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E-Commerce SEO: Tips for Optimizing Online Stores

Whether it be a specific brand, a product type or even directly checking out competitors, it is likely that users will find your website through a search engine. More often than not this is through Google, as its system changes daily and its algorithm will see e-commerce sites rise and fall within its rankings. With this in mind, it is clear that the higher an e-commerce site ranks within search engines, the more natural traffic it will receive. This can be backed up by a 2018 study, where the first five organic search results account for 67.60% of all the clicks!

The phrase SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a topic that the majority of e-commerce sites have heard being batted around, however it has many meanings to many different people. Some take it to mean ranking a website within the top results on the likes of Google, while others want to see their e-commerce site rise in the search engine rankings for a specific keyword. Both of these have different costs, expectations and outcomes but it is certain that SEO is a critical factor for all e-commerce websites.

Importance of SEO for E-Commerce

Using this same concept, think for a moment what you do when you are looking to purchase a product online? My guess is that you also use a search engine. Google is a prime example of a search engine that is used by millions of people every day to search for products. Now, if you own an online store selling widgets, when someone goes to Google and types “widgets,” do you think they will ever burrow into page 32 of the search results to find your store? Not a chance. What this means is that unless you have a very popular store, the only way that you will ever get consistent traffic through search engines is to rank within the first page of results when someone types something relevant to your store.

The search engine is a workhorse in a class by itself. It’s the origin; the go-to place when individuals are looking for something. This workhorse has become the thoroughbred of today. In the good old days, there was only a handful of search engines and traffic was fairly easy to come by. Today, since the inception of the thoroughbred, search engines are the primary tool that people use to satisfy their needs. A person can shop for products, look for a service, or seek information, and using keywords or phrases in a search engine is the best and easiest way to find what they are looking for. The end user is getting more and more savvy; they are now skipping complex URL addresses and going straight to the search engine to find what they are looking for.

Benefits of Optimizing Online Stores

SEO service has already proved its track record. It can be seen from the various successes of online stores after they try to apply SEO to their internet marketing strategy. While organic search traffic is the one that has good quality. This can be seen from the visitors who come to an online store after clicking an organic search result. Usually, they are very intent on buying or at least seeking information for specific products. Attrition rate is little compared with search traffic or other incoming traffic. Real steps from visitors who come from an organic search cannot be separated from the trust of a brand. The trust is more easily gained when compared to search traffic. It’s because visitors mostly see the first store on the search list as one of the merits of the store to prove the credibility of the store. High traffic and crowdedness are futile if no one wants to buy or become a substitute for high-quality traffic and potential. High-quality traffic is the solution. It is proven by an online store that specializes in antique goods. Organic search can be their principal weapon with plenty of information contained in the organic search about the sale or other things that show the product of good quality. SEO is an integral part for an online store that has a long-term plan in providing a lifestyle change for the customer.

Optimizing is an integral part of e-commerce, especially an online store. When you say optimizing an online store, SEO is the answer. It’s impossible to separate the two because they go hand in hand. SEO will be a science of good practice so it can persuade the increase of effectiveness and design the internet marketing strategy. This will help the online store that uses it to lift the ROI and bring long-term advantages. The great news for an online store is that SEO, which is white hat oriented, will be more durable and can provide a high ROI and increase brand credibility.

On-Page Optimization Techniques

With keyword research, the aim is to identify the right terms to optimize product pages. In general, you want to stick to one main keyword per page. You also want to avoid keyword cannibalization. This is a fairly common problem in online stores that often have very similar products. It’s not uncommon for a single store to carry a number of products that are all based around a single theme. Many times this will result in several pages being optimized for the same keyword. Keyword cannibalization also occurs when a page has many similar synonyms or stems. Keep in mind that when you have identified the right keywords, they should be used in the following on-page optimization strategies.

One of the first and most important on-page optimization strategies is keyword research. In e-commerce SEO, this usually involves determining what consumers are searching for and what their intentions are. Understanding the search behavior of the target audience is key. Trying to sell anything in the search result of a navigational or transactional query isn’t going to work. At the same time, targeting informational queries is a great way to connect with prospects who are looking for information on a particular topic. It’s all about knowing your prospects and being able to deliver them what they are looking for.

