What is SEO and why should you bother?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your website around specific target keywords and other technical features so that it ranks higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Google and other search engines use robots to crawl websites for all the information on each page. This content is then indexed and ranked by complex algorithms that calculate the order of pages that appear when users make a search.
The better optimised a website is for allowing crawling bots to scan pages and determine their relevancy to target keywords, the higher up these pages will appear on SERPs. Higher ranked sites have increased user visibility. Greater visibility is a key factor that makes an Ecommerce site successful - more organic traffic, more leads, more conversions, and more revenue.
SEO can be a very technical process that calls for analytical and critical thinking. However, it also demands a lot of creativity - website user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design are just as important to the rankings and performance of a website.
This LoudCrowd guide will discuss 6 key aspects of SEO that will inspire your SEO for Ecommerce, launch your site up the search rankings and earn you more organic traffic and sales.
1. Audit your site
The first step in any SEO strategy should be to audit your site and get an idea of how it is already performing.
There are numerous tools (Google Search Console, Ahrefs, OnCrawl, SEMrush) that will crawl your website for existing problems and errors which are impacting your rankings on search engines. Do your research and select the online tool most suitable for your needs.
At this stage, you should conduct competitor research. Analysing pages in your industry that rank highly for your target keywords will help you pick out aspects of their SEO strategy which you can then implement. For example, finding how your competitors get backlinks and where from, or what kind of content performs best for them.
2. Conduct keyword research
Google processes around 5.6 billion searches a day.
That is... a lot of search terms.
Keyword research will help you find out which key search terms relevant to your website and industry have the most search traffic, informing the content strategy you need to implement to rank highly on search engines.
Here are a couple of techniques you can use to find the best keywords and how to use them for your Ecommerce SEO strategy.
Consider the main keywords that people use to search for the products/services your website offers. Use these terms to branch off into other related keywords, and then repeat. Enter terms you brainstorm into keyword research tools to find out which hold the most value - these should be included on your site.
This method allows you to create a web of related keywords that attract a lot of traffic. You can then optimise your website's content by strategically placing these keywords on the appropriate product pages, increasing the likelihood that your pages rank highly.
The practice of linking keywords enables search engine algorithms to better understand the contextual meaning behind the keywords you use and what users search, meaning that your pages appear in more relevant SERPs. This is known as semantic searching.
Search engines like Google don't rank pages based on one keyword being used in isolation. If pages use high volume keywords effectively and optimise their placement, as well as featuring other related keywords in content, you will find that they receive better quality traffic. This is why mind-mapping keywords is a very useful activity.
Choose which pages to prioritise
Ecommerce sites have a massive amount of pages, so the task of optimising each one can be very daunting. Whilst it is important to optimise each page and this should be your end goal, you need to prioritise your most important pages first.
Use Google Analytics' Ecommerce tracking tool to find out which of your pages earn your business the most revenue and optimise these as a priority. If these pages are already performing at a good standard for you, imagine how much more value they could bring to your site if you set them up properly for success.
3. Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the fine manipulation of a site's technical aspects, making it run faster, easier to crawl, and more readable for search engines so that it can be ranked higher. Below are some areas of focus for technical SEO.
Your Ecommerce site should be designed so that it offers the best user experience possible. Breadcrumb Navigation is an internal linking strategy you can use to organise your product pages, allowing your visitors to understand their location on a site and how they can move between pages. Search engines give priority to SERPS to sites with breadcrumbs because of this additional functionality for users. Breadcrumbs are usually links to category pages, split into more specific products.
However, user experience isn't the only advantage of this method of site navigation.
Adding Breadcrumb Navigation gives your online store a clear site structure that crawling bots can follow easily, meaning that more of your product pages are likely to be scanned and indexed, increasing your store's visibility.
Clean URL Structure
URLs need to be easily readable so that users (as well as crawling bots!) can quickly read and understand them.
It is important that bots can interpret URLs as this is another way the algorithm attempts to understand what content is on your page. Provide as much relevant, clean and organised data in your URLs to ensure your Ecommerce sites are reaching as many SERPs as possible.
When URLs have clean structures, it also means that your product pages are more likely to be shared on social media, which can help boost organic traffic.
Structured Data Markup
Structured data schema markup is used to help search engines understand the purpose of your webpage, allowing them to distinguish your product pages from other schemas such as articles, blogs etc. Whilst this schema doesn't directly impact search rankings, it makes your product pages appear on more relevant SERPs, leading to more valuable traffic.
This schema can also enhance how your pages look on SERPs by creating what are known as "rich results". These can include images of the on-page product, product descriptions, prices, reviews and more. This helps your pages stand out amongst others who might not use structured data markup.
Canonical tags are short snippets of code that define the main pages of your Ecommerce site for search engines to rank. For example, if your Ecommerce site sells a t-shirt design that comes in different colours, you want search engines to rank a master page for the product, not a URL for one of the product variations.
Canonicalisation ensures that algorithms and crawlers prioritise your master pages. This means that these pages are ranked on SERPs and they gain all link equity.
A lot of people underestimate the effect that website speed has on-page search rankings. Search engines need to offer the best possible user experience - if your site is slow you won't be ranked as a priority.
If your Ecommerce site takes more than three seconds to load, 40% of visitors will leave before the page finishes loading! Considering this with the existing average bounce rate of around 50%, this could be a massive amount of leads lost.
There are numerous ways you can increase your website speed, including the use of plugins, image optimisation, minification, lazy loading and much more. Check out LoudCrowd's comprehensive guide explaining how you can increase your website speed, with top tips and strategies you can implement to make your load times faster!
