How to Fix Common Technical SEO Issues On Ecommerce Sites
Problem: Too Many Pages
Having thousands of pages on your site can be a technical SEO nightmare. It makes writing unique content for each page a monumental task. Also, the more pages you have, the more likely you’ll struggle with duplicate content issues.
Why It Happens
Some ecommerce sites just have lots and lots of products for sale. Because each of these products require their own page, the site accumulates lots of pages. Also, sometimes each slight variation in the same product (for example 15 different shoe sizes) has its own unique URL, which can bloat your ecommerce site’s total page count.
How to Fix it
First, identify pages that you can delete or noindex… without affecting your bottom line.
In my experience, 80% of an ecommerce site’s sales come from 20% of its products (the ol’ 80/20 principle at work). And around 25% of an ecommerce product pages haven’t generated ANY sales over the last year.
Rather than working to improve these pages, you’re better off simply deleting them, noindexing them, or combining them into a “super page”.
Most ecommerce CMSs (like Shopify) make it easy to find products that haven’t generated any revenue lately. If they haven’t, you can put them into a “maybe delete” list.
But before you actually delete anything, check Google Analytics to make sure these pages aren’t bringing in any traffic.
If a page isn’t bringing visitors to your site or putting cash in your pocket, you should ask yourself: “what’s the point of this page?”.
In some cases these “deadweight” pages will make up 5-10% of your site. For others, it can be as many as 50%.
Once you’ve removed excess pages that might be causing problems, it’s time to fix and improve the pages that are left.
Problem: Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is one of the most common ecommerce SEO issues on the planet. And it’s one that can sink your site in Google’s search results (thanks to Google Panda).
Fortunately, with a commitment to unique content on every page of your ecommerce site (and using advanced SEO techniques like canonical tags), you can make duplicate content issues a thing of the past.
Why It Happens
There are a lot of reasons that duplicate content crop up on ecommerce sites.
Here are the three most common reasons.
First, the site creates unique URLs for every version of a product or category page.
For example, if you have a category menu like this…
…it might create a unique URL for every selection the person makes.
If those URLs gets indexed by Google, it’s going to create A LOT of duplicate content.
This can also happen if slight variations of the same product (for example, different shoe sizes or colors) create unique product page URLs.
Second, we have boilerplate content. This is where you have a snippet of text that appears on multiple pages.
Here’s an example:
Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use some of the same content on every page (for example, “At Brian’s Organic Supplements, we use the best ingredients at the best price.”).
But if your boilerplate content gets to be 100+ words it can be seen as duplicate content in the eyes of Google.
Finally, we have copied descriptions. This happens anytime you have the same (or very similar) content on multiple product or category pages.
For example, here’s an example of duplicate content on two different ecommerce product pages…
Product Page #1:
Product Page #2:
As you can see, the content on these two pages is almost identical. Not good.
How to Fix it
Your first option is to noindex pages that don’t bring in search engine traffic but are causing duplicate content issues.
For example, if your category filters generate unique URLs, you can noindex those URLs. Problem solved.
Once you’ve noindexed all of the URLs that need to go, it’s time to tap into the canonical tag (“rel=canonical”).
A canonical tag simply tells search engines that certain pages are exact copies or slight variations of the same page. When a search engine sees a canonical tag on a page, they know that they shouldn’t treat it as a unique page.
(Not only does canonicalization solve duplicate content issues, but it helps makes your backlinks more valuable. That’s because links that point to several different URLs reroute to a single URL, making those links more powerful).
Pro Tip: Implementing canonical tags can be tricky. That’s why I recommend that you hire an SEO pro with technical SEO expertise to help. But if you prefer to set up canonicals yourself, this guide by Google will help.
Finally, it’s time to write unique content for all of the pages that you haven’t noindexed or set up with canonical URLs.
Yes, this is hard work (especially for an ecommerce site with thousands of pages). But it’s an absolute must if you want to compete against the ecommerce giants (like Amazon) that tend to dominate Google’s first page.
To make the process easier, I recommend creating templates for product and category page descriptions (I’ll have an example template for you in the next section).
Problem: Thin Content
Thin content is another common technical SEO issue that ecommerce sites have to deal with. So even after you solve your duplicate content issues, you might have pages with thin content.
And make no mistake: thin content can derail entire ecommerce SEO campaigns. In fact, eBay lost upwards of 33% of its organic traffic due to a thin content-related Panda penalty.
But let’s not focus on the negative. Our data from analyzing 1 million Google search results found that longer content tended to rank above thin content.
Why It Happens
One of the main reasons that ecommerce sites suffer from thin content is that it’s challenging to write lots of unique content about similar products. After all, once you’ve written a description about one running shoe what can you write about 25 others?
While this is a legit concern, it shouldn’t stop you from writing at least 500 words (and preferably 1000+ words) for all of your important category and product pages.
How To Fix It
First, you want to identify pages on your site that have thin content.
Pro Tip: Everyone has a different definition of “thin content”. In my mind, thin content refers to short snippets of content that doesn’t bring any unique value to the table.
You can go through each page on your site one-by-one or use a tool like Raven Tools to find pages that are a bit on the thin side (Raven considers pages with fewer than 250 words as having a “low word count”):
Once you’ve identified thin content pages it’s time to bulk them up with high-quality, unique content. Templates make this process go significantly faster.
Here’s an example template for a product page description:
Pro Tip: The more truly unique your content is, the better. That means actually using the products you sell. Write your impressions. Take your own product images. This will make your product descriptions stand out to users and search engines.
Problem: Site Speed
Site speed is one of the few signals that Google has publicly stated they use as part of their algorithm.
But site speed isn’t just important for ecommerce SEO: it also directly impacts your bottom line. Research by Radware found that slow load times can increase shopping cart abandonment by 29.8%.
Why It Happens
Here are the three most common reasons that ecommerce site pages load slowly:
Bloated Ecommerce Platforms: Certain ecommerce platforms are inherently slow due to bloated code. And unlike a blogging CMS like WordPress, you can’t just install a plugin and watch your speed improve.
Large Image File Sizes: High-res product images are awesome for your customers, but can make your page load like molasses.
Slow Hosting and Servers: When it comes to web hosting, you get what you pay for. A slow hosting plan can put the brakes on your site’s max speed.
Fortunately, all three of these site speed issues can be solved somewhat easily.
How to Fix it
Upgrade Your Hosting: I can’t recommend specific hosting providers because your decision depends on your preferences and needs (for example, the level of support, pricing, security etc.). But what I can say is that you should spend at least $50/month on your host. If you spend less, your loading speed is likely to suffer.
Invest In a CDN: A CDN is one of the fastest (and cheapest) ways to significantly crank up your site’s loading speed. Bonus: a CDN also makes your site more secure from attacks and hacks.
Optimize Image File Size with Compression: This is a biggie for ecommerce product pages. Make sure to export images so they’re optimized for the web.
If you want to get more traffic and sales on your ecommerce site, then SEO is a crucial first step.
Offered the web with articles and tutorials on the web that they offer generally SEO advice, but far fewer who specifically address the needs of e-commerce entrepreneurs.
Today, we want to give you a basic understanding of on-site search engine optimization for ecommerce. It will be enough to get started, make sure you send all the right signals to Google and set it up for SEO success.
You’d rather dive inside.
What is Ecommerce SEO? Definition
Ecommerce SEO is a process that will make your online store more visible on search results pages (SERPs). When people search for the products you sell, you want to rank as high as possible so that you get more traffic.
You can come from traffic paid search, but SEO costs a lot less. In addition, ad blockers and ad blindness can reduce the effectiveness of paid search, so you want to optimize your search regardless.
Ecommerce SEO typically involves optimizing headlines, product descriptions, metadata, internal link structures, and navigation structures for search and user experience. Every product you sell should have a dedicated page designed to drive traffic from search engines.
However, you want to forget about non-product static pages on your site, such as the following:
About the page
Help Center replies
Make a list of keywords for those pages as well as related keywords. Tool like Ubersuggest make it easy to search for one long tail keyword and find semantic keywords that match it well.
Why ecommerce SEO is important
What do consumers do when they need a product or service? Many search Google. They look for options, tips, comparisons and other information to help them make informed decisions.
If your site appears in SERPs, you lose critical access to qualified and interested ecommerce buyers. Your products may have space on the web, but are they complete?
Lie where ecommerce SEO comes from. Provides you with a way to reach your target audience without paying for ads. Once you get people to your site, you can delight them with their high quality products, intriguing copy and motivating call to action.
If you only optimize your site for people, do your business a favor. Ecommerce SEO addresses the first barrier to attracting new customers: attracting people to your site.
How to Develop an SEO Ecommerce Strategy
Ecommerce SEO can seem like a huge task, especially if you already have a website with tons of products. Yes, it may take some time, but you can speed up the process with a solid strategy.
Define pages: Which pages on your site get the most traffic? Start with them. In addition, if you want people to focus on a particular or flagship product, optimize for that first product.
Create a workflow: SEO requires you to meet a lot of specific requirements. Selecting keywords, adding meta data, naming images correctly, adding alternate image attributes, and including related keywords fall into this category.
Look at the competition: Your SEO ecommerce strategy should be designed to outpace your competition. Take a look at the websites of your top competitors and check out their SEO efforts. Identify ways to improve yours.
Follow CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) SEO should follow. We discussed this a little later.
Continue reading for more in-depth instructions for an effective ecommerce SEO strategy.
Ecommerce SEO Checklist: Best Practices for Your Ecommerce SEO Strategy
A bad look at some of the best tips for ecommerce sites missing in the SEO space. If you want people to find your products more easily, you need an SEO ecommerce strategy, and checking every item on your list will make the strategy more effective.
Use the right keywords
Yes, keywords are still important. These keywords want to overload the titles and product descriptions, but they must be present in the copy.
Specify your primary keyword in the product title, description, meta description, alternate image attributes, and captions. Spread the Latent Semantic Index (LSI) keywords. These are related keywords that help Google understand your site in context.
Analyze keyword search volume, CPC, and user intent
Before you use a keyword, do some research on it. Know how often people search for it (keyword search volume), how competitive it is in paid ad space (cost-per-click or CPC), and what people look for when they use that keyword.
Rather disassemble it further.
Search volume tells you how much interest a particular keyword has on consumers. Higher search volume indicates more popularity, which means more searches for that keyword.
CPC tells you how much people pay per click when they buy advertising based on a particular keyword. High CPC increased competition. If your target keyword is extremely competitive, consider finding a long tail alternative.
Finally, the user intends to discover what people want to find when they type in a particular keyword in the Google search bar. Instead, let’s say someone type “shower” and hit Enter.
Does this person want information on shower installation, shower repairs, baby showers, bridal showers or something else? If you’ve specified user intent behind a keyword, add other words to the search string for clarity.
Conduct competition research
If you have no idea where to start on-site optimization for your ecommerce business, then your best competitors are your competitors. In particular, larger competitors have already been introduced to the optimization of their websites, and many of their secrets can be found on their websites.
Keywords are a thing to focus on. We especially want to analyze the keywords on their home pages as well as their main product pages.
How can you tell if a website is optimizing for a particular keyword? You can start by using Moz browser extension to see the SEO title and description your competitors use in their title tags.
You can also use tools like SEMrush to see which keywords your competitors rank for both organic and paid search.
Bad stop your keyword research. Also, check your competitor’s landing pages to see how they use the keywords listed to optimize those pages.
Focus on SEO homepages
A homepage is usually where most businesses focus their SEO budget and energy. While definitely one of the most important pages of your optimization website, it is by no means the only one you should focus on.
Accordingly, you want to optimize your homepage well. The key things you want to add and optimize are the following.
Title page label
SEO title tag is one of the most important elements of on-site search optimization. It should include your business name along with the main keyword phrase you’re targeting. You should type this title in less than 70 characters and in a way that will appeal to search engines, as they will see it in the search results.
Meta description of homepage
While this is not so important as far as keyword ranking is concerned, the meta description of your homepage is a 160-character description of your business that will also appear in search of the title tag. Write in a way that encourages people to want to visit your website.
Home page content
The content on your homepage should help visitors to find out more about your business and the products you have to offer in a clear and concise manner. Avoid overloading visitors with too much information. Consider presenting some of your best products and a unique sales proposal on the homepage.
Cramped home pages can confuse visitors as well as search engines. For example, you may be selling products in many different categories. Google will struggle to identify what you are selling and who is targeting your products, so be specific about what your site has to offer.
