eCommerce SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase traffic to your site. By using search engines to your advantage, your eCommerce business can appear first on Google or Bing, without paying for ads.
What is eCommerce SEO?
SEO for eCommerce means optimizing your website ranking on search engines like Google. By ranking higher, your site will appear earlier in search results. This means that if a potential customer searches for a product you sell, your store will be one of the first options they see.
For eCommerce, it’s important to get your product pages and product categories higher on SERPs (search engine results pages). As most online shoppers search for certain products, rather than specific stores, you’ll be getting most of your traffic through these pages.
Why should I optimize my online store for SEO?
Optimizing your eCommerce SEO makes it much easier for customers to find you. Even if your brand is relatively unknown, potential customers will likely visit your website if it’s ranked high enough on results pages.
This doesn’t just affect traffic and sales—it contributes to brand awareness as well. Increasing your online visibility and establishing your brand will keep your business thriving in the long run.
Unlike paid advertisements, such as Google Ads, SEO contributes to organic traffic. Meaning this traffic is considered free, besides the time you invest in optimizing your website.
Building a solid SEO foundation for your website is a surefire method to draw new customers, as well as repeat traffic. When it comes to online retail, SEO has the biggest impact both on revenue and traffic, surpassing paid ads and social media combined.
How does SEO work?
Search engines function in 3 stages. First, they “crawl” the internet, searching for content. Afterwards, each URL is indexed, meaning it’s stored and organized. Once your website pages are indexed, they get ranked. Search engines rank pages according to relevance, aiming to best match the user’s query.
When it comes to SEO, every little part of your website matters. In order to rank pages, Google goes over your website’s URLs, text and images. It ranks your pages according to the different keywords and the presence and relevance of inbound and outbound links. Google also rates the quality of your content, its readability, history and even technical performance, like page load times.
Search engines will also rank your online store based on your site structure. This is basically a map of your pages and the way they interlink.
Optimizing each aspect of SEO will increase your ranking and improve your pages’ visibility on SERPs.
4 Steps to Optimize Your Online Business for SEO
Improving your eCommerce SEO doesn’t have to be technical and complicated. Follow these 4 important steps to boost your organic traffic.
- Perform keyword research
- Optimize your site structure
- Apply eCommerce on-page SEO
- Optimize your technical SEO
1. Perform keyword research
Keywords are the most basic aspect of SEO. These are the search terms your potential customers might type in Google when looking for products.
By understanding what keywords are and how they’re used, you can effectively target shoppers that are likely to make a purchase.
For the best results, you should target keywords that have a relatively large search volume and preferably low competition. Incorporating the right keywords into your site content and product pages will boost their ranking for these terms and generate greater traffic to these pages.
Before you start a list of keywords, it’s important to understand user behavior on search engines. By targeting the right terms, those used by potential shoppers, you’ll not only increase traffic, but grow your sales as well.
eCommerce keywords can be broken down into 3 main categories:
- Transactional keywords. Terms used with intent for action, such as buying or ordering something. This includes, for example, terms such as “buy summer dress”, “book Philadelphia flight” or “Drake concert tickets”. These users know exactly what they want and if you target them effectively, you’re likely to make a sale.
- Informational keywords. Used to find information on a certain subject. These often include terms such as “how to…” or “what is…”. These keywords may yield less sales than transactional keywords, but they’re extremely important as they target potential customers still in the consideration phase. Targeting these terms can increase awareness for your brand and ultimately lead shoppers to choose you when they’re ready to make a choice.
- Navigational keywords. Terms used for navigational purposes, such as “Spotify” or “Hulu”. People use these simply to go to a predetermined destination. Though these keywords aren’t likely to drastically increase sales, you can use them to your advantage by targeting your competition to raise awareness for your own brand.
Another way to break down keywords is by dividing them into 2 groups: head keywords and long-tailed keywords.
- Head terms are short and broad. For example, “men’s footwear”. These usually have large search volumes, resulting in both greater competition and lower conversion rates (the percentage of people who make a purchase once reaching your website).
- Long-tailed keywords are usually 3 or 4 words and above. For example, “buy men’s vintage Nike sneakers”. These phrases are much more specific, resulting in smaller search volumes. However, targeting these keywords will result in a higher conversion rate.
