What to Include In Your eCommerce SEO Strategy
It’s no secret that one of the most common myths in SEO is that it’s only about the keywords. True marketers understand that SEO goes far beyond plugging keywords onto your website. For those in the eCommerce space, the end-goal is to have your website rank organically on page 1 of search engines so consumers can find and purchase your products or services. How do you achieve this? A robust eCommerce SEO strategy must be developed and we’re here to share some advice on what that marketing strategy should look like.
A solid eCommerce SEO strategy should include:
- Keyword research and development
- Proper site structure
- Optimized on-page elements
- New content development
- Link-building efforts
- Local SEO for brick and mortar stores
- Technical SEO aspects
Keyword Research and Development
In order to effectively execute an SEO strategy you must first set a foundation to support your efforts. What keywords do you want to rank for that relate to your products or services? SEO tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Brightedge, SpyFu and more can help develop a keyword strategy. Some variables to consider during keyword research include: How difficult will it be to rank for this keyword based off of SERP competition?
What kind of long-tail keywords (3+ words) exist that can be included? How much search volume exists for designated keywords? One of the most important strategies to remember for an eCommerce brand is that you must consider all of the stages of the buying cycle and match keywords for each stage. Keywords directly related to your products or services would be considered low-funnel; however, it’s important to also consider high-funnel, long-tail keywords to capture the audience who are beginning their initial stages of research.
Proper Site Structure
An important part of SEO is making it fool-proof for website visitors and search engine spiders to understand the organization of your site. Some eCommerce brands might offer a large quantity of products or services. No matter how large or small your offerings are, a well-structured site architecture helps. This includes creating URL folders for different product or service types and ensuring your sitemap reflects this organization. One of the best ways to structure your product or service pages is to use breadcrumbs that make it easy to navigate and understand your page infrastructure.
The key to an optimized site structure is making sure all of your relevant pages are linking internally. This helps connect ideas and related pages together. From a technical standpoint, including proper internal links helps search engine crawlers reach your content and understand your site structure better.
Optimized On-Page Elements
Having an ideal site structure and choosing the right keywords is a great running start… but how do you ensure search engines understand what your content is about? There are various elements on a website that search engines crawl to evaluate if your website makes it into indexing. Some of the most important on-page elements include:
URL structure- Search engines do not want to crawl lengthy URLs. Best practices state URLs should be concise and use primary keywords for the page they correlate with.
Title tags- Choosing the absolute best keyword for each unique page will send signals to Google of what keyword you want to rank for. This is one of the most important areas to optimize on your site, and often a primary area search engines will crawl to understand your page.
Meta description- Although you are not specifically ranked on your meta description, using a strong call-to-action and including your primary keyword is important. This will help provoke a click and increase your organic traffic.
Headers- Optimizing your headers on each page helps search engines understand the flow of your content. This is the best way to utilize keyword variations (ex: dog treats vs. treats for dogs).
Image alt and title text- By nature humans are visual beings. Consumers are often looking for images relating to your products and services. Since search engines cannot see the visual part of an image, it’s essential to optimize the alt and title text in the coding of your images to help search engines understand what the photo is about. This will help your images rank and allow consumers to use Google Image Search to find your products or services.
There are some of the most important on-page elements to optimize during your search engine optimization strategy, however there are numerous others that should be accounted for to ensure optimal performance.
New Content Development
Search engines want you to be the Wikipedia for information on the subjects relating to your products and services. In order to achieve this, you want to provide your website visitors resources and information to bring a consumer through the buying journey. For eCommerce sites, an easy way to knock this out is by providing robust product or service descriptions, instructions, ingredients, measurements and product or service reviews. These are additional chances to utilize keywords and their variations of your offerings. Think about all the possible questions and objections a visitor might have about your product or service and include explanative content on your website to satisfy those needs. You should always think about how your keyword strategy can fit into your page content.
Blogging is a great exercise to stay relevant and be the one-stop shop for information regarding your items. If you’re the first-to-know and know the most, you establish brand credibility with both search engines and consumers. The key to content development is being consistent and useful. Providing quality information on a topic instills trust in your customers and brings in new traffic to your website from people who might have never heard of your brand before.
Search engines’ jobs are to provide the best search result for any given query. This means your website should be credible, but how would a machine understand your brand authority across the internet? The answer is: your backlink profile. The more quality, authoritative websites that link to you, the better your domain authority will be. The methodology is: If other websites are referring their visitors to your website, you must be a credible source. There are a few ways to achieve more quality backlinks:
- Content collateral (infographics, visual resources, etc.)
It’s not always about the quantity of backlinks. Search engines like Google can see right through spammy links, so these are disregarded when interpreting your site’s credibility. A proper link-building strategy will help improve your domain authority and in theory, improve your rankings (so long as other ranking factors are met as well).
Local SEO for Brick & Mortar Stores
Another way to improve your credibility on the internet is to make sure your brand’s contact information is consistent. The main fields to focus on include your NAP:
- Phone Number
Citation accuracy tools like Moz Local, Yext and Whitespark can help push your correct NAP out to citation websites (Yelp, Yellowpages, Citysearch, etc.) with ease. In search engines’ eyes… if you can’t get your phone number accurate online, how could you possibly be the best resource for the information a web visitor needs?
This is especially important for brick & mortar businesses who have storefront locations. Google My Business (GMB) is a fantastic resource for businesses to include all of the pertinent information a researcher will need to purchase goods or services. An optimized GMB listing includes adding your keywords into various sections like:
- Business category
- Products section
- Google posts
When your keywords are included in your GMB listing you have a better chance at ranking in the local 3 pack for a search query relating to your business. These queries often include terms like a geo-reference or ‘near me’, therefore this potential searcher is specifically looking in your local area and you have a better chance at receiving that click. Stay ahead of the curve and make sure your Google My Business listing is optimized.
Technical SEO Aspects
You might have stellar content on your website and an adequate domain authority, but if your website cannot be crawled and indexed properly you won’t receive the results you’re looking for with SEO. Technical SEO is a huge facet under the umbrella of strategies you should be implementing. This includes (but not limited to):
Fixing 404 errors by implementing 301 redirects- Having deleted pages provides a poor user experience and in turn, a poor crawling experience for spiders. Proper 301 redirect should be put into place so no dead ends are met.
Improving speed- According to Think With Google, as speed increases from 1 seconds to 5 seconds, the probability a user will leave your site increases 90%. The long story short is that you want to make sure website load as quickly as possible. Google and other search engines do not want to provide an organic listing that does not load swiftly.
Ensuring crawlability- Using tools like Google Search Console will help understand which pages of your site are able to be indexed and which pages are blocked from the crawl. Reviewing and updating your robots.txt file should help make the directions clear for search engine spiders. Having an organized site map that you provide in your robots.txt file also helps.