Simplify the page architecture
As you add products and categories to your store, keep in mind that site architecture plays an important role in search engine optimization. In particular, you want to have a distinction navigation hierarchy, from your homepage to product categories to the products listed there.
Search engine bots will discover your pages and products on your site based on a clear internal link structure that is easy to follow – not too deep.
The rule is paramount for search engines and visitors make sure that people achieve everything within three clicks. From the homepage, they only needed three clicks to get to any product on your site.
Internal links serve two main purposes:
Boosting ecommerce SEO by showing how pages are linked to each other
Increasing on-site time by encouraging visitors to explore your site further
Linking to related products or articles with rich information can help improve SEO ecommerce and make your site more attractive to deep dives.
Optimize product pages
Product pages are the lifeblood of your business, so you’ll want to focus a lot of your energy on optimizing them. Many e-commerce store owners simply write a few lines of text about each product and cast an image or video.
You need more information on the pages of your products so Google can find them. Here are some things you want to work on.
Name of the product
The name of your product is important. In most cases, it is used in both the SEO title and the URL of your product page. Because of this, you might consider adding a common search term or keyword phrase to your products.
For example, if you are sale T-shirts, be sure to include a “T-shirt” or “T-shirt” in the product name. That way, the keyword also ends up in the SEO title and URL.
As an added bonus, when people share your product on Facebook or Pinterest, that keyword will be in the name of a shared post.
Pictures are an important part of your product page. Pause for a moment in your customer’s shoes. Are you more likely to buy a product from a website that clearly displays the product from as many angles as possible, from a site that has no image at all, or from a site that is small and illegible?
Not only are images important to your customers, or are important for search engine optimization.
To properly optimize your search images, start with the file name. Name pics added IMG0010.jpg to your product pages. Instead, use the product name and the main keyword, such as Eastcoast-skinny-jeans.jpg.
If you have alternate views of your product, include keywords that people would use when searching for those images.
Also, when adding your images to the product page, include the product name and keyword in the ALT text of the image.
The result? Your images can now appear in Google Image Search as shown in the image above or on the main search results page as part of an additional media view.
Help your customers feel more confident about their purchase by adding videos to the product page. A video may represent basic information about your product (such as an advertisement), videos on how to use the product to achieve results, or testimonials from people who have used the product.
Posting videos off-site on networks like YouTube can be a great way to attract and educate potential customers about your products.
For example, an educational DIY video can show people how to create something amazing by incorporating your products. Once they get into the idea of working on that project, they become more likely to buy your related products.
Reviews are another way to increase customer confidence in your product, so if you have a good product, be sure to let them.
And the criticisms are bad. Think about it – if you have a higher priced product that has great reviews, and lower prices with such reviews, people are more likely to choose a higher priced item, which will result in more sales for your business.
Do people ask questions about your products? Of course they are. The content of frequently asked questions about particular products on product pages is conversion key.
If customers have questions that you use to answer, they go elsewhere to find those answers – and probably buy them from sources that answer the questions.
Having a general FAQ page on your website is also a good idea. Answering basic questions about your site’s security, delivery policies and returns can increase customer confidence, leading to higher sales.
Use responsive design
These days, people shop for mobile devices. Using a responsive design for your ecommerce site can not only lead to a better user experience, but also improved search results. Google’s mobile first index uses mobility as a ranking signal.
Reduce page load speed
Page load speed it is also a ranking signal for both work and mobile devices. The faster your pages load, the better Google will rank you.
How do you reduce page load speed? Focus on subtracting as many unnecessary elements from the page as possible. For example, a large background image is mostly covered with a white body column, which may not be necessary. Effectively, remove any add-ons or add-ons that add up to the sum of your e-commerce business.
Image size and dimension
The bigger the pictures, the longer it takes the browser to load them. If you reduce the size of the image from 1,000 × 1,000 pixels to 500 × 500 pixels, reduce its “weight” by half. You can also save your images as low-quality JPGs (JPEGs) with a program like Adobe Photoshop.
Just click on “File” and “Save As …”
You have the option to save your image as a JPG (JPEG) at a quality level between zero and 12.
Simply moving the arrow from 12 to eight can drastically reduce the file size. In this case the image went from 125K to 82.4K.
Create SEO Ecommerce Feedbacks
Feedback is another ranking signal that Google uses to determine where your pages belong to SERPs. The more backlinks you have from high quality websites, the more authoritative your site will be.
Building Feedbacks Ecommerce sites need to be tough. Posting guests on related blogs in your niche is one easy way to build links to white hats. Simply email the blog owners they care about and give them three or more ideas for potential guest posts.
Best SEO Ecommerce Tools
If you want your SEO ecommerce strategy to work, then you need the right tools. Here are some helpful websites for finding ways to improve your on-page and off-page SEO for greater search engine visibility.
Mentioned Ubersuggest briefly above. This is a very useful tool for isolating the best keywords to target on your ecommerce site and finding related keywords to help you improve your ranking.
Simply type in a keyword that applies to your product. The tool will scrap different sources on the Internet for information on related keywords, CPCs, search volume, and more.
Use Ahrefs to optimize and follow your ecommerce SEO strategy. Great for finding backlinks to your site as well as to your competitors’ websites. If someone has linked to your competitor, you may be able to link to your own page by emailing that person and setting up a report. Offer to link to his website and then suggest one of your high quality posts that might interest your audience.
ScreamingFrog is great for finding issues on your site such as broken links, missing meta descriptions, and duplicate content. When you identify these issues, create redirects or add missing content to continue being penalized in search engines. The free version offers plenty of useful tools, but if you have more than 500 URL extensions, you might want to upgrade to a premium.
MOZ is an ideal tool when you want to track and find keywords, find link building options, and analyze competing page metrics. There are free and paid versions, so you can decide how much energy you need to boost your ecommerce SEO campaign.
Why You Should Combine SEO with CRO
I briefly influenced the CRO above, but what does the conversion rate have to do with SEO? The answer is that the two steps a consumer must go through to buy your ecommerce products.
If people find your site (SEO), they convert to your offers. Even worse, if you are optimized for conversions, all visitors to the world bring you sales.
Combining SEO with CRO provides you with a powerful set of strategies to help you convert and drive sales. Ecommerce is becoming more competitive, so you need ways to get more people to your site and through your sales funnel.
Start by carefully analyzing your site heat map, scroll list and confetti reports. See how people interact with your site so you can optimize each page for conversions. As long as it’s optimized for SEO, you can generate consistent traffic and convert a higher percentage of them.
Many e-commerce business owner you want to jump right to increase conversions. He suffered the right mindset, but went one step further.
You need to get people to your website before you can convert them to your deals. Starting with ecommerce SEO sets you up for success.
So check out our list for SEO ecommerce sites:
Choose the right keywords
Conduct competitive research
Focus on the SEO homepage
Simplify the page architecture
Optimize product pages
Use customizable design
Reduce page load speed
If you follow these steps, your ecommerce site will rank better in search engines and create more prospects for your CRO efforts.
Once upon a time, e-commerce sites were limited to giants of the ’90s—Amazon, 1-800-Flowers, eBay, and all things e-commerce from the Bob Saget and this Windows 95 Guide era. Now, with so many build-it-yourself options like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Squarespace, the basics of SEO for e-commerce are dramatically changing. Meanwhile, the needs of custom-built websites are also shifting; gone are the days when every URL that ended with a long string of something .com/w89gm79sal;712wi-blah-blah-blah was acceptable.
I like to think of building an e-commerce site for SEO as the equivalent of In-N-Out Burger’s “secret” menu: You can customize like crazy, just as long as you know how to ask (Animal style anyone?). Let me explain. Buried in the recesses of many e-commerce websites are options to increase sales and conversions simply by optimizing them with the best possible SEO tactics that suit your needs. REI, for example, offers hundreds of products—each with its product description, metadata, customer reviews, Q&A, and sometimes a custom product video.
And there’s way more where that comes from: Zappos and The Body Shop are both giving us custom product videos. Over at Staples and ASOS, you can see the clean UX and site architecture. And, Seattle-based e-commerce icon, Amazon, gives us customer reviews filtered by stars, formats, and reviewers.
Of course, DIY-ing SEO for your e-commerce is an option both promising and intimidating: Implementing SEO strategies all on your own feels like a major win, but with so many tactics to choose from, simply getting started can feel overwhelming. So, I’m here to provide guidance. Ahead, I’m offering a roadmap for how to get started with SEO for your e-commerce website.
Follow these tips when building your e-commerce site, and you’ll wind up with a website that will drive your traffic—plus, your website won’t look like an episode of Hoarders invaded it.
Why is SEO Important for E-Commerce?
Gaining new customers can be hard, especially if you’re not being found by search engines. And, with 44% of online shoppers beginning their search with a search engine, you’re going to want to hop on the SEO bandwagon. Why? Well, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales in 2015 were $341.7 billion for the year. That’s a 14.6% increase compared to 2014s $298.3 billion. The report went on further to note that online sales were 7.3% of total retail sales in 2015, versus 6.4% in 2014.
Still not convinced to use SEO for e-commerce? Kissmetrics saw that 30.5% of all traffic to Yotpo’s database was coming from organic searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Or, check out Ahrefs case study on Australia-based toy company, ToyUniverse. Ahrefs saw an increase in organic traffic by 116% through SEO efforts. And, let’s not forget about SEMrush’s double jeopardy technique to increase site traffic by 1780%.
And, check out this study from Points Group on the value of ranking #1 in Google—for every $1.00 spent, they earned $4.76 back.
If you’ve been paying attention during the past decade (or even the last few sentences), you’ll have noticed a movement of e-commerce businesses truly owning their SEO strategies. Be it technical SEO, fixing meta, or opting for off-site support, online businesses far and wide are shifting away from traditional marketing trends and choosing, instead, to target consumers online with whatever excites them.
Plus, any opportunity to enhance your click-through rate in the SERPs should always be taken. Why? This study by Infront Webworks goes in-depth about the average click-through rate based on your positions on page one of Google.
Now when planning a marketing calendar, key terms like “340k per billboard” and “blink-ad” have been replaced with “https” and “noindex, follow”. I’m seeing a welcome shift toward digital marketing, especially SEO, to give e-commerce brands something that makes me them stand out from the cookie-cutter crowd—whether it’s fixing broken links, updating meta tags, replacing duplicate content, or compressing product images. It’s all SEO.
So, in honor of the non-traditional, anti-duplicate content, real-SEO era in which we’re living, I’ve decided to highlight five SEO strategies that are essential to shifting your e-commerce site away from the one-marketing-tactic-fits-all mantra. Read on for what I have to say about my client case studies, and let these words (and beauteous websites) serve as the inspiration to let your SEO optimized e-commerce flag fly.
1. Keyword Research
Every 60 seconds, 700,000 Google searches are performed. That’s a lot. And, want to hear something even crazier? The average consumer processes 100,500 digital words on a daily basis. So, with all this information, how do you make sure customers find you in the search engines?
To reach your consumers, you must start with a targeted keyword list.
As you may expect, creating keyword lists are a must-have when getting any new client or preparing your site. I admit I’m overjoyed that keyword stuffing is a thing of the past, and I fully support long-tail keyword terms and writing high-quality content surrounding those long-tail terms.
Noted by Glenn Gabe in his analysis of 3,000 keywords, 7% of the total keywords were head terms, and 93% were long tail keywords.
Now, you’re probably asking yourself: What is the difference between head terms and long tail keywords?
Head terms (or short-tail) are keywords that searchers mostly use on search engines. These are typically shorter, mostly 0-26 characters. For example, “bed sheets”, could be a head term.
Head terms can drive a large amount of traffic, but not necessarily traffic that converts.
Long-tail keywords are longer (26-40 characters) and typically a more specific version of the head term. For example, “bed sheets that keep you cool”. While long-tail keywords drive lower traffic volumes and impressions, I do see a higher pattern of clicks and conversions when compared to head terms.
Want more proof? Seer Interactive and Annie Cushing tested this idea on 12 of their clients in six different industries. While the head terms received 11 times more traffic, the average conversion rates for the long-tail keywords were 4.15% higher than the short-tail.
Let’s walk through how to find long-tail keyword search terms:
Step one: Bucket your keyword terms based on the main seed word. Here’s an example:
Step two: I started by choosing one product name (ex: Flannel Sheet Set) and entered the product name into the Google Keyword Planner.
Step three: Sort through your list to find keywords with four or more words.
