SEO is vitally important for websites especially when your main stream of revenue is through online channel. There are a lot of factors that should be included when optimising your website for search engines; after having worked on a number of large scale eCommerce SEO projects, we have drawn out the 5 most important SEO elements for eCommerce websites. This will help you identify and focus on the critical factors of your website SEO project for easier management and implementation.
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research plays a critical role in any SEO projects. As for eCommerce website, the scope is more extensive because we advise you to research keywords on not only main product category but for all products under each categories.
There are some tools that can help you with this process:
• Google Webmaster tool is to help you identify what search queries, in other words, keywords that your site is being found and this tool also provides you with search volume of these keywords.
• Google Analytics helps you figure out what keywords users use to find your website. Unfortunately, Google does not provide 100% data as before.
• Google Suggestion: Type your keywords on Google search bar and see what type of queries are being suggested by Google, these queries are collected by Google based on the keyword usage frequency.
• Google Ads; if you are running Adwords, data from Adwords is invaluable to give you an insight about the keywords that drive most traffic and bring most conversion to your business.
• Competitors: There are some tools out there such as SEMrush that helps identify keywords that your competitors are trying to rank for and it also provides search volume and suggested cost per click for these keywords.
• Google Keyword Planner helps you generate info about keyword search volume, suggested bid and other relevant keywords.
Well, after doing keywords for all product categories and products, the next step I’d strongly advise is to conduct long-tail keywords for content development. The reason being is that a lot of short-tail keywords are generally competitive and highly sought-after by other business including your biggest competitors who have 10 times bigger budget as yours.
Researching long-tail keywords helps you identify keywords that address what people are increasingly using to find solutions/answers to their questions, for example, instead of going after hard keywords such as “bridal accessories”, you can try to look for such search terms as “budget bridal accessories”; “plus size bridal accessories” “winter bridal accessories”…We help a client of ours rank in top 02 for all long tails keywords, data from AdWords also supported our analysis that long-tail keywords have helped our clients convert better than short-tail ones.
After gathering a list of long tail keywords surrounding a targeted product/service category, the next step is to develop content around it, it can be implemented through blog posts or additional pages.
2. Meta Data
As for Meta Data, you need to cover Meta Title, Meta Description and Heading 1 for each category and product/service detail pages. Don’t use same Meta Title and Description for multiple products or services. I know that writing Meta Data for all product categories and product detail pages can be tedious at times and might take you hours to do so but it is worth it and will pay you off in the long run.
Treat your Meta Description as brief, succinct sales pitch that you would like your costumers to read and click on your website instead of your competitors. You can add special product feature or pricing offer to make the difference. Try not to use general or like everyone-else or superfluous, fluffy description.
And don’t forget to add call-to-action at the end of the description to encourage prospects to click.
3. Product Description
This is a hard part! A lot of eCommerce websites don’t have product or category descriptions or simply copy descriptions from manufacturers’ online catalogue or website.
Having text description for your product category or product detail pages help increase the relevancy to users’ search queries and highly evaluated by Google.
Adding content to the product page also helps your site get found by different versions of the main keywords such as long tail ones. And also, having content allows you to add Heading 2 and Heading 3 for your webpage with targeted keywords, thereby increasing the content relevancy to users’ search queries.
4. Internal Linking Structure By Vertical Menu
Vertical Menu plays a critical role in usability and user shopping experience, this allows user to navigate through different categories and products easily without having to go up to upper horizontal menu and go through all the hassles. Vertical Menu also helps shoppers to filter products by price, colours, sizes, styles easily, hence enhancing their shopping experience.
And also, this also creates an internal linking structure to main product category pages, thereby flowing link juice throughout the website; this helps increase internal content relevancy for search bots to find your content more easily.
5. Pagination Issue
This is one of the most common issues for eCommerce website with multiple product pages. Search engines commonly consider these pages identical in terms of content, below is an example;
Version 1: https://www.site.com/page1
Version 2: https://www.site.com/page2
Version 3 https://www.site.com/page3
Version 4: https://www.site.com/page4
Four versions mirror each other in the above example. It is apparent that Google is indexing all four versions of the site within its search listings. In addition to this, you’ll often find that identical title tags and meta descriptions tend to propagate across a span of paginated content. This is confusing for search engines to understand which site version to ascribe authority to and raises duplicate content issue. There should only be one version of this page.
There are several solutions to pagination issues;
• If you have a fast loading View All page, and that page contains all the products and/or items included across the component pages, use this method. All component pages rel canonical to the View All, and it becomes your default ranking page in SERPs. It’s elegant, simple, and efficient. It will also best pass equity from each page to a single, canonical URL. This is considered the easiest solution to implement
• The second way is to use something called canonical links (which I explained below). By placing the following code in the head of the page (you will need to use your own url) you can tell Google that this page should not be indexed and that they should index the other one you link to instead.
Below is an example of what a canonical link is.
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.yoururl/page-that-should-be-indexed.html”/>
• The third solution is to use rel=”prev” and “next” which sounds a bit complicated, but it is arguably the most versatile. Google now recognises the rel=“prev” and “next” HTML attributes as a method of indicating a sequence of paginated pages. The implementation can be tricky, and you have to be exceptionally careful when applying this method.
For example, you have four pages of paginated content:
<link rel="next" href="http://www.site.com/page2.html">
That’s the only step we have to take for the beginning of the chain. Now we move on to Page 2. Consider that Page 2 is now in the middle of the chain, so we have to attach it both to the page before it and to the next page in the sequence. Page 2 would have the following code in the <head>:
<link rel="prev" href="http://www.site.com/page1.html">
<link rel="next" href="http://www.site.com/page3.html">
Now just as you might have assumed, since Page 3 is also in the centre of this sequence of linked pages, we have to continue to implement the code in a similar manner:
<link rel="prev" href="http://www.site.com/page2.html">
<link rel="next" href="http://www.site.com/page4.html">
And so we’ve reached Page 4, the last in our chain of paginated content. The last page should only contain a rel="prev" attribute in the <head>, as there are no further pages within the sequence:
As you know, SEO is on-going process and the success doesn’t happen overnight. According to our experience on many eCommerce projects, you can be expecting to see the positive changes in incoming traffic after a month or so after all these SEO elements are implemented.
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