Without doubt, getting a high organic position in Google or any other search engine can drive more traffic and, in turn, sales. Unlike advertising, you’re not inherently paying for this traffic, so when it’s done right can provide an invaluable ROI. There are some myths around what you should and what you shouldn’t do for eCommerce SEO, the basic rule of thumb to remember is: Google is trying to provide the most relevant and quality answer for the users query.

In years gone by, you could trick search engines into showing your result in the number one position, by filling your pages with lots of keywords. Fortunately, Googles algorithms have come a long way since then and now they’re pretty good at supplying the best result for the search query. There are of course some ways you can make your website more search engine friendly, so in this article we’re going to discuss SEO for eCommerce. We’ll also break down some eCommerce seo tips you can do today!

  1. Monitor Your SEO

    There is no point trying to make any changes for SEO without being able to monitor it. By monitoring your site against the changes you’re making you’ll be able to see what worked the best and what didn’t work. You’ll also be able to use monitoring tools to help you work out where your site is lacking some SEO qualities. Here are some basic tools you should be using:

    • Google Search Console.

      GSC can be a good tool to see new keywords, organic positions as well as impressions. This tool is great for finding opportunities that can be used to optimise your site; find new keywords that can be optimised. Pages that are receiving lots of impressions but not many clicks means that the meta description and title need optimising.

      It’s in Google Search Console that you add your site map and control and see reports on how Google sees your site. If there are any crawl issues, you’ll see them in here and you’ll be able to fix them and optimise them.

    • Google Analytics. GA should be set up for most eCommerce websites as a standard, but if you haven’t got it installed for measuring traffic and conversion rates, then it should be set up for measuring SEO. You can use GA to measure the performance of bounce rates on specific landing pages. You can also use GA to measure any increase or decrease in traffic from search engines.
    • SEMRush. Using a tool like SEMRush will help you visualise your exact position in the SERPs as well as report on technical and content SEO issues. You can add in your targeted keywords and monitor them on a timeline and cross reference any changes in position with any updates to your site and Google updates.
  2. Plan Your Keywords

    Like everything in marketing, if you jump into SEO without planning you’ll likely fail at the first hurdle. Start by doing some keyword research, tools such as SEMRush will be able to give you some in depth keyword research. When doing your keyword research, it’s important to look at the difficulty of the keyword.

    Usually a good indicator of how hard the keyword may be is the CPC (cost per click) and although this is an advertising term, it shows how competitive the word or phrase is. Aim for keywords that have a lower CPC but still has enough traffic per month to make the optimisation worth while. This way you’ll get better results quicker.

    You can also aim to gain better positions for long tail keywords. These are keywords or phrases that are longer than generic terms. These terms are search for less, but much easier to gain a couple of positions in the SERPs.

  3. Avoid Duplicate Content.

    While it’s tempting to copy and paste the product and category page content from your supplier, it can actually be detrimental to your SEO strategy. From Google’s point of view, if they see the same content on your site as another site, then why would they rank yours above the original source?

    It’s also important to make sure you don’t have duplicate content from another page on your site. If you have a couple of products that are very similar, don’t use the same descriptions. This is called cannibalising your site, where you have a several pages that are all trying to rank for the same keyword.

    Instead try and get a single page to rank for a specific set of keywords. This way your efforts are being spread across several pages and keywords and you’ll see a better ROI quicker. If you have a page on several URLs, then you can use canonical tags to make sure Google only ranks the original page.

  4. URL Optimisation.

    URLs can be optimised to make them more search engine friendly, and while they don’t offer lots of value in terms of SEO, they may be able to offer enough to push you ahead of the competition. There are some basic rules to follow in your URL:

    • Avoid the underscores. While Google reads hyphens as spaces in URLs, it doesn’t read underscores in the same way. So where you can, try and avoid using underscores.
    • Keep it short. You want your URL handle to be short and sweet just to encompass the essence of what’s on the page. Too long and it becomes unfriendly to the user and the search engine.
    • Avoid dates.

      Adding dates in your URL puts a time limit on how long you can use them for. For instance, if you write a fashion blog about 2019’s best and use the year in the URL, then you can’t optimise that article for next years without redirecting to a new URL.

      Instead avoid using the year and use a generic phrase instead, then you can keep updating the article each year. This applies to collections as well, for example, avoid the following: “autumn-winter-2019”.

    • Use collections and sub-collections Adding collections and sub-collections in the full URL shows Google and the user where the page belongs in the sitemap. It also lets Google know what the page broadly matches in its categories which helps Google understand your pages better.
  5. Write Better Product Descriptions.

    Google hates thin content because it lacks the context required to understand what it’s about. By writing fuller product descriptions, you’re letting Google understand your product pages better.

    You can use monitoring tools to track your competitors product descriptions. Use this data to write better product descriptions and overtake them. If you get stuck, check out these tips for writing product descriptions.

  6. Fix Broken Links.

    404s or broken links are annoying to users. Google wants everyone to have an amazing user experience, so it’s understandable that fixing 404s is important to any SEO strategy. If you have a product that you’re no longer going to sell, then use 301 redirects to point to a similar product or category page.

    Not only does this help the user experience, but by redirecting to another page, you could potentially be making the new page rank higher. This is because redirects pass over some “link juice”.

  7. Optimise Your Images.

    Images on an eCommerce site are imperative to sales. Without them, the user wouldn’t know what they’re buying, so you spend time and effort optimising the photography. But there are a a couple of things you can do to make sure your images aren’t hindering your SEO strategy.

    • Resize and Compress.

      The faster the website, the better the user experience. The better the user experience the more favourably Google looks at your site. Speed is important in eCommerce and one the biggest things that can bulk up your site and slow it down are images.