Step four: If you’re optimizing a product description, go further into the keyword research process. For example, below I started to build out “king flannel sheet sets”, by searching through the Google Keyword Planner.
Step Five: Once you’ve built out your keyword buckets, start categorizing your keywords based on informational keywords that would make for great blog posts and purchase intent keywords that will drive conversions.
For example, take a look at FreePeople’s blog post. In this specific post, FreePeople is providing its users with informational content that ties together their product line.
To help build these keyword buckets, here are some of my favorite free keyword tools:
Google Autosuggest: Simply type in your keyword search term and wait for Google’s autosuggest to populate below.
Google Related Search Suggestions: After you type in your keyword search term in the Google search box, scroll down for related searches.
Ubersuggest: Type in a head word or a product name into the search bar to get a flood of results.
Keywordtool.io: Start pairing product names with informational content.
Keyword Dominator: If you’re marketing in the Amazon Seller Network, I’d highly recommend checking this tool out. It’s ah-mazing!
Amazon Suggest: Similar to Google Autosuggest but filled with great product keywords to target.
Wikipedia: I quickly scan to see if there are any keyword terms or phrases that might be relevant to the site I’m working on. Don’t forget to look at the “Contents” section. These are hidden gem keywords to build from.
SEMrush: While you get more with the paid version of SEMrush, it’s pretty awesome to see where your competitors are being ranked. Just add the domain and simply click over to “Organic Research.”
2. Site Architecture
Ecommerce brands, listen up: If you’ve been looking for an excuse to revamp your website, this may be it. Site architecture (or how you organize your site) is crucial for all e-commerce sites. Mostly due to the fact most e-commerce websites have millions of product pages.
The site architecture allows you to map out how the user flows through your website. As the website owner, you want the user to be able to quickly identify key pages and the relationships between the pages.
Take a peek at Wal-Mart’s 23 million pages in Google:
Here’s an example of how your site architecture should look:
Here’s an example of what your site architecture should not look like:
Creating a bad user flow experience with your site architecture can hurt your SEO. Using this bad site architecture example above, you can see that the pages are way too “deep”. The authority of the links is diluted by the time you get to your category and product pages.
If you’re interested in mapping out your site architecture on your own, I suggest Balsamiq or Lucid Chart.
My rule of thumb: It should take the user at most three clicks to get back to your homepage.
Let’s use Zappos as a real-life example of good site architecture. Head over to Zappos and see how many clicks it takes you to get to a product page.
If I’m looking for shoes, I’ll click “Shoes” in the navigation bar.
Then, I’ll choose the type of shoes I’m looking for using the left-hand rail Zappos conveniently displays.
Finally, I’m greeted with 5,857 items to choose from for my “Women’s Sneakers & Athletic Shoes” category. It took three clicks for Zappos to get me to product pages. This is ideal for the user experience as well as making it easy for Google to index your content.
Before building your navigation and site structure, walk-through this mind-mapping process.
Step one: Ask yourself these questions:
What search queries do consumers use before they get to your site?
What search queries do consumers use once they’re on your site?
What pages on your website get the most traffic?
What are your top exit pages?
Step two: Decide if the drop-down menus are something you’d like to incorporate in your navigation bar.
If you decide to move forward with the drop down menu (as most sites do) make sure you’re using HTML. This is a common mistake I see when working on e-commerce sites. Search engines cannot find your navigation unless it’s written in HTML. Also, keep in mind you don’t want to go link crazy. Moz recommends 100 links per page max.
Step three: Use your head keyword terms (as discussed above) to decide what you want to name your category pages.
I would recommend using this head keyword term in your page title, header, and include it in the top 200-word paragraph.
Here’s an example from Wrightwood Furniture:
While the meta data in this example isn’t ideal, this gives you an idea of how you can repeat your head terms throughout your category pages.
Step four: If you’re using filters (as most e-commerce sites with 20 products or more on a page do), pay close attention to your URL parameters.
Funky URL parameters can cause duplicate content. Here’s an example from Amazon:
As you probably guessed, Amazon is using parameters for their filters. If you choose to go the Amazon route which keeps your filtered products indexed, you’ll need to create filters to display in a custom order. For example, your URL parameter should look clean like this ?size=7&color=blue.
If you choose to not index filters, add a hashtag (#) before your parameters. For example, if Amazon created the URL www.amazon.com/shop/amazon-devices#?color=blue&price=$200&sort=newest, it will simply point to everything before the hashtag, so www.amazon.com/shop/amazon-devices. Everything after the hashtag won’t be indexed by Google, but the links pointing to you will count toward Page Authority.
Step five: Add breadcrumbs to your product pages to give users and the search engines another opportunity to see where your product fits on your site.
Another cool thing about breadcrumbs? Sometimes Google will show your breadcrumbs instead of your URL.
This is what popped up when I did a search for Apple TV:
If you’re into organized, clean designs—and I’m not just talking a website filled with whitespace or excluding imagery; I mean piecing together your navigation logically, finding pages where you’d expect to find them, and a URL structure that follows your navigation—creating hierarchy site architecture might just become your new best friend.
3. Technical SEO
Technical SEO will forever be in my heart (and web redesign queues). And if you’re an e-commerce business, technical SEO will forever be on your marketing calendar. The technical SEO is no longer simply about sitemaps and meta tags. As the lines between technical SEO and on-site SEO continue to blur, it’s easier than ever to build a website with clean URLs, correct internal linking, and most importantly, without any stacked redirects.
If you’ve found your website is lacking in the technical SEO department, you’ll be surprised at just how far a few simple updates can go. By inserting canonical tags and switching up homepage internal links for the right content, you’ll realize that technical SEO can improve just about any site, e-commerce or not.
Let’s dive into some of the technical SEO ideas that will you bring your site from sad-face to smiley-face emoji in 😍 no time.
Step One: Implement Schema Markup
Wouldn’t life be great if Google solved our daily “my site isn’t getting found” dilemma? Well, with rich snippets or schema markup, you’re able to highlight specific pieces of information for Google and other search engines.
There are two types of schema markup you’re going to want to add to your e-commerce website. Each of these has their attributes.
1. Product schema markup: This requires the product name and price. There are also other cool features you can add such as image, description, URL, and brand name.
Here’s an example of product schema markup from the SERP view:
Here’s an example of the product schema markup on the backend:
2. Review schema markup: This requires two types of markup – 1.) aggregate ratings and 2.) individual review. To implement aggregate, you’ll need: Overall rating value, rating count, best rating, and worst rating. To implement the individual review, you’ll need: Reviewer, review date, review value, best rating, worst rating, and review body.
Here’s an example of review schema markup from the SERP view:
Here’s an example of aggregate ratings on the backend:
While this may seem little overwhelming to any beginner, you can use Google’s structured data markup helper or the structured data testing tool. Both of these will ensure you’ve set-up your structured data properly and everything is working as it should.
Step Two: Clean Up URLs
Visualize the pages of your website. Now think about how much of it your users actually navigate to. For many of us, the discrepancy between pretty, clean URL structures and dynamic URLs is extreme. It’s hardly surprising, considering how quickly we assign a sentimental value to our URL structure — and forget about what’s best for our site. But having a disorganized URL structure can be a major pain to your consumers, especially when you have hoards of product pages and categories.
So, here’s a few tips I like to follow when creating my URL structure.
Swap dynamic URLs for clean URLs
Ditch the parameters (e.g. ?productId=50763526&cp)
Never use spaces or underscores, opt for dashes
Stick with all lower-case letters
Add targeted keywords
Keep it short and sweet
If you need further guidance, check out what Google has to say about simple URL structures here.
Step Three: Switch to HTTPS if You’re Still an HTTP
With so much private information like credit card numbers, passwords, and home addresses at their disposal, e-commerce website owners have become the forefront for HTTPS. It’s so important for e-commerce that Shopify allowed users to activate their SSL certifications at no additional charge.
So, what’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
HTTPS (Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol) is essentially HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). It’s just a more secure version. Like HTTP, HTTPS allows the browser to begin a connection to the server on a standard port. However, HTTPS then adds a layer of security using SSL (Secure Socket Layers) to transfer data. This helps to avoid damages by third parties and keeps data encrypted.
On top of the bonus security features that HTTPS offers, HTTPS is also a ranking factor. Google announced in 2014 that sites offering a secure site through HTTPS would experience higher ranking benefits.
If you’re switching over from HTTP to HTTPS, follow Google’s recommended steps:
Determine which certification you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
Use the 2048-bit certificates
Stick to relative URLs for resources that exist on the same secure domain
Opt for protocol relative URLs for all other domains
Make sure your HTTPS site isn’t blocked from crawling in the robots.txt
Avoid the no index robots meta tag.
Monitor your HTTP to HTTPS migration closely in Google Webmaster Tools.
Raise your hand if you have heard Patrick Stox summing up a new player in the game, HTTP2. As Patrick mentions, HTTP2 has some major implications on your user experience by increasing the page load speed. He also hints that Google could one day turn this into a ranking signal.
Laurent Vergnaud, CEO of web hosting company Themecloud.io, shares his insights on transferring to HTTP2, “HTTP2 will become the new standard in 2016. Every modern browser is already supporting it and hosting companies are starting to also. The ones who are not ready will be left behind.”
Step Four: Redirect 404 Pages
Even if you’re not the type to work up to your zero 404 errors in Google Search Console (or know what that means—no shame), it’s still a great idea to do some cleaning and redirecting of your dead pages. After all, Google is all about user experience.
If a product is no longer available and you delete that page, your potential consumer might receive a 404 page. Not cool. Redirecting users with a 301 redirect—or, permanent redirect—is the best route to go. This 301 redirect passes around 90% of link love. So, for example, if your old product was ranking well for specific keyword terms, 90% of that will pass to the new page.
I try to steer clear of 302 redirects—temporary redirects—mostly because it sends us 0% link love.
If you do get stuck with a large amount of 404 errors, I recommend creating a custom 404 page. This will create a better user experience and contain a link to the previous page the user was on. You can also add a fun message.
Here’re a few of my personal favorites:
BlueggBlue Fountain Media
If you have expired products that may be back in stock down the road, leave those pages up. Do not delete, unpublish, or redirect those pages. You can update the copy to inform consumers when the product will be back in stock. You can also offer an option for the consumers to be notified when the product is back in stock or to place on backorder.
Here’s an example from Nordstrom:
Here’s another great example from Bellroy:
Step Five: Implement Pagination
You’ve heard it time and again: Infinite scrolling equals a better user experience. And it’s true. However, infinite scrolling is not ideal for usability and negatively affects your search results on desktop and mobile. But, as simple as it seems, there are a lot of opinions out there on what works best for e-commerce.
In a recent study by the Baymard Institute, they break down pagination vs. the “load more” button vs. infinite scrolling. In my eyes, this seems to be SEO (Team Pagination) vs. UX designer (Team Infinite Scrolling).
Pagination allows websites to divide content into smaller sections. By adding rel=”next”, rel=”prev” tags to specify which pages are part of a series, you’re helping the search engines understand the relationship between these pages. Google has put together this helpful guide on pagination that goes further into detail.
If you’re implementing pagination to your e-commerce site, remember to add <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow”> tags to all of the pages in the paginated series, except page one. This will ensure that only the first page in your series is indexed.
Here’s an example from Macy’s:
“Load More” Button
The “load more” button allows the user to scroll through the product list without having to click to the next page. The load time is much faster and creates a better user experience.
Here’s an example from Sketchers:
While only 8% of the top 50 US e-commerce websites use the “Load more” approach, you can see how it’s appealing when attempting to grow you product list.
Infinite scrolling can delay the user from getting to your website footer. The user can see the footer for a second, but quickly the next round of results is shown. This can be harmful because your footer links help connect users your top navigation pages.
Here’s an example from American Eagle Outfitters:
So, who wins?
The “Load more” button coupled with pagination answers the question for both user experience and SEO. This means setting a limit the “Load more” button will display. I keep mine between 25-75 products per search on the desktop. On mobile, I’d stick to 15-30 products per search.
If you’re interested in learning more about best practices between infinite scrolling, the “load more” button, and pagination, check out this analysis by Dan McKinely, a product engineer for Etsy.
Step Six: Canonicalize Products
Figuring out what and how to canonicalize your e-commerce site is one of those mundane parts of maintaining a website that no one warns you about. Sure, you can publish a new product any time (and sometimes you do!), but being in charge of your canonicalization every day can get overwhelming.
Let’s start with the basics.
Step One: Check for any domain canonicalization issues.
Go to a category page on your website.
