E-commerce SEO: Best Practices for Your Store

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E-commerce retailers are generally skeptical when they are told that they can double sales and traffic to their site by applying SEO best practices. Once they start exploring the idea however, there are a number of details that they would like to learn more about, including increasing sales, boosting conversions, generating more traffic and engaging buyers to turn them into fans. This article discusses the details of those topics and gives you practical advice on how to boost your e-commerce sales.

 

How to treat items that are obsolete or expired

 

All stores, e-commerce or retail, will have products that disappear forever. These include things like fashion clothing and consumer electronics which are constantly replaced by new styles and models.

E-commerce websites often delete the page and don’t do anything further. This is not good SEO practice, as you’ll lose SEO value. People returning to the page via the URL will also receive error messages.

There are a number of appropriate solutions, depending on the exact circumstances.

 

How to treat items that are out of stock

 

There are a number of things you can do to still make a sale, even if you run out of stock on a specific item.

While shoppers will appreciate this great service, it will also help search engines find relevant pages and get to know the site’s structure better.

 

How to treat items that are seasonal

 

Your aim should be to reinforce the categories containing seasonal products. Focus on those categories and use breadcrumbs to link from the products that are seasonal to them, as well as links in the product page description. It is ideal to optimize product pages that have the biggest potential and then use the remainder of the SEO budget for making product category pages stronger.

If you are planning to launch popular products and are expecting a huge demand, it will be worthwhile to add a page for “coming soon” to your site’s URL structure. You could use pre-order forms and launch notifications, and offer unique content on this page. Warm up potential buyers with content generated from integrated social media links into the page.

If you know that new annual releases will replace some of your products, add the current year to the URL. Use a 301 redirect to the new page on the older pages that have been replaced.

 

How to handle products pages containing duplicate content

 

With so many challenges facing e-commerce businesses, very few consider providing unique content for their product pages. Most will simply export the product’s information from databases, resulting in duplicate content being used for virtually the whole site.

Many e-commerce pages consist of nothing more than an image of the product and a price. This means that search engines can’t understand what the page is used for, if it is relevant so search users and how it relates to other site pages. There are a number of ways in which this can be improved:

 

How to handle new product SEO

 

Well-designed internal link architecture, website structure and information architecture are all critical if you want to rank new product pages high. Create links from your home page to category pages, and link to the product pages from the category pages. This will allow Google to find, crawl and index your site’s content fast. Also link to category pages from their parent categories.

Your website theme should always be optimized to show new products on the home page where Google will quickly find and index them. A good internal link architecture will result in your new product pages being indexed and ranked very quickly.

 

How to use manufacturers’ product descriptions

 

Search engines don’t like content that’s duplicated elsewhere and using the same manufacturers’ product descriptions that everyone else does is duplicate content. It is however virtually impossible to rewrite all specifications and descriptions of a product for a large e-commerce website.

You can solve this problem by adding new content to the manufacturer’s info, including user-generated reviews and comments. Let your customers tell their stories on your site by inviting user comments and integrating social networking. Customers that have good experiences will gladly help with your marketing effort.

 

How to create category pages

 

Category pages are very popular and powerful, and should be treated as such.

 

How to handle product variations (color, size, etc.)

 

Many products come in a whole range of different sizes or colors. If these are not handled correctly, their listings could be considered duplicate content. This will cause bad SEO rankings and cannibalization between variants of the same product, i.e. products could rank for the wrong keyword like a search for red jeans delivering results for blue jeans.

Do a thorough review of your website to identify products that could sell well if they rank for the correct keywords.

 

How to handle internal link architecture and building

 

Although internal link building is useful for rankings and SEO, link architecture is required to achieve better results, not simply link building. Although internal linking helps search engine bots, user friendliness is a very important factor that must be considered. Creating a robust internal link architecture takes both time and planning.

 

How to design a website with SEO weaved into it

 

Designing is far more than simple visual appeal. For a good e-commerce website, it’s critical that you use an experienced specialist e-commerce Web designer who will work closely together with a conversion rate optimizer, analyst and SEO consultant. You must give these experts both the budgets and the space to do their job properly.

