Ecommerce SEO: Your Ultimate Guide to Rank #1

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A girl who is happy with her purchase

Although many ecommerce websites are well versed in the practice of marketing their business via social media, paid advertising and traditional marketing, it’s surprising how many are yet to invest in SEO.

By ‘invest’, we mean time. SEO takes time. This is often why many ecommerce businesses choose to ignore SEO as a long term strategy. However, the outcomes can be enterprising!

Once you rank, ecommerce SEO requires much less regular investment to keep the traffic flowing.

This article will take you through everything you need to know to get started with your ecommerce SEO strategy.

What Is Ecommerce SEO

SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and web pages to climb higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The aim is to increase traffic by improving visibility as the first business users see when entering relevant keywords into a search engine. You’re targeting higher quality traffic who are more likely to convert, as well as driving volumes of traffic to your site whilst raising brand awareness.

A screenshot of the SERPs results for men's running shoes
The keyword here is ‘visibility’. You want to be the most visible website in the SERPs.

Ecommerce SEO vs SEO

Ecommerce SEO differs from traditional SEO with regards to the approach.

While there is a substantial overlap between the two, ecommerce SEO focuses more on optimising product descriptions, product metadata and headlines. In contrast, general SEO focuses more on targeting keywords across static pages.

As an ecommerce business, you need to be doing both.

Optimising product pages has always been an essential component of effective ecommerce SEO and is slightly different from optimising a static page.

Ecommerce SEO is a box of tools and strategies you can use to optimise each product page on your website. Like general SEO, pages should load fast and include relevant keywords. However, product pages need to tell your customers about your brand, accurately describe your products and, ultimately, persuade them to convert.

The 3 Types of Ecommerce SEO

Three main types of SEO apply to ecommerce websites: on-site, technical and off-site.

  1. On-site SEO refers to any actions you can take to boost your ranking within your domain. These include items such as product descriptions discussed above.
  2. Off-site SEO are actions you can take outside of your website to boost ranking, like link building and affiliate post creation.
  3. Technical SEO refers to the geekier aspects of SEO, such as 404 errors, hosting issues, duplicate URLs and so on. Audits can help you root out problems like these and eliminate them. (We discuss how to conduct a technical audit and how to fix the most common technical SEO errors in detail later).

Why Is Ecommerce SEO Important?

Organic product search optimisation is an immense opportunity for online retailers. Figures show that 35% of Google product searches resulted in real transactions within five days. Additionally, data from New Media Campaigns suggests that organic SEO offers 5.5x the ROI of paid ads.

While Amazon, eBay and other online retailers are common starting points in the customer journey, search engines still consume a large chunk of the pie. For instance, Google alone is responsible for 43% of all ecommerce traffic (compared to 54% on Amazon).

Conventional SEO is valuable to all companies. It increases prominence, assists in the development of the brand image and improves domain authority (DA).

Domain Authority (or DA) is an authority metric developed by Moz which gives your website a score out of 100 based on its quality. The better quality your website, the higher your website will rank in the SERPs.

As an online retailer, your ecommerce SEO strategy is arguably even more important. It is the primary way to gain traffic to your product pages via search engines without having to take out paid ads.

SEO for ecommerce is highly relevant, particularly for those looking to sell across channels. Failing to conduct effective ecommerce SEO constitutes a massive missed opportunity for retailers.

Optimising your webpages is a great, thrifty way to develop market advantage and funnel customers to your product pages instead of those of your competitors. Paid ads are famous for boosting immediate visibility, but they can often cause you to spend an absurd amount of money for a very limited conversion rate.

A screenshot of the SERPs for garden furniture showing the ad results that are skipped

By adhering to ecommerce SEO best practices, businesses can build a strong relationship and trust with an audience over time. It is more like an investment in which you spend upfront and, in return, avoid vast outlays of capital advertising over time.

It is akin to building a house and living in it rent-free forever instead of paying a landlord every month. Ecommerce SEO offers online retailers an opportunity to “lock-in” their marketing spend and generate returns over the long-term.

Don’t underestimate the power of ecommerce SEO to deliver results and help users find your products. Customers instinctively trust organic product SERPs more than paid alternatives and are much more likely to click them.

The top organic result collects 32.5% of all traffic, with the top 3 paid ads receiving less than 40% of all clicks on any given results page. Thus, you could be missing out on some significant opportunities if you fail to organically optimise your pages.

Ecommerce SEO Strategy

So, let’s talk strategy.

A good SEO strategy consists of a number of elements.

Generally, you want to ensure that you’re including a number of factors including auditing your existing site, performing ecommerce keyword research, developing your ecommerce site architecture, and measuring your success – all critical elements for developing a comprehensive plan of action.

From here, you can then begin looking at the on-page, off-page and technical SEO elements.

Perform A Site Audit

Before you begin fleshing out your ecommerce SEO strategy, you need an understanding of how your site currently performs so you can improve it.

Often there are low-hanging fruit – easy wins – that immediately upgrade your ranking performance. Other times, your SEO problems are more structural and deep-seated, requiring more involved solutions.

A site audit provides you with a starting point for fixing issues, helping you break down your SEO tasks into discrete, manageable chunks.

This is a particularly important point if you are a beginner and feel overwhelmed by the prospect of overhauling your site in the name of something you don’t yet fully understand.

How To Do A Website Crawl

An SEO crawler is a simulation of what Google sees when it crawls your site. This will add transparency to the process and remove a lot of the guesswork.

Although you could choose to use Screaming Frog or Beam Us Up for this process, we’ve used ahrefs as that’s what we use for our own website. You can also get a 7-day free trial with Ahrefs so it’s a great option if you haven’t yet invested in a tool.

  1. Head to ‘Site Audit’
  2. Click ‘New Project’
  3. Paste the domain you’d like to crawl into the ‘Scope’’ boxA GIF showing how to use Ahrefs Scope Box for a site audit
  4. Create a project name
  5. Select your keywords and your competitors
  6. Ahrefs will start the crawl in the background

While it’s crawling, you can continue to the next steps of the audit.

Once complete, you want to be checking for errors that show across your paes. This includes:

  • Broken links
  • Missing meta descriptions
  • Large image files
  • Orphan pages (a page that has no internal links)
  • And anything else that may be flagged

Check Indexed Pages

If your pages aren’t indexed by Google, they won’t exist in the search engines, it’s as simple as that.

To check that all your pages are indexed, you can simply search

Site:>your domain<

An image showing the results from a simple Google indexing check

We recommend that you double check this using Google Search Console. It’s a little more accurate and will verify the page count.

  1. Head to Google Search Console
  2. Click on ‘Google Index’ Index Status – here it will tell you the ‘Total Indexed’
  3. The next thing you’ll want to do is cross reference this with the number of actual pages on your website.

Once your Ahrefs site audit has finished, click on ‘Internal Pages’ from the menu on the left. The first number will give you a page count which you can check against the number of indexed pages.

Competitor Research

Third-party tools (such as Ahrefs and SEMrush) let you take a look at the standings of your competitors and view aspects of their SEO strategy. For instance, you can see which sites link to their pages and the quantity of traffic they receive each month.

Here’s how you find competing domains using Ahrefs:

  1. Head to ahrefs
  2. Click on Site Explorer and enter your domain name or URLA screenshot of the Ahrefs menu site explorer
  3. Click on Competing Domains underneath Organic Search on the side menu
    A screenshot of the Ahrefs menu where you can find info on the competing domains

Knowing where your competitors derive their links is invaluable for boosting your off-site strategy. Almost always, established players will have constructed links with relevant and authoritative sites which target their audience.

With the right tools, you can replicate their strategy, either by posting blogs on the same sites or targeting similar ones in their niche. Start by looking at who is currently at the top of SERPs for your product-related keywords. On ahrefs, go to ‘Keyword Explorer’ > enter your keywords > click ‘Search’ > then ‘Phrase Match’

A small video showing how to use the Ahrefs keyword explorer tool for Ecommerce SEO

Find the keyword that you want to target and click ‘SERP’.

