Your online store is set up and ready to go. You’ve got an attractive site design and helpful product pages, and you’ve promoted your launch through social media and email marketing. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy…but you’re still not seeing the traffic you hoped for. What’s going on?
Chances are, you haven’t made much progress on your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. And that can be a real problem, because your online store is far less likely to be found if you’re not on Google’s first page of results. A whopping 90% of searchers never look further than the first page, and that top position claims almost one-third of the click-through traffic.
SEO strategies are best implemented in small steps over time, which will let you measure what’s working and what’s not. So we’ve come up with this list of seven strategies to get your ecommerce website ranking higher on Google and other search engines.
1. Optimise for mobile first
With 70% of online transactions now occurring on mobile devices, it’s no surprise that Google is factoring mobile design considerations into their search algorithm by indexing mobile versions higher than desktop site versions. So every time you make a decision about optimising your online store for search rankings, you need to consider how it applies to your mobile site. Most ecommerce platforms, like Neto, come with built-in mobile responsive design templates.
2. Get your site up to speed
If your site doesn’t load in under three seconds, you’ll lose 40% of your site traffic. Given that you’ll have high resolution images on your website, it’s important that your website theme loads content appropriately. Avoid loading external elements, and make sure you’ve got a good hosting plan in place. Consider using a content distribution network like Cloudflare to improve site load times around the world.
3. Structure your information so it’s easy to navigate
It’s not just people navigating your site—search engines navigate it too, crawling through all the links to understand how your pages relate to each other. If you’ve set up your products in sensible categories, you’re already halfway there. When planning your URL scheme, base it around your product categories, and use real words rather than codes and numbers.
You have options for handling colour or size variations of a particular product, so spend some time investigating how your customers search for items within your store. It’s usually best to list them as a single item with options, but if one colour is more popular this season, you might choose to list it separately. As search engines understand text better than drop-down lists, it can also help to include prominent text about your offered options, such as “available in red and black”.
If you need to list one item in two categories, such as when it’s in a clearance sale, use Google’s rel=”canonical” link tag to show which is the main product listing, and avoid having your two listings competing with each other.
4. Write original, engaging content for real people
When you’re writing content, remember that you’re writing for real people who have a genuine interest in your products. Give them what they want by writing copy that will keep them reading. We know you wouldn’t dream of copying content from someone else’s website—that would be plagiarism—but did you know that search engines can penalise you for copying your own content? So, even though it can be tempting to re-use your content, do it with caution to avoid penalties for duplicate content. This is another use for the canonical tag we mentioned in the previous point.
If you’re using a database of product information from your vendor, make sure you add your own touches. Those databases tend to be full of technical information, but your descriptions should make shoppers feel excited to be in the picture. If you’ve got a lot of products, just start with the ones that are getting the most hits. Adding user-generated content is an easy way to get more unique content on your site, so encourage your customers to post reviews and endorsements, and publish them with the products, rather than on another part of the site. And don’t forget to add content to your category pages as well!
6. Keep your site fresh with new content
In addition to keeping your database updated with new products on a regular basis, you can improve your ecommerce store’s search ranking by adding other content. One of the best ways to do this is with blog posts, which can range from specific posts about your products to general discussions of trends in your industry.
We’ve touched on customer reviews already, as a way of adding original content. But they also tend to come in regularly as shoppers buy and use your products, so they contribute to keeping your site fresh. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for feedback—it’s worth the effort.
7. Research your keywords and use them wisely
Keywords are a huge topic in SEO, as they come into play on every part of your site. Use an analytics tool to look closely at searches that are getting people to your site. Local searches—by people in your country, using the same language—generally convert better, so focus on those. Different parts of your site will use different keywords, and you don’t want to end up with them competing, so think about keywords for individual products rather than just your home page. Then use your keywords throughout your site, not only in your content but also in the metadata, such as title tags, anchors, and image file names. But don’t be tempted to stuff your articles full of keywords to the point where they don’t sound like real stories—Google hates that!
Before we go…
There is one more crucial thing you need to know: SEO is always changing as new website technology becomes available and search engine algorithms are updated. So optimising your online store isn’t a set-and-forget process. Keep on top of of the changes and remember: you can fool the algorithms, but not for long, and it can take years to undo the damage. The one thing all algorithms have in common is that they favour websites with genuine, meaningful content that online shoppers will find useful, so the tips we’ve given you today are a great place to start.