This blog post is recently updated on 22 September 2018
E-commerce is a booming industry today and with the festive season around the corner, stores are ready to break the sales records yet again. But, is that all that is expected from an e-commerce store? Is it built only to get sales during the festive season? The answer is, of course, no! Here we need an effective Ecommerce SEO techniques.
Online marketplaces function on a simple rule. To see an increase in profits, sales must be improved, and sales can only be improved by routing more traffic to the website.
Online sales for consumer e-commerce retailers can almost be doubled with the help of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This may sound unrealistic but it could be achieved by following simple guidelines on effective ecommerce SEO techniques. An effective ecommerce SEO techniques can generate large amounts of traffic on your website, thereby generating sales and profits.
ECommerce SEO Techniques for Product Pages
Product pages are extremely vital for an e-commerce store. They are like the wheels of a cart. These pages attract the customers and form a major part of your website. Therefore, you must have an extremely robust SEO strategy to highlight your product pages.
Some products are available, while the others are out of stock and in both these situations, your SEO techniques treatment must be customized. Categories and sub-categories make it easy for the user to find the products they require and also allow search engines to develop the right pathways on the basis of how your store has been constructed.
Best Ecommerce SEO Techniques 2018
1.Optimize Product Pages
Product pages are always dynamic. However, one thing that remains constant is the Architecture of the website.The pages must be created under a defined structure. It helps to optimize the store for both users and the search engine.
SEO for Out-Of-Stock Products
There are several ways in which you can handle pages for out-of-stock products. The first is to let the pages be. Do not delete, hide or replace them. Just offer an alternative product – different model, different color, a similar product from other brands or other products that match the price and quality requested by the customer. This is a great service and is appreciated by customers. The search engine will also be able to identify relevant pages in your website structure and route better traffic.
While you work on ecommerce SEO techniques , you could follow another interesting strategy to increase sales. Try to notify users when the product will return.This is a great service and is appreciated by customers.
This way customers would know when they should come back to buy what they need. You could also add the option to backorder and promise to send it out once fresh supplies have been added to your stock. If you have created a community of loyalists and communicate that they would be the first to receive on new stock arrival, they might not look elsewhere and you will not lose a sale.This is a great service and is appreciated by customers.
SEO Techniques for Expired Products
There are out-of-stock products and then there are some products that you know will never come back. Most e-commerce stores decide to delete the pages of such expired products and take no further action. However, this is not advisable from an ecommerce SEO perspective. You lower your own SEO value and if there are customers who have bookmarked the URL you have just deleted, they get an error message when they try to access the page.
The ideal solution for such a situation is:
- Use a 301 permanent redirect if the expired product has been replaced by a newer model. This technique informs Google that you want to rank this page on the search engine and your SEO value is retained.
- In case there are no products that you can use on the URL and you wish to completely take off the page, use a 410 status code (gone) to inform Google about the permanent deletion of the page.
- Some products are exclusive and may not exist on other e-commerce stores. The pages for such products have an informational value that existing customers may require at later stages. Leave the pages as is and let previous buyers review important information to benefit from the same.
SEO Techniques for New Products
New product pages must rank well in order to drive traffic. And how do you do that? Follow good information architecture, internal link structure, and category linking.
Internal links refer to the process of connecting a particular page of the website to different pages on the same website, while the target and source domain remains the same. Internal linking makes navigation on the website easy, defines architecture and hierarchy, and distributes page authority and ranking across pages on the website. This way Google will soon find, crawl and index your content. Crawl rate and indexing can also be improved with your efforts to submit entries to directories. These blog directories are free and help to get your site found by prospective customers. Don’t forget to link the new product pages to parent categories.
New products must always be highlighted on the homepage where they are more accessible and indexing becomes easier for Google.
In addition, content also plays a major role in attracting customers and you must generate blogs with keywords relevant to your new products. For example, if someone is planning to buy a treadmill, publish blogs and guides on how to find the right treadmill, what are the types/models of a treadmill, etc.
These blogs can then be back linked to the product page on your website.
2. Optimize Your Meta Data
This is one of the most common challenges faced by owners running e-commerce stores. They are constantly battling with unique content for their products. Many tend to extract product information from a database and end up with the troubles of plagiarism. Some pages only come with a product photo. All such situations leave the search engine with no option to identify what the page is about, which user should be routed to the page, how is it relevant for searches and your website.
Prepare a 50 to 75 words basic description for all your products. Do not create separate pages for different sizes, colors or variations. Instead, use widgets. If you are selling several products from the same manufacturer, do not reprint product descriptions. Google does not appreciate the duplicate content. Use content that has been submitted by users in the form of comments and reviews to create a product description.
Also, integrate social networking and let users help you tell product stories. Social sharing helps in new link building and provides extensive content to Google. The number of shares, retweets, comments and the time frame during which this content has been created are factors that are taken into consideration. Indexing this content boosts your SEO indexing efforts and the faster content indexed, the higher you are rewarded through organic traffic on your website.
Never follow a template approach for the meta tags of your site. But, considering thousands of product pages on your site, it sounds unrealistic to optimize each page. That’s time-consuming.
But the template approach is not ideal.
Instead, follow a Hybrid Approach – Put the bulk of efforts into well-optimized tags for the most important pages. Then, follow the template approach for the rest.
Consider the following example:
It’s a perfectly acceptable meta title and description
How to find the most important pages that are the best candidate for the new meta tags?
Choose the top 10 pages that rank well for the given keyword.
Consider the following pointers when writing your metadata
- Include primary keyword
- Add long-tail keyword variation
- Include action words
- Mention your USP
- Make them compelling to optimize for CTR
Eliminate Thin Content Pages With Long Product Descriptions
Content on your product pages helps search engines decide which keywords to rank your page for and with what ranking. So, if your product pages have a very short description, Google doesn’t get much to go through.
Instead, write long, relevant and in-depth product descriptions to rank your pages well. For an extensive catalogue, focus on your top products. Also, focus on the products that rank at the bottom of the first page or the top of the second one.
More content gives more opportunities for using keywords. As long as you have a high-level description that motivates customers, both search engines and people won’t mind reading extra.
3.Optimization of Product Videos and Images
Visitors get attracted by the images and videos on your website. This means that you must focus on their quality. Moreover, users share attractive pictures on social media giving you mileage and growing your brand stronger. If images are well optimized, more traffic may come from Google image search.
So, fetch high-quality images that can create a background and atmosphere. Prospective buyers must feel connected with the product. Keep the file name, caption and alt text as per keywords relevant for your industry. These give the search engine an idea as to what your image content is all about and then route the target audience to your website.
Another important consideration to keep in mind while using high-quality images is the size of the website and the speed at which it loads. A slow loading website forces users to leave even before they have seen the products on the website. Remember to run a Performance test on https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ for better analysis.
4.Perform Intensive Keyword Research
The first thing that attracts users to visit your website is the product title, enabling you to rank better on the search engine. Therefore, make the best use of the relevant keywords.
Keywords and the way they have been included makes a lot of difference on search engine rankings. Use Google Keyword Planner to analyze keywords with high competition for your industry and write your product page’s title, description and heading accordingly. With Google Keyword Planner, you can identify terms, phrases, and words commonly searched by your customers. You can look at the exact match or broad match of keywords relevant in your industry and also combine two keyword lists to create new keyword combinations. There are targeting opportunities with respect to the language, location and search network used to better focus your efforts.
The very first step is identifying the high-value search terms that your potential customers might be using. It’s called keyword research.
Note that keyword research for ecommerce businesses is much more different than keyword research for other niches.
For example, an SEO agency may use an information keyword:
But, you want to rank for commercial keywords, like:
Web surfers with information keywords look for information, which often directs them on blogs or content-heavy sites. On the other hand, ecommerce stores care about commercial keywords that demonstrate the buying intention of a searcher.
Ways to perform keyword research
There are so many tools for conducting keyword research, like SEMRush, Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, etc. Some of these are free, while some are paid. The Google Keyword Planner is the best FREE option. We recommend SEMRush if you have a good budget.
Google & Amazon Suggestions
When you type something on Google, it suggests relevant queries:
At the bottom of the search result page, you’ll notice some additional related search queries:
Similarly, Amazon also suggests relevant queries when you enter a term in the search box on Amazon’s site:
You can take keyword ideas from these suggestions as well.
Choosing the right keywords for your store
It’s time to narrow down your extensive keyword list and focus on the most profitable keywords. Consider the following criteria when researching keywords for your product pages:
- Relevancy – should be highly relevant to your site.
- Search volume – Should have high exact match search volume
- Competition – Choose keywords with lower competition to increase your chance to rank for them.
Intent – “Wedding gown trends” and “size 32 red bridal gown”. Notice the difference! The later one shows the buying intent and makes the right keyword.
5.Leveraging Internal Site Search
Experts tend to optimize their website for Google search but forget to utilize the right strategies for internal search engines. This is usually because they do not understand the power of internal search, and thereby lose out on sales. Users searching for products with synonyms, hyphenation, spelling or spacing errors do not arrive at the right pages when they actually should.
- Track and analyze the keywords that are popularly used within your website for the purpose of product searches. Estimate the revenue generated by such keywords. Such data is easily available through Google Analytics for your website – traffic overview.
- Keep a track on popular searches. This could indicate which product is popular and profitable. This could also indicate that people are not being able to search what they actually need.
- Remember to noindex your search results. Website search should only deliver relevant results that actually solve the problems of the user.
- Perform a random test on your website for internal search. Type some keywords that you feel users could accidentally feed in and see what search results are being generated. Fix the errors you come across and you will realize that sales will shoot up.
- Optimize internal search so that every user is able to find what they need. They must arrive at the right product page.
Online security is an important aspect that you need to look into. Customers feed in their identity and confidential information on your website. You must have policies in place to ensure their safety.
Give them clues through logos and certifications so that they understand that your website complies with accepted security standards. Give them the assurance that your website is 100% safe by displaying the SSL/VISA security guarantees. This helps increase conversions and sales.
Additionally, Google gives a ranking boost to websites that are secure HTTPS/SSL sites.
Click distance and duplicated content also hamper your ecommerce SEO ranking significantly. Click distance is a problem that occurs when the number of product pages increases and your pagination is not able to show all the pages at once. In such a scenario, use meta link tags to signal Google that the pages are a part of a series or show all pagination links on the same page.
With respect to duplicate content, you must attempt to prepare fresh and unique content for every product. However, if you are not able to do the same, you must employ a canonical meta tag, which allows Google to understand which page is the canonical version of the original page.
These effective strategies can help to boost your e-commerce sales. Discuss with your web designers and developers and enjoy sales all throughout the year, and not only during the festive season.
8.Use a Sensible Site Architecture
If your site architecture is not sensible, it may confuse your store visitors. It means visitors will quickly jump off your store and you’ll lose potential sales and search engine ranking.
As you add more categories and products to your store, site structure gets more complicated. But, if you structure your site properly from the beginning, it will save you lots of time in the long run. So:
- Use a simple structure that scales as your store grows.
- Every page is as few clicks from the homepage as possible.
You can use the following rightly-done pyramid structure for your store
- Level 1 – Homepage – 70% of Backlinks
- Level 2 – Categories – 15% of Backlinks
- Level 3 – Products – 10% of Backlinks
- Level 4 – Blogs – 5% of Backlinks
9.Optimize Your URLs
URLs often go messy, especially with e stores.
Check out the following example:
Avoid such bad URL structures. Your product URL should be clear and readable.
As a starting point, consider the following:
- domain.com/category-name (category page)
- domain.com/category-name/subcategory-name (subcategory page)
- domain.com/category-name/subcategory-name/product (product page)
Tips to write effective ecommerce URLs
- Keep them as short and readable as possible.
- Include primary keyword
- Make the hierarchy and context of the page clear.
- Use (-) to separate words.
- Avoid URL parameters where possible.
10.Add Schema Markup
How would you like your web pages to be displayed in the search result?
Like this –
Or, like this –
Or maybe, like this –
Of course, like the latter two, right?
