Welcome to the second part of our guide to SEO for e-commerce. In case you missed it, part 1 is here. Anyway, we’ll get stuck right in with some technical SEO bits shall we?
There are lots of more technical elements to SEO, particularly for e-commerce sites, so we may not manage to cover everything here. But my hope is that we will give you enough to cover the important stuff.
Google have openly confirmed that load-speed is a factor in rankings. It is only a small factor, but it’s still worth investing some time to speed up your site.
On an e-commerce site, load time is even more important because users are likely to want to spend time browsing (compared to a blog where they might stay on one page for many minutes).
Image file size matters! Small files means quicker loading times, which Google likes. Faster pages are also quicker to browse, which is good for your visitors (and sales).
As a rule, jpeg files are smallest for most types of images, especially photos.
A good image editor will give you the option to save an image as a jpg at various different quality levels. My personal recommendation is a quality level of 75-80% for optimal quality to file-size ratio.
Finally, make sure that images are saved at the size they are displayed at. There is no point forcing a user to download a 1000px wide image if it is only displayed at 600px on your site.
It is amazing how many sites serve a full size image as a thumbnail on category type pages. If you have many products in a category this will result in a very large, slow page. Create separate, smaller images for product thumbnails… Simple.
(Some e-commerce packages do this automatically)
You need to set caching rules in your Htaccess file.
You can find various tutorials online for how to do this.
The more files a user has to download, the longer it will take, since every file has to be requested separately. For this reason, all of your CSS should be in one file, all your JS in another etc…
Start by removing any inline styles from your main page templates and place them in your main CSS file instead.
There are various browser extensions which will give you this info, a good way to check though is to look at your page source and search for instances of: rel=”stylesheet”
HTML, JS and CSS files generally have spaces and line breaks in them to make them easier for humans to read and edit. All those spaces and breaks add bytes though.
Google have a service called Minify which takes the effort out of compressing your CSS and JS files and if you happen to be using WordPress there is a handy plugin called WP Minify that does the legwork for you.
Other than that, it is helpful to remove an unneccesary elements from your files. CSS files in particular get clogged up with old, out-dated code as sites get modified over time.
For more feedback on site speed:
Use Google’s page speed insight tool.
There are different types of competing Micro-Data, but nowadays we stick with Schema Markup since Google & Bing created it, and we want to keep them happy right?
What is it?
Micro-data is basically a way of marking up your HTML so that a search engine can understand what a page is about. This is a particularly big opportunity for e-commerce sites.
Let’s say you’re selling a snowboard. So in your product page you would include information like the brand, model name, model number, an image of the board, the price of course and any other relevant data.
By putting appropriate tags around the brand you tell Google:
“the text content within this tag refers to this product’s brand”
And you would include a tag around the entire product / page letting Google know that this page is displaying a product (as opposed to a blog post, article, show etc…)
There are lots of things you can tag, and if you are
lucky that additional data may show up in search results.
Needless to say:
Having extra data appear next to your listings increases your click through rate, gives you more traffic and can also impact your search rankings (especially for specific long-tail phrases)
Double Check it:
Google has a brilliant tool to double check these things. It will make sure that it’s robot is able to read your markup, ensure that it’s understood. You can check it out here: Structured Data Markup Tool
Navigation / Crawlability
Sorting out your site’s navigation should be relatively straight-forward, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do it.
What you shouldn’t do:
Don’t use your navigation as an opportunity to stuff in keywords. Use navigation text that is useful to your user. The difference between using keywords where appropriate and using them unnecessarily is obvious.
What you should do:
- Use descriptive link texts
- Avoid using images for navigation
- If you must use images, use Alt tags
- Ensure every page is within 4 clicks of the home page
That’s part 2 done… Our third and final part will be coming very soon!