SEO Basics for Ecommerce Websites

The main object for an ecommerce website is to rank higher than its competitors on Google. If you don’t know the basics of SEO that can help your ecommerce site get to the top of google, then you are missing out on valuable clicks and sales. Whether your website was just launched, or you are working on improve a site that is already on the web, you need a strong SEO strategy in place as soon as possible. Here are the basics for SEO on your ecommerce website:

Research — Keywords and Your Competitors

Research is the most important part of SEO. If you don’t target the right keywords your traffic will be low quality and the conversions few and far between. You need to research keywords for your homepage and for your product pages. Consider three things about keywords you are considering, including relevancy, ranking difficulty and search volume. Choose keywords that are extremely relevant to your products or brand and with a high exact local match search volume. Use the free AdWords keyword tool (Google) and then check the difficulty score in Moz’s keyword tool.

Avoid keywords that have too much competition or are broad. Broad keywords will give you a high bounce rate with low conversions because people are not finding what they are searching for when they land on your website. Keywords with high competition take a lot of time to achieve high rankings and are also very expensive if you run an AdWords campaign.

Identify Keywords to be Used in Blog Topics

Blog content can help you to rank your ecommerce biz for keywords that you might not use on your main site. Your blog is the perfect place to utilize long-tail keywords which are keyword phrases, not just a few keywords. These are generally the types of keywords that buyers use to search for products when they are conducting their own research before buying. Avoid keyword stuffing on web pages and blog posts, this is an outdated process that might get you slapped by Google. A “Google slap” is when your website disappears from search engines because Google has penalized you for using an outdated SEO tactic.

Research Your Competitors

Once you have completed your own keyword research, it’s time to do some research on your competitors. Which keywords are being used by your main competitors? Start to make a list of the keywords that your competitors are using and then see if they have a higher Domain Authority than you do. Check their Page Authorities — are they higher than yours also? You can easily research this by installing the free Moz toolbar to find this information. Examine the site architecture of your competitor’s websites. Is the navigation smooth? Do they have deep links? What are the most popular products they are selling? Now that you have a better idea of how the big companies in your niche have organized their site, you can mirror their site architecture, follow their route with some modifications or do your own thing.

Conduct a Site Audit for Issues

Once your keyword and competitor research are complete, you will need to audit your site to find issues that need to be fixed. Here are the main issues you should focus on. Look for site errors — use Screaming Frog, it’s free and will explore your website and give you a summary of all of the data which includes duplicate pages, errors, missing header tags and many other things that are very helpful. Correct any redirects to 404 pages so that they point to real content. Update any duplicate pages and meta titles/descriptions.

Gauge the Speed of Your Website

You don’t want your visitors to leave once they land on your page, so if your website is too slow to load, they will back out and return to Google looking for a different website. It will probably be a competitor’s website. Almost half of the people landing on a website will leave if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. You must test your website speed and you can do it using Pingdom which is free.

Website Optimization (on-page)

Link building is important for search engine optimization, but on-page optimization is equally important. You have control over this part, so that is something in your favour. You should look at your mobile website version, internal linking, site structure, rich snippets, social media integration, customer reviews, keyword optimization and usability.

· Mobile version — most people browse the web and make purchases with their mobile phone — your site NEEDS a reliable mobile version.

· Internal linking — use this feature sparingly and only where it is natural, or Google’s algorithm will detect this as suspicious activity. Don’t forget to submit your sitemap to Google so it can crawl your site and index your pages.

· Site structure — good structure affects the usability of your website, it’s rank and eventual conversions. Create a structure that is as direct as possible so that clicks go from your home page straight to your product page.

· Rich Snippets — these HTML coded bits are what communicate with search engines to communicate what you site is about before clicking through a link to visit it.

· Social Media Integration — having many social signals lets Google know that people value your website and your brand. You can grow those by adding social media buttons on your homepage, blog posts and product pages. Your branded social presence builds word of mouth, getting you mentions, links and customers.

· Customer Reviews — customer reviews for all your products is an important aspect of any ecommerce site. Product reviews increase your conversion rates and up to 75% of consumers will read the reviews before they make a purchase. Customer reviews also add fresh content to your site, and Google loves that. If you want to encourage reviews, you may consider a reward-based plugin that offers discounts as a reward for a review. Following up with customers after a purchase via email several days later and asking if they need help is nice, and if they don’t ask them to leave a review.

· Keyword Optimization — optimize your page and blog posts for a keyword which should be found in important locations including the header, page title, image file names, image alt tags, meta title and description, URLs, product descriptions, paragraph copy, sub headers. URLs should be user friendly containing your keyword and not just a lot of numbers and symbols.

· Usability — an important aspect of SEO and for keeping your visitors happy. If your site is easy to use, visitors will return and use your site regularly. Make it easy for your visitors to navigate your checkout process. It should be a seamless process and offer contact options, if necessary. A live chat widget is a good option and helps to increase conversion rates.

Add Blog Content

Blog content should contain interesting topics and some well thought out information. It should not be stuff with keywords and should be set out in such a way that it can be read by real people. Setting up a series of posts that explain something in detail can be one way to have readers return again and again to continue reading what you have to say on a certain topic.

These are just a few of the main points of basic SEO for your ecommerce website. It is important to research each topic in more depth so you can understand exactly what is needed. In many cases there are free tools available online that can help you to achieve many of the important aspects of SEO on your site.

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