Having more traffic and revenue from the website is, we can say, the ultimate goal of each eCommerce store owner.
Imagine when someone performs a search for a specific product and your website appears in search results.
Especially today when the competition is increasing as a consequence of the pandemic.
That makes standing out from competitors harder.
But, you shouldn’t lose hope. Instead, follow our list of eCommerce SEO tips that you can apply to your website no matter how old it is.
And, of course, get more traffic from Google and increase your revenue.
List of eCommerce SEO tips
- Do keyword research
- Optimize your homepage
- Optimize your tags
- Check for duplicate content issues
- Optimize your category pages
- Optimize your images
- Write SEO-friendly URLs
- Speed up your website
- Utilize CDN
- Use responsive design
- Use HTTPS protocol on your website
- Keep track of out-of-stock products
- Use schema markup
- Check robots.txt
- Check sitemap.xml
- Consider building backlinks
Do keyword research
First things first – keyword research. Every SEO strategy always includes keyword research as a primary task.
Yes, it may be boring sometimes. But, without clear keyword research, you can get stuck and get little to no traffic.
There is, however, good news.
According to Google, each year, there are from 16 to 20% of new searches in their database.
This means more opportunities for website owners to rank higher and get more traffic.
Now, for eCommerce stores, it is crucial to optimize product pages as they lead to conversions and revenue.
The key to success here is to aim for long-tail keywords with low competition.
Also, you need to pay attention to the type of product and trends.
For example, search volume for “men’s coats” will have higher search volume and competition during the winter season compared to summer days.
How to do keyword research?
We can say there is no universal way to perform keyword research.
Hence, here are a few steps that will help you through this journey.
Step 1: Research your competition.
There is no point in working on SEO improvements unless you know who you are competing with. And many times, using only simple one or two-word terms may seem like a good idea but think about how many people are already ranking for them.
Find your competitors, and analyze their websites and keywords so you can get an overall idea of what your website should look like and where your opportunity to stand better lies.
Step 2: Find basic terms as seeds for further research.
The basic terms we mentioned are a good starting point for further research. Use them to generate more and more ideas.
Find as many terms as you can but don’t forget to aim for long-tail keywords.
There are lots of online tools that can help you in your research phase. Here are some of them:
- Ahrefs (Paid),
- Semrush (Paid),
- Ubersuggest (Free),
- Semscoop (Free & Paid),
- Keywords Everywhere extension,
- Google autosuggest,
- Google-related searches,
- Google People also ask, etc.
Step 3: Analyze keywords
To this step, you have already created a long list of keywords.
Now you need to know which keywords to use.
For this, you need data such as:
- Search Volume,
- Keyword Difficulty,
- CPC value,
- Traffic value.
According to these parameters, you can determine which keywords you are going to use.
Aim for those that have low keyword difficulty and solid search volume.
Now, you are ready to optimize your website using the information from your document.
Additionally, you can use Quora, Reddit, and similar forums to research the pain points of your audience, the way they talk, what they don’t like, etc.
Optimize your homepage
Yes, the homepage is the most important page on the website as it bears the most authority.
Also, it represents the visual identity of your brand.
As the users’ attention span is getting shorter, the first thing is to make your homepage attractive and attention-grabbing.
The second thing to consider is making the navigation as simple as possible. When people visit the website, they are looking for something and they want to find it as quickly as possible.
Having confusing navigation along with broken links leads to a bad user experience making them in most cases leave the website and look further. This leads to an increased bounce rate and decreased revenue.
As eCommerce websites tend to have lots of links inside the main menu, the recommendation is to double-check it every time you make even a minor change to make sure everything works as it should.
Also, don’t forget about your product and category pages, too.
Most owners put too much focus on the homepage and forget about products and categories, which, in essence, are the ones to bring revenue.
Optimize your tags
Using tags on your website helps both search engines and visitors to better understand your content and find things they are looking for.
At the same time, they provide a better website structure increasing the user experience.
When we speak of website tags, here are some tags to pay attention to:
This tag goes inside <head> of your website and represents what the page is about. It also appears in search results.
When writing a title, let’s say, for your products, keep the number of characters between 50 and 60.
Of course, there is no limit on the number of characters, but those 50-60 characters should contain the major information about that page and capture the user’s attention.
Open Graph (OG) tags
Introduced by Facebook, OG tags are made for social networks for better content understanding.
It also defines how your website will look when shared across social networks.
These tags also go inside the head of your website.
You can check for OG tags by opening a webpage, right-clicking, and clicking on “View page source”.
Examples of OG tags to check:
Meta robots tags
Tags are used to communicate to search engine bots what they should do with a specific URL.
