A Best Practices Guide For eCommerce Sites in Google Search

Tags: eCommerce Search & PPC
By Dima Nikitin
The Text That Says 'Best Practices for eCommerce Websites' Is Displayed Over The Woman Who Works as an eCommerce SEO Expert and Is Sitting in the Office.

The success of any eCommerce business rests upon many factors, but there's none more important than Google search rankings. As such, a critical challenge for online marketers is ensuring their website is easily discoverable via the most common keywords and search terms. 

The importance of appearing on the first page of Google searches is high, as only 0.63% of customers click through to page two. As they say, 'Page two may as well be nowhere', as just a tiny fraction of your target audience will get to see you and what you offer. 

The world's largest search engine is critical to driving business growth, with shoppers able to discover your website at any stage of the customer journey. Here, we focus on best practice guidelines for those building eCommerce websites to enhance online visibility and user experience as advised by eCommerce SEO experts.


Knowing The Google Locations eCommerce Content Can Appear

Google offers a range of locations or 'surfaces'  in which to place eCommerce content, with Google Maps and Search being just a couple of examples. Understanding all the options available is vital when attempting to maximize your exposure. Others include:

  • Google Shopping Tab
  • Business Profile
  • Google Images
  • Google Lens

There are several ways in which these locations display content, with Google Search interpreting the customer's intent and exhibiting that which best matches their needs. Of course, knowing which type of content offers the best reach is also important.


eCommerce Content That Extends a Brand's Reach On Google

Naturally, the most common type of eCommerce content used across Google's various platforms is product data, although this represents just one of many options. Others include:

  • Customer Product Reviews - Allowing customers to rate and review your products on Google lets other shoppers better understand them.

  • Merchant Product Reviews - Demonstrating your dedication to helping customers identify the best products for their needs, providing comprehensive reviews of what you sell can appeal to shoppers.

  • Your Company Story - Ethical motives lead many customers, and telling your company story will give shoppers more reasons to choose you as their preferred supplier. 

  • Live Streams - Interaction with customers via live stream allows you to showcase products and provide helpful guidance on how to get the most from them. Real-time Q&A sessions are great for instilling trust in your brand. 

  • Special Offers - Upcoming promotions, special offers, and seasonal events like Christmas, Mother's Day and Thanksgiving can be described in detail, letting shoppers know how to benefit.


Sharing Product Data With Google

It's important to share your product data with Google to enjoy richer customer experiences across more of its platforms. The benefit is highly relevant traffic arriving on your site, and as far as Google's recommendations are concerned, you should be:

Informing Google directly about the products you'd like to display by heading to the Google Merchant Center and uploading a feed. Google Merchant Center offers an in-depth description of how it uses eCommerce data. While doing so isn't necessarily a must to appear across Google's platforms, it will help Google gain an increased understanding of your products. 

Adding structured data to your product pages so that Google can better understand your content in terms of aspects such as shipping costs, discounts and prices. Again, this isn't a mandatory step to appear in Google's search results, but your website will benefit.


Launching a New eCommerce Website

Naturally, when you launch a new eCommerce website, it's crucial Google can find it, and the recommended course of action to ensure that happens is as follows.


Step #1 - Verify Your Site's Ownership

The first step is to prove to Google's Search Console that you own the website, which equips you with the highest degree of permissions. This move also allows you to carry out actions that influence your site's behavior and presence, and this is why Google is keen to ensure that only the rightful site owner receives permission.


Step #2 - Request that Your Site Be Indexed

The next action to take is to ask Google to index your site using a number of options. The crawling process can take as little as a couple of days and as long as several weeks, so it's essential to be patient as you monitor your progress via the URL Inspection Tool or the Index Status Report.


Step #3 - Confirm Your Business Details

For online retailers operating brick-and-mortar premises, you should also confirm your business details with Google. Doing so allows users to more easily recognize your official site and obtain information when searching online.

Signing up to Google's Merchant Center is optional, but if you don't, it precludes your site from appearing on some locations like Google Shopping Tab.

New Websites Take From a Day or Two, Up to Two Weeks to Be Indexed


Actions you can take to help Google include:

  • Creating a crawler-friendly site structure - Add links from your site's menus to category pages and category pages to subcategory pages, and link all product pages to your sub-category pages. It's also advisable to add structured data to help clarify each page's purpose. 

  • Promoting your best products & categories - Rather than using the site's URLs to determine your website's structure, Google analyzes page linkages to determine the most important. For instance, by linking the pages of your best products to your home page or blog posts, Google can understand how important each one is.


How Incremental Page Loading & Pagination Affects Google Search

When many products fit the search criteria, visitors can get a better experience by improving page performance through result subsets. You may need to ensure that Google's crawlers can find your site's content to achieve this. 

For instance, when a visitor uses your site's search function, you can present a subset of products from your range that match the user's request - instead of showing all the matches, which may either take too much time to retrieve or be too large to present on just one page. 

Partial results are not just restricted to searches and can also be used for:

  • Category pages that show all products from that category
  • A complete list of newsletters or blog posts
  • Product page reviews
  • Blog post comments

Enabling your eCommerce website to incrementally load your content when triggered by user actions offers an array of user benefits.

  • Preventing unnecessarily long lists that lead to browser errors
  • Enhancing backend performance through the reduction of content received
  • Mitigation of network traffic - something that matters for mobile browsers
  • Quicker initial page loading vs. displaying all results

When applying the subset list approach, three primary user experience (UX) patterns are available. There's Pagination (offering next/previous page links), Load More (Extending displayed results), and Infinite Scroll (allowing the user to scroll down indefinitely).


Google's Pagination Best Practices

Google's best practices when it comes to pagination implementation include linking pages sequentially, avoiding the indexing of URLs with filters and the correct use of URLs. 

Linking pages sequentially ensures that search engines can understand how paginated content pages relate to each other. Using <a href> tags helps Google's bots to locate subsequent pages.

Using correct URLs makes Google view paginated pages as separate from each other. Google recommends that eCommerce store owners give each page a dedicated canonical URL and avoid using URL fragment identifiers. Also, using prefetch, preconnect, and preload can improve performance.

Avoiding the Indexing of URLs with filters will help to prevent variations of the same lists of results being presented, with unwanted URLs removed by noindex robots.


Offering a Great Visitor User Experience & Maximizing Online Visibility

When an eCommerce store leverages Google's various locations as described, the result is a website that is found more easily and makes it simpler for customers to see what they're looking for. Being found by customers online, however, is only part of the equation, and techniques like pagination can help to provide the kind of user experiences that convert. 

Crucial to this outcome is giving Google the data it needs to index your site and deliver the necessary exposure across its many platforms. Take the steps described above, and your website can enjoy the returns your marketing efforts deserve.

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