Over 10% of all sales are performed online today. By the year 2024, that number is estimated to be over 20%. Online shopping is the new norm and with sites like Amazon and Wal-Mart, that’s never going to change. Regular retail stores are going to have to adapt to keep up with those large conglomerates.
I’m not here to talk about that though, most ecommerce stores already know that they need to move online or at least have a presence. However, just as more and more ecommerce sites are moving to the online space to make sales, the competition is heating up.
What I am here to discuss are some SEO tips that ecommerce brands can carry with them into 2021 to become more competitive. I highly recommend testing with some of these tactics.
Top SEO Recommendations for Your Ecommerce Online Store
Use Amazon to do Keyword Research
Amazon is the biggest thing to hit the internet since Google. Amazon sells over $400 million in items per day. Yes, per day! I don’t know how many users that equates to since I don’t have access to their analytics, but it’s a lot.
I bring this up because if you’re an ecommerce website, Amazon can be your best friend. Many SEO’s like to use tactics like using the search suggestions on Google and YouTube to conduct keyword research. Well, you can do the same with Amazon.
With that many shoppers hitting Amazon’s site daily, they obviously have an algorithm to recommend to users the most popular searches internally on their site.
For instance, if you are a health supplement store and you want to see what type of protein products or categories you should have, start typing “protein” into Amazon and take a look at the suggestions. Some of what you see can help you determine what to call your categories or new product lines to carry.
Set the Proper Site Architecture
Do you know that feeling when you walk into a physical retail clothing store where nothing is organized and products are all over the place? It’s frustrating. You become overwhelmed, angry, and ultimately leave. It’s not a great experience for you.
That same principle applies online. If you have users coming to your website to shop and they can’t navigate the store the proper way to browse, they will ultimately leave. Setting your online store up from a user experience perspective should be top of mind.
Keep your architecture clean. Have only the categories that really matter, those that people search for. That’s why I started these tips talking about keyword research.
Don’t create too many categories. Sure, larger sites will have more, but keep it minimal. Create just the right amount that all of the products you sell can fall somewhere. Don’t create too many subcategories either or subcategories that can fall under multiple main categories.
Use the model below. Keep it precise and clean. Again, how large this becomes depends on the size of your store or what you sell. Beauty and fashion websites are going to have a lot more categories than a site that sells audio speakers.
I also want to mention leveraging Amazon again one more time. Amazon has a dropdown navigation for categories at the top of their site. Do you think they randomly generate these? No. They most likely select these based on how humans use their site. Which categories are the most trafficked? Which categories do the most sales happen in?
Use these categories for your own good. Click to the main one that fits your niche then look at how a site like Amazon breaks down that category further. Take a page out of their book. I repeat, Amazon is your best friend that loves to do research.
Make Sure Your On-Page SEO is Correct
The best thing that ecommerce sites have going for them is that they will have a ton of opportunities to rank. With the homepage, categories, subcategories, products, and even supporting content, you will control your own fate in Google’s search results.
However, this only holds true if you get your on-page SEO right.
Start with your meta titles and descriptions. You will want to make sure you are testing with different attention-grabbing phrases in your titles like “free shipping” or “% off.” This can help you gain the click over competitors.
Follow suit with your descriptions as well. Use action verbs like “buy” or “shop” to tell users what they can do on your site. Again, use attention-grabbing phrases to catch the user’s attention. You have more characters to play with here, so get creative!
Once you tackle the meta tags, move onto the page content that will be visible to users. Google reads this HTML and it’s an important ranking signal. Make kickass on-page product descriptions that use the keyword you want your product to be found on and other ways users may search for that product.
You can leverage forum sites like Reddit to see how users talk to one another about the type of products you sell. A simple search on a forum is all it takes. Typically users talk naturally in their comments and you can use that to your benefit.
You can also consider adding snippets of text to your category pages, but it’s not mandatory. It does have some SEO benefit, but I like to recommend it goes below the products because oftentimes it will push products below the fold on mobile devices. That’s not a great user experience when you think about why a user would be coming to your ecommerce site.
They want to shop, not read!
Don’t Forget About Technical SEO
There really isn’t too much to go over here. Actually, there is, but I could do a whole post on technical SEO. You can reference some of my older posts to determine if lower priority issues need to be fixed.
