Waiting for that “Buy Now” button to generate sales?
There’s a certain excitement that comes with finishing your eCommerce site and getting all of your products on there. The virtual doors to your shop have officially opened and you’re ready to start making money…but it might not happen right away.
Well, there are certainly a number of reasons as to why not, but one reason is that it takes a bit of time (we say this often – it’s a marathon, not a sprint). Google and viewers alike need to know and understand your business fully before you start seeing some actual targeted traffic – and results – from searching. Creating a strong online presence is the next step after finishing your eCommerce site. The ticket to real, sustainable results is in developing an eCommerce SEO strategy.
Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
The Importance of SEO for eCommerce
You may be familiar with the term SEO, but what exactly does that mean?
Yes – it’s short for Search Engine Optimization, but there’s a lot that goes into this small acronym.
What exactly are you optimizing and what is the result of such optimization?
SEO is the art of optimizing your website around specific keywords that will help you “rank” (show up in results).
The secret to doing this is, the better you are able to answer the searcher’s questions and keep them from having to spend a lot of time on Google, the better your site will rank and perform.
Your site is among around 20 million other eCommerce sites that exist online and about 90% of all shoppers start their product searching online before they purchase any product.
When quite a lot of traffic to eCommerce sites comes through search engines, you’ll want to make sure that you’re doing all you can to show up in the right search results.
When it comes to marketing strategies, having a good eCommerce SEO strategy can give you the best ROI possible. So let’s dive into some of the key elements of developing a strong eCommerce SEO strategy.
Best Practices for Developing an eCommerce SEO Strategy
There are many key elements to having a successful eCommerce SEO strategy and the better the foundation, the better you can build upon that strategy.
Since SEO boils down to ranking for specific keywords, the foundation upon which you should build is keyword research.
Spend some time on this first step, as it’s your most important step of all.
The more effort you put into doing keyword research, the more successful you’ll be in showing up in search results.
So, what exactly does this entail?
Well, there’s a sweet spot when it comes to keywords you want to try and work around…let us explain.
- Too competitive of a keyword and you won’t show up on page 1 of search results.
- Too low of search volume behind a keyword and you won’t get a lot of traffic.
- Too vague/broad of a keyword and won’t have customers wanting to buy your product.
Instead, when doing keyword research, focus on things like:
- Search intent – Where are users in their buyer’s journey? Are they ready to purchase (i.e. “Best Snowshoes” vs “X Type Snowshoes” have different buyers’ intent).
- Search volume – There are free tools out there that you can use to see how much traffic each keyword generates.
- Long-tail vs short-tail – Long-tail keywords are more specific and make up the majority of searches. While including some short tail keywords, aim for more long-tail keywords.
- Competitors – When you search for keywords you want to rank for, look at who’s currently ranking for those keywords. Check out their site and see what other keywords they’re using and build a similar list of potential keywords.
That’s a good starting point with keyword research. Some keywords are good for blog topics while others are good to use for an entire webpage to rank, which leads us to our next step in your eCommerce strategy – how your site is laid out.
When users come to your eCommerce site, how are they navigating?
Better yet, how would you LIKE them to navigate?
Believe it or not, the user flow experience has a great impact on your SEO.
Make it easy for users (and Google/search engines) to navigate your site and find all of your pages.
That doesn’t mean you add every page to the main navigation bar up top, either, though.
However many pages you may have, you never want the user to have to click more than 3 or 4 times from the home page, to get to where they’re finding what they want.
Map out how you’d both imagine/want your users (again – and search engines) to flow through your site.
Build a sitemap – which is a list of all the pages you have on your site and how they’re all interconnected – with the user in mind.
Prioritize each page, from the home page to product pages, and all pages in-between.
Where do they fall? Which pages are in your main navigation menu? Where do you want users to go?
It’s good to create rabbit holes for different journeys. Understand which pages cater to which types of users, depending on their journey.
Are they ready to buy? Don’t create extra steps for them to get to the page where you want them to purchase your product.
Are they just learning more information? Make it easy for them to learn more through a blog page, product page, or about page.
The next step is to make sure each page is not just properly mapped out, but also properly optimized.
As you probably have quite a few product pages and other pages on your site, you’ll want to make sure each page is fully optimized, so that search engines and users can understand how they all differ and how they all go together.
On-page SEO has to do with all of the little details that make up the anatomy of a webpage – the blueprint of each individual page. These are your fundamentals – the techniques that you should be doing/updating regularly.
On-page SEO includes things like:
- Content/copy on the page
- Headings and subheadings (H2 vs H3, H4)
- Meta tags, titles, descriptions
- Internal/external links
- UX (user experience)
They all have to work together to create a page that does a good job of letting search engines and users know just exactly what to expect from that specific page they’re on.
While “search engine” is definitely part of SEO – literally, Google is not the one purchasing products from your online store. So, the better you cater your site to the user, the better your site will rank. Google understands what users are searching for with their search queries. Google also understands user intent – are they looking for information? Are they ready to purchase? Let’s review our keyword research section above…
Remember that keyword research you did?
There are going to be some keywords you find that are specific to each of the pages you’ve laid out in your site structure.
Build and optimize your pages around a keyword that makes sense for each page.
