Is SEO important for e-commerce?
Before we get on to our expert tips, we should quickly settle one matter. Many people ask whether SEO is important for e-commerce – and the answer, we have to tell you, is yes. Yes, it’s very important. When shopping IRL, customers might walk into a store because it’s nearby, or has good window displays. Online, everything is nearby, and there aren’t any windows. To get customers to your store, you’re reliant on a search engine – and therefore SEO.
How can you do SEO for e-commerce?
The good news is that while you really need it (and we mean really, really need it), e-commerce SEO isn’t that much different from regular SEO. Follow our checklist of best practices and you should soon notice a difference.
1. Conduct an SEO audit
If you want to improve your SEO for e-commerce, the first stage is finding out where you’re going wrong. Use a tool like Ahrefs Site Audit or Screaming Frog to check metrics like page load speed, duplicate content, 404 pages, and error messages.
2. Do thorough keyword research
The cornerstone of any good e-commerce SEO strategy. Check out our list of the best free keyword research tools, then plug in some seed keywords relevant to your products. When looking for new keyword ideas, you want to pick ones with low competition (or SEO difficulty), avoid keyword stuffing, and use a mix of short-tail and long-tail keywords. LSI keywords may also play a role for you.
Related: Keyword research services
3. Conduct a competitor audit
Be aware of the keywords your competitors are using (if they’re much higher ranking, try to avoid these search terms). Also audit their websites for site structure and backlinks. You can use this information to decide whether you want to do something similar or take a different approach.
4. Find and fix site errors
Use the results of your initial site audit to fix any major errors. The top ones to consider (which can also be fixed quickly) include duplicate content and broken links.
5. Improve your site structure
Based on what your competitors are doing, you may want to change your site architecture. Make it easily navigable for customers – ideally, they want to get from storefront to product page as quickly as possible. Get your keywords into as many top-level pages as possible, and consider adding a search bar for extra accessibility.
6. Optimize on-page…
On-page SEO is all about making your website search engine-friendly. There are many things to do here, including improving your keyword game (that means adding keywords naturally in strategic locations), creating lots of internal links, keeping the purchase process as simple as possible, and ensuring your website is secure. Alt tags, image captions, and file names can also be optimized with keywords.
7. …and off-page
Off-page (or off-site) e-commerce SEO involves giving your website more authority. This will help it rank better with search engines and get more customers to your site. To do this, you need the help of other, higher-ranking sites. A good link-building strategy is essential here – you’ll need to reach out to product comparison sites, bloggers, influencers, or even customers to get them to share your products and writing reviews. All with links to your site, of course.
8. Audit your mobile site performance
More and more people are using devices to access the internet and shop online. To avoid duplicate content, your storefront should be responsive, meaning it works on a mobile as it would on a desktop. Again, check loading speed and iron out any design niggles.
9. Update titles and meta descriptions
An essential part of e-commerce SEO, this is what prospective customers see in the SERPs. It’s time-consuming, but you need to make your titles, meta descriptions, and H1s unique. Keep them short and catchy, including a keyword wherever possible.
10. Write unique product descriptions
Within your category and product pages, you need unique product descriptions. This can be a lot of work, so start with the most essential pages first. Include keywords, essential details, and emotive language to snag your customers’ interest – and tell Google what your page is all about.
Related: Product description writing
There are plenty more strategies when it comes to e-commerce SEO, but running through a few of these tips will give you a great start. Keep your customer in mind, make your content unique, and don’t go all out to take on high-ranking keywords. Remember that SEO for e-commerce isn’t all that different from regular SEO: a thorough audit and solid strategy will see you through for many years.