Providing more information in search results may increase your CTR by up to 30%. Google uses this information to understand your content.
And, you can achieve it by using schema markup. To make your site look better, do better and rank better in SERPs, follow these steps:
Step 1: Go to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
Step2: Choose the data type you want to markup. For example, we choose ‘Article’:
Step3: Enter the URL of the article you want to markup.
Click on ‘Start Tagging’ button. The page will load in the markup tool, and you will get the workspace for the next step.
Step 4: Highlight and choose the type of elements to be marked up.
Suppose, we choose “Name” markup. Finish highlighting and select “Name” from the tooltip.
It will add it to “Data Items” in the right pane.
Highlight other items in your article and continue adding markup items.
Step 5: Create the HTML
Once you’re finished, click on ‘CREATE HTML.’
On the following page, you will see the HTML of your page with the relevant microdata inserted in the spots that you selected.
You’ll see the HTML of your web page with the relevant microdata in the selected areas.
Step 6: Add schema markup to your web page.
Download and copy the automatically-generated HTML file, and paste it into your CMS or source code.
Click “Finish,” and you will see a series of “Next Steps.”
Step 7: Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to see how your page will look like with the added markup.
The easier your store is to navigate through; the longer people want to stay on it and shop from you.
Don’t try to game system. Google is surprisingly smart enough to smell the game, if you play, and sees that no one actually interacts with your store.
So, take the usability seriously and pay attention to the following key metrics to improve your store’s usability:
- Bounce rate – Do visitors bounce off your page right away?
- Time on page – How long do visitors stay on your page? If they click away immediately after landing on it, it’s bad from Google’s point of view.
- Information acquiring – Google wants web pages to provide relevant and satisfied information to the user. If your content fails to answer the questions of a search query, you will go down in the ranking list.
If you don’t promote your content, how will your target audience read it? Google will not put your content on the first page just because you write and publish a blog.
You need to put efforts and promote your content to the right people.
Here are different ways to promote your content:
People are very active on social media. So, it’s obvious to promote your content on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. to reach your audience.
If you are selling organic edibles, then create your business account and fan page on social media platforms to interact with your audience on social media. Follow them, share their content and distribute your content to them. Stay active on these platforms and respond as soon as possible to each query.
Many people think that email marketing is not too effective anymore. A big mistake!
In fact, email marketing continues to be a major communication channel, especially in the online retail landscape. Email receives 30 times more return on investment on average.
If you write a blog on “How to buy the best organic skin care products,” share it with people who are interested in organic skin care. Search online organic skin care blogs and articles and write to their authors that you like their content. Also, encourage them to see and share your content. If you do this enough times, it will surely encourage them to link to your content on social media or their blogs.
If you’re not restricted by the budget, advertise your content. Promote your blogs and articles through the display network, social media advertising or other traditional means, as your budget allows.
Honestly, no one does this. But, it’s truly very effective. Call the influencers (author of good blogs) and let them know how you enjoyed their content. If an author mentions his or her contact number with their content, it means they’re happy to receive calls from their readers.
Calling them is a surefire way to foster a relationship with their blog. It is one of the most effective methods of content promotion, but also the hardest one.
13.Optimize for Voice Search
40% of millennials have already started with voice search queries for online shopping. A BI Intelligence report shows that the younger you are, the more likely you are to switch to voice-activated search.
You could miss out a huge number of potential customers if your ecommerce store is not using this technology.
So, do it now!
Following this essential checklist to optimize your online store for voice SEO:
Increase Domain Authority: Sites with good domain authority are more likely to rank higher in the search results. Earn as many high-quality links as possible to constantly increase your domain authority.
Optimize For Question Phrases: Find question phrases that shoppers are more likely to use for shopping online. For example, if you sell “organic skincare creams” online, then optimize your ecommerce store for question phrases such as “where can I buy the best organic skin care products?”, “which is the best brand to buy organic products”,” what are the best organic skin care products”, etc.
Additionally, improving the on-page SEO techniques and fixing mobile SEO issues also help with voice SEO of your ecommerce store.
