SEO is one of the wisest investments you can make for your Shopify business. Find out more about SEO for eCommerce and how to do it in this article.
eCommerce SEO is the optimization of an online store. The process involves on-site, off-site, and technical SEO to make sure the website’s online visibility rises, as well as its search ranking. As a result, more people see the website, click on it, and become interested in the product and/or services it offers.
So yes, Google is worth optimizing for. Besides, the click-through rate of the first result on the SERP is 29.17% as of 2021. The second result gets 15.29%, and the third – only 9.3%. An over 20% difference shows why it is important to rank TOP-1 in Google for your focus keyword.
SEO for eCommerce helps you reach your target audience without paying a lot of money for ads. This is great for small businesses that don’t have the budget for Google Ads, and an incredible opportunity for large companies to get more traffic.
In this article, we’ll share the 5 main elements of a successful eCommerce SEO strategy that you can use in your next campaign.
The 5 Essential Elements of eCommerce SEO
SEO for eCommerce includes at least 5 vital elements concerning on-site, off-site, technical SEO, research, and content marketing.
Keyword Research for Organic Traffic from SEO
Before doing your keyword research, it’s important to understand the buyer’s search intent. In doing so, you gain insight into what potential customers want to know when they use a query in Google.
There are four main types of buyer intent:
- Informational – the searcher looks for information. Such queries may include words like ‘how to’, ‘guide’, ‘facts’, ‘information’, ‘name of product/company/person’, etc.
- Commercial – the searcher looks for info that will help them buy a product, rather than find out more about it.
- Navigational – the searcher looks for a specific website. Such queries usually involve the name of the company, tool, or website.
- Transactional – the searcher looks to purchase something. The query will include words like ‘price’, ‘buy’, ‘coupon’, etc.
Researching keywords by analyzing the actual search engine results pages for them (paid ads, organic results, SERP features) will provide you with insights into the types of pages and content you need to top the query.
It’s also recommended to use Google Keyword Planner for more insights, as well as other SEO tools.
In addition, it’s very important to check keyword difficulty in the keyword search tool of your choice and pick a query you can realistically rank #1 for.
On-Page SEO for eCommerce Websites
As you finish building a list of focus keywords for your pages, the next step is to put them in the right places:
- Page title
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Product description
- Image alt tags
Another crucial aspect of on-site SEO for eCommerce is site architecture. Online shops must focus on simplicity and scalability. The website should have an easy-to-understand structure, the simpler – the better.
Each page should be less than 3 clicks from the homepage for simple navigation. Having users view too many pages before the product page detracts from the authority of the page.
If you already have a complex site architecture, don’t change it before consulting with an SEO professional and your website developer. They will help you build the right, logical, simple structure and set up the proper redirects between old and new pages.
The best category for an eCommerce website would be
Homepage > Category > Subcategory > Product
You can also use breadcrumbs to make the website easier to understand. Aside from SEO benefits, this approach is also a usability improvement.
There are no more than 3 clicks, which means the product page will have authority.
As to the content, it has to be sellable. Simply putting keywords out there won’t do the trick. Use attention hooks such as:
- X% off
- Free shipping
- Fast shipping
- Lower price, etc.
Make product descriptions attractive to the buyer. Also, use various types of content such as videos, photos, reviews, user-generated content, etc. These types of content increase engagement and build social proof.
Finally, don’t underestimate rich snippets. They’re a great way to stand out in the SERPs by exhibiting more than just the title and description. Such snippets can show the rating of your product, its price, the number of views, whether it’s in stock, etc.
Plus, aim to be in featured snippets – result #0, which you see before the first result with a part of the content answering your question directly.
Technical SEO as a Part of Your eCommerce SEO Strategy
A good digital tool can analyze your website and find potential mistakes in minutes. The difficulty is in fixing them, especially for eCommerce websites since there are usually many pages.
Here are some of the most common technical SEO problems:
- Page speed.
Page speed is one of Google’s 200 ranking factors. Improve the speed of your website, and you may not only get higher rankings but also have fewer abandoned carts. Don’t use heavy images, upgrade your hosting, and monitor speed regularly.