Keyword Research and Optimization

There’s not much to keyword research, but optimizing it might be tricky and also needs thorough calculation. One thing for sure, choose long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are very specific keywords that contain 3 words or more. These keywords have lower search volume compared to shorter and more generic keywords, but the conversion is higher. Why? Let me give you an example. A visitor that searches for “jacket” may only look for information or just want to know what kind of jacket there is, what material, what color. But the visitor that searches for “waterproof men jacket” already has something in mind, and most likely they want to buy that kind of jacket. This is just a simple example, but you get the point.

Keyword research and optimization is the most important phase in the SEO process. It’s also easier said than done. This research phase is very important because if you get the right keyword or phrase that has high search volume but low competition, you can easily get to the top ranking. And best of all, you get free organic traffic to your online store. Who doesn’t like free stuff, right? But there are also some factors that you need to consider when researching for the right keyword. You need to know about the relevance of your store with the keyword and the behavior of visitors when they use that keyword.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Title tags are the most important on-site element after content. The title tag should describe the content found on a specific page and should be used to reinforce the keywords on the page. The title tag is used by search engines to display a page in search results and can also be found at the top of your browser. Title tags should be between 60-80 characters in length and include the most important keywords related to the page. Meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are very important as they are displayed beneath the title tag on search engine results. They will also often be the first thing that a potential customer will read about your site. Meta descriptions should be between 150-160 characters and describe the content on the page. Similar to title tags, it is important that the meta descriptions includes the keywords related to the page.

URL Structure and Navigation

An often overlooked area of SEO is the website’s internal link structure. A good website should implement a tiered link structure, starting with the home page, and leading to category pages and finally individual product pages. This can be done through the use of a ‘breadcrumb’ trail for category and product pages. The availability of a site map is also useful for getting search engines to fully index the site. With this structure implemented, it is important to go through the site and add internal links using targeted anchor text with keywords to the category and product pages. This is an effective means of deep linking to increase page rank for individual pages.

URLs of the pages and sub-pages should be descriptive and follow the organization of the site. Also, it may be beneficial to use existing keyword research to develop category and sub-category names. Often times with e-commerce sites, there are a variety of ways a product may be categorized. The hierarchy in the URL and site navigation should reflect this. An optimized site layout will result in more efficient crawling and better keyword to page relevancy.

Image Optimization

Following guidelines are provided by the writer according to this article for image optimization:

– Don’t use many images at the expense of the text. Search engines have a much better time understanding what the content written says than trying to figure out what is the content written in the image. Try to stick to a 70/30 text-to-image ratio when creating a new page.

– Utilize your keywords and phrases in your image ALT and TITLE attributes. Just as with on-page text, you should write descriptive and relevant content for the searcher. Usually, this is not displayed to the web surfer but is used by the screen reader to interpret the page. A good image ALT attribute might make the image more accessible, and the same goes for the image TITLE attribute.

– Limit the file size of your images. It is a best practice to keep your images under 150 kilobytes. The faster an image loads, the better it is for your page. This will, in turn, make it easier to get your page to rank better as speed is a factor now for Google.

– If you have the capability, use the search engines’ image publishing guidelines. These will increase the chances of your images getting indexed. Though remember that the standard tags are much more important, so don’t over-prioritize this.

3. Off-Page Optimization Strategies

– Be sure to monitor your backlink count and regularly check that backlinks are not broken.

– Avoid using link farms and free-for-all sites, as this will decrease the quality of your site’s backlinks. Instead, useful methods for building backlinks include utilizing social media, submitting your site to relevant directories and forums, producing link-worthy content that will attract links from other sites, and guest blog posting.

– Backlinks are a significant factor in the Google search algorithm. The more quality backlinks your site has, the higher your site will rank. A backlink is when another site provides a URL link to your site, and often the anchor text used for the link will greatly impact its quality.

The concept of off-page search engine optimization (SEO) involves using techniques to improve the search engine ranking of your e-commerce store by doing activities outside of the site. Often this is heavily centered around link building where other sites provide links back to your site. Off-page SEO is very important and is considered crucial to a website’s success. To help your e-commerce site, the following are areas of off-page SEO that you should consider implementing:

Building High-Quality Backlinks

Backlinks are a crucial aspect of search engine optimization (SEO), considered a primary factor in how high search engines rank your website. The correctly placed backlinks will help a website to get more traffic. Therefore, it is important to use backlinks in places where elites would normally go. Today, businesses are so desperate for quality backlinks that our site is getting easier to trick them into linking to our content. This will be done using some form of automation. The most common known tactics are blog comments, link wheels, and article directories. These tactics are not recommended as they not only will not get you the traffic that you desire, but they will also do more harm than good. You can get a manual penalty from Google, which can be impossible to recover from. You will receive less than 100 search traffic and more than 300 spam traffic, which can be very harmful for a business. The best way is to get quality backlinks from a high-ranking website. High-quality backlinks are a lot different from the spam backlinks as they are trusted sources of information. High-quality backlinks will add more value to your website compared to the spam backlinks as they are located in places where your targeted audiences are.

