It’s no secret that ecommerce has grown massively in recent years. During the Covid-19 pandemic alone, ecommerce grew by a whopping 55%. All this growth is fantastic news for ecommerce websites, though it also means that competition has never been fiercer: while there are roughly 12-24 million ecommerce sites worldwide,, fewer than a million of them make sales over a thousand dollars annually.
On-page SEO for ecommerce websites is nothing short of vital for any retail business who want to be one of those million sites. On-page SEO increases your ecommerce business’s visibility to people looking for your products online, helping you attract visitors to your website, and eventually convert as a sale.
In this guide, we’ll go over all the different aspects of on-page SEO and how you can utilise them to make your ecommerce website stand out in the SERP.
What is SEO for e-commerce?
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the process of optimising your website in order to appear higher in search engine results.
For example, if a potential customer is looking for your product online, typically, they start by searching for the product on search engines like Google to compare prices and features of similar products in the market, read reviews, and search for tips and advice. So, if you follow SEO best practices, your ecommerce site will appear high up in the searches when this person is looking for your product, and they are more likely to shop from your business.
However, content-centric websites' SEO practices differ from those of ecommerce websites. This is because the goals an ecommerce website has for its website traffic are different from those of, say, a news website.
While a news website is looking for people to spend a lot of time reading a page and interacting with it by reading linked articles, commenting, and sharing content on social media, an ecommerce website needs people to add items to cart and make purchases.
Before we share some ways to help improve the on-page SEO for your ecommerce website, let’s first understand the difference between on-page and off-page SEO practices.
What is on-page SEO?
As the name suggests, on-page SEO for ecommerce websites means optimising various elements of your website to add more value for the customer - which in turn helps you to rank higher in search results. This includes, among other things, keyword optimisation, improving your website’s load time, and simplifying your website architecture.
On the other hand, off-page SEO is the process of optimising elements outside your website, like increasing the number of backlinks pointing to your website and growing your social media reach. The purpose of these activities is to increase your site's domain authority, essentially telling Google you’re a reputable resource. This, too, will help you rank higher in the SERP.
It’ worth noting that ecommerce websites are susceptible to ranking lower in search engines because many websites selling the same or similar products have similar product descriptions and product titles. So, as an ecommerce business owner, you need to work on your off-page SEO alongside your on-page SEO to set your business and products apart from the competition.
How to improve on-page SEO for e-commerce websites
Google’s whole mission is to provide its users with the most useful search results possible. For your site to be deemed ‘useful,’ you need to be implementing the key on-page SEO techniques outlined below.
It’s good to remember that optimising your website takes time, effort, and patience before you see results; a time frame of 3 - 12 months is normal for SEO. The following techniques can help you get to the top of the SERP as fast as possible.
1) Keyword research
Keyword research and placement are essential to increase your online visibility. Keyword research involves finding out what terms your ideal customers are using to search for products like yours online, and then peppering them into various relevant places on your website so Google can tell that you’re a good resource on the topic.
For ecommerce sites, you should keep search intent in mind when doing keyword research. Depending on what stage of the buyer’s journey your prospective customer is in, they’ll be looking for a solution to a problem, researching their options, or looking for the best deal on their chosen product.
You can use keywords to target people in each of these stages, but for the purposes of today’s guide, we’ll focus on commercial and transactional search intent - essentially people who are getting ready to purchase.
For example, a consumer looking for a laptop might search for “buy new laptop” or “best deals on Dell laptops,” so you might want to incorporate these keywords into your site’s content.
Commercial keyword users clearly intend to buy a particular product and are likely to purchase it if they visit your site. So, using these commercial keywords on your site will help you attract an audience that is more likely to shop with you.
Some other things to keep in mind while incorporating keywords into your content are:
- Incorporate keywords that have a high search volume. The larger the search volume, the more people there are searching for that specific keyword.
- Identify keywords that have low competition. While it makes sense to go for keywords with thehighest search volume, this isn’t always the most realistic goal, as a keyword like “buy new laptop” will have fierce competition. Going for lower competition keywords will give you a better chance of ranking in the first page of search results.
- Go for long-tail keywords. One of the best ways to find low-competition keywords is to narrow things down with long-tail keywords. So instead of “buy new laptop”, you might target “best PC laptops for students”.
- Avoid keyword stuffing. Too much of a good thing can spoil your efforts. Google can tell when you’re artificially inserting a keyword in every spot possible. Write for humans, not search engines, and Google will reward you with higher rankings.
You can find out more about doing keyword research here. Once you have found some relevant keywords, it’s time to put your research to use.
2) Keyword Placement
Once you have identified the right keywords to use on your page, it’s vital to place them strategically to maximise traffic. Appropriate keyword placement allows search engines to index your site for those keywords, resulting in a higher ranking on the SERP.