      Resize your images to the same space that they fill, and strip out any unnecessary meta data and compressed it down. Using a site like GT Metrix will help you compress your images.

    • Add your alt tags.

      Alt tags and proper titles are important to any SEO strategy. Not only does this help Google rank images in the SERPs, but well named title and alt tags show Google that you’re adding relevant content.

  8. Speed Up Your Site.

    It’s not a secret that speed is important to Google and that by having a slow loading site you’re potentially hindering your chance of ranking well. Removing unnecessary code, apps and optimising your images will help you increase your loading speed. Here are 8 ways to increase the speed of your Shopify store.

  9. Internal Linking.

    When you link from one of your pages to another page on your site, you’re creating an internal link. This internal link can actually be good for the page you link to as it passes over a small amount of “link juice”.

    While this won’t have a huge effect on your overall SEO strategy, if you regularly update content with links it will help grow your organic traffic over time. There are some easy ways to improve your internal linking structure on your eCommerce store.

    • Cross and Up Sells. Link to similar products and cross sell products on your product page. This will help improve the internal linking structure but it will also help your conversion values. Adding cross sells to your site will help increase your average order values too.
    • Featured Products. Adding featured products to your home page will get your customers to the products you want the customers to see first. But it will also help improve the linking structure.
    • Breadcrumbs. Use breadcrumbs to link through to category pages from product pages. Breadcrumbs are also useful to users when they land on a product page it shows them the structure of the categories. This site structure can be helpful for Google too.
  10. Anchor Text.

    When you link to a page on your site, you should make sure that you use relevant keywords to link to them. For instance, when you link to a blog post, use the title of the blog post of related keywords to link to them rather than using the words “click here”.

  11. Mobile Friendly.

    It goes without saying that your website should be mobile friendly, especially since over 52% of all website traffic comes from mobile. Google has made the move to mobile-first indexing, which means it’s analysing your site from a mobile point of view first. While optimising it to be responsive will definitely help your user experience and your organic ranking ability, there are some mobile SEO tips to follow.

    • Font Sizes

      Google actually has a signal to work out if your font is too small. Fonts that are too small hinder the user experience which is the opposite of what Google wants to rank. You can use Google Search Console to run reports to make sure your font is eligible on mobile.

    • Interstitials and Pop-Ups

      Pop-ups and interstitial ads can be effective on desktop, but on mobile they often take over the entire screen. Google wants easy to access content. This means getting creative with your email sign up pop-ups on mobile in order for it to not affect your organic strategy.

    • Clickable elements too close

      Having buttons too close on a mobile device can be problematic and potentially upset the user journey. Making sure your buttons and links are far enough apart that there is no room for the user to accidentally click the wrong one will be seen favourably in Google.

    • Streamline Navigation

      On big eCommerce sites where you might have lots of different collections, you would create a wide dynamic navigation on desktop. But on mobile the user will have to perform several clicks to get to the same page as one on desktop. Streamline your navigation and collections to ease some pressure from the user journey. Encourage mobile users to use the onsite search if your site has lots of products.

    • Size matters

      The size of your site will have an impact on the load speed. Big images, big files and complex scripts will slow down the site. On desktop, most users will be used to a relatively fast speed, but on mobile you have to be able to cater for users browsing on 3g and low signal.

  12. Create a Blog.

    Blogs on your eCommerce site will help drive user engagement and help with your overall SEO strategy. Using the list of semantic keywords, you can create blog posts that drive traffic and then use links to products to increase an internal link profile.

    Writing blog articles can also show that you’re an expert in your field. Google’s E-A-T guidelines means that you should be able to show that your blog writer has enough authority to write about the subjects. By creating author profiles and bios, you’re showing Google that you know what you’re talking about, this can be especially effective if you can list qualifications on your bio.

  13. Optimise your meta.

    Meta descriptions and titles are what the user sees when your site appears in Google. By optimising these you can improve the click through rate. While these don’t inherently improve your ranking ability, they will help drive more traffic to your site when optimised properly.

    You want to optimise the meta description and title for the user, so use enticing words like “buy” or “discover” to encourage the user to click through. It’s also important that you don’t have duplicate meta descriptions. Each page should be unique, so the description and title of the pages should also be unique.

    While you shouldn’t stuff your descriptions with keywords, because it’s not a ranking factor. It’s worth adding in keywords and semantic keywords where possible as these show up bold in the SERPs. This makes them more appealing and can improve your click through rate.

  14. Social Media.

    Social media does not influence your SEO strategy directly. It’s a common myth that getting shares, likes and comments will boost your organic rankings. Traffic from social media platforms is unreliable and fragmented, so Google doesn’t use it as a direct ranking factor.

    Having a social media strategy in place however, can improve other signals that are used for ranking in Google. It improves brand recognition and loyalty to the site. If your brand aspires to be a leader in your industry then you’ll have an advantage over competitors in the SERPs. Use social media strategies to increase brand recognition and CTRs and your organic positioning will follow.

    Start by adding shareable links onto your content and product pages, this will encourage user interaction. This will help grow your fan following on social media. Implement social sharing and following into your loyalty program to encourage more social media interaction.

  15. Mark up content

    Making sure that your content is right is only part of the on-site SEO strategy. Marking up the content with correct HTML will ensure that a Google can read your site properly. Follow the basic principles of SEO to get the majority of your on page SEO done to best practises.

    But you can also include Schema mark up, which can help Google understand the content on your page easier. You can create different schema for different types of content, such as products, reviews, people and even recipes.

Hopefully you’ve picked up some SEO tips that will help improve the visibility of your eCommerce store. Get in touch for more advice on SEO for eCommerce.

AUTHOR

Will Lynch

Will is Head of Marketing at ELS Media. He can be found fixing Google penalties, optimising eCommerce sites and creating automated email marketing strategies.