This will show you the top results for this keyword.

A screenshot showing how you can view the SERPs results in Ahrefs for a particular keyword

Find out where your customers get their links and how they structure their pages and content. Think carefully about how you might improve on their formula and offer your customers even more value, encouraging them to make the switch.

Be creative in your approach and put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Ask yourself how your competitor’s existing product-related content is letting people down and what you might do to improve on it.

Also, seek out opportunities to add to “thin” content that fails to provide users with value. And look for what’s not there and fill the gap in the market. Examples could include white papers on product-related topics, professional product images, press releases, webinars, videos, podcasts, newsletters and case studies. Go into the exercise with confidence that you can do better. Almost always, you can.

Also, be sure to analyse how often your rivals publish each week & update their content.

Regularity can sometimes improve the overall Google ranking for your domain. Note that any content you publish must be remarkable, regardless of how often you post. Churning out generic blogs won’t generate the kind of ecommerce SEO effects that you expect and will, ultimately, waste your time.

Finally, construct a content inventory; a complete listing of all text, information and metadata on your site pages. You can use this to perform keyword and content-related research.

  1. Visit >yoursite</sitemap_index.xml
    An image showing an XML sitemap example
  2. If you haven’t launched your ecommerce site yet, you can input a competitors’ domain and check out their keywords.
  3. Enter all this information into a Google Doc spreadsheet.
  4. Take all the keywords you have on each page and enter these into Ahrefs as shown above.
  5. In your Google Doc, assign a keyword to each page based on those that you want to rank for/your competitors are ranking for.

Choose The Pages To Start Optimising

If your audit pulls up a vast number of issues, you may be thinking: “But what if I have thousands of product pages and don’t know where to start?”

In this case, take a look at Google Analytics – the search giant’s platform for finding out practically anything you want to know about your site.

Log in to the platform and go to Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages > sort by revenue (high to low).

A screenshot of the Google Analytics menu highlighting where the landing pages can be found

Google will then show you the pages on your site that generate the most and least revenue, allowing you to identify those that are underperforming.

The tool also displays other helpful metrics, such as traffic volumes, bounce rates, the number of transactions per page, conversion rates, and dwell time.

Again, you can use this information to identify problem pages and find relevant keywords for all your products. (Usually, they are the same as those features in your headlines, descriptions and metatags).

Ecommerce Keyword Research

Keyword research is the basis for an effective ecommerce SEO strategy – particularly on-site SEO. When you get it right, you can adopt a laser-like focus in your content, optimising for the words your audience use. Remember, SEO drives 10x the traffic of organic social media.

Begin by analysing your existing keywords.

Take text from your content inventory and feed it into a keyword density analysis tool, such as SEO Scout. The software will pull up your most-targeted keywords, providing you with a benchmark telling you how you position right now.

A screenshot of the SEO scout analysis showing the keywords within the content

Next, compare these results to the actual phrases that users type into the search bar when looking for your products. This process will enable you to find relevant keywords to target both new and unoptimised product pages on your site.

Sometimes, research can throw up some unexpected but serious flaws in your current strategy. For example, you might be targeting “brown shoes” while users are searching for “leather mules”.

Fortunately, you don’t have to collect keyword data manually. There are a host of helpful tools that make keyword research a breeze. Top picks include:

Google Keyword Planner

In order to use Google Keyword Planner, you need a Google Ads account.

Screenshot of the Google Keyword Planner

Moz Keyword Explorer

Get information like monthly search volume and SERP features (like local packs or featured snippets) that are ranking for that term. Moz keyword explorer uses live clickstream data to extract search volume data that’s pretty reliable.

Screenshot of how to use the Moz Keyword Planner

Google Search Autosuggest (The Classic)

Google search autosuggest is the classic way to research popular keywords. Simply enter your keywords into Google and it will automatically suggest the most popular search terms. It’s not as targeted and doesn’t tell you the search volume but it’s a simple form of keyword research.

A GIF showing the Google autosuggest function

At FATJOE, we like Ahrefs Keyword Explorer for its uncompromising in-depth information on every keyword.

SEOs divide keywords into two main categories: long-tail and short-tail.

Short Tail Keywords

Short-tail keywords comprise one or two generic words that do not relate to any specific product.

Short-tail keywords have the advantage of appealing to a broad audience and receive thousands of searches every month. Furthermore, ecommerce companies can easily relate them to particular products. Unfortunately, competition for short-tail keywords is fierce, and they may not be specific enough to ensure conversions.

Long Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords typically involve three to five words and do relate to products for sale on your site.

Long-tail keywords allow you to narrow your focus and seek out less competitive opportunities.

Search volumes are lower, so it’s likely you won’t get as much traffic. However, the more specific the search, the further down the buying journey a customer is, and the more likely to convert.

How To Choose Target Keywords

You should begin by deciding which keywords to use based on two factors:

  1. Your competitors’ keyword targets
  2. Your customers’ search behaviour

Be sure to match products to keywords based on competitor choices and seek opportunities to improve on what they do, based on user keyword search data. Assess keyword search volume and the level of competition using keyword research tools. Finally, place your keywords strategically in your titles, descriptions, and meta titles. (We discuss in more detail later in this article).

LSI & Why It’s Important

Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a search engine technology that attempts to tease out underlying meanings in user searches, regardless of what the user types into the search box. It lets your audience discover your products, even if they don’t know precise terminology, such as brand names. For instance, when users search for “a device that cleans floors,” Google spits back a shopping slider of robot vacuum cleaners from a variety of brands.

Using LSI is a reasonable strategy for both long and short-tail keywords. However, your success depends considerably on the quality of semantic algorithms. Unless Google releases a bona fide general artificial intelligence that understands the links between words as well as humans, you may miss opportunities to attract visitors and convert them.

Ecommerce Site Architecture

The term “site architecture” is just a technical way of saying “how you organise your site” and it’s VERY relevant for ecommerce businesses.

Why? Because poor design makes it difficult for users to find your products. It’s as simple as that.

If your architecture isn’t clear, it can also seriously hurt your SEO. A concise navigation is important, not only for your users, but for search engines to easily crawl your website.

An example of a website with a bad site architecture

Improving your site architecture helps you map the flow of users as they transition from one page to another. This process needs to be utterly seamless and intuitive – smooth even for customers who aren’t particularly computer-literate.

There’s no assumptions here. You can’t assume that your users know how to navigate your website so you need to guide them as much as possible.

Quality ecommerce websites deliver customers to relevant products in under 3 clicks. They also pay close attention to logical hierarchies, keeping things as simple as possible.

Do not arrange your product pages in a way that segregates related categories or requires more than three clicks.

Shoot for an ecommerce site architecture that simplifies, as demonstrated by the following:

An example of a good website architecture

The following is what not to do:

An example of a bas site architecture without correct links and categories

Complex structures can directly hurt SEO by making your site too deep. Remember, most of your external links forward users to your homepage or major product subcategories. As your site structure becomes more fragmented, it dilutes authority and makes your website more complex, putting your product and category pages at a disadvantage.

Please note, ecommerce keyword research may differ from blog/information search websites, although the progress is pretty much the same!

Here’s a quick run-down of best practices when designing your site architecture:

  • Products should be no more than three clicks from the homepage
  • Site architectures should be shallow to preserve good SEO
  • Site architectures should be scalable, making it easy to add new categories

How To Measure Your Success

You’ll want to measure your success using tools such as Google Analytics and the ranking reports in Ahrefs.

Google Analytics

By looking at the volume of traffic visiting particular pages and the ‘Acquisition Channels’, you’ll be able to see and filter the traffic down to those who landed on your site via the various search engines.

