While many of your SEO tasks are going to be the same regardless of the type of company you run, there are several different ways to look at SEO when you’re dealing with eCommerce. The structure of these companies differs because of their goals and more importantly because of the different pages that they have on their websites. How you optimize these different pages is important to understand right away so that you’re sending your audience to the most relevant content based on where they are in the sales funnel.
In other words, for some websites, everyone is at the same stage in his/her search (ex: If you run a blog, everyone is looking to get educated), but you find a diverse group of people when you run an eCommerce site. It helps to break up SEO tasks into categories and then go through and determine what an eCommerce site needs to do if they want to be successful in SEO. Consider the checklist below (and check out Part II here!) to help get you started.
It is well known that keywords are one of the most important aspects of SEO so it’s important to know which keywords are going to be most valuable and accurate for your ranking. In order to rank highly when people are searching for things relevant to your eCommerce business, you need to be sure that you are optimizing for the right keywords and phrases. Many of the items on this checklist are not specific to eCommerce, but they are absolutely something no company wants to miss, and so they make the list!
- Make sure you or someone on your staff conducts detailed research on the kinds of keywords that your target customers might enter into search engines, especially those which will allow them to arrive at your products. You can learn more about conducting keyword research for an eCommerce company here.
- Check out what the competition looks like for your chosen keywords. This will allow you to assess what you’re up against in your quest for the top spot. Use tools such as Moz Link Explorer to understand the backlinks your competition is building, and pay attention to the types of content that seem to be getting the most social likes and engagement.
- Make sure that each page on your site focuses on a primary keyword or phrase. If this is not the case, you may need to consider reorganizing your products or searchable services.
- There may also be secondary keywords for each of your pages. If there are, make sure to account for them as you develop the structure of your site.
- Ensure that your homepage is optimized for your brand name. Ultimately, you want to be sure that it is easy to find your site when an online user types in your actual company name. This usually happens automatically, but not always (particularly if your domain doesn’t match your business name or if your name is very vague and generic).
Social Media Integration
When users are pursuing your online store, it should be very easy for them to share your content with their social media connections. Not only does this improve your marketing strategy, but it also sends information to search engines about your site’s performance, which is obviously a very important aspect of SEO. Although social signals are not technically a ranking signal, your authority and popularity are (especially for eCommerce). Earning social shares can help you earn backlinks and mentions across the web, which will help position you as an authority and further your SEO success.
- Make sure you have social sharing buttons on all the appropriate pages of your website. This is especially the case for any product or service that you would like visitors to be able to share. Some companies don’t see the need to put a sharing button on a product page, which is fine in many cases, but try testing it to see if that’s the right move. You also may want to include sharing buttons on a “Thank You” page like Amazon does in case people want to share what they just purchased with their friends.
- Also be sure that you are creating content that is something users would want to share, in addition to your products and services (i.e. blog posts, infographics, etc.). ECommerce sites forget that blog posts still matter for their type of company, but the benefits are huge.
- Links to your social media accounts should be clearly displayed on your website homepage or in a footer or header. This will assist not only in your SEO, but getting followers and developing your social audience.
Note: Creating a social strategy for your eCommerce site is a different issue that is also incredibly important, not only for your SEO but for overall visibility. Learn more about a social media strategy for eCommerce sites here.
Internal links are links present on any page of your website that link to another page on your website. While these may have increased your SEO in the past, more recently Search engines are dishing out penalties for over-optimized internal links. In light of this, the checklist here is actually to make sure your internal links look natural rather than suspicious to search engines.
- Make sure that all of your internal links do not suspiciously link to your homepage. In other words, they have to be relevant, so the majority of the time you should be linking to specific pages as opposed to the homepage. Of course, there are exceptions to everything, but use your best judgment and be weary when linking to a homepage.
- Your anchor text should NOT match the page title it’s linked to and should not be keyword-rich because this can get you penalized. Your links need to seem natural, and that means a natural anchor text.
Page descriptions, also known as ‘meta’ descriptions appear below your page title on SERPs. This helps to provide a description of the page and thus should also maximize the click-through rate on your website. This is another aspect that affects every type of company, but ECommerce sites sometimes get lazy with this because they worry so much about the description under their ads that they forget the description under organic results. Keep the following things in mind so you can keep up with all types of companies that are ranking.
- Your page descriptions should be between 100 and 150 words.
- Primary and secondary keywords should be included in the copy in a natural way.
- Page descriptions should read well and avoid looking like they’ve been stuffed with keywords. This is a common mistake for companies new to the SEO game.
- All of your page, product, and service descriptions should be original. Do not use generic descriptions.
Focus on these checkmarks first, and when you’re reading, check out Part II of the checklist here!