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25-08-2021

Your No BS Guide to eCommerce SEO

Words - Tom Brownie

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It’s every online retailer’s dream to have a consistent, quality stream of inbound traffic to their site that costs them absolutely nothing. No crazy bids to rank top of page, no hours of keyword research, just that sweet organic search listing that leads new potential customers to your site day in, day out. 

Ahhh, but if our dreams were that easy to achieve, they wouldn’t be dreams, now, would they? Between search algorithm updates, unnecessarily technical jargon and the superhuman levels of patience to see results, it’s no wonder that many an eCommerce brand throws in the towel before they even begin. And so begins a vicious cycle of paying to play, that can become financially stressful and leave you at the mercy of Mr Zuckerburg and his algorithms.

Now for the uplifting part. Mastering eCommerce SEO doesn’t have to be all pain and no gain – you just have to know how to play the game. 

Keep reading for an accessible and achievable guide to start kicking goals with your organic search. 

How does SEO relate to eCommerce, specifically? 

We’re all pretty well versed in the basic premise of SEO (and if not? High volume, high quality organic website traffic = good. There you go), but when it comes to eCommerce? It’s all about getting your product pages to rank on the first page of relevant search results. 

Ever click through to page 2 of Google? Yeah, neither does anyone else. If your eCommerce brand isn’t on the first page when it comes to eCommerce, then you may as well not exist. The same premise goes for other search engines too, like Bing – but Bing is sort of like the second page of Google search results. May as well not exist. (We kid… kind of). 

Having product pages rank in search results gets your user one step closer to converting, from the second they reach your site. Sending them to a page that matches what they were looking for in the process is one less click on their journey, and lowers that barrier to purchase just that little bit more. 

If one of your products would generally receive 5,000 searches a month – consider that ranking first for this keyword organically (with the first link generally taking about 35% of traffic) could net you 1,750 clicks. If just 2% of those clicks converted? That’s 35 purchases that you just got for free, courtesy of Google’s search rankings. That’s 35 purchases’ worth of social marketing budget that you’ve now freed up to do bigger and better things with your eCommerce branding. And that’s just one product! You can start to understand why investing some time up front into your SEO will pay for itself ten times over. 

Good SEO starts with good keywords 

Alright, so we’ve convinced you on the intrinsic value of SEO. Now comes the hard part – actually putting it into practice. 

Your SEO strategy is driven by your keywords, aka the search strings people type into Google that you want to rank for. 

Now this sounds all well and good, but there are two main things that lead eCommerce business owners to become unstuck here. They either: 

• Pick keywords that are way too niche, delivering zero traffic whether they rank highly or not; or

• Pick keywords that are way too competitive, the equivalent of setting out to climb Mt Everest in your Nike Free Runs and Lululemons 

eCommerce SEO keywords actually function quite similarly to the strategy you’d use for Google Ads, in that you want to target buyer intent. Keyword strings that suggest someone is looking for high level information – e.g. “what is the best digital camera model” are very different from what someone types in when they’re ready to purchase e.g. “buy digital camera online.” (Side note from us – that first example of the search looking for information? That’s a great avenue to tackle with your content marketing). 

So, it makes sense that your Google Ads search term report is a great place to start the research process. If you’ve been running ads, you’ve been collecting data on your target audience and how they search for what you sell. Look at you, killing this already. 

If you haven’t waded into paid ads just yet, just giving your product a good Google is still worthwhile. Check the autocomplete search suggestions along with the related searches down the bottom of the page. 

Sites like etsy and Amazon are also helpful to gain a better understanding of the different ways people search for (and sell) your product. 

As you get more confident with the process, look at tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs to factor in things like estimated volume, competition and ranking difficulty. 

But enough about keyword research for now – let’s put all that research to good use. 

Optimising your eCommerce brand’s product pages

Armed with your keywords, you’re ready to start optimising your product pages to rank in search results. You’re optimising for two audiences here – one being Google’s algorithm, which will help you to rank; and the other being your potential customers, who actually need to click through for that ranking to mean anything. 

There are a few elements of your site you’ll want to customise from the out-of-the-box settings: 

• Title tags and meta descriptions

• Alt text for embedded images

• File names

• URL naming convention 

Next, tackle your product description. Hot tip – Google loves content. Eats it up. Froths it. So a two sentence product description not only isn’t doing your item justice, but is basically telling Google that ranking well is not a priority for you. Not ideal. 

Go through all of your product pages (or start with your best sellers/highest margin products if this figure is in the hundreds) and pour some love into those descriptions, sprinkling with your keywords along the way. Include customer reviews, get into the details, explain how it fits or how to use it. Include imagery showing off your product with your eCommerce branding. All of this juicy detail is arming Google with more information on how and where to rank your product in search results.

Tidying your site architecture 

A golden rule of eCommerce website structure? No page should take more than three clicks to navigate to from any other page on your website. Your homepage should link out to some of your top category pages (if not directly to some of your best sellers), and your internal linking should mean that someone could click around aimlessly on your site and never run out of links to click (and if that’s how your online shopping sessions tend to pan out? No judgement here). 

Streamlining your site structure like this makes for a better user experience, minimising bounce rates and in turn signalling to Google that users tend to like what they find on your site (all factoring into the magical SEO algorithm). 

If you’re feeling particularly confident in your SEO abilities by this point – your homework is to look at implementing Schema markup. Reported to drive higher CTRs to the tune of 30%, Schema markup refers to a form of code language that filters back into Google and allows it to show more relevant information in search results. 

Schema markup can include: 

• Breadcrumbs

• Reviews and ratings

• Product information

• Business information and contact details

• Product availability 

• FAQs

How do I know if my SEO is working? 

We like your enthusiasm! Remember earlier when we mentioned superhuman patience? You’re going to need some at this point, as it can take a few months to start reaping the rewards for your efforts. 

Learn your way around Google Analytics and monitor statistics like your organic search traffic volumes, along with the pages that are driving the bulk of this traffic. You’ll begin to learn which pages are starting to rank (and a cheeky Incognito search can help you verify your hunches), and attribute this to all your hard work. There are plugins you can install as well to make this a little easier. 

Implement, learn, optimise, repeat. Don’t wait until you feel like you can execute everything in this guide perfectly – get started, see what happens, learn from your results and double down on what’s working. 

Want to improve the results you’re driving from your organic traffic? Optimising your eCommerce SEO can help – The Natives specialises in all things eCommerce, from branding design through to bespoke platform solutions to bring your vision to life. 

Want to supercharge your SEO and Organic traffic? Contact us today.

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