Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has become more and more important in the modern eCommerce website. While Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can increase a store’s traffic very quickly, SEO will ensure that your store receives traffic well into the future and without paying per customer.
But it’s important to understand that the SEO required for an eCommerce store differs from your standard website, so let’s have a look at what you can do to improve your store’s SEO.
Avoid keyword cannibalization
When you are creating your product pages, it’s easy to become friendly with Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V (Copy and Paste). Well, don’t. It will not only lead to customer dissatisfaction as every product page will look identical but equally, your pages will begin to cannibalise one another in the search results.
Let me explain. When you type a search term into Google, it will attempt to find the most suitable page. However, if you have 5 product pages that are all very similar, you are forcing Google to choose between them. In reality, one of those pages will likely match the search term far better, but the lack of detail and specificity on the product page means that Google will never know that.
The best way to get around this is to create a simple spreadsheet. In one column note your pages, the column to the right of it note the keywords that you would like to rank for. Then, sort the right column alphabetically. If you see any repetition, reevaluate the page and it’s associated keyword. Next, simply write unique content tailored to your chosen keywords.
When initially setting up your eCommerce site, it’s very easy to just get stuck in and start uploading products at random. Stop! Take a step back and consider your site structure.
I have seen some fantastic stores suffer from terrible site structure, be that from a lack of planning or even attempting to emulate a bigger store. Consider two factors when you design your site’s architecture:
A customer visiting your site should have to click as few times as possible to actually reach the product page. This not only leads to increased customer satisfaction but also lower abandonment rates. But, this biggest benefit is that your product page will receive as much Authority as possible from your Domain. The further the page is buried, the less important Google believes the page to be.
When a customer reaches your home page, while they do not wish to click a million times to find the product page, they also don’t wish to filter through hundreds of options to find the item that they are looking for. So again, carefully consider your categories and sub-categories in order to find that sweet spot of specificity and simplicity.
A lot has been made of site speed in the SEO community over the last few years as Google made this a ranking factor and one that has increased in importance over the last few years. Page Speed is doubly important for eCommerce sites as customers tend to hop from product to product. If each one of those pages requires a 10-second load then I can guarantee that customer is not going to stick around for long.
The first step is to test your site on Google’s handy Page Speed Test, just pop your URL into the page and out pops its review of your site. Now, don’t be disheartened if your page speed is poor in the first instance, it happens to the best of us. But the important thing is that you do something about it.
Let’s go over a few of the more important eCommerce-based speed points:
Images – Please make sure that you optimise your images. There are lots of tools on the internet that do this for you, here is my favourite image optimiser. Simply upload your image, choose the quality and it will compress your image as a .jpeg. Every eCommerce site is full of images and this will make a massive difference to your site’s page speed.
Minify all your HTML, CSS and JS files – There are tonnes of tools on the net for this one, but essentially what they all do it cut the bloat out of your code and cuts the code down into tiny, simplified code. Nothing will have changed mechanically, but the file will be so much smaller.
Prioritise Above the Fold (ATF) Content – ATF is a term that refers to the content that you initially see when you load a page. So, in other words, the bits of the page that you won’t see until you begin scrolling, should take the back seat when it comes to the page loading. Once that’s out of the way, the rest of the page can then load.
In eCommerce sites, there are classically tonnes of URLs, some necessary (all of your product pages for example) but others are completely useless, both to your customers and to Google. Classically these involve your shopping cart pages. While they are necessary for the site to function, they are completely unimportant to Google as a customer would never search for them. As such it is always suggested that your block these within your robots.txt. This is a small file hosted on your site which informs Google’s crawlers what to bother crawling. This will help to ensure that it doesn’t get confused by your Shopping Cart URL structure and that it will not serve these URLs when people search for you.
While sites always have internal linking, in eCommerce sites it’s incredibly important. Not only to ensure that the linking is done intelligently, so that a customer will be directed to something that makes sense to them, but also so that single pages are not being linked to too often so as to become suspicious.
Google is constantly on the lookout for possible issues, and if your site is stuffed full of internal links, Google will worry that something dodgy is going on and will penalise you for it. So instead of going crazy, just add links where it is natural to do so and additionally be sure to mix up your anchor text. Google looks for anchor text variety from both inbound and internal links.
Remember the Page Speed test that I directed you to earlier? While it doubles up as a Mobile Friendly test. Nowadays your eCommerce site has no choice but to be mobile friendly, more customers than ever are using their phones to shop and this doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
There are lots of helpful options out there that mean you don’t have to have a completely separate site, I’d recommend building your site with the help of Twitter Bootstrap, making the site fully responsive no matter what the size of the screen.
An eCommerce store is fantastic for reviews. Not only is this a customer interacting with your page, but it’s also unique, related content that will help to increase your SEO without you lifting a finger! Being an eCommerce site you have three review options:
- The customer reviews your store
- The customer reviews the item
- The customer reviews your store and the item
Now you have to be careful not to be greedy. Of course it would be great if the customer were to review both you and the store, but at the same time you need for the process of reviewing you to be as easy and non-invasive as possible so as to get the best results out of this process. Sometimes it is wise to just as a customer to review one or the other, ensuring that you receive the best quality of reviews possible.
If a customer reviews your products, make sure that they are viewable on the products page, don’t let your customer wander off to some other site to read your review, they could end up spotting one for a competitor!
Additionally, ensure that these reviews are viewable by Google as snippets, after all nearly 90% of customers say that they are highly influenced by online reviews within Google search. There are a few options as to how to do this, here is how Google suggests you markup your reviews.
If you need anymore help with your SEO – then you should get in touch with the experts here at NinjaCommerce. We take the time to understand your business and your aims. Either email us – firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01889 529 622
Hungry For More?
Take a look at another of our posts – “The Ultimate, 38 Point Ecommerce SEO Checklist” – We go through everything that you need to do for your eCommerce store, point by point. It’s a damn good read!