Anonymity isn’t a luxury e-Commerce sites can afford—you can’t sell products if nobody knows you exist! That’s why even the simplest e-Commerce site needs to think about their SEO. In this article, we have provided five e-Commerce SEO tips below to improve your search engine rankings.
The good news is you don’t need to be a wizard to work a little SEO magic and get your e-Commerce store noticed. With the right plugins/extensions, some great content, and a few other DIY tricks, you’ll be able to organically boost your SERP ranking and win new leads.
Here are five basic SEO strategies you can use to improve your e-Commerce website.
Focus on Unique Content
Great content is the backbone of SEO. When Google crawls your website for indexing, your content is one of the main things it considers. It also examines how your users interact with your content—whether they stay to read or if they’re bouncing elsewhere immediately.
The very best e-Commerce sites always:
- Offer unique value – Whether we’re talking about product descriptions, homepage text, or image meta data, it’s important that this copy is original and valuable. Create content that offers genuine value to your customers that they can’t find elsewhere and replace manufacturer descriptions with your own wherever possible.
- Add product descriptions – Every product should have a unique description. Google uses these descriptions to bring people to your page; people use these descriptions to talk themselves into buying your product. In recent years, a trend towards more exciting and engaging product descriptions has allowed companies to differentiate themselves in a crowded market. Just read the J. Peterman catalogue for inspiration.
- Optimize page titles – Home page, category, and individual product page titles are among the most important elements of your website, SEO-wise. Certain plugins (which I talk about more below) will help you ensure that your titles appeal to both search engines and visitors. Never write just for the Search Engine though – it’s people who truly make or tank your SERP ranking.
- Includes keywords and phrases – Try to include words and phrases that your users search for in your product descriptions. Make sure your keywords are included naturally into your product descriptions, and avoid “keyword stuffing.”
- Never duplicate pages – Sites that contain duplicate pages don’t rank as well on Google. Take care to avoid creating duplicate content, and eliminate it whenever you realize it exists (e.g. if you’ve accidentally created identical search and category pages).
Remember, the very best content is informative, well-written, and accessible. It should use clear, concise and compelling language that tells your visitors instantly what value your page offers, while still sounding friendly and welcoming. Also see the article we wrote on what makes a great e-Commerce page.
Improve Your Site Speed
A second or two might not seem like a lot of time, but it can feel like an eternity when you’re waiting for a website to load or a sale to process. WooCommerce businesses have to be especially on the ball, as many real world examples have proven:
- Walmart, which boosted conversions by 2% for every 1 second they reduced load times.
- Shopzilla, which increased revenue by up to 12% after their average load time dropped from 6 seconds to 1.2 seconds.
- Auto Anything, which bumped sales by 13% when they cut their page load time in half.
- Amazon, which loses 1% of their sales for every 0.1 seconds a page takes to load.
- Google, which lost 20% of their traffic and ad revenue after their page load time jumped from 0.4 seconds to 0.9 seconds.
More recent data continues to corroborate these examples. Radware’s 2015 study revealed just how closely page load time and customer conversion are linked:
Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to improve your page load times. To find out how, check out our ten tips on how to speed up your e-Commerce website.
I’ve written before about the anatomy of a perfect e-Commerce store design, and a lot of that advice applies here. You want your website to use plenty of big, beautiful images and have a clean, simple layout. Some other tips include:
- Keep navigation simple – Make it easy for both search engines and your visitors to find your most important pages. Make sure your website includes a sitemap that allows users to easily find what they’re looking for.
- Optimize for multiple platforms – If your website isn’t responsive on mobile and desktop platforms, your SERP ranking will take a hit. Make sure that your site display, navigation, and speed remain high quality even on mobile devices.
- Think about URLs – When Google crawls your website, your URL should give it a clue as to what your page contains. Strings of numbers won’t rank nearly as well as something clear like /baby-toddler-toys/.
- Use the right plugins – Even if you’re a beginner, you can rely a lot on SEO plugins – many (but not all) of which are designed for for example for WordPress WooCommerce stores. Some of the best include:
- Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin – This plugin makes maintaining good on-page SEO easy. It includes templates for your post titles and meta descriptions, a way to avoid duplicate content by setting up canonical links, and the ability to create primary categories for your products to clean up site navigation. The premium version adds even more value, by including a redirect manager and the ability to optimize products for multiple different keywords.
- Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin – Designed for WooCommerce, this plugin includes the ability to use breadcrumb links (also in the Yoast SEO plugin), but will also help you clean up your sitemap and produce unique content tailored for WooCommerce SEO. It also makes it easy to share your content across social media. And speaking of social media…
Don’t Forget About Social Media
Are you using social media to boost your e-Commerce business? According to WeAreSocial’s Digital in 2016 report, nearly 1/3 of the world’s population is tapped into social media. This means that a site optimized for social media will not only rank better on search engines, but it will also reach more customers.
Social Media Plugins for WooCommerce Sites:
- Login With Social Media – Allows users to login and checkout with simple one-click registration through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Windows Live, VKontakte, Instagram, PayPal, and Amazon.
- WooCommerce Wish List – A wish list plugin lets your users create custom catalogs and remember products for later purchasing. Logged in users can also share their wish lists with friends and family for easy shopping suggestions
- StoreYa – StoreYa imports your WooCommerce store to your Facebook fan page. Facebook remains the most popular social media network worldwide and it’s fast becoming one of the most popular platforms for e-commerce.
- Social Coupon for WordPress – When customers share your product pages they get special discounts—encouraging more shares, more traffic, and more sales! You can even advertise these benefits on your checkout pages, shopping carts, and product pages.
- WooCommerce Instagram – A picture tells a thousand words, which is why WooCommerce relies so heavily on beautiful pictures to hook users and sell their products. Showcase your photos on Instagram for even more exposure.
Social Media Plugins for Other e-Commerce Sites:
- Facebook Store lets you show and sell products directly on your Facebook page, allowing customers to not only buy your products, but share them easily with their friends.
- Social Media Stream displays your posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest and Tumblr on one page, helping you increase social media followers (and reducing time spent embedding pictures into posts)
- AddThis works for Magento and WordPress, and is one of the most popular methods for sharing products on social networks (you choose which). It’s similar to SocialShare, a Magento extension that makes it possible to configure a share button for Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest.
- Social Login lets users log in to your store via their social profiles, letting you know who’s looking (and shopping) at your site.
- Facebook & Twitter Promo is an extension that increases the number of your social media followers (and buyers) by letting you configure promotional codes to offer visitors to your store if they start following you on your chosen social networks.
- Yotpo offers a social review system that makes it easy for your customers to write and read reviews of your products on your website – very important for social proof!
- Justuno Social Bribery is a pop-up app that offers customers coupon codes when they sign up for emails and newsletters, or Like, Tweet or +1 your products. It also enables behavioral-based offers that can reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions.
With so many people interacting and sharing through social media, it’s no wonder that Business Insider found that e-commerce referrals through social media rose almost 200% between 2014 and 2015. If social media isn’t already integrated into your WooCommerce site, there’s no time like the present to start.
Use HTTPS on Your Completed Website
Data breaches continue to be the number-one threat facing businesses, so it’s essential that you protect your customers’ information. Google also used HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) as a ranking factor since 2014 — so sites with better encryption get preferential SERP results.
Standard HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is fine for personal blogs, but if you’re handling sensitive information (such as payment options or personal data) for your customers, it leaves their information vulnerable. HTTPS solves this problem by encrypting data using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate.
An SSL certificate provides you with three layers of protection:
- Data Integrity
Note that to change your URL from HTTP to HTTPS you’ll need to get and configure the necessary SSL certificates on your server. You should get these certificates from a reliable certificate authority (CA) and get a certificate with the highest security possible (2048-bit key). Make sure your certificate gives you the coverage you need.
The good news is that switching your website to HTTPS normally isn’t very time-consuming — your hosting company can usually handle most of the process. Most hosting companies offer packages which include an SSL certificate and take care of the installation on your behalf. You just have to handle the easy work: changing your links from HTTP to HTTPS.
Here’s what you should do:
- Change your address and your Site Address to start with https instead of http under your Settings > General tab.
- Update your site links to link directly to the HTTPS resource or use protocol relative URLS for other domains.
- Redirect users and search engines who may be looking for your HTTP site, using server-side 301 HTTP redirects.
- Make sure that Google can still crawl and index your HTTPS page using Fetch as Google.
You do not need to submit a change of address to Google to move your site from HTTP to HTTPS.
e-Commerce SEO Tips Conclusion
Basic SEO doesn’t have to be a headache and it shouldn’t eat up your time. The best thing you can do for your website is install some simple plugins and brush up on Google’s official guidelines.
The bottom line is that you should provide your customers with unique and useful content, make your products easy to find and share, and ensure that every shopping experience is painless and secure. When you do these things, you’ll already be taking simple steps to ensure that your website receives better search engine placement – and serves your customers better. As you can see by following the simple e-Commerce SEO tips outlined in this article you can get started right away. So what are you waiting for?