Ecommerce SEO: Where You’re Going Wrong & How To Fix It
Whether you have just begun your journey with an ecommerce website or are a fully established business with a loyal customer base, ecommerce SEO will be an important factor for driving potential customers and sales. With recent reports revealing that 44% of online shoppers begin the purchase process by using a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc…) ecommerce has never been so popular. With definitive statistics such as the above out there on the web, it is surprising how many ecommerce businesses let SEO slip through the net despite it potentially being the largest driver of traffic to their site!
To find out how to utilise SEO for your ecommerce business, keep reading…
Long Tail Keywords
Keyword research is often a time consuming and lengthy process if done properly. More often than not, ecommerce businesses focus on finding product specific keywords to target to their product pages than actually brainstorming what their target audience are searching for and what their search intent. It is likely that customers further on in the buying cycle will be searching with long tail keywords that will include colours, sizes and further specific details that will help them find a product more suited to them. Once you have compiled a list of these long-tail keywords you can target them to the more relevant product or category pages.
Examples of long-tail keywords for an ecommerce fashion site:
- Wide fit red stilettos
- Women’s navy petite sportswear
- Above the knee block heel boots
In the very early days of SEO, before the fear of Google algorithms and penalties, webmasters stuffed their keywords in every possible crevice of their site with the aim to rank highly for their targeted keywords. However, the game has changed and the black hat techniques of yesteryear will now get your site slapped with a potentially business damaging Google penalty. Google’s algorithms, especially Google Panda, are in place to prevent businesses gaining ranking advantages from their black hat techniques. These algorithms don’t just apply to the content on your pages; they include your meta tags, URLs and product descriptions.
If Google discovers any spammy content or keyword stuffing on your product pages, or any site pages for that matter, you will find your website falling out of the search results completely which results in loss of business and a lengthy process of climbing back up the search results. Some businesses have found that they never recover and have to build a completely new website and wait for Google to index all the pages before reappearing in the search results – just because of spammy content! Google wants the top pages of the search results to consist of the highest quality and trustworthy websites, if users read your content and can identify that it is written purely to contain keywords they will bounce and Google will deem your site irrelevant to their search intent.
Read our full guide on the Google Panda update and what it means for your site
Google wants to ensure that the first page of the search results has the most informative, relevant and unique content that is specific to the users search intent. If all the sites on the first page of Google search link back to one original source or are just duplicated text from another source, then this is useless to the user. Google has cracked down on sites that consist of a high percentage of duplicate content with the launch of the Google Panda update in February 2011. This algorithm helps them identify the authority sites from ‘thin’ sites with watered down or duplicated content. Some sites will have a small percentage of duplicate content whether that be something that is present on all your pages such as footer text, but a large amount of duplicate text that is copied amongst multiple pages can cause havoc on your ecommerce SEO performance. For ecommerce especially, duplicate content occurs when ecommerce businesses use the manufacturer’s product description rather than creating their own unique description for each product. Although the description will be accurate, it is highly likely that the original product description from the manufacturer will be present on multiple other ecommerce websites which will create duplicate content. If you have discovered that you have duplicate pages on your site you should use the rel= attribute and 301 redirects to define to Googlebot which page you want them to crawl.
Read our full guide on duplicate content and ways you can avoid it
So a potential customer has clicked through to your website and is browsing your products, now what? In the age of ecommerce, business is competitive and you need to try to convince customers to buy before they move on to your competitor’s site instead. An element that is often missed by ecommerce businesses which is highly effective is the functionality for customers to be able to leave product reviews. Studies have shown that around 61% of online and offline customers will search for product reviews before even thinking about making a purchase, and once they have found a positive review it can help them justify the spend and in turn complete a transaction. By simply adding this functionality, you could potentially see your conversion rate soar! As well as improved user experience, Google likes fresh content so any new reviews left will go in your favour.
Whether your site is ecommerce or not, URL structure and URL friendliness is very important to help Google and users identify what the page is about. Many ecommerce websites do not utilise this important step in ecommerce SEO and most product page URLs appear as https://www.example.com/p=3858 or https://www.example.com/product/2347247/ – undescriptive URLs URL which tells the user and Googlebot nothing! Categorisation is an optional step as some products may be relevant to more than one category which would cause duplicate URLs. If you are a small ecommerce business with no intentions of expanding your product range, then categorisation would be effective for you. Not to forget, URL’s are also a great way to insert your primary target keyword for that page!
Read our full guide on URLs and navigational structuring
Site Speed (Or Lack Of!)
With all the design elements on your website creating a beautiful visual for users, this type of functionality can actually cause some serious problems for your site speed. If your site is relying on large graphical elements, this will increase your site speed massively which can cause a higher bounce rate and decreased conversion rate. Although it has been reported that the top 2,000 ecommerce sites take around 10 seconds to load, this is very poor as it has been proven that users will only wait for up to 3 seconds for a page to load before abandoning the webpage. Tools such as Google Pagespeed Insights and Pingdom allow you to look further into areas that need to be improved and areas that may be causing you problems to your ecommerce SEO.
Read our full guide on page speed and how you can improve it
Ecommerce websites can take full advantage of internal linking as one of the things Google looks for in a site is internal linking to other high quality and relevant content on the same domain. As an ecommerce business, you should look to have a regularly updated blog so that you can internally link from blog posts to other quality pages. When linking to other internal pages, ensure your anchor text where it makes sense to do so contains relevant keywords however be cautious of how frequently you use the same keywords in your anchor text as this can do more damage than good in terms of your ecommerce SEO.
Read our full guide on Internal links and how they can help your SEO performance
One of the most important ecommerce SEO elements, especially for ecommerce websites, is not having security encryption to protect your customer’s details. Many ecommerce websites have yet to make this change as they think it won’t make a difference however that is not the case! Not only will it reassure your customers that you are a trustworthy business and that their details will be safe in your hands, Google have also stated that they give ranking boosts to webmasters who have a SSL 2048-bit key certificate on their site and implement HTTPS site wide. Not sure if HTTPS is set up correctly on your site? Try using a free tool such as SSL Labs to check the status of your SSL certificate.
Read our full guide on HTTPS and what it means for SEOBack to Blog