Social Media Marketing for E-Commerce SEO

Pinterest: Pinterest is a powerful tool for driving traffic and sales. Create a Pinterest account and make a few boards. Pin product photos with a link to the product page. Pin blog posts with a graphic that has a title and can be linked back to the post. Pinterest can bring in thousands of visits to a website, and has a strong correlation with strong sales.

Google+: Google+ can increase SEO rankings due to the fact that Google is the most widely used search engine. Google authorship plays a role in SEO, and a Google+ business page is integral to getting authorship. Google+ functions in a similar way to Facebook, so take the same approach with sharing products and blog posts regularly.

Twitter: Twitter presents an opportunity for microblogging about the store and its products. Try to encourage retweeting with the use of hashtags. Twitter search is a great way to find people discussing subjects relevant to the store, and these people can be followed and later tweeted at about the store. Offer discount codes to Twitter followers to encourage conversions.

Facebook: Create a business page for the online store and begin sharing its products. Encourage fans to share the products and articles with share and like buttons. Ensure that all content added to the page is keyworded, and keep an active presence on Facebook with updates several times a week.

Influencer Marketing and Guest Blogging

Guest blogging has the potential to both be disastrous and extremely effective. Ever since Matt Cutts declared the death of guest blogging for SEO in 2014, sending emails regarding “guest post contributions” with money anchor text has been moved into the spam folder. However, there are still many websites that will accept quality guest blogs. The key here is to make sure you’re contributing high-quality content. Do not use the blog as a method to directly promote your brand. A good guest blog will delve into a subject that is relevant to your brand or product but will not directly promote it. This content should have a resource link to your website already in place, so the author can cite it if necessary. If the blog is hosted on a site with high authority, this could bring a significant amount of traffic to your site and likely result in high conversion rates.

In essence, influencer marketing is when you make a deal with an individual with a large online presence – generally social media – in your sector. You may have to give away a product or service, but in exchange, the individual will expose your brand to their large audience. This exposure can be described as word of mouth on digital steroids. When your brand is being promoted, it’s likely messages will go out asking questions about your brand or product. This creates a great opportunity to get an influencer to tell your brand story or elaborate on details of your product on their blog. This, in turn, creates content on their site, and hopefully, a backlink to your website in a relevant area. A real-world example is Jon Cooper securing a backlink on a dofollow link from an authoritative page on Moz via a simple product promotion of a pair of shoes. He then elaborated on this with an interview answering a few shoe-related questions. This created a page full of content and a backlink on a page with high link equity.

Influencer marketing and guest blogging are a couple of other more recent strategies. When done properly, both can get you a large number of high-quality relevant backlinks, but it’s much harder than it used to be. Gone are the days of guest blogging spamming and placing low-quality links with the use of keyword-rich anchor text. These two are similar to one another, so I’ll discuss them together.

Technical SEO for E-Commerce Websites

There are plenty of technical considerations when it comes to e-commerce websites and SEO. This may intimidate small business owners trying to make it online. Mobile design and site speed are just two reasons to make sure your e-commerce website is on top of technical SEO. Mobile design is important because mobile usage will only continue to increase, and Google aims to serve mobile users the best possible results. Site speed is important for a few reasons, and so it is considered part of overall usability. Time is money with the Internet, and slower websites in particular do not tend to do as well as faster ones. An article by Kissmetrics cites a study which indicated “if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 a day, a one-second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year.” With that in mind, site speed has an impact on sales and revenue. This also ties in with an SEO benefit because search engines take site speed into account when assigning rankings.

Mobile-Friendly Design and Responsive Layouts

Believe it or not, the site speed is actually quite heavily linked to mobile friendliness. Yet another reason to hasten your site’s loading times. Google have actually stated that a fast-loading page may be given a mobile friendly label before a page that is technically mobile friendly, but slow. They’ve implied that load time will be a factor in determining the mobile friendliness of a page and that they may use this as a factor in their mobile search rankings. A complete guide to optimizing your site’s speed is beyond the scope of this article, but if your store is image intensive, consider using image optimization tools to reduce file size. This won’t necessarily reduce quality; an image optimization program will remove hidden information from a picture that isn’t needed for the viewer to see it. There are also plugins for caching (storing data from your site so that it doesn’t have to load again) and minimizing HTTP requests from your page of which there are likely to be many with an e-commerce site. Usually, the theme you are using will also have an impact on your page load time, and as mentioned above, a mobile friendly theme is probably the best way to go.