This includes the following tags:
- Index – indicate Googlebot to index that page.
- Follow – indicate Googlebot to follow that link (which passes link equity).
- Noindex – indicate Googlebot not to index that page.
- Nofollow – indicate Googlebot not to follow that link (keeps link equity).
You want to get product pages indexed, so double-check them if they are set to “index, follow” or otherwise Google will probably ignore them.
For larger eCommerce stores, Screaming Frog can help in discovering URLs on the website as it acts as a search engine bot.
Heading tags are not a ranking factor. However, they help in structuring the webpage and highlighting the most important information on the page.
H1, the highest in that hierarchy, is mostly used as the title of the website.
Other tags from, H2 to H6, are used to separate the heading and subheadings further.
H2 is a subsection of H1.
H3 is a subsection of H2.
H4 is a subsection of H3, and so on.
Another important part is the meta description, a short text that goes under the title and URL on the results page.
Although it does count as a ranking factor, it’s proven that they affect the click-through rate.
When writing a meta description, keep it short and under 155 characters.
For products, write the most important things like the pain points of your target audience or what the product is about.
Canonicals are used to represent the master copy of a page.
For example, if your website has multiple pages with the same content, the canonical tags should point to one main page.
More on this in the next chapter.
Check for duplicate content issues
One of the biggest challenges of eCommerce SEO is avoiding duplicate content.
Product filters are necessary from the aspect of the user experience.
However, each filter combination can create one unique URL (which you can see when filtering products on your website, for example).
This can lead to millions and millions of different URLs that Google can discover and even index.
While this won’t necessarily lead to a Google penalty, however, having two or more pages trying to rank for the same keyword will lead to confusion in the Google algorithm.
As a result, Google doesn’t display pages we want to see in search results leading to a decrease in traffic and of course, in revenue.
At the same time, the crawl budget (which is already limited by Google as a method for saving its resources) is wasted.
In this particular case, the usage of canonical tags is a crucial step to avoid indexing multiple pages with the same content.
Optimize category pages
Categories usually contain terms that people search. For example, shoes, dresses, watches, etc.
Because of their nature, they are not intended to be content-rich compared to other web pages.
However, there is still enough room to optimize categories and get the most of them.
Write a description. Use a few sentences and describe the category in short especially if you sell your brand’s products.
Don’t hesitate to include keywords in the description, too.
The next thing you can do is write good meta descriptions. We already covered this part so by now you already know how to do it.
Utilize images. Use high-quality images of your products or even better, people using your products as they tend to infuse more trust in your potential customers.
Yes, content optimization is important, but lots of times people tend to ignore image optimization.
It’s known that Google on its SERP doesn’t show ordinary links as it used to do it years before.
As a result of their craving for a better user experience, part of their SERPs are now videos, images, snippets, and much more.
Based on this, you can conclude that images play a major role in Google search.
And the release of Google Lens confirms this.
Optimizing images is not so complicated. It can be time-consuming especially if you have thousands of products but will be worth your time.
Start by choosing a different format. Certain formats such as PNGs and GIFs tend to consume lots of space affecting the website speed. Note: Some images require a transparent background, so don’t rush by converting all images to one format as, for example, the logo won’t look good in JPEG format.
Check file names. Don’t use randomly generated names as they say lots about images. It also shows Google what the image is about without looking at it.
Make your images responsive. Having a properly configured image on a desktop is good, but what happens when you open the website through a mobile device and the image is cut out? To avoid this, you need to optimize images using the “srct” attribute to define size depending on the device resolution.
Add alt text. If a web browser for some reason can’t load the image or people can’t see it due to disability, alt text is displayed as a summary of what the image is about.
All in all, image optimization plays important role in SEO and shouldn’t be neglected.
Write SEO-friendly URLs
This part is not so complicated.
Best practices in SEO-friendly URL writing include excluding unnecessary words and numbers that only lengthen it without any specific reason.
A few best practices you can follow to create URLs of this type:
- Separate words with hyphens;
- Use small letters only;
- Include a keyword inside the URL;
- Keep the URL short when possible;
- Make the URLs static.
Extra tip: It’s not a problem if you have a little longer URL when targeting long-tail keywords as they are longer than more common keywords. This won’t hurt your website structure.
According to Google, about 53% of mobile visitors will leave the website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Add up the fact that over 60% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices.
Looking at this data, it’s obvious that website speed should be taken seriously.
So, how to start?
- Check your hosting;
- Perform technical analysis;
- Utilize CDN.
Often overlooked, website hosting has a huge impact on your website performance.
