By the end of 2022, the eCommerce market will grow to account for approximately 20.4% of global retail sales. This suggests that an increasing number of retailers are shifting from traditional retail methods to the internet to sell their products and services. As the eCommerce space becomes crowded, ranking high on the search engine results page (SERP) has become more important than ever. Getting noticed in a competitive environment can be a challenging task.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) for eCommerce is one of the most cost-effective yet fruitful ways to improve your ranking on SERPs. According to data from Google, 49% of online shoppers say they use Google to discover or find products. Additionally, 59% of shoppers say they use Google to research a purchase they plan to make in-store or online.
This signifies that a large amount of users do not arrive on your eCommerce web page directly. This is especially true for businesses that have very little brand awareness online. Unless you’re Amazon, chances are most of your consumers find you through Google.
Visitors don’t bother looking beyond the top few results on the SERP. According to Search Engine Journal, the click-through rate of the top 5 links on Google is 70.4%. So, if your website is not ranked highly in the SERP, you’re most likely missing out on high amounts of organic traffic. This is precisely why SEO for your eCommerce website is non-negotiable.
SEO is proven to have the highest ROI of any marketing campaign. However, many eCommerce businesses ignore SEO and tend to focus on social media campaigns or paid ads. While these may be great strategies, they require constant efforts and large budgets.
No matter how creative and value adding your products and services are, even the best of them can get overshadowed if you do not optimise your eCommerce site. To ensure you’re receiving a constant stream of high-intent visitors, it’s imperative to follow the best eCommerce SEO tactics.
This article is your guide to eCommerce search engine optimisation. We’ll discuss what it is, its various benefits, and most importantly, how to improve eCommerce SEO.
What is eCommerce SEO?
Like most SEO practices, eCommerce SEO is the practice of helping you rank higher on Google search results. Customers generally tend to search for products and services online. For example, if someone is looking for a vacuum cleaner, they’re more likely to Google “Buy a vacuum cleaner” than go directly to your website to look for one.
This is why it is critical to understand how Google ranks websites. While there is no definitive guide on precisely which ranking factors are considered and in what capacity, SEO practices are an effective method to rank higher on Google and get more traffic.
A eCommerce SEO checklist includes multiple SEO practices – basically anything that is beneficial for your retail website. It includes technical aspects (such as site structure and loading speed), as well as on-page and off-page SEO practices. Each product page should be optimised to draw maximum traffic from search results. Apart from product pages, you should also ensure that your home page, about us page, F.A.Q. page, blog articles, help centre answers, and contact page are optimised.
Google ranks websites based on their relevance to the keyword terms that users search for. Google seeks to improve UX as much as possible – the main purpose of the algorithm is to find exactly what people want in their search. While different search engines may have different algorithms, it makes the most sense to focus on Google. As of May 2022, Google accounted for a whopping 92.48% of the search engine market share worldwide. On the other hand, Bing and Yahoo account for only 3.08% and 1.3% of the market share, respectively.
Another way to gain more traction is to create content in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, expert opinions, and more. Having high-quality content helps with positioning yourself as an expert on topics related to your product and services. It also builds authority and consumers start to trust your brand more, leading to higher conversions and sales.
Why eCommerce SEO is important
Strategically applying eCommerce SEO practices unlocks numerous benefits for your business. Without SEO, your site will be buried under hundreds of other websites. The ultimate aim of any SEO practice is to increase the number of people that visit your site and convert them into customers. Here are some ways in which eCommerce SEO helps your business:
Increasing brand awareness
If you’re a new online retailer or have recently shifted your brand online, chances are most people won’t know about you. Brand awareness is a critical first step in generating sales. eCommerce SEO is one of the most cost effective ways to improve brand awareness. The higher your site appears on the SERP, the more likely it is that potential consumers will click on it and engage with it.
You can also consider appearing in Google’s answer box, which is known as a featured snippet. Google’s main aim is to provide consumers with information as quickly and as accurately as possible. If your content or website can quickly answer one of Google’s most searched questions, your website will gain the top spot in the highly visible “answer box.” eCommerce sites can appear in the answer box, which is considered prime real estate.
