We have been planning and changing this blog post for around about three months now, and we have had to make the decision to go ahead with the post before it got completely out of hand or worse than that shelved for ever, yeah I know it’s an odd number most people go for the top ten or top 25 but we wanted to go all out and give you the best that we could.
Whether you run an Actinic, Drupal, Big Commerce, Magento, WordPress or Shopify eCommerce store and are looking to improve your eCommerce seo then were certain you will find a tip or 2 that you can implement in your very own store and increase your organic listing and nudge up to that all important page one for the key terms that pay the bills !!
In the end we decided that we would present this post with as many Ecommerce SEO tips that we could that we feel every ecommerce site should consider. With that in mind let’s get started…..
Ecommerce SEO the lowdown.
- Let’s start with something that people often overlook on most websites, let alone ecommerce ones and that’s images. If your business sells product on your website then it makes sense to put images of those products on there as well, after all humans are a very visual species so the ability to see the product is a very appealing one. With that in mind don’t just settle for any old image, make sure that they are of a good quality and try and maintain some sort of uniformity across the site. Ensure that all of the images on your site have an alt tag that reinforces and reflects the content of the image making use of your keywords were possible, and ensure that the content is unique for each different image.
- Ensure that in the same way as the Alt tag you make use of the title tag, ensure that the title is descriptive and keyword rich as well in the same way as you have done in the alt tag, and again make sure that this content is unique for each different image.
- Make sure that when you save the image that it is saved using your keywords in its filename, if you have product codes for the individual items, and it’s a manufacturers code then use that in the filename if possible but make sure that they are still user friendly and therefore readable by humans. If it’s a multi word filename separate each word with dashes, as this is the best method to help the search engines match multiple word terms for eCommerce SEO. Don’t leave blank spaces as some systems will fill these characters in order for the files to work correctly.
- Don’t forget as well if you are linking to your images or from them, then ensure that the anchor text is descriptive, using relevant keywords that help to describe the image, try and ensure that all of the above tips are uniform for each image they are applied to, so aim for similarities in the Alt and Title Tags your filename and any anchor text used for the image. Also ensure that the placing of the images is just as important when they are added to content, the closer they are to relevant text within the content the better.
- Page Titles, are not only relevant to ecommerce SEO but to all SEO but they are often one of the most overlooked items on the page, yet they are one of the most relevant and important on page elements. The page title is the first thing that is seen by the search engines, so it’s important to get it right. Never leave a page without a title, and don’t leave it as the default “untitled” or “home” two of the greatest sins. Page title should be 60 to 65 characters long, don’t make them too short or too long, and while they should contain keywords don’t overstuff them. Including the company name, while not a bad thing is not necessarily good for SEO or search engines, after all not many people will search for you or your product by company name unless they already know who you are. Try and get the keyword you wish the page to rank for as close to the front of the title as possible.
- Duplicate page titles – is another common mistake made with ecommerce websites as it’s easy to cut copy and paste information from one page to another, page titles should be unique as with most things even if they are for the same product in a different category, it sounds difficult to achieve but it’s not once you start, duplicate titles make it difficult to determine which page is which when they show up in the search engines and can result in one you really don’t want indexing.
- Most ecommerce websites follow a similar structure Home – Category Pages – Product Pages with the obvious periphery pages that are standard on most sites such as Contacts etc. On an ecommerce site it is important to make the best use of all of them; one such key element is the category pages. Ensure that there is some relevant and keyword rich content added to all of the category pages, as this not only gives the user a much more enjoyable experience (which at the end of the day is who we are trying to keep happy too, the search engines won’t buy from you) but it is also great for Ecommerce SEO.
- Brand Pages – if you have category pages that deal with specific brands then make sure that when you are writing content for the product pages and general content around the site that you utilise the brand names within the text then use the brand name as anchor text to link this content through to the relevant brand pages. This has always been a great tactic for ranking your product brands within the search engines and will certainly be of benefit.
- When creating your category pages within the cms, ensure that the Page titles and urls have the relevant keywords within them, don’t leave fields blank in the cms, especially page title description and keywords fields we often see these overlooked especially in Actinic ecommerce sites.
- Rss Feeds are a great way of delivering vast amounts of content to the end user and in the case of Ecommerce sites it is a great way of delivering product information into the hands of potential customers. Ensure that you have feeds from your blog and your product catalogue created and include links to these in the footer of your site. These feeds can also be submitted through various sources to rss feed and blog feed directories. One extra tip here is to ideally have a separate product feed for affiliates to use so that you will remain with unique content on your own site and not risk one of your affiliates outranking you with the same content as may be they have more of an authority site.
