The best products, the best social media marketing, and the best website will only get you so far. The fact is that over 35% of purchases made online start from a simple Google search. Optimizing your website and your off-site marketing for search engines is therefore a requirement if you want your online e-commerce business to succeed.
Search engine optimization refers to just about everything that we do to try to coax search engines like Google to list our website higher up in the natural rankings for search terms that are relevant to our products.
Search engine optimization can seem intimidating because there are so many ways to do it, abbreviations to learn, and differing opinions on what works and what doesn’t. Just when you think you have a handle on it, the rules seem to change.
Here we will introduce some of the ways that you can implement search engine optimization in your e-commerce store. There is no need to try to do everything all at once. Consider what will bring you the most value and the largest amount of traffic relevant to your own business, begin there, and record the results.
Reduce Duplicate Content
Google checks to see whether the pages on your website contain content identical to other pages of your website or to external sites. It will not list duplicate pages twice.
This is a big problem for e-commerce stores with large inventories of similar products with similar descriptions. Even smaller stores should run a tool to check for duplicate pages and rewrite similar descriptions in slightly different wording.
Your Website Text Should Accurately Reflect the Page’s Purpose
- The header, subheaders, and paragraph copy of all of your important pages should make it obvious for a search engine to understand what the page is about.
- Keywords and key phrases that you would like to rank on Google for should feature prominently in the text.
- The text must also remain natural and human readable or you risk losing the real customers who come through from the search engine results.
- The keywords and key phrases you target and aim to rank highly for must be researched. This is an entire subject in itself, but for now, just know that there are many free and paid tools that can assist you in deciding which key phrases to target.
Google Currently Favors Longer Forms of Content
Check the top 10 results for popular searches on Google and you’ll see that they are all longer forms of content. The first few results typically average 1,800 to 2,000 words on the page. Your e-commerce store product description may at the moment only have 200 to 300 words.
This is one reason why many e-commerce stores start blogs. Not only does it allow for a way to create longer pieces of content, but it also adds value to your website for your visitors. It also increases the likelihood that other websites will link to your content. This, in turn, automatically improves your search engine rankings as your website is considered to be an authoritative source.
The Number and Quality of Links To Your Website Is Highly Important
The number of referring links from external domains is still the number one factor that Google takes into account when choosing which websites to display for a particular search. If you were to focus on just one thing to try to improve your rankings, it would be this.
However, before you rush out and try to buy thousands of links, know that to dissuade exactly this type of behavior, Google and other search engines have learned to differentiate between quality links and those created purely for search engine optimization purposes.
The relevance of the linking website is also taken into account. An excellent link to your website would be from an authoritative industry publication, for example. “Trending” content is also rated highly and can zip to the top of rankings for a short period of time.
Getting links to your e-commerce website from industry publications can be extremely difficult. Unless you have significant momentum and press interest behind your product, a simpler approach to getting more links from relevant sites is to post on industry-related forums or blogs, remembering to link back to your e-commerce website.
Note that links on social media to your website are not considered an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithms. This means that though social media can get people talking about your products and sharing them with their friends, social media marketing is not a big factor in search engine optimization.
Your E-Commerce Store Must Be Mobile Friendly
As the majority of Internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, Google has a strong preference for websites that are mobile friendly. Search engine optimization aside, you can’t succeed in e-commerce in 2019 without a robust mobile friendly e-commerce website.
Ditch the Pop-Ups
Whereas some marketing teams continue to push pop-ups as a way to upsell products or avoid abandoned shopping carts, Google has increasingly made it clear that websites with invasive pop-ups will be penalized in the search engine rankings.
Most of the functions that pop-ups were meant to perform can be done by the much more user-friendly notification. Notifications, such as those provided by DataCue, can inform the user of special offers or time-sensitive deals relevant to their interests in an unobtrusive way.
Create the Best User Experience
As you can see, websites that give visitors the best user experience are favored by search engines like Google. Virtually everything we do under the umbrella of on-site search engine optimization is really just improving the website for visitors.
Google also takes into account the “bounce rate” of your webpages (the percentage of people who quickly browse away from your site) as an indication of whether you have satisfied the user for that particular search query.
Therefore, doing everything that you can to streamline and personalize your e-commerce website for your visitors will have a knock-on effect on your search engine result rankings.