However, those who religiously study and applyeCommerce SEO optimization tips can still compete as many online retail websites are still woefully under-optimized. This means that, with the right program in place, merchants can overtake many of their competitors and rise to prominence on Google.
That said, a robust and comprehensive SEO strategy combines a variety of tactics such as an ideal website structure, technical SEO, contemporary keyword research tactics, implementingon-page SEO optimization tips, cohesive content marketing efforts, a link building blueprint and other crucial components to SERP success.
Given the scope of what it takes to earn visibility in today’s digital landscape, we thought we could lend a helping hand by laying out 18 crucial eCommerce SEO optimization tips to produce a more refined and search-friendly site.
With that, let’s get started.
1. Leverage the Right Keywords
Even as Google aims to move further away from keywords with moves like theBERT algorithm update, keyword research and implementation are still vital to surfacing for relevant queries.
Conducting keyword research for a seller’s website, merchants will quickly notice that some visitors are seeking information, while others are looking to make a purchase. “Informational” and “transactional” are two of thedifferent types of search queries that sellers should optimize their site to target.
It is recommended that retailers first optimize their site for keywords that indicate an intent to purchase by integrating keywords related to products throughout key pages such as landing pages, product pages and the like.
After that, merchants can begin to produce informational content that will help the site develop authority within its niche.
The fact is that scores of eCommerce sites feature bland, generic, uninspired product descriptions, or even ones that are copied and pasted directly from the manufacturer’s website. Not only is this terrible for conversions, but it also significantly harms a site’s search potential.
Therefore, it is critical for sellers to write high-quality, original, search-optimized product descriptions that help products to surface and sell.
3. Optimize Category Pages
Category pages are one of a retail site’s most important destinations. However, most merchants completely neglect these pages in terms of search visibility.
In reality,optimizing and ranking category pages is a critical SEO optimization tip for sellers to understand. These pages are not only one of the most authoritative on-site listings which allow merchants to target top-of-funnel queries, but they also serve to enable shoppers to drill deeper into the site with links to products, content and other valuable pages.
4. Conduct a Technical Audit
Technical SEO is a vital component to the overall health and visibility of a site. Additionally, there are a variety of problems andcommonly missed technical SEO issues with eCommerce sites. Therefore, conducting a technical audit is a necessity.
During this process, retailers are likely to uncover issues related to:
Duplicate content due to improper canonicalization
Performance issues caused by redirect chains
Poor load times resulting from un-optimized images
Out-of-date XML sitemaps
Lousy URL structures
A lack of schema markup
While we are on the topic of schema markup:
5. Implement Structured Data
Structured data has become an increasingly important SEO optimization tip for sellers to leverage in the past several years.
Throughthe implementation of structured data, retailers can enhance their SERP listings by highlighting on-site details that are important to potential customers. These include a product’s price, ratings, availability and the like.
The reason why structured data is so important to online merchants is that this information helps Google and other search engines to better understand a page, thereby potentially increasing its rankings over destinations that Google has a harder time comprehending.
Additionally, when consumers know more about the details contained on a page, they are more likely to click it (assuming it is relevant to their search).
This problem usually arises as a result of retailers having identical products that come in different colors, improperly implemented filters or navigation, multiple sites for different languages, possessing a separate mobile site and similar scenarios.
Such issues tend to create duplicate content and confuse search engines, thereby diluting a site’s SEO effectiveness.
During the technical audit of the site, any duplicate content that is uncovered should be removed, consolidated or deemed void through the properimplementation of canonical tags.
7. Improve or Remove Thin Content
Any page that features a sparse amount of content is harming a site’s performance in the SERPs.
Therefore, retailers should seek to minimize the amount of thin content on their site through either removing it entirely (in the case of outdated, relatively useless blogs) or by beefing up the word count (in the case of product pages, landing pages, etc.).
As mentioned earlier, when conducting keyword research, retailers are likely to find a fair amount of data that shows site visitors looking for information. Creating content that speaks to those questions, concerns or interests is a merchant’s opportunity to capitalize on that traffic.
Therefore, building a library of blogs and video content that addresses the types of searches that consumers come to a merchant’s site looking to resolve can help retailers to rise in rankings. Moreover, those who understandhow to drive revenue with content can also score sales in the process of educating consumers, thereby earning authority and revenue.
However, merchants shouldn’t limit their content optimization efforts to articles, videos and the like. Sellers should also optimize category and product pages to be as informative and enticing as possible.
9. Consider E-A-T Guidelines
Given that Google has publishedsearch quality guidelines that help retailers to understand what is necessary to rank, following the E-A-T guidelines contained therein is a vital SEO optimization tip.