For example, if you’re selling coffee, chances are there are keywords related to coffee, like specific products from specific areas.
Perhaps you also sell those products, so it would make sense that you have the product/area-specific keyword be in the meta title, meta description, the images, and content you have on that product page (i.e. keyword: “Central American coffee” would be a good long-tail keyword for a 2nd-tier page on your site that includes all Central American coffee products).
Oh – you thought that was all?
There are some other factors that are key parts of any eCommerce SEO strategy, like taking care of issues that Google will notify you of, through free tools like Google Search Console.
While technical SEO also has to do with sitemaps and meta tags/descriptions (yes, the difference between on-page SEO and technical SEO is blurred), it’s much more than that these days.
Technical SEO deals with, well, the technical side of your website.
There are three major elements of good technical SEO:
Crawlability has to do with the structure of your site and how your site is linked.
It also involves making sure that there are no broken links.
As you update your sitemap regularly, good technical SEO means making sure that new and old pages have proper redirects. This way, users and search engines don’t get stuck on your site.
You can use a free tool like Screaming Frog to help crawl your website and notify you of any technical issues you may have.
Performance means how your site is viewed and interacted with.
Are users “bouncing” off the page/site because it takes forever to load? Are they using your site on a mobile device and the site isn’t mobile-friendly?
Consider things like image size, site speed, and responsive design (for all devices).
Google Search Console and other tools can help determine the overall performance of your site based on factors such as the ones mentioned above.
It may seem complex and intimidating, but most tools you use to do this will explain how to fix the issue. It could be as simple as reducing the sizes of the images on our site.
Indexation is basically how search engines understand and label your website and the content on it.
Think of search engines as blind librarians and indexing as how they categorize and properly place you on the right shelf, with relevant sites and content. The more information you’re able to give to the search engines about your site, its structure, how it’s linked, the more accurately indexed (placed) your site will be.
When a user searches for Central American coffee beans, does Google have enough information about your site to give the user more information on your site concerning Central American coffee beans and where/how to buy them?
What about if a user searches for “coffee near me”? Do you show up in local listings?
Local SEO (Google My Business, Reviews)
How popular are you in your area? If you’re not showing up on Google Maps or local listings, you may want to include local SEO in your eCommerce SEO strategy.
Local SEO boils down to a couple of key factors:
- Manage local listings
- Build local citations/links
That’s it, really!
However, it’s not as easy as it may sound.
Managing local listings means claiming/building business profiles on platforms like Google (Google My Business), Bing, Yext, etc. Once you’ve claimed your business listings and verified them (usually through email), you can start to optimize each listing. Make sure the address, phone number, and all other information is consistent throughout each listing you claim/create.
Find customers within your service area by showing up in Google Search and Google Maps.
Building local citations is basically making sure you have backlinks from other (local) websites with high domain authority. Even claiming your listing on Yellow Pages is considered a local citation!
Collaborate with websites that create lists where your product or shop could also be listed. Reach out to the writers/editors of such lists and ask if you can be included in those lists. It’s weird, it’s awkward, but it’s effective – and it’s another backlink to your site.
Even sharing content links on social media helps.
The same goes with collaborating with influencers, as they have their own authority, their own sites, and their own content that they could include you in.
As influencers and other high domain authority sites help users in their purchasing decisions, so do other users.
Do reviews help with SEO? Absolutely. As do product reviews.
They help you show up on local listings, as Google Reviews are tied into your Google Business Profile and Google Maps, so the more reviews you can get, the better your chances of ranking locally.
Reviews communicate trustworthiness, quality, and authority. Search engines and users favor those with higher ratings and more reviews.
So how do you get more reviews? Ask/incentivize your customers. Most will be open to sharing their experience.
You can also do this per listing, like Yelp, Angi (Angie’s List), etc. The more reviews you have on different listings, the better you’ll rank locally, as users and search engines view your business as a popular one in that area.
Now that you’ve created your strategy and the content based on that strategy, it’s time to see if it’s actually working.
A great way to do so is by using Google’s free metrics tool, Google Analytics. Some eCommerce sites provide their own insights and analytics, too. The more metrics, the better.
In Google Analytics, you can see data like:
- Number of users and sessions on your site
- Average session duration
- Average pages per session
- Bounce rates
- Behavior flow (user flow – how they flowed through your site, from start to finish)
- Traffic sources (organic, direct, social, etc)
- Devices used (mobile, tablet, desktop)
Use this data to improve your site, your eCommerce SEO strategy, and most importantly – YOUR CONTENT.
After all, Analytics is where you learn about your users, how they interact with your site, how they’re purchasing, what they’re purchasing, and where they’re falling off.
Develop an eCommerce SEO Strategy with The Brandsmen
That was probably a lot to digest.
To be honest, that was the summarized version of what it takes to build a strong SEO strategy for your eCommerce site.
At The Brandsmen, we specialize in creating, executing, and perfecting an SEO strategy that will help your eCommerce site with more traffic and ultimately more conversions.
Whether it’s a simple consultation or a full-fledged marketing strategy, we know eCommerce and we know how to help get you more traffic and more online sales.
Contact us today for a free consultation and start moving your products!