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Even after all its changes in algorithms, SEO is still seen as something as an after-thought for many industries. For the ecommerce industry, SEO can often be seen as something that is secondary to sales. In reality, SEO and sales go hand in hand — especially in an industry such as online shopping.
Done right, ecommerce SEO has the power to drive more traffic, and ultimately, more sales. Rather than trying to treat your online store as a website catering to B2B marketplaces, it is essential to understand that ecommerce sites have their own rules and requirements to get ahead in the SERPs. Product searches are done in a very different way to information or even service services, with user intent further changing the way that people search for products online.
Someone looking for something like where to buy green interior paint is very likely closer to a purchasing decision compared to someone searching for green living room wall ideas, for example. Then there are the on and off-site factors that further influence the way that people find products and make purchases online. When your store is optimised, functional and responsive, your SEO will fall into place, and you’ll also start seeing an impact on your conversion, too.
How do you make sure that your online store is SEO-ready? For starters, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Make sure that your store is secure
This sounds obvious, but many stores have either been set up many years back and never updated or set up more recently without taking any security measures into account. Stores need to be certified with SSL certificates or avoid getting pushed back in rankings when Google starts to penalise those without. Then there are other security features that need to be in place as well. Security seals from trusted payment gateways and anything else that lets shoppers know that they can safely use credit cards on the site will all help to establish trust. This, in turn, is always good for SEO.
Focus on your most important pages first
Trying to rank for every single product page will only work if you have a very small store that sells a small number of products. If you are a medium or larger store with multiple departments, you will end up wasting time and effort trying to rank every page. Instead, do a site audit and identify the pages that have the highest performance and even the highest potential value. Start with the pages, then begin making your way through the less important pages.
Optimise your category pages
Then there are your category pages. These are all too often overlooked and treated as non-important content pages as they do not typically sell products. In reality, category pages play a highly important role in both SEO and sales. Many searchers will land on these pages when doing searches online. When you waste these pages by failing to add content and keywords and on-site data, you are losing out on an opportunity to drive more traffic towards key categories and even key products.
Use purchase intent keywords
Purchase intent is often overlooked in ecommerce and in SEO. This applies to the way that people search for information online. These include transactional phrases that prompt some sort of action (do something keywords), informational keywords that are searching for information (know something keywords) and navigational keywords that are looking for places (go somewhere). For ecommerce, transactional and informational are the most commonly used type of purchase intent keywords. Including these in your strategy can help you harness the typical actions taken online.
Optimise dead pages wisely
What about dead pages on your store? You may have sold out products that are no longer in stock, promotions that are no longer being run, outdated pages that were used for once-off events or holidays or any other type of page that is no longer around. Do you remove the dead page from the website? You can do that or you can rather use the dead page wisely to avoid missing out on any potential traffic coming to the page. You could share similar products, redirect carefully to relevant pages or consider other strategies that make use of dead space.
Avoid duplicate product pages
Duplicate product pages are a nightmare from an SEO point of view. As a store owner, you might think it is easier to copy over the same content from similar items. You may copy the manufacturer’s description. If you have a large store, it may seem like the quickest and simplest route to copy over the content rather than write unique product descriptions. The trouble with this is that Google quickly sees your content as being duplicate, penalising you in the process. That causes your site to lose rankings, and your store to lose potential sales along the way. Product descriptions that are not just unique but also genuinely interesting and informative will also help your SEO drastically. Think about why people purchase this product, what makes it different, how it makes people feel, and don’t forget the emotive factor that makes people choose one brand or product over another.
Leverage user-generated content
User-generated content can greatly help your SEO if leveraged correctly. Reviews can help in ways beyond SEO as well, helping to build trust and even reputation. A great example of user reviews done correctly is the local website Faithful to Nature, who offer points to users for every review submitted after purchase. Reviews are honest and authentic, adding value to shoppers. But they also help to establish the site’s authority. Along with reviews, you can also use Google recommendations, social media mentions and even user-generated videos and blog posts to further help to build authority and trust, boosting your rankings in the process.
Use site search properly
This is not only useful from a usability point of view – it helps SEO, too. Using features such as autocomplete and also paying attention to the typical searches that are used by shoppers to find products on your site will help you make better use of this feature. The easier it is for shoppers to find products, the more likely they will be to complete the sale. You could use landing pages to display search results, or you could have a drop down menu that displays items clearly. Remember to integrate site search within your keyword research so that you have a dedicated strategy for your searches done on the site.
Don’t forget about images and videos
Using images and other rich content is essential in ecommerce. But don’t assume that you can just add in anything without optimising these as well. Google Image Search has become just as important as text based page search. Video searches on YouTube and other platforms also make use of optimisation. When your images and videos are optimised, they can easily be found online. Google and other search engines can also easily trawl your store, helping you rank more easily.
Remember, it’s not a sprint but a marathon. Just like anything else in SEO, true results never happen overnight. Once you begin getting betting best practices into place, it gets far easier to start seeing results, however. Try integrating these strategies into your overall ecommerce plan and you should start to see an impact on your SEO. If not right away, then certainly over time.
Feature image: stevepb via Pixabay