Different keyword categories bring different results. A good SEO strategy will incorporate all types of keywords to cover as much ground as possible.
For eCommerce websites, optimizing your product pages with the right long-tailed keywords is extremely important for increasing sales.
To start compiling a list of terms to use on your website, you should research keywords online. There are 3 major avenues to finding the right keywords:
- Google and Amazon search suggestions
- Competitor research
- SEO tools
Type in your products on Google or Amazon. Once you start, they’ll suggest additional terms, which are based on user behavior. You can use these suggestions as keywords that you know users search for.
Amazon’s search suggestions is an especially useful tool to gather eCommerce keywords, as most searches on Amazon are done with the intent of purchasing.
Competitor research is another great method to find relevant keywords. Search for terms related to your products and find the top-ranked stores. These businesses are your direct competition when it comes to SEO. Scour their websites and see what terms they use and how they structure their content. If you’re just starting your online store, studying your competitors’ SEO strategy is a good place to begin.
The third method to uncover relevant keywords is to use professional SEO tools, like the Wix SEO Wiz. These help with the various stages of SEO optimization, making things much simpler. Read more on SEO tools below.
It’s important to note that keywords are dynamic. Research should be ongoing, or done periodically, in order to uncover new terms that may pop up. Make sure to update your site with these new keywords as you find them.
2. Optimize your site structure
Making sure your website is well-built can boost your overall ranking on SERPs. Google and other search engines use your site architecture as part of their ranking system. The better your online store is organized, the higher your ranking might be.
The optimal site structure is based on hierarchy, with the homepage on top. From the homepage, you should be able to access all second-tier pages. For most online stores, these will be your product categories. These pages then branch off to individual product pages. Of course, your pages should be interlinked appropriately, with the homepage being easily accessible from every page, and each category accessible from your product pages. It’s important to keep steps to a minimum, letting visitors reach any page with the least possible amount of clicks.
Structuring your site like this will make it easy to understand and navigate, providing a better user experience and increasing your overall sales. Google’s webcrawling bot evaluates this as well. In fact, buried pages (pages that aren’t easily found or accessible) may fail to get indexed at all.
An online store that’s structured like this also has the chance to get an expanded listing on Google, displaying product categories in addition to your homepage.
The most important thing to remember when structuring your website is to keep it simple. By following a clear hierarchy and categorization, you also make it easy to expand your store and add additional product pages as you go.
3. Apply eCommerce on-page SEO
On-page SEO means applying the right keywords in your product and product category pages. These pages contribute the most to traffic and sales.
There are 6 categories you should consider to fully optimize your website’s SEO:
- Optimize SEO titles and meta descriptions
SEO titles and meta descriptions are unique to each page and appear as the main part of your search engine listings.
Make sure to incorporate your main keywords in your title tag, but keep it user-friendly and appealing as well. This is the part that attracts the most potential visitors, so it’s important to make it clear that your site is relevant.
A meta description is the part that appears under the title on search engine results pages. This will be the description of your product. It’s an extremely important element that helps attract new customers, but is also a major factor for search engine rankings. You should incorporate your keywords here, while making sure to craft engaging copy as well.
- Write high-quality content
The most important thing is to create high-quality content and provide information. Shoppers and search engines both need clear information to understand what your page is about.
Your product pages should include any details, specs, features and reviews your products have. More content means you can use more keywords—just avoid keyword stuffing and keep a healthy balance. Search engines know when a page is “too optimized”, which will hurt your ranking. But more importantly, your customers may notice it, as over-optimized text can feel mechanical and unnatural.
Headers (like your H1 and H2) are also important for SEO and you should utilize them for keyword targeting.
- Use short and accurate URLs
URLs are important for search engine indexing and ranking. The more keywords you provide, the more accurate your URL will be. Keep your URLs short and friendly, avoiding numbers and symbols.
If your site is well-structured with a clear hierarchy, it should be reflected in your page URLs, like this: storename.com/category/product.
- Optimize your image SEO
Regardless of SEO, high-quality photos are a must-have for your product pages. Great imagery enhances the shopping experience and makes it more likely for customers to enjoy visiting your site. This translates to traffic, sales and repeat business.
But images can be optimized for SEO, too. If done correctly, your images can appear on search engines on their own, further increasing your brand visibility.
There are 2 elements to image SEO—your image’s file name and its alt text.