Ranking Tools (such as Ahrefs)

A screenshot showing where to find the Ahrefs Rank Tracker

The Ahrefs rank tracker is one of the most useful tools to have in your SEO arsenal. The rank tracker measures numerous metrics against your chosen keywords, such as the average position and top keywords that the particular product is ranking for.

Remember, it is unlikely that you will stumble upon the optimal ecommerce SEO strategy first time around. It takes time. Deploy A/B testing on your meta titles, descriptions and content to see which optimises conversions. Play around with different ideas and don’t be afraid to experiment. Learning how to do ecommerce SEO takes time. But eventually, you’ll arrive at a winning formula.

Ecommerce On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is the process of using signals to highlight to search engines that your pages contain products that are relevant to specific keywords.

As mentioned when we discussed keyword research, the more granular you can make the keywords, the better. So, instead of targeting “brown shoes,” go for something more specific, such as “tan Givenchy urban street leather sneakers.”

While you can outsource on-page SEO to third parties, there are plenty of ecommerce SEO tactics that you can implement in-house.

Check out the following steps:

Product & Category Pages

When it comes to on-page ecommerce SEO, the most burning questions usually revolve around how to optimise product and category pages. Ecommerce brands want to know how to make these as compelling as possible for both search engines and users for maximum visibility in search results.

For starters, the image you choose to accompany the page is more critical. It must accurately reflect the accompanying product data (and, ultimately, what the customer will receive). Furthermore, ecommerce stores must include clear calls-to-action and provide users with detailed product content. Descriptions need to be straight-to-the-point and avoid fluff, which may hamper the competitiveness of the page. And social proof, such as accompanying reviews, is essential.

Here are FATJOE’s top on-page ecommerce SEO tips:

Title Tags

An example of a title tag in Google SERPs

Your title tags tell Google and other search engines what heading they should display for your product and subcategory pages in SERPs. So, for instance, you could have a category page with the title tag: “Women’s Leather Shoes.” This heading would then appear as the blue hyperlinked text.

Title tags are fundamental to SEO for ecommerce because they are what users see when considering your site among the other results. The more relevant the words and syntax, the more likely they are to click the link.

Product title tags with specific long-tail keywords tend to perform better than those containing short-tail keywords. That’s because they help better forward users to relevant pages.

Adding click-magnet “modifiers,” such as “best,” “cheap,” “buy” and “deals” can also help improve click-through rates.

Top Tips For Writing Great Title Tags

  • Be specific: try to incorporate long-tail, relevant keywords.
  • Add remarkable, click-magnet modifiers to enhance appeal.
  • Experiment with word order and syntax and track results with A/B testing.
  • Use simple, clear and concise language. Avoid filler vocabulary.

Description Tags

A screenshot of a description tag shown within the SERPs of Google

Description tags are the text that appears below title tags in SERPs. They provide customers with additional information about the product, allowing them to determine whether they should visit the page quickly. Optimising them is one of the best ecommerce SEO practices.

Top Tips For Writing Great Description Tags

  • Add phrases such as “free shipping on all our products” or “this item is now on sale”.
  • Deploy “click-magnet” words (such as “best” or “cheap”) where possible.
  • Use split testing to test different descriptions, words, phrases and syntax.

URL Structure

Research suggests that URL length correlates with ranking: the longer the URL, the lower the rank.

URLs, therefore, should be short and to the point and contain keywords that describe the product on the underlying page.

A screenshot of the URL structure as shown in the Google SERPs

Here’s an example of a good URL using the shoe example discussed above:

www.shoes.co/brown-shoes/Givenchy-tan-sneakers

And here’s the same URL but including unhelpful and unnecessary information:

www.shoes.co/brown-shoes/productID:1029838482

Where possible, keep your URLs consistent with your site structure hierarchy and create an index for cross-checking. Remove unnecessary information – like productID:1029838482 – to avoid confusing customers and harming your SEO.

Top Tips For URL Structure

  • Avoid dynamic URLs and swap them for clean URLs
  • Do not include irrelevant information in your URLs
  • Use dashes between words
  • Try to include relevant keywords where possible
  • Ensure that your URLs relate to your products
  • Keep your keywords short where you can

Page Content

Research suggests that longer product descriptions are best for SEO. Ecommerce firms, therefore, should aim for 1000-word-plus where appropriate (this might not always be the case).

The reasons for this are simple: search engines crawl your pages and use data in your descriptions to figure out what your page is about (using LSI we discussed above). And users also want to know more about products for sale on your pages.

Ecommerce sites typically add page content to one of three areas:

  1. Besides the relevant product (as on sites like Amazon).
    A screenshot showing where the product description sits
  2. Underneath the product image, title, and feature bullets on the same page.
    A screenshot of the product descriptions for Amazon ecommerce products
  3. On separate category pages.
    An example of the product text sitting at the bottom of the category page

If your site sells fifty thousand products, you will need to write 1000 words for every single item. In this case, you might want to outsource your content or start with the pages that are most popular or draw the most revenue.

Remember, page content, like titles, URLs and meta descriptions, should still contain relevant keywords, even if you have a vast inventory. The more granular you can make it, the better.

If you’re not sure how to write compelling page content, you can outsource it to product description services. These write description copy, optimised titles, and meta descriptions designed to grab the attention of search engines and users alike.

Top Tips For Writing Page Content

  • Use relevant keywords throughout the content, but avoid stuffing
  • Try to create lengthy content that provides users with compelling information
  • Use content to describe the product accurately and overcome user pain points

Image Optimisation

Images are the bread and butter of ecommerce companies. It’s hard to imagine selling products without them.

A screenshot of the images on a category page of an ecommerce website

Large, heavy images look great, but they can create SEO issues.

The large files can take way too long to long and often detract from the experience. Although large images are great, you want the focus to be on the calls to action and remainder of the content on the site.

Google and others are moving over to a “page experience” ranking model. The idea is to sort pages both according to relevance and the degree to which they delight users.

Slow-loading, clumsy images hurt the user experience and so, going forward, Google will punish these pages – not good for those looking to dominate in SERPs.

So, how do you optimise images?

Step 1: Correctly Name & Label Your Images

Search engines are getting better at labelling images using AI, but they’re not perfect. Nor are they optimised. Labelling images helps to eliminate doubt, making it absolutely clear what they represent.

Make sure that you complete the alt tag. To do this, simply describe what the image displays. The Alt Text is displayed to visually impared users and can improve the information you provide search engines when they crawl your site, improving your ecommerce SEO.

Take this image from our previous example of boonsupply.com.

You’ll see here that they’ve used an image of the product in situ.

A screenshot of the Boon Supply Website showing an image of the product

Rather than keeping the image name as the standard one given by default, such as ‘DS006578.jpeg’, give the image a name based on what your users will be searching for via Google.

In this case it could be ‘Gray Black Stripe Double Folding Bin Organizer.jpeg’

Step 2: Choose Image Dimensions

A screenshot of the Opening Ceremony homepage with a landscape image

Ecommerce sites have to walk a tightrope between visual fidelity and site experience. Users love beautiful, richly-detailed images, but they also like pages to load quickly. Data suggests that if Amazon’s pages took one extra second to load, the ecommerce giant would lose $1.6 billion a year.

You should think carefully about image dimensions and the size your hosting service can support. In some cases, choosing smaller X and Y dimensions may offer a better overall UX.

Step 3: Reduce Image Size

Ideally, images should be less than 70kb.

You can reduce size using the “Save for Web” option in Adobe Photoshop. This command makes the file size as small as possible while preserving image quality. Most users can’t see the difference.

A short video showing how to optimise image for an ecommerce website via Photoshop

Free options, such as Be Funky, are available and do something similar.

Step 4: Choose The Right File Type

While PNG files were popular in the past, JPEGs are the current state-of-the-art, offering the highest fidelity for the smallest file size.

When it comes to GIFs, these files are usually quite small. Again these can be optimised for the web via Photoshop’s ‘Save for Web’ functionality.

