With an estimated 34% of customers beginning their online shopping journey via either Google or another search engine, there is no doubt that having SEO-friendly content is more important than ever for eCommerce businesses. The details below, and working with an experienced eCommerce SEO agency, will ensure that your eCommerce store ranks highly in the search results.
Despite overwhelming evidence highlighting the influence of search engines in the online shopping experience, a report from The Manifest indicates that less than half of small businesses currently invest in SEO to improve their search visibility. A further 18% of respondents in the same study claimed that they do not ever plan to use targeted SEO efforts like link building, content creation, or keyword research.
While many eCommerce sites have prioritised more immediate marketing tactics such as paid advertising and social media engagement, the reality is that a holistic, well-planned SEO strategy can have a phenomenal impact on your sales and revenue.
In this guide, we’ll go through the different facets of eCommerce SEO and highlight how they can benefit your business.
WHAT IS SEO (AND HOW DOES IT RELATE TO ECOMMERCE)?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a method used to generate more traffic to your website by making it more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs). A report covered by Forbes found that the first page of google captures 71% of user clicks, with the article suggesting that this number is likely to have risen significantly since the report was first conducted.
These figures hold even more weight for businesses that primarily trade online. If such a large proportion of your website’s traffic is dependent on your search engine position, then anything that can improve this is likely to significantly boost your eCommerce sales.
WHAT ARE THE KEY COMPONENTS OF ECOMMERCE SEO?
SEO is made up of multiple different areas, with each designed to optimise your standing on Google and other search engines. The main aspects of SEO are content writing, internal and external linking, keyword research, keyword implementation, and product optimisation.
In the next section, we’ll look in more detail at each of these key SEO elements.
Content writing is the process of planning, writing, and optimising online content for digital marketing purposes. This can include anything from blogs and articles to studies and social media posts.
The purpose of content writing is to provide your target audience with well-written, informative copy while promoting your company’s products and services. Far from just an advertisement or a sales pitch, good content writing weaves the benefits of your brand into a piece of writing that informs and entertains while offering solutions to problems faced by a potential customer.
The best content tends to be enhanced, both in terms of reader value and SEO capacity, by the use of visuals. Whether it’s a relevant, eye-catching photo to enhance the look of your article or a slick infographic to back up your points, there’s no doubt that good imagery plays a key role in both the success and quality of your content.
Producing high-quality content has multiple benefits for your eCommerce business; from establishing your brand as an authoritative voice within your industry to bringing customers to your site.
Content hubs are an increasingly popular and proven way for eCommerce sites to further bolster both their traffic and brand authority. A content hub is a curated selection of branded content on a specific subject relevant to your company’s products and services.
A high-calibre hub will enable you to provide all of your customer’s answers and product solutions without them having to leave your site.
While quality writing is pivotal to the success of both content hubs and traditional content writing, it’s equally important that the content on each hub page can be linked seamlessly and logically with the other pages on the hub.
For this reason, content hubs are made up of a pillar page and a series of other pages known as clusters. The pillar page is a broader, all encompassing section containing info relevant to all areas of the content hub, while clusters are pages that refer to a specific subject or niche within the hub.
To work effectively, each cluster should have a link back to the main pillar as well as links to as many of the other clusters as possible. While it's crucial that the content links back to one another, it's essential that the links are provided in a way that’s logical within your content. We’ll provide more info on this process in our next section.
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL LINKING
Internal and external linking is the process of linking your content to other URLs either on the same site or on a different web address. Both internal and external linking are essential practices of SEO, with each coming with its own unique set of benefits.
Internal linking occurs when you provide links within your content to other pages on your website. If used effectively, this process can have numerous benefits; from increasing your brand's authority to improving your search ranking and promoting other products and services.
The key to internal linking is to ensure that your links are relevant to your content and seem natural within the flow of the article. By providing relevant links, you’ll help customers find more meaningful content which is likely to increase the amount of time they spend on your site.
Good internal linking will enable you to provide increased value to customers without them having to leave your site.
External links are URL links within your content that take you to pages on different websites. This type of linking can be used for several different reasons; from strengthening your argument with data and studies to providing further useful information for the customer.
Like with internal linking, it’s imperative that external links are relevant and contextual within your article. It’s also important to provide links to trusted, high-ranking outlets when possible as this will improve the perception of your own site.
Linking to well-known, authoritative sites provides search engines with a better idea about your content which can have a positive impact on your site’s standing. By linking to authoritative sources, you demonstrate to Google that the article has been well researched which can have a direct impact on key ranking factors such as expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
If used correctly, external linking can have a transformative effect both on your brand authority and your search engine performance.
The anchor text is the word or phrase used in the hyperlink to another page. This is an often-overlooked element of the linking process that can have a significant impact on both your page ranking and customer experience.
When linking to an article, either internally or externally, the anchor text used should offer a clear and concise indication of the page’s subject matter. Anchor texts that are vague or poorly worded can frustrate customers who find themselves taken to pages that are completely different from the ones they expected to find.
