Enable Your Web Store Platform to Bring in the Business
So you bought an “SEO friendly” E-commerce platform and believe it’s all taken care of for you. Unfortunately, no. All this claim means is that they’ve made it easy for YOU to implement the SEO elements that will drive your website to the top of your prospective customers’ search engine results page. But if you don’t know how search engine criteria work, you could add all the elements and still get it all wrong.
1. Content: Sidestep the Pitfalls
Avoid duplicate content within your site.
When Google and other search engines detect the same descriptive copy on multiple pages, it rings their alarm bells, since this is a characteristic of junk sites. However, it’s also a characteristic of retailers who carry multiple SKUs of the same item. Obviously, you can’t write a different description for every size and color of a particular area rug. But you can enable other elements on the page, such as customer reviews or a sidebar of suggested products.
Avoid duplicate content from manufacturers.
Some E-commerce sites just post whatever they receive from their vendors. Since other stores, as well as the manufacturer itself, are doing the same thing, Google will perceive this as plagiarized content. If you don’t have time to rewrite everything, the next best solution is to write a unique lead-in sentence with a reason to buy: how this product solves a problem or satisfies an emotional need of the customer.
Avoid no content.
The wrong answer to tip #1 is to simply remove the descriptions from all except the category page. Both Google and your customers won’t like landing on a page that has little but a picture and tells them nothing useful.
2. Product: Maximize the Potential
Add or improve category pages.
This is the next place Google will look after the home page. Fill these pages with interesting, unique content and links to the product pages within the category. Even if you’re a niche business, think how you could subdivide your merchandise into categories. For example, if you sell engagement rings, they could be subdivided by style (traditional, contemporary), carat, price or setting metal; which would also benefit shoppers by filtering for products they’re most interested in.
Don’t take down or hide out-of-stock product pages.
Those pages are still beneficial to your SEO strategy. For customer convenience, add a message with the expected date the item will be back in stock, and offer suggestions for similar products they might like to buy instead. You may also want to consider taking back orders.
Optimize new products.
Popular products that have been around for a while are pretty much guaranteed to be found and indexed by search engines. Get the same fast results for a new item by introducing it on your home page, category page and on related product pages, all with links to the item’s product page.
Optimize product pictures and videos.
Use the highest quality photography you possibly can; this not only pays off in more sales, it also increases the likelihood that the image will be shared on social media websites such as Pinterest. Since Google likes to see inbound links, it’s also an SEO bonus. Also, make sure the image file name, alt text and caption are short and keyword oriented so that Google gives them the attention they deserve.
Suggest related products.
A sidebar of “you may be interested in” items on each product page can improve your SEO as well as drive additional sales. Just be sure that those suggestions really are relevant for the user (based on your meta data), in stock and properly linked to their own product pages.
3. Build: User-Friendly Equals SEO-Friendly
Streamline your link architecture.
Customers aren’t the only ones who love a user-friendly website: Google does too. They should be able to navigate easily up and down between category, subcategory and product pages. Include breadcrumbs on every page that help the user track back to higher levels.
Build for responsiveness.
Did you know that 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load? And did you know that 4 out of 5 consumers use a smartphone to shop? Two excellent reasons why your e-commerce site must be (a) fast and (b) responsive to mobile device screens. If it’s not, an update is in order ASAP.
Make page URLs search friendly.
Giving Google a clue what the page is about can almost instantly boost your ranking. Keep it simple for maximum effectiveness, include your most important keyword, but don’t cram in multiple keywords (AKA keyword stuffing). A good, clear URL structure would look like this:
SEO your internal site search.
Not all missed sales opportunities are caused by a low Google ranking. Take some time to optimize your own search engine. Use tools to see what keywords people are using to search within your site, and how often they’re finding what they looked for. If they misspell a word or use a variant phrase you haven’t ranked, do they get a “no results” response? Adjust your meta data until this never happens.
4. Users: Put Them to Work for You
Enable user generated content.
You already know that allowing customers to share their opinions is like having an unpaid sales force. But did you know it’s also great for SEO? Google prefers websites that are constantly adding fresh content. So why not let your community of users do that for you too?
Link your social media sites to product pages.
Additional proof of your value can be added through posts from Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Building these inbound links is a smart SEO strategy as well.
Use your internal search data for external results.
Analyzing the behavior of site visitors can lead to insights on how you can improve your keyword performance with Google. This information might also give you ideas for featuring the most popular products and adding new ones.
5. Process: Stay Relevant
Accept that E-commerce SEO is never done.
This last one is not really a tip, but it’s perhaps the most important piece of advice we can give you. Just as your marketplace and competitors constantly evolve, so must your website’s SEO tactics to keep that results page placement right where you want it. Schedule periodic performance evaluations and use that information to plan and execute the necessary adjustments.