You should focus on the following elements to master your keyword placement:
- Headings – optimise your headings, such as title tags (H1), with relevant keywords so that each page on your website is optimised around a unique keyword. This makes it likelier to be found by the right audience. Of course, depending on your content, you might have various subheadings (H2, H3, H4, and so on). Apart from improving SEO, subheadings also improve your page’s user experience as your content becomes more structured and visitors can quickly refer to the headings they’re specifically looking for. Use subheaders as signposts for your content and to target secondary keywords.
- In the first 100 words – mentioning your primary keyword in the first 100 words of content helps search engines understand what your page is all about. The first few sentences should give an overview of the contents of the entire page. You should also naturally scatter your keywords every few sentences. The general rule is to mention your primary keyword every 100-150 words.
- Optimise images – this involves working on the image’s file name and alt text to include keywords so as to make it more SEO-friendly. These pieces of text link the product and image together and are crucial to your ecommerce website’s SEO.In addition, when uploading the image to your ecommerce site, avoid using default file names. Instead, keep the image file name the same as your product listing name so it’s easier for Google to process the context behind your images. Lastly, make sure you use high-quality images. This helps with SEO, as well as with social media engagement. Follow the image dimensions specified by your website host to have the optimal image sizes.
- URL slug – URLs are an important component of SEO. So instead of automatically generating a URL using a CMS, you should manually create one. Make sure the URL you use contains the target keyword and keep it short – the keyword itself is usually enough for SEO purposes.
- Title tags – this is the hyperlink that appears on the search results page, which visitors click to open your page. Title tags allow users to understand what your site is about, leading to a better user experience, and as you know, UX is crucial for your website’s SEO. Title tags are short, usually less than 60 characters. Make sure to mention your target keyword in the title tag.
- Meta description – this is the tiny summary of your page that appears under the title tag on the SERP. It gives visitors an overview of the page insight into your page, when they’re deciding which links to open on the SERP. This is why it is critical to optimise your meta description – it indicates to the potential visitors if your page will answer their queries. Meta descriptions are extremely short, typically under 160 characters. Ensure you mention the target keyword and other related keywords depending on the context. Finally, use meta descriptions that are actionable and clearly communicate what your site has to offer the audience.
- Anchor text – anchor text is a word or phrase that is used to add links to other internal or external sources. Your anchor text should contain the keyword it is targeting or be closely related to the page/website you’re linking to. Linking through inappropriate or random anchor texts makes it difficult for search engines to index your content.
- Product descriptions – these are essential not only for SEO but also for helping the customer make an informed choice while purchasing your product. Ensure your product descriptions use the relevant keywords for that product, and make key features of your product stand out.
They should include information such as return or exchange policy, reviews, shipping time and charges, and suggestions for other similar products. This way, prospective customers will find it easier to shop with your business because they have all that they need to make an informed purchase. This will help convert your organic leads into paying customers. You should also make sure your product descriptions are unique to your business - more on this below.
3) Avoid duplicate content
As an ecommerce website, there are two key aspects to remember when creating content for your product pages:
1. Your product descriptions and on-site content should be original and not plagiarised from another website, such as your manufacturer.
2. Your content shouldn’t be copied from another page on your own site, either. For example, you shouldn’t use the same description for a blue t-shirt and a red t-shirt that are on two different product pages.
Unfortunately, not following these two suggestions will significantly lower your search ranking because Google looks for unique content and fresh perspectives.
The solution for this is simple: draft unique content for each product on your site and ensure it’s entirely original. Of course, this can be labour-intensive if you sell hundreds of products.
One solution for this is to group variations of a product and display them on the same product page. This way, you can use the same description for product variations without duplicating your content. This also makes your e-commerce site more user-friendly because customers can easily find product variations without leaving the product page.
4) Improve page load time
Page load time measures how fast an internet user can open your website page. Essentially, your page load speed depends on how much time it takes to download all the elements on your website, like images, content, and stylesheets.
Most ecommerce sites take around 6 seconds to load, while other websites take around 2-3 seconds.
Your website loading speed is an important ranking factor, and if you’re not sure what your load time currently is, you can find out using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
If your site takes a long time to load, people will often leave your website quickly. This increases the bounce rate and reduces the average time people spend on your website. Unfortunately, Google’s algorithm sees this as an indication that your site is not helpful and ranks your site lower in the search results. Therefore, good site speed is essential for SEO.
A good page load time is essential for conversion, and the highest ecommerce conversion rates occur on pages with load times between 0 and 2 seconds.
If your site is currently slow, some common issues could be because:
- There is too much content on your site for your server to handle.
- There are too many images and scripts, and they are slowing the page loading.
- There’s a problem with your web host.
If you want to speed up your site’s speed, you can try:
- Having fewer images
- Compressing files
- Optimising images
- Using fewer widgets
- Having concise content
- Avoiding clutter on the page
- Limiting redirects and HTTPS requests
- Speeding up server response time
- Deleting ghost pages or sections
- Enabling browser caching
- Opting for a better host service
5) Make sure your site is user-friendly
Audit your site to track and resolve issues affecting your ecommerce site's user experience.
