Any business owner looking to remain competitive in today’s hyper-connected landscape requires a strong understanding of SEO basics.
This is particularly true for an e-commerce store. Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of owning and operating a successful online store. Without a clear SEO strategy, your e-commerce store may not be able to exploit the power of organic search fully.
The good news is, we’re here to help.
In this post, you’ll learn 11 on-page SEO strategies that will allow your site to stand out in search and generate higher traffic and increased profits for the long haul.
Now that you’ve had a chance to read and go through the infographic, let’s break each strategy down into actionable steps.
1. Optimize your site’s permalinks
A permalink or permanent link is the full URL your potential customers see in search results. Search engines and users use this URL to identify the page’s content. Having well-optimized permalinks can influence how search engines and visitors view your site.
When it comes to creating SEO-friendly URLs, it’s crucial to observe the following best practices:
- Shorter is better. Keep your URLs between 50-60 characters.
- Include your target keywords in your URLs.
- Make them easy to read and descriptive for accessibility purposes.
- Use hyphens rather than underscores to separate words.
- Write all of your URLs in lowercase.
- Avoid using dates in your URLs.
- Don’t include stop words in your URL (and, of, the, or, etc.)
With these best practices in mind, you should write your e-commerce URLs like so:
Having a logical approach to your URL structure for both category and product pages can increase the chances that search users click through to your site.
2. Add breadcrumbs for maximum profits
You can also enhance your site’s navigational architecture by adding breadcrumbs.
Like with Hansel and Gretel, breadcrumbs are used on sites to improve their navigational elements. By having a breadcrumb trail like “domain.com -> category -> subcategory -> product page,” you help search engines with indexation.
Breadcrumb navigation also translates to real numbers. Featuring breadcrumbs on your site can increase conversion rates by 400% and profit by 25%.
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Structure your pages’ breadcrumbs with the following tips:
- Add schema markup to your site
- Use shorter names for breadcrumb links with target keywords
- Separate breadcrumbs with arrows
- Position breadcrumbs at the top-left corner of the page
- Don’t use breadcrumbs to replace your primary navigation
3. Keep users glued to your page with headers
The right header on your page impacts SEO, usability, and click-through-rates (CTRs). A well-crafted, enticing heading helps frame the rest of the page’s content and draws readers further down the page towards its call-to-action (CTA).
Yet, headers (and subheaders) remain one of the most underutilized on-page SEO elements.
So how can you craft an attention-grabbing header?
Your header not only has to be relevant to the category or product page it represents, but it should also make use of the four Us:
- Sense of urgency
All of your category titles and product titles should also be wrapped in the <H1> tag. H1 tags are the most critical heading tags and are displayed in large text on your site. These should be keyword-focused and front-loaded to (potentially) maximize the ranking factor.
And remember, every page on your site should only have one main header (H1) tag. You can have as many subheaders (H2-H6) as you’d like, but only one H1 tag.
4. Expand your keyword opportunities with introductory text
While having a descriptive header is excellent, don’t end your optimization efforts there.
Introductory text is another on-page SEO element that many online merchants tend to overlook. When you add a small block of textual content right underneath your H1 tag, you better inform site visitors and set the proper expectations.
Your page’s introductory text can be used for long-tail keyword opportunities as well as LSI keywords. By peppering in the right long-tail and LSI keywords into your copy, your page can better convince visitors to stick around, and this benefits dwell time, an important ranking factor.
If you’ve never done keyword research before, you should consider partnering with an SEO agency to help you maximize your keyword research. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to come up with some keyword opportunities.
As a final note on writing SEO-friendly text, avoid keyword stuffing. Google sees this type of practice as “black hat SEO” and will punish you for attempting to game the search engine’s algorithms.
5. Liberally link to high-priority pages with filtered navigation
Another advanced navigation function you can use to keep visitors sticking around for much longer is a filtered navigation module.
By including a navigation module to your page, preferably somewhere near the top, users will have an easier time navigating their way to your site’s most essential products and related categories.
When done correctly, you not only create a bunch of natural internal links on your site, you also enhance the user experience and make it easier for site visitors to go further down the sales funnel.
To maximize this navigation element, only link to relevant, high-authority internal pages. For example, if you had an online coffee store, it would make sense to connect to the ingredients category page from the coffee brewing machines category page.
6. Put your visuals to work
Visual content is an integral part of any e-commerce site and plays a critical role in SEO.