- Most of the commonly used ecommerce software platforms on the market now create a html sitemap as part and parcel of the site design and build, html sitemaps are great for human consumption and are another way of the end user easily navigating your website. Don’t just stick with the html sitemap though; you can also create what is known as an xml sitemap which is of more use to the search engines. We recommend that you create them both and once they have been created ensure that they are submitted to the various search engines through their relevant webmaster tools.
- Anchor text on product pages – When writing the content for your product pages the content should as with all content be relevant, include keywords and be of use to the reader, for ecommerce seo ensure that you use keyword relevant anchor text to create internal links with your category pages.
- Product pages content – when writing the content for your product pages make sure that it is unique, don’t just cut and paste from the relevant manufacturers or your site will have the same content as everyone else that is competing in your market place, re-write the content to make it unique to your site but still remain accurate and true to the product, a simple and effective way to gain a competitive edge.
- If your product appears in more than one category then write unique page content each time, don’t have the same content in different categories even though it is the same product, be imaginative and re-write the content mix it up a little.
- When creating your products through the ecommerce software, use recognised manufacture product codes in the url if possible make them contain a smattering of relevant keywords, make the page title the same if the software doesn’t do this automatically. Again if they appear in more than one category make each product have a unique url and title.
- Don’t leave fields such as page description and keywords in the cms blank, fill them in and make the page descriptions relevant to the page, once again if you have more than one category with the same product then change them do not just cut copy paste, its lazy and won’t benefit you.
- When creating the content for your pages, ensure that there is a meaningful and relevant H1 heading for all pages. A H1 tag is a visible element on the webpage that is classed as a heading. It is an important aspect for the SEO of the page as it lets Google and the other search engines know what the page is about and when used with the relevant keywords in the heading it can emphasise that the text is something of importance and relevant to the site. This along with other elements is constantly emphasising that the page is relevant to the subject and the product that you are trying to promote. Make sure that each H1 heading is different, don’t duplicate, even if it is the same product under a different category.
- Don’t make the header graphic of your website the H1 element, we see this all too often on websites when our clients first come to us. There are a couple of things wrong with this, firstly it will automatically make the H1 Heading the same for every page and secondly it is also a graphic which is not so good for SEO as a text heading will be.
- Use the correct formatting within the content of the page, by this we mean don’t use more than one H1 element to a page, if you have other headings and sub headings on the page that are important and need reinforcing then use the other heading elements H2, H3 etc. Don’t forget that by default the normal Html appearance of these H1, H2 etc. tags are not the most visual so utilise CSS to make the headings suit the page design, whereby you can control the font and size for the headings.
- Social Media is a now very important aspect of search engine optimisation, and there are many ways that you can help your pages through using the different social media platforms. One very good method of assisting product pages is by adding “like” and “+1” buttons from Facebook and Google to all of your product pages, these buttons give the consumer the chance to give a vote or recommendation directly from your page to potentially hundreds of other consumers via these online networks and will also assist with your rankings in the search engines.
- Navigation on a website is always an important factor but with ecommerce it is essential that your navigation is correct, you should be able to reach any product on your site within 2 – 3 clicks and no more. The longer the transfer mechanism is from homepage to the product page the less likely the consumer is to reach the page and make a purchase.
- News readers are becoming a more and more popular way to collect and deliver vast amounts of information to an audience, so ensure that there is an RSS feed from your blog, link this to a counter on the homepage of your website that displays how many people are currently subscribing to your feed. It’s a great way of instantly informing the client that you are an authority on the subject.
- Blogs are a great way of delivering constant and unique content to your website and as such we would recommend that any website have one, and they are a great way assisting improvements to your search engine rank. As we have discussed already Google and the other search engines love new content so this is a great way of doing it. Don’t just throw up loads of rubbish though as this will almost certainly have a detrimental effect. Update the blog on a regular basis with relevant well written content, ensure that it has your keywords in the content and link to internal pages of your website.
- Link the content of your blog to the homepage of the website using the blogs RSS feed and a utility such as MagpieRSS which is a free utility. This is keeping fresh content hitting the homepage of your site without you having to keep updating the page manually and as we have already mentioned several times this is something that Google loves.