You really need to be mobile friendly. I have mentioned this quite a lot in previous articles, but due to the ever-increasing number of smartphones being used around the world and Google’s decision to reduce the ranking of un-mobile friendly sites, this is even more important. It may even be worth approaching a mobile app developer to create an application version of your store, but this is obviously quite a large investment and may not be feasible for everyone. Nonetheless, using a responsive theme in your website is integral. Most modern e-commerce platforms such as Magento or WooCommerce have mobile friendly themes available, so there’s really no excuse. Online tools can be used to check the mobile responsiveness of your site like this one, and Google has a mobile-friendly test tool as part of the search console that tells you how mobile friendly your page is and give tips on how to improve it.

Site Speed and Performance Optimization

There are many potential issues that can slow down the speed of your site, and fortunately, Google offers a free tool to help identify these issues. Using PageSpeed Insights, you can simply enter your website URL and the tool will analyze the content of your page and generate suggestions on what should be done to improve it. There are many common recommendations such as optimizing images, enabling compression, and reducing server response time. Another useful tool offered by Google is the Mobile-Friendly Test, which will analyze your URL and report if the page has a mobile-friendly design. Given the mentioned rise in mobile shopping, it is highly recommended to take the steps towards making sure your site is mobile-optimized. This may involve a responsive design change depending on your current layout, as sites that use different URLs for desktop and mobile can encounter faulty redirects and smartphone-only errors. Although it’s effectively more costly than using a shared code, Google recommends a responsive design as it is the easiest to maintain and reduces the possibility of mistakes, and therefore improving search engine optimization.

When it comes to optimizing your e-commerce site, speed is important, especially considering people are accessing ecommerce sites from various devices and the limitations of mobile networks. Often times, people make the mistake of testing their site speed solely on desktop devices, and as a result, experience slow load times on mobile devices. Research suggests that 40% of consumers will abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, and 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance say they’re less likely to purchase from the same site again. With how ecommerce sites are the primary interest is in getting visitors to the site and making a sale, so prevention of site leaks is a top priority. While it is still important to have an appealing design and easy navigation for your website, it is key to find the right balance so it does not compromise the speed your site is operating at.

Schema Markup and Structured Data

Schema markup is code that you place on your site to help search engines provide more informative results for users. If you’ve ever used rich snippets, you’ll understand exactly what schema markup is all about. This structured data tells search engines what your data means, not just what it says. Its definition from the schema.org is as follows: “Schema.org is a collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond.” Whether you’re using it to mark up your products, reviews, events, and more, it will inevitably make a huge difference in CTR. This in turn will increase organic traffic. According to a study done by Searchmetrics, pages with schema markup rank an average of four positions higher in the SERPS than those without. This same study also reported that 36.6% of Google search results incorporate schema rich snippets, yet very few webmasters are actually using the code. This will only help to put you ahead of the competition. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper is a great tool to make sure your schema markup is in line. It provides a simple, step by step process to implement your code. Make sure to test your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to identify any issues with your new code. It also wouldn’t hurt to check out Bing’s version of the tool, as well as Yahoo’s.

XML Sitemaps and Robots.txt

XML sitemaps are an essential part of telling search engines about URLs on your site that may not be discovered during the normal crawling process. As such, creating and uploading an XML sitemap can be a great way to ensure that the site is indexed as completely as possible. There are many third-party tools available that will help you to create an XML sitemap, or you can use a WordPress plugin if your site is built on that platform. An XML sitemap lists a site’s important pages, making sure Google can find and crawl them all, and helping it understand your site structure. It can also include additional metadata about each URL, when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs on the site. Creating a sitemap is easy. You can do it manually or use tools available on the web or the ones provided by search engines. Basically, a sitemap is an XML document that is done according to a protocol; this means that there is a specific syntax to follow. A sitemap has to be uploaded on your site and tell Google where the sitemap is located. Then you can submit the sitemap to Google in its Webmaster and it will start to track it; Google will read carefully the URLs included in the sitemap, meaning it will not index all of them, but just the ones that are considered more important.

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