eCommerce is fast emerging as a lucrative business option for many savvy entrepreneurs. With $2.3 trillion in sales (2017), the number is expected to zoom past $4.5 trillion in 2021.
Clearly, the opportunity is there. But optimizing for SEO will play out successfully only for those business owners who factor in the marketing aspect of their eCommerce website.
For those who want to optimize their eCommerce website for SEO then this post can be a valuable guide. We have compiled a list of factors that can give momentum to your brand visibility and drive a higher volume of qualified site traffic to boost your conversion objectives.
1 – Smart title and meta tags text
With tons of products on your eCommerce store, populating the title and meta tags for each of the product pages should be tactical. This can be achieved by going for a blend of static and dynamic text to create the tags.
Take the case of a product, suppose ‘iPhone 6’, ‘iPhone 6s’, ‘iPhone 6 Plus’. You can enclose this dynamic text for the three product names with static text. For instance, “Brand New iPhone 6 at the lowest price”.
Now you don’t need three highly distinct titles. You can simply replace the product name and keep the remaining text the same. So, the tags will read as below for the three products:
- “Brand New iPhone 6 at the lowest price”
- “Brand New iPhone 6s at the lowest price”
- “Brand New iPhone 6 Plus at the lowest price”
This not only saves time but allows your page to be effective on these SEO factors.
2 – Use “rel canonical” tags
Imagine you have three t-shirts of the same brand, same style, same size, but in 3 colour variants. There is a high chance that Google might consider the almost similar content of all 3 webpages to be duplicate. To avoid this penalty, it is important to use the ‘rel canonical’ tag.
It tells Google not to penalize the web pages for these 3 products having almost the same content. You can also use canonical tags in these situations:
- Pagination – When an index page of product categories runs into multiple pages.
- Product variants – If size, colour, or accessories differentiate between two or more products, this tag will help prevent issues with duplicate content.
- Similar content – Where many pages have almost similar content except with slight variations.
3 – Factor in Google’s mobile-first index mandate
Mobile web accounts for 58% of the traffic in 2018, which is far ahead of desktop’s 42% share. Hence it’s no surprise that Google prefers mobile-first indexing in current times. You need to be sure to optimize the site for mobile.
This will ensure that the user experience from desktop and mobile will be seamless and consistent, thus driving up the SEO ranking factors in favour of your eCommerce website.
4 – Optimize images of the products
Images are important to sell a story on an eCommerce website. Make sure that you display sharp images that showcase the product from different angles. There are 3 types of images worth considering:
- Thumbnails – these appear on the product category page and are sized at 100 x 100 or 200 x 200.
- Medium size – these appear on product pages and are sized typically at 640 x 640 or 800 x 800.
- Detailed view – these are the images users see when they zoom in or mouse over. 800 x 800 and 1000 x 1000 are decent sizes for this purpose.
5 – Harness the power of product reviews
One of the biggest barriers in eCommerce is the building of trust and confidence with the shoppers. Ratings and reviews have the power to sway trust in your brand’s favour. Stats say that 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business. 31% of customers are likely to spend more on a business with excellent reviews.
By taking user feedback (even the negative ones), you portray a sense of authenticity with your site and help build trust for the shoppers to buy from your site.
6 – Boost conversion optimization with proper targeting
Is your website for ‘all’ people? Unless you’re an Amazon, such wide spreading of the net won’t land you much conversion. In order to boost the conversion ratio, it is best to target your specific audience segment. You need to define this segment, know their shopping behaviours, and then craft the UX and content of your website with this intelligence.
This intelligence can be achieved via different channels like Google analytics, market/sales trends, or even one on one with potential customers who fit the audience profile.
7 – Optimizing for SEO with data & insights
Today, there are scores of tools that capture essential data like bounce rate, click through rates, demographics, engagement, or referral traffic. It will be a smart move to factor in these insights and then craft your eCommerce website SEO strategy. Using a blend of good old Google Analytics and third-party tracking software can do the job for you.
This will help you uncover answers to burning questions like Where is cart abandonment the most? At what point do users leave a webpage? How is the site performing on usability and UX? Which demographic is pulling the sales up or down?
8 – Marketing strategies need to go beyond one tactic
Think all traffic comes from organic searches? Or do you assume that paid ads are enough to drive your business ahead? Both assumptions are incorrect. You need to have a diversified approach comprising both SEO and PPC. While PPC may give you a traffic burst in short term, in the long run, SEO would be a cost-effective strategy to go for. This way, you can expand your customer outreach to the maximum.