- Duplicate content.
Google Panda may drop your pages in the rankings if you have lots of duplicate content. Try to avoid posting large chunks of the same content on product pages. Also, add a noindex tag to the pages that automatically count as duplicate content. You can also use the canonical tag to ‘tell’ Google that some pages are the same or very similar so that the search engine doesn’t count them as unique.
- Keyword cannibalization.
When you use one focus keyword for two or more pages, it’s called keyword cannibalization and it can be quite dangerous for your rankings. When Google sees two pages of the same website competing, it may not choose one.
The 404 error means the page can’t be found. You may have forgotten to establish a redirect to a new page, so the old URL doesn’t work anymore. It can be frustrating if someone is looking for a specific product. A technical SEO audit should show you broken pages and additional info on redirects.
eCommerce Content Marketing: Wise Optimization and UGC
People will pay attention to your content; it’s what will make them buy from you. To ensure you reach your target audience, optimize your text and media content to the keywords you’ve chosen.
Make sure you use long-tail keywords, as they are usually less competitive and there’s more chance you’ll rank higher sooner.
Also, take advantage of user-generated content. Offer a reward for a video or a picture with a comment about your products and/or services. Content like product reviews and guides, case studies, and true customer stories are very appealing to the public and build social proof.
As to content distribution, don’t underestimate the power of social media. The number of users may reach 4,41 billion by 2025. That’s more than half of the world’s population!
So, it’s vital for any eCommerce business to have a couple of social media channels where they can promote their content, engage and communicate with their customers and buyer prospects, etc.
Choose 1-2 platforms where your target audience is the most active and build a reputation there. Answer comments, reply to messages, direct people to the website, and let them know where they can find more info and place an order. This is the kind of one-on-one communication many people are looking for in brands.
It’s also popular for businesses to create affiliate programs for long-term collaboration with influencers for additional content promotion and other benefits. For example, if you’re offering software as a service (SaaS) products, engaging in a SaaS affiliate program or creating one of your own would be a good idea. Thus, you can turn ambassadors into partners.
Off-Page SEO for eCommerce: Link Building
Link building is an effective way to spread the word about your brand to your target audience. Getting mentions from relevant, authoritative websites is like getting an honest recommendation in your favor.
Besides, if you have interesting niche-specific information on your website, say, in the blog section, you may also attract readers that can be later converted into customers.
Of course, the number of links you have isn’t as important as backlink quality, so choose websites to collaborate with wisely.
Here are some effective ways to build links:
- Post engaging educational content.
A blog on your eCommerce website will not only provide more opportunities to use various keywords and rank for them but also get backlinks. Write about your industry, share case studies, statistics, guides, and how-to articles, and you’ll build links naturally.
- Look for unlinked mentions.
Set up Google Alerts or another tool of your choice to monitor unlinked mentions of your business. It can be the name of the brand, the website without a hyperlink, your products, or industry-specific words.
- Work with influencers and bloggers.
Collaborate! Consider giving out a couple of products for free to create a buzz around your brand and get more backlinks and sales. Ask bloggers to mention your link with a proper anchor in their posts when mentioning you in their TOP-X articles.
eCommerce SEO is a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. It’s not as money-consuming as paid ads, and highly beneficial if you top the focus SERP. To build a successful strategy, you should:
- Perform keyword research with buyer intent in mind, also paying attention to Keyword Difficulty. Digital tools should help you make the right query choice.
- Do on-page SEO by placing the right keywords in the right places, creating proper site architecture, and improving usability.
- Do technical SEO, targeting top issues such as improper redirects, broken links, etc.
- Focus on content marketing, user-generated content, distribution, etc.
- Get links from relevant, popular websites.
All these elements will create a great eCommerce SEO strategy, elevate your website in the SERPs, get more traffic, generate more leads, close more sales, and, as a result, increase revenue.
Digital marketing has become a valuable business focus for companies that want to successfully sell online. But it only works in a combination. If you only build links without on-site optimization, it won’t bring many benefits. If you do on-site SEO without paying attention to technical issues, you won’t top the scores.
That is why building a multi-element strategy is so important.