When your information architecture and website design work together and no URLs or pages break out of this structure, the entire site is boosted whenever a new product page is published. It also ensures that search spiders will crawl the pages early. More sales are generated by a pleasant visitor experience, and good content and design.

 

How to leverage content generated by users

 

Embrace user-generated content, even if it means you’ll get honest opinions about your products and services and not all of it might be good. The obvious SEO benefits are:

When integrated into product pages, user generated content can liven up your site. A good review boosts sales conversion, while users join a happy community. This will allow prospective buyers to see the vibrant activity and it might convince them to join and buy.

With the “new SEO” coming out some time back, you need to think more about the psychology of the site’s visitors, rather than the technology used on the website.

 

How to bring together related products

 

Grouping related items on a product page can increase sales. A product information management system’s meta data ensures that the items shown are personalized, relevant, and available. Web designers and developers should also focus on the architecture of internal links.

 

How to optimize product images

 

Picture, photo and video quality will influence how visitors see your product. Don’t underestimate the value of making shoppers ‘feel’ the product’s benefits.

Interesting pictures will be shared on social media and users tagging and commenting on photos will make your content unique. Word of mouth will make your brand stronger. You can even generate more traffic from Google image search with optimized images.

 

How to optimize the site’s internal search

 

It is amazing that experts optimize sites for external search engines, but don’t optimize the internal search function on an e-commerce website. This is normally because the use of internal search is overlooked or underestimated, resulting in lost sales. Individuals searching with synonyms, misspelt words, spacing, or hyphenation errors are not taken to the correct product pages. This should be changed.

 

How to handle products on sale

 

In the HTTP header of the product page of an item on sale, specify the canonical URL. This lets Google know it’s a duplicate of another URL and it will rank the unique version of the page.

 

How to handle security

 

Customers have good reasons to worry about online security, as they’re putting their financial data and identity in your care. Always give reassurances that it is safe to transact on your site.

Use visual clues like displaying text and logos that certify your compliance to security standards. Visa, SSL and other encryption and security certificates and standards should be shown. You will boost conversions if you assure them that it is 100% safe to shop at your e-commerce store.

Many e-commerce sites hide that information where it can’t be seen easily, or simply don’t display it at all. This is a big mistake.

 

How to cater for mobile devices

 

Mobile has become too important to be ignored by e-commerce companies. Informal studies show that e-commerce websites have a 2 to 3 times higher growth rate on mobile.

As some users prefer a standard Web version on mobile, offer desktop versions of all URLs and allow users to switch between versions. Do not return them to the home page as e-commerce websites often do.

 

Top Tips for E-Commerce Websites

 

  1. Analyze your SEO regularly: Neither an e-commerce website, nor its SEO is static. Both the site and its coding will continuously change and developers may, when fixing one problem, create another. Using a strategic SEO framework will ensure that everything lines up with your strategic and economic goals.
  2. Google Tools: Various Google tools, including Webmaster tools are free and will help you find and fix common SEO problems. Regularly check:
  3. Use Sitechecker Crawler: our Website Audit Tool will help to audit the whole website for the most critical technical errors. And no matter how much URLs your e-commerce store has.
  4. Do more than monitor: Simply monitoring data won’t be enough. Identifying the actionable items and always improving will go a long way. You also need to know what you’re looking for and why. Problems with duplicate content, indexing and manual penalties from Google should all be fixed immediately.
  5. Analyze your data: Although everything you do could probably be done better, the resources to do it all is not likely to be available. Analysis will help you determine which areas should be prioritized for improvement. Building dashboards with actionable information is a good way to see all relevant information at a glance.
  6. Be seriously about mobile: The number of mobile devices is growing at a rapid rate. If you delay developing your mobile site, your online business can be dead before you know it. Be sure to give mobile users a good experience and always strive to improve.

Although the advice provided above will help your e-commerce website improve sales and revenue, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Keep on learning and applying to stay ahead of the curve.

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