eCommerce SEO checklist for Beginners
The rise of Amazon has also seen an explosion in eCommerce websites hoping to capitalize on online eCommerce traffic.
It’s pretty easy to get online and set up your eCommerce store by using one of the many free solutions available like WordPress Woocommerce, Magento or even Xcart.
However, getting sales is a different matter. Getting to the top of the search results is the biggest win a company can make and perfect your SEO strategy can make this a game-changer.
According to statistics, 95% of all purchases begin with an online search and of those 75% of users never go past the first page of Google.
If your SEO strategy is below average, then the position of your website in the search engine is going to be poor. You most likely won’t even be on the first page let alone the golden 3 listings on the first page.
So, what’s the problem?
There is too much jargon-based information on the internet that makes it difficult for a small or even a mom and pop eCommerce store to compete online.
Often you’re solely reliant upon the information from your digital marketing consultant or agency. We are going to cut out some of the confusion to ensure your SEO strategy allows your site to gain more traffic and ultimately increase its conversions.
This eCommerce SEO checklist will build a solid SEO foundation for your site to grow and bring in profits for your business.
1. Keyword Research
This is an extremely important step to take before any actual work takes place. Get your keywords wrong and your content and overall SEO will suffer.
Your SEO strategy will be focused around the keywords you choose. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or spend shed loads of money (actually none) for you to pick the right keywords for your website.
Conducting keyword research will tell help you figure out the pain points your potential customers are experiencing. That will give you tremendous information into what they are searching for and the phrases and keywords that are being used.
There are a few different tools and methods you can utilize to find the right keywords to implement into your SEO strategy.
The simplest way of finding the most relevant and profitable keywords for your site is by using the Google Keyword Planner tool.
Enter a topic or URL of a website into keyword planner to view the relevant keywords. Google will give these a difficulty score and also show you the cost per click. This what an advertiser will be paying Google each time a user clicks on an ad that uses that keyword.
You want to find a sweet spot. Picking keywords that are low in volume will result in no traffic. Ones that are high in volume will be too competitive. Go for keyword volumes that are in the middle and then filter them out by the average cost.
If you get stuck in trying to find topics or ideas to use with keyword planner then the following will help to uncover topic gems for you to use with keyword planner.
The first is to use Reddit. Head over to Reddit and search for a broad topic around the product you sell or what your customers may be interested in.
That will show you all the subreddits that are relevant. Go through each one. What you’re looking for are threads that have lots of comments. These are usually ones that are about a problem the user is experiencing. Take a note of this to use with keyword planner.
You can also use this search technique with YouTube. More and more people are using videos to visually explain problems and to provide solutions. The YouTubes search engine is huge. Take the same steps as above to identify topics and then find potential keywords with keyword planner.
Another underused method is to see what Amazon is using. Very simply head over to the Amazon website and pop in your product name. You will see how Amazon categorizes the product and the keywords it uses.
Amazon spends millions on optimizing its platform, on SEO and paid advertising. So, it’s done all the hard work for you. Of course, you will need to filter out most of these topics/keywords and ideas as they will be highly competitive.
These topics/ideas can then be used in Google’s keyword planner to find that sweet spot of low competition medium volume keywords for you to use.
2. Conduct a Technical SEO Audit
Essentially what your going to be doing is to identify all the issues that exist on your eCommerce website. This is another key step as the majority of eCommerce stores have a large number of pages which can potentially have huge issues that impact the whole site.
To identify the issues, you can use the Screaming Frog tool or Ahrefs site audit tool to crawl the site and show all the errors.
Once the audits are run you want to identify these main elements with a view to fixing them:
a. Duplicate titles
When search engines crawl your page, they first look at your title tag to determine the topic of the page. If you have multiple pages with the same title your internal pages are effectively fighting each other to be the authority.
That’s bad and will confuse the search engines. Ensure that each of the pages of your site has a unique title tag. The keywords you identified for your site should be used within your title tag.
b. Duplicate pages
Similar to duplicate titles, you’re looking for pages that have the same content. Generally, on an eCommerce site, this is usually the product page that’s available via multiple URL’s i.e. the product can also be found with the category listed in the URL.
A very simple fix is to use the canonical tag on each of your product pages. The search engines will respect and credit that page as the authority.
Another way of fixing this is to strip the category from the URL via your eCommerce admin settings page. With Magento its as simple as turning on the flat category URL setting.
c. H1 Tag
Each page on your site needs to have 1 H1 tag. This is like the chapter title within a book. It also needs to tie in with the title tag of the page.
Use some of the keywords identified earlier in the H1 tag but don’t get spammy.
Another common problem on eCommerce stores is the use of the H1 tag In multiple paces i.e. for the site logo, product, tab, footer headings etc. remember to only use the H1 once and ideally for the product heading.
d. Thin Content
A very common problem with eCommerce sites. Often it is difficult to write about a product but that should not stop you writing at least 500 words per product. The more you write the more unique that product page will be and that’s a win-win.
For products that have multiple variations i.e. colour, size etc you should still write around 500 words per variation.
Not only will the search engines give you the benefit for having unique content on these pages but you’re providing more information to customers which will increase conversions.
3. Website Architecture
You don’t want to frustrate your potential customers or even the search engines from finding your important pages. Having your product page within a 3 click depth is highly recommended. Beyond this, you will start to see diminishing returns.
Improving your URL structure will have a direct effect on your onsite SEO. You can also go one step further by having a flat site structure will greatly help.
What this means is that all your URL’s are available right after your main domain name i.e. example.com/product1, example.com/product2 Look at Amazon as the example to copy here. It has a near-perfect website structure.
Both Magento and WordPress have options available in the admin area which you can turn on for a flat product website. No coding is required and its simple to use.
Again, use your keyword research here to dictate how your overall website structure should be deployed.
4. On-page SEO
We touched upon some elements during the technical audit like your H1 tag, title tag etc. Most of the on-page SEO elements can be addressed when you create your product or standard pages.
The options are available when you create the standard/product pages, so complete them as fully as possible.
Checks to make for your eCommerce on-page SEO are:
a. Meta descriptions
Make sure all the descriptions for your product and standard pages are unique. Use your reached keywords and keep it in line with your title and H1 tag. This provides overall relevance to the page.
b. Image Tags
Often your product page has multiple images. Before you upload your images to products name them accordingly.
For example, if your selling red shoes name the image: red-shoes.(jpg/png/gif) rather than 17793jhjjzhjkf.(jpg/png/gif) then once uploaded use the Alt tag setting to describe the image i.e. ladies red shoes. Don’t forget to implement this for your normal images too.
You will be using 1 H1 tag in your page but also use H2, H3, H4 tags etc. Think of your pages like the pages of a book which has chapter titles and subheadings. Duplicate this structure for your site on each page.
Remember that although most of these elements are being addressed so that search engines can crawl, index and position your eCommerce website in search results, humans will also be seeing these.
Keep these elements human-readable, don’t get spammy by adding in your keyword’s multiple times. If you don’t then it will have an impact on your overall conversions. What’s the point of gaining all that traffic if your website doesn’t convert any of it?
Ecommerce SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. Taking the above steps will address the fundamental issues with many eCommerce stores without requiring a developer, consultant or agency.
In summary, by taking these steps, your eCommerce store will start competing with other stores who have already addressed these basic e-commerce issues.