E-A-T (which stands for expertise, authority, trust) is applied to all sites that Google designates as YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) sites, which retail falls under since it accepts credit card information.
Therefore, cultivating expertise, authority and trust is of critical importance for sellers to rank well. Some of the things that retailers can do to achieve this aim include:
Prominently display and optimize “About Us” and the site’s contact information
Have content written by an industry expert and include an author bio
Page metadata should reflect E-A-T values, not an urgency to push products
Employ proper on-site security measures like HTTPS protocols
10. Optimize Internal Link Structures
A site’sinternal linking strategy is another SEO optimization tip that is often overlooked to the detriment of a site’s performance.
Internal linking not only aids users in moving through a site fluidly and encourages them to spend more time on-site, but it also assists search engines in understanding which pages are a site’s most important. Additionally, while it is not impossible, it is more difficult to build links to category and product pages than landing pages or blogs.
Therefore, internally linking to such destinations can help to pass link juice to these vital pages.
The guiding principle for sellers to follow with internal linking is to ensure relevance. Each link created should help shoppers find what they are looking for, be it more information about a specific subject or items mentioned elsewhere on a site.
Moreover, retailers should aim to build link funnels that guide site visitors who are reading a piece of content to product pages where they might convert. Additionally, those product pages should feature related items, thereby potentially boosting average order values.
All this said, don’t go overboard with internal links. Otherwise, retailers can end up harming the user experience. Only place links where they logically make sense and can improve the experience for the visitor.
Robots meta tags are page-level instructions for Google bots that can be used to direct an engine to follow a link on a page, show a URL in the SERPs or not.
Additionally, robots meta directives can be utilized to provide sellers more significant control over image previews and snippets.
13. Enhance Site Speeds
As far as SEO optimization tips go,improving eCommerce site speed is one of the most frequently mentioned of the bunch. The reason for this is that page load times are not only a ranking factor, but they have a considerable impact on the user experience and bounce rates. If consumers find a site to be dissatisfactory and keep bouncing from its pages, Google will pick up on this and promote other sites above a merchant’s.
This is another massive issue for eCommerce retailers.
Keyword cannibalization occurs when more than one page on a seller’s site targets the same keyword. As a result, multiple pages within a store are vying for the same opportunities instead of targeting additional search queries.
A couple of the most common keyword cannibalization issues are a result of improperly applied faceted navigation elements and un-optimized content strategies that treat SEO as a secondary component to content production.
When discussing SEO optimization tips, many only think of the standard methods of search, completely neglecting the increasingly important modality of voice search.
Voice search has been on the rise for quite some time. The fact is that voice search is ballooning, thanks to the growing prevalence of smartphone devices worldwide, smart speakers and digital assistance.
Providing clear and concise answers within comprehensive content
Drafting great-sounding product descriptions
Implementing on-site voice functionality
Answering questions directly
Utilizing long-tail keywords
17. Create a Streamlined Site Structure and Navigation Menu
When it comes to SEO optimization tips for higher rankings, a streamlined site navigation scheme is vital to visibility. Plainly put, Google bots utilize the navigational structure of the site to help understand the website and the importance of its various pages.
When structuring an eCommerce site, sellers should aim for users to be able to reach all of the store’s most important pages in three clicks or less. An easy way to do this is to implement a “silo” site structure wherein the homepage links to category pages, which then link to either subcategories or product pages.
Another tool for facilitating smooth site movement is theuse of breadcrumb navigation. Through this tool, each page will show the “breadcrumb trail” that users took to get to a specific destination, allowing them to get back to other pages quickly.
Concerning SEO optimization tips for enhanced product listings, there are three simple elements that merchants can include to cultivate higher-ranking product pages: customer reviews, high-quality images and video content.
As far as eCommerce is concerned, customer reviews are a powerhouse as they provide other shoppers with the social proof needed to convince them to convert, while also adding fresh, relevant, targeted content to the page.
However, to get the initial purchases necessary for earning customer reviews, retailers will have togenerate stunning product images that sell if they want to move their merchandise. The fact is that retailers who feature a few, low-quality images for their goods are earning a few, low-quality customers in the process.
SEO optimization tips for eCommerce websites are of vital importance in the age of Amazon. To compete with such massive online entities (let alone all of the other competition) effectively, merchants must optimize their site to the fullest.
While SEO is a long-term strategy that rarely generates immediate results, planting the seeds now will help retailers to earn exponentially more traffic and sales as they continue to work on their search optimization efforts.
That said, if merchants find this to all be a bit overwhelming or lack the technical acumen to optimize their site effectively, help is available.
Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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