You can enhance your site's user experience by ensuring the design is intuitive and that the person visiting your site can quickly find what they are looking for. Good navigation tools, review features, and functional page designs give your site a better ‘feel’ and lead to a better user experience, improving its Google ranking.
Here are some actionable guidelines to ensure your page provides a good user experience:
- Have a functional and visually appealing page design
- Make sure ads don’t interfere with any of your content or disrupt functionality repeatedly
- See that your site loads quickly and is optimised for mobile use
- Have some navigation tools on your site to make it easy for the user
- Have clear categorisation of products on your site
Website optimisation and consistent designs improve the user experience of your ecommerce site and boost your search engine ranking.
6) Mobile-First Indexing
Because so much of search traffic now comes from mobile phones, Google uses the mobile version of your ecommerce site when ranking of your website. This is called mobile-first indexing.
So, ensure that your ecommerce site's mobile version is optimised to be as fast and user-friendly as possible. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to assess how mobile-friendly your site currently is.
Here are some quick tips to help your website be more mobile-friendly:
- Eliminate all filler words and content.
- Disable pop-ups and sidebar options for the mobile view because they don’t work well with smaller screens.
- Add a shopping cart feature to your mobile site.
- Your CTA button should be larger in size and thumb-friendly and should be highlighted.
- Ensure your site content is well-indented and scroll friendly.
- Speed up your website for mobile devices.
According to Insider Intelligence, the US mcommerce (mobile commerce) will nearly double its share of total retail sales from $359.32 billion in 2021 to $728.28 billion in 2025. Given the massive surge in popularity of using smartphones for online shopping, optimising your online store’s mobile version is crucial.
7) Blog content
Having valuable blog content is a powerful tool to boost the on-page SEO for your ecommerce website. This is because blog content allows you to target valuable keywords and provide more value to your website visitors, making them more likely to purchase from you.. Writing blog posts also allows you to display expertise in your niche and attract a new audience interested in reading your posts.
Here are some tips for creating informative, SEO-friendly blog posts for your ecommerce website:
- Answer questions your customers typically ask you. For example, if you sell olive oil, some titles for your blog posts might include “what olive oil to choose for salad dressings” and “the health benefits of olive oil”.
- Your posts can educate your readers about ways to make better purchases online, such as what to look for to buy quality products within your niche, or how to use their new purchase best.
- Your blog posts should include good-quality images to break up the text and keep the reader engaged.
- Your blog posts should link back to the products you are selling.
- You should ensure that your content is adding value to your readers, free of grammatical errors, and not plagiarised.
Regularly posting blog content on your ecommerce site will help you gain your audience’s trust and boost your website’s rankings.
Customer reviews are crucial in showing new customers that you are a credible business. People tend to trust the word of their peers over someone who wants to sell them something. Online reviews serve as social proof that other people have shopped and had a good experience with your company.
Customer reviews also do wonders for your SEO because the search engine algorithm views your business as more credible when you have many reviews. These product reviews can also pull into the SERP, grabbing attention and increasing click through rate (CTR).
According to Reviews.io brands that display product reviews have a 18% higher conversion rate and a 11% higher average order value (AOV).
Encourage your customers to leave reviews whenever they make a purchase, perhaps with a discount code for their next purchase, and ensure you respond appropriately to your customers’ reviews.
9) Structured Data
Structured data – also known as schema markup – allows you to feed the search engines information regarding your website in a language they can understand.
As we all know, search engines use algorithms to evaluate your page. So, it’s essential to use language on your site that can be easily processed by search engines. Basically, you don’t have to depend on the search engine algorithm’s ability to correctly understand the content of your site alone; you can use structured data to directly feed this information to be displayed in the SERP.
By using structured data, you can display crucial information such as reviews and ratings, price range, and product availability right on the SERP. This improves your click-through-rate as customers have more relevant information about your product before even visiting your site.
10) Internal Linking
Creating links between different pages on your website improves the organic ranking of your website. This is called internal linking.
You should implement two strategies for internal linking: linking between pages to spread link equity and capitalising on anchor text. Internal linking allows you to build a strong interconnected network within your site, allowing search engine bots to efficiently crawl and index your site. It essentially creates a clear road map of your site for them. As with most elements related to SEO, it also improves UX by enabling easier navigation for customers.
Depending on the size of your site, you may have numerous pages, including layers of categories and subcategories. As consumers make their way through your site, the pages can go from general to highly specific. So, strategic internal linking is an effective mechanism to tell search engines and visitors about the most important and relevant pages.
How Clear Click can help with on-page SEO for your ecommerce website
Ecommerce is a fiercely competitive landscape, and you need to invest in SEO to ensure your business stands out from the crowd. While you can start implementing the strategies we’ve outlined in this guide on your own, improving on-page SEO for ecommerce websites can be a lot of work and require lots of expert knowledge. This is where Clear Click comes in.
Here at Clear Click, we help businesses like yours build and implement comprehensive strategies for their on-page and off-page SEO in order to reach a larger audience, stand out from the competitors, and ultimately drive more sales.
If you’re interested to know more, book a free consultation call with Clear Click.