Ecommerce SEO – How to Drive Free Traffic to Your Store
A few months back, I was at one of the most famous bazaars in the world - The Grand Bazaar or the offline Amazon of Istanbul. Just a thought of it and all kinds of horrible smells just come back to haunt me. There was not a single product that I could think of that wasn’t there. Just imagine a hot sunny day in June at a Grand Bazaar that is crawling with people who can’t stop screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s easy to get disoriented and just move along with the crowd, without actually looking at the stalls. You could, however, notice the Turkish sellers about to explode from all the screaming at the disoriented tourists. I can only guess that this strategy doesn’t bring many people to their little shops. After a while, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Some badass Turkish man with a fancy suit and a thick mustache was standing on a high chair with a MEGAPHONE! All eyes were on that showman and his stall.
In other words, he got the most Impressions of the whole bazaar.
Reaching the Top!
In the online world, it’s pretty much the same. The more you scroll down the search results page, the more obscure it gets. You only walk by spammy, angry, sweaty, yelling results that only repel you. However, at the top, you can find the best-tuned results that don’t play the game the old way.
Or perhaps they do?
They are just consciously optimizing their activities to get ahead of their competitors and be at the top.
SEO pays off for almost any type of business. Reaching the top of the search results page for a product can mean a lot of money for a typical business. But, what if you’re selling tens of different types of products? Should you aim for the top of the results page for each type? The answer is obvious.
Here, we’ll cover the benefits an eCommerce website can have with SEO, the proper way to optimize your website and other SEO eCommerce tips.
SEO and eCommerce
I like to start with a study that presents the importance of SEO for online stores. According to The Search Engine Journal, more than 90% of all only online activity begins with a search. eCommerce website that isn’t optimized is automatically placed in the “screaming Turkish man” category. That can be lethal to any eCommerce goal. By that, online businesses are tirelessly trying to refine their SEO strategies, bring more relevant traffic to their online store and increase their profits.
SEO Means More Traffic and More Traffic Means More Sales
It’s a fact that with more traffic to your pages, the number of people who will convert is going to rise. Yet, not all traffic is needed, not only that, it can actually be damaging to your rankings. If you only sell women's shoes, the majority of men who will land on your website will immediately leave. Google will notice the high Bounce Rate of your website and will conclude that you shouldn’t get much authority for your field of work.
That’s why you need a concise SEO plan for your eCommerce website.
SEO Strategy for eCommerce Website
Let me list the most important elements of SEO strategy for any eCommerce website:
1. Extensive Keyword Research
2. Use the Keywords List When Creating Your Site Architecture
3. On-Page SEO for eCommerce
4. Off-page SEO for eCommerce website
1. Extensive Keyword Research
I’ve spent many nights laying in the bed with my eyes closed, unable to fall asleep because of countless keywords flowing in my head. It’s the usual side effect after doing keyword research for an eCommerce website. It’s definitely the most painful part of doing SEO for eCommerce business.
But then again, it’s also the most important one.
If don’t have the right keyword list, there are two main catastrophes for your online business as a consequence:
- Trying to rank for keywords that are way too difficult to rank for and never reaching the top of the results
- Ranking for keywords with very low traffic or with low buying intent.
So, with the right keyword research, you can identify the ideal keywords and focus all your SEO efforts on them. What are the ideal keywords you should rank for you ask? Keywords with low organic difficulty, decent monthly search volume with a dose of buyer intent.
Let’s stop for a second at the last factor - the buyer intent or the commercial intent.
Which of these two keywords has a higher buying intent:
1. Best bikes of 2019
2. Cheap lightweight bikes online
There is an obvious difference between these two queries. The first one is still at the top of the conversion funnel. The person searching is in the research phase. He gathers information around our topic of interest (we’re selling bikes) with no clear signs of decisiveness to buy a bike. On the other hand, the second keyword is at the low end of the conversion funnel. The person has already decided that he needs a cheap lightweight bike and that he would like to buy it online.
Who would have thought, psychology in keyword research?
2. Use the Keywords List When Creating Your Site Architecture
You gathered the right keywords that are promising profit for your business? Now put them to action when you’re creating the structure of your website.
What do we mean by eCommerce site architecture?
Simply the way the navigation is set up, or the product pages and category pages of a website. It’s a shame if you’ve created relevant content for your website that isn’t easily accessible. If you make users click 5 times to get to the page that they are after, be sure that only a few will reach the final destination.
The two golden rules that we always stand by when creating an eCommerce website structure are:
- The right temperature of simplicity
- The 3 Clicks Rule - no page should require more than 3 clicks to get to from anywhere on the website
The Best Structure of an eCommerce Website?
The image below shows what the best website structure looks like
All your major category pages should link to your home page and in some cases even the most successful products.
3. On-Page SEO for eCommerce
With On-Page SEO for eCommerce website, you make sure that all your keywords are just in place. With on-page SEO you’re just making sure that Google understands precisely what your page is all about. We’ll stick to the 3 most important on-page SEO strategies:
1. On-page SEO for eCommerce category pages
We’re starting with the category pages because they are the most important pages that need to get good rankings for. If a category page gets the top of the results page, then all products in that category are in luck. But, to get even close to the top you need to put your target keyword in
- The URL - make sure to include the targeted keyword in your URL.
