SEO is invaluable to businesses—but only if it gets results. And ecommerce is one of the best avenues to justify your SEO investment. More traffic means more sales, and that means more money. So, let’s delve into some tactics to make your money go even further…
Doing ecommerce SEO the right way means constantly measuring results, and adjusting budgets accordingly. Here are some ways to ensure that your SEO strategy is 100% on track to generate a return on investment.
Start with an SEO audit
Conducting an SEO audit is the same for all types of sites. That said, the following factors are more likely to have a greater impact on ranking, conversions, and overall performance for an ecommerce store than a regular website:
- Technical SEO
- Structure—lots of products often leads to dupe pages and URL issues.
- Navigation—product filters and sorting features can create a high number of URLs, and menus such as this need to be optimised.
- Internal linking—for example, the blog should link to commercial pages, and expired products create 404 errors that will require redirecting.
- Mobile friendliness
When conducting a full ecommerce SEO audit, you’ll want to pay particular attention to these four areas.
When it comes to technical SEO, you need to make sure Google can crawl your website—ecommerce sites are often difficult for Google to crawl due to their number of pages. Your best friend in this scenario is Google Search Console. Its Crawl Error report feature will analyse your entire site and diagnose problems that are preventing it from being crawled, including broken links and whether your site has a robots.txt file or XML sitemap.
With mobile spend growing year on year, it’s crucial that your ecommerce site is optimised for mobile. In 2018, Google rolled out mobile-first indexing. In simple terms, this means the company will typically crawl the mobile version of your site’s content for indexing and ranking. If you’re not sure if your site is mobile-optimised, check using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
After mobile friendliness, speed is the biggest barrier to delivering a smooth user experience. You’ve probably heard that half of all users will abandon a site if it takes more than 2 seconds to load. To avoid losing these potential customers, ensure your audit looks into compressing files and images, and minification of your site so that the important pages load as quickly as possible. Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool to help monitor and optimise your speed.
Increasingly tech-savvy consumers will look for trust signals that your site is safe and secure before they even think about making a payment. Google has said that they give sites with HTTPs a small ranking boost and it can also boost consumer confidence, increasing trust and, in turn, conversion potential.
Start with a full technical audit and content audit to identify any issues you need to address. The audits will help you define your strategy, aid planning and figure out what needs to be completely overhauled, or more simply tweaked or repurposed.
Focus on one thing at a time
My first advice is: don’t try to do everything at once. To start, prioritise the tasks that will have the largest impact on the site. For example, you could start with big technical fixes, then later move on to the smaller on-page tasks such as optimising H1 tags and alt text. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so use your audit wisely to figure out which changes will provide the most value on your site.
Optimise categories and metadata
A good place to start is your ecommerce category pages. Whereas product pages may change, your category landing pages will remain live for the lifecycle of an ecommerce website. They are also often where your customer ends up first, and ranking highly for commercial terms. This makes them super important for long-term wins, so pay particular attention to your title tags, meta descriptions, headings, long-tail keywords, alt-tags, URLs, and use of imagery.
Before doing anything else, you should get to know your market like the back of your hand. You should also look at the strategies being used by your competition. In the world of ecommerce SEO, ranking is not as simple as focusing all of your attention on a handful of keywords—you need to dig deep into segmented demographic data to select the most promising keywords, as well as looking at important commercial keywords that may not come up in your research, such as ‘order’, ‘buy’, and ‘best’.
Schema markup is code that you put on your website to help search engines return more informative and useful results. There are loads of new schema markup content types that aren’t being used yet and that can help give you the edge. In fact, web pages with a structured data markup can rank up to four positions higher than those that do not utilise a data markup. There are hundreds of markup types, including:
- Software applications
- Local businesses
So if a particular schema is relevant to your website, make sure you find it and use it.
Seasonality is another important aspect of optimising any ecommerce website. Season-specific landing pages are an effective way to generate higher traffic around an annual holiday or event. Just remember to keep them running in the background once the event is over, as this will retain their SEO value for the following year.
It’s not just about sales
When you work in ecommerce, it’s easy to develop tunnel vision and only focus on sales, sales, sales. But the truth is that success comes with understanding your buyers’ behaviour over the course of the customer journey, right from when they first discover your brand.
With this in mind, it’s worth investing in tracking software that analyses visitor behaviour over the long-term.
If you’re only tracking conversions from SEO traffic per session, you may find the results somewhat disappointing. But what you may not realise is that a customer has visited your website several times before deciding to go ahead and make a purchase, browsing your content as part of their online research.
This turns your ecommerce SEO strategy from a perceived failure into a meaningful success. But if you’re only focused on sales, it might look like three or four different visitors—with only one who’s made a purchase.
It’s worth understanding the shopping habits of your visitors, and remembering that we tend to spend time deliberating and checking out all the options, rather than making impulsive purchases. The first visit to your website is unlikely to be the one that leads to a sale.
This is why helpful, informative content and a website that looks and feels the part are so important. It’s all about making a good impression.
The importance of link building for ecommerce
Link building through outreach and influencer marketing is an important part of any ecommerce SEO campaign. You’ll want to start with homepage links for overall authority, then run targeted product or category link campaigns. This approach is more difficult, but also more rewarding.
Ready to manage your campaigns like a pro? It’s important to start tracking from the get-go and always be looking for ways to reduce the cost of your outreach.
First things first—if you’re still using a personal account such as Gmail to conduct your outreach, then switch up to a dedicated email marketing or PR software system, such as Buzzstream or Pitchbox. This will give you access to a whole new world of metrics to get your teeth into, which will in turn help you to calculate the ROI of your outreach.
Outreach becomes much easier when you already have great content that people will be happy to link to. Mostly, this will be content that is either useful, insightful, surprising, or entertaining.
Great content attracts links like moths to a flame, so fill your ecommerce website with blog posts, videos, case studies, graphics, photographs, and useful resources. Planning a content calendar that takes seasonality and business priorities into account is a good starting point, being sure to keep ‘linkability’ in mind.
For maximum ROI when creating content, focus on creating evergreen content that can be reused and repurposed over and over again.
It’s only when you change your focus from short-term to long-term that you gain real insights—and this is how successful businesses figure out what makes a good investment. That’s why I would always advise ecommerce entrepreneurs who are spending money on internet marketing to invest in software that doesn’t just give daily figures, but tracks user behaviour over a significant period of time.
Another crucial approach is to diversify your tactics. If you rely solely on one form of SEO, and a search engine releases a new algorithm that penalises you, your whole marketing strategy goes down the drain. Keep tracking, keep measuring, and carefully build up your backlinks over time. It’s the most reliable way to boost the authority of your domain, and ensure what you get out of your site far outweighs the investment you put in.
Optimize your ROI
We deliver between 300% and 1200% return on investment for our clients. Want to find out how we can do the same for your business? Get in touch.