With frequent algorithm changes, new search engine feature updates and conflicting advice, many e-tailers are unsure of where to start with SEO. That’s why we’re pulling back the curtain on a few of our tried-and-true ecommerce SEO strategies that can drive serious results.
1. Reduce Load Time
Fast load times aren’t just essential for a great user experience - they also significantly impact search rankings. In our experience, 100-200s of milliseconds load time is a solid benchmark. Although there are many ways to improve site speed, image compression can typically make an immediate impact. We also recommend checking Google Tag Manager to take inventory of active scripts on your site. If the list starts to look more like a novel, you might want to remove excess calls that may be slowing down your site.
2. Optimize for Mobile
If your site isn’t mobile optimized, you’re at a serious search disadvantage. Evolving user habits make responsive design essential from both an SEO and user experience perspective. If you’re looking to take things a step further, Google’s AMP format can further optimize mobile experiences by reducing load time and improving mobile search rank. HubSpot has a great tool called Website Grader that can check if your site is Mobile Responsive and has Viewports configured.
3. Resolve Site Errors
Keep your site clean by continually monitoring Google Search Console (formally known as Google Webmaster tools). Site errors may include broken links, indexed 404 pages or errors in sitemap files to name a few. Although not all errors are created equal, resolving them improves Google’s ability to index your site and can positively affect search rankings.
4. Enable Canonical Tags
Canonicalization, also known as canonical tagging, tells search engines that a page URL actually represents a default master page. This is especially useful when you have pages with more than one URL (e.g. your home page or blog listing pages). In this example, canonical tags transfer SEO credit from duplicate URLs to the default page that you want to rank. It’s a simple but necessary fix that can have a large impact on search rankings. HubSpot also recently unveiled a way to add canonical tags directly in the COS and blog posts, making tag implementation even easier for SEO experts and novices alike.
5. Add Customer Reviews
Search engines treat customer reviews as new website content and engagement, which are all factors that influence rankings. Customer reviews also significantly improve the user experience by adding third-party credibility to your business. If you’re using Bigcommerce Enterprise, you have access to hundreds of apps in their app store, including our friends at Yotpo. Also be sure to utilize Schema.org language so that your product reviews, stars and number of reviews show up on search engine results pages.
6. Use Markup to Enable Rich Snippets and Knowledge Graphs
As an e-tailer, you can give search engines detailed product information to display – such as price, availability, and review ratings – right on the search page. Google and other search engines are aggressively rolling out new formats for search results. Sites that get featured in the Rich Snippets and Knowledge Graphs are now the first place where visitors tend to click. Getting featured in this part of SERP will help attract clicks and, ultimately, more visitors to your page. Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to see if your pages are properly using Schema.org markup formatting.
7. Add Breadcrumbs
Website breadcrumbs allow both Google and your customers to understand specific parent-child relationships when it comes to products and product categories. Think of it like a roadmap that makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site. This tried-and-true tactic can help to improve your user experience and rankings with minimal effort.
8. Optimize Your Content
This is a huge category (and a separate article all together), but I want to specifically focus on two main areas:
Product DescriptionsProduct Descriptions are often a challenge for e-tailers who sell products from manufacturers that also have an ecommerce presence. To separate yourself from competitors, focus on the psychology behind the product. Why would someone purchase this particular product? Give more than the generic details the manufacturer offers.
From an SEO perspective, think about the terms your are trying to rank for. Although we never encourage keyword stuffing, spend some time researching keywords that make sense for your products and include them in places that make sense.
From a content perspective, treat category pages as individual Homepages. By this, we mean to optimize your content (H1s, links, etc.) for the term you are trying to rank for. This will allow for a broader sense of content and increase your chances of ranking for slightly broader terms.
9. Optimize for Site Search
Although site search is not a specific SEO tactic, it is an essential website feature that affects the way customers find products. When it comes to your product pages, place keywords with high internal search volume into H1 & H2s as well as body copy and meta descriptions. This will help with your keyword focus and product placement within Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Bonus tip: enable Site Search feature in Google Analytics to track what your visitors are searching on your site. You can enable this feature in
"View Settings" under “Site Search Settings”, then enter your search parameter query (based on the ecommerce platform you use). The search terms can later be viewed under Behavior - Site Search section in Google Analytics.
10. Monitor Your SEO Visibility
Google is known to roll out at least 2 or 3 major algorithm changes every year. The last updates prioritized mobile friendly and HTTPS protocol enabled sites. Be sure to frequently monitor your SEO visibility via third party tools such as Searchmetrics and MOZ Site Explorer. Being proactive when it comes to organic performance can help you stay ahead of competition.
If you're looking to re-platform to a new ecommerce platform, or if you’d like to discuss areas for optimization for your site, Groove is happy to schedule a site assessment or SEO Audit & Analysis. Just fill out the form below to get started!