SEO is one of the most important tools that ecommerce stores can use to improve their performance online, and it is simple to understand the reason for that:
- Most customers pass through a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing during the purchase process, however, they do not stay long on these sites. For a matter of fact, websites listed on the first results page usually receive more than 90% of the traffic provided through search engines.
- People trust search engines, and they will naturally place more trust in top positioned website results.
- It pushes your website ahead of the competition.
- SEO helps to improve customer’s experience and website’s usability, as it can also provide important information about your public, their purchase process and behavior.
By definition, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the activity of improving a website's online visibility and generating relevant traffic in the organic search.
Are you looking for a way to optimize your ecommerce website?
The answer is not a magical formula, but a disciplined work that requires research, effort, continuous updating, and creativity. This is known, and of course we will not let you finish this article without some essential strategies to contribute with your success in SEO.
5 Essential SEO Strategies for Ecommerce Sites
1. Get to know the search engine algorithms and your current position in the rank
Even though they are not exactly the same, algorithms in all search platforms follow similar principles. It is also difficult to precise the algorithms used by them, because they change almost every day, what makes it very challenging for people that work in the SEO industry.
Yet, this difficulty is what makes the game fair, as the mission of these search engines is to organize information and show the best work around.
However, not everything is a enigma in the SEO algorithms. We know, for example, that mobile-friendly websites are being favored, that search engines want to integrate local search results and aim to understand the context behind the user’s enquiries, and not just the literal words.
There are plenty of sources about the subject online, and it is important to be knowledgeable about it if you want your ecommerce to have best results and not be penalized for missing an update.
Where do you stand now?
Knowing the answer to this question is essential before mapping out your SEO strategy, and nowadays the internet have many tools to help you with that, like SERPs.
2. Test the usability of your website
Check your website’s pages speed, as it has a proven big influence on the search position. There are some easy actions you can take if you have issues with loading speed, such as optimizing image sizes, making the code cleaner, and reducing the number of page plugins.
Preventing errors like "404 Page Not Found" not only reinforces your website’s position, but also increases your users satisfaction when interacting with your ecommerce site.
Now think about the format of it:
- Is your website layout user-friendly?
- Is it attractive?
- Does it support different types of media?
- Can your public understand and easily find the information they are looking for?
- Is the structure of the page intuitive?
- Are the font formats and sizes legible?
If you answered yes for all these questions, you are probably on the right path for a well ranked, valuable website. If not, it is important to know that the right formatting can help your performance a lot on search engines, improving effectiveness, learnability, and memorability.
3. Do a keyword research
This is one of the most important steps to improve your SEO, because it is through the keywords typed into a search box that the public will be able to find your business more easily.
Basically, your goal as an ecommerce owner is to have a good position on the search engine result pages (SERP) to generate organic traffic, that is, to be among the top not-paid results. The right selection of keywords can help to turn your web page either into a great success or a big flop, so let’s define what keywords are:
Keywords are the terms and ideas that identify the content of the webpages. Specifically in the world of SEO, they are words and expressions people use to look for certain information, products or services online. On your website, keywords can be directly put in the description of a page, URL, meta description or included in the content throughout the page.
Which keywords should you use then?
Now that you understand the concept and importance of the keywords for your website, you will need to research the demand of your market’s keyword. This will also enable you to learn more about your customers.
You can start by putting yourself in their place: what words and sentences would you use to look for your own business? What are their needs? In which situations they are looking for your product or service?
Write down terms and related expressions you would use for the search. Then you can talk to your public and check which are the most expressive results in softwares like Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Keyword Explorer, or even online. What websites pop up? And which are the other keywords that they usually have?
Lastly, be careful when choosing generic keywords, in order to not attract the wrong public to your website. Additionally, competitors, products and keywords that have huge universal of meanings, like “dress”, “food”, or “toy”.
4. Structure a link building campaign
Linkbuilding for ecommerce websites is another key topic when we talk about SEO, and it is considered a fundamental search engine ranking factor according to the leading search marketers.
The ground rule of backlink strategy is that, being mentioned and connected to other pages online, you can gain more notoriety, respect, and traffic from your public. Because just like in real life, if people share nice things about a product or service, you will have the tendency to look for it, instead of trying something you have never heard of, right?
So, how to start building a link campaign?
A common tactic is when you link your own content throughout different web pages on your site, for example, if you reference a term or subject you have already mentioned before on another page, or if you want to show similar products to users - link them!
It encourages the users to keep navigating in your website, increasing the dwell time and reducing bounce rates. However, links that direct to the same page does not have the best valuations in search engines.
Instead, when other sites are interested to link your website’s company to their pages without asking for anything in return, just because you are providing relevant content for the users, that is a goal in the SEO. This is called the “natural link”, as it does usually not require any effort from the SEO, besides the creation of good quality material itself.
But of course you can do it “manually” as well, through partnerships with bloggers and related websites by, sending the links you believe are most useful for them and convincing them to link your site to their content.
Furthermore, you can also create opportunities for users to interact with your pages, through shares and comments. Even though those links offer low values for SEO, it can still create a positive sales impact, because of the good word of mouth.
On the other hand, to consciously link out to respected authority sites on your page is also a sign of trust that can improve SEO ranking.
5. Find out what your competitors are doing, but do not worry too much
Be aware of what your competitors and other successful ecommerce stores are doing in terms of optimization (especially the best ranked) and try to be updated and creative to stand out in the search results.
Nevertheless, SEO is not a short term strategy, so do not get discouraged if your website does not abruptly rise in the rankings after you have strengthened your strategy, and avoid comparing the results and ranking of other ecommerce businesses. Every result has a different impact and after all, high rankings does not necessarily equate to providing quality traffic.
In order to provide the best services and relevant information for users, search engine algorithms continuously adapt, so that pages that use too many artifices just to be on top, that misrepresent or conceal information, or links that mislead the users are eventually avoided.
Online strategies for ecommerce must go hand in hand with those changes, optimizing their website to offer good quality content and a high performance for their customers.
Invest in your customer experience and learn how to convert online users into customers. Results will start developing naturally, translating into sales and better search engine result positions.