Reviews

Reviews are essential for online retailers looking to gain traction in a crowded marketplace. Displaying reviews, for instance, can increase conversion rates by 270%. Furthermore, 68% of consumers will pay 15 per cent more for the same product on highly-rated sites.

“Review signals” are an essential ranking factor. Estimates suggest that they are the fifth most important, behind link signals, on-page SEO and location information.

Here’s an example of the review section for an Echo Dot which can be found at the bottom of the product page.

A short video showing where the product reviews can be found on Amazon pages

You’ll see from the screenshot that there are various options for posting a review. Customers have the option to include videos, text and images which promotes user generated content and makes existing customers your advocates.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is often overlooked as a strategy for ecommerce websites, but it’s vitally important.

Search engines crawl and assess your website by following the internal linking structure. If the linked pages are messy and irrelevant to the previous page, the search engine will degrade the quality of your site which can negatively impact your rankings.

Also, if you’re a brand new ecommerce business, you’ll notice that link building can be difficult without the help of an agency with existing relationships. Very few external blogging sites are willing to link to your product and category pages directly. In reality, it is often much easier to build links to informational content on your domain and then provide internal links to specific product pages. In turn, this boosts page traffic, helping improve their position in SERPs.

Top Tips For Internal Linking:

  • Prioritise your links to your highest-converting pages
  • Link to product and category pages where possible, since these are revenue-generating
  • Link using relevant keywords to signal to crawlers the content of the target page

Want more on this topic? Check out our internal linking guide to brush up your skills.

Mobile Optimisation

Since 2016, Google has been moving towards a mobile-first approach. In 2019, it implemented mobile-first indexing for all new websites, and in 2020, for all sites.

Optimising your site for mobile users is, therefore, is high up on the list of ecommerce SEO best practices.

Ideally, you want to design your pages for mobile from the ground up. Things like creating CTAs above the fold, making buttons larger, and using mobile-friendly images can all help.

Assisting with checkout and login processes is also important and can reduce friction. Adding Apple pay and other mobile-optimised POS systems improves the mobile purchasing experience.

SEO Tips For Static Pages

Invariably, ecommerce websites also play host to static pages. As you might guess, these require optimisation too. Here are some brief tips to get you started:

Homepage

  • Include titles on your homepages, not just your blogs
  • Keep your title lengths close to 60 characters
  • Include short-tail target keywords where possible

About

  • Use copy that includes both your brand name and target keywords
  • Create in-depth information that encourages link building
  • Add schema mark-up

F.A.Q’s

  • Choose the most popular frequently asked questions that relate to your products
  • Provide an answer to the questions you pose immediately. Don’t add filler
  • Perform an F.A.Q. audit and bundle semantically-related questions together
  • Google search your keywords and answer the questions beneath ‘people also ask’
    A screenshot showing the people also ask rich snippet in Google

Blog Articles

  • Fill your articles with H1, H2, and H3 headings, signalling to Google what they contain
  • Provide internal links to previous content
  • Create unique content that will encourage third-party sites to link to yours

Help Center Answers

  • Create answers that bloggers influencers can link to when providing troubleshooting content to their audience
  • Make your answers informative, unique and the go-to resource online

Contact

  • Ensure that contact details (address, email and telephone number) on your about page match those in other places across the internet (such as social media and directories)
  • Add Google Maps to your contact page – great for helping mobile users
  • Add some interesting content about your ecommerce business and provide special instructions for users to find you.

Ecommerce Technical SEO

Technical SEO is used to refer to the backend operations that encourage pages to rank well in SERPs. These days there is considerable overlap between it and on-page SEO, and the lines continue to blur.

Importantly, technical SEO isn’t actually particularly technical, despite the name. You don’t need a PhD to understand, or a background in coding.

At root, technical SEO seeks to adapt websites to make them easy for search engines to crawl. Cleaning URLs, removing stacked redirects, and correcting internal linking are all a part of the process.

Technical SEO is also concerned with improving user experience and increasing site speed.

Why is it important? Because when you get it right, you can increase site speed and UX and dramatically boost your ranking.

How To Run A Technical SEO Audit

The purpose of a technical ecommerce SEO strategy audit is three-fold.

First, gives you a snapshot of the current state of your site and its standing with regard to SEO.

Second, it allows you to create a checklist of things you need to do to improve the performance of your site.

And, third, it lets you generate stellar results with the least possible effort.

Fortunately, you don’t have to learn how to do ecommerce SEO audits manually. There are a host of tools out there to assist you which we discuss below. Essentials include:

  • Copyscape (to ensure that you’re not duplicating content from other domains – or the other way around!)
    A screenshot of the duplicate content checker on Copyscape
  • Ahrefs (for eyeballing your competition, keyword research and monitoring your ranking)
    A screenshot of the Ahrefs keyword checker
  • Google Analytics (for all things SEO and keyword-related)
    A screenshot of the main Google Analytics page
  • Title Tag Width Checker (to check that your title tags and meta descriptions fit on their own lines)
    A screenshot of the Search Wilderness Title Tag Checker
  • SERP Simulator (for showing you precisely how your pages will appear in results before going live)
    A screenshot of the SERP simulator
  • Google PageSpeed Insights (for measuring things like how long it takes images to load)
    A short video showing how to do a Google Page Speed Test

How To Fix Common SEO Issues

Mostly, you’ll face a standard set of technical SEO issues. Read on to find out more and get ecommerce SEO tips to solve them.

Slow Loading Speed

Slow loading speed is a problem because, as we discussed earlier, it can lead to SEO issues and poor user experience. Radware collected data that suggested that a two-second delay in load time increased cart abandonment rates by 87%.

As mentioned, you can check your website’s page speed using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This free tool will not only give you a score, but it’ll even spit back some great feedback regarding what you can do to your site to improve.

A short video showing how to do a Google Page Speed Test

There are several ways to improve page loading speed. The first and most obvious is to remove unnecessary elements from your pages. Things like data-heavy background images are an excellent place to start. You can also conduct a plug-in audit, checking that you’re genuine getting value from your add-ons. Remember, the more plug-ins you add to sites like WordPress, the unwieldy you make the backend.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is a problem for several reasons. First, search engines don’t know which version of the page to include in their index. Second, they don’t know which page to direct link metrics (anchor texts, trust, authority and so on). And finally, they don’t know which pages to rank in query results.

Ecommerce sites often run into this issue when duplicating specific product pages for inclusion across multiple categories.

Fortunately, fixing duplicate content is easy. Ahrefs, for instance, offers a tool in Site Audit > Internal Pages > Content Quality. Here you can map your pages and see a visual representation of duplicates.

If there is no need to have two identical pages, you can redirect one to the other and then delete it.

However, if there is a good reason for it, then you can use a canonical link, telling Google which page you want it to index.

What Is A Canonical Link?
A canonical tag is a small snippet of code that you place around a URL that contains duplicate content. Although not ideal, duplicate content across web pages is sometimes necessary. In this instance, adding a rel=”canonical” tag helps to tell search engines which web page is the ‘master’ and which you want to be ranking.

Orphaned Pages (Those Without Internal Links)

So let’s start by answering the question, what are orphaned pages?
Orphaned pages are those that don’t have any internal links to them.

Orphaned pages are an ecommerce SEO best practices issue because search engine site crawlers rely on following internal links to navigate around the website. The crawlers, therefore, can’t find orphan pages through existing site links.

For ecommerce sites, this could be a new product page that hasn’t been assigned a category or a buying guide that hasn’t been correctly added to the blog page. Ecommerce companies, therefore, can often wind up creating a bunch of pages that nobody ever finds.

How do you find these pages?

Fortunately, you can use Ahrefs to find pages without internal links relatively easily.

Go to Site Audit > Data Explorer > Inlinks = 0 > Is valid (200) internal HTML page = Yes. This search option will spit back all the pages on your site with no internal links. Once you find them, you can either add them to your existing site page hierarchy or delete them.

