The Beginner’s Guide to On-Site Ecommerce SEO
If you want to get more traffic and sales to your ecommerce website, then on-page SEO is a critical first step.
There are multitudes of how-to articles and tutorials on the web offering general SEO advice but far less that specifically address the needs of ecmommerce entrepreneurs.
Today, we’d like to give you a basic understanding of on-site search engine optimization for ecommerce. It will be enough to get you started, make sure you’re sending all the right signals to Google and set you up for SEO success.
Let’s dive in.
If you have no clue where to start with on-site optimization for your ecommerce site, then your competitors are your best bet. Larger competitors especially have probably already put in the legwork for optimizing their website, and you can learn many of their secrets on their website itself.
Keywords are the thing you need to focus on. Particularly, you’ll want to analyze the keywords on their homepage as well as their top product pages.
How can you tell if a website is optimizing for a particular keyword? You can start by using the Moz browser extension to see the SEO title and description your competitors use in their title tags.
You can also use tools like SEMrush to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for on both organic and paid search.
Don’t stop your research with keywords. Check out your competitors’ landing pages too, so you can see how they use the specified keywords to optimize those pages.
Additional reading: eCommerce Insights from Steve Chou
The homepage is typically where most businesses focus their SEO budget and energy. While it is definitely one of the top pages of your website to optimize, it is by no means the only one you should focus on.
That said, you do want to optimize your homepage well. The key things you want to include and optimize are as follows.
- Homepage Title Tag – The SEO title tag is one of the most important element of on-site search optimization. It should include your business name along with the main keyword phrase you are targeting. You should write this title tag in under 70 characters and in a way that is appealing to search visitors, as they will see it in search results.
- Homepage Meta Description – While this is not important as far as keyword rankings, the meta description for your homepage is a 160-character description of your business that will also show up in search beneath the title tag. Write it in a way that encourages people to want to visit your website.
- Homepage Content – The content on your homepage should help visitors learn more about your business and the products you have to offer in a clear and concise way.
Additional reading: SEO Planning Template for your Next Web Project
As you are adding products and categories to your store, remember that site architecture plays an important role in search optimization. Particularly, you want to have a distinct hierarchy of navigation, from your homepage to product categories to the products listed within them.
Search engine bots will discover your pages and products on your website based on a clear internal linking structure that is easy to follow — and not too deep.
The rule of thumb for search engines and visitors is to have everything within three clicks. So think about how people come to your homepage. They should only have to make a maximum of three clicks to get to any product on your website.
Product Page Optimization
Product pages are the lifeblood of your business, so you will want to focus a lot of your energy optimizing them. Here are the specific things you want to work on.
The name of your product is important. In most cases, it’s also used in the SEO title and URL of your product page. This is why you may want to consider adding a common search term or keyword phrase to your products.
For example, if you are t-shirts, be sure to include t-shirt or tee in the product name. That way, the keyword also ends up in the SEO title and URL.
As an added bonus, when people share your product on Facebook or Pinterest, that keyword will be in the title of the shared post.
An important element in on-site optimization is the meta description, and Google will usually take your product description and make it the meta description for the page. While the meta description doesn’t help you rank for keywords, it does (in most cases) show up in search results.
It also shows up when people share your product on Facebook and Pinterest, which makes it essential.
If you have a long product description, consider making the first sentence the main summary and selling point so that search engines and social networks will display the most important (and converting) information about the product.
Additional reading: Irresistible Product Descriptions
Images are an important part of your product page. Stand in your customer’s shoes for a moment. Are you more likely to buy a product from a site that clearly depicts the product from as many angles as possible, from a site that has no image at all, or from one that is small and illegible?
Not only are images important for your customers, they are important for search optimization.
To properly optimize your images for search, start with the filename. Don’t add images named IMG0010.jpg to your product pages. Instead, use the product name and main keyword such as eastcoast-skinny-jeans.jpg.
If you have alternative views of your product, include keywords that people would use if they were searching for those images in search.
Also, when you add your images to your product page, include the product name and keyword in the ALT text for the image.
The result? Your images now have a chance of appearing in Google Image search as shown in the image above, or in the main search results page as a part of the additional media showing.
Help your customer feel more confident about their purchase by also adding video to your product page. The video can be basic information about your product (like a commercial), a how-to video on ways to use the product to get results, or testimonials from people who have used the product.
Why is video so important? For starters, it stands out in search results.
Publishing videos offsite on networks like YouTube can be a great way to attract and educate potential customers about your products.
Educational DIY videos, for example, can show people how to create something amazing incorporating your products. Once they get into the idea of working on that project, they’ll be more likely to buy your related products.
Reviews are another way to boost customer confidence in your product, so if you have a good product, be sure to allow them.
Bad reviews aren’t always a bad thing either. Think about it – if you have a higher priced item that has great reviews, and a lower priced item with so-so reviews, then people will be more likely to choose the higher priced item, resulting in bigger sales for your business.
Additional reading: Boost Local Reviews up to 900%
Do people ask questions about your products? Of course they do. Having product-specific FAQ content on your product pages is a key to conversions.
Why? If customers have questions that you don’t answer, they’ll go somewhere else to find those answers — and likely buy from the source that answers the questions.
Having a general FAQ page on your website is also a good idea. Answering basic questions about your website’s security, shipping, and return policies can increase buyer confidence, leading to more sales.
What other ways do you optimize your ecommerce site for search? Please share in the comments!