It doesn’t matter how good your product is, how well designed your logo is or how fast your shipping is if no one online can find you. If search engines aren’t finding your store, then it might as well not exist. It’s the reason why Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the key factors for any eCommerce website.
Online retail is dominating the market in the 2020s and everyone's competing for ways to up their virtual presence. SEO is arguably the most important asset when it comes to getting established online, but you shouldn’t worry if you haven’t heard of it, as reading this article is already a step in the right direction.
Here we offer up four helpful tips on boosting your SEO and getting your products or services in front of your target audience’s eyes. Even if you’re familiar with the concept, there’s a good chance that you too will find these tips useful.
What Is SEO?
SEO is a complex discipline that covers a range of practices from web development to content creation, but the concept behind it is very simple. SEO is basically just about making your online content easier for search engines to find. Search engines like Google use automated programs called “crawlers” that scour the internet, making an index of what’s out there.
In layman’s terms, you should think of crawlers as being a bit like robot librarians who work hard to give you only the most relevant results. Most often, it’s crucial to show up on page one of the search results, as upwards of 75% of people will only ever choose from the companies listed there. How often do you find yourself going onto Page 2 of a Google search? Exactly!
As search engine technology has developed, it’s gotten better at understanding what people want when they search for something. There are many ways to try to fine-tune your eCommerce SEO and here we’ll be looking at 4 of the most important ones.
1. Research Your Keywords
Seems fairly obvious, right? If you don’t say what your website is about, Google will never find you and neither will your customers. Plus, if you don’t include commonly searched-for short and long-tail keywords on your website and in your content, Google won’t know that you’re a good choice for the query being made.
That said, before you go stuffing your website with every word or phrase that has ever been searched about your product, know that spamming (adding too many of them in an unnatural way) keywords won’t work and will likely get you penalized and ranked lower by search engines.
It’s more important to use the right keywords and use them sparingly. To do this you’ll need to do some research. The good news is that SEO is a bustling, competitive market so there’s a boatload of tools out there to help you with your research.
CPC (Paid Ads) & User Intent
Another SEO route that’s better for some types of products is a paid advertising campaign or Pay Per Click (PPC) as it’s otherwise known. In this case, when choosing your keywords, you’ll need to consider both CPC (cost-per-click) and User Intent.
Cost-per-click refers to how much advertisers pay for every click that’s made on an ad using that particular keyword. CPC is a good indicator of how much competition there is over a particular keyword. High-priced keywords are best avoided or worked around (for example by switching to a long-tail keyword instead).
User Intent is also especially important for e-commerce SEO. With advances in data science, search engines have a better understanding of the context for search terms and the intention behind them. People often search for your products for reasons other than buying them, so you need to use keywords that are associated with an intent to purchase.
2. Optimize Your Product Pages
While many see them as something of an after-thought, you should be sure to put a lot of effort into optimizing your product pages. Driving clicks to your homepage is important, but so is optimizing your product pages as it presents certain unique SEO opportunities.
Product pages are great places to include long-tail keywords, which are phrases that incorporate your main keyword. As long-tail keywords are more specific, they can be more easily tailored to user intent and result in more conversions.
For example, someone searching for “jeans” might be doing the online equivalent of window shopping, but someone who searches for “men’s charcoal grey jeans waist 34 next day shipping” will already have their credit card within arm’s reach. FAQ sections, both on your site and product pages are also effective ways to rank for long-tail keywords.
3. Check Your Linking Hierarchy
How your site is structured is important both for your SEO and your customers. Your e-commerce site should have an intuitive flow of links that leads from the homepage to the product page. Generally, this process should take no more than three clicks.
Internal linking plays an important part in the way that Google’s bots make sense of your site. For example, pages with a lot of links to them are deemed of higher importance - this is referred to as their link value. All links on a page will get a share of that page’s value, so putting important links on your homepage (which usually ranks highest) will flag them as important.
Links also help the crawlers to make sense of the relationship between your pages, making it easier to categorize similar ones together. You need to think carefully about how you use the links though, as you’re actively directing the crawlers towards your most important content.
4. Use Backlinks
For the uninitiated, backlinks are links to your site from external pages. And while internal linking provides a map of your site’s elements, backlinks provide a map of your website as part of the wider internet. If Google sees that your website is being linked to from other reputable sources, it will assume you are credible and trustworthy and rank you higher.
Google also pays attention to the ranking of the sites that link to you. A link from one high-profile site is worth more than thousands of links from smaller ones. Of course, getting links from authoritative websites is harder to do.
How Do I Get Backlinks?
There are ways to secure backlinks, such as paying for guest features on blogs or getting people to review your product. There are a few best practices to keep in mind for backlinking because as with internal linking, you want the linked sites to be about similar subjects.
If you sell computer parts, a link from a tech site is more valuable than one from a fashion blog and it’s best to try and get as many different domains linking to you as possible because repeated links from the same site will offer diminishing returns.
However, the best kind of backlinks is organic ones. There’s no guaranteed way to get these but the best strategy is to create content that people will want to link to. Use your knowledge of your target audience to craft content that’s related to their interests.
This is most commonly done through blogs which give you the space to provide relevant news, educational content, and even entertainment that speaks to both your customers' interests and needs.
SEO Is Key To Growth
Optimizing for search engines is a fundamental part of any marketing strategy. When it comes to e-commerce, most of your traffic will be driven from search results pages, so it’s always worth the extra time to refine your SEO. Not only will it make it easier for crawlers to find you, but you’ll find your content becomes much more engaging for your customers!