Updated August 2018
E-commerce is among the few things taking the world by storm today. In 2016,The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated its global net worth at $22.1 trillion. No expert seems to doubt that e-commerce will continue to grow by great margins in the coming years.
With the future looking bright, it means there’s enough pie for every e-commerce site that does what’s necessary to improve their online presence and reach as many as people as they can.
Evidently, an e-commerce site largely relies on organic traffic and search queries to make sales and, so, without proper search engine optimization, one will be setting themselves up for failure.
There’s no doubt that Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, and the likes have invested a lot in SEO so as to be where they are. And if you follow their footpaths, innovating and improving where necessary, you can get there.
Don’t be intimidated by the intricate nature of the work involved. The great thing is that it can be done and, today, we show you how.
1. Keyword Research
Even though keyword research is a common and necessary practice on every website, when it comes to e-commerce, you have to go beyond the standard practices where you simply pick a few product keywords and expect to reach the top of search engines.
It is imperative that you are choosing low competition keywords with relevant modifiers. Here’s what we mean:
If you try to rank for a general product, like “winter boots”, it will be nearly impossible. But if you add modifiers to your keyword, even though you may have a lower search volume, you will be able to target your audience better, getting people who are ready to buy and have less competition.
So, instead of “winter boots”, you may choose to optimize your product page for the keyword, “best winter work boots”, which gives you a lower search volume and a less competitive keyword.
Using Long Tail Pro, it’s easy to come up with these low competition keywords and you can also use the Google Adwords suggestions tool included to sort up to 400 keyword suggestions by KC (keyword competitiveness). This allows you to target the best keywords for your product.
But your search doesn’t stop there; you want to make sure that there are similar sites as yours ranking for that keyword. Thus, if you see that the only sites that are ranking for that keyword are larger, well-known sites, you’ll want to continue your research on Long Tail Pro to find low competition keywords that feature e-commerce sites similar to yours.
2. Site Design And Structure
Your site’s usability, conversions, and rankings are influenced largely by its design and structure. Your website visitors should find it easy to navigate from point A to B, and you can do this by minimizing the number of clicks needed to navigate between pages to at least four.
Also, make sure that your pages are loading quickly. This helps to keep visitors on your website. Generally, you can use tools such as Screaming Frog or Siteliner to identify website errors that need to be fixed. This could be things like duplicate pages, missing header tags, redirects, and so on. Both of these tools have both free and paid versions.
Another thing to note is that mobile shopping has gotten really huge in recent years and, by making your e-commerce site mobile friendly, you will be increasing your chances of getting to the top of search engines and converting your customers.
In addition, of all the customer segments today, Kissmetrics notes that mobile users are now the leading and the most likely to convert. Search engines are also favorable to sites that are mobile and tablet friendly. And rather than creating a separate site for different devices, it’s best to go for a responsive design, as it’s also good for SEO.
3. Content Optimization
Content optimization involves optimizing the content on your web pages to be useful, attractive, and actionable. For it to achieve its goals, the content should be well-edited, compelling, properly formatted, and fine-tuned to meet the user expectations.
Readability is one of the key factors that you should pay attention to. If writing is a challenge for you, there are certain tools that you can use to check your grammar and spelling. You can add the YOAST plugin to your site to check for readability or you can use a tool like the Hemingway app to check how your content reads.
But there’s no replacement for having someone on your team that can re-read your content in the native language of your intended audience to check that it makes sense and reads properly in your preferred language. By using hiring platforms, like Upwork, you can test out different editors and even find writers if writing is not within your skill set.
Optimizing multimedia, like photos and videos, on your e-commerce site is also good for SEO. Whenever you can use alt tags to add alternative keywords or add a video to your post as well, you are improving your reader’s experience, which in turn gets you a better position in the search engines.
With all of your products, make sure you come up with a unique, attractive, and SEO-optimized description for every page and product in order to boost your site’s ranking and attract your prospective customer.
Page titles, on the other hand, should be accurate, highly descriptive, and engaging. Same also applies to Meta descriptions. A great description will entice a person to click on your page to find out the rest of the information. Your post or page description is one of the first things your prospective customer sees when they are looking through countless results on the search engines. An enticing description can get your product seen above others higher up in the search engines.
4. Link Building
We talk about white hat link building a lot for authority and niche sites, but it’s just as important for e-commerce sites to have excellent links. Google often punishes sites with low-quality inbound links. Quality is better than quantity.
Installing the free Moz Bar extension on your browser will assist you in finding high quality, higher DA (Domain Authority sites). You want to get the DA of your site to determine which sites you should target for links. Ideally, you want to get your links from those sites that have a higher DA than your site.
If you have trouble finding high quality sites, it’s always good to see what the competition is doing. Which links do your competition have pointing to their page. You can use tools like OpenSiteExplorer or Long Tai lPro to see what links your competition has, so you can duplicate them.
5. Unique Titles Tags
Be sure that you are using unique title tags and avoid having the same title tag for two different pages. This can sometimes happen when you are selling two different products from the same manufacturer.
Even though that’s frustrating, you can avoid having duplicate title tags and keywords by opting for a phrase that describes the product further. After all, many online users still use key phrases to look up things on search engines and, if you optimize your different product pages with such phrases, you will certainly rank higher for them.
It would actually be better if you got a little descriptive on your product pages as well. Rather than just naming a product, include its model number and other product-specific details. Also note that general phrases can still work well for brand or category pages.
6. Social Media Integration
Social media on your e-commerce site helps to build credibility and Google takes note of the fact that people find your website or brand valuable, and this in turn improves your search engine rankings. Integrate social media where it makes sense on your website. You can also allow your website visitors the option of signing in through a social media site, like Facebook. A report by SearchEngineLand shows that people signed in to social media on your site purchase more items and spend more time on e-commerce site than users.
Other ways to leverage social media include utilizing social-based comment systems and showing trending products socially.
Optimizing your e-commerce site is one way to achieve multiple business goals, including increased sales. When each of these processes, from keyword research, site design and structure, and content optimization to link building, unique title tags, and social media integration is done right, you will see a rise in organic traffic and improved search engine ranking, both of which are necessary ingredients for increased conversions and more repeat customers.
It’s important to note that SEO practices are ever changing as search engines update their algorithms regularly. One thing that keeps you safe and constantly reaching the top of search engines is great content and products that are actually helpful to your users. This way you users become your advocates and speak your praises, which is the most natural way to reach the top of search engines.