Is your online store languishing on page two (or worse) of Google’s search results? If so, ecommerce search engine optimization is your ticket to organically reaching new customers. While returning shoppers are likely to visit your site directly, and other browsers may come across your store via social media or advertising, SEO plays a crucial role in connecting new customers with your website at a purchase-ready point in time. Read on for ecommerce search engine optimization best practices that will help boost your store to the all-important first page of search results.
Why does search engine optimization matter in ecommerce?
If you already invest in brand or store awareness through various marketing channels, you may be wondering if it’s worth putting time and effort into SEO, as well. After all, ecommerce search engine optimization has a reputation for being a long game – it’s not a strategy you can reap benefits from overnight.
But, if you think about the nature of shoppers who find your store on Google, the value of SEO quickly becomes apparent. Yes, loyal customers will search for your store name and quickly reach your homepage. Others, however, may not be familiar with your site, and instead encounter your store in their search for a specific product.
This presents value in two ways: the first is that you are organically reaching a shopper who might never have discovered your site otherwise; and the second is that you are presenting your products to this shopper at the precise moment when they are highly motivated to buy.
Think about it. A person who opens Google and inputs a specific search for something like “black leather dress shoes” is in the market to purchase said pair of shoes, and they probably want to do so quickly. This shopper is more likely to convert than someone who is in the mood to browse and simply searches for “shoe shopping,” for example.
The good news is, it’s much easier to rank highly on search engine result pages for these more specific, long-tail keywords. Ready to learn how?
6 Steps to improve ecommerce search engine optimization
Follow these ecommerce search engine optimization best practices to organically reach new shoppers.
1. Choose keywords carefully
Before you can optimize your site, you need to know which keywords to target. Take your time researching the most popular search terms for your vertical. Google and Amazon are free and easy places to start, while a variety of paid keyword research tools can also be found online. When selecting your target terms, make sure to strike a balance between popularity and competition. High volume search terms are great, but only if you can realistically rank for them.
2. Optimize meta and alt tags
With your chosen keywords in mind, make sure your target terms for each page are placed in the meta title, meta description, and image and video alt tags. Just because shoppers don’t necessarily read this copy, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be descriptive and accurate. Incorporating the focus keyword in the page URL is also a good idea. All of these small steps help Google to discern how relevant your page is to the searching shopper.
3. Pay special attention to faceted navigation SEO
Faceted navigation is a unique ecommerce search engine optimization consideration, and not one to be overlooked. Consider the many category page variations that can occur when a shopper uses your product filters. What begins as a page of men’s shoes, quickly gets more complicated when the results are refined by size, color, brand, and material. While highly specific, allowing these pages to be “searchable” on Google isn’t always a good idea. For one, you’ll blow through your crawl budget in no time. That’s before you even consider the duplicate content implications. Read up on the details of faceted navigation SEO here.
4. Allow user-generated content
Not only do reviews and user-generated content (UGC) provide shoppers with additional context that can help them reach a purchase decision, this content is also viewed favorably by search engines. All of those reviews on product pages equate to regular page updates with unique, fresh content that likely contains your target keywords – all of which will serve you well with Google. Struggling to collect customer reviews? Try incentivizing UGC as part of your loyalty program.
5. Link it all together
Hyperlinks play a significant role in ecommerce search optimization. Whether it’s regularly testing for (and eliminating) internal broken links on your store, minimizing redirects unless they are absolutely necessary, or creating shareable content to encourage backlinks from social media and other sites, it’s worth spending some time on your link-building strategy.
6. Check your site speed
There are many worthwhile reasons to optimize the page load speed for your ecommerce store. Typically, user experience is the first that comes to mind. But, it’s equally important that your site performs quickly if you want it to rank well on search engines. Check out Google’s own site speed test for insights into how to improve your page load times. Lastly, don’t forget mobile when making speed optimizations – most stores are much slower to load when not running on desktop.
Introduce new shoppers to your store with ecommerce search engine optimization
Ecommerce search engine optimization requires long-term strategy and investment, but the payoff is worth it. Getting your store in front of shoppers who may otherwise have never discovered your site is invaluable, particularly if you can reach them at the exact moment when they are most interested in buying what you’re selling. By following these SEO best practices, you will slowly but surely bump your store up the rankings to a position where you can attract and convert new customers.