Next, remove the “www” from the search bar and hit enter.
If your domain is canonicalized, it will redirect to the correct version. If your domain is not correctly canonicalized, it will present you with a different page.
Step Two: Add the rel=”canonical” tag to original product pages.
By adding the rel=”canonical” tag to the original product page, you’re telling the search engines which product you want them to display. If you don’t have the rel=”canonical” tag to the original product page, then you could end up with duplicate products. Google gives us the lowdown on why having duplicate product isn’t good.
If your site uses different URLs for sizes, colors, or whatever other product options, you’ll need to canonicalize the main product version. If your site is using product options for example ‘/product-1?size=10’ then canonicalize the page back to the original version: ‘/product-1’.
Step Seven: Cross-link your top pages.
Chances are, unless you’ve spent time googling how to internal link as an e-commerce site, you’ve seen the power internal linking can have on your website. While this process is quite common among SEOs, it can often be forgotten for newbies.
When you think of internal linking, you probably think of hyperlinking a keyword term to some slightly relevant page on your website or excessively linking to too many pages on your site. That’s not what I’m talking about. Internal linking allows you to guide the user from one page on your site to another. This improves user engagement and navigation.
Here are some of the key benefits to internal linking:
It gives your consumers additional options to engage on your site: If I’m writing a post on internal linking for SEO, I might hyperlink a great post from the post (like I just did).
It increases your chance to rank for certain keywords: This is something to be very careful with. You don’t want to go hyperlinking all your keyword terms, but if it naturally fits, then link it.
It helps the SERPs crawl your site: Internal links allow Google and other search engines to index your pages more efficiently.
You want this internal link love to spread to your top navigations, so having a strategy in place for internal linking is extremely helpful.
Still not convinced internal linking will do the trick? Hear it from John Mueller himself.
In general, I don’t see any problems with internal links from articles on an e-commerce site. So if you are an expert on a topic, and you have products that belong to that topic, then maybe you will write some articles about this topic as well and give more insight on why you chose those products to sell, or the pros and cons, the variations of those products, and that is useful content to have. And that is something that sometimes does make sense to link to your product pages or the rest of your site.
So that is not something I’d see as being overly problematic. If this is done in a reasonable way, that you are not linking every keyword to different pages on your site, but rather saying this product is important, this product is important here, this is something we offer, this is something someone else offers, this is a link to the manufacturer directly. Then that is useful information to have; that is not something I’d remove.
If you’re feeling like a pro when it comes to internal linking, download Screaming Frog to use the ‘Inlinks’ tool to identify pages that are getting more attention.
Step Eight: Create a sitemap.
An XML (Extensible Markup Language) sitemap creates a readable format of your site for search engines. XML sitemaps are a list of the URLs on your website.
If you’re an e-commerce site with lots of pages, it’s time to get familiar with XML sitemaps. Google states you can list up to 50,000 files in one sitemap. So, unless you’re Amazon or Microsoft, you might be able to get away with just one sitemap. However, when I’m working on e-commerce sites, I like to break down my sitemaps into different sections.
Here’s what you can do:
Products Only: This contains only individual products and needs to be updated as new products are added/removed. Remember to update the <Last Modified> tag!
Categories Only: This contains only the category pages.
Boilerplate Pages: This contains the basics like “contact us”, “about us”, etc.
EditorialPages: This contains links to any editorial content (e.g. articles, informational sections).
Blog: This contains links to your blog pages. Be sure to list all individual posts, tags, author pages, and archives.
Make sure to ping the search engines after you’ve created a sitemap. I do this by submitting my XML sitemaps to Google Search Console once they are completed.
Step Nine: Optimize for mobile.
With the launch of Google AMP pages and Google announcing mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, I think it’s safe to say that if you’re not on board with mobile optimization by now, then you’ll be left on page 50 of Google’s search results. And, you’ve probably noticed a trend on your site with mobile driving more traffic to your site than other avenues.
Yotpo collected data from 65 million e-commerce orders over 120,000 e-commerce stores in 2015 and found that search made up 34%. That’s pretty huge!
If you’re not mobile-optimized yet, then follow these steps:
Design for mobile: This means creating call-to-action buttons above the fold, creating mobile versions of your pages, making the buttons bigger, and so much more. This now includes creating Google AMP pages for your blogs or article pages.
Decide on mobile configuration: You can choose between a responsive design, dynamic serving, or separate URLs.
Create mobile-friendly images to increase page load speed: Stick with image files smaller than 70 KB.
To check to see if your site is mobile optimized, head over to Google’s mobile-friendly test.
Step Ten: Page speed.
If you manage a website, you know that improving page speed can be difficult to crack down. In fact, every website owner you know can probably recall an instance (or ten) when your site wasn’t loading fast enough. Luckily, there are tools you can use now to help guide us through this process.
Jump over to Google’s Page Speed test and enter your domain, click “Analyze”, and watch the magic happen. Once it’s finished, Google helps you diagnose what may be slowing down your site.
Some of the common quick fixes for page speed include:
Reduce the page size to keep page load times to three seconds or less.
Use a content delivery network to cache your content.
Compress data sent to the browser.
Upgrade your hosting server.
Add image sizes to help search engines create placeholders.
4. On-Site SEO
I don’t know about you, but when I get to on-page SEO, I tend to optimize a full product category (or two) with a whole lot more than just the title tag and description tag. In fact, there’s a whole land of overlooked potential in the on-site SEO section—it’s just taken me a while to tap into it. But, I’m majorly glad I did. If you’re living in the ’90s, you may think that long-tail keyword terms and on-site SEO don’t mix, but I’m here to prove otherwise.
Let’s take a look at what I see as a fully on-site SEO optimized e-commerce page. As Beyonce would say, flawless.
On-page SEO: We all have the opportunity to implement these strategies above, but rarely do I see brands ticking all the boxes. I cherish my on-page SEO—and, I’m all about flaunting the brands that are doing it well. So, what makes a perfect product page? For some, it’s all about customer reviews. Others may judge a product page by how well their images look. And, for a lot of people in the SEO arena, it all boils down to who does the best copywriting.
But regardless of whether you care more about a video tutorial or pricing strategies that won’t break that bank, I believe all great product pages have one thing in common: They all have a really, really good SEO guru working on their page.
Sure, it may sound simple. I searched near and far and narrowed it down to these essential on-page SEO elements that never disappoint. And, if you have a favorite that didn’t make the list, let me know in the comments — I’m always looking for an excuse to meta-tag-stalk brands.
We’ve all heard the same URL advice over and over again: A keyword-rich URL and a unique, clean, short structure will get you far. True, but what happens when your site gets so big you have to add parameters? Search engines do have the ability to ignore these ugly parameters (ex:?%20), but having a descriptive URL gives you yet another opportunity to improve user experience and increase rankings.
A potential consumer viewing a URL that’s long and filled with a bunch of gibberish may lose confidence and move onto the next site.
If you are using parameters, ask your developer to work with you on rewriting the rules. Here are a few guidelines to stick with:
Use only lowercase characters.
Use hyphens (-) as word separators instead of spaces and underscores.
Delete all special characters, including exclamation points and apostrophes.
Delete all encoding that includes structures like %30, %5B.
Here’s an example from Made.com:
I love nothing more than when my meta titles increase my click-through rate. It could be something as (not-so) subtle as my keyword placement or simply reinforcing brand value. But one of my favorite talking points speaks to the idea of adding action words to our meta titles. These action words can help you target more long-tail keyword terms, which is always a bonus.
Here are some examples of action words brands are using in their meta titles:
Here is an example of action words being using in the meta title:
As click-through rate becomes an increasingly important factor in SEO (as Paul Haahr, Google Ranking Engineer stated at SMX West) it’s vital that e-commerce brands learn how to optimize their title tags to boost CTR. Let me be clear; your meta description may not improve your search rankings alone, but it will earn you more clicks when optimized correctly.
Here are a few tips for optimizing your meta description:
Keep it at about 155 characters.
Think of this as writing a headline for an article.
Give an answer to a question. For example, look at this result from Dr. Foster’s & Smith answering my question on how to choose the right dog collar.
Make sure you’re specific to your target audience with your keywords. For example, Crocs connects with their consumers by writing a meta description that targets summer sales based on seasonal changes.
There are a ton, and I mean a ton, of words and phrases that can help increase your click-through rate in the search engines.
Here are some of my favorites:
Gregory Ciotti described more about this style of persuasive copywriting in a post for Copyblogger. For instance, words like “new” trigger us to respond to brands that are already established. He used the example “New Coke”.
David Ogilvy, the father of advertising, shared this list of the 20 most influential words in 1963:
Here’s an example of these words in action:
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” As heart-rending as that thought is, as an SEO consultant, I happen to believe there’s truth to this adage. And, it couldn’t be more applicable than with SEO—the land of competing keywords, A/B targeting headline titles, high-stake conversions, and impressionable consumers.
So how do you make sure you’re not paying for a do-over that will most likely never come your way? Step one: Write some cool descriptions for your products. Step two: Spritz in some keywords. See? I told you it was simple! Below, peek through my tips and examples for optimizing the body copy for your e-commerce site, all from the big guys to the newbies of e-commerce. I know a thing or two about commanding attention from the consumer in the SERPs. Are you taking notes?
Step One: Write 1000+ Words
You may have heard that long-form content ranks better in Google, well this applies to your e-commerce product pages as well.
The more content you can share with the consumer, the more Google can correctly place your site. If you don’t have enough content or worse, duplicate content (eek!), you could get hit with a Google Panda penalty. In fact, Ebay lost more than of 33% of its organic traffic from their content being too thin.
The problem: Writing 1000+ words for every single product can get boring fast. But, the truth is, you can tap into other sections of your product page to hit this 1000+ word count.
Here are a some super secret ways to hit 1000+ word goal for your e-commerce product pages:
Write 50-100 words for your product description.
Highlight the technical specs including brand, model, color, size, etc. AO.com goes in-depth about product specs.
Incorporate key features and product benefits. ASOS provides consumers with additional options in their product descriptions.
Utilize your customer reviews. Modcloth is an awesome example.
Here are a few things to NOT do with your product page descriptions:
Scrape content from other sites.
Keyword stuffing your product descriptions.
Thin content. Here’s an example from Hermes:
Use the manufacturers description. For example, copy and paste this description from Wal-Mart into the Google search box. You’ll see this is being duplicated across 3,000+ sites.
Step Two: Incorporate 3-5 keywords.
After you write your product description, take a few minutes to have a look back at your copy. Did you include 3-5 of your keyword terms or phrases? This is not about keyword stuffing. This is to ensure the search engines understand what your product page is about so they can index you appropriately.
For instance, if you’re targeting “work shirt” you’d want to make sure you incorporate variations of this keyword term in your product description 3-5 times.
Here’s an example from J. Peterman:
J.Peterman incorporated keyword terms associated with his head term “work shirt” like “lady’s work shirt” and “tunics for work”. Check out the keyword research section above for further info on how to intertwine these long-tail keyword terms with your head terms.
A show of hands: Who’s already putting internal links on their product pages? Yes, friends, it’s true: Internal linking on your product pages is necessary. Strategically linking from high-authority pages to high-priority product and category pages are typically already done on your homepage and blog page. For example, if you put together a blog post like Kiddicare did here on co-sleeping safety AND you also have product page links, you’re increasing your chances to rank for these product pages.
But how and where do you link on product pages? Here are a few options:
Breadcrumb navigation: This gives us tiny text that makes each word an internal link. Here’s an example from Amazon:
Related products: This allows you to upsell other products by showing thumbnails at the bottom. Here’s an example from Urban Outfitters:
Related categories: You can help dress an overall theme or direction for the user by linking them to relevant categories. Here’s an example from Overstock:
Overall, the internal linking strategy should be designed to provide value to users rather than to cheat the search engine results pages. The result should be an internal linking structure that is intuitive for users and naturally prioritizes the most important content with the most relevant keywords.
Social Media Share Buttons
We all know you need to be active on social media for your business. But, do you need social media share buttons on your product pages? The short answer: Yes. Social media share buttons give you the potential for free promotion on social channels. And, while social media doesn’t directly affect your rankings in the search engines, having a product that is often shared and an engaging page does help your rankings.
A study from ShareThis showed that millennial shoppers are twice as likely to buy a product they’ve personally shared on social media. It’s worth integrating.
Here are some tips for incorporating social media share buttons:
Remove the share counter from the buttons.
A/B test different types of buttons.
Use smaller buttons so as not to distract from conversions.