Lastly, as well as the customer experience, well-written anchor texts help Google understand what the linked page is about, as referenced in their SEO Starter Guide.
Keyword research is the process of sourcing the most-searched-for words and phrases relating to the topic you’re writing about. This process is a key practice of SEO that can help inform both the subject and structure of your content as well as significantly improving your search ranking.
Effective keyword research gives you a better understanding of your audience. By establishing what people are searching for, you can create a content plan centred around the most in-demand topics within your field.
As well as providing audience insight, keyword research can also have a direct impact on page ranking. The inclusion of relevant, popular keywords in your content increases the likelihood of customers finding your site in their search results.
While the importance of finding keywords is unquestionable, it's equally important that they are added to your article in a smart and efficient fashion. Not only can poor keyword implementation negate the benefits of effective research, but it can also result in search ranking penalties from Google.
There is more to keyword utilisation than simply acquiring a selection of words and phrases. The way you use this information will have a huge impact on the overall success of your SEO plan.
The difference between good and bad keyword implementation can depend on several factors; from how much you use the word to how relevant it is to your content.
Long-tail keywords allow you to combine popular keywords into a phrase that’s more informative and unique. Containing three words or more, long-tail keywords tend to have less search engine competition than single words, increasing your prospects of a higher page ranking.
Selecting a long-tail keyword that’s highly pertinent to your subject matter is likely to attract customers who are specifically interested in the content on your page. The benefits of this process have been backed up by data, with a report from Smart Insights finding that long-tail keywords have a 3-5% higher clickthrough rate than normal searches.
AVOID KEYWORD STUFFING
When it comes to keywords, the phrase ‘too much of a good thing’ has never been more true.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of overloading your webpage with specific words and phrases in an attempt to manipulate your ranking in search engines. Packing your site with keywords diminishes both the flow and quality of your writing, creating a spammy effect that annoys readers and reduces brand authority.
Not only does keyword stuffing diminish the quality of your webpage but it can also have adverse consequences on your search ranking. While there was once a time when this cynical ploy may have been effective, the increasingly savvy nature of Google’s algorithms means you’re far more likely to be penalised than rewarded if you overuse keywords!
When including keywords, moderation is key. After all, a couple of well-positioned, relevant words can be way more effective than a webpage crammed with the same tired phrase.
PRODUCT PAGE OPTIMISATION
Product Page Optimisation is a crucial SEO practice for eCommerce businesses. If done well, this process can generate traffic for your site and help convert visitors into paying customers.
A good product page should be informative and easy to navigate while offering clear, compelling descriptions of the items on sale. A well-optimised page will combine aforementioned SEO tactics like keyword research and effective content writing with other practices unique to product page optimisation.
We’ll cover a few of these practices in detail below:
USE A RELEVANT TITLE
Clarity is a key component of any good product page. A clear, explanatory title will ensure your customers have a vivid understanding of what the page is providing.
A good title should focus on the product name, with room to include the manufacturer where possible. By having this, you will make the navigation process as smooth as possible for the customer.
PROVIDE UNIQUE PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS
If you’re selling items bought from another manufacturer, then most of the time you’ll be provided with a generic product description that summarises the item's features.
Although there may be little wrong with the writing itself, this exact same copy has likely been sent out to hundreds of resellers who will use it on their sites. While it may be tempting to save yourself the time and upload this pre-provided write-up, this lackadaisical approach can have an adverse effect on your search engine position.
Writing high-quality, original product descriptions will separate you from your competitors. Not only will providing your own, insightful copy improve customer experience but it will also prevent you from being penalised by Google for having duplicate content.
As with all other content forms, the use of keywords in your product descriptions can be hugely beneficial to the performance of your page.
HAVE A WELL-WRITTEN META DESCRIPTION
A meta description is a small blurb that appears underneath your page title on the search engine results page. Their purpose is to briefly summarise the content of your article so users can determine its relevance to them. While these short page summaries play an important role in all of your content, they are even more integral to your product pages.
The quality of your meta description can be the deciding factor between whether a customer visits your webpage or scrolls down to the next alternative. A good description will be concise and explanatory, summarising the contents of the product page in one or two original sentences.
USE HIGH-QUALITY IMAGES
When it comes to product optimisation, a picture can be worth a thousand words.
When advertising your products online, it's essential that you use high-quality imagery that reflects the quality of the products on sale. By including good images, it allows customers to see your products in their best light. This can play a key role in transferring searches into sales.
For many eCommerce businesses, the process of optimising their site can feel complicated and overwhelming.
In this guide, we’ve broken down the key elements of eCommerce SEO to help you maximise the performance of your website. While this info should provide you with a solid foundation, there are many businesses that have opted to hire SEO experts who can help their eCommerce business reach its full potential.
Reboot is an SEO company that offers expertise in all the SEO areas covered in this article. With designated Content, digital PR, and SEO departments, Reboot provides holistic content marketing solutions to eCommerce businesses in a variety of different industries.