It is undeniable that these days, E-commerce websites are essential to a business’ success. With many online purchases beginning with a google search, and even more people utilizing mobile phones to purchase, your business must be on the ball or out of the game.
Yes, there are very low barriers to entering the E-commerce market. However, with the internet becoming more saturated than ever, how do you optimize your site to get the maximum amount of customers, without paying extravagantly for advertising campaigns?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)!
SEO allows you to rank higher than competitors so that ideally, you appear on the first page of Google, as the very first result. Appearing at this optimal position gives your business a high brand impression – turning into more clicks, more traction, and more customer sales!
To rank #1 is not easy. It takes a combination of research, effort and patience – but with the right SEO, your Ecommerce website can exponentially profit and grow from online customers streaming in.
Here are five SEO tips to accelerate your Ecommerce website on the golden path of success.
Research your customer and their keywords
In order to attract customers, you must think like the customer. What are they typing into Google? Remember that they don’t have the ‘insider’ knowledge of your product or service – so it is important to look at your brand objectively, from the lens of an outsider. Researching the specific phrases they are searching up is paramount to what you need to be writing on your website.
Once you brainstorm a list of keywords that people could be searching, find out which keywords people are using the most. Google’s keyword tool – Google AdWords – can identify which search terms are used with the highest frequency. Compare the traffic and competition levels of all the different keywords you can use, to find the most popular ones. Another popular website to use is Moz Keyword Explorer, which provides detailed information on keywords to prioritize.
Important note: don’t be too generic. Although generic words are searched frequently, you can risk a high click, low conversion kind of effect, where customers are flicking through your site but not finding what they’re after. You want the right customers, not just anyone.
Here is where long-tail keywords will become your SEO savior. Essentially, they are unique phrases that customers are specifically searching for, but are relevant in a niche market. They are crucial for two main reasons.
Firstly, their unique phrasing makes it easier to rank higher as there is less competition. This translates to more traffic and more customers.
Secondly, people who are searching long-tail keywords are more likely to know what they want – because they’ve already browsed through the generic terms. For example, a customer may start off by searching ‘jacket’ to begin exploring the market. However, when they search ‘vintage Adidas bomber jacket’, they definitely more ready to make a purchase.
Once you have a comprehensive idea of what customers are searching, you now have to place them strategically within your website.
An important mistake to avoid: keyword stuffing. This is an outdated method of SEO where people repeatedly insert keywords into their E-commerce website without them being relevant. Quality over quantity is a crucial principle in SEO, as Google’s latest Latent Semantic Indexing system actually punishes websites which saturate their content with keywords.
Below are vital positions to place your researched keywords, in order to gain the maximum amount of HTML relevance in SEO.
- URL – this should always summarise and reflect the content of your page, incorporating your keyword with the highest relevance
- Title – should also clearly communicate what your information is about
- Headings – also important for making it more user-friendly, summarise different points and structure your information
- Meta description – this is the teaser text below the blue link on Google’s search results, which introduces the website’s information
- Image titles – also provides information on the image for the reader
- Image alt tags – another place in the web page’s HTML, which allows search engines to recognize what the website is about
Besides such, images make your Ecommerce website more visually appealing, as well as improve your website’s ranking. However, make sure your images are high quality with a small file size (to avoid long loading times), otherwise, it may be counterproductive.
On-site optimization is an extremely valuable SEO tip to help your Ecommerce website grow in customer traction, and is one of the easiest ways to increase your ranking.
Internal site layout and content
Having fresh, engaging and easy to understand the content is also an essential part of building your Ecommerce website. This SEO tip comes as no surprise – even if people are clicking on your link, if the content is disorganized, uninformative and irrelevant, they will quickly switch over to a competitor.
Firstly, it is important to create a logical E-commerce site structure. Think of a family tree with a few branches leading to many more subcategories. You want your site categories to be logical. Typically, a website has a homepage, an ‘about us’ page, a contact and location page, and a page of categories for your products or services.
Secondly, relevant and detailed content is extremely important for search engine ranking. A page which has been updated recently will rank comparably higher than one updated last in 2010. When describing your product or service, be comprehensive more than just a name or one line of description. Details such as its features and uses will also assist Google in associating keywords with your page.
Thirdly, having a substantial amount of content on your page also promotes search ranking. Blogs are especially utilized by companies to attract customers, especially because the long content allows for a large selection of words relevant to your industry, which means rankings for different types of keywords. In addition, long-term keywords should definitely be utilized here in order to improve your ranking.
Another essential SEO practice is to consider what your customer wants! Think about your experience when navigating your E-commerce website, and what you would like to read if you were a potential customer browsing your business for the first time.
Are your terminologies user-friendly, and does your website give off a legitimate, reputable impression?
External link building
Having external websites link to your website demonstrates high standing and authority, and has been found to be one of the highest factors affecting Google rankings. This is called ‘backlinking’ and can be done in several ways in SEO.
- Guest blogging – where you post your links and relevant content on other domains. However, it is important to remember that it is a privilege, not a right, and be polite yet informative so that the content becomes worthwhile.
- Directories – if you are a local business, submitting your business to major and niche directories is a smart idea so that you can be found across a wide range of sources. Utilizing location-based keywords in your descriptions will also improve rankings.
Again, there is an unequivocal emphasis in SEO to remain relevant and genuine instead of spamming online websites. A non-legitimate method of SEO called ‘link farming’, whereby you spam low authority websites with your links, will be penalized by Google.
This is one of the most time-consuming tasks in SEO, but the most rewarding. The ability to develop high-quality backlinks to your website is a task that is usually left to professionals, as they would know how to build reputable backlinks without the risk of penalization by Google.
Avoid any dodgy practices
Lastly, an important aspect of SEO and optimizing your Ecommerce website is to increase the reputable impression of your site by avoiding intrusive pop-ups or slow loading times. Especially with an increasing number of customers shopping on their mobile phones, sites with intrusive pop-ups that cover a majority of the screen are penalized.
Your hosting domain should also be of high quality, such that the site speed should be fast. Things that can slow the site down include image sizes – but keep in mind that when you compress images, you should not compromise on resolution and quality. Clear images will engage your customer, but grainy or out of place images will do the opposite.
In sum, quality SEO practices are extensive, time-consuming and quite complicated. You might consider whether it is truly necessary. However, especially with the internet market’s demands shifting constantly, it has become more and more crucial to stay ahead of E-commerce competitors.
Solely relying on digital marketing tools such as social media is simply not enough to gain traction, particularly if your business is just entering a market filled with competitors holding an existing customer base. In addition, your Ecommerce website can easily become lost and swallowed in the 10+ pages of Google results – and to be frankly honest, no one goes past the first page of Google.
Ensuring your website undergoes SEO is crucial for appearing as the first result on the first page of Google. This is truly something that cannot be achieved overnight – it takes months of continuous work and adaptation to the shifting market for results to appear.
Nonetheless, with the principle that more clicks equals more business in mind, every business should find it indispensable to find an SEO service that will translate into results.