Generating a stream of customers
A customer’s online purchase journey takes the form of a funnel. From visiting your website to the checkout process, consumers are lost at each stage. The traditional marketing funnel includes awareness, interest, desire, and action. It relies on a constant stream of new customers entering the funnel. SEO is one of the best ways to constantly drive low-cost top-of-funnel traffic at the awareness stage.
In addition, customers start their journeys from interest (research) to action (making the purchase). Their keyword choices are likely to change as they move from the informational to the transactional phase. It’s crucial to target the correct intent at different points in the customer journey. It encourages customers to move to the next stage and increases the probability of conversion.
Increasing remarketing audiences
Cookies are a powerful tool your paid search team can use to remarket your brand to audiences. When customers arrive on your site, either through organic or other channels, your team can place cookies for remarketing campaigns. This way, you can show ads to these customers even when they’re not on your website and have continued with their journey elsewhere.
The higher the number of people visiting your site, the larger your remarketing audience is. Retargeting improves the ROI from SEO, as the same customers who visited your site due to good SEO practices will be reminded of your brand repeatedly as they continue their online journeys. They’re more likely to come back to your site if they’re reminded that you provided them with a good user experience.
Better user experience (UX)
To convert site visitors into customers, your site needs to have good usability. Because SEO keeps the needs of the consumer at heart (such as the keywords consumers are using or what they’re looking for), it helps with building a strong UX, which ultimately drives conversions. Better usability also leads to a higher ranking for your site.
Keyword research also allows businesses to better understand what consumers are looking for. If you can fill that gap before the rest of the market, you’re more likely to make a sale. For example, if customers are searching for “affordable black denims,” it makes more sense to highlight the affordable options, which improves usability. Moreover, UX has multiple additional benefits, such as customer loyalty and brand differentiation.
Lastly, a great UX is something Google takes seriously. When visitors arrive on your site in large numbers only to leave it quickly, Google marks this as bad UX. It demonstrates that your site isn’t relevant for that query or hasn’t been able to satisfy customer demands. This can hurt your rankings considerably. So, it’s crucial to ensure a strong UX.
Lower paid search costs
This is a cost-saving yet hidden benefit of eCommerce SEO. Companies spend billions of dollars on paid search costs. While these can be effective, SEO is a much cheaper alternative with a higher ROI. It helps you generate organic traffic without needing massive budgets.
In the Search Advertising segment, the average ad spend per internet user is approximately US$286.60 in 2022. This is a massive number considering you need hundreds or thousands of users visiting your website. With the increased use of ad blockers, the ROI on your paid campaigns may be falling. In this case, SEO is an effective, low-cost alternative.
Even if you’re considering paid search, SEO helps. Google’s quality score, which measures the relevance of the ads to the landing pages, is used to determine the cost per click. Optimised landing pages imply better quality scores, leading to lower cost per click, while also automatically ensuring higher performance in organic search.
How to improve eCommerce SEO
eCommerce SEO is not about any single variable. It involves working on multiple factors simultaneously to make your website optimised. Broadly, it can be divided into technical SEO and product page or on-page SEO.
Technical eCommerce SEO
Technical SEO refers to website and server optimisation techniques. This includes factors such as site architecture, a secure and responsive design, or a faster loading time.
Website structure is perhaps one of the most important factors in SEO – it directly impacts search engine rankings as well as user experience by making it easier for both users and search engines to find your website and products.
Most eCommerce companies should include a homepage, category pages to outline the major type of products on their site, and product pages for individual products. One of the most important decisions in your website structure is how to categorise products. This requires research and a detailed understanding of how people search for products, making it context-specific for your website. For example, if you’re a fashion retailer, you may want to categorise products based on gender, type (formal, informal, trousers, and denims), season, or material. Whereas if you’re a book retailer, you might want to categorise based on genre or age. Make sure each category is populated with at least a few products (2-3 minimum).
Next, make sure your site is well connected by focusing on how the areas of your site are internally linked. Global navigation should include links to key pages on the site, allowing customers to navigate to priority categories with ease. Make sure to not overdo this and link every category to the global navigation. This can result in a choice overload for customers, leading to bad UX. Additionally, this hinders search engines’ ability to verify the relative importance of pages – pages with higher links are seen as more important, making them more likely to be prioritised on the SERPs.