Add social media share buttons to the check-out page.
Luvd.com does an excellent job at customizing their social media share buttons on their product pages. Check it out:
I’m going to say it: A beautiful image is nothing without ALT tags. There it is. Just because you spent $20k on a photo shoot with a world-renowned photographer doesn’t mean anything if you don’t properly tag your images. Your images will never appear in search.
While gorgeous product images can increase conversion rates, there’s so much more you can do to get the most out of them.
Let’s walk through how to get the most out of your images in the SERPs below:
Use a keyword-rich descriptive term to name your file name before uploading to your site. For example, Birchbox named this file beautyprotector_protect_detangle_new_900x900.jpg.
If you right click the image, then “open image in a new tab” you’ll be able to see what the image file is named.
Always add your image dimensions and sizes to the file name as you see in the example above from Birchbox.
Write a keyword-rich descriptive alt tag after your file is uploaded. For example, let’s look at this Threadless t-shirt image. The image alt tag is “You Are My Universe – small view.” Not the best image alt tag, but I’ll take it.
To find the image alt tag, just right click then select “view page source”.
Hit control+f on your keyword to and search for “alt”. You’ll come across a selection of alt tag options but look for the images associated with jpg or png files.
Adjust file size or compress your file images to make sure you’re not slowing down your page speed. Amazon could lose $1.6 billion a year if their pages slow down by one second. I try to keep my images below 70kb.
Square is a great example of how to create gorgeous product images:
Harry’s is another example of beautiful product images:
And bill blass is another favorite:
You click on the tees category on your favorite store’s website. You keep scrolling. You get to the product you’ve been looking for, and you can see your soon-to-be-new-favorite tee in video format. You are living it before you buy it. Awesome, right?
Animoto found that 73% of consumers were more likely to buy a product or sign up for a service if they watch a branded video that explains the product. Quicksprout discovered that video could drive 12% of users to buy the product. And Digiday stated that 52% of consumers said watching videos makes them more confident about their purchase decisions. Think video is worth an investment yet?
In addition to increasing conversion rates, adding product videos to your website can help improve search engine rankings. Video increases engagement and time on-site, therefore increasing your chances for ranking your product pages higher in the SERPs. Videos also give you an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
You need to invest time and money when you’re creating product videos. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite product page videos:
Shwoods Shop has gorgeous video imagery:
Home Depot partnered with brands to create product videos:
And, of course, how could I talk about awesome product videos without including Zappos:
Here are a few tips when crafting your product videos:
Keep it short and sweet. Try to keep the video under one minute.
Keep it simple. Don’t add fancy filters to your products, give the consumers the real deal.
Hire a professional. There is a huge difference between a homemade product video and a professionally designed product video—and your audience knows it.
Now it’s time for you to implement the tactics from this step-by-step guide. How do you think you’ll use tips from this guide? Do you have any questions? Or, is there something you wish I’d expand on more?Leave me a message in the comments.
Featured Image: Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock.com All screenshots and images by Anna Crowe. Taken May 2016.
Getting more traffic is top of mind for any business owner, so the thought of mastering ecommerce SEO has probably crossed your mind once or twice.
Consistent, high-quality traffic you don’t have to pay for? Sign me up.
But between search engine algorithm updates and excessive industry jargon, it can be pretty difficult to get the hang of this whole SEO thing.
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This beginner’s guide will take you from newbie to novice as quickly and simply as possible. We’ll cover keyword research, site structure and organization, and on-page SEO.
What is ecommerce SEO and why does it matter?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of generating more organic (i.e. free, natural) traffic from sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
When you search for something on Google, for example, you are taken to the search engine results page (SERP):
There, you’ll find ten organic results, like these (red):
Alongside the paid ads (orange) and sponsored Google Shopping (purple) results:
Ecommerce SEO is all about ensuring your product pages appear among those ten organic search results. Of course, there are many more pages to explore:
But the higher the page number you rank on, the lower the traffic you’ll generate.
A few years ago, a study found that only 4.8% of searchers make it to the second page of search results. Page 3? Only 1.1%. I suppose that’s why they say the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of Google.
Your rank on the first page matters as well. The same study found that the top result grabs 32.5% of traffic on average. The second result grabs only 17.6%. By result six? You’re looking at less than 5% of traffic on average.
The name of the game, then, is to rank as high on the first page of Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. as you can for search terms that your potential customers might be using.
Shopify Academy Course: SEO for Beginners
Entrepreneur and Shopify expert Casandra Campbell shares her 3-step SEO framework to help your business get found through Google searches.
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Step 1: Keyword Research
It shouldn’t be surprising that the first step is identifying those high-value search terms that your potential customers might be using. You can do that through keyword research, which can be conducted a number of different ways.
First, note that ecommerce keyword research is different than most of the keyword research you’ve read about online. Why? Most sites care about information keywords like this:
You, on the other hand, want to rank for commercial keywords like this:
Can you spot the difference? Information keyword searchers are looking for, well, information. Blogs and content-heavy sites care about these keywords. Ecommerce sites care about commercial keywords that show buying intent.
Amazon and Google Suggest
Note: Since Google is the most popular search engine in the world, I’m using that in screenshots and examples. You can repeat similar processes with most other search engines as well.
You’ve undoubtedly noticed (the often comical) Google search autocomplete feature. When you start to type your search query, Google suggests relevant queries:
At the bottom of the page, you’ll spot some additional related search queries:
These can be a goldmine for keyword ideas, especially when you already have a few basic keywords (like “raincoats for cats”) already in mind.
You can complete a similar process on Amazon, likely a competitor of yours. The great thing about Amazon suggestions is that they’re product-focused, unlike Google, which may contain some information keyword suggestions.
The process on Amazon is similar. Search for a keyword that’s relevant to one of your products:
This gives you some insight into potential product category names:
As well as some other potential keywords:
Be aware of long-tail keywords, which are usually three to four words in length. The longer the keyword, the more specific it is. That means lower competition and, often, higher conversion rates by nature.
You can use tools to automate this process. For example, KTD automates the process for both Google and Amazon. This will save you a ton of manual labor time, especially if you have a big product catalog.
You can do even more digging on Amazon or, really, any major ecommerce store you compete with. First, check out their relevant product subcategories for keyword and category ideas for your store:
Then, zoom in on that “Full Store Directory” in the bottom, left-hand corner:
Jackpot! Let’s say you sell books. Find the category and choose the most relevant subcategory. Now you can see all of the different ways Amazon sorts and organizes its books:
Mix and match for new keyword and product category ideas. You might also find sub-subcategories to explore, which will give you even more ideas:
Repeat this process for any other major competitors.
Keyword Research Tool (SEMRush)
Up until now, we’ve been doing keyword research on the cheap. If you have $100 to spend on a one month subscription to SEMRush, I highly recommend it. It’ll take your keyword list from good to great.
Let’s say you compete with BustedTees.com, a geeky t-shirt ecommerce store. All you’d have to do is enter the domain into a keyword research tool like SEMRush and select “Organic Research” from the left-hand menu:
Scroll down and you’re looking at all of the keywords BustedTees.com ranks for:
Boom! (You’ll also notice metrics like “Volume” and “KD” in the screenshot above, which we’ll get to in a minute.)
You can also switch to “Competitors”:
That will give you a big list of sites that are similar to BustedTees.com (or whatever site you entered):
Now you can repeat the same process for all of those sites. And you can use Gap Analysis to see what keywords all these competitive sites are ranking for, but your site isn’t:
Make sure you’ve selected “Unique Keywords”:
And voila! You’ve got a list of keywords your competitor is ranking for, but you’re not:
Choosing the Right Keywords for Your Store
Your list of keywords is probably pretty big right now. So, how do you narrow it down and focus on the keywords that matter most? Start with a few key factors.
1. Volume: The higher the search volume, the more potential traffic to your site. SEMRush will give you volume data, but so will free tools like Google Keyword Planner.
High volume keywords often mean a lot of competition.
2. Competition: The lower the competition, the more likely you are to rank for the keyword. Again, SEMRush will give you keyword difficulty / competition (“KD”), but you can use a free tool like MozBar to estimate competition. For example:
Page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) give you insight into how difficult it would be to rank higher than these organic results. The higher the numbers, the more difficult (in general) it’ll be to unseat the result.
Overall, you’re looking for high volume, low competition keywords.
3. Relevancy: How relevant is your product page or category page to the search term? This is a huge ranking factor that’s often neglected. Stick to keywords that your products would genuinely satisfy. You’re not foolin’ Google.
4. Intent: Again, you want to target keywords that show commercial intent. Usually, you can evaluate intent just by looking at a keyword. For example:
size 12 women’s red dress vs. 2017 dress trends
Which has more commercial intent? Which of these searchers is more likely to buy something on your site? The former, of course.
Step 2: Site Structure for Ecommerce
How the pages on your site are organized and structured affects your search engine rankings. It also affects your its user experience (UX). Basically, you want to make it easy for actual visitors and search engines to find stuff in your store.
Easier said than done.
As you add and remove products and categories, site structure gets complicated quickly. If you can get this right from the beginning, you’ll save yourself a ton of time down the road. So:
Make sure your site structure is simple, but easy to scale as your store grows.
Every page of your site is as few clicks from your homepage as possible.
Simplicity is underrated. You don’t want to have visitors relying on the back button to get around your site, running in circles trying to find what they’re looking for. You also don’t want to have to reorganize and rearrange your site structure every time you add a new product category, for example.
Most of your link authority is on your homepage, right? So, it makes sense that the more clicks away from your homepage a product page gets, the less authority it has.
Those are the basics. If you want to get a bit more advanced, Aleyda Solis of Orainti shared her top ecommerce SEO tip with me, which is all about site structure:
“Use the supply and demand principle to identify which levels of the website structure (from categories to attributes, brands or filters listing pages) are worthy to index and optimize for as they fulfill an actual audience demand.”
For those of you wondering, “index” is another name for the database used by a search engine. So “to index” a page is to have it added to that database. In other words, Google has discovered your page.
“This is because one of the most common issues for ecommerce sites is thin content as well as content duplication issues. Many of the thin content and content duplication scenarios happen because there are many internal levels of the website structure, such as filters and attribute-focused pages that have very few products, which are also included in other pages.”
Thin content is the idea that there’s not much actual text on an ecommerce site compared to, say, a blog or software site. Imagine dozens and dozens of thin content pages created because of random product attribute and product filter pages. Some of those pages might only list one or two products.
Content duplication is as straightforward as it sounds.
“The easiest, and very common, way to handle this situation is to just noindex or canonicalize (to others) these types of pages, since it is easier than to create specifically relevant and useful content for them to become different, relevant and competitive. Although this might be the most straight-forward way to handle this, it is not the best to make the most out of the existing search opportunities and effectively address the user search behavior with your content (and product) offering.”
Canonicalizing a page is a way of telling Google that this URL is the “master version” you’d like to display in search results. This is helpful in duplicate content situations because Google certainly picks up on them. Without canonical tags, Google might:
Miss unique content wading through too much duplicate content.
Dilute your ranking ability.
Choose the wrong “master version” for you.
Note that if you’re using Shopify, auto-generated canonical tags are added to pages to prevent duplicate content from appearing in search results.
Aleyda suggests going beyond noindex or canonicalization when you’re ready, though:
“It’s then fundamental to assess first if there’s enough search queries around the specific product’s characteristics, types or brands that you’re offering with each level of your e-commerce content (in order to identify if it’s worth it or not to index it). And if so, if there’s enough content offering on the specific page and if it’s aligned with the way the user searches for it or if you should take additional effort to expand and optimize it to make it relevant and competitive.
If there isn’t and it’s also not optimized and you need to take additional effort with it, then you know it’s going to pay off as you have already validated that there’s a demand, with enough searches for it.”
That’s a lot of information, especially for someone new to ecommerce SEO. Luckily, Aleyda left us with this handy chart to help visualize the process she goes through:
The big takeaway here? Not every level of your site structure is worth indexing and optimizing, so be strategic and refer to the chart above.
Step 3: On-Page SEO for Ecommerce
Now that you’ve done your keyword research and your site structure is ready to rock, let’s talk about how you can optimize your two highest value pages:
Product category pages.
Not surprisingly, it starts with the basics.
If you’re already using Shopify, you likely know that there are some built-in SEO features you can take advantage of. Some are automagic:
The canonical tags we talked about earlier.
Your website’s sitemap.xml and robots.txt files are generated.
Themes generate title tags that include your store name.