HTTP Pages

Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP. HTTP is the simple protocol used to send unsecure data between a web browser and a website.

Although HTTP was once the standard protocol, it has since been superseded by HTTPS – a better version with enhanced security. By security, we mean for your customer’s data and against spammers. HTTPS is particularly important for ecommerce websites which require customers to enter their payment information.

Google prefers the new standard because of the added security that it offers and prioritises these in search results.

However, it’s surprising how many ecommerce sites are still using HTTP. This can cause some major SEO headaches as you plough time and energy into improving your SEO, yet see no ranking improvements.

Fortunately, you don’t have to rebuild your site (and all your hard-won SEO) from scratch to switch to HTTPS. Simply set up server-side 301 redirects to funnel search engines and users towards your new HTTPS pages.

404 Redirects

Ecommerce pages change all the time. Products come and go, and you’ll regularly find yourself deleting pages for old lines.

Unfortunately, users can still click links that exist elsewhere and arrive on these pages, only to find that they no longer exist. When they do, the browser will display a 404 error – a great way to wreck the user experience.

A screenshot of the cool 404 page from Blizzard showcasing their brand personality

Your best bet here is to set up a 301 redirect to a new, but related page. You’ll retain around 90 per cent of the SEO following this strategy, and you’ll avoid harming your UX.

However, sometimes a 404 error page is required. When this happens, it’s best to design a great page that helps to retain your customers, points them in a new direction or communicates your values and personality, like the Blizzard example above.

Schema Markup

Schema markup simply refers to improving the richness of information search engines display when users type in keywords related to your site. For instance, some ecommerce businesses include third-party review information under their title tags to encourage higher click-through rates.

A screenshot showing an example of a search result with schema markup vs. one without schema markup

Google loves schema markups because it benefits from the extra data. Schema helps the search giant identify whether your content is a product page, category page, blog, or static webpage. And it makes your entry more attractive in Google SERPs, increasing clicks.

The easiest way, in our opinion, to add Schema to your website is via the free WordPress Plugin. Simply head to ‘Plugins’ on the left Dashboard Menu and click ‘Add New’.

A screenshot showing where to add a new plugin to WordPress

Search for ‘Schema’ and click ‘Install Now’

A screenshot of the schema plugin

Follow the instructions within the plugin to add your markups.

Below, we’ve selected the schema that are most relevant to ecommerce sites, what they do, and how you can add them to your site.

Product Pages

  • Product Schema. A product schema provides product-related rich snippets to users in both regular and image search. You can use them to provide extra information, such as the product’s name, related images and price.
  • Review Schema. Review schema is a powerful way to leverage social proof directly in search results by placing review scores for products directly in SERPs. You can either install the plug-in as shown above, or follow this Google guide and use HTML.
  • Product Availability Schema. This schema shows users whether a product is in stock, out of stock, or available for pre-order. Here you can use a set of values defined by schema.org and express it with a URL link in the markup.

General Site

  • Breadcrumb Schema. Breadcrumb schema indicates a page’s position in the site hierarchy. Google will often display these underneath the title tag, allowing users to instantly navigate from the last breadcrumb to pages one step up the hierarchy in SERPs. Again, you can add these by adding structured data to your webpages, providing Google with data it needs to update its SERPs.

Contact Page

  • Business Details Schema. This schema lets Google display pertinent business information, such as opening hours, business departments and reviews when users search for your business on Google Search or Maps. As with other schema discussed above, you can use JSON-LD on your website backend. Google shows you how to do this here.

Later on in the article, we also show you how to use Google’s structured data marker helper which pretty much does what it says on the tin: helps you to mark up your data in a way that’s more structured for search engines to read.

Ecommerce Link Building

Google cares about two ranking factors more than anything else for ecommerce SEO:
1. Content.
2. Links.

In the old days, links were the primary tool the search giant used to determine site quality. Links are still immensely important if you hope to reach #1 in those SERPs!

What Is Link Building?

Link building is the process of generating reliable links from third-party sites to pages on your own. The higher the number and quality of links, the more authority Google ascribes to your site and the better your performance in SERPs.

What Are The Different Link Types?

There are a variety of different types of links that you should be securing as part of your ecommerce link building strategy.

Securing a variety of different backlinks, such as both nofollow and dofollow, goes toward ensuring that your link portfolio is as natural as possible.

We’ll discuss each link building type in more detail, but here is a simple list of the link building strategies:

  • Blogger Outreach
  • Niche Edits
  • Local Business Citations
  • Multilingual Link Building
  • Press Release Distribution
  • Infographic Outreach
  • Outreach Boost

Ecommerce Linking Building Tips

When we discuss how to build links to your ecommerce website, you’ll notice that the strategies are pretty similar to those we’d suggest for other websites.

However, there are a few specific things to consider as an online business. Here are a few tips, specifically for ecommerce sites.

Improve Your DA

DA stands for Domain Authority and is a metric developed by Moz to signify the quality of a website. If your website has a low DA score, your link building efforts won’t have their full effect. To improve the DA of your ecommerce site, first focus on building quality links to your homepage. Remember, quality over quantity.

Improving your website’s DA will also help to drive a steady volume of initial traffic to your site. This will forge a solid foundation from which to build upon.

Build Links To Category Pages

Our next tip is to focus on building links to your category pages over product pages.

“But wait! I’m trying to sell specific products! Shouldn’t I be building links to these pages?”

The answer is yes… and no.

Although it’s tempting to plough straight into building links to your most popular or margin-rich products, the most effective long term strategy is to focus on your category pages.

Building links to product pages will be an effective ecommerce seo link building strategy if these products are evergreen.

However, it’s often best to direct your customers to a filtered category page that presents them with options. It also allows you the flexibility to add and remove products without negatively impacting all your link building efforts.

This could mean creating a ‘top selling’ category, building links to this page and displaying all your most popular products here.

Correctly Label Duplicate Content

As an ecommerce site with potentially thousands of products, it can often be challenging to ensure that all your content and copy is unique.

If not labelled correctly, duplicate content can confuse search engines as they don’t know which is the page they should index and display in the SERPs.

Beyond this, search engines can also see the lack of unique content as being untrustworthy and often spammy if not labelled as a duplicate or linking to the original source with a canonical tag.

Bear in mind that duplicate content could mean that you’re cannibalizing your own growth. If you have multiple pages ranking for a particular keyword, you may be missing out on the opportunity to rank at the top. As 31.2% of all search-related clicks go to the top site, you could be missing a great opportunity to grab those conversions!

If you’re struggling to create completely unique, SEO optimised product descriptions for your ecommerce site, check out our Product Description writing service. Check it out here.

Fix Broken Links

Broken links are common on ecommerce sites. You’ve spent a lot of time, effort and money investing in building links to a particular product, only for it to be discontinued a year later.

However, if a potential customer enters your site through one of the many backlinks you’d secured, only to be hit by a broken page, it’s not a great first impression.

As hundreds of products come and go, it’s often difficult to manage 301 redirects and canonical tags. There are a number of tools you can use to help you stay on top of all your broken links.

You can check for broken links by running a site audit on Ahrefs. Follow the steps in ‘How to do a Website Crawl’

A screenshot of the Ahrefs health score report once you've ran a site audit

It’ll return an ‘Overview’ of your website’s health.

From here, you can head to ‘All Issues’ in the left menu bar. This will show you a breakdown of all the errors found on your website.

We don’t have any broken links (woo!). However, this is where we’d see any errors that have been flagged for our site. If something has flagged and you’re not sure what it means, you can click on each individual error for a definition and overview of how it can be improved or fixed.

A screenshot of the explanation for 404 errors on the Ahrefs site audit report

Ecommerce Link Building Strategies

Now let’s take a look at the various strategies available to enhance your Ecommerce SEO.