The key here is to ensure everything is tidy. You don’t want to cannibalize your own rankings. One of the most common technical SEO issues I run into on ecommerce sites has to do with duplication.
Ecommerce stores sell many products. Most of the time they are niche and can fall under different categories. Also, a product can come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and other variants. This can cause duplication all over your site.
An example would be if you sold Nike Vintage 77 sneakers and they came in white, black, and red. Chances are if you are a shoe store, you have many sneakers that come in those colors. It may be better to have a category for red sneakers than to have a bunch of products split equity in trying to rank for red sneakers. Get what I’m saying?
What you would do in this scenario is have the Red Nike Vintage 77 sneakers have a canonical tag in the source code that points back to the main Nike Vintage 77 product page.
Check out the example from Nike below paying attention to the URL and then the canonical tag. These shoes come in many different colors with a variant added to the URL, but they all point back to the main product page for indexing purposes.
If you know that this could possibly be an issue on your site, visit those products and view the page source. You can do this by right-clicking and selecting the view page source option or holding ctrl+shift+u for Windows users or option+command+u for Mac users.
Once you are there, check your canonical tag. Think of this like a 301 redirect, but not quite. Nothing will actually redirect, but it’s a simple guide to tell Google, “I have this variant of a product, but I want you to only index the main one.” They will ignore the variant and pass all the equity to the main product page.
One last thing to note on technical SEO is to make sure you are using schema markup. If not, you will likely lose clicks to competitors who are. Product schema is super beneficial for ecommerce websites.
You can pull in information like the star rating, price, product image, and the availability (in stock or out of stock) right into the organic search result. If users can gain that bit of information right from the search result, it’s to your benefit. Clicks will rise and so will your ranking.
With schema and canonical tags, most ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Woocommerce do a pretty good job and taking care of this for you, but you should still double-check. As I said, this isn’t all you should pay attention to in terms of technical SEO, but it’s two of the higher priority issues.
If you think your ecommerce website has bigger problems with technical SEO, I highly recommend getting a full website audit completed by some experts.
Execute Link Building Strategies
If every site on the internet was ecommerce, link building would be easy. That’s why ecommerce websites should use it to their advantage. There is a thing called influencers, and millions of them exist.
Influencers make their living by growing their following and partnering with brands. Typically all they are looking for in exchange are some free product or a media fee. You should obviously do your due diligence. Conduct some research and strategically find someone you would like to partner with.
Sometimes the best part of these partnerships isn’t always the link. Sure, SEO’s love the link part, but Influencers also have large social followings. If they post a picture with your product encouraging others to buy it, your traffic just spiked.
There are really two benefits to leveraging influencers, so what are you waiting for?
Supporting Content is Mandatory
You’ll have a lot of opportunities to rank with your category and product pages, but don’t just settle there. You should still leverage supporting content under a blog section. This gives you the chance to become a thought leader in your space.
Run 10 searches on Google and analyze the search results. Chances are an overwhelming majority of what you see on the first page will be long-form articles. You will see Top 10 lists, comparisons, pros and cons, etc.
There is a reason for this. Google loves content. They do their best to determine the intent behind the search and most of the time the intent is to deliver an answer.
Just because you run an ecommerce store doesn’t mean that you don’t need content. Do some topic research or even browse forums as I mentioned above to see what is spiking interest within your niche or industry and then write an article about it.
You should also take advantage of the upsell opportunity. Chances are if you execute this content strategy properly, you’re going to gain new rankings. Place some of your top products in widgets throughout these articles so you give the reader the option to convert. The conversion rate may not be high on these pages, but one is better than none.
Sell More Products in 2021!
I encourage ecommerce brands to execute all of these tips. If you do, 2021 will be a successful year for you navigating the waters of organic search.
Success in organic search may even mean that you can cut advertising spend in other areas, which is always beneficial.
Keyword research, on-page SEO, site architecture, technical SEO, link building, and content creation are vital for any type of website, but it’s even more important in the ecommerce realm due to the competition level. Don’t waste any more time.
If you need help with some of these tasks, reach out for professional help. Trust me when I say the ROI will be positive and your brand will be healthier!