From the type of the hosting to its physical location, all parameters are equally important.
For example, you buy shared hosting. That means sharing the same resources with multiple websites. In case one of them has increased traffic for some reason, your website will rely on the rest of the resources, which will cause a drop in performance.
After that, physical location plays a significant role. For example, if your visitors come from the US, you should buy hosting located there to serve content faster and reduce the delay time.
If your hosting is fine, you can move to the technical analysis.
Following the results, make a list of technical problems you need to fix. Most of the time, there are issues with JS and CSS, and sometimes images in case they are not already optimized.
After you fix all issues from the technical side, you can look forward to adding the CDN.
Content Delivery Network, or CDN, represents a network of servers around the world.
As the demand for content is increasing, web servers mostly get overloaded and tend to slow down a website.
The problem is even bigger for eCommerce website owners as the products have to have high-quality images. And we agree that they consume a lot of space and bandwidth.
That’s where CDN can help by reducing the number of requests to the main server and delivering content from different servers depending on the physical location of the visitor.
It also caches resources such as JS, CSS, and images or in general keeps a cached copy of your website.
This way, you can surely cut off seconds from the loading time and, as you make your website faster, fewer visitors will leave the website without exploring the website further.
There is a lot of different CDN providers on the web. Here are some of them:
Use responsive design
We have already mentioned the number of users from mobile devices.
And the next well-known fact is that Google has switched to mobile-first indexing.
Having this in mind, having a website fully optimized for mobile is another big thing to pay attention to.
This includes serving all content under one domain. Try to avoid the m.example.com subdomain for mobile devices as the content can differ sometimes.
To maintain the same content no matter the device, the ideal solution is a responsive website. Instead of having two different domains for the same content, a responsive website aligns with the device’s resolution without the risk of duplicate content.
Use HTTPS protocol on your website
What does HTTPS stand for?
Short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, as the name says itself, HTTPS provides secured communication between a visitor and the website.
Before HTTPS, information was transferred through basic HTTP where it could be intercepted making the website or the information more accessible to hackers.
With the invention of a secured protocol, all transferred data is encrypted on one side and decrypted on the other. Meanwhile, information, if intercepted, could not be read or misused.
Looking at eCommerce sites, this is especially important as people have to enter sensitive data such as their addresses, phone numbers, credit card information, etc.
As there are many different hosting providers, there is no universal tutorial on how to install one. However, it’s good to know that it goes in the root directory.
By the way, having an SSL certificate is one of the ranking factors since 2014. and Google confirms this information.
Out-of-stock products optimization
Many eCommerce businesses owners, when running out of some products, delete the product page and leave it as is. Or, they redirect the old URL to the homepage.
Looking from the visitors’ point of view, seeing out-of-stock tags may lead to disappointment, making them leave the website.
In this case, the goal remains the same: keeping the website visitors browsing through the website even if the product is deleted.
There are, however, better ways to handle out-of-stock products.
Tip #1: Make the out-of-stock label visible
This is the basic approach to handling unavailable products.
Clearly visible out-of-stock badges should appear wherever the product may appear whether that is in search results or on category pages.
Here’s a shortlist of where to put this little mark:
- Product page,
- Category page,
- Schema markup (ItemAvailability markup),
- Website search results.
If possible, on the product page, you can add when the product will be back in stock if you are planning to get it back sooner.
Tip #2: Enable email notifications
In eCommerce, everything is about nurturing the connection with your customers.
So, if you run out of something, offer people the possibility of receiving email notifications when you get the product back in stock.
This will also increase user satisfaction.
Tip #3: Use proper redirects
In case you still want to delete or hide the product page, you should use proper redirects.
If you are planning on getting the product back soon or in the future, 302 temporary redirect is the best solution. This way, you are sending a signal to Google that the product will be back.
For those products you are sure you won’t get back again, you can perform 301 permanent redirects and signal Google you won’t have them back.
Proper usage of redirects will help increase user experience and maintain good website health.
Tip #4: Give alternative options
The best way to keep people on your website is to offer them products similar to those that they tried to reach.
Using widgets such as related products under product pages or under 404 error messages will give people alternatives, leading to user engagement and time spent on the website.
Use schema markup
Schema markup usually referred to as microdata or structured data, is a set of codes used to give more information about your webpage and help search engines understand it better.
Furthermore, it shows more information to the users themselves such as, for example, product price, availability, events, reviews, etc.
This way, not only will search results from your website look better but you will increase the chances of ranking higher.
Now, what do you need to implement?
Depending on the page you are optimizing, you will need specific types of markup.
Here are some examples for eCommerce stores:
Now, you will need codes to be able actually to use a specific markup.