- In the Title Tag - The H1 tag must have the keyword in it and it’s best to be located as close to the beginning as possible.
- The body copy - Don’t just jump to the products. Instead, write a 300-word copy, and include the targeted keyword 2-3 times (don’t stuff it in there - make it look natural)
- In image alt text - Google relies on alt text for understanding images, which is another opportunity for you to include your keyword.
- In the meta description - The meta description is the text below Titles in the search results page. This practice doesn't affect SEO directly. Instead, it improves your Click Through Rate (CTR) which has been proven to affect organic rankings.
2. On-page SEO for eCommerce product pages
REPEAT ALL PREVIOUS STEPS! With one important difference. For the body copy, don’t stop at 300 words. Your most successful products should get a 1000 words description, and again, don’t just stuff keywords in there. I know you are wondering why I don’t suggest writing a 2000 word description, which would bring you better rankings. Because you also have your reviews at the bottom of the product page that will help you with content quantity.
3. On-page SEO for your blog content
Adding keywords to your category and product pages is good for SEO. However, it’s not enough to maximize your reach. You need to have those targeted keywords in as many places as possible. It’s all about keywords… That’s why it’s extremely important to have a blog page for your eCommerce website. There are a lot of suggestions for how long your blog post should be and how many words should have. It usually depends on the subject and your field of work. But, there is a study that got the average number of words the pages that are at the top of the search results have. Turns out, they all have around 1,890 words.
I know you’re not going to write a 2000 word description for every product on the website. That’s why you include a Blog page on your website. There is no limit to the blog content you create. You’re free to write as many articles as you like to cover the whole topic related to your business. This means starting from the ground basics to the tiny specific questions of your targeted topic. All this content should be in your blog section.
Other technical elements included in On-page SEO practice are:
- Optimization of titles and descriptions
- User-friendly navigation of your website (sitemap)
- Optimized internal links
- Text formatting (h1,h2, bold)
- Optimization of your images (size, names, names)
- User Friendly 404 pages
- Fast loading pages
- Mobile Friendly Website
- Fresh Content
- External Links
Off-page SEO for eCommerce website
For those of you who are new to SEO, you’re probably wondering what is Off-page SEO for eCommerce? The main goal of off-page SEO is promoting your website in all kinds of different ways to get better rankings in search engine results. For years search engines got better in serving the most relevant content to searchers. They achieved this by looking at On-page SEO and Off-page SEO (and other quality factors). This might be the perfect time to mention Backlinks. There's a great free tool called LinkOkay which allows you to track all of your backlinks!
The difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO is that off-page SEO focuses on activities that take place outside the boundaries of your websites. The main elements of off-page SEO strategies are:
1. Link Building
2. Social Media Marketing
3. Social Bookmarking
Link Building Techniques for an eCommerce Website
Definitely the most used off-page SEO technique is link building. And there’s a good reason for that. Think of your link building strategy as a presidential endorsement campaign. Links are the same as getting endorsements to improve your credibility and authority. The goal with presidential endorsements is to create a picture in the minds of voters that illustrates the candidate as the more competent and relevant choice. It’s the same with SEO and link building. In the eyes of Google, external links are endorsements that give your website credibility. That's required to get higher in the search results page. Let's say someone likes this article and references it in his/her next article or website. Search engines will look at it as a sign of quality content on this page that deserves higher rankings.
Some of the link building techniques to bear in mind are:
- Blog Directories
- Forum Signatures
- Comment Links
- Shared Content Directories
- Link exchange schemes
Black-Hat Off-Page SEO
While most “SEO Experts” still use these strategies we advise strongly against them! Trying to trick Google is never a good idea. The usual outcome of these kinds of activities is the Google penalty that will bury you deep in the results page so no one ever finds you. What you need to do is bow to Google and be his loyal servant. Play by his rules and throw yourself at his mercy. I refer to natural links that Google often mentions.
What are Natural Links?
The name is pretty self-explanatory. If a website owner likes some article or a website and naturally adds a link to his/her blog then we are talking of natural links. But, the only way to get natural links is to create amazing content that will get in the link-worthy-content category.
Social Media Marketing for eCommerce website
One of the most debatable aspects of this field is “Do social media links help SEO?”. And it’s no wonder. Google keeps its algorithm a secret and you can’t be sure if there’s any connection. Most links from social media sites are “no-follow”. No-follow links are used to signal search engines that they shouldn’t follow links to that specific page or to no-follow specific links. That’s why, SEO experts are confident that social media links don’t have any direct benefits to your SEO. But the real question is whether social media links have indirect implications on your rankings.
Remember: More followers (audience) means greater effectiveness of social media for SEO! If you have a large number of followers on social media who regularly interact with your social media page, expect better rankings over time. It can take some time to gain more followers but if you stick with it, the SEO results are inevitable.
The evergreen off-page technique is social bookmarking. Depending on your target audience, you can explore websites like Stubleupon, Reddit, Scoop, or Delicious (to name a few) where you can promote your content.
To Wrap Up
One of the most important elements of any eCommerce strategy is search engine optimization. If you can’t decide whether you should go with PPC or SEO for your eCommerce website, read our PPC vs SEO post.