Setting up an online store is the best way to drive more eyeballs to your products. Especially in 2020, when eCommerce has taken up the market, you need an online presence to keep up with the trends and changing consumer behavior.
In fact, setting up an eCommerce store is no more a tricky job. Anybody can do that in a couple of minutes using ready-made eCommerce software solutions like Magento, PrestaShop, Shopify, BigCommerce, and others. The actual off-road drive starts after the launch of your online store, where you expect people to visit and make an online purchase.
How do you get people to visit your store? How do they know that there is a site called ‘yourstore.com’, which is selling the products they need? How do you get traffic to your site?
Mainly three types of channels give you that traffic: Inorganic, Organic, and Direct.
Direct is when people are aware of your brand identity, and they visit your store directly by typing your domain name, or the source of referral is unknown. Inorganic traffic is all about running Ads and promoting your brand by spending some money. The paid advertisement helps you to reach out to your target customers and encourage people to visit the store.
However, you can’t rely on inorganic sources for a lifetime. They are desirable in certain ways for a certain period, but you can’t keep spending a major proportion of your earnings and investments in paid promotions for a long time. Otherwise, you won’t make any profit and eventually, run out of money. That’s where you need organic traffic for your website. Traffic that comes from search engines through proper SEO; not paid.
In this article, we are going to discuss certain eCommerce SEO practices that you can adopt for your online store to generate organic traffic and improve your search engine rankings. The ultimate way to ensure that your website remains on top of the search results when people are looking for relevant products on search engines. So let’s begin without any further ado.
We will talk about major SEO components in sections or steps to keep it simple:
• Keyword Research
• Fixing the site’s structure
• On-page SEO practices
• Content Marketing
• Link Building
Keywords and Research
Whether you are working on eCommerce SEO or optimizing a simple business website, Keywords make the primary element of all kinds of SEO practices. Trust me; webmasters make 90% of the mistakes in this very first step itself. If you don’t get this step right-
• You might target some wrong keywords that get good traffic, but no sales
• You might target the right keywords that are too competitive to rank for
Neither of the situations will do any good for your business or your crusade to drive organic traffic. The thumb rule of selecting the right keywords for your business is finding the ones that are-
• Fairly easy to rank for
• Have significant search volume
• Align with your business offerings
However, these three criteria work only when you blend them with yet another factor, which is highly crucial in eCommerce SEO:
It’s “Search Intent/Commercial viability/ Purchase intent” of the searcher.
Let’s understand this with the help of an example:
Say, a user made a search for the keyword “new iPhone” on Google.
Now, can you be sure enough if the user wanted to purchase the latest iPhone?
Maybe, he or she just wants to sell an iPhone, or looking for repair services, or just checking out some online reviews and product specifications.
Alternatively, if a user uses the keyword “buy new iPhone” or “New iPhone Price”, you don’t have to guess the search intent. It’s more likely the user is interested in purchasing one.
Bottom line: While selecting the correct keyword to target, don’t just pick a keyword that is trending or too easy to rank. Pick the keywords with viability and greater intent to make a purchase. Targeting long-tail keywords is a good idea to include all four factors in your keywords.
Such long-tail keyword will have fair search volume and it’s easier to rank for than maiden keywords such as x, x Price, best x, etc. You may target such keywords in your CPC Ads, but targeting the maiden keyword in SEO would not be a good idea.
How to find your keywords?
There are three ways to do it. You can adopt a mix of these tactics:
• Look on popular marketplace sites in your niche: Popular marketplace sites that sell similar products are the best place to find relevant and useful keywords free of cost. Just visit these sites and see the keywords they have used in prominent areas such as homepage, product pages, category pages, etc. Also, use search autosuggestions of their website search bar. For example, you can type “school bag”… and the search autosuggestion will enlist all possible combinations of keywords the site is using. For example, ‘school bag for kids’.
• Stalk the heck out of your immediate competitors: If you have an immediate competitor who ranks better, you should consider some inspiration out of their keyword ideas. Simply, make a Google search with your targeted keyword and see the sites that are ranking for them. Visit the site, and analyze how they have used the keyword. Scan their home page, category page, product page, etc. However, be advised that keywords are not the only reason why they are ranking better, they might just have a better domain authority (DA).
• You can use SEO tools for a quick wrap: The above two ideas will save you some money. However, if you can spare some amount, you can use an SEO tool to do the same things more easily. Tools such as Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, and Uber suggest, etc. have inbuilt competition research features that populate relevant keywords with deeper insights. These tools will also help you to find new keyword ideas in general.
Fixing Your Website Structure
Once you have the list of keywords you want to target, it’s time to use them on your site. However, you need to fix your site’s structure first. You see, Google loves sites with a clean and simple structure, as it is easy to crawl them. In short, if you want to rank high on Google, you have to ensure that Google can crawl it as easily as possible. That’s what we are going to do it this step.
