The SEO Essentials for E-commerce

Richard Sutherland
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Mar 12, 2019

What Is E-commerce SEO?

E-commerce SEO refers to the process of building more “organic traffic” to your e-commerce website through avenues such as search engines including Google and Bing.

Organic traffic refers to traffic that is naturally resulting from clicks on search engine results or from links on other sites, as opposed to people coming to your e-commerce site as the result of an advertisement or other forms of paid-for traffic.

What Makes SEO Important for E-commerce?

Driving organic traffic is the primary goal of an e-commerce website since the more people that visit the site the more interactions and purchases are likely to occur. While paying for advertising can get people to your site quickly, that’s traffic that will dry up as soon as you stop paying for advertising.

If instead, you can get more traffic naturally, you’ve invested in something that will build and keep bringing you more traffic for the foreseeable future.

Say 10 out of every 100 people see your site in search engine results and choose to visit it. Out of those 10 people, perhaps one of them actually makes a purchase.  With SEO, you can make your website appear to more search engine users, increasing the number of visitors overall.

Just as importantly, you can make your website appear in more relevant searches and therefore get better visitors i.e. those who are more likely to buy in your products in the long run.

By driving more organic traffic and increasing the number of quality visitors you get, you will increase the number of sales you get.

Developing and Implementing Your Own Strategy for E-commerce SEO

SEO can be complex and needs to be thought of as one part of your overall marketing strategy. There are hundreds of ways to drive organic traffic to your e-commerce website. Popular places to start are YouTube videos, WordPress blogs, Twitter, and Facebook social media marketing.

Let’s say your e-commerce website sells motorcycle parts. One thing you might consider is starting a blog or a YouTube channel where you can write about and discuss topics related to motorcycles. Creating informative articles related to the products you’re selling can also help drive organic traffic.

Keywords Matter

Researching keywords is important because that is how you can identify the search terms being used by your potential customers. In the example of motorcycle parts, you may consider researching keywords related to motorcycles and their parts.

There are a number of websites that can help determine keywords for a given topic and Google is a great place to start. One can simply Google “keywords related to motorcycle parts” to find a list of popular relevant keywords. There are also dedicated marketing tools that can help you drill down to the best key phrases.

These keywords and phrases should then be used on your website’s pages to help signal to search engines that’s what they are about.

Taking Keyword Search Volume Into Account

It isn’t enough just to identify some common keywords associated with your e-commerce website. You also want to research which of the keywords you have identified receive the most search volume.

Out of a list of keywords such as “motorcycle parts”, “Harley-Davidson parts”, and “motorbike parts”, you might find that the term “motorcycle parts” is searched the most. You may decide to prioritize that keyword over the others since it has a higher likelihood of driving traffic (albeit relatively generic traffic).

On the other hand, the more specific the keywords you choose, the less competition you’ll run up against, and the more likely you’ll be to find users searching for something highly relevant to your products and services (e.g. “Harley-Davidson parts in Austin”.)  

Both of these types of keywords are important. Consider using more high volume key phrases for your home page and category pages, while drilling down to more specific phrases on location and product pages.

Competitor Research Is Valuable

It’s worth driving home how valuable competitor research is. To research a competitor, you can start by categorizing them, examining their websites, testing their customer service, and determining how their pricing places them in the sector. This will help you price your own e-commerce goods at a competitive level and match or exceed your top competitor’s service.

It will also help in your SEO by allowing you to see which search terms your competitors are handling well and where they are weak. You may be able to carve yourself a niche before taking on a giant in your industry by focusing on a particular segment of your market they are not focused on. You can do this by taking the list of key phrases your keyword research netted you, and checking your competitors' results for these phrases.

Keep Your E-Commerce Site Simple

When creating an e-commerce website, it is important to remember that simple is good. It’s not worth having an extremely detailed website with dozens of paragraphs on each page when users only spending an average of six seconds on a website.

Keeping it simple also helps reduce the workload on the back end as well. Creating and operating an e-commerce website is difficult enough as it is, so try simplifying wherever possible. It’ll be easier for you to manage the optimization of your pages if you use a good content management system and keep your website focused and simple.

From an SEO point of view, keeping your site streamlined also makes it easy for search engines to understand the relationship between all of your pages and present them to their visitors accordingly, increasing the amount of good traffic you get.  

Link to Your Other Pages

Keep traffic at your website as long as possible by presenting links where appropriate to other content of yours. Use one web page to help drive traffic to another, making it as easy as possible for your visitors to find what they’re really looking for. Search engines love links too!

Design & Aesthetics

The first few moments a visitor is at your website is key because this is when they form their initial impression. Right or wrong, visitors are going to make a judgment immediately on whether they want to continue on or leave your e-commerce website.

Having an aesthetically pleasing design will help make a good first impression and give a pleasurable experience. You don’t want to have a highlighter yellow backdrop with black text; research color palettes and use colors that complement each other when designing your website.

Keeping loading times down is important and also relates to keeping things simple. If you have a cluttered website that has tons of pictures, video, and animations, chances are people with slow internet connections will be turned off and return to the search engine. This is a black mark in the eyes of the search engines because it suggests you were not able to solve the browser’s query.

By keeping things simple, you keep loading times down and have a better shot at retaining visitors once they make it to your landing page.

Put It All Together in an E-commerce SEO Checklist

Now, the most difficult part is taking all of these things and applying them to your own e-commerce website. The best way to do this is to start with an e-commerce SEO checklist. Jot down the top takeaways that you could improve and make a checklist. This will help hold you accountable and give you a way of measuring progress as you go. When you achieve a goal or make an improvement, checking it off the list helps reinforce that your hard work is making a difference.

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- about the author -

Richard Sutherland has worked in online marketing and search engine optimization for over 15 years. Excited about how we can offer the customer a streamlined, personalized online experience, Richard looks for every way to increase conversion percentages with a high return on investment.

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