Themes are required to have social media linking and sharing options.
But some features require your optimization skills:
You can edit the title tags and meta descriptions to include your keywords.
You can edit the alt text for images to include your keywords.
You can make sure your file names include your keywords.
You can choose the URLs for blog posts, webpages, products and collections.
When optimizing your title tags and descriptions, note that these are Google-facing. So, step one is ranking on the first page. Step two is convincing searchers to actually click through to your site.
Modifiers like “Deals”, “X% Off”, “Free Shipping”, “Wide Selection”, etc. can give you a boost. Why? Because Google is suspected to use clickthrough rate (CTR) as a ranking factor. So, it’s not enough to cater to the search engine overlords, you have to pique searcher interest, too.
Those modifiers can also help you attack long-tail keywords.
1. Choose the right URLs.
According to Rand Fishkin and the Moz team, there are a few URL guidelines to follow for optimal ranking:
Your URL should be easy for real, live humans to read and interpret because accessibility matters to Google.
Using your keywords in URLs is still highly encouraged as they show up in search results.
Short URLs are better than long URLs. Try to keep it below 50-60 characters.
Match the URL and page title as closely as possible.
Don’t include stop words like “and”, “of”, “the” and “a”.
Keyword stuffing and pointless repetition don’t trick Google and make your store look spammy.
Keep these guidelines in mind when choosing your product page and category page URLs.
2. Reduce thin content pages with long product descriptions.
Google and other search engines use the content on your page to decide which keywords to rank your page for and how high your page should rank for each keyword.
So, if your product page has a short little description and not much else, Google doesn’t have a whole lot to go on.
That’s why you’ll see product pages with longer descriptions, reviews, etc.
Write long, in-depth descriptions for your products so that Google can work its magic more effectively. If your catalog is huge, focus on your top products or on products ranking on the bottom of the first page or the top of the second page.
The more you write, the more accurate Google can be in ranking your page. And, well, the more opportunity for using your keywords.
Plus, let’s face it, as long as you have a high-level description for the highly motivated, your customers won’t hate the extra product info, either.
3. Take advantage of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.
LSI keywords are closely related to your main keyword.
You can find these through either a quick Amazon (or other big-name competitor) search or good old Google Keyword Planner, which we talked about above.
On Amazon, search your main keyword and look for secondary keywords that keep popping up. For example, let’s say you’re trying to sell a blender:
“14 Speed”, “450W” and “48oz Glass Jar” all come up multiple times, indicating they’re strong selling factors and likely common elements of search terms.
You can also try running your keyword through Google Keyword Planner, which I mentioned earlier, to get some LSI keyword ideas:
If you’re getting traffic from that main keyword, you might as well try to slide onto the first page for related secondary keywords as well. So, use these LSI keywords whenever they make sense.
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Getting started with ecommerce SEO
There is so much more that goes into ecommerce SEO. I’m talking technical SEO, link building, content marketing for ecommerce—the list goes on.
But these first three foundational steps will set you on the right path (and likely keep you busy) for now.
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But between updating search engine algorithms and industry-wide jargon, it can be quite difficult to master all this SEO work.
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This beginner’s guide will translate you from novice to novice as quickly and easily as possible. We started with keyword research, website structure and organization, and SEO pages.
What Is SEO E-Commerce And Why Is It Important?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of generating organic (i.e., free, natural) traffic from sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
For example, if you search for something on Google, you will be taken to a search engine results page (SERP):
There you will find organic results, such as these (red):
In addition to paid ads (orange) and sponsored Google Shopping results (purple):
Ecommerce SEO is used to create pages with your products that appear among these ten organic search results. Of course, there are many more pages to explore:
But the higher the page you rank, the less traffic it generates.
A few years ago, a survey found that only 4.8% of search engines got to the second page of search results. Page 3? Only 1.1%. I think the reasoning is why they say the best place to hide a dead body is on another Google page.
Your rank on the first page is also important. The same study found that the highest score averages 32.5% of traffic. The second result is only 17.6%. By score six? You start with an average of less than 5% of traffic.
The name of the game will then be ranked high on the first page of Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. as you can for search terms that your potential customers can use.
Shopify Academy Course: SEO for Beginners
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Step 1: Keyword research
It should be surprising that the first step is to identify high-value search terms that your potential customers can use. You can achieve this by researching keywords, which can be implemented in many different ways.
First, keep in mind that keyword research on ecommerce is different than most keyword research that is read online. Why? Most sites take care of keywords like this:
On the other hand, you want to qualify as commercial keywords like this:
Can you spot the difference? Keyword searchers with information are looking for, well, information. Blogs and high-content websites take care of those keywords. Ecommerce sites are taken care of by the commercial keywords that are displayed intent to buy.
Amazon and Google Suggest
Note: Because Google is the most popular search engine in the world, it uses this in screenshots and examples. You can repeat similar processes with most other search engines.
You have no doubt noticed the (often comical) Google autocomplete feature. When you start typing a search query, Google suggests relevant queries:
Find some additional related search queries at the bottom of the page:
These can be a gold mine for keyword ideas, especially when you already have a few basic keywords in mind (like “cat raincoat”).
On Amazon, you can complete a similar process, possibly from your competitor. The great thing about Amazon suggestions is that they are product-focused, unlike Google, which may contain some keyword ideas.
The process on Amazon is the same. Find a keyword that’s relevant to one of your products:
This gives you some insight into potential product category names:
Like some other potential keywords:
Keep an eye out for long-tail keywords, which are usually three to four words long. The longer the keyword, the more specific it is. This means less competition and often higher conversion rates by nature.
You can use tools to automate this process. For example, KTD automates the process for both Google and Amazon. This will save you a ton of manual labor, especially if you have a large product catalog.
You can dig even more on Amazon or, indeed, in any major e-commerce store you are competing with. First, check out their respective product subcategories for keyword ideas and categories in your store:
Then zoom in on the “Full Store Directory” in the lower left corner:
Jackpot! Instead, say you sell books. Find a category and select the most relevant subcategory. You can now see all the different ways Amazon presents and organizes its books:
Mix and match for new ideas for keywords and product categories. You may also find research subcategories that will give you even more ideas:
Repeat this process for any other major competitor.
Keyword Research Tool (SEMRush)
So far, we’ve been researching keywords on the cheap. If you have $ 100 to spend on a one-month subscription to SEMRush, I highly recommend it. The keyword list starts with a good one.
He said you are competing with BustedTees.com, a geeky e-commerce store with T-shirts. All you have to do is enter a domain into a keyword research tool like SEMRush and select “Organic Research” from the left menu:
Scroll down and look at all the BustedTees.com keywords:
Boom! (In the screenshot above, you also notice metrics like “Volume” and “KD”, which we will arrive in a minute.)
You can also switch to “Competitors”:
This will give you a great list of sites that are similar to BustedTees.com (or any site you enter):
You can now repeat the same process for all these pages. You can also use Gap analysis to see by which keywords all of these competing sites are ranked, but your site remains:
Be sure to select the Unique Keywords selected:
And voila! You have competently found a list of keywords by which your competitor is ranked, but not yet:
Choosing the right keywords for your store
Probably your keyword list pretty much currently large. So, how do you narrow it down and focus on the most important keywords? Start with a few key factors.
1. Volume: The higher the search volume, the more potential traffic to your site. SEMRush will provide you with volume data, but will download tools like Google Keyword Planner for free.
High-strength keywords often mean a lot of competition.
2. Competition: The lower the competition, the more likely you are to rank for a keyword. Again, SEMRush will give you trouble / competition with keywords (“KD”), but you can use a free tool like MozBar to evaluate your competition. For example:
Page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) give you insight into how difficult it would be to rank higher than these organic results. The higher the numbers, the harder it will be to (generally) nullify the result.
All in all, I’m looking tall volume, low keyword competitions.
3. Relevance: How many pages are relevant to your search term for your product or category category? This is a big ranking factor that is often overlooked. Stick to the keywords your products would have truly to satisfy. You didn’t cheat Google.
4. Intention: Again, you want to target keywords that show commercial intent. You can usually evaluate your intent by simply looking at the keyword. For example:
size 12 women red dress vs. 2017 dress trends
Which has more commercial intent? Which of these search engines is more likely to buy something on your site? The former, of course.
Step 2: Structure of Ecommerce Pages
How organized and structured pages on your site affect your search engine rankings. It also affects your user experience (UX). Basically, you want to make it easier for real visitors and search engines to find things in your store.
It’s easier said than done.
As you add and remove products and categories, the structure of your pages quickly becomes more complex. If you can get it right from the start, save a ton of time down the road. So:
Make sure your website structure is simple but easy to share as your store grows.
Each page of your website can get as few clicks as possible from your homepage.
Simplicity is underrated. You want your visitors to rely on the back button to visit your site, running in circles trying to find what you are looking for. You also want to reorganize and rearrange your site structure each time you add a new product category, for example.
Most liaison authorities are on your homepage, right? So, it makes sense that the more pages a product receives from your homepage, the less authority it has.
These are the basics. If you want to make some headway, Orainti’s Aleyda Solis shared with me her top ecommerce SEO tip, all related to site structure:
“Use the supply and demand principle to identify the level of website structure (from categories to attributes, brands, or list page filters) that are appropriate for indexing and optimization because they meet the actual demand of the audience.”
For those who ask you, “index” is another database name used by the search engine. So, to “index” a page means to add it to that database. In other words, Google has discovered your site.
“This is because one of the most common problems for ecommerce sites is thin content as well as content duplication issues. Many thin content and duplicate content scenarios occur because there are many internal levels of web page structure, such as filters and attribute-focused pages that have very few products and are also included in other pages. “
Thin content is an idea that contains not much actual text on an ecommerce site relative to, say, a blog or software site. Imagine bad and attractive content pages created by random product attributes and product filter pages. Some of these pages may list only one or two products.
Duplicating content is as simple as it sounds.
“The easiest and most common way to deal with this situation is simply noindex or canonizing (to others) these types of pages, because it is easier than creating specific and useful content for them to be different, relevant and competitive. While this may be the most cost-effective way to solve this problem, it is not best to take advantage of existing search capabilities and effectively address the search behavior of users with your content (and product) offerings. “
Channeling a page is the way to tell Google that this URL is the “main version” you use to display search results. This is useful in duplicate site situations, as Google certainly collects them. Without canonical tags, Google could:
Miss out on unique content that goes through too much duplicate content.
Dilute your ranking ability.
Select the wrong “main version” for you.
Please note that if used with Shopify, automatically generated canonical tags are automatically added to the pages to prevent duplicate content from appearing in search results.
Aleyda suggests they go beyond noindex or canonization when they are ready:
“Then it’s important to first evaluate whether there are enough search queries around the characteristics, types or brands of products you offer at each level of your ecommerce content (to determine whether or not it’s worth indexing). And if so, if there is enough content on a particular page and it is aligned with the way the user is looking for it, or if you need to make extra efforts to expand and optimize it to make it relevant and competitive.
If it goes away and it’s also not optimized and you need to do extra work then you know it will pay off because you’ve already confirmed that there is demand, with enough search. “
Lots of information, especially for someone new to ecommerce SEO. Fortunately, Aleyda left us this handy chart to help visualize the process she is going through:
Big departure? Not every level of your site’s structure is worth crawling and optimizing, so be strategic and look at the graph above.
Step 3: SEO ecommerce website
Now that you have done the keyword research and the structure of your site is ready to move, talking about how you can optimize your two most valuable pages:
Product Category Pages.
Not surprisingly, it starts with the basics.
If you are already using Shopify, you probably know that there are some built-in SEO features that you can take advantage of. Some are automagic:
The canonical labels we mentioned earlier.
Your site’s sitemap.xml and robots.txt files are generated.
Topics generate title tags that include the name of your store.
Topics need to have connectivity and sharing options on social networks.
However, some features require your optimization skills:
You can edit the title tags and meta descriptions to include your keywords.
You can edit the alt text for images to include your keywords.
You can ensure that filenames contain your keywords.
You can choose URLs for blog posts, websites, products and collections.
When optimizing title tags and descriptions, keep in mind that this information is Google. So the first step is to rank on the first page. The second step is a compelling search engine to actually click on your site.
Modifiers like “Offers”, “X% Discount”, “Free Shipping”, “Wide Choice”, etc. can give you a boost. Why? Because Google is suspected of using clickthrough rate (CTR) as a ranking factor. So, it is not enough to satisfy the superior search engines, you must also be interested in search engines.