The fundamental site structure on an eCommerce website depends on the navigational architecture. Home page, category pages, product pages, etc. are the core of this structure. The thumb rule of improving your site’s structure is making it user-friendly, as Google will like it automatically if your users are having a good time.
• Make the navigation simple
• Use the least possible clicks to navigate from pages to pages
• Equip all your URLs with relevant keywords and metadata
• Link your home page with all your prominent category pages
• Add relevant products on all the product pages for internal linking
• Use a custom 401 page for broken or invalid URLs with a link to the home-page
The tasks in on-page SEO are extensions of what we did in the previous step. Once you sort the site structure, it’s time to tweak a few more things to ensure the site is ready to be crawled by the search engines. Here we will tweak the on-page SEO components on your category, product, and blog pages.
A category page is one of the most important pages. A single category page can provide exposure to all the products listed in that category. Here are the things you can do to optimize your category as well as products pages:
• SEO friendly URL: Create SEO friendly URLs for your category, product, and blog pages. An SEO-friendly URL is simple and without any excess detail. Moreover, it consists of your relevant keywords as well.
“www.yourstore.com/collections/sample-category”: This is not an SEO friendly URL.
“www.yourstore.com /sample-category”: This is an SEO friendly URL.
Most of the eCommerce platforms provide inbuilt features to create customer SEO-friendly URLs.
• The title tag: Use keywords at the beginning of your H1 title tag of every category, product, and blog page. For example: “Enamel pins– Top 10 designs in 2020”
• In body copy: The basic idea of content in any in-body copy is the same: maintain a proper keyword density without stuffing the keywords. Keywords should be organic and natural. However, the length of the content varies from place to place. For example, you should write at least 300-400 words category description, while the ideal word count for product description is 1000 words.
• Image Meta content: We know that the use of images improves SEO, but search engines cannot read images. They rely on Meta content you provide with an image to detect its relevance. You need to provide three types of content with every image you post on your eCommerce site at any location:
◦ Image Alt text: A small text, up to 125 characters long to show on a page until it loads the image. In case the image fails to load for any reason, the viewer and the search engine will know about the image from the ALT text.
◦ Image Caption: It’s an explanatory text that shows with an image on a web page. Unlike Alt text, it does not vanish once the web page loads the image; it stays. There is no limit to the characters, but it’s advisable to keep it short.
◦ Image Meta Description: A brief explanation of the image the search engines read to recognize it. The ideal limit is 155–160 characters.
Note: Most of the CMS and eCommerce software have inbuilt options to update all three details. However, if your eCommerce platform does not have any such option, you may want to ask your developers to add one. It’s a critical requirement, as these details help your pages to rank good on the search engines.
• User-generated content: The best user regenerated content is the reviews written by your customers that you can publish on relevant product pages. Reviews are imperative elements in conversation rate optimization, where they instill trust factors among the customers. The best thing about reviews is they also help in SEO.
If you have a 500-word keywords-packed product description, you can compensate for another half of the 1000-words description via these product reviews. So work on it and start generating some good reviews for your products.
Content remains the King in SEO
Content is one of the most influential elements in SEO. In fact, it has the potential to either make or break your business. If used carefully, you can rank well in a very short span of time. However, if you fail to abide by the content marketing rules, you might have to deal with penalties and a massive drop in your existing ranking. Here are the things you should care for:
• Avoid duplicate content anywhere on your site.
• If necessary in some circumstances, use canonicals around duplicate content.
• Don’t stuff keywords. Keep the usage organic while maintaining the contextual relevance.
• Integrate a blog into your store. You can guide a lot of traffic from your blog to the store.
• Avoid sub-domain (blog.yourstore.com). Use a sub-folder (yourstore.com/blog) instead.
• Start link building to increase domain authority. The guest posting would be very helpful here.
• Avoid guest posting on irrelevant sites; Google hates it. Get backlinks from relevant sites only.
• Disavow the bad link or back-links from sites that are not relevant to your domain.
• Conduct an SEO audit, identify, and fix all the broken links to and from your site and blog.
• You can use tools like Ahrefs and Uber Suggest to check your back-link profile.
• Improve your site and blog’s loading time. If it takes more than 3 seconds to load, optimize it.
Last but not the least; you should make your site mobile-friendly. After the rollout of the mobile-first algorithm, Google has made it clear that it’s going to favor the sites with mobile-friendly UX. Although it will not affect your SEO on desktop sites much, it’s not wise to neglect mobile, which has become a major source of eCommerce traffic these days. If you can optimize your site on all the mentioned grounds in this article, there is nothing that can stop you from driving a satisfactory amount of traffic, that too organically.