If you are using WordPress for example, you can find lots of plugins for structured data.
Robots.txt is a small file in the root directory of your domain.
It is located under the following address: www.example.com/robots.txt
Here’s an example of our file: https://blog.syncitgroup.com/robots.txt
The main role of the robots.txt file is control over search engine bots on which directories to crawl and which to avoid.
With this, you can prevent bots from crawling and indexing pages you don’t want to see in search results and spare yourself a headache.
Now, let’s get to the basics of robots.txt optimization. For this, you need to know the terminology used. And here they are:
- Disallow: blocks search engine bots from crawling specific directories;
- Allow: allows access to specific directories (but only for Googlebot);
- Crawl-delay: gives search engine bot instructions on the amount of time to wait before crawling the website;
- Sitemap: here goes the link to the website’s sitemap file;
- User-agent: specifies for which search engine bot are instructions below.
Through these instructions, you have control over which directories to be crawled, which ones to avoid, and even which search engines can crawl your website and which are not allowed to.
Where to start? First, you must check the platform you are using as eCommerce websites sometimes have a bit of a tricky structure.
Pages such as Cart, Checkout, Search Results, and similar shouldn’t be in the search results.
User-agent: * (star symbol means these instructions are for all search engines)
And that’s it. Note that this is only a simple example for optimizing the robots.txt file. This is a highly technical thing and sometimes it needs to be approached with caution.
eCommerce stores usually have lots of products on the website.
The architecture itself can also be a little bit complicated.
In order to make it easier for Google to discover all important pages on the website, you need to use the sitemap.xml file.
Sitemap.xml contains information about all important pages on the website, relations between them, their importance, and when to check them again.
Although optional as the robots.txt file, having a sitemap on the website allows Google to find new content on the website easier and faster.
Pages that should be included in the sitemap:
- CMS pages,
Now that you know some basics about sitemaps, you’re probably asking yourself what to do next?
Generating a sitemap.xml file, depending on the platform you are using, can be easy. Or not.
For example, if you are using Magento 2 or WordPress (WooCommerce integration), you can find plenty of extensions to make everything work for you. For custom solutions, you will probably need to work closely with a development team.
Things to configure in a sitemap:
- Different sitemaps for different page types.
Frequency refers to how many times the specific type of page gets updated. Like products. They are updated the most on the eCommerce websites whether that is adding new products, deleting them, updating information, etc.
In your case, you probably need to set the frequency to ‘Daily’ for products and ‘Weekly’ for CMS pages/categories.
However, you don’t have to stick to this example. Everything depends on how often you update your website pages, products, etc.
Different sitemaps for different page types: Usually, websites have one sitemap for CMS pages, one for products, and one for categories. This way, you will avoid exceeding the limit of 50.000 links per sitemap or 50MB of uncompressed size.
Consider building backlinks
Whenever it comes to building websites’ authority and getting higher ranks, one thing always remains at the top of the game – link building.
As Google’s algorithm goes smarter each and every day, trying to provide the best user experience, link building today may not be as easy as it was before.
However, this shouldn’t discourage you.
eCommerce is a part of YMYL (Your Money/Your Life) websites where having a good website authority plays an important role.
Let’s see what’s important for link building.
- Provide quality content
Yes, you’ve probably read this lots of times, but it’s a must for link building.
Without quality content sometimes it seems like going fishing without throwing a bait.
People have to find value in your website, something useful that will help them, give them something that they will gladly link to.
This is easier said than done, so focus on creating something that’s really useful and analyze that content from your target audiences’ perspective.
- Analyze your competitors
As you already have discovered who your competitors are and analyzed them for keywords, use them now to scan their backlink profile.
Find which websites point to them, discover broken links, authority, etc.
Make a list of potential websites that you can outreach later.
- Build relationships
Link building is a long-term, time-consuming process that requires lots of work and dedication.
And, on that journey, you must focus on mutual benefits. If the other side doesn’t have any benefits from you, forget about getting any links back to you.
Start with building relationships with other people. Don’t rush too much for getting that backlink as you will get nowhere.
Make long-term relationships with others and don’t have a “When will I get that backlink?” mindset.
Let’s wrap it up
We can conclude that SEO is not a “set it, forget it” tactic used to increase website traffic.
Like going to the gym, it’s long-term and constant work on optimizing your website as Google updates its algorithm frequently.
And users’ needs are constantly changing, too.
So, the sooner you start optimizing your website, the better.
By the way, if you feel overwhelmed and everything seems too complicated to do, feel free to contact us at [email protected]. Our team of SEO experts will gladly help you out.