SEO e-Commerce sites are a different ball game when it comes to optimizing them for search engines. The primary aim is to sell rather than to provide information about products. This makes it more difficult to build up content pages that attract natural links and stand out from every other competitor selling the same product.
The main problem areas for E-Commerce sites and full optimization lies around limited content, the number and variety of products on sale and the general unwillingness of users to link directly to product pages. This doesn’t mean it is impossible to optimize an E-Commerce site, it just means more thought and planning has to go into it.
It is important to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of your current SEO strategