Practical SEO Tips for E-Commerce Websites
by Paul Friend
To ensure your e-commerce site sustains it’s profitability in the long term, it will needs to keep achieving exposure in front of the right audience. The most effective way to achieve this is through relevancy and to have your e-commerce website ranking at the top of the search results for your relevant keywords, phrases and products. Whilst there are plenty of different ways that visitors can arrive at a site. Google is still king when it comes to search engines and for many it is their preferred search engine. Assuming you have the relevancy sorted, getting your e-commerce site at or near the top of the rankings for your targeted keywords and phrases can obviously lead to a massive increase in sales.
Unfortunately due to the nature of many e-commerce sites SEO can be a real challenge. There are a few major aspects of the typical SEO process that don’t always work very well with e-commerce sites, and this often results in poor rankings and very little search traffic. With the latest Panda update Google, now more than ever, wants to see pages with unique and original content, and a lot of it. Many product pages on e-commerce sites are very light on content with brief product descriptions, and in some cases the content is duplicated across a number of different product pages. Link building is another major challenge, because getting quality links to e-commerce sites and product pages is not easy.
Let’s take a look at the topic of SEO for e-commerce websites. Everything that will be covered is very practical and can be realistically achieved to help increase traffic for an e-commerce site. The biggest barrier to ensuring this works effectively for your website is time and adopting a consistent approach to make it happen.
Relevancy is key to any website especially an e-commerce site, therefore keyword research is an important and vital part of the SEO process. You need to know what your potential customers are searching for, and what words and phrases they are using to try to find the types of products that you are offering. Remember your customer might be searching for solutions not a product, think benefits not features.
By knowing the words and phrases that people are using while searching you can set up your product pages to be optimized appropriately. Without knowing what people are searching for you are basically just guessing, and you’re missing out on opportunities to attract a lot of visitors who are interested in what you have to offer.
Keyword research provides you with the foundations on which to build a successful e-commerce website and should not be overlooked or skimmed over.
Responsive Web Design
The percentage of internet users that access websites via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets continues to increase rapidly and is predicted to overtake desk top views in the next 10yrs. Websites that are not user friendly for visitors on a mobile device are losing out in the searches and in. If the search engine thinks the user is not having a good experience your site will drop down the rankings. Numerous research has shown that mobile users who come across a website that is hard to use on their smartphone will leave and go to another site. There are a few different ways to make a mobile-friendly site. You could create a separate site to be served specifically to visitors on mobile devices, but responsive web design is much better for SEO.
With a responsive design and layout you can avoid issues like duplicate content that sometimes arise from separate mobile websites. Not only is responsive design good for SEO, but it also allows you to provide a positive user experience, regardless of the device your visitor is using.
Original, Descriptive Title Tags
The title tag is one of the most important on-page optimization factors, and it sometimes causes a problem for e-commerce websites. Each page on your site should have an original, descriptive title tag. It is vital that your site should not have multiple pages with identical title tags, which is the case with some e-commerce sites. Make sure that you are giving each page its own unique title, and do not repeat it on another page.
In addition to being unique, the title tag should also be descriptive. In keeping with the Google striving for its customers to have a positive experience make the title tag relevant to the page, and be as descriptive as possible within the character confines of the tag. The more descriptive the title the more likely it will be found by a search of someone who is looking for that specific product. For some ideas have a look at Amazon’s title tags.
The title tags of your product pages should target the specifics, and for more general phrases like “Digital Cameras” or “Canon Digital Cameras” you can use category pages or brand pages to go after the targeted keyword or phrase.
Original Product Description Text
One of the most common SEO pitfalls of e-commerce websites is a lack of original text on product pages as many businesses copy the text from the manufacturer. Google more than ever wants to see pages with real content, and content that is not duplicated on other pages. Should your product pages have no text descriptions or very brief text descriptions, it will be difficult to achieve the search rankings that you want. Each product page should have a detailed product description in order to show Google that there is some original content on the page. Don’t duplicate the descriptive text for several similar products. It can be time consuming but in the long term this will be rewarded in searches.
However through taking the time to write unique descriptions for each product can make a huge difference for your search engine rankings. If you already have hundreds or thousands of product pages with very thin content, start with the most important products and add more descriptive text as and when you have time. Alternatively here at Friendly Consultancy we can schedule a content strategy to update your products. Going forward, be sure that whenever you are adding a new product page to give it an original, detailed description.
Allow Customers to Leave Reviews
Customer reviews have been proven to increase the number of sales made. Some studies even show that negative reviews can have a positive impact.Not only will reviews help to increase the likelihood of a purchase from your visitors, but they can also be good for SEO. Reviews from customers will add more content to your product pages and give them a better chance to be found in searches. The text added through reviews can be especially helpful for sites that don’t have very much text in the product descriptions. Additionally you could ask customers to leave reviews on your Google+ page again helps with the SEO.
Use a Blog
One of the best medium to long term strategies to improve the SEO of an e-commerce site is to add a blog. Blogs are great for adding original content to a website, and also for attracting links and encouraging social media interaction. Getting links to blog posts may not directly send traffic to the product pages, but these links can help to improve the authority of the domain, making it possible for all pages to rank higher.+
Caution must be advised as not to create blogs and links that Google considers to be spammy.
Blog posts can also be used very effectively to rank for specific keywords or phrases, and then to lead visitors to relevant products on the site. You can use blog posts to write product reviews, publish case studies and stories about customers who have used the product, provide tutorials that show how to use the product, and more. With some creativity the blog can be an excellent tool to attract targeted visitors.
Social media and blogging go hand-in-hand. Regardless of whether you are using a blog or not, your e-commerce site needs to at least have a presence at major social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Since we’re looking specifically at the topic of SEO and improving Google search rankings, also having an active presence at Google+ is a good idea.
Having social media sharing buttons/widgets on product pages can be good or bad. Sure, it would be nice if visitors shared your products with their friends, but these buttons and widgets can also be distractions that take attention away from the goal of a purchase. What can be more effective is to integrate your blog with social media to attract more new visitors, and then try to use the blog posts to lead visitors to your product pages.
Meta Descriptions for Higher CTRs
The meta description isn’t really useful for improving your rankings in Google, but it can be very effective at enticing searchers to click on your link instead of the others that are showing up around you in the results. A good description will tell the searcher about the content of the page and will encourage them to click. If you are not entering meta descriptions for your pages they will be automatically generated and you’ll have no control over the description that is displayed on the SERPs.