You should also focus on the crawl depth of your website – how many links it takes from the homepage to reach any specific page on your site. Of course, the crawl rate depends on the purpose of your product. A key category should be linked directly to the global navigation (a crawl depth of 1), whereas niche products or informational pages can be much deeper within your site. Basically, ensure you match the importance of a product or any page with the crawl rate, which helps search engine bots get access to important information quicker.
Lastly, make sure you keep your site lean. Given the intense competition out there, you don’t want to let search engines crawl on your pages unnecessarily. Help it find your products and pages quicker – search engines should crawl the pages you want to rank higher more frequently. This includes editing filters to prevent unnecessary URL creation, editing categories to link directly to product pages, and processing out of stock and discontinued products.
Improve your speed
The speed at which your site loads is critical in determining its ability to rank higher on the SERPs. Sites that load slowly lead to a bad user experience, causing customers to leave your site. This indicates to Google that your site provides a bad UX, which could lead to a potentially lower rank. Moreover, customers leaving your site also leads to lower conversion and sales.
There are various methods to improve the speed of your site. Such as using a fast DNS (domain name system), making your image files as small as possible, compressing your webpages, and more. You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool to discover some insights. By putting in your URL, Google will score your site on mobile and desktop from 1 to 100 and give you suggestions to minimise loading time.
Create a sitemap
An XML sitemap is a file that provides search engines information about your pages. It tells Google which pages are the most important ones, allowing it to prioritise certain pages and crawl your site more efficiently. Essentially, it acts as a roadmap for search engines. It also contains information such as when a page was last modified and how frequently it is updated.
Optimising product pages
Optimising product pages involves using on-page SEO practices. As the name suggests, these are factors that are on your page, such as title tags and meta descriptions, which you can optimise to improve the visibility of your site.
Keywords are critical on every aspect of your page – title tags, meta description, URLs, product name, and any other content you produce – as they increase the chances of your website showing up on the SERP if you include keywords and phrases that consumers are most likely to search for.
The first step is to find keywords, this is done by conducting keyword research to gain a detailed understanding of what consumers are searching for. Owners of eCommerce sites are often looking to attract visitors with strong buying intent. For example, users searching for “buy black hair extensions” have a high likelihood of purchasing these products. You can either use a keyword research tool (like Ahrefs and Semrush) or use the Google and Amazon search bar to see what they suggest when you type something.
Next, you must select the right target keywords. You should consider factors such as keyword search volume, search intent, keyword value, and difficulty before making a choice. Overall, the keywords you select should have high search volume but low competition, allowing you to fill that gap. Then, you must optimise the selected keywords by placing them strategically in your content. This can include inserting them in your title, URL, and other headings and subheadings. Keywords also help with developing product categories, as they convey what customers are looking for, which helps with structuring your website.
Title tags and meta descriptions
Title tags are the headlines that appear on the SERP, whereas meta description is a quick summary of your product or page that appears under the title on the search page. Naturally, both title tags and meta descriptions should have the relevant keywords as that determines if a customer will click on that page. If the keywords you mention are more likely to align with a customer’s search query, they’re more likely to open your page.
According to Google guidelines, meta descriptions should be unique and be limited to 160 characters or less. Keywords in the description also allow Google to understand what your products are about and rank them on the SERP accordingly. Lastly, promotional modifiers like “X dollars off,” “free shipping,” or “xyz deal” boost your ranking. It piques customer interest, making them more likely to click on your webpage.
Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) are nothing but online addresses for your website. Again, optimising URLs includes using the right keywords so that the search engine as well as users know what your page is about.
There are numerous guidelines for creating the right URL. Some of them include: using short (less than 50 to 60 characters), easy-to-read and easy-to-interpret URLs because Google prioritises accessibility. Remember to use keywords in URLs as they show up in search results. However, excessive keywords are likely to impact your Google ranking. Every page on your site, such as the category page and product page, will have URLs – make sure you optimise each of those.
How can Clear Click help?
The online retail sphere is growing, and with that comes intense competition. Whether you’re a new business or a company looking to shift some of their business online, it’s critical to ensure your website and pages are search engine optimised. Customers don’t look beyond the top few search results, making rankings one of the most important factors when it comes to making sales online. eCommerce SEO is the most cost-effective method to gain awareness and improve conversion rates.
If your website needs SEO support book a consultation call with us. Our SEO team help optimise your eCommerce store to strengthen your organic search traffic.