Seo Best Practices for Ecommerce Sites

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Ecommerce search engine optimization keeps a lot in focus. It needs you to be focused at several parts in the process, and requires you to have an index of careful practices in implementing the right stuff at the right time. The whole process can definitely get overwhelming without a knowledge of what you will be doing to give way to an effective Ecommerce SEO.

Here are the best practices for eccomerce sites.

Use important keywords

To make your product information friendly to both shoppers and search engines, make sure your sizes, measurements, colors, prices, and other details are easy to find, read, and understand. If you have website visitors from multiple regions, think about whether or not you should include measurements in standard, metric, or both. Check product images or photography against physical items to ensure they’re accurate to color and size.

Some retailers keep their product prices from displaying until a user adds it to their cart. This can be due to a special sale, or because the retail is attempting to get around a manufacturer’s minimum advertised pricing policy. Although hiding prices may not have a direct impact on SEO, if a shopper does not see the pricing information on a product page, they are likely to leave right away. This can result in a higher bounce rate, which we’ll talk about in the next section.

Finally, try to keep your product information as up to date as possible. If a manufacturer makes new information available to you, you should do your best to include it! It’s not only valuable for shoppers, but it can help get more keywords on your page and improve your rankings.

Design with shoppers in mind

Your website and product page design should add, not detract, from the shopping experience. Even if you sell the coolest, most desirable products in your industry at the best prices available, a shopper will probably get frustrated and leave your website if they find it hard to navigate or impossible to search.

Design is an important part of SEO, too. If a search engine detects that your website has a very high bounce rate – that is, visitors leaving very quickly after they first access a page – you may see your rankings start to slip. A well-designed website can help cut back on bounce rates, and can at least encourage visitors to browse a few more pages, even if they don’t find what they want right away.

Your ecommerce website should be easy to navigate, with sensible menus or navigation options that clearly tell visitors what they will see when they click a link. You should also use images sparingly, since a long load time could lead to more impatient shoppers hitting the back button. And load time is – you guessed it – a ranking factor as well. So it’s in your best interest to keep your pages loading as fast as possible.

If you’re designing a new website and you’re not sure where to start, browse a few of your favorite (or least favorite!) websites and take notes. What do you like about their design and navigation? What don’t you like? From this, you can probably get a good idea of what your shoppers might prefer to see on your store.

Avoid cluttered, complicated URLs

The address by which a website visitor accesses a page on your ecommerce store is called a URL. URLs can contain a fairly big amount of information in a small space. They can contain categories names, product names, file types, or even actions (like “_blank” to open a new link in a new window).

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SEO standards suggest that URLs should be as clear as possible, and that they should contain keywords relevant to what appears on the resulting page.

Avoid URLs like this:

http://www.websiteurl.com/cat?=328/product?=237828/main.html

A search engine isn’t going to be able to pick up any kind of information from that URL! Instead, lean toward URLs like this:

http://www.websiteurl.com/lawnmowers/green-gas-powered-lawnmower.html

Not only can a search engine glean several pieces of information from that URL – you sell lawnmowers, you offer a green gas-powered variety, etc. – but a person can also tell at a glance what that URL leads to. If they send the link to someone else, the recipient is probably going to say “oh, a lawnmower!” and click to see the product. The first example URL, well… that could lead to just about anything, couldn’t it?

Use alt text in images

If you’ve ever added an image to a website, whether through a CMS or by hand in HTML, you probably know about alt text. Alt text is a line of “alternate” text that is used in a variety of ways. It can be displayed in lieu of an image (if the link is broken, for example), or in some browsers, might be displayed when the user’s cursor hovers over the image.

Alt text is another way to get your important keywords on your site. When a search engine crawls a website, it has no way of knowing what your images are, or why they are on a specific page. However, the alt text can tell search engines that your image is of a lawnmower. This helps give further context to the page, as well – that is, a page with the image of a lawnmower on it probably contains some content about lawnmowers.

Avoid instances where alt text may not be displayed, such as displaying a product image in Flash. Even if you already have important keywords on your product or category page, alt text helps give search engines context to the images on the page, and can help get them included in image searches for those keywords.

Alt text is also very important for users who are legally blind or have a hard time seeing webpages. Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act requires websites to be equally accessible to those with disabilities. If you have a very image-heavy site and don’t use alt text, a visually impaired person’s browser won’t be able “read” anything for them. In the past, some websites have found themselves in hot water for not abiding by this best practice. So ensure that all images on your site – even the smallest buttons or thumbnails – have alt text assigned to them.

 Use Amazon for keyword research.

Amazon is a gold mine of high buyer intent keywords — people literally search on Amazon with the intent of buying something.

To find keywords with Amazon, start typing in your seed keyword. This is a word you think you’d probably like to rank for.

For example, we could type “Dachshund”…

…and Amazon spits out autofill suggestions like dachshund gifts, shirts, stuffed animals, etc. These are all keyword ideas — put them in a Google spreadsheet to keep for later.

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As you can imagine, if you have hundreds or thousands of products, this could take a loooong time. That’s where the Amazon Keyword Tool comes in.

This handy tool scrapes Amazon’s autofill suggestions automatically for any keyword you type in. It gives you three free searches per day, so you don’t have to spend anything.

Just by typing in and searching “Dachshund,” I now have 247 potentially high-buyer-intent keywords. Woohoo!

You can repeat this for all your seed keywords (such as “wiener dog” instead of dachshund).