These modifiers can also help you attack long tail keywords.
1. Select the correct URLs.
According to Rand Fishkin and Moz’s team, there are a few URL guidelines to follow for optimal ranking:
Your URL should be easy to read and interpret by real, live people because accessibility is important to Google.
The use of keywords in URLs is still recommended as they appear in search results.
Short URLs are better than long URLs. Try to keep it below 50-60 characters.
Match the URL and page title as closely as possible.
Accompanied by stop words like “i”, “from”, “the” and “a”.
Keyword stuffing and pointless repetition constantly drive Google crazy and make your store look unwanted.
Keep these guidelines in mind when selecting your product page and category page URLs.
2. Reduce thin content pages with long product descriptions.
Google and other search engines use the content on your page to decide which keywords will rank the page and how high your page should rank for each keyword.
So, if your product page has a short description and not much else, Google still has plenty to go on.
Why see product pages with longer descriptions, reviews, etc.
Write long, detailed descriptions of your products to help Google work its magic more effectively. If your catalog is huge, focus on your premium products or products at the bottom of the first page or top of the second page.
The more you write, the more accurate Google can rank on your page. And, the more opportunities for using keywords.
Plus, they face it, as long as you have a high-level description for the highly motivated, or customers hate additional product information.
3. Use latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords.
LSI keywords are closely related to your main keyword.
You can find them through a quick search of Amazon (or some other big competitor) or through the old old Google Keyword Planner we mentioned above.
On Amazon, search for your primary keyword and look for secondary keywords that are constantly appearing. For example, try selling a blender:
“Speed 14”, “450W” and “48oz glassware” appear repeatedly, indicating strong sales factors and probably common elements of search terms.
You can also try running a keyword through Google Keyword Planner, which I mentioned earlier, to get some LSI keyword ideas:
If you are interested in the main keyword, try sliding to the first page and the related secondary keywords. So, use these LSI keywords whenever they make sense.
Shopify Academy Course: SEO for Beginners
Shondrafy Entrepreneur and Entrepreneur Specialist Casandra Campbell shares her 3-step SEO framework to help you find your business through Google search.
Getting Started with SEO Ecommerce
There is so much more that goes into SEO ecommerce. When it comes to technical SEO, link building, content marketing for ecommerce – the list goes on.
But these first three fundamental steps will, for now, set you on the right track (and will probably get you there).
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What is the best way to promote your web store and increase sales? How can you increase organic traffic in your ecommerce store without relying on PPC and paid advertising?
The answer is through ecommerce SEO.
In this post you will learn what SEO is for e-commerce, what is the difference with ‘normal’ SEO, why you should invest in e-commerce SEO and how to approach search engine optimization for online commerce.
What is Ecommerce SEO?
Ecommerce SEO (or Shop SEO) is a term used to describe the optimization process for search engine online stores.
In simple words, a set of rules to apply to an ecommerce site, so that helps friendly search engine.
Is ecommerce SEO different from SEO?
The obvious question is what is the difference between ecommerce SEO and SEO at all?
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Is it the same thing with a different name?
Ecommerce SEO includes all the concepts of SEO with the addition of some guidelines that are specific to online stores that may not be applicable to other types of websites.
For example, for a non-trading site, category pages may not be as important SEO wise, but for an ecommerce site they are important and require special attention.
Another difference is blogging. An active blog plays a different role when doing SEO for ecommerce websites and when doing SEO for non-ecommerce websites.
Lest there be any confusion, everything you read about SEO in mine SEO Tutorial or SEO guide, is also applicable to online stores. SEO SEO is above and beyond the usual SEO.
The benefits of ecommerce SEO for online stores
What are they? the benefits of SEO for ecommerce websites? Why Do Store Owners Have to Invest in SEO?
Exposure to search engines
An ecommerce site is, in reality, an internet business. Not a hobby or website made for fun, but a business that needs to sell, profit and grow over time.
Search engines answer millions of queries a day and many of them are related to e-commerce.
In addition to going directly to eBay or Amazon, thousands of people use search engines daily, and in most Google, to find the product to buy.
Ecommerce SEO will help you expose yourself to search engines and get a fair share of traffic.
Get high marks for keywords
Getting traffic from search engines is a first step, but not enough.
What you need is targeted traffic.
Targeted organic traffic comes from users who know exactly what they want.
These users have a clear intention and express this intention when they type in the search box.
For example, when a user types “buy an HD waterproof camera” in the search box, she has a clear intention, and if you have an e-commerce site that sells video cameras, the person who is most likely to convert it.
Through Ecommerce SEO you will be able to identify and optimize them long tail keywords that can bring you a higher ranking and improve your business.
SEO is the only way to create a long-lasting online business
If you already have an online store, you should know that there are several ways to get traffic to your website right away.
Google Adwords is one of the most popular and effective ways to get traffic fast, followed by Facebook and other social networks (depending on your niche).
The problem with these methods is that once you stop paying for advertising, traffic and sales decline.
Bad is not the case with SEO.
Well designed SEO campaign will bring traffic to your site for 24X7 months or even years to come.
It should it’s time for SEO to work but the results are long-lasting, generating a longer return on investment than any other marketing technique.
So if you want to create a business that will generate traffic on its own without relying solely on paid advertising, SEO is the way to go.
Tip: You can also read adwords vs that for more differences between the two.
SEO will help you build a website that is user friendly
Many SEO terms refer to usability and how you can make websites that are more enjoyable for both search engines and users.
When you decide to adopt SEO principles or hire an an SEO consultant which will help you optimize your site, the end result will be much easier to use the site and rank higher in search results.
SEO will help you increase your conversion rate
In addition to helping you get the right type of traffic, SEO can give you guidance on how to do it increase your conversion rate ie. sale.
Conversion optimization is a time consuming and time consuming process a / b testing but it is driven by SEO principles.
How to access SEO ecommerce sites?
The best way to optimize your online store is to follow a structured approach. This means that you must have a plan that will cover all aspects of SEO.
To be more precise, here is a list of all the things you need to check and optimize:
Step 1: Technical SEO Review
Technical SEO is always the first step in getting the job done website review or performing SEO audit.
Technical SEO will ensure that search engines can easily search and index your store.
The most important tasks related to technical SEO are:
Step 2: Perform keyword research
After correcting your technical SEO document, your next step is keyword research.
Keyword research is important for all types of websites, but it remains even more important for ecommerce websites.
If you target the wrong keywords, you’ll get traffic, but you’ll get any sales.
As mentioned in my article: How to research keywords for an ecommerce site, keyword research results will define the structure of your store and give you enough information to optimize your homepage, category pages, and product pages.
Step 3: Optimize the structure of your shop
Ecommerce sites must have optimized structure. It has to be very easy to use, simple and SEO friendly.
If your structure is not optimized, you will make any sale. Just like that.
What is the best structure for your store? In addition to following some standard guidelines (such as a hierarchical structure), keyword research will guide you on how to structure your store.
If you already have a store and are running, driving some traffic but not selling, it may be worth reviewing and optimizing your site structure based on keyword research results.
Step 4: SEO homepage
Optimizing your store homepage is different from optimizing your blog homepage.
The ecommerce website homepage has many roles to play. It must be a landing page conversion, but at the same time it must be informative and welcoming to users.
Step 5: Optimize the category pages
It is normal for an ecommerce website to have many category pages. For most websites, category pages do not serve any SEO purpose, but this is not the case with online stores.
Category pages are crucial for navigation purposes and very useful for SEO purposes.
Step 6: Optimize your product page
Product pages are the most important ecommerce sites and must be optimized for both search engines and users.
Optimizing product pages can be difficult, especially if you sell products that are available on other sites on the Internet.
Failure in SEO to optimize product pages will result in less traffic and greater reliance on methods (other than SEO) to drive traffic to your store.
Step 7: Page Optimization and Page Purchase
The aforementioned SEO ecommerce will help you to make a better website for conversion and in order to do this you need to optimize your shopping and shopping pages.
It is very common for users of different types of grocery stores to offer shopping and check-out pages, but only a small percentage actually convert.
Buying and shopping pages is not difficult to optimize. Once you edit it, you can forget about it and concentrate on other areas of your store that need more attention.
Step 8: Reporting
When you first optimize your online store, you do so based on best standards and practices.
Work on technical SEO, research keywords, and optimize your store structure and pages.
Good so far.
To decide what to do next, you must have a properly configured reporting system in place.
A good reporting system, in addition to tracking sales, also monitors user behavior. User behavior analysis can give you the following steps for your SEO optimization process.
Step 9: Blogging
An ecommerce site must have a blog. Ecommerce blogging is not exactly the same as general traffic blogging.
Before deciding what to write about and what keywords to target in blogs, some guidelines should be followed.
Step 10: Build Ecommerce Links
Once you have a website with a big conversion, you need to get large amounts of website traffic and get sales.
SEO techniques, like the ones described above, will help you have an optimized website with good rankings.
To get your pages to the top positions, you need good ones off-page SEO Link building and is one of the side SEO tasks you need to master.
Step 11: Marketing Store
In addition to SEO, there are a number of other methods that are not directly related to SEO but can indirectly affect your SEO efforts and the success of your ecommerce website.
Things like that social media marketing, Facebook marketing and retargeting, email marketing can work well with SEO and help you achieve your business goals.
Ecommerce SEO is a must in all actions. A well-optimized store will rank higher in search engines and that means more traffic and sales.
The difference between a regular SEO and an SEO store is that the latter includes specific recommendations that are applicable to e-commerce websites.
Even if you sell through AdWords or other PPC platforms, spending a fraction of your monthly budget on ecommerce SEO is the best investment you can make for your business.
The best way to optimize your search engine store is to follow a structured approach.
I outlined the steps above so you don’t miss out on anything that matters.
Follow me, as I will go over each step in more detail next week.
When I first tell my clients that SEO can double my online sales for consumer e-commerce marketers, they are skeptical. But not after showing how well it has done for Norwegian ecommerce using 8 effective SEO tips.
Sounds unrealistic – but still. SEO optimization and ecommerce conversion rate optimization can double your traffic and sales. When I show them proof, my potential customers have a lot of questions about generating more traffic, increasing conversions, increasing sales, engaging customers, and turning into fans. Here are the most popular questions – and my answers.
Question no. 1: How do I handle extracurricular items?
It depends on several factors, but here’s what I recommend.
Leave the pages up. If the items will later be in stock, leave the pages only as they are. It is bad to delete, hide or replace them. Visitors add another product to them or redirect visitors to other pages.
Offer alternative items. If certain products are sold out, offer highly relevant alternatives through a widget on the site. Some examples:
Same product in different colors
Newer models or versions
Identical products of other brands
Other products in the same category that match the quality and price
You provide excellent customer service and they value it. It also helps search engines find relevant pages and better understand the structure of your site.
Notify users when they will return. Always offer the expected date when the product will be in stock so that visitors know when to return and purchase.
Offer to place a product order. Have them order and promise to send them after fresh supplies arrive. Future buyers who really want the product think of waiting a few extra days for it.
Soften the blow. Provide comfort by offering them some benefits, such as reducing prices when fresh supplies arrive. This may interest them to buy later.
Question no. 2: What should I do with obsolete / expired products?
All e-commerce websites have products that will never come back, such as consumer electronics or fashion apparel stores that are constantly being replaced by newer models and styles.
Many ecommerce websites delete pages and take no further steps. From an SEO perspective, this is bad. You lose SEO value and people who tagged the URL will receive an error message.
The most appropriate solution will depend on many things.
Permanent 301 redirect expired product URLs. If an expired product is replaced by a newer model, permanently redirecting 301 from the older page to the URL of the newer model tells Google that you want the page ranked instead. Your SEO value will be retained.
Redirect to parent category. The basic intention is to solve the problem of visitors. If you have other relevant products that serve the same purpose as an expired item, you can direct your visitors to the home category.
Permanently delete pages, content, and URLs of expired product. When you do not have any related products with the expiration date displayed, you can completely delete it with 410 status code (missing), which informs Google that the page has been permanently removed and will never come back.
Use URLs again. If you sell generic products where technical specifications and model numbers are not relevant, you can reuse your URLs. This will retain the authority of the site and increase your place on Google.
Some items deserve to be lived. Certain products may have informative value for existing customers or others who wish to explore it. Leave these pages untouched. Previous customers can find information, help and service through these pages.
Question no. 3: How do I handle seasonal products?
