We all know that if your ecommerce store is missing out on clicks, it’s missing out on sales too. So - how do you turn that around? Well, with a higher ranking on search engines, you can expect greater visibility, a higher CTR, and inevitably more sales.
We’ve put together some tactical suggestions for stepping up your SEO game:
It’s all about your users
This is a point that should never be forgotten when considering your ecommerce store. Always remember that your website should be easy to use, a pleasure to visit, and helpful for visitors to achieve their end goal – as a result, users are more likely to become loyal to your store. By focusing on what your users want, the goal of your keywords will be to satisfy these needs, and search engines can then point users in the direction of your website. When it comes to the checkout process, there should be minimal steps and it should work seamlessly. Ensure your store loads as quickly as possible, and offer your visitors quick ways to contact you too – you could even consider implementing live chat. It’s good practice and is a quick and simple way for visitors to ask questions. These points will work to lift conversion rates, and are great for SEO.
Build a strong structure
The navigational structure (or IA, information architecture) of your ecommerce store can dramatically affect your website’s usability, rankings, and conversion. It should be intuitive and provide the best possible shopping experience for the user, as well as encourage them to explore your products. Note that Google now has a mobile-first index, which means the search engine will create and rank its search listings based on the mobile version of content, so it’s never been so important to have a mobile-friendly, responsive website. Proper planning of your IA will also make expanding your product lines in the future a breeze. Bear in mind that in terms of linking, pages buried deeply may not receive enough ‘link juice’ to be visible in search engine rankings, so consider how you can expose all your key information as quickly as possible. Be sure also to submit a sitemap to Google so that it can crawl and index each page of your website.
Nail your product descriptions
Content is king, so you should only write quality, descriptive, and original content that helps your customers make purchasing decisions. You should also test which word count helps with purchase conversion. Always avoid using the product descriptions from manufacturers – duplication means non-unique content and can result in penalisation – not to mention it’s not usually written in a way that sells. You may want to consider putting a NO INDEX meta tag on product pages that you can’t write unique content for. For any products that will be out of your inventory in a matter of days, consider keeping them out of the search engines – you don’t want more pages with no unique content than those that do, otherwise it looks like your website has automatically generated thousands of simple webpages to try to gain SEO traffic.
Get customers to rate you
Customer reviews can increase ecommerce conversion rates by 14-76%, according to Internet Retailer. Receiving reviews on your products provides more content, and frequent reviews means fresh content. Of course, all of this is good for Google! Reviews also add to the authenticity of your products and can often encourage visitors to make a purchase, all down to the power of social proof.
Give Google a helping hand
Social media integration
Social media signals, be it growing your community, engaging with customers, or sharing content, impact your SEO. Having a lot of social signals tells Google that people find your website and brand valuable. For this reason, you should add social buttons to product pages, blog posts, and your homepage – note that the network that carries the most weight is Google+.
Test it out
It’s always a good idea to use Google Analytics to understand what is driving traffic to your ecommerce store – you can then set up goals to better understand which keywords are converting to your website. You should also use PPC campaigns to find high-converting keywords that could be added to your SEO strategy, test meta titles and descriptions to increase click-throughs, and A/B test page content to increase conversions from web traffic.
Throw out duplicate content
Try using robots.txt to block areas that create duplicate content such as archives, tags, and even category pages in some cases. You can use the canonical tag to indicate which web pages are the pages you want indexed, and add nofollow attributes to links that point to areas of duplicate content – just be thorough at making sure you find every single link that needs to be nofollowed (else Google will find them!)
Consider demand and search keywords
Both need to be thought of when writing headlines, title pages, and product descriptions. Nobody wants to promote something that no one is searching for! It’s a good idea to optimise product pages by using brand names and model numbers in title tags and H1 headings, and not forgetting to fill out your image ALT tag information. Don’t keyword stuff the page with the keyword phrase by repeating it over and over again, and never use iframes to display content. Sounds obvious, but make sure your content actually exists on the product page it is meant to be on!
Out of stock?
For any items that are sold out, it’s good practice to leave the pages up on your site and offer alternative items, e.g. the same product in other colours, newer models or versions, identical products from other brands (if applicable), or other products in the same category that match in quality and price. As well as demonstrating good customer experience, it helps search engines to find relevant pages and understand your site structure better. Make sure you inform users when the product they’re after will return, offer to backorder the product, and even soften the blow by offering a benefit, e.g. a price reduction when fresh stocks arrive.
Always note it’s not good to just delete the products – this way, you lose SEO equity and any users who have bookmarked the URL will get an error message. Instead, you can permanently 301 redirect expired product URLs, e.g. to a newer model to retain value, or redirect to a parent category or other relevant products that serve the same purpose as the expired item. Alternatively, if there aren’t really any closely related products, you should permanently delete the expired product pages, content, and URLs and use a 410 status code which notifies Google that the page has been permanently removed and will never return. Certain products may offer information for existing customers or others wanting to research it, so leave these pages intact.
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