Having an eCommerce website online is one thing, but ranking well organically in search engines like Google is a major project in itself. While eCommerce SEO strategies have parallels to traditional SEO, to be as effective as possible, you will want to take a more focused approach. Below we'll touch on eleven basic eCommerce strategies that remain relevant and effective in 2019.
Don't forget to check out our eCommerce SEO guide.
1. Unique & Engaging Product Descriptions
One of the most basic but often overlooked eCommerce strategies, writing unique product descriptions that strengthen your brand, engage your audience and educate your shoppers will set your eCommerce site apart from your competitors in a way that is meaningful for both search engines and your customers.
Excellent product page copy is even more valuable if you are selling products that can be found on hundreds of other ecommerce sites, since many of these stores will copy and paste a product description right from the manufacturer, resulting in thin and duplicate content across dozens of sites or more. Whether your products are available elsewhere or you're the only supplier, writing unique and engaging product descriptions, optimized with your target keywords, will increase your organic rankings. If done well, it will do this while simultaneously improving your conversion rate.
2. Structured Data for Enhanced Search Results and Improved CTR
Ever wonder why some results in Google seem to have more information than others? For example, have you searched for a product and noticed some product pages display star ratings for reviews right in the search results? These enhanced results are usually the result of the webmaster implementing structured data on these pages.
Structured Data will not only help enhance your listings, and can also help you get those featured results and callouts in the SERPs.
3. Mobile Optimization
Optimizing your website for mobile devices has become increasingly important every year for over a decade. If you run an eCommerce store, you need to prioritize the mobile experience over the desktop experience. This means creating a responsive website that caters to the size of the device accessing it.
For nearly three years now, Google has told us that they are switching to the mobile-first index. If Google is prioritizing the mobile experience, it behooves your eCommerce store to do so as well.
This means that when Google makes their website rankings, they pay more attention to your mobile site than your desktop site. Since the majority of eCommerce shoppers either start or finish their purchase online, you MUST focus on the mobile experience.
A good place to start is by plugging your site into Google's Mobile Friendly tester tool.
4. Increase Site Speed and Decrease Page Load Times
An increasingly important part of Google's algorithm, having a fast website will improve your rankings and user experience drastically.
Your focus should be on user experience, but you need to consider that how quickly your site loads is part of that experience. Take steps towards becoming the fastest website among your competitors. In this regard, you don't have to be lightning fast if you are serving your content faster than the competitors within your niche or industry.
Make sure your images are properly compressed for use on the web, or big image files could be bogging your site down. Also be on the lookout for CMS that may be forcing larger versions of product images when compressed versions would suffice (Looking at you, Magento!)
Site Speed Tools:
Google's PageSpeed Insights (insight into Google's perspective)
GTMetrix (insight into Google, Bing, and Yahoo)
5. Incentivize Customer Reviews & Engagement
Structured Data to display things like reviews in the SERPs is great and all, but if you have 2 reviews on your page that doesn't look so great!
Create an incentivized program to encourage your users to leave reviews. This strategy should extend beyond reviews, as you should prioritize engaging your past, present, and future customers as much as possible. In the eCommerce game, repeat customers are hugely beneficial, and online customers respond to incentiviation.
6. Target Long-Tail Keyword Variations in Blog Articles and Content
Content still reigns supreme in 2019. For eCommerce stores, your blog should leverage long-tail keyword variations of your target keywords for products and category. These should include product reviews, how-to articles, etc. Example, if you sell running shoes, you should write articles about running, jogging, how to pick running shoes, create a resource to help people know what size shoes they need, etc.
7. Prioritize Navigation
User experience is still a hugely overlooked aspect of today's eCommerce stores. Focus on creating an easy-to-navigate website, especially on mobile. Blaze the path of least resistance from home page to checkout.
This will just only help your conversion rate, but should improve your organic visibility as well. Google pays attention to whether or not a user bounces back to the search engines after visiting your site, and usability and site navigation play a huge role here. If you earn keyword rankings in Google but all of that traffic heads back to Google to find a better website, Google will assume your website isn't an ideal place to send traffic.
We cannot stress the importance of CRO, or Conversion Rate Optimization, enough. Consider hiring a professional company that offers conversion rate services. This is an area that it really can be immensely beneficial to have a professional doing the work.
Utilizing analytical data, AB testing, video recordings of actual browser sessions, you can meticulously work to improve your conversion rate. Simple changes include changing CTA text and button color, but true CRO is so much more than that, and requires a skilled professional with an analytical mind.
9. Internal Linking Relevant Products, Categories, and Resources
Internal linking is thought to be an outdated strategy, but it is still incredibly important. Focus on placing relevant internal links throughout on page copy and articles for humans, not for search engines, and your site will thank you. As long as you're not keyword stuffing or placing irrelevant links, internal linking throughout your site is a natural way to help Google understand your website and content that much better.
10. Properly Manage Out of Stock Products
Never simply delete a product (or category, for that matter) from your website. There are several strategies to consider, but none of them involve simply deleting the old page. Here are some options to consider, which depend on the circumstances at hand.
- Leave the product page up, simply add a message that says the product is discontinued. Add links to relevant products within the old product pages on-page description.
- Take the old page down, and implement a 301 redirect to the most relevant new page, whether a new similar product, a blog article about the old product,etc. Whatever is the most relevant page that can replace the old URL should be used.
11. Leverage Video & YouTube
Remember tip #1 is to write unique & engaging product descriptions, including videos on product page is a great way to be more engaging, especially if they are unique and original videos and not borrowed from the manufacturer.
Remember, site speed and technical optimization tactics! Make sure that your videos don't bog down your product pages. You can try tricks such as ensuring all important elements on the page load before the video loads, so that your users can still view the page without having to wait on the video to load.
You can choose to host your own videos or embed YouTube videos. The advantage of embedding YouTube videos is YouTube can become a marketing tool of its own, if you are willing to invest in resources for high-quality video production.
Bonus Tip! Work with an Established eCommerce Agency
eCommerce SEO strategies can be managed in-house, but if you take your online business seriously, you may want to consider hiring an eCommerce SEO agency. At OuterBox, we eat, breathe, and sleep eCommerce. Having a dedicated team of seasoned experts at your disposal is worth more than a million tips or tricks that you can find on the web.