Good SEO is just as important for e-commerce sites as it is for websites which have more of an advertising or informational purpose, but it can be a little more complex to carry out effectively. Investing some time and money in good e-commerce SEO is essential though, if you want to increase your traffic, boost sales, increase your conversion rate, and create repeat customers.
In order to be effective, your e-commerce site needs to be easy and intuitive to use, easy to navigate around, safe and secure, and interesting and vibrant, while still optimising for SEO as much as possible. Here are a few SEO hints to keep in mind for your site:
- Include good SEO at the site design stage and not as an afterthought or add-on. SEO for e-commerce sites can be complex, so make sure to get good expert help from someone who has experience in retail sites and who has a good grasp of human psychology and buying behaviour.
- Opt for site simplicity. Set your site up with various levels that can be drilled-down into, such as departments -> categories -> sub-categories -> products. Also make it easy for users to track back to where they came from – nothing is more annoying than not being able to go up a level and ending up somewhere else altogether.
- Emotions are involved in making purchases, so make product descriptions information-rich, interesting and a bit creative rather than just dull and technical. For instance, you can add testimonials, review excerpts, high-quality images and short videos. If you have too many products to do this efficiently, at least write good descriptions at the category level.
- If you have new products that you want people to know about, try putting them on your home page where they will be more easily noticed, and also indexed by search engines.
- Use product suggestions if appropriate, showing other products that are similar and around the same price. However do this wisely and don’t clutter up the page with too many suggestions.
- Optimise for mobile! This is vital in this day and age. Browsing and buying from mobile devices is becoming increasingly popular and without optimising for this trend, you could be missing out on a big chunk of the market.
- Watch out for content that could be construed as duplicated, such as product descriptions that are very similar. You can get around this by adding a canonical link to each page version.
- Test your site continuously. For instance, use Google Experiments or A/B testing of different page versions to see which page elements and layouts work best.
- Analyse your site to see how users are behaving and to determine your most popular products. Google provides a good tool for this in its e-commerce tracker.
- Optimise your site for internal searches. There is nothing so annoying as doing a search within a site and getting ‘no results’ back when you know what you are looking for exists. You need to make allowances for the fact that people will misspell items and use synonyms, so make sure to go beyond exact matches within your website’s internal search engine.
- If you have obsolete items, don’t automatically delete the item pages as this may compromise your SEO. In this case a ‘301 redirect’ should be used to inform Google that this page has moved and you want it to be ranked. Pages to be permanently deleted will need a 410 code.
- Build a vibrant online community around your retail business, by using social media, regular blog posts, great content, and happy customer stories. Make your site more than just a buy-and-forget page.
Good SEO is never static, and this is especially so for e-commerce sites. But as long as you always maintain a user-centric focus, continually test your site, engage with customers, and keep yourself abreast of SEO developments, you should be travelling on the right track!