SEO is Critical to eCommerce Success
We recently covered 5 Questions eCommerce Merchants Need to Ask Themselves Before Hiring an SEO Partner. The article discusses how to get a better understanding of what merchants need to know about their SEO goals and expectations. For merchants just getting started on SEO fixes, check that out before diving into the how-to of SEO.
Low rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) can make or break any website but is particularly important for eCommerce merchants. eCommerce websites rely heavily on the ability to attract, convert, and retain customers organically. In order to attract new customers and stay competitive, merchants need to utilize search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to stay on page one for major search terms.
In fact, according to Marketing Land, websites that rank on page one of Google achieve an average click-through rate (CTR) of 71%. In addition, research shows that sites ranking on pages two and three of Google experience an average CTR of around 6%. Notably, where businesses rank within the first page matters also. Businesses who rank in the first spot on Google receive more than twice as many clicks as the second spot. Further, the first spot receives about six times more clicks than the fifth spot! These statistics show that if merchants want new customers, they need to outrank their competitors in the organic listings.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific checklist on what the search engines look for in top ranking pages. However, Google has said that in addition to relying on their RankBrain technology, content and links are the other major factors. With this information and what we already know as Magento developers, we’ve put together three ways merchants can improve SEO for eCommerce. They are: content optimization, on-site optimization, and content promotion.
1. Content Optimization
With our experience in eCommerce, there are several areas we’ve optimized for clients and have seen positive results:
Homepage: Focus on creating a simple design and navigation that requires a minimal amount of clicks to get to product pages. In addition, utilize keywords for the home page based on relevancy, search volume, and ranking difficulty.
Evergreen content: Customers research companies in some industries to a greater degree than others, but it’s important to communicate your basic company information, culture and core values. Don’t overlook the importance of the About Us and Contact pages. They can help forge a connection with your customers.
Product Pages: Page errors, duplicate content, redirects, missing tags, and other issues negatively effect SEO. Use a utility tool to crawl links, images, CSS, script, and apps to detect errors. In addition, utilize product titles that are similar to how customers refer to your products within your industry.
Metadata: Often the first information customers see on Google, title tags and meta descriptions should capture the attention of users, and entice them to visit your site. In addition, meta descriptions should be specific for each page on your site and never the same as another. Well-written title tags and meta descriptions will boost the chances of getting more clicks.
Product descriptions: Cutting and pasting the manufacturer’s description can show up as duplicate content and hurt SEO rankings. Write unique product descriptions that not only entice users but helps them to make a decision to buy. Ensure you are using accurate product data and descriptions to show customers you know the products well, and would serve as a reputable resource for education and support.
Category Pages: Catalog pages are often the most popular landing pages on eCommerce sites, so it’s a great area for potential content. In addition to the general category descriptions, use these pages for recommended products, new products and any input or insights your company can add into an otherwise boring category page.
Blogs: For some merchants, a blog is an ideal way to add content and improve their SEO strategy. There are ways of integrating a blog into the Magento platform. New and old blog articles should also be optimized for SEO.
2. Onsite Optimization
In addition to creating great content, there are a lot of ways to improve search engine rankings by making some onsite updates. We will focus on two such areas here: technical SEO and user experience. Technical SEO is making sure your website is crawlable with no errors or duplicate content. Think of that as the basics to SEO. User experience, or conversion rate optimization, is improving the shopping experience customers have on your site. Is the site navigation easy to use? Does the site load quickly? Are the images loading properly? Does the page display well on mobile devices? Can users get to the information they need without scrolling very far? These questions help determine a quality score and once improved can improve SEO rankings.
Schema Markup: In contrast to metadata, microdata tells search engines what the data actually means, not just what it says. Schema markup defines the different elements that make up a webpage or product on your site, such as product name, price, availability, image and different types of descriptions. Identifying the different elements of a page helps search engines populate SERPs with more relevant information based on the intent of the search.
Resolve Site Crawl Issues: There are plenty of tools available that will crawl websites and find errors. Once the crawl is complete, pay close attention to issues related to broken links, navigation, and server errors. Any issues preventing your site from being crawled or triggering errors can cause frustration for users and search engines alike.
URL Optimization and Redirects: Put your primary keyword in the URL. This is another way that helps customers and SERPs know what’s on the pages. If you’re building a new website, avoid any platform that puts database IDs in front of the search engine friendly piece of the URL.
Image Optimization: Add compelling images and videos, and tag them with relevant metadata so they’ll rank high in image searches. Don’t forget to check that they load properly across all devices.
Page load speed: Slow page loading not only drives away potential customers, it hurts SEO. Optimize page loading times by compressing product images, implementing lazy loading, and cleaning up coding issues. We always recommend utilizing a cache technology, CDN and optimizing JS/CSS files to keep your page load times as low as possible.
Mobile Optimization: Do all pages on your website display properly on mobile? Implementing a responsive or mobile-friendly site design is a must!
3. Content Promotion
As noted by Google, internal and external links can have a major impact on rankings. Notably, the more authoritative the links, the better. Here are some ways merchants can build their link game.
Setup Social Channels: Social media channels are a great way to build and share links because they indicate an authority and relevance to search engines. Make it easy for customers to find and share your content by adding share and follow Call To Action (CTA) buttons such as Buy Now and Add to Cart across your product pages.
Video: If you have the capacity to develop your own videos, create a company YouTube channel and be sure to link to a relevant page on your site from the video description. Another added bonus, video keeps users on a page. Therefore adding to user engagement and time on page which is another positive indicator to search engines.
Business Listing (NAP): Ensure that your business listing including name, address, and phone number (NAP) is accurate. This is particularly relevant for businesses looking to rank high in local listings. Google uses a geo-targeted method when showing local listings so verify that your NAP is correct. Keep your Google MyBusiness information up to date.
PR, Partnerships, Events, Sponsorships: Hosting or partnering to host an industry event, sending products to digital influencers, donating products or time to charitable causes, working with brands you sell online, and PR are all great ways to build authority, recognition and quality links back to your site.
Final Thoughts on How to Improve SEO for eCommerce
Implementing SEO best practices and making sure you have the SEO basics in place will also help you succeed in other marketing initiatives. If your website is not accessible and your content is not relevant or, if your page doesn’t display well on mobile, you will be penalized. Fortunately, InteractOne is skilled and experienced at SEO implementation for eCommerce. For more details on SEO and how we can help get you going, please contact us today.