It goes without saying that traffic is the life-blood of any e-commerce store. Saying that though, not all traffic is created equal – with nothing better for your e-commerce store than reliable search engine traffic. The difference between search engine traffic that sets it apart from the others is the ‘intent of the user’.
While Facebook & Instagram ads are effective and do work, at the end of the day it is an advert and a very small percentage of people who see it will buy from your store. On the other side of the spectrum, with search engine traffic the visitor is actually looking for what you have to sell and are at some stage of the buying process.
This makes being found for keywords that have ‘buying intent’ priceless, and the competition is often very fierce. In this part of our SEO Guide we’ll run through all the processes that we undertake when starting an e-commerce SEO campaign:
- Keyword Research
- Site Structure
- On Page SEO
- Content Marketing
- Link Building
It can’t be stressed enough that keyword research is the most vital aspect of any SEO campaign. Knowing which keywords you’re targeting will allow you to comprehensively plan your website structure as well as help you with everything from page titles to content. Make sure you’ve read our keyword research guide before continuing with the rest of this article.
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The structure or architecture of your website is how the pages and products on your site are arranged and organised. It is a seriously important SEO consideration for almost any website, but probably twice as so when it comes to an e-commerce store. There are two golden rules to follow when it comes to e-commerce site structure:
- Keep things simple.
- Ensure every page is no more than 3 clicks deep from your home page.
More often than not, the authority of an e-commerce website will be concentrated in its product categories and product pages (which are the most important pages of an e-commerce store). You’ll want to use your menu to directly link to your categories, as well as a large call to action and links on your home page that go to these categories. What you should be left with is a site structure that looks similar to the image on the right.
Now that your website architecture has been correctly set up, the next task is making sure that all of the product and category pages on your site are properly optimised. To the left is Backlinko‘s guide to a ‘perfectly optimised e-commerce page’ based on analysis of over 1 million websites:
Site Speed & HTTPS
Two fundamental aspects of your e-commerce website. Ensure your pages load in under 2 seconds and that the checkout process is https secure.
Use short permalinks with your keyword in them (Be aware of keyword stuffing though).
You need to add your primary keyword in your title. Be sure to add modifiers such as “buy”, “best”, “cheap” etc. to potentially rank for keyword variations (longtail). You can also use ‘magnet words’ such as “lowest price’ and ‘X% off’ in order to boost your click-through rate.
Your description tag should include your primary keyword, as well as any unique selling points of your store (free shipping, summer sale, free X with your order etc.).
Product & Category Page Content
Product and category pages should have at least 1000 words on them in the form of product descriptions, reviews and FAQ’s. Be sure to use your primary keyword between 3-5 times, as well as a decent amount of LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords.
Be sure to add schema markup to both your product pages and categories. This will ensure that your pages will appear alongside ‘rich snippets’. Rich snippets are things such as reviews, prices and product images that may appear next to your link in the search results.
For other pages on your e-commerce site such as blog posts and content pieces, read our on-page SEO guide.
Content marketing involves creating a piece of content that answers a searchers question by leading them to your product. Much like any website, content marketing can have a huge impact on your e-commerce traffic sales. An example of this would be writing and ranking the content piece ‘best salmon recipes’ if you are an online fishmonger. It stands to reason that someone looking for those recipes would also be interested in buying fish online.
If you are getting stuck for ideas on what to write about – a method we often use at Gorilla is looking for forums, communities and subreddits and seeing what questions people are asking in the community. We then take the best answers from there and expand on them / make them more visually appealing and publish them as authority pieces. Quick tip too, when writing your titles etc., be sure to use the same keywords that they used in their question (as it is likely that’s what they typed into Google and were unable to find a suitable answer).
We cover a few link building methods that are applicable to e-commerce in our link building guide. However, there is one method not mentioned in there which is highly effective and mainly applicable to e-commerce; which is the ‘Moving Man Method’ (credit again to Brian Dean for this one).
The Moving Man Method involves finding outdated, expired or simply moved resources. The first place to look is your online competitors who have gone out of business. Guaranteed there will be thousands of dropped domains that once tried to sell something similar to you. The best place to find these is on domain marketplaces such as GoDaddy.
You then want to run these websites through Majestic and Ahrefs to find out who was linking to them, afterwards informing the webmaster about the broken link and if it could instead be pointed at your webpage. With some hard work and a bit of luck, you have now found thousands of linking opportunities that your competitors are completely unaware of!