It is good to build an appealing e-commerce store that slays the eyes of your visitors. But if you don’t know how to rank your online store on the #1 page of Google, then all the bells and whistles on your online store won’t be of much help. You will risk missing out organic traffic and probably miss out on sales.
Whether you are planning to get started or you already have launched your new e-commerce store, this guide will help you step up your e-commerce SEO game.
What is e-commerce SEO?
This is the process where online e-commerce platforms increase the quality and quantity of visitors to your e-commerce store through organic search engine results.
Why is it important?
According to research stats published by MineWhat.com, 81% of shoppers research online before buying. So what happens if your website is tucked deep below layers of competitor stores? Your competitors will have a field day while you keep banging your head on the work desk. It sucks.
In this post, we are going to discuss some of the most important SEO tactics for an e-commerce store that will keep the customers coming.
On-page SEO is all about optimizing the structure of e-commerce store pages in a way that will make it easy for web crawlers sent by search engines to find the page and associate it with your desired keyword.
Here are some of the on-page SEO factors you need to consider:
1. Keyword research
You need the right keyword to get your store featured on the top pages of search engines. There are different types of keywords including one-word, mid-tail, long-tail, and LSI keywords.
Long tail keywords used to be the best slays for Google gods not long ago. But tables are turning especially when it comes to optimizing your e-commerce website for SEO. Thanks to the updating of the Google Hummingbird algorithm, the search giant can always understand how two similar queries relate to one another.
Nowadays there has been a remarkable shift towards the use of mid-tail keywords – search queries that contain 1-3 words – that have a broader search. To increase chances of being found by your web visitors, you also need to splash a number of semantic keywords (LSI keywords) in your text.
One-word keywords on other hands can be too broad and harder to rank especially if you are new to the industry.
So how do you go about your keyword research?
The idea is to get a high-quality keyword with low competition. Go right to your Google Keyword Planner (or any related tool).
In this post, I have used Keyword Tool) shoot your category or product name. Then find 1-3 phrases with a good search volume.
For example, if your e-commerce store is about “dog food”, here are the mid-tail keywords provided by Keyword Tool software:
Remember you are looking for low competition keyword(s) with a considerable search volume. In this case, “dog food advisor”, and “dog food recall” will be good for your store. Now that you already have the keywords, the next step would be sharpening the structure of your e-commerce platforms for links.
Besides that, you also need to get related keywords( LSI keywords). Most people just use LSI keywords for keyword research, but the real benefit of LSI keywords is that it helps Google understand what your content is about.
When you search “dog food recall” in Google, it will give you a number of related keywords (see below).
2. URL structure
2.1. Fixing URL category level
Think about your URL structure. For example, if your e-commerce platform software has three or more category levels, it is better not to use all the categories in the URL structure.
For example, consider the following URLs:
The second URL structure offers more SEO advantage than the first one.
Here is the reason: link juice is inversely proportional to the category level. In other words the more you go down the product categories, the more the link juice and URL authority keep on dropping.
2.2. Another issue is the URL length
According to Matt Cutts, an ex-Google software engineer who has shed much light on SEO, a long URL will lessen the impact of your keywords. For example, not unless your e-commerce store has a 90 domain authority (DA), an URL length like the one shown below will be bad for your business.
3. The metadata
Metadata is a snippet of content that describes a page. The short content doesn’t stay on the page but in the code of the page.
In this case, this website has included mid-tail keyword “dog food recall” in the meta tag descriptions. But, you don’t have to be pushy, just include keyword phrase that would make people want to click through to that specific page.
If there are any conversion rate boosters (CTR boosters) you can include, they will make a perfect signal. The thing is, the more people are likely to click your search result, it tells Google that you are solving that users problem and thus tend to rank your keyword higher.
To get perfect CTR boosters, you can dig through a top ranking search result and AdWords for your target keywords. For example, for “dog food” include:
Look at some of the CTR boosters in that ad: Free shipping, Low prices, 30% off dog food act as hooks that attract people to click on the ad. On top of your target keywords, also sprinkle a bit of keyword. Now, sprinkle your target keyword and LSI keywords.
This is the easiest and final step in your on-page SEO. In this case, you will be using your keyword as the ALT tag in your product image. For example, if you want to directly add “dog food recall” in your image code, here is how:
<img src=”image_Name.tif” alt=”dog food recall ALT_Tag” title=”image Title_Tag”/>
1. Fixing crawl errors
The most glaring error in most e-commerce stores is the 404 issue. Most of the times, it occurs when you delete products or update a catalog in the shopping cart software. The solution to this is redirecting the URL to the category page of your product by implementing 301.
Unlike other e-commerce platforms like WordPress, Shopify makes the process easier by using Redirect feature( If you are using Shopify, check the Navigation tab in the Admin console.)
But you need to correct it before it happens to your visitors. So how to do you find it before it occurs? You can use a tool like MOZ to easily monitor crawl errors. If you subscribe to a paid version, they will always get you top issues to fix every week.
Take a look at this screenshot.
The tool can also point out the incidences of duplicate content. But the only sure way to avoid duplicate content is writing unique and well-researched product descriptions.
Another challenge you might run into is category page or product having two or more URLs. The problem is, if the URLs are indexed by Google, they may cause duplicate content issues.
Solution: Find all the duplicate URLs, open your Robots.txt file and “no follow” them there.
2. Fixing page load speed
Google pushes down sites that have slow load speeds. Slow loading speeds are caused by:
- Lack of data compression.
- When there is no browser caching
- When you post hi-res images that are not optimized
- Render to blocking CSS and Js in the above-the-fold content.
You can solve these issues by using Content management software like Shopify or WordPress. However, the most optimal way to do it is through using content delivery networks (CDNs) that help deliver your content from a different website. That way, you will reduce latency. Here are two of the best CDNs – Amazon CloudFront and Akamai – and a guide on how to set up your CDNs website.
3. XML sitemaps
This is the list of all the URLs that are on your e-commerce page that you search engines like Google to index. At typical online store has a lot of URLs (thousands) that are added, updates or completely removed on a daily basis. The sitemap helps Google to know the changes you have made on your site.
How can you make your sitemaps and send them to search engines? You can use WordPress plugins like the Google XML sitemaps. The plugin will automatically generate these plugins at the end of the day. It will also update the file whenever you delete or add new products or posts. Once you have created the sitemap, you can head to Google Search Console and submit its URL.
Just click on the submit button. And, that’s all.
Note: Once you have submitted your site map, you don’t need to keep doing it over and over again. Based on the frequency of URLs that get added to your domain, and your DA, Google bot will crawl your sitemap automatically from time to time.
4. Building links
Content is king. You need to produce high-quality content to boost readership and reduce bounce rates. But good content alone can’t guarantee a higher ranking. You also need to take it a notch higher by delving into link building.
Unfortunately, it is not easy to build links to e-commerce pages because people are not interested in building links to product listing or product pages. Some of the effective strategies you can employ to solve your link building woes include creating a blog where you will be sharing news of the industry, trends, product reviews, and other company information.
You also need to analyze all the links to make sure that they are functional. You can use tools like Rankwatch for that. You don’t want your customer to click on dead links. That will be bad for business.
In our next post, we will be looking at the best way you can build quality links to your e-commerce store.
Good SEO will help improve the visibility of your store on Google SERPs. As a result, it will lead to increased organic traffic to your store.
In this post, we have discussed some of the best strategies e-commerce SEO out there. But the list isn’t exhaustive. What are some of the tactics are you using to rank your keywords on the first pages of Google SERPs? Feel free to share in the comment section.