SEO is important for all websites, but your approach should vary depending on the type of website you have. Ecommerce SEO, for example, has its own rules and techniques that are important for making sure your website has the best chance of increasing its visibility in the search results.
Ecommerce SEO is the process of making sure your online shop is optimised to appear in search engine results. It involves understanding how people are searching for the goods or services you want to sell and making sure you have pages that can rank for those terms. It takes into account the specific setup of an ecommerce website, such as where products sit within the structure of the website and the internal linking between pages.
The first step in ecommerce SEO, as with SEO for any type of website, is keyword research. This will allow you to identify the search market for your products and also help you understand how to best categorise them.
While it might be tempting to just look at broad terms initially, remember that there is likely to be a lot of competition out there. Nail down your key USPs before so you can refine the research to your target audience, rather than a generic audience.
For example, if you are a shop that sells a particular style of necklace, you may want to see whether people are more likely to search for ‘statement’, ‘bold’ or ‘chunky’ necklaces and name this category accordingly.
You might also focus on the specific metals and stones you use or the fact that the necklaces are ‘artisan-made’.
You can also see if there are searches for the specific products you offer, and separate these from more general categories of products.
Using your keyword research, you can identify the priority categories you need to focus on with your ecommerce store, and the best headings/names to give them.
The next step, and this is particularly important for a new ecommerce site, is creating your website sitemap or information architecture. This includes a breakdown of your key pages, product categories, subcategories and products and where they will sit within the navigation. You can also lay out the groups of keywords that will be the focus for each key page that you are optimising.
You can also determine the URL structure at this point, including the subfolders you can use to group your products.
This will ideally create a neat website structure where the relationship between pages is clear to search engines and they can easily crawl and index the appropriate pages in the search results.
Make sure it is as simple and intuitive as possible, while also being future-proof so that you can scale your online shop as your business grows. You also want to ensure that key pages are only a few clicks away from the homepage so that they will be found by search engine crawlers.
Now you have your plan and your keyword research, you want to focus on optimising individual web pages.
Text is the most important factor for search engines because this is how they contextualise a web page. Make sure to use your chosen keywords in headings on your page and include enough text to make it clear that your category or product page is what your target audience is looking for!
You also want to create sensible names for your images, often just including the name of the product category or product that works best. Adding alt text to your images (a short description of the image) will help make your images more accessible too.
You can continue to review your web pages over time and make improvements and tweaks to see how this affects your rankings.
Another important element of ecommerce involves the technical elements of your website that make sure it delivers the best user experience. This is important because a site that is easier to crawl is more likely to appear in the search engine results.
Make sure that page load speed is optimised, your site is mobile friendly, there are no broken links or images on your key pages, and that your sitemap is formatted correctly and is being indexed.
Having a blog on your ecommerce website will help you have an authoritative voice on key relevant topics, but it can also help you rank for a wider range of keywords.
Think about it – when people are in the research stage or trying to solve a certain problem, they tend to type a lot of different questions into Google. Your blog can help answer those questions and get users onto your site in the early stages, who may consider buying your products.
As an example, if you are a company that sells luxury bedding, you may have a sleep advice blog that answers questions users may have about improving their sleep quality or finding the right products for them.
A final but particularly important of your ongoing SEO for an ecommerce website is link building. Google rewards websites depending on how much ‘authority’ they have and this is calculated in part through backlinks to your website.
If you have links to your website from other relevant and high-quality websites, this is seen as a signal of confidence and means that your website is more trustworthy, and therefore more likely to rank higher in the search results.
You can use digital PR activity to gain backlinks, such as by suggesting partnerships with or sharing relevant news, updates or research with publishers in your industry.
That is just a brief summary of the different elements of ecommerce SEO – there are many parts to consider and each one is important! SEO is just as important to ecommerce websites as any others, so make sure you don’t overlook it.