ratings and Individual reviews. 

To implement aggregate, you’ll need overall rating value, rating count, best rationing and worst rating. 

To implement the individual review you’ll need the reviewer, review date, review value, best 

rating, worst rating and review body. 

Here is an example of review schema markup:

All of this can seem overwhelming to anyone new but there are tools available online to help you.

Clean up URLs

Here are a few tips for when you are creating a URL structure:

  1. Swap out dynamic URLs for clean URLs
  2. Get rid of all the parameters
  3. Never use underscores, use dashes
  4. Stick with lowercase letters
  5. Add target keyword(s)
  6. Keep it short

Cross Link the top pages

Internal linking can be one of the most powerful tools for SEO. When you think of internal linking, you typically think of hyperlinking a keyword term to a somewhat relevant page on your website or linking to an excessive number of pages on your website. 

That’s not what we mean here though.

Internal linking is a great way to guide users from one page to another. Not only will this help navigation but improve user engagement. 

For example, if I wrote a brilliant post (like this one right now) I might link to another post from this one. 

It can also improve your chances of ranking for certain keywords. You don’t want to add hyperlinks to every keyword but if you think it fits, link it. 

It also makes your site easier to crawl. Internal linking allows search engines to index your page much more efficiently. 

Page Speed

Page speed is a difficult thing to just improve. It is important to SEO than your page loads fast though. 

There are plenty of tools out there to help you figure out what’s causing all your problems with speed though so don’t fret. 

Some of the common improvements you can make are

  • Reducing your page size to keep page load times a few seconds less’
  • Compress data sent to the browser
  • Use a content delivery network 
  • Upgrade your hosting server
  • Make use of different image formats 

On-site SEO

There’s a lot of overlooked potential with on-site SEO.

It also goes hand in hand with technical SEO. 

Let’s take a look at what you can do to optimise your on-site SEO

Get Meta

Meta titles and meta descriptions. You should already have them in place but getting them right can be tricky for the uninitiated. Let’s take a look at each.

Meta Titles

Your meta titles can be a key piece of the puzzle to improving your click-through rate. It could be as simple as using your keywords.

But one major point most people don’t know is the use of action words in meta titles. Examples of these are click, learn, decide, try and buy now. These can help you target more long-tail keywords which is obviously a bonus too.

Meta Descriptions

Click-through rate (CTR) is becoming an increasingly important SEO factor for SEO. So you need to learn to optimise your description. 

Meta descriptions may not improve your search rankings alone but if done right can earn you more clicks.

Here are some top tips:

  • Keep it at around 155 characters
  • Give an answer to a question
  • Make sure you’re specific to your target audience with your keywords 
  • Use some useful words and phrases like you, instantly and free shipping.

Images

Having a great image is one thing. But a beautiful image is nothing without ALT tags. 

You might be selling a white shirt with a cool design on but having the alt text as “white shirt” or as “my business name” like techniques of the past may suggest is no good. 

What you should have as the alt text for that awesome shirt is “white shirt with patterned design” or something along those lines. 

Videos

Another standout way to show off your products is with video. Animoto found that 73% of consumers were more likely to buy a product or sign up for a service if they watch a video around it.

Not bad huh?

In addition to increasing conversion rates adding product videos to your website can help improve your rankings.

Videos increase engagement and time spent on your site increasing your chances for ranking your product pages higher in the SERPs. You should invest a fair amount of time and money to make sure your videos are standout and keep your brand image.

Here are a few short tips when it comes to product videos:

  • Keep your video under a minute.
  • Keep it simple. No need for fancy filters and editing.
  • Hire a professional. You might be an Instagram pro but a photographer will take your product photos to the next level. 

Credit to Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

E-commerce SEO 

Using all of that we have covered you might have a chance to stand out on the SERPs, by no means is this a complete and definitive guide but it is certainly a good basis you can use to tackle some of those big names.

Now it’s down to you to implement all of this, do your research and keep on learning. SEO is a tricky subject so don’t get disheartened if you struggle at first. 

By Rob Swinburne

Rob Swinburne is Marketing Executive at Surge Marketing Solutions

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