It's heading towards that time of the year when all e-commerce website owners tend to adjust their website in efforts to drive more traffic and increase sales. This results in testing different strategies, from beautifying their online store to testing out new marketing approaches. One strategy to take note of is to increase our store's visibility on search engines via SEO.
Conducting SEO on e-commerce sites is generally a bit more challenging. Follow these 10 SEO strategies, to help boost your online sales.
1. Optimize your site for mobile users
This is essential for any site, but especially an e-commerce platform, which would otherwise be nearly impossible to navigate. Give your users a slick mobile experience, either through a responsive design, a specific mobile design, or an interactive app that allows for a better mobile experience.
2. Optimize your site load times by reducing the size of your images
It's important to have high-quality images on your product pages, but don't go overboard. Having too many high-quality images on one page can slow down your site, which is bad for SEO. Instead, reduce the size of your images, or build a feature that allows users to "zoom in" to see a larger version. This will keep your load speeds in check while still giving your users the quality they need to see.
3. Label or tag each image
Each image should be labelled using keywords that describe the product. If using a content management system (CMS), this is much easier to do as a copy/paste exercise, otherwise fill in the alt tags with the keywords. The image tag also gets listed on Google images so this is a win-win for ranking on Google search as well as Google images.
4. Make your site secure with a SSL certificate
If you are collecting any sensitive information on your website (including email and password), then you need to be secure. One of the best ways to do that is to enable HTTPS, also known as SSL (secure socket layers). In addition to providing an extra layer of user security, it also provides a significant ranking signal to Google.
5. Create unique product descriptions for each product
It's tempting to use a manufacturer's description for your products, but this will negatively impact your rankings due to duplicate content. Instead, use keywords that you think people will use when looking for each product.
6. Optimise your category pages
Category pages must be treated as silos or niches that contain similar products. These pages should ideally have search-friendly URLs containing the keywords. Avoid keyword stuffing as you could get your website penalised. The most effective URL structure for category pages (and product pages) are:
7. Implement schema markup to add rich snippets to product pages
Implementing Google’s rich snippets into your e-commerce store increases the visibility of your products, provides more details for customers to click through SERPs and ultimately drives revenue. Schema markups help you educate visitors on the pricing of your products right from the SERPs (search engine results page) allowing for more click-throughs.
8. Optimize your site's internal search functionality
Ensure that every internal search finds the right product – even people searching with misspellings, synonyms, hyphenation or spacing errors. This requires tweaking meta-data within your e-commerce solution. By handling this through meta-data, you won’t create pages loaded with incorrect or misspelt words.
9. Implement social sharing on product pages
Your product pages should have at least three social-share buttons so users can pass on information about your products with their friends and followers. This is a good business practice in general but it's particularly good for SEO because Google may use social signals as a measure of authority.
10. Redirect expired product pages
A permanent 301 redirect is useful for redirecting a page to a detour page. They are very important for SEO because they allow you to inform search engines where your old content has moved to. With a 301 redirect, all the qualities of the redirected page, such as PageRank, page authority, traffic value, etc., are moved to the detour page. For SEO best practices, redirect your expired product URL to a similar product page or a dynamically generated message page. This will help to enhance users’ experience, as well as helping you to retain most of the link equity through a 301 permanent redirect.
Yoray Narainpersad is one of SA's most experienced online marketers with over 15 years online marketing experience under his belt. He specializes in SEO, PPC, SEM and lead generation, and has marketed globally in very competitive industries. He is now the Managing Director and Co-Founder of a specialist online marketing agency called Fast Forward Marketing.
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