Why E-Commerce SEO is Different from Regular SEO
How to Get Products Ranked in Search Results
To break into the highly competitive e-commerce space, it’s often not enough to use run-of-the-mill SEO tactics.
While it’s still just as important to do keyword research, optimize your website’s performance, and take other general SEO measures, there’s far more you need to do if you want to compete with the thousands of other online stores.
On top of essentials like on-page SEO, there are several e-commerce-specific SEO strategies you can use. While similar to what you are already doing, these strategies focus on getting more eyes on your products.
This article will dig into those methods that boost your online store in the SERPs.
Why Bother With E-Commerce SEO?
It’s already enough work covering all the bases of SEO-optimizing your site. So now you have to take even more steps to get your products on par?
It may take some extra work, but investing your time in e-commerce SEO is well worth it. 44% of online shoppers start their journey with a search engine, and 37.5% of e-commerce traffic comes from search alone. That means you need to optimize the SERPs as much as possible. Cut no corners with SEO!
In addition, 49% of shoppers say they use Google to discover or find products. Many also say they use the search engine to research online purchases they plan on making. This behavior is why it’s so important to upload a good image and optimize your product descriptions to attract clicks from sources like Google Shopping.
On the other hand, statistics also show that more people (63%) start searching directly on Amazon. This statistic is unfortunate for businesses who don’t cross-post their products on online marketplaces, but it’s all the more reason you need to capture clicks from those who do use search engines.
Finally, 70% of marketers believe that SEO drives more sales than pay-per-click advertising. These days, just about everyone is using an ad blocker — these block not just traditional banner ads but also sponsored results in Google — so the effectiveness of PPC is vastly diminished.
Adblocking may be common, but who isn’t using search engines? Nailing that top spot in the SERPs or landing on the front page can be your one-way ticket to success.
What’s “Normal” SEO?
Let’s take a minute to define standard SEO measures. These are important to follow to create a baseline for your online store, and many of these, such as keyword research, play into e-commerce SEO practices.
- Keyword research — Arguably the most important of SEO tactics, this involves researching the best-ranking and upcoming keywords and distributing them throughout your content.
- Optimizing static pages (About, FAQ, Contact, etc.) — You might be surprised how important it is to optimize those small static pages on your site with good keyword usage.
- URLs and permalink structure — URLs matter for SEO. Addresses that are human-readable, rather than random strings of numbers or text, are better for ranking. Using keywords is a good idea, but you should keep it short.
- XML Sitemaps — Submitting and optimizing an XML sitemap helps search bots crawl your pages faster and increase SEO visibility and rankings.
- Robots.txt — A poorly optimized robots.txt file can seriously damage your search performance, while a properly written one can improve it by blocking off access to parts of your site you don’t want to be crawled.
- Performance optimization — If there’s one thing that can affect SEO, it’s performance. Slow loading speeds will harm your search visibility and may kick you right off the front page.
- Mobile-first indexing — Google will heavily penalize you if your site isn’t responsive on all devices and doesn’t load quickly on slower mobile Internet.
- Google Search Console — Getting the hang of Google Search Console is integral, as it comes with essential analytics and lets you submit a sitemap directly to the search engine. This data also allows you to take informed actions to improve your site.
- Off-site optimization — It’s not just what you do on your site that matters. Link building, branding, and social metrics also play SEO roles, while retargeting campaigns can guide more users to your website.
SEO Tactics to Increase E-Commerce Traffic
Now that you know the basics of “normal” SEO, what about e-commerce-specific tactics? Remembering to do keyword research, set proper URLs, and optimize performance will also help e-commerce stores, but there’s more you can do. There are specific tactics to optimize product pages in particular. Here’s how to do it right.
Optimize Your Category Pages
Time to start building up your store. Where better to begin than the category pages?
Categories are the baseline of your site’s navigation and a good source of customers if optimized well. If there’s one thing too many stores do, it’s undervaluing the category page.
The most common bad practice is simply ignoring the page, which is easy to do, especially when using WooCommerce. The page will automatically populate itself with products as you categorize them, so you may not ever even look at it.
Ignoring category pages is a big mistake since the default page can look pretty bare design-wise, and you’re missing out on an opportunity to include more keywords on the page.
Here’s where you should be optimizing keywords on your category page:
- The category names themselves should be a ranking keyword!
- In your page title and headers, especially your H1 header. To draw the most organic traffic, but the category and keywords rather than your brand name first in the page title.
- You should add a custom meta description to category pages, or else Google could pull unrelated text off the page.
- Many designers hesitate to add copy to category pages; who wants to scroll past an essay when trying to shop? But adding a small blurb at the bottom that strategically uses ranking keywords can be a great idea.
- If you add featured products or other internal advertisements, use text rather than banners and images to promote them to ensure you’re ranking for keywords.
Another common mistake is a messy URL slug. Instead, aim for simple category URLs, such as example.com/category/designer-purses or example.com/designer-purses.
Finally, you may need to use canonical URLs if your category pages have a search, pagination, or filter tool.
Set Up Your Product Pages for SEO Success
What makes an optimized product page? Every page must have these elements:
- A unique product description. Optionally product specs, an FAQ, and a shorter blurb for promotion on other pages.