Blogger Outreach

Blogger Outreach is when you contact websites of a similar nature and create content for their website for a backlink or two in return.

You write content specifically for that blog, filling a content gap in their tone of voice, whilst linking to your website.

A diagram showing how blogger outreach works for ecommerce SEO

This type of link building comes in the form of non-promotional content. Links that are naturally embedded within the main body of the content are more valuable than a separate link elsewhere. This is because Google is smart and can tell the difference between a natural and forced backlink.

We’re not saying that all links outside of the content are bad, but in-content links are more valuable.

Ecommerce top tip: reach out to a blog focusing on providing more information about your product/service. For example, if you sell upholstery for campervan conversions, reach out to websites offering camper conversion tips and advice. Offer to write a killer article relating to your speciality. This will add value to their blog and score you a backlink or two!

Did you know that we have built strong relationships with quality bloggers all over the world? You can take advantage of our connections through our Blogger Outreach service. Check it out here.

Niche Edits

A diagram showing how niche edits work for ecommerce SEO

Niche edits are similar to Blogger Outreach, only the content already exists. This is a strategy with which you reach out to bloggers with existing content relevant to your niche and ask them to link to your website.

Why should they do this?

Because your ecommerce site can provide their readers with the product in question. Every quality blogger aims to provide their readers with value, this includes directing them to stores to buy the products they’re suggesting.
To make the offer even more tempting, you could find ways to improve the post by showing off your expertise. Write a paragraph or two that fills a content gap and adds even more value.

We can help you achieve natural links in established blog posts. Click here to take a look at our service.

Local Business Citations

If you’re a local online business operating in the local area, building links can become more difficult. However, there are plenty of local business citation websites that can host your NAP (Name, Address, Postcode) details alongside a link to your website.

This is how local citations work:

A diagram showing how Local Citations work for ecommerce SEO

Attaining local citations is pretty straightforward. You simply reach out to local citation websites and provide them with your information to be posted on their website. Sometimes you’ll be given a login to add this yourself, other times they’ll do it for you. Either way, it’s likely that not many of your competitors are link building at all so you’ll more easily grab an advantage.

With 100% manual submissions and a full submission report, we’ve got you covered with our Local Citations service.

Multilingual Link Building

Multilingual link building is vital for worldwide companies, or at least ecommerce businesses selling in numerous countries, and is possibly something you hadn’t considered.

A diagram showing how Multilingual blogger outreach works for ecommerce SEO

Like Blogger Outreach, Multilingual Outreach is a natural, in-content link building strategy. The difference is that content is written in local languages, which extends your reach & improves your ranking opportunities in those particular countries.

Craft the perfect blog post, written in the target local language, and make sure this relates both to the blog owners audience and includes a natural in-content editorial style link-mention.

Build links in Italy, Spain, France and more with our *NEW* Multilingual Blogger Outreach Service. Check it out here.

Press Release Distribution

A diagram showing how press release distribution works for ecommerce SEO

This strategy is great if you have plenty of newsworthy products to talk about. Press Release distribution differs slightly from the other strategies as it may not get you links directly.

However, promoting your story means that it’s likely to get picked up by a variety of media outlets. They will spread your story for you, raising awareness for your brand and you’ll be raking in the links in return.

Press release distribution will go a large way toward securing many more links that you wouldn’t have otherwise gained.

Check out our Press Release Distribution Service where we syndicate your content across 100,000+ journalists and 350+ news outlets.

Infographic Outreach

Infographics are a sharable, engaging form of content. Outreaching using an infographic you’ve created works similarly to guest posting. Here’s how:

A diagram showing how infographic outreach works for ecommerce SEO

Infographics are particularly great for sharing interesting facts and figures surrounding your product or industry. If your ecommerce product or the story surrounding it is complex, an infographic can be a great, visual way to communicate the subject.

To capitalise on your great design, simply share your infographic with other websites in your niche and offer to write some text introducing and describing your infographic, all for a link in return.

Are you looking for an engaging, branded infographic for your business? Not only do we offer Infographic Design, we also offer an Infographic Outreach service!

Outreach Boost

Do you have products or content that are bringing in a lot of traffic and ranking well? An outreach boost might be just what you need.

For this ecommerce SEO strategy, you distribute your best content and products to news and media outlets. These websites publish your exact content with a canonical tag and link back to the original source.

A diagram showing how outreach boost works for ecommerce SEO

As the content is pre-existing and has a proven track record, you know that it is engaging and worth sharing.

The result? A nice mix of natural dofollow and nofollow links for your business.

Did you know that we can boost your content for you? You can take advantage of our connections through our Outreach Boost service. Check it out here.

Skyscraper Outreach

A great option for those smaller online companies who maybe aren’t as comfortable with, skyscraper outreach is a similar strategy to niche edits. You may choose this if you don’t have the resources to create long articles or guest posts, but want to generate some link juice.

A diagram showing how skyscraper outreach works for ecommerce SEO

By using a backlink analysis tool, you can find content containing links to your competitors. Reach out to the website owner and ask them to link to you too. They’re more likely to agree to the proposition if you can provide some added value to the post.

Where this is different to niche edits is that you know the site owner is likely to link to your website, given that they’d already agreed to link to a competitor!

Our Niche Edits service is very similar to Skyscraper Outreach! Find out more about our Niche Edits service here.

Do you want to know more about Link Building & how you can boost your SEO through various link building strategies? Click here to check out our detailed guide.

Bonus Ecommerce Link Strategies

Social Media & Influencers

Online clothing retailer ASOS, for instance, took the lead in the fashion industry with its ecommerce SEO strategy by empowering relevant influencers to build links on the company’s behalf. It provided them with ASOS-branded accounts and asked them to post posing in the company’s clothing.
The instagram profile of ASOS Sophia, an ASOS influencer who has a dedicated ASOS account

Social media links do not improve organic rankings by themselves. But the campaign created knock-on effects that generated additional, genuine links from authority sites with fashion interests, such as Guardian.com.

A short video showing a natural backlink in a Guardian Fashion article

Thus, your site could boost link-building considerably by reaching out to relevant influencers, providing them with branded accounts, and then asking them to spread the word.

Men’s cosmetics brand Bulldog tried a different tactic.

A screenshot of the Bulldog website

First, it used SEO tools to see which bloggers had links to its rivals. Then, it sent them sample products for them to review. Bloggers then linked back to Bulldog’s product pages, giving the brand an immediate SEO boost.

Again, you can do the same. Search for competitor links using tools like Ahrefs, find relevant bloggers, and send them your products. Encourage them to post reviews with links to your site and you’re on your way!

 

Ecommerce Local SEO

Most ecommerce websites operate nationally or internationally, without a brick-and-mortar location where customers can collect goods in person.

However, some retailers operate a hybrid model, offering both online sales and physical shopfronts. For these enterprises, local SEO is essential.

An example of the SERPS for local SEO - A pizza restaurant in Chicago

Local SEO is the process of improving your search ranking for users in a specific geographic area, drawing attention and traffic to the physical store.

Most ecommerce companies don’t target local keywords. So there are often ample opportunities to attract nearby users and corner the market.

Google My Business (GMB) is arguably the key ranking factor for local SEO. GMB is essentially a facility that you use to provide Google with crucial information about your business. The better you can optimise it, the more likely you are to place well in the ranking.

