Search engine optimization for an eCommerce store is complicated.
Even though most store owners understand the numerous benefits that it can offer, few have a proven and effective method for steadily growing their SEO presence and attracting an audience that’s actually interested in what they have to offer.
One reason for that is the fact that the SEO world is becoming more competitive each year. There are already up to 24 million eCommerce stores in the world catering to more than 2 billion digital buyers, so even though there are many opportunities, you need to know how to take advantage of them.
Another problem is that there’s a lot of outdated, contradicting, or even flat-out wrong information floating around online, which ends up confusing a lot of the less experienced eCommerce store owners and forcing them to give up in frustration.
To remedy that, let’s go over some of the foundational aspects of any successful eCommerce SEO campaign, which will be just as effective in five years as they are right now.
Perform Thorough Keyword Research
When it comes to SEO, the effort you put in at the beginning serves as the foundation for how successful your campaign will be in the future.
The insights you gain and the decisions you make at this stage are essential, so it’s vital to take all the time necessary to ensure that you reach the right conclusions.
First off, you’ll need to perform thorough keyword research, identifying opportunities to rank relatively quickly while still maximizing the amount of traffic that you can expect, and pursuing buyer intent keywords that are the most likely to result in sales.
Usually, that means that you should avoid highly-competitive keywords because they can be all but impossible to rank for initially. At the same time, you should not pursue keywords that are too broad, as they aren’t focused enough to be used by people that are looking for specific solutions or are ready to buy.
There are many keyword research tools that are available, with the majority of the more robust options usually requiring you to pay for a subscription. But in most cases, there’s a learning curve to mastering those tools, so you might have a hard time getting the most out of what they have to offer without prior experience.
Because of that, savvy eCommerce owners opt for a keyword research service that saves time and ensures that you take advantage of the expertise that proven SEO specialists can bring to the table.
As you start collecting keyword lists that are worth pursuing for your product pages, you should also map out your content plan and use some of those keywords as a basis for creating engaging and highly-relevant content that people are likely to respond to.
Long-tail keywords work especially well because they usually address a very specific topic or problem, allowing you to provide in-depth insights that offer more value to the readers.
Look at Your Competitors
Another part of the research involves figuring out who your main competitors are going to be. And in many aspects, it’s no less important than keyword research.
Without understanding the SEO landscape in which you are trying to rank, it would be almost impossible to determine the best course of action you should pursue. Only through competition research can you figure out which keywords you might have missed, what your content should emphasize, and how challenging the path to the top-ranking spot is going to be.
First, you should look at some basic SEO data about the top competitors for the keywords that you’re pursuing. Using tools like the free Moz Toolbar, you can figure out the Domain Authority, Page Authority, and even how many links are pointing to some of the top results for any given keyword.
This information will provide you with additional clues about which keywords have the most potential, as sites with high Domain Authority and Page authority will be very difficult to outrank.
Using competitor research, you can also identify specific backlinking opportunities and put together a list of websites where you could approach, offering to write a guest post in exchange for a link back to your site.
Optimize Your Website
Once you have a plan of action for your external SEO efforts, you will need to look inward and figure out if your website is properly optimized to be ranked by Google and other search engines.
Google has a set of requirements for websites that want to rank on its search engine, and a lot of those requirements revolve around providing a convenient and seamless experience to your site’s visitors.
If you want a quick start guide on how Google likes sites to be structured for SEO, the Google Webmaster Guidelines are an excellent resource to familiarize yourself with.
For eCommerce websites, one of the most important things to focus on is structure. Since you will likely have a lot of product pages, you need to make sure that your navigation is logical, intuitive, and simple to use if you don’t want to confuse both your target audience and the Google crawl bots.
Use categories and sub-categories for all of your products, and also employ a simple tag system that will help visitors quickly find what they are looking for.
Site speed and mobile-friendliness are two other aspects that Google has prioritized in recent years, so make sure that your website is well-optimized to view on any device and loads quickly, as your rankings will inevitably suffer otherwise.
Create High-Quality Content
Content and SEO go together like bread and butter. In fact, it would be impossible to imagine a successful Search Engine Optimization campaign without high-quality, informative, and well-optimized content throughout the website.
For eCommerce, high-quality content means not only excellent articles but also the copy that is on the product pages.
The keyword and competitor research that you performed initially will be instrumental when writing copy for your product pages and articles for your blog. You can use a wide range of keywords to help you target multiple SERPs at once, maximizing the potential rewards for your efforts.
Obviously, you should make an effort to insert the keywords naturally and avoid keyword stuffing, but you can use the keywords that you found in the research as a basis for the main points of the content and product pages that you create.
Remember, content is not just about the keywords, but also about providing as much value as possible.
So, make sure that the information is genuinely helpful and provides actionable steps that the reader can take. This way, you’ll maximize your chances of ranking for the keywords that you’re pursuing and convert more of the visitors that read your content.