The goal is to strengthen product categories. Focus on product categories and link them to seasonal crumbs and links in descriptions on product pages. Optimize your top product pages with the highest potential and spend the rest of your SEO budget boosting product categories.
If you are launching a popular product and you know that it will be in high demand, add the “coming soon” page to the URL structure and offer unique content, launch notifications and pre-order forms. Integrate social media into this site and warm your prospects with user-generated content.
With annual issues that you too I know will be replaced every year, simply add the year to a URL like this: website.com/category-sub-category/product-name-2012/ and 301 redirect it to website.com/category-sub-category/product- name -2013 / version when a new version replaces it.
Question no. 4: How do I handle SEO for new products?
Good information architecture, website structure and internal link architecture are critical to good ranking of new product pages. Link categories from your homepage and product pages from category levels. This will ensure that Google quickly finds, indexes and indexes your content. Also link them from their homepage pages.
Optimize your website theme so that new products are always displayed on your homepage where they need to be found and indexed. A good internal link architecture will quickly be indexed and ranked on your new product pages.
Question no. 5: How do I deal with product pages with little or no unique content?
With all the challenges of running an ecommerce business, few businesses think of unique content on product pages. Many pull product information from the database, leading to duplicate content issues.
Some pages have little more than a product photo. This leaves search engines with no way of understanding what this page is about, how it relates to other pages on your site and how relevant it is to search users.
Add content for your most popular products. Start by identifying the pages of your best-selling and most popular products with Web Analytics, and then manually update them with content.
Reinforce product categories. You create text for 100,000 different products. Instead, focus your SEO on strengthening the product parent category. Improve your internal link architecture, breadcrumbs and add relevant products to feed your search files and learn what your site is about.
Add user-created content. It can effectively differentiate your product pages from other duplicates on the Internet. Social media works well. Approvals and reviews from happy customers or customers will not only improve your SEO campaign, but also drive sales conversion.
Question no. 6: How can I present manufacturer descriptions from manufacturers?
Shared Google as duplicate content. Reprints of the manufacturer’s products are separate content. But large ecommerce sites cannot rewrite all product descriptions and specifications.
You can work around this by adding unique content like user-generated comments and reviews. Invite user comments. Integrate social networks. Allow users to tell their stories. Happy customers will serve you as marketing aides.
Add content to product pages. Increase the quality and uniqueness of your content by personalizing it to solve your users’ problems. Add information, images, videos or suggestions to your content.
Add a layer of psychology to your content. Typical product descriptions are tedious and technical. However, people buy on emotions and feelings. Revive your product descriptions by telling a story.
Question no. 7: How do I handle product variations (colors, sizes, etc.)?
Some products are almost identical but exist in different colors or sizes. If not properly handled, listing them can be considered as duplicate content, causing poor ranking and cannibalization between different product variants. Products can be ranked for the wrong keywords (blue jeans are ranked for red jeans searches). Adam Audette delved deeper into the nuances of this excellent report.
Browse your website and you may find many products that can sell better if they are ranked for the right keywords.
Question no. 8: How do I handle category pages?
In addition to the homepage, category pages are the most powerful and popular.
Treat category pages as individual homepages. Think of your categories as silos or niches containing closely related product pages.
Add content to category pages. You found some great tips in this article.
Build in-depth links to product categories. Guest blogging, content marketing and even paid ads work well, as does social media.
Highlight socially shared content. Be strategically focused on sharing links on Google Plus, Twitter and other networks. Be specific in your labels.
Make sure you stay featured / featured. Design category pages to provide the best possible service for search engines and users.
Use custom URLs. This often results in quick results, as you give your providers powerful tips on what this URL is about, and provide useful and valuable information to your visitors – just avoid filling in keywords. The most effective URL structure for category pages (and product pages) is:
Question no. 9: How to manage internal link building and architecture?
Internal link building helps with SEO and ranking. But for better results, you need a connection architecture, not just “link building.” Internal connectivity is not just about search engine spiders. User friend is important too. Creating a solid internal link architecture needs planning and time.
Category-level navigation This will make it easier for users to see what will be found in the subcategories and pages. Keep things contextually relevant.
Link to relevant category-level products. Look at this from a human perspective, considering intentions and needs, but also optimizing for the right keywords.
Use bread crumbs on all pages and category pages. This ensures that users and Google can move up one level to the parent category.
Question no. 10: How to leverage user-generated content?
You are terribly distracted by user-generated content – ever afraid of being honest about your products and services. There are two obvious SEO benefits to user-generated content:
Better conversion and sales rates
Unique content is taken to a higher level and provides “freshness”
Integrated into product pages, user-generated content can enliven your site. Good reviews increase sales conversions. Users become part of a happy community. Prospective buyers see colorful activities that persuade them to buy more easily.
Build a “community” of satisfied users. Post customer testimonials and reviews. Share blog posts with your lucky customers. Use positive reviews to convince visitors that they can trust you – trust is king, and social media helps you present it effectively.
Use Schema.org. A schema.org overview lets you get stars in addition to listing individual SERPs with individual product pages, which affects click rates.
Integrate social media into product pages. Instagram, Facebook comments, Pinterest pins and Google + 1 can all be integrated into your website to present social proof. Post photos of happy customers using your product.
“New SEO” requires that you think about the psychology of your visitors more than the technology of your website.
Question no. 11: How to incorporate SEO into the web design process?
Web design is all about visual appeal. You need an expert ecommerce web designer who has experience and will work as a team with your SEO consultant, analyst, conversion optimization course, and more. You need to give them space and budget to act as experts.
When website design and information architecture work in tandem, without page / URLs breaking through the structure, amplifying the entire site every time you publish a new product page and secure early crawling by search spiders. Good design and content with a pleasant visitor experience will generate more sales.
If you don’t plan, it plans to fail. SEO must be involved in the business / website as early as the planning stage, before you even begin to work on your wireframes and design process – not after starting your site. Creating fantastic category / section templates and promoting them on your internet links is very effective.
SEO for ecommerce websites is different from traditional SEO. SEO e-commerce requires a skilled consultant across multiple disciplines, with a deep understanding of human psychology, conversion rate optimization, analytics, web design and development, social media marketing and communications, copywriting, economy, usability and user experience. Top ecommerce SEO experts also have a deep understanding and understanding of commerce and how the retail business works.
Ecommerce web design is never done. Continuous A / B testing process in search of variations that have the best performance. The right “tools” are important, but the best adviser or company is more important. An expensive advisor is cheaper if it can generate more sales than a “cheap” one.
Question no. 12: How do I organize related products on a site?
Presenting relevant related items on product pages can increase sales. Your PIM’s meta data ensures that all items presented are relevant, personalized and in stock. Your web designer and developers must also focus on the internal link architecture.
Be relevant. If visitors arrive at the product page for the latest Apple iPhone, you should also suggest other relevant products based on the price, quality and personalization of this customer. The latest Google Nexus may be a similar product, but Apple’s loyal acolyte is by no means a buy! Measure and optimize product proposals.
Location or location. Make the product featured on the page stand out and shine. Give him space. It is badly covered by other proposals. Bad waste your best location on products that are not popular.
Question no. 13: How do I use internal site search?
Shocking that experts optimize your site for Google search further enhances their own internal search engine on ecommerce sites! Because they often overlook or underestimate the role of internal search, which is sales. People searching for misspellings, synonyms, dashes, or spacing errors are not taken to the relevant product pages. They should be.
Enable search tracking on your site. Use tools that let you see the keywords that people are looking for inside your website and calculate the revenue they generate.
Number of popular searches. They can mean that your product is popular and can be profitable. They can also indicate that they are human no finding out why they came to your site!
Use a tool like the Crazy Egg track clicks and see how people rank on your homepage, important category pages, and product pages.
Think of your site’s search results pages as “landing pages.” Search results should be relevant and help users solve their problems. Required “noindex” search results.
Include site search in keyword research. Analyze what your visitors are looking for to find new product ideas, find potential areas for improvements, identify popular products, and overcome search and usability issues.
Test your site search and correct errors. Enter some keywords that were not detected in your internal search and see what they found as a result. When you fix everything that is broken, sales will increase!
Optimize internal search. Make sure every internal search finds the right product. This requires setting up metadata in your ecommerce solution. By dealing with this meta meta data, you create pages loaded with misspelled or misspelled words.
Question no. 14: How do I optimize product images and videos?
The quality of your images, photos and videos will affect how visitors feel about your product. Never underestimate the value of straining potential customers to feel the benefits of your product.
Interesting pictures are shared on Pinterest and social networks. Getting people to tag and comment on photos also makes your content unique. Your brand strengthens as word of mouth spreads. With optimized images, you can drive even more traffic than Google Image Search.
Use high quality images. Take photos that create an atmosphere that makes potential people feel something. They will generate more sales. Although expensive, it provides a good investment for your best products. Video can work even better.
Optimize your images. File name, alt text, title, etc. They should be short with a descriptive description. These are opportunities to give search engines clues about the content of your image.
A / B Test Options. Try one image against another to see which allows for better conversion rates.
Question no. 15: How to put product pages for sale?
Specify the canonical URL in the HTTP header of the product page for the item for sale. This indicates that Google refers to a duplicate of another URL and ranks a unique version of the page, not this one.
Question no. 16: How do I design for mobile?
Mobile is also very important to ignore in your ecommerce SEO strategy. An informal poll by my colleague Kenneth Gvein running for our e-commerce customers in Metronet and Vaimo Norway found that customers had 2 to 3 times higher mobile e-commerce growth rates. Go mobile – or go home!
Offer versions of all URLs for desktops. Some users prefer the standard web version, even on a mobile device. Offer the ability to switch between versions. Already return them to the homepage as many ecommerce websites do.
Question no. 17: How to deal with security?
Your customers are concerned about online security – for good reason. They put your identity and financial information in your hands. You need to reassure them that you are safe.
Leave visual clues. Display logos and text confirming that you comply with safety standards. Show them your SSL / Visa / other security standards or encryption certificates. Tell them that shopping on your ecommerce website is 100% safe. This enhances conversions.
Many e-marketers hide this information at the bottom of the page or simply take it for granted. I make that mistake badly.
Best Practices and Routines – Best Tips for Any Ecommerce Site
1. Periodic SEO analysis: SEO is not static, nor is your ecommerce site. Your site and code will change. A programmer can, with the best intention at heart, solve one problem but create another. Use a strategic SEO framework to ensure that everything is in line with your economic and strategic goals.
2. Use Google Webmaster Tools: This free tool helps webmasters find and solve nervous SEO problems. Establish a routine where:
Look for 404 errors, soft 404 and other problems
See how your site, products and pages work on SERPs
Notice popular keywords and phrases, popular pages, and more
I recommend integrating Google Webmaster Tools, Google AdWords, and Google Analytics to access valuable information for free.
3. Take action: Only adequate data monitoring. You must identify the submissive items to continue improving. Know what to look out for and why. See problems with indexing, duplicate content, manual fines from Google, and more. Solve problems immediately.
4. Invest in SEO tools: Tools like Moz, Search Methods, Raven SEO Tools, Deep Crawl and more help you identify problems and offer suggestions for fixing them. Set up effective reporting. Establish troubleshooting routines. Each tool has unique advantages. As a consultant, I recommend using a combination of ecommerce SEO tools.
5. Do manual (sample) testing: Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to identify issues with pages and sections of your ecommerce site. Select one product segment that is important to you and analyze within specific categories and subcategories. It is often discussed finding site-wide problems caused by your CMS that can be fixed quickly.
6. Data analysis is the new gold: Everything you do can be done better, but you still have the resources to do it all. You need analysis to help you prioritize improvements. Build dashboards that contain actionable information.
7. Take the mobile revolution seriously: Mobile devices are growing fast. Delays in developing your mobile site can kill your online business. What experience do you provide to mobile users and how can you improve it?
It’s not possible to cover everything about SEO for ecommerce sites in one article. The tips above have helped many ecommerce sites increase sales and revenue to large multipliers, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you have any other tips or tips that you think our other readers should know, add them as a comment to this post. We gathered together looking forward to your conversation.
This article is the opinions of the guest author, not necessarily Search Engine Country. Staff writers listed here.
About the author
Trond Lyngbø is the founder of Search Planet and a senior SEO consultant. He has over 10 years experience in SEO, e-commerce, content strategy and digital analytics. His clients include multinational Fortune 500 corporations and large Norwegian companies. Trond has helped grow the business through more effective marketing search and SEO strategies. He is most passionate about working with e-commerce companies and web stores to develop and expand their marketing initiatives across all channels.