Setting up an online store is easy enough. The hard part is attracting a steady flow of web traffic that converts into sales as competition heats up by the day. There are between 2-3 million e-commerce companies in the world (excluding China), while North America (the USA and Canada) has about 1.3 million e-commerce companies. How do you stand out in this crowd?
You need to optimise your e-commerce store to make it appear in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). The higher it ranks in the SERPs, the more traffic it can attract. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a critical role in optimising your site. However, when it comes to the e-commerce realm, implementing SEO is a bit tricky owing to its complex and dynamic nature.
Here are five tips that will help you create a result-oriented SEO strategy.
Unique Product Descriptions Are a Must
The purpose of the product description is to inform your users of what they are about to buy and whether it is what they want. Unfortunately, most product descriptions are generic, repetitive, and extremely short. Duplicate product descriptions are a grave e-commerce SEO mistake that can ruin your search engine rankings. They also tend to focus on highlighting the product features, usually technical specifications that includes a lot of jargon.
Compelling product descriptions are meant to address your target customers directly and personally. It’s like having a one-on-one conversation. So, you have to make sure to provide users with only relevant information in a conversational (or an informal) style. Instead of talking about the features, highlight the benefits of each specification. People are more interested in knowing about how a particular feature will make their life easier.
For example, Zappos does a decent job of creating unique product descriptions that describe each technical detail along with its benefit. So, it doesn’t look like technical jargon but serves the purpose of enticing customers with benefits.
Ensure Right Keyword Placement
Keywords can work wonders for your e-commerce site. However, unless you use relevant keywords with the right placement, they aren’t going make much difference. You can optimise various areas of your website for keywords including titles, subtitles, product description, headings, Meta titles and Meta descriptions, images alt text, and product page URLs.
But first, you need to identify which keywords are relevant to your site. Usually, it is better to use long-tail keywords for e-commerce SEO because they provide excellent results. According to leading SEO Experts, 70% of search traffic comes from long-tail keyword searches.
Long-tail keywords often convert better because they catch people later in the buying cycle. Plus, people are more likely to use real-life terms and conversational phrases when searching for products. These terms are essentially long-tail keywords. They also convey strong purchase intent.
You can always use a combination of long-tail and broad keywords. You will need to carry out some research to find out which combination works best for you. Keyword usage will keep changing over time, making it an ongoing process. So, you need to use only the best keyword research tools out there. Google Keywords Planner is a great start, but you can use other paid tools as well.
Yes, website architecture is crucial for search engine bots. But it is equally important for your end users. You need to optimise it for both, search engine bots as well as users. Make it easier for visitors to find what they want and provide them with the right options when they do. Thus, they will be able to complete a purchase without having to go in circles.
Breadcrumb navigation is perhaps the best way to improve user experience and SEO of an e-commerce site. It allows you to use natural internal links with relevant keywords. But most importantly, it offers a more transparent view of the navigational hierarchy. Thus, users can easily understand where they are on your site with just a glance irrespective of where they began their journey.
Use breadcrumbs everywhere on your online store. For example, Wayfair offers simple but effective breadcrumbs in the top-left corner. They are available on the entire site from product pages to categories. So, you can go from one product category to a specific product with ease.
Make It Mobile-Friendly
You can’t stress the importance of having a mobile-friendly e-commerce website enough. The increasing use of smartphones is fueling the increase in the features of international e-commerce platforms. As a growing number of people are using their smartphones for shopping, only a great mobile user experience can convert those prospects into loyal customers.
According to e-marketer, retail e-commerce sales reached $2.3 trillion in 2017 with a mobile share of $1.4 trillion at 58.9%. By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales will reach $3.5 trillion comprising almost three quarters (72.9%) of e-commerce sales globally.
You can opt for a responsive or adaptive web design or set up a separate website for mobile. In adaptive design, your site generates a different version of its original HTML. So, it displays the content according to the screen size. But, it is more complicated, time-consuming, and expensive compared to responsive web design. Setting up a separate website for mobile is also being phased out gradually.
That leaves you with the responsive design option. This design uses proportion-based grids. So, the content gets re-arranged according to the screen size without affecting the site’s functionality. For example, Firebox has a mobile-friendly website with a clean and visible grid layout. The flat web design makes it easier to find your favourite products.
Include Customers Reviews
Encouraging customer reviews have helped businesses prosper for decades. In the digital age too, customers like to know who they are dealing with and what they are buying. The only difference is they are doing it online. That’s why online customer reviews are considered as a crucial SEO factor.
Create dedicated space for customer reviews, preferably on each product page. Always encourage or incentivise your customers to leave a product or service review every time they make a purchase. Although a bit complicated, the best way to boost your SEO with customer reviews is to include review content as part of the HTML code. This practice is known as in-line SEO.
It can increase the search engine crawl frequency and consequently the organic traffic substantially. Alternatively, you can also add all the customer reviews to a static web page. It is, however, going to be less productive compared to HTML-embedded code.
Always provide a polite and honest response to all reviews. Don’t irritate or flatter your customers with deceptive claims. Make it a point to respond to every review (whether negative or positive) as soon as possible. However, does this mean you should be wary of negative reviews? The short answer is no.
Google is not going to penalise your site for a couple of negative reviews. It will not interpret negative reviews literally. Besides, negative reviews add a layer of authenticity to your site. A website with only positive reviews is likely to be viewed as fake or manipulative.
As long as positive feedback outweighs the negative ones, you are safe. Nonetheless, you should take every precaution to mitigate the potential damage a negative review can cause as early as possible.
SEO plays a vital role in improving your e-commerce site’s search engine ranking and sales. It is no longer optional. If you haven’t already started paying attention to e-commerce SEO, now is the time to dedicate your resources and time to it. Hopefully, these five tips will help you create a highly productive SEO strategy for your online store. However, these SEO tips aren’t a one-time deal. Online store optimisation is something you will need to do forever. Good luck!