Each time you search, check off all the keywords and add them to your list, then download that list to a CSV with the “Download Selected Keywords” button.

We can’t just blindly choose these keywords, however. We still need to understand search volume, difficulty and even buyer intent before we pick the ones we use in our store.

But for now, let’s talk about other ways to find more keyword ideas.

Find keywords through competitor research.

If you have competitors who rank higher than you in search results, you can use their site to steal keyword ideas.

SPOILER ALERT

The next section shows you how to do this in less than 5 minutes using Ahrefs. But for those of you who won’t use the tool, keep reading!

First, type your keyword into Google…

…cho0se a competitor…

…and scan their category and product pages for potential keywords.

However, do NOT blindly use the same keywords as your competitor! Just because they outrank you, doesn’t mean they’ve chosen the best keywords — they could just have a higher domain authority (DA) than you.

GOOD TO KNOW

DA is SEO company Moz’s rank of how authoritative a website is, based on its link profile and other factors (i.e. the number of backlinks pointing to a site from another site).

Pro Tip: This is a good time to mention breadcrumbs, which is an advanced navigation function that helps Google scan and index your site.

You can tell if you’ve set up breadcrumbs properly by entering your site into Google. If you see “yoursite.com -> category -> subcategory”, you have breadcrumbs set up. More on that here.

For now, just record the keywords in your sheet and move on.

Use Ahrefs to help you find keyword opportunities.

Ahrefs, the tool I mentioned above, is an all-around amazing SEO tool. You can use it for keyword research, competitive research, to build backlinks and much more.

And we’ll get to all that, but for now let’s talk about how to use it to easily and quickly perform ecommerce keyword research.

Once you sign up for an account (you get a two-week free trial), put your URL into the Site Explorer search bar. I’ll go through it using my site, The Wandering RV, as an example.

Click the “Organic search” tab…

…scroll down and click “View full report” under the Top 5 organic keywords section…

…and you’ll see all the keywords your site ranks for.

In my case, 3,578 keywords. More than I care to dig through one by one.

Luckily, you can filter the results to get exactly what you’re looking for. Specifically, I want to find my low-hanging fruit; the keywords I rank #5-10 for.

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These are low-hanging fruit because you’re already on the first page, which means it should be fairly easy to rank higher with proper on-page SEO and maybe even some link building (more on that in the on-page SEO and link building sections).

To find them, filter by Position — minimum of 3 and max of 10.

You can also sort this in by traffic in descending order just by clicking the Traffic column. If you like, you can put a minimum traffic filter as well, such as no less than 200 searches per month. I don’t have that many, so I won’t do that.

Now, export your low-hanging fruit keywords to a CSV with the “Export” button in the top right, and copy-paste them into a new tab in your spreadsheet. (I call this tab “Low-Hanging Fruit”.)

Now let’s steal our competitor’s keywords.

Type a competitor into the site explorer tool this time, and go to the same Organic Keywords page. To find the gold nuggets, apply these filters:

  • Position max 20
  • KD max 15
  • Volume min 200

This will show you all the low-difficulty, relevant keywords your competitor is ranking for! How awesome is that?

Feel free to remove the volume minimum if you don’t get enough results – some niches won’t have high search volume. I just do that to keep it to the highest potential keywords and to keep the total number manageable.

Alright, you’re probably drowning in keyword ideas now, but I have one more one for ya: The content gap tool.

This nifty tool shows you all the keywords your competitors are ranking for but you aren’t. Type three (or more) competitors in the top three fields and your site in the bottom.

Then hit “Show keywords” to be showered in opportunities! Just apply filters like we did above to find the really great ones, then export and copy-paste to your spreadsheet.

A critical challenge for any ecommerce website is being discovered in Search. Acquiring customers and building a relationship with them is an important driver of business growth, and Google can help shoppers discover your site at each stage in the shopping journey.

This set of guides is for developers who are building websites and that want to ensure that the site works well with Google and follows SEO best practices. The focus is on online commerce sites (ecommerce), but many of the points are equally relevant to sites that list products that are only available at brick and mortar stores. When you share your ecommerce data and site structure with Google, Google can more easily find and parse your content, which allows your content to show up in Google Search and other Google surfaces. This can help shoppers find your site and products.

Here’s an alternate brief description.

Topics
Where ecommerce content can appear on GoogleUnderstand the different surfaces where your ecommerce content can appear.
Share your product data with GoogleDecide which method to use when sharing your product data with Google.
Include structured data relevant to ecommerceHelp Google understand and appropriately present your content by providing explicit information about the meaning of your page with structured data.
How to launch a new ecommerce websiteLearn how to strategically launch a new ecommerce website and understand timing considerations when registering your website with Google.
Designing a URL structure for ecommerce sitesAvoid issues related to crawling and URL design that are specific to ecommerce sites.
Help Google understand your ecommerce site structureDesign a site navigation structure and link between pages to help Google understand what is most important on your ecommerce site.
Pagination, incremental page loading, and their impact on Google SearchLearn common UX patterns for ecommerce sites and understand how UX patterns impact Google’s ability to crawl and index your content.

Conclusion

Ecommerce sites are a popular topic online, whether it be from blogs, forums, or influencers. Factors such as the best ecommerce platforms to use, how much SEO can influence an ecommerce site’s success, and whether ecommerce sites succeed with SEO or not seems to be a common question.

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