- Product photos and videos.
- A CTA such as Buy Now or Add to cart.
- Info like price, availability, product variations, etc.
- Reviews from customers who bought the item.
You have a solid product page that’s ready to be optimized with keyword research and other SEO tactics.
You want your product pages to be unique. Unfortunately, too many stores use the manufacturer descriptions, penalizing you for duplicate content, and these descriptions are rarely compelling anyway.
If you want to get ahead of the competition, everything must be original content written with user interest and keyword research. Optimize for search engines but design for users.
That also goes for your metadata. Many stores use a generic meta description that’s identical across all product pages. Writing a unique description that targets users and keywords both is far more likely to attract attention.
Finally, your product pages must load quickly and are responsive on mobile devices. With mobile commerce making such a large chunk of e-commerce traffic and load time a significant factor in bounce rate, this is imperative.
You can do much more to optimize your product pages, including internal linking and image optimization, so let’s keep going.
Create an Effective Internal Linking Structure
A good internal linking structure is one of the best ways to build up SEO and get eyes on your products. Follow these best practices:
- Keep link depth to products minimal. Link depth is the number of clicks it takes from the homepage to the target page. For example, clicking the homepage, category page, and reaching a product page is a good link depth. You could even link to some products on your homepage.
- Design clean and straightforward navigation. It should be easy to find products and categories in your shop from your homepage and the menus.
- Link to your most important categories on the homepage and menu. Leave niche sub-categories on the top-level category pages or in a category list to keep your main navigation short and sweet.
- Set up breadcrumb navigation for nested categories.
- Use dynamically generated popular, related, and recently viewed products to link to your best items naturally. Place these in categories, on the homepage, especially on other product pages.
- Don’t use tags that match any category.
- Make anchor, CTA, and button text relevant and use keywords rather than Click here.
- Use your blog to promote products and categories.
Optimize Your Product Images
Images may seem like a small part of e-commerce SEO, but there’s a lot to touch on here. Taking high-quality product images that make people want to buy is only the first step. From there, you need to optimize these images for SEO.
Since crawlers can’t see the image, what the image depicts is not essential. What they can see, however, is metadata such as the file name and alt text and how long it takes an image to load.
- Don’t just name your images a number or random string of letters. Instead, take this opportunity to add keywords!
- Adding helpful ALT text for screen readers will give you an SEO boost on its own, but you can also naturally add a few keywords.
- By adding multiple product showcase images on each page, you have the opportunity to use more keywords and get better SEO.
A common bad practice is uploading a large image file to your site, which will slow things down and penalize you. Instead, resize them and use an image compressor app to smush the file size to under 100kb. Even large images should never be over 1MB.
On the other hand, grainy photos won’t make people want to purchase your goods. So compress just enough to strip unnecessary file size without damaging the quality of the image.
Implement Rich Snippets to Stand Out in Search
If you haven’t already set up schema markup on your site, you’re missing out. In the primarily text-based Google search pages, a little bit of visual interest can go a long way.
Rich results personalize your pages when they appear in search, adding a photo, a star rating, a review snippet, etc. Of course, they’re only suitable for some types of pages, and it’s up to luck whether they display as a rich result, but even a tiny change can draw the eye and make you more likely to get clicks.
You’ll need to set up structured data/schema markup on each page to get a rich snippet. You can add structured data manually, or WordPress users can use an SEO plugin like Rank Math which lets you do this without code. You can also use a dedicated schema markup plugin.
As an e-commerce site, these rich snippets are most relevant to you:
- Product: Of course, the product snippet will be the one you use most. Show pricing, ratings, and more.
- Local Business: Have a physical store? Set up your local business knowledge panel.
- Logo: Show your business logo when people search for you.
- Review snippet: Display a snippet of reviews left on your products or business.
- Sitelinks search box: Let people search your catalog from Google.
- Breadcrumb: If you set up your categories and other pages correctly, breadcrumb-rich results could help people navigate.
- Article: For e-commerce sites that come with a blog.
- Video: Show off your best product showcases.
The Importance of E-Commerce SEO
When it comes to online stores, “normal” SEO isn’t enough. While many of the common tactics apply to e-commerce sites, there’s a lot more you need to do if you want to thrive in the competitive online market.
E-commerce-specific SEO tactics such as designing category and product pages, optimizing internal product linking, taking advantage of multiple images, and creating rich snippets can help you get the results you expect.
Are You Interested in E-Commerce SEO?
Are you interested in selling your products online but unsure how to attract target consumers? Our team of e-commerce experts will be happy to help you with this. But, first, look at our portfolio and read our case studies.
Then, if you believe we are a good fit for your e-commerce SEO needs, let’s talk! We offer a full range of consulting and design solutions for businesses and product brands.
And if you are still not sure how e-commerce SEO will help you increase search rankings and visibility, let’s talk! We will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best ways to attract target consumers to your online store!
Are You Selling Online?
Do you have anything to add to our e-commerce SEO tips? Have you used these specific tactics with your online store’s SEO? Which worked out best for you?
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Thank you! We appreciate your help in ending bad business websites, one pixel at a time!
By Gregor Saita
Co-Founder / CXO