When it comes to search queries, images account for 22.6% of all searches. And Gen Z and millennial consumers also love highly engaging images. Indeed, 62% of these consumer demographics prefer using visual search over keywords.
To ensure your images are working hard for you, adopt these best practices:
- Use the JPG file type for photos of people, places, and things.
- Scale your images to minimize file weight.
- Compress your images to improve site load times.
- Add keywords to the image file name.
- Write a descriptive ALT text containing your keyword.
- Use professional photos to maximize quality.
You can also include user-generated content (UGC) like Instagram photos in your product pages to show prospective consumers how customers engage with your brand’s products, which can encourage conversions.
7. Name your products with SEO in mind
Like images, product naming can impact your brand’s performance in search and affect your products’ online visibility. Greater online visibility means customers can easily find your products through search and within your site.
When choosing an SEO-optimized product name, there are some key things you should focus on.
The first is to be descriptive with your names. Your customers should be able to get sufficient information about the product just by glancing at the title. This information is dependent on how popular your brand is and how well-known your products are.
Your product name should showcase its unique selling point (USP) and have market appeal. This can be achieved by using the standard naming formula of:
brand + model/product type + key attributes
If you sold iPhones through your online shop, a highly descriptive product name could be:
“Apple iPhone 12 Pro, 256 GB, Pacific Blue, GSM Unlocked”
As you can see from the example, the product name correctly describes the product and highlights its key attributes like phone capacity, color, and carrier compatibilities.
8. Incorporate user-generated reviews and ratings
Reviews and testimonials provide social proof to your brand and its products.
The value of reviews cannot be overlooked. As G2’s research shows, before customers make a purchase, 95% of them read reviews. And a product that has at least five reviews increases purchases by 270%.
By leveraging reviews and testimonials, you provide search engines with another important ranking asset and reinforce your product’s value to prospective customers.
Encouraging user-generated content (reviews, ratings, and testimonials) can maximize this type of social proof for search engines and users alike. Implementing a schema markup on your site can also display reviews and ratings directly from search results, increasing your brand’s trustworthiness and authority.
9. Make use of related products and categories
Including closely related products or categories to each product/category page will create more internal linking opportunities and promote average order value increases.
By cross-promoting and upselling relevant products or categories, your site encourages further deep dives into other products and categories which, as we know, help keep visitors around longer and reduce bounce rate.
You can also promote related blog posts on specific product pages to further increase time on site.
10. Increase sales with unique copy
A pervasive SEO issue with e-commerce sites is the lack of content on category pages or duplicate product copy.
Let’s tackle category pages first.
When it comes to category pages, many tend to jump to product showcases. While some category pages include an introductory text to the page, few make use of body copy. Having little to no SEO content on your category page limits its opportunities to rank high in search results.
To gain more favor with Google, consider adding a section of SEO-friendly content to your category pages, preferably at the bottom. This body of text can expand on your introductory copy and can be optimized with long-tail and LSI keywords.
Aim to write around 200-300 words in this content section to increase your ranking opportunities.
For product pages, avoid merely copying and pasting product descriptions from manufacturers. Having duplicate content on your site makes it challenging to rank, particularly if the manufacturer already outperforms your brand in search.
Rather than borrowing content from manufacturers’ websites, write unique product descriptions.
When adding descriptions, highlight the product’s unique benefits, features, components, and any other information that a potential customer might find useful. Including some UGC (reviews and testimonials) to your product pages will provide relevant content that delights customers.
And like category pages, you should write roughly 300 words to satisfy Google’s requirements, link to related categories or products in your copy, and add your target keywords where they naturally fit.
11. Liberally link to popular and high-priority pages
While we’ve touched on this previously, it bears repeating: Internal linking is an e-commerce SEO best practice. By strategically using internal linking, you can potentially boost organic traffic by 40%.
When internal linking, be sure that you’re linking from an authoritative source page (the page you’re linking from) and directing that traffic to a popular product or category page. A category or product page with little to no traffic will provide no benefits.
It would be best to use keyword-rich anchor texts to help search engines better understand the page’s context. Just be careful with using too many of the same anchor text. That can appear spammy to Google, affecting your search rankings.
Now it’s your turn!
As far as boosting search traffic goes, few channels are as effective or reliable as organic search. By following these foundational e-commerce SEO strategies today, you will be leagues ahead of your competitors and can help your brand stand out in search results.
INFOGRAPHIC: Check out this Infographic by SEO Sherpa on how to optimize e-commerce website category pages