14.Focus on Your Link Building Strategy
Link building is the most challenging part of ecommerce SEO. There is no one answer to the question – how to build links those positives affect your online store’s ranking.
Important: Link building is entirely different from on-page SEO techniques. It’s a part of off-page SEO strategy that improves your store’s visibility and search engine ranking.
Consider the following proven ways of effective link building –
Create and maintain an active blog
A properly-managed blog on your ecommerce store will help you earn incoming links from top trusted websites. Your blog should be a part of your site’s domain or subdomain.
For example: blog.yoursite.com or yoursite.com/blog.
Post great content on your blog that is valuable to your customers. Eventually, other webmasters will link to your blog, which results in a boosted domain authority and improved ranking. Promote your content in relevant places, like social media, email, etc.
Start with an affiliate program
Currently, Google recommends that affiliate links set to ‘no-follow.’ Basically, it won’t gain you much in regards to link building benefits. But, if you set up your own affiliate system, then all the links that you place on other sites can still earn your clicks.
For example, consider Etsy. It’s a reputed global marketplace, selling handmade and vintage goods. Its affiliate program provides affiliates with a wide collection of banners and other marketing materials. Cashback/Loyalty websites can earn 2% commissions, but they are evaluated on an individual basis.
Follow these rules to gain from affiliate programs
- For ads you hand over to affiliates to advertise your products, don’t forget to add no-follow to the links to prevent many do-follow links from a single site.
- For text links on content-rich pages by affiliates, like blogs, leave links as they are without making them no-follow.
Use your blog to link to other sites
When creating posts for your blog, add links to other useful blogs and sites, not necessarily to your direct competitors.
Webmasters will notice your link using tools and do you a favor if they find your site useful. Google considers it a good link building practices of online businesses.
Get Featured on Media Websites
Manage to get featured on reputed media sites such as Forbes, BuzzFeed, Business Insider to earn so many links back. It’s a highly effective way to promote your business.
Consider, Sophie & Trey. The store got featured on BuzzFeed and StyleCaster and witnessed huge success.
It’s challenging, but very effective if you somehow manage to get featured on popular media websites. Connect with journalists and reach out to editors and show them how featuring you on their site well worth it.
15.Analyze Your Efforts
It doesn’t stop here. You have to analyze your SEO efforts to see whether you’re going in the right direction or not. There are tons of metrics that help you monitor the SEO performance of your store.
Here are the major KPIs you should consider when measuring your efforts:
Organic search traffic: To measure your search traffic:
Step1: Go to your Google Analytics account.
Step 2: Go to Acquisitions > Channels > organic Search
It will show the session in the first column.
Revenue: You’re getting tons of traffic to your store. But, if you’re not getting money out of it, what’s the point?
To track your revenue, you have to track your sales. Set this up in your Google Analytics account as well.
Keyword Ranking: Go to Search Traffic > Search Analytics to find the ranking of your keywords
Backlinks Earned: Use Ahrefs to see all the websites linking to your online store.
Click Through Rate (CTR): See your CTR by going to Search Consol > Search Traffic > Search Analytics.
Conversion Rate: Your conversion rate is the percentage of visitors turning into customers. This is your sales.
Average Time on Page: It refers to the time people spend on your website.
Pages Per Session: It refers to how many pages a visitor goes through once s/he lands on your store. A higher pages per session is better. To find this, go to your Google Analytics account. Then go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels. You will find it in the fifth column.
Bounce Rate: Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who land on your store, just to bounce right back to the SERPs. This metric helps analyze the user engagement on your website.
To view your bounce rate, go to your Google Analytics account, Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels. You can find it in the fourth column. To find the bounce rate for individual web pages, o to Behavior>Site Content>All Pages.
Hopefully, this guide serves you as your best guide to the fast-paced world of SEO. Once you go through and implement these ecommerce SEO techniques, don’t think you are done. SEO is a constant process. Once you have performed all of these SEO techniques, something will change instantly, and you’ve to start the process all over again. So, always keep learning and improving.
Related Article: 50 Ways to Improve SEO For Your Ecommerce Store