4. On-page optimisation
On-page SEO focuses on aspects of the website's code and on-page content which can be altered for higher search engine rankings. Here we will discuss some of the most important on-page search engine ranking factors you need to be aware of for your Ecommerce SEO strategy.
Simply, title tags (also referred to as meta titles or HTML titles) are the page titles on SERPs that users click to enter your website.
These tags tell users and bots about the information on your page and its purpose of it, so they must be as relevant as possible to the content on there. There's an art to writing effective title tags that have high click-through rates as they have to satisfy the algorithms as well as appear attractive to potential customers.
When writing title tags for product pages, place relevant search terms as close to the front of the tag as possible. For home pages, include your brand name on the front of the tags.
Power words are used in title tags as a strategy to make them more clickable to potential visitors. There are seductive power words and emotional power words.
Seductive powers words are used to compel users to click on a page and make a purchase. Examples of Ecommerce sites include "Free", "New" and "How to" phrases. Emotional power words are used to create a feeling of curiosity which makes the user more likely to click through to the website.
A H-tag is the code used to tell bots that text is in a heading format. Headings are used for creating site structure, which helps users as well as bots to understand the purpose of the site and the on-page content. H-tags come in different levels - higher level H-tags (H1, H2) are used for the page title and subsequent headings to introduce different sections. Other levels like H3, H4 tags and lower are used to break down content further.
Well-structured headings do a lot for user experience, helping visitors scan content and find the information they are looking for as easily as possible. Search engines recognise if a site has a high bounce rate and will rank it lower as a result - use effective headings to prevent this.
Image Alt Text
Image alt text is used to give website images descriptions. This allows crawling bots to understand the images, as well as improve the accessibility of the site for visitors who are visually impaired. An image without alt text is of no use to a search engine as it cannot understand what is there - it may as well not be on the page at all.
All images should have alt text so bots can better understand the on-page content and rank the page higher as a result.
Off-page optimisation is an SEO practice that maximises external factors outside of a website to improve its search engine rankings. Here are the most effective methods you can use in your off-page SEO strategy.
Backlinks - otherwise known as incoming links - are when other websites provide a link to one of your site's pages. Search engine algorithms like websites with lots of backlinks because, in essence, this means that the site is relevant and has a lot of people talking about it. Backlinks are a key ranking signal - the more backlinks you have, the higher you will rank on search engines.
Backlinks have varying levels of quality. High-quality links come from websites with a high domain authority - one backlink from a website with a DA of 90 can be worth more than hundreds of links from lower authority sites. As well as this, Google places more emphasis on backlinks between websites that share the same kind of content. Building links with sites that are topically related will help drive you up the search rankings.
As previously discussed, embedding target keywords in your website's content are crucial to the success of your site on search engines. A perfect way to do this is to write blogs/articles for your site, relating to the products/services you offer. These pieces of content should look to address common problems and pain points experienced by your target customer segment. Strategically integrating keywords into your content will help these pages rank, bringing traffic to your site that is looking for solutions the Ecommerce side of your site offers.
Use Social Media
Social media is a great way of driving traffic to your site and should be an important part of all Ecommerce SEO strategies. Social media marketing and content marketing work in tandem, allowing you to extensively distribute the content that is created for your site.
Posting on social media helps to improve the visibility of your online store, helping you to reach more potential customers. These platforms also allow you to showcase products and services. This can help to build trust within your customer base which can help move prospective buyers along the customer journey.
Posting content to local community groups on social media can help supplement your local SEO strategy, building brand awareness within select groups of certain populations who may be interested in your products/services.
Consider Buyer Intent
Buyer intent is a very important factor of Ecommerce SEO. You need to implement a strategy that means your website targets people at all stages of the customer journey, helping to convert more of your leads into sales. The keywords you use on your site can be used to target customers at different stages of the journey.
Transactional keywords are those with the strongest intent to buy. For example, "50-inch flat-screen TVs for sale" or "Coffee shops near me". These people are towards the end of the customer journey, have conducted their research, decided what they are looking for and are now making a purchase decision.
When conducting keyword research and competitor analysis for a PPC campaign, sort by transactional terms and find those with the least competition and least difficulty. These will offer you the best value for money as these terms are often expensive to place ads on
Long tail and short tail keywords
When it comes to Ecommerce, it is good practice to implement long tail and short tail keywords into your web pages. Long-tail keywords - as the name suggests - are longer search terms, whereas short-tail keywords are short search terms.
Long tail: "running shoes that are comfortable for long-distance"
Short tail: "running shoes"
Due to being more general in nature, short-tail keywords are more commonly searched, so drive more traffic to your site. Long-tail keywords are more specific so drive less traffic, however, this traffic usually leads to more conversions.
If you consider the sales funnel, a person searching for "running shoes" is most likely at the top of the funnel, doing research around what kind of product they want to purchase. However, a person searching for more specific keywords like "running shoes that are comfortable for long-distance" is likely to be at the bottom of the funnel ready to make a purchase. Reaching both these groups can help boost your sales. Consider this when writing your product descriptions.
How can LoudCrowd help you with Ecommerce SEO?
LoudCrowd are experts when it comes to SEO strategy. We help businesses that operate locally and nationally to refine their methods and set processes in place to launch their websites to the top of search engine rankings. Ecommerce SEO is a huge part of our remit - we will help you build an SEO strategy that converts traffic into revenue, providing you with a return on investment.
Get in touch with the team today for a free website audit and start your journey to online sales success!