The file name is literally the name of the file you use, like “IMG_1321.jpg”. This name helps search engines understand what the image is, which makes it a good place to put the right keyword, such as “brown-corduroy-pants.jpg”.
Your image’s alt text is a short description of what is seen. It’s used to increase accessibility, as your site content is read aloud to visually impaired users by screen readers. This also helps search engines understand what your image portrays and is another good place to add your keywords.
- Create efficient internal linking
Internal linking is part of your website’s navigational scheme and is based on your store’s architecture.
For eCommerce, internal links usually include menus, categories and often product recommendations.
Linking between pages should be intuitive and user-friendly, helping your shoppers easily browse products. This also helps search engine bots understand the site’s architecture and can help your overall rankings.
All this backlinking will help create funnels to pages higher on your site architecture. These funnels can be channelled to places you prefer visitors to go, such as high-performing product pages.
Adding a blog to your online store is a great way to create backlinking, directing customers to certain products. In fact, blogs are great for SEO on multiple fronts. Constantly adding fresh content keeps your site relevant, lets you use more keywords and helps potentially gain more high-ranking pages.
- Add product schema
Schema is structured data you can add to your pages. This is the additional data you often see on Google listings with enhanced snippets. When it comes to eCommerce, the schema usually contains pricing, availability and product rating.
Adding a schema markup can be done manually in the site’s source code, or with the help of tools like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
4. Optimize your technical SEO
There’s more to SEO than using keywords—you want your website to provide a great user experience. Your website’s performance also plays a major factor in Google rankings.
One of the most important factors here is your pages’ loading time. You can improve this by comparing and changing hosts, by optimizing your image sizes, streamlining your site’s source code and utilizing browser caching.
Online stores tend to have a large number of pages, so they have a better chance of running into technical issues. Make sure to routinely check and update your website accordingly.
Another thing to look out for is mobile friendliness. Mobile traffic accounts for around half of all eCommerce transactions. Google even performs separate indexing for mobile, so it’s crucial that your store works perfectly on any device.
Additional technical elements include ensuring that your site has a secure HTTPS connection, fixing duplicate pages and dead links, and creating an XML sitemap, which helps Google with indexing.
You can create an XML sitemap using any of the major SEO tools available.
5 SEO Tools to Simplify Your eCommerce Optimization
1. Wix SEO Wiz
Wix’s SEO Wiz is an overall SEO tool that helps you research and analyze keywords, index your website on Google and optimize your site accordingly.
The biggest advantage of the SEO Wiz is that it creates a personalized SEO plan for your website. This includes a checklist with easy step-by-step walkthroughs.
Wix’s SEO tool also tracks your success, providing insights and data you can use to further optimize your site.
SEO Wiz is free for all Wix users.
2. Yoast SEO
Yoast is WordPress’ answer to SEO. It’s a WordPress-only plugin that helps optimize SEO overall, and is available in 2 forms—free and premium.
With Yoast’s free version, you can optimize pages for up to 1 keyword, index your website on Google and get ratings for your content and overall SEO progress. Yoast’s premium plan includes more professional options, like unlimited keyword optimization, link management and 24/7 support.
Yoast SEO Premium costs $89 per website.
3. Google Analytics
Google has a huge collection of SEO tools, most of which are great at performing one task. Google Analytics is one of them. This is a free tool that helps you collect insights and analyze data to improve your SEO efforts. As Google is also the most popular search engine, getting their insights can be extremely valuable, and they know it.
Google Analytics is a free tool and integrates with most website-building platforms, such as Wix.
SEMrush is a paid, professional marketing toolkit.
When it comes to SEO, most SEMrush users utilize it to perform in-depth keyword research and tracking, as well as competitor analysis. You can also use SEMrush to perform a technical audit of your site and gain insight into your SEO progress.
A SEMrush Pro subscription costs $99.95/month.
5. Moz Pro
Moz Pro is another paid all-around SEO tool.
With Moz Pro, you can index your website on search engines and track your rankings, perform audits to uncover technical issues and optimize your pages and links according to your selected keywords. Like other SEO tools, Moz Pro allows you to collect and analyze insights regarding traffic to your website.
Moz Pro offers 4 different subscription plans ranging from $79/month to $599/month.
By Rom Meir
Wix eCommerce Blogger
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