SEO & Ecommerce: The Ranking Factors That Even An SEO Sceptic Needs To Know
Does the thought of ‘doing SEO’ leave you cold? Not sure if it’s really relevant to your business?
Well — how does having more customers sound like to you?
A report into the importance of SEO found that the top site for a search had an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4%, with the second and third sites achieving a CTR of 12.5% and 9.5% respectively. While you might be skeptical about the importance of SEO to your ecommerce site, it’s unlikely you’ll be skeptical about the benefits of more customers clicking through to your website.
But good SEO isn’t about artificially inflating your rankings — it’s about good business sense, content, and usability. By aligning your website with simple best practices and guidelines, you should see a positive rankings impact. Here’s how to get started.
This is the first thing you need to get sussed in order to give your store a chance of ranking well. And keyword research isn’t techy or hard to do — anyone can do it with some simple tools.
There are various tools you can use to help you find out what the relevant keywords are for your ecommerce business. I have listed some of the best below:
You may skeptical about their importance, but by using keywords which are relevant to the business your ecommerce operates in, you are showing searchers and search engines that you have a relevant website.
Mix up competitive commercial intent keywords with some top of the funnel keywords (often called ‘long tail’ or informational keywords) to ensure that your website content is natural and thorough. You may want to use these keywords in blogs or product guides.
While keywords will improve your ranking on search engines, your title tag is the most important SEO tool for converting your searchers into customers.
Below I have highlighted the titles of pages that have come up on page one of a Google search that I made for “ecommerce.”
Note how ecommerce is included in each title tag and that they are short and succinct. You need to grab the attention of searchers quickly and demonstrate that they will find what they need on your ecommerce site.
A good title will be:
- Less than 70 characters long
- Mention your brand and product where appropriate – it must be done naturally
- Include keywords – again, naturally
You might be skeptical about the impact of a title tag will have on your ecommerce site, but Google isn’t. Optimizing your title tags across your store is one of the quickest and easiest SEO wins for your business — and make sure that every page has a unique one!
In most content management systems, editing title tags is something you can quickly do yourself (or even automate). If you are on WooCommerce, you will want an SEO plugin like Yoast, whereas Shopify stores have an in-built system — or you can always download a metadata app if you’re looking to import data from another system in order to save time.
Google considers content very important to how it ranks sites.
Previously, sites have stuffed their content with keywords in order to boost their rankings position. That no longer washes.
The key now with content is that it must be unique, informative, and relevant. If it isn’t, Google will penalize your ecommerce site by dropping you down the rankings in its searches.
Below I have searched for “men’s belt” to show you what relevant looks like in ecommerce:
As you’ll see, Google wants a close and relevant a match. There is a fair amount of diversity when it comes to exact wording and cataloging, but generally it’s pretty obvious how theses domains fit within the search.
If the content on your ecommerce site is not relevant, and does not incorporate the language used by your potential customers, then Google will not consider it a good match for their searches.
There are methods that you can employ to make your content more relevant and user-friendly:
- Utilize your keywords, but don’t spam
- Establish who your target market is and incorporate topics they care about into your content calendar
- Write naturally and for your customer, not the sales arm of your ecommerce company
- Include actionable points in blogs – things that your customer can do right now
- Offer answers to any questions your customer may have – if you can pre-empt then that will help you to remove sales barriers
- Be crisp and precise
- Incorporate video content where possible/applicable.
Relevant content will offer value to your reader and give them something that they won’t find elsewhere. Use the content on your site to explain how the products you are selling bring value to your customers.
Importance of UX
SEO has evolved and user experience (UX) is now an important part of what helps your ecommerce site rank.
Having found your site, your customers will have expectations of its usability. They’ll demand that it is responsive, operates at a good speed, and that it is easy to get around.
This is where the latest design conventions and information architecture will come into play. Ensure that your menus and product catalogs are working well for you and invest in some user-testing to validate your site structure.
SEO and UX should be seen as partners, working together on your mission to take your customer on a journey (to your store checkout). As part of this partnership, search engines are now taking UX into account when determining search results.
Your Keywords, Title Tags, Content, and UX all come under the banner of “On Page Optimization.” OPO covers the things that you can do on your site in order to improve rankings. However, there is another thing for your brand to consider in order to maximize your SEO: link building.
SEO is about relevance and authority.
- Relevance is about your site being the right place for search engines to direct their searchers to/. Google wants to know that when a user searches for conversion rate optimization (CRO), that they arrive at a site that is actually talking about CRO, not a spammy site stuffed with keywords and empty content.
- Authority is about your site being a place that has been determined to be a good source of information — Google wants to take users to a site that has been validated. This is where link building comes in.
Link building is about getting other sites to link to your own: it’s about the public recognition of your site as a place people should visit.
The benefit of building links and raising your public profile is that it will increase your site’s authority. As your authority increases Google will consider your ecommerce site a better place for its searchers to arrive at!
There are a number of ways that you can build links. These include:
- Write a blog: this will allow you to build links internally. Also, if the content on your blog offers value, then it also gives other sites an incentive to link to it
- Linking out: link out to sites with authority, and create expert roundups to encourage other sites linking back to you
- Work with bloggers: there are loads of bloggers who are willing to collaborate with ecommerce brands over product guides
- Guest post on other site’s blogs: find blogs that are within your field, then ask if you can guest post on their site and include a link to your own.
SEO might seem like an obscure, impenetrable and difficult thing to quantify. But whether you’re a firm believer in its influence and power, or a hardcore sceptic, it’s real, here, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
While it’s here, SEO will continue to have power over how your site is ranked and that means it has the power to influence how much money your business is making.
Even if you are still skeptical about SEO, make sure your ecommerce site is making the most out of its Keywords, Title Tags, Content, Link Building, and UX, because you can be sure that your competitors will be…