9 – Provide clarity on the objective of the eCommerce website
A hallmark of a successful eCommerce website is its ability to makes its goals clear. By providing a simple yet clear USP of the website, it gives directions to the users about what they can expect and how they should be ideally using the site. It will also help them understand what they will get on the site and why it has a competitive edge.
This is the starting point and guiding light for your eCommerce website. All elements, services, content, marketing messages, and media needs to align with this goal. This will help answer a key question for the site visitor “What’s in it for me?”
10 – Set up efficient keywords
Factoring in search intent is critical to keyword optimization success. This, in turn, will drive qualified traffic to the website. To accomplish this, it is vital to do keyword research and spend some time on this activity. While short keywords are competitive, long tail keywords are great in driving site visits and a better likelihood of conversion.
For example, if someone types “Nike Air Max Torch 3 Men Running Shoes Size 10”, he has already made up his mind to buy a highly particular type of shoes. Now imagine if he lands on your eCommerce site with your first page ranking on this long tail keyword. There will be a high chance that he will eventually buy it. This is why long tail keywords deliver great value.
11 – Write compelling product descriptions
Of course, having keywords in the product description matters, but information-rich readable content should never be compromised. In fact, copywriters need to factor in well-framed informative content and then factor in search crawlers.
Hence, the focus needs to be on informing the visitor about the features of the products and the benefit the shopper will get upon buying the same. By adding long tail keywords and ALT tag to images in the product description, your chances of focused targeting increase dramatically.
12 – Optimized URLs empower eCommerce success
Optimized URLs hold tremendous power to inform Google bots about the site and influence higher SERP rankings. Even the process of site indexation is made effective with optimized URLs. Simple tips like no use of capital letters, adding mobile URLs to sitemap, and use of hyphens instead of underscore can go a long way in positively impacting the optimization task. Even adding a favicon and use of canonical URLs can ensure better crawling and higher rankings for a webpage
13 – Utilize social media to build a relationship with your customer base
Consider the below stats:
- eCommerce stores with social media presence have on average 32% more sales than those who don’t.
- The average eCommerce site is publishing 4.55 posts per week (i.e. almost one per working day).
- On average, eCommerce store owners having Facebook fans can expect a growth rate of 5-8% or more month on month.
These numbers speak a lot about the value provided by a social media presence for an eCommerce brand. By posting regular updates, announcements and deals, ensures greater visibility as users may share and retweet it among their network. This channel also allows you to interact with customers, share their reviews, and address their concerns, to improve trust in your brand further.
14 – Utilize the prowess of call to actions
Customers are no longer comfortable handing out their personal information or filling up reams of details before hitting the ‘Submit’ button. It is crucial that the call to action is designed to evoke total involvement and participation from the user rather than encourage disappointment and un-subscription.
Try to improve call-to-action buttons efficacy by providing a downloadable asset like an e-book or case study. This will signal a user that his/ her information sharing is actually worth the effort.
15 – What’s the conversion rate?
The ratio of site visits to conversions (or conversion rate) is a vital KPI to monitor when tracking website performance. This will help you check if site visitors are converting to paid customers. Use Google Analytics to find out such informative insights and tweak your SEO campaign accordingly to evoke a higher conversion rate. You can check which location/ country the user comes from, which devices attract the most sales, and what is the demographic persona of most of the shoppers. This will give you valuable targeting guidelines for better online retail success.
16 – Improve usability
Simple, uncluttered navigation is key to a stellar user experience. Have a clear sitemap defined during the development stage itself. Also, the menu labelling needs to be unambiguous and clear. With multiple product categories and variants, this might be a challenge. But with time, this should become easy to sift and sort products into the right categories. Lastly, linking product pages from your home page will help in the navigation process.
To sign off
SEO is an important digital marketing strategy and it should not be left to chance. With these SEO tips you can be sure that you have done all that is needed to give your eCommerce website the visibility boost it needs online. This way, you will witness a surge in visitor traffic and hence better revenue generation capabilities for your eCommerce website.
Got other SEO strategies that have worked wonderfully well for your eCommerce website store. Do share them with us in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.
Being a senior business associate, Peter Davidson strives to help different brands and startups to make effective business decisions and plan effective business strategies. With years of rich domain expertise, he loves to share his views on the latest technologies and applications through his well-researched content pieces. Follow him on Twitter.