You already know that you need to keep up with your competition, but what is your ecommerce business doing in terms of digital marketing? While you have the direct competitors that you keep tabs on, you might be forgetting about your search competitors – the millions of webpages competing for the same search terms as you.
Ecommerce SEO is how you’re going to set your business apart from the rest. While the practice has been around for years, strategies regularly change and an SEO program that you implemented for your ecommerce website at the beginning is probably not working for you anymore.
When we speak to people who are less familiar with SEO, their first thought is ‘keywords’. Yes, keyword research is a big part of SEO, but more often than not, we see people fall into the trap of believing that SEO is based on keywords alone. In reality, it’s only one of the many factors that go into optimizing your online store for search performance.
Relying Solely on Keywords Is Not Enough
Acquiring new SEO keywords and improving your position in existing search queries is something that we’re always striving to accomplish. This is always going to be a goal for any SEO campaign, but it certainly shouldn’t be your only focus. Here’s why.
Say you are an online cosmetic shop. You envision ranking for all of those high volume keywords, like “lipstick” or “skincare,” while also focusing on long-tail queries that are more specific to your products, like “hydrating red lipstick” or “moisturizing green tea face mask.”
The problem with this approach is that you’ll be competing against thousands of other websites who are also trying to optimize those same exact keywords; hence, users will be overwhelmed with thousands upon thousands of matching results and they are only clicking the top results anyway – which can be search and shopping ads, and not even organic results anyway.
Sure, you can make attempts to gain those keywords. Over time, your efforts will be worthwhile and you can be ranking on page one for thousands of keywords, but why put all your eggs in one basket? Google and other search engines don't just care that users can find your site, they’re also monitoring how users are engaging with the content on your site as well. Are users bouncing immediately after getting to your site? Are your load speeds super slow? Can shoppers make purchases through a mobile device? These are important factors for appearing in search results.
Don’t Overlook Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing the infrastructure of your website so that it can be crawled and indexed by search engines. It’s a very important phase in the whole SEO process and often overlooked by website owners time and time again. Overlooking this phase can have serious repercussions, and no matter how innovative your content is, you simply won’t generate expected results when you’re not optimizing technical SEO.
It’s easy to get lost in understanding technical SEO. There’s a lot that goes into this discipline, but here are the big technical SEO topics that all website owners should never lose sight of:
- SSL: Installing a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate provides a layer of privacy security between your web server and browser. This step is crucial if you want to secure the connection for users on your pages, especially when they’re sharing personal data. While most online shoppers are smart and will not put in any personal information if they don’t see the lock or HTTPS in the URL, most web browsers won’t even show a site in the search results that isn’t secure. Without this certification, your traffic and purchases will drastically decrease.
- Indexing & Fetching: Allowing Google to collect your webpages, while running your code, and efficiently assessing your content is important because it allows search engines to understand your site’s layout and structure. Don’t neglect this step, as new sites need a sitemap to be found by search engines, and new content will take longer to be crawled without requesting indexing. This can all be done through Google Search Console and other search engine webmaster tools.
- Structured Data: Organize and markup your data in a way that makes it easy for search engines to interpret your content. Your content needs to be readable for search engines, so using standardized implementations will go a long way in appearing for unique “featured” search results. Structured data can add prices, recipe instructions, product ratings, and even discount codes to search results to catch the intrigue of users and increase your click through rates.
- Site Speed and Page Speed: A slow website will not only jeopardize conversions, but Google will also take that into account when evaluating your site. There are many factors that can be slowing down your website – it can be as simple as image file sizes being too large to more complex issues, like your font is not optimized across your entire website. Read this article to see how to get your load speed to the optimal 3 seconds or less.
- Site structure: A well-organized site structure can help your search rankings go from 0 to 100 (or 100 to 1…). Not only are you enhancing user experience and making it easier to navigate through the site, but you’re also making it easier for crawlers to index your content in the proper hierarchy. Just as your sitemap lays out the hierarchy of your website, the navigation and primary to secondary page structure needs to do the same. For ecommerce sites, the navigation organization typically starts with a few main product categories and then subcategories from there, be sure not to start out with too many main categories to prevent disorganization across the site.
- Mobile SEO: With 5 billion mobile device owners worldwide, there’s no time to ignore a mobile-first web approach. Make sure that you’re optimizing mobile SEO trends, such as optimizing for voice search. And most importantly, make sure your website is responsive on all of the top mobile devices and search apps. By 2021, mobile commerce is expected to account for 54% of ecommerce sales, so you must make sure that your shop can serve mobile users.
- Backlinks: The more quality backlinks that you have, the more referral traffic you’ll receive. This traffic could be paid or organic. For example, you can pay bloggers to talk about your product – this promotion is absolutely okay, but make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and their audience is right for your product. Organic referrals come from sites reposting your content, ideally because they are vouching for it. Make it easy for them to share your site content by using a tool like AddThis, which adds sharing functionality to any page on your site.
What does Google’s algorithm expect from a website
Google’s algorithm is always updating, and no one knows exactly what it changes to. While this is always keeping us on our toes, we have to watch out for the trends and optimize based on them to maintain SEO success.
From quality content to a well-structured website, and all of the technical elements that go into a successful SEO strategy; it’s clear that while keyword research is a solid and necessary start, it is not the only thing to focus on. Each of these elements plays an equally significant role in SEO, and they all work together to strengthen your site performance.