A screenshot of Google My Business

How do you optimise GMB? Simple! Just follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Set up your GMB listing. If your business is new, you’ll need to set up your GMB listing. Usually, this involves applying for an account and then confirming your physical address using a code Google sends in the mail. If your business has been around for a while, you may already have a GMB listing. In which case, you simply need to search for it on the GMB platform and claim it.
  2. Add service-area details. Once you confirm your business with Google, the next step is to edit your service area. You can do this under the Manage Location option. Providing this information tells Google which local searches are relevant to your business, and which aren’t.
  3. Publish your listing. The next step is to enter data into all relevant fields for your business. Local ecommerce SEO tends to favour companies that provide the most information. When doing this, be sure to take the opportunity to insert your keywords. Also check that your business operating hours, phone and address are consistent across all platforms (such as local directories and social media).
  4. Add photos. Including photos is one of the most critical ecommerce SEO tips. Google suggests that you use a square logo image to help customers identify with your brand. You should also add a cover photo and additional pictures highlighting the standout features of your business.
  5. Monitor your GMB listing. Once you’ve fleshed out your GMB listing, the final step is to monitor it and gather insights. Google offers a service called Insights that shows you important information, such as where customers found your listing (Search or Maps, for example), and what they do once they find it. The search queries tools, for instance, shows you what users searched for to find your business on Google. You can use this information to create better content and ads to reach your customers.

Local SEO for ecommerce is, therefore, a vital ingredient for some ecommerce retailers who stand to benefit from forwarding customers to nearby brick-and-mortar stores. For more on local SEO, check out our “What is Local SEO?” post.

Ecommerce Content Marketing

Content marketing is the practice of creating blogs, videos, social media posts and other media to generate interest in your products.

Part of the video FATJOE created for the new Multilingual Link Building Service

Content marketing is one of the most potent forms of marketing in the world – and invaluable for ecommerce SEO.

72% of content marketers say that content marketing increases both engagement and leads.

Furthermore, year-over-year growth of unique site traffic is 7.8% higher for content market leaders, compared to companies that do not consider it a priority.

No wonder ecommerce businesses are interested!

It’s crucial for ecommerce sites for many reasons, including improving your SEO, reaching out to new customers, improving brand awareness and transforming prospects into conversions.

When you have quality, product-related content on your site it boosts SEO. Users have more reasons to visit you and external sites have incentives to link to your pages.

Generally, a good ecommerce SEO strategy lets you attract visitors to your site and encourages them to spend.

Blog Posts & Buying Guides

As far as ecommerce SEO tips go, maintaining a blog is one of the most important. Nothing is more effective at providing your customers with in-depth information for overcoming their pain points.

Educational articles, for instance, can instruct visitors on how to use your products and get the most out of them. Other types of posts can help users make up their minds about whether they can benefit from your products or not. (Many won’t know before reaching your site). The more information you offer, the more confidence they will have to remain in the buying cycle.

An example of a blog on an ecommerce website

Blogs are also critical for internal link building. As we discussed above, creating information-rich posts and then linking them to relevant products provides search engines with contextual information about what’s on your product pages. Ecommerce SEO best practices, therefore, typically involve creating multiple internal links from your articles to your products.

IMPORTANT: Keyword research is just as essential for blog content as it is product pages.

Keyword research plays a vital role in producing evergreen content. Ideally, you want your posts to appeal to timeless themes, attracting visitors for months and, hopefully, years to come.

If, for instance, you find that users are asking Google specific questions related to your products, you can use them as blog titles and provide answers. Without keyword research, you wouldn’t know how to prioritise your content strategy.

Ideas include:

  • Buying guides
  • Product reviews
  • How to
  • Product set up guides

The content should be written to provide value. Keywords should be included naturally within the context of the posts.

Targeting Rich Snippets

Rich snippets are nuggets of information that Google displays directly in SERPs to provide users with more information about your site. These can include review information, images, dates, locations and more.

An image highlighting the various types of rich snippets that can be displayed in some Google searches

Learning how to do ecommerce SEO with rich snippets is important. Unfortunately, Google won’t display them automatically in search results, based on the information it gleans from your HTML. But communicating this data isn’t as difficult as you might imagine.

How, you ask? Simple. Google offers a tool called the Structured Data Markup Helper.

A screenshot of the Google Structured Data Helper (Schema Markup Helper)

First, you publish your content. Then you use the tool to label your content according to the in-built snippet categories retrospectively. In this case, you’ll want to make heavy use of the “Products” category, telling Google you’re selling online.

You can use your content to target more generic featured snippets too.

Google uses these to provide users with information within SERPs themselves, without requiring them to click through to the source page. Featured snippets are an essential part of SEO for ecommerce because of how they increase the prominence of your pages in SERPs. Often, Google will generate a large callout at the top of the page, with the contents of the article listed below.

Best practices for qualifying for featured snippets include:

  • Answering user questions on your content concisely in a way they can understand
  • Providing novel or unique statistics related to a particular query
  • Providing helpful list-based articles with clear headings Google can use to create a quick run-down of the contents
  • Monitoring the performance of your snippets
  • Updating snippets with images to make them even more attention-grabbing
  • Using hub articles to answer multiple similar questions

Ebooks & Guides

Your commerce business can also use downloadable content to extend the information offered on web pages. Ebooks and guides are a great way to offer users in-depth information about niche topics in your area that they can’t get elsewhere.

A screenshot of the downloadable ebooks available on search engine journal

Although not an ecommerce website, Search Engine Journal is a great example of what you can create to encourage leads and provide additional value to your users!

These types of documents can be easily translated into a valuable resource for customers of ecommerce businesses. Most ecommerce brands use them as a data collection mechanism for marketing purposes. However, don’t discount their other SEO benefits. They also encourage visitors to engage with your website and help foster respect for your brand.

Tone Of Voice & Language

When you interact with a new colleague in person, their tone of voice and choice of language affects how you perceive them.

The same is true of customers when they consume your content!

Innocent Smoothie are a great example of how the tone of voice can impact your brand. They use a great balance of humor and understanding. They use relatable phrases and don’t shy away from discussing real-time issues.

highlighting the language and tone of voice used by Innocent Smoothie on their website homepage

It works really well for them as they often have content that goes viral with many positive reactions. Thus, choosing a tone that resonates is critical and vital to attracting and retaining your customer’s attention.

But how do you do that?

First, take note of where your audience spends the bulk of their time online (YouTube, Reddit, Instagram, Facebook and so on). Then research the kind of language and tone people use on these sites, looking out for particular words and phrases.

For example, if you’re a teen fashion brand, you’d be monitoring the latest trends and phrases and mimicking these cleverly within your content.

Once you’ve got a list of words, apply them throughout your content marketing strategy. Be sure to include them naturally and consistently within your core branding or you risk coming off as inauthentic.

Pacsun’s description, describing the top as ‘giving off fall vibes’ is a great example of how to include some targeted vocabulary within your product descriptions in a natural way.

An image highlighting the language used by Pacsun to target teenage girls

Social Media

Adding social sharing to your product pages is something we strongly recommend. These buttons potentially let your customers promote your products on social platforms for free. No – it won’t affect your ranking directly, but having a more engaging page will.

An example of social sharing buttons that can be added to your ecommerce product pages

The more people that share your content, the more users you’ll drive to your website. The increased volume of visitors and longer dwell time will count toward increasing your position in the SERPs.

You can also gain leads via social media directly by optimising your profile. Ensure that it gives prospective customers all the information they need to contact you. Provide the links to your shop, newsletter and other content that might interest them to carry them down the funnel to conversion.

Video Content

Video content is perhaps the biggest ecommerce SEO surprise of them all. Users love scrolling down product pages to find videos of items they intend to purchase in action. They let them experience products before they buy, increasing dwell time and differentiating the host site from its competitors.

A screenshot of a product page video

Cotswold Outdoor, for instance, includes videos of products within the regular image gallery. Users just click the video icon, and a player instantly pops up filling the browser, providing an in-depth look at the product – perhaps a tent or a pair of walking boots.

Fashion retailer Net-A-Porter does something similar, providing clickable video thumbnails alongside the usual image gallery on the left-hand side of the browser window.

An example of the net-a-porter product page with a short video of the product

Interestingly, the video is hosted on the retailers’ site, preventing it from being shared or viewed elsewhere.