- Most eCommerce cms platforms will allow the use of video now as well as still images for providing product information, have video created for your product pages if possible, see if there are product demos for your products from the suppliers that you can use. Add these product videos to the video sharing site YouTube and make sure that they link back to your product pages.
- Video is becoming a very powerful tool for use with eCommerce SEO although most search engines still cannot read what is inside the video so it relies on meta data and title tags to determine content. The best way to appear in the blended search results is by submitting your video content through a video sitemap, these are very similar to the xml sitemaps that we have mentioned earlier but which contain information about the content of your video and are formatted using methods specific to the video format. Don’t just assume that because you have submitted the pages were your videos reside that the videos will be indexed as this is not the case.
- Social Media is probably the biggest thing with Web 2.0 at the moment and it’s a great way to get your products out there and both social media and social networking can have a great impact on a business’s search results. All three of the major search engines have been quoted as saying that shares on Facebook; Re-tweets on Twitter and now +1 with Google+ have a direct relation and impact on search engine rankings. Through people sharing your information on these various platforms you are generating inbound links and at the same time promoting your business to a wider audience. Setup accounts and engage in social media on a regular basis as these methods of engaging with your customers are becoming more and more important.
- Don’t just be a broadcaster on Twitter though, you will need to engage with your followers, share their information as well and they will be more inclined to share yours, this is a great way of showing the search engines that you are not just trying to gain links for your site but that you are aiming to provide rich content and be an authority in your niche.
- Some websites have what is known as the www. and non-www. versions of their url which in effect is seen by the search engines as two different websites and the long term result of this is that you are watering down the link juice that is going to your site. Google uses something that is known in the industry as ‘canonicalization’ and what this means in layman’s terms is that when the search engine finds two or more versions of the url it attempts to determine which is the best version to use. Check to see whether your site has both the versions of the url discussed and if it has you can tell the search engines which one you want to be the preferred url by creating a 301 re-direct. If someone then requests the non www. url ie. http://yourdomain .com, the server will do a 301 (permanent) redirect to http://www.yourdomain.com
- If you do have both url’s as discussed in point 29 do not use the url removal tool, if you were to remove either the www or non-www hostname you could end up removing your entire domain for up to six months.
- Breadcrumb navigation is a text based link generally at the top of the product page on an ecommerce site, and as well as being a wonderful aid for the usability of a site and an at a glance locator it is also a valuable aid for SEO. For example if your breadcrumb was say for a product page such as a glass tv stand then a breadcrumb may look like the following: Tv Stands | Shop By Style | Black Glass TV Stand So as we can see the breadcrumb contains relevant keywords that are the anchor text for links to other pages such as the category pages and these are a significant SEO benefit.
- Anyone that has an ecommerce website already probably understands the benefits of user generated reviews and the link to conversion, but they do also have a benefit for eCommerce SEO. We have already discussed many times in this post that the search engines and their relative spiders love fresh content especially if it is unique and generated regularly. Reviews are a brilliant way of getting more of this, user generated content is especially good for differentiating a product page; it’s really useful to other customers and increases the chance of moving up the rankings.
- If implemented correctly then ‘footer navigation’ has a twofold benefit, it is another way of providing usability for your users and it can also be used as a benefit for SEO. We need to be careful here and make sure that this navigation is not seen by Google as spam or a link farm. By this we mean don’t just have loads of links here that are linking to other sites all linking to one another, this is considered a link farm and you will be penalised. The best way for using the footer navigation is for linking to the sub-pages within your website these should be keyword rich anchor text; and have the benefit of being user friendly as well as giving you more clout for your SEO.
- A lot of ecommerce sites have directory pages that are basically just a big list of the product names that are presented when the customer has drilled down into the furthest depths of the website, but they are generally just a list. Put some content onto your directory pages, even if it is just a couple of lines to let people know a little bit more about the product in general as search engines will then love these pages.
- Never stop, ok that’s not strictly speaking an SEO tip but it is relevant. Monitor the performance of your ecommerce site through your analytics. Check what keywords are bringing in the most traffic, what are the best landing pages on the site, what is giving the best conversions. Then tweak and change, polish your on page until the site is giving the best ROI possible, evolve with the site and implement new strategies and technology.
Phewww…. hopefully there should be at least 1 or 2 eCommerce seo tips that will help you improve your eCommerce stores rankings, many of the tips may seem basic stuff.. Which they are.. But they need implementing!!! We’d love to hear of any other ecommerce SEO tips you may have and really would appreciate it if you would share this post and add any comments below.
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