10 SEO Best Practices New Ecommerce Merchants Must Learn





  • September 24, 2016

    Is ecommerce the place to be? You tell me.


    Amazon posted a net income of $ 513 million on revenue of $ 29.1 billion in the first quarter of 2016. But you’re not Amazon.


    That said, worldwide retail ecommerce reached $ 1.55 trillion in 2015, and it’s expected to hit $ 4.06 trillion by 2020. It represented 7.4% of all retail sales last year, and industry experts predict it will hit roughly 15% in the next four years.


    Surveys have shown that 40% of internet users have purchased goods online.


    There’s potential. But plenty of competition. You need to work to get those digital customers to your virtual doorstep.


    Whether it’s B2B, B2C, C2B, or C2C – the four main types of ecommerce – you need to employ some SEO best practices if you want to win the online sweepstakes.


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    Product/Service Description


    You may have dozens of product pages on your site.


    In order for the bots to understand you (the search minions sent out to crawl every corner of the web), you need textual descriptions for your products and services. Give those bots something to chew on.


    More content – original content – means more for them to index, better understanding of your business, and much lower risk of penalty for thin or duplicate content.


    Give your main products and services a meaty, textual description of at least 1000 words. Target relevant keywords. The bots, and your SEO, will thank you.


    Customer Reviews & Testimonials


    On-page reviews and testimonials matter. Why?



    So make it easy for them. Create a user community or fan page. Include customer review fields on each product or service page.


    Even better, take a page from Ry’s playbook – Australia’s largest hair and skincare online store – and give them a monetary incentive to leave a product review. Ry awards one lucky reviewer a $ 50 store credit each and every month. It’s win-win.


    And if no one is leaving any on their own, you could simply contact people after they buy or download and ask. Most are happy to do it.


    Keyword Research


    Keyword research is always good SEO advice.


    Using a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner, identify some keywords related to your niche. How are people searching for it? Use Google Trends to find the words that are popular and common (rather than outdated and obsolete).


    And remember it’s not just about search volume. Consider:



    1. User intent
    2. Appropriateness
    3. Rank potential

    You’re probably not going to rank for the highest search volume keywords.


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    Instead, look to the long tail phrases – the 3-5 words that reflect how people actually search online (“best artisan jam in phoenix” rather than just “jam” or even “artisan jam”). The volume will be lower, but the ranking potential will be much higher. People searching for them are more prone to what you’re offering.


    And long tail phrases account for roughly 70% of all searches, so the potential is huge. Pick long tail keywords that demonstrate “do” user intent (buy, cheap, best, and so on).


    On-Page Optimization


    Now it’s time to target those keywords.


    Include them in your product/service descriptions, page titles, blog posts, meta descriptions, and title tags. Sprinkle in words that encourage click-throughs like free, best, X% off, free shipping, sale, and guarantee.


    Explore the Schema markup to encourage rich snippets in SERPs from reviews, sales, testimonials, and special events. It can be a little complicated, but Google has a helper tool, and user guides are just an online search away.


    Page URLs


    When you’re dealing with dozens of product pages, optimize your URLs (keyword rich, with a 1-2 word category, subcategory, and product name separated with hyphens, like example.com/digitalcameras/canon/eos-rebel-t5).


    Keep all URLs descriptive, short, consistent, and relevant.


    Find the best category and subcategory labels using the keyword tools, and look to behemoths like Amazon for guidance.


    Image Optimization


    Don’t forget to use and optimize images, too. As an ecommerce site, use plenty (1 image = 1000 words).


    Use appropriate keywords in their alt-descriptions (describe the image for the bots…they can’t “see” it), filenames, captions, and titles. Compress whenever possible with Compressor or TinyPNG to decrease load times (a nice little SEO bump).


    Site Structure


    The aim here is to make your website navigation as easy as possible for a) your customers, and b) the search engine crawlers.


    Your structure can quickly become unwieldy. Simplify it.


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    Keep each page 2-3 clicks away from the homepage. How? By using strong categories and subcategories (check out Amazon to see how it’s done). Sketch your navigation on paper or using a tool like Lucidchart or Draw to get a bird’s-eye view.


    If you have tens or hundreds of pages, you should also consider breadcrumbs on your site. They have a lot going for them, not least of which is the apparent SEO boost (small, but a boost is a boost), and the enhanced user experience.


    Avoid Duplicate Content


    Session tags (a unique tag for each visitor), URL parameters, copied product descriptions, printer-friendly versions, or a page’s inclusion in special offers or campaigns can all lead to duplicate content.


    A bit of it is not going to hurt you, but left unchecked it can turn into hundreds or thousands of duplicate pages.


    Moz offers an introduction to duplicate content, why it’s bad, and how to fix it.


    Trust Signals


    Trust signals include Verified by Visa or Mastercard SecureCode, indicating you’re an authorized seller of a high profile brand or a member in good standing of the Better Business Bureau, or that you use a renowned security feature. A badge or banner to show these will put your customers at ease.


    A Baymard survey found that people most trust Norton Secured (35.6%), McAfee Secure (22.9%), TRUSTe (13.2%), and BBB (13.2%).


    Trust signals won’t directly affect your SEO, but they can boost your click-through rates, conversions, and social media engagement, and those tell Google that you’re popular and trusted. And that’s good for you. It’s all connected.


    Additionally, Google has announced that there is a slight SEO boost for sites that use the SSL/HTTPS protocol.


    Page Speed


    We all have the need for speed. And it’s a ranking signal to boot.


    Consumers won’t wait around while your site loads. As many as 47% expect a load time of 2 seconds or less, and 40% will leave if it takes more than 3 seconds.


    Walmart saw a 2% increase in conversions for every 1 second improvement, and up to 1% increase in revenue for every 100ms of improvement on their online portal. That can add up.


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    Check your page speed with either Pingdom or PageSpeed Insight. Follow the recommendations and suggested fixes (hire an SEO agency, a freelancer through sites like Guru or Upwork, or post your project to national job board sites like Craigslist or regional job board sites if you can’t implement them yourself). Give yourself a high five.


    Ecommerce sites need SEO just like every other site. And mobile optimization. And content marketing. Ignore it at your peril.


    What SEO practices have given your ecommerce platform the biggest boost? Share your thoughts in the comments below:


    Images: Morguefile, JPhotoStyle, Pixabay

    Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community

    Author: Andrew Raso


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