This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
E-commerce search engine optimization (SEO) has one of the highest return on investments of all of the different types of e-commerce marketing. If you’re running an e-commerce website and don’t have an SEO strategy, you are missing a huge revenue opportunity.
Before we dive into how to execute e-commerce SEO successfully, let’s clarify exactly what e-commerce SEO is. E-commerce SEO is the art and science of improving your website’s organic search engine rankings in the major search engines, namely Google.
With the right SEO strategy, you will likely see a much higher ROI than you might with a paid search or paid social media strategy. Why? Because organic traffic is cheap. If done correctly, you conceivably have a free stream of leads to your site.
However, it is important to note that a proper SEO strategy takes time to implement. Paid social advertising, Google Ads, and other tactics are admittedly faster, though traditionally more expensive channels.
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Without further ado, let’s take a look at how you can best execute e-commerce SEO for your online business
Selecting a platform and proper URL structure
Before anything else, you need to make sure that you are choosing the best e-commerce platform for your business.
There are particular e-commerce platforms that are predisposed for strong search optimization. Shopify, for example, is set up for optimization. The platform even provides a guide on how to maximize the SEO potential of your online store. WooCommerce is similarly strong. It’s a theme that enables you to sell products on the most SEO-friendly content management system on the planet, WordPress.
Both Shopify and WooCommerce also enable users to activate helpful SEO plugins like Yoast, which ensures you’re executing on best practices as you build out and optimize your site.
After you’ve established your domain name, you also want to develop URL structures that match the user’s intent even more closely. For example, if you sell swimsuits and you’re offering a blue one-piece bathing suit, you’ll want to make sure that is clear in the URL structure. Your URL should look something like this: swimsuits.com/blue-one-piece. This way, when users are searching for a “blue one-piece bathing suit,” Google will know to populate your page.
A good rule of thumb to follow for optimizing your URL structure is: yoursite.com/category-name/subcategory-name/product.
While Google is an extremely intelligent search algorithm, your URL name and structure are still highly valuable. So, choosing the right platform is half the battle. The other half is making sure Google can understand your product in the lowest friction way.
Backlinks are incredibly important for SEO in the e-commerce world, and one of the most challenging aspects of SEO, too. Backlinks are one of the strongest signals to Google that a website is authoritative. After all, would you trust a website that is linked to from a non-reputable, spammy source?
To build links, you’ll need to acquire “natural” links from press releases and influencers in your space. You can expedite the process by doing some outreach, as well.
Here are some backlinking tactics that might help:
- Local directories: Create profiles and reach out to local directories to make sure that your business is included in all the right places. For instance, if you have a physical, brick-and-mortar presence in addition to your e-commerce component, make sure to create a Yelp profile and get a Google My Business listing. But don’t stop there. Find other local directories by simply searching your locale and “local businesses.” Often, you’ll find a treasure trove of other business directories that you can submit your business to be included within.
- Guest posts: Guest posts are arguably the simplest way to get backlinks, though they are also quite time consuming. Look for blogs and websites in your industry that include guest posts on their sites. Then reach out to them and offer to write one! If they accept, write an article about something adjacent to your expertise, and be sure to include links back to your site, because those will be the backlinks you’re after.
Did you know that 35 percent of Americans start their product searches on Google? To capitalize on that, you’ll want to make sure your website is populating in the Google search engine results page (SERP) when users search for relevant products.
The Google Shopping Feed makes this easier than ever. It’s essentially a spreadsheet of all of your product availability in one central place. Google can then crawl this spreadsheet and will list any relevant products on its shopping results page. This used to be a paid feature, just like any other Google Ad service, but as of April 2020, the Shopping Feed is no longer pay-to-play.
Now, e-commerce sites can rise organically in the Google Shopping feed. This is great, because it makes the feed a lot more accessible, especially for startups that may not have been able to afford the feed beforehand. It also means that optimizing for SEO will be more important than ever. Learn how to make a product feed here.
Using SEO software to guide your product roadmap
SEO software refers to a whole host of tools that enable you to understand what users are searching. Using this kind of software, you can see exactly what terms people Google, and how often they are Googling them. Plus, the best tools give you the ability to optimize your content to rank for those terms. Some of the best SEO tools out there include Ahrefs, Moz and GrowthBar.
All of these tools allow you to see:
- Search volume for millions of searches
- Competition metrics to help you understand whether you can rank or not
- Backlink profiles of your competitors
- Google Ads keywords
Competitive insights and Google insights are hugely important when developing an SEO strategy for your products, but it is also crucial to your product roadmap. If you’re developing a product that no one is searching for, you’re probably going to have a difficult time selling it on the internet. While this should only be one factor in determining whether to make a product or not, it is an important one worth considering.
Try to aim for keywords that are higher in search volume and lower in competition. This will allow you to rank on the SERPs for the products that you are selling. Use one of the tools listed above to make the whole process a lot more data-driven and precise.
Additional content on product pages
At this point, you probably understand that including relevant keywords on your product pages will help you rank higher in Google. And one of the best ways to make sure that your pages are optimized with keywords is to bulk them up with content.
Google doesn’t like “thin” content, which is any page that offers little value to the reader. You can have the best backlink profile in the world, and the perfect URL structure, but if your pages don’t feature quality content on the topic at hand, you’ll have a tough time ranking.
Now, you probably don’t need to offer 1,000 words on those tennis shoes you’re selling. But, you might want to develop a paragraph or two that describes the shoes in detail. That paragraph should be as keyword dense as possible (meaning it has as many keywords relevant to your product as possible), without “keyword stuffing.”
For the tennis shoes, you’ll want to specify the brand, what colors they are offered in, what type of material the shoe is made out of, etc. Use your SEO software to better understand what details are important to users and include those details in this description!
For example, one thing my company, Minted, does extremely well is providing additional content on the bottom of our product category pages. This keeps users on page longer and provides useful information that assists shoppers with making their purchasing decisions. It also helps Google to see this content as extremely valuable, boosting Google rankings in the wedding stationary space.
E-commerce SEO can be tricky, but it is completely doable. With a strong platform, good URL structure, a solid backlink profile, an optimized product feed, and keyword research tools, you’ll be able to rank on Google. This will ultimately increase brand visibility and get you more customers.
The post 5 E-Commerce SEO Best Practices to Boost Store Traffic appeared first on StartupNation.