Battling to get your ecommerce SEO results off the ground? Whether you have been struggling to get your new online store onto the third page of Google (let alone the first) or you have recently made changes to your larger sized store that seem to have caused a dip in ranking, staying ahead of ecommerce SEO is not always easy. There are many best practices that help you see a difference in your rankings, but having a clear checklist in place can be one of the most effective ways to see genuine results.
The Ultimate Ecommerce SEO Checklist
Today, we’re sharing a simple but comprehensive ecommerce SEO checklist that focuses on the most important elements for on-site optimisation. Keep reading to find out how you can take your online store SEO to the next level.
Unlike other types of websites, online stores have their own requirements in order to get found in the SERPs. As the ecommerce market continues to grow, competition adds even more of a challenge. In order to rank, you need to ensure that your store has all the factors in place to help it get ahead online. Get your ecommerce SEO in order with this handy checklist that covers the most important steps you’ll need to take.
Optimise your store for mobile
One of the most essential steps to improving your ranking is a website that is mobile responsive. Statista predicts that by 2021, 53.9% of all ecommerce sales will be conducted on mobile. Despite the massive growth, a large number of websites are not designed for mobile. Even if the majority of your orders are done through desktop devices, many potential shoppers will use mobile to browse products. If a potential customer lands on your site via mobile and has a poor experience, they are unlikely to return, whether on mobile or on desktop.
It may not seem like a major SEO concern, but think about it this way… the rise of mobile and Google’s Mobile First era means that a large number of searches are geared towards mobile. An optimised website is more likely to be indexed than an unoptimised website. Make sure that your primary pages are responsive and keep testing to ensure that they stay mobile-friendly.
Create unique product descriptions
Product descriptions are hugely important, for SEO, customer experience, and conversion. From an ecommerce SEO perspective, product pages are often surprisingly unoptimised. Many stores use generic descriptions, or worse, manufacturer descriptions. When you have a large store, it can seem far easier to copy content across similar products rather than write individual descriptions. The problem with this is that you will very quickly run the risk of being penalised for duplicate content.
Product descriptions don’t only help Google see what your page is about. They also allow you to sell your product and tell your story. They give customers information that is genuinely useful. If descriptions are unique and not copied from manufacturer, they will help your SEO significantly. For best results, be sure to include your longtail keywords and variations of keywords (without stuffing), making sure that the content is easy to read, not too long, and that it is focused on the key features of the product.
Use HTTPS and security seals
Another important element is site security. Ideally, you should renew your SSL certificate every year. This is the best way to ensure that your checkout process stays secure. You will also need to ensure that the rest of your site is secure as well. Google actively encourages HTTPS protocol and will begin to penalise sites that are still using HTTP. Making your security visible – especially on cart and checkout pages – will also help. You can do this by displaying your SSL provider seal.
Use site search functionality
How easily can products be found on your site? Do you offer auto complete on searches or do you make customers have to do all the work? The easier it is to use your online store, the more chance you have of improving your ranking. Make it as easy as possible for customers to find what they need without having to wade through endless pages. You can go one step further by analysing search terms commonly used to find products, and then using those terms within your keyword strategy.
Use HTML sitemaps
As ecommerce sites typically contain a massive volume of pages, it is not always easy to navigate. Even when you have clear category pages, it is still difficult to find specific pages when there are so many to have to look through within a single category. Using an HTML sitemap is a simple way to first help customers find products and secondly help search engines index your site more easily.
Reduce third-party resources
Next up on our checklist, we have third-party apps and scripts. As useful as those widgets, videos, tags and other features may be, it is worthwhile remembering that they can affect your site’s loading speed. That, in turn, can affect your ranking. Think very carefully about whether your site benefits from any third-party features you include and always ensure that your design and SEO team are on the same page to prevent adding any features that can cause lags in loading speeds.
Your URLs can also have a major impact on ecommerce SEO results. If you have multiple colour and size variations for various products and separate product pages for each variation, you will have to think carefully about how these affect your URLs. It’s tempting to use a variation of the same URL structure, but you would then be missing out on a chance to optimise your links. While it can be easier to keep all options on a single page, it can be more effective to have separate pages for each variation. Having separate pages with the same content and the same product can also be tricky, resulting in way too many links.
The best way around this is to implement canonical URLs that let search engines know which link you are targeting for each variation. Make sure that you use the unique keywords that apply to the root URL.
Redirect discontinued products
What about products are not longer on your store? In the case of those URLs, you want to redirect visitors in a way that adds genuine value. A dead link can do more harm than good. Removing the link will result in a ‘not found’ page, which does not help conversion much at all. Instead, look at redirecting to the relevant category or create a unique page that offers similar suggestions of products that are in stock.
Noindex low-value pages and products
Ecommerce SEO should never been seen as something that you set and forget. Each year, new strategies and SEO trends help to shape ecommerce in a way that helps it evolve and grow. To stay ahead of these trends, it is essential to have a basic checklist in place that covers all of the most important elements. Once you have the basics in place, it will be far easier to adapt your ecommerce SEO strategies and continue to get results.