Ecommerce SEO plays a vital role in the growth of any online store. Today, thanks to COVID and the natural move towards online retail, the ecommerce marketing space is bigger than ever. More stores are going online as they move away from traditional brick and mortar stores. More stores are starting up. Many are trying to compete in crowded (and even saturated) markets. This competition can be enough to cause stores to shut down. Without ecommerce marketing in place, it is extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive.
One of the channels that offer the most value to stores of all sizes is ecommerce SEO. Unlike paid channels, SEO helps to leverage organic growth. Growth is often consistent. As stores gain more traction in the SERPs, they start to build a solid reputation. This, in turn, helps to boost rankings even further.
Although there is no doubt that SEO and ecommerce go hand in hand, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will achieve results overnight. Trying new SEO strategies is not a bad thing. Getting back to basics with ecommerce SEO best practices is the best thing of all, however.
Ecommerce SEO Best Practices
To get the most from your ecommerce SEO strategies, here are some best practices to keep in mind.
Understand how searches evolve
The days of highly specific search phrases and content that is loaded with awkward keywords are over. Search engines get smarter all the time. Algorithm changes mean that search engines are able to read between the proverbial lines more easily. Phrases can be linked to show intent. Potential customers searching for products are entering in more questions or in some cases, just a few words. They expect to find a wide range of products, even when using extremely basic search phrases.
It’s not just products they are looking for, either. Many are specifically looking for product reviews or comparisons. Others are looking for information on products – uses, benefits and anything else that is relevant. It’s become part of the purchasing cycle and it plays a vital role in how you target customers at each stage in the cycle. Your product pages are not the only important pages you want to rank for – category, FAQ and blog articles are equally important in helping customers make their purchases.
Avoid duplicate content at all costs
A mistake that is still made constantly is duplicate content. Although this is easily one of the most basic ecommerce SEO guidelines, it remains a common problem. One of the biggest causes of duplicate content is the use of manufacturer content. Larger stores are more likely to use these generic descriptions – often because they have more products and assume that it’s quicker and easier to stick to manufacturer descriptions.
Why is duplicate content such a bad thing? For starters, it can lead to penalisation in the SERPs. Search engines may be evolving all the time. That doesn’t mean that they see all duplicate descriptions the same way. Sites with more authority will almost always be pushed ahead of those with less authority. If you are a newer, smaller or simply a less well-known site than major sites, you will slip further down the results pages.
Another problem with manufacturer descriptions is that they are usually very generic. They seldom reflect your store’s brand voice. Many do not contain information that adds value to customers. Some are riddled with grammar errors. Duplicate content used for similar products in your store can be equally frustrating for customers – especially if there are subtle differences that may apply.
Focus on the long game
SEO is all about the long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. This sounds like a cliche, but it’s still something you will need to always keep in mind. Ecommerce SEO is not about rocketing to the top of the SERPs or getting into featured snippets overnight. It’s about slowly and steadily building a store that ranks consistently well. Getting too focused on short-term results can affect your long-term growth.
When you start to step back and look at the bigger picture, it will be easier to plan strategies that continue to help you grow. This could include evergreen content strategies that incorporate product guides, videos, blog articles, FAQ, and various other content. This type of content will generate results over time. You can still include more viral, short-term strategies within other channels. But consistent content and well-crafted product descriptions will always win the race, even if it doesn’t happen instantly.
Make use of local SEO
But… only if your focus is area-specific. Local SEO is a fantastic way to build ranking in your region. If you have a physical store as well as an online store, local SEO will offer many benefits. It helps you create a more specific strategy based on your product niche as well as your area of operation. It helps you make use of features such as Google My Business, which is great for getting above top search results. You will need to create accurate listings that have no duplications, incorrect information or other errors. Ideally, you will also need to monitor your listing frequently to be sure that you respond to reviews (good or bad).
This strategy is not always the right option for every store, however. If your store sells across your country, shipping nationwide, it makes little sense to put a lot of focus on local strategies. You can still get the benefit of listings with Google My Business, however. NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) listings are essential. These provide your contact information, even if you sell online exclusively.
Embrace user-generated content
While we’re on the topic of reviews, it is also a good idea to embrace the power of user-generated content. Search engines place great value on reviews and ratings and so do customers. As we mentioned earlier, searches don’t always include specific product types – they also include reviews on specific products. For example, if a customer is looking at fitness trackers, they may start with a broad search to find trackers online or at their nearest store. They may come across your fitness accessory store and see a few fitness trackers. One or two may be exactly what they need. Next, they will head back online to search for reviews on the products they have seen.
Another scenario is that they may view your trackers, then scroll down to view reviews. They may even see reviews in Google Listings before they even arrive on your site. Customers read reviews and many like to leave reviews. Using this by encouraging reviews is crucial. You can also make use of customer videos or even blog posts showing them using your fitness trackers. You don’t have to use influencers to reap the rewards of user-generated content. Optimising reviews organically is by far more valuable when it comes to SEO.
Ecommerce SEO Basics
Along with these tips, we recommend doing regular site audits. It can be all too easy for products to sell out or be removed, without links being updated. Broken links are never ideal. Duplicate listings are never good, either. The same applies to incorrect, missing or duplicate Google My Business listings, reviews that have not been checked (let alone responded to), and anything else that may affect your rankings.
When you plan your strategies according to best practices, you will get close to meeting your ecommerce SEO goals.