Adding videos to your product pages is relatively straightforward. The simplest method is to use a video embed snipped and then add it to your featured image column. Here’s what to do:

  1. Get your YouTube embed code. To do this, click the Share button under the video player and then click on the embed sub-link.
    a short video showing how to get an embed code for a YouTube video for your ecommerce website
  2. Copy the embed snippet and paste it into your product alt text box. The size of the video does not matter and will automatically resize to fit your featured image column.

Please note that some platforms, such as Shopify, allow you to run either YouTube or native HTML5 videos in your product gallery. You will need to check your ecommerce platform first to find out which options are available to you.

Ecommerce SEO By Platform

Ecommerce platforms are useful because they offer online retailers a shiny, helpful platform that makes setting up a store incredibly easy. However, as a pre-built platform, there is often some confusion regarding the level of power you have to take the bull by the horns and optimise your website yourself.

Every platform offers some level of customisation with regards to ecommerce SEO. As you learn how to do ecommerce SEO, you will discover that there are differences between the platforms – and these can be significant.

For newcomers, choosing a platform that chimes with their ecommerce SEO strategy is a challenge. Often, you don’t discover the limitations of a particular service until you’re already neck-deep in it after uploading thousands of product images.

Furthermore, you can’t always apply generic ecommerce SEO tips across platforms. Fundamental differences in how they work often make this more complicated.

Fortunately for you, we’ve separated this guide to provide tips by the provider. This way, you can cut through the waffle and get to the juicy information you need.

Shopify SEO

Shopify is perhaps the most famous ecommerce platform on the market today and perfect for beginners with no coding experience. It’s easy to use, built with blogging in mind and Google Analytics-ready.

a screenshot of the Shopify homepage

Shopify SEO for ecommerce, however, can be a challenge. You can’t change your URLs, and you don’t have access to your robot.txt files to tell search engines how to crawl your site.

With these limitations in mind, here are our Shopify SEO tips:

  • Add relevant researched keywords to your Shopify page titles, ALT tags, meta descriptions and body content. Create a Shopify SEO checklist ensuring you hit all your site content.
  • Use Shopify SEO tools, such as MozBar for link metrics or Screaming Frog to crawl your site for errors.
  • Optimise your site structure to facilitate better navigation. Ensure meta titles describe your contents. Menu items should follow logically from each other. And every page should have a link to store navigation
  • Submit your sitemap to third-party domains, such as Google and Pinterest. Shopify stores sitemaps in the root directory of your store under the sitemap.xml suffix. Uploading this to search engines makes it easier for them to index your site – especially important when you can’t alter your URLs manually.
  • Hide duplicate and store pages using robot.txt. Shopify doesn’t always do this automatically.

Magento SEO

Magento is a challenging yet highly customisable platform: great for companies wanting to implement comprehensive ecommerce SEO best practices. The complexity of this platform makes it popular among larger ecommerce enterprises with existing expertise.

A screenshot of the Magento homepage

Magento SEO is excellent because users can delve down into the source code and create pages from the ground up. However, it relies on knowledge of coding languages. We wouldn’t recommend this platform if you don’t have any experience with coding, but it’s a great option if you do and want plenty of customisation options.

Here are our Magento SEO tips:

  • Upgrade to the latest version of Magento (Magento 2). It offers leaner code and bug fixes that improve the user experience.
  • Enable search-friendly URLs in Magento 2. Do this in Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization.
  • Use Magento’s in-built canonical tag option to solve duplicate content issues. Find this option in Stores > Configuration > Catalog > Search Engine Optimization. Set the Canonical link Meta Tags for Categories and Products to “Yes”
  • Use a Magento SEO extension, such as the Magento 2 SEO Extension by BSS Commerce or the Advanced SEO Suite by Mirasvit. These allow you to manage SEO for all pages, control redirects quickly, get SEO analyses of your pages and get advanced, rich snippets.

Amazon SEO

Screenshot of the Amazon homepage

Amazon SEO works differently from Google’s. Product descriptions must match keywords users type into the Amazon search bar and Amazon prioritises results most likely to result in a sale.

With this in mind, here are our Amazon SEO tips:

  • Focus on long-tail keywords (queries that contain three or more words). Download free Amazon SEO tools, such as Sonar, to help generate popular keywords people use on the platform.
  • Pay attention to your reviews. If you get negative feedback, use this to improve your product, quality control and so on. Remember, Amazon generally promotes products that have a large number of positive reviews between four and five stars.
  • Use the correct title format. Titles should include the brand name followed by the colour/flavour/variant of the product, then size/quantity and selected keywords. Amazon provides official guidance on how to choose the correct title structure for your products.

BigCommerce SEO

BigCommerce originally became popular for the fact that people could use the platform to set up their stores without having to know any code. Since then, its success has grown thanks to its SEO-friendliness and flexibility.

A screenshot of the BigCommerce homepage

BigCommerce SEO revolves around several core features, including native 301 redirects, mobile-friendly backend, and the ability to edit your .txt file. It also offers plenty of benefits in the user experience department – such as offering dozens of payment methods.

There are, however, some downsides. Looking at some ecommerce forums, it has been reported by a number of users that their pages load slowly..

With this in mind, here are our BigCommerce SEO tips:

  • Choose BigCommerce’s default mobile theme. This tool automatically creates a responsive mobile version of your site.
  • Optimise your site speed and improve your technical SEO. Use speed test tools to see whether your pages load quickly. If they don’t, use methods to speed up your pages such as using smaller images and website compression, removing unnecessary plugins and avoiding extra scripts. Then rerun the tests to see if there are any improvements.
  • Edit your robot.txt file on BigCommerce to tell search engines how to crawl your site. Ensure that your site architecture makes hierarchical and logical sense.

Please note, as this Bigcommerce SEO reviewer points out, the platform becomes more expensive as you grow your revenue.

WooCommerce SEO

A screenshot of the WooCommerce Homepage

WooCommerce isn’t a standalone platform like Shopify. Instead, it’s a plugin that works within WordPress – the world’s most popular website platform and content management system.

WooCommerce offers among the best ecommerce SEO, with features such as built-in blogging and mobile-friendliness. Furthermore, the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin gives you detailed information on the performance of your site you can use to improve it.

Here are our tips for effective Yoast WooCommerce SEO:

  • Install the Yoast SEO plugin. This actively offers suggestions on how to use your pages and shows you the right keywords to attract and convert leads.
  • Enable breadcrumbs and ensure that users can see them on all your pages. These allow users to see where they have been and let them navigate back up your site hierarchy. Plus, it makes it easier for Google to crawl your site for SEO purposes.
  • Choose an SEO-friendly URL structure, instead of generic product IDs. Go to your WordPress dashboard then Settings > Permalinks. Then choose from a set of common tags or use a custom structure.

Final Thoughts

So what is ecommerce SEO? And why does it matter?

Ultimately, ecommerce SEO is a strategy you can use to boost conversions, gain clicks, and improve the online visibility of your store and products in SERPs.

It matters because of the impact on your business fundamentals. Stores that learn how to do ecommerce SEO correctly can grow their revenues faster, achieve higher marketing ROI and build more influential brands.

Ecommerce SEO strategy is, in many ways, core to online retail business models. No form of marketing is better for differentiating your enterprise and encouraging shoppers to choose you over your rivals.

Following the ecommerce SEO tips discussed in this article and optimising your site can yield some extraordinary benefits. These include:

  • Improving the user experience by enhancing the usability of your site
  • Reducing your paid search costs by relying less on ads and more on organic traffic for product visibility
  • Creating lasting value that ensures the long-term performance of your product pages
  • Completing the marketing funnel, guiding users from the initial research stage to final conversion
  • Driving brand recognition, trust, loyalty and authority
  • Expanding your remarketing audience by increasing the number of searchers finding you through organic channels
  • Capturing high-value, intent-driven long-tail queries most likely to convert

One of the best ecommerce SEO tips when creating content is to make it “link-worthy”. Conduct research and then create original articles (with plenty of stats) that authority sites will link to organically.

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