For a long time, e-commerce companies have been fighting over organic search rank positions across major search engines such as Google and Bing. In the past few years, it’s been tougher and tougher to get product pages to rank high on the first page of Google through e-commerce SEO. These search results are slowly being pushed down by reviewers, articles, blog posts, and video bloggers. Why? Search engines are putting a higher value on unique and high quality content. They also want e-commerce stores to shift their focus to Google Shopping or other Product listing ad formats.
Where does this leave marketing departments across the nation who either work for an e-commerce company, or work closely with them to help drive sales and traffic. Working in this industry can be tough when it seems everything Google is doing is working against your SEO efforts. There are numerous strategies and tactics that you can implement to rank high on Google without having to focus on ranking product pages.
The biggest concern with a large e-commerce store, that is trying to rank a product page, is going to be duplicate content. You just cannot get around the fact that a product description is going to be the same across the internet and copied from the manufacturer. How does an e-commerce site increase search rank to build up organic traffic? Create unique content that answers questions that your target market is searching for.
E-commerce SEO keyword research
Using a keyword research tool like SEMrush is imperative to running a successful e-commerce SEO campaign. A quick search for the keyword “Best NAS for” yielded a list of 104 related keywords that provide real searches that real users are using in Google to find answers to their questions.
The top hit in the Network Storage industry is “Best nas for plex” followed by “Best nas for home.” Using this data, you could write 2 well thought out blog posts that work on answering those queries and then include links on each post to the best product recommendation for each of those use cases. Content is king and always will be, by providing users with valuable information, you can boost your e-commerce SEO and drive sales for specific products.
This tactic works across all industries so long as your keyword research tool can provide you with data that you need. In the situations where it can’t, there is another way to get this same information, and for free too! Simply go to Google.com and type in a half query such as “Best fitness tracker for…” and look at the suggested results that Google provides.
In the image above, you can see that the current top trending search is “best fitness tracker for women” following by swimming, kids and running. You’ve now got a list of 4 top questions that you can work on answering through individual blog posts and then recommend a product in each post. Link to that product and you can pass on SEO value to that page and increase search ranks throughout your website.
Find Blogger keywords for your E-commerce SEO campaign
Another great tactic for improve e-commerce SEO ranks, is to identify keywords that top industry bloggers are targeting. You can do this by using the same keyword research tool as the previous strategy. In our example we are using SEMrush. We took a look at the search term “Best ecig mods” and chose the number 1 search result: http://vaping360.com/best-box-mods-vape-mods-and-ecig-mods/. You can see from the screenshot below that this one page is ranking for 682 individual keywords. That’s the mark of a great blog post. If you were in this industry, this blog post is a gold mine of potential keywords to target especially when you consider the volume of searches of the results.
Vaping360 is primarily an e-commerce store but they’ve got SEO down to a tee. Create content that is evergreen, unique, and beneficial for readers and you will see your search results start to climb. Obviously, you also need to work on link building too. Let’s discuss that in more detail in this next section.
Link building for E-commerce SEO
There are thousands of articles that discuss the best practices for link building. Some of these include researching industry articles and searching for broken links and suggesting a link to your own site as a replacement. Others suggest commenting on blog posts or forums to drive traffic to your site. These are viable options but we also want to focus on bringing real traffic to your site.
In 2 months of launching an e-commerce site for https://www.simplynas.com we noticed that they were receiving a lot of traffic from Reddit. When we investigated further, we found that they had received 4-5 different links from that network which lead to an increase in traffic.
Reddit has long been a fantastic link building resource but not for SEO purposes, for traffic. Real traffic and real users will organically increase your chances to gain real links. Google has stressed that organic links are the most important, this means a balance between follow and Nofollow links. Links from Reddit are Nofollow and do not directly impact PageRank, however there is a lot of evidence to suggest they are used as a ranking signal. Google and Bing have even admitted that Social links like Twitter and Facebook are used as search signals.
Site Navigation can help E-commerce SEO
While it may not seem like a big deal, having an easy to use and bot friendly site navigation will go a long way to improving your search rank. Imagine you visit a site and are unable to find anything you are looking for. That’s going to make for a pretty poor user experience right? Google thinks so too. That’s why when their bot crawls your site, it looks for these indicators to determine how they should rank your site. Work to make your navigation as easy to read as possible and you will start seeing improvements in your organic ranks.
You can look at the navigation that your competitors are using and dissect them to find the best combination for your site. The navigation needs to be smooth, the CSS needs to be in line and smooth. The overall look and feel also must be in perfect condition to make sure your website is classified as a high-quality site. Try to keep everything 3 clicks away from your user, that’s been the rule of thumb for website navigation for over a decade and for good reason!
Check site errors on your e-commerce site!
Site errors can break even the best websites. There have been countless instances where we have looked at a website’s search console and found thousands of 404 errors. These stem from a product being removed/hidden, or a variation being changed on the site. Whenever you change the URL structure of a product page, you absolutely must create a redirect to the new URL or the closest related page. This is the only way to ensure you retain your SEO value and minimize any inconvenience your 404 errors may cause users
Make sure your website is verified in Google Search console. You can then check the search console for 404 errors. Whenever Google crawls your website, they will note any crawl errors and these will show up in your search console for you to rectify. The screenshot below shows what you need to look for in the search console.
As you can see, there is a lot of information available in the search console. This is all provided to help you set up redirects as well as know when these errors occurred. The best part? It’s free!
Site errors don’t just stop at 404 errors; they include duplicate content issues which are huge on websites that feature individual product pages for variations. Create a canonical URL tag on your products so that you can point the Google bot to the original content. You can also write unique product descriptions for each product you sell. While this may be a tedious task, the rewards can be huge. Particularly when it comes to improving your organic rank on search engines.
Test Your Website!
Make sure your website loads fast! 3 seconds and below is a good rule of thumb. You never want to be higher than that. There are dozens of resources that provide tips on how to increase site speed. One of the easiest ways is to move to a web host that provides a fast server response time. This is important because Google prefers one that responds under 200ms. You can test your site at the following 2 resources:
Another great resource is GTmetrix. Their tool provides a much more in-depth look at your website speed. It even provides helpful resources such as compression and optimizing certain images. This allows you to just save them and upload it to your site to improve your load speeds.
Hostgator.com have several plans that work for majority of businesses and they have a respectable server response time. Make sure your website is also leveraging browser caching as this makes a big deal in site load times.
Mobile optimization for E-commerce SEO
This is a big one. Mobile optimized websites tend to rank higher in Google due to their recent algorithm updates. Breaking down your content into paragraphs make them easy to read on a small screen. You don’t want massive blocks of content with minimal whitespace. It’s hard to read and will cause users to leave your site.
You need large touch points for visitors to click items on your site. This let’s them navigate easily and enjoy a great user experience on your site. Platforms such as WordPress and Shopify naturally provide responsive website templates. You can use these to ensure your website is 100% mobile responsive. To ensure your site remains optimized for mobile, make sure you upload small images and size them accordingly. You can also use image optimizing plugins for WordPress or Shopify to help the process along.
You can test your website’s mobile friendliness with this free testing tool from Google:
It’s always a good idea to hire a professional e-commerce SEO agency. We can implement proven strategies to take your site to the top. Keep in mind that e-commerce marketing isn’t just about SEO. It’s also about pairing your SEO campaign to a strong Pay-Per-Click campaign. This is where SimplySearch stands out. Our team of fully certified PPC professionals have gone through rigorous training to ensure they are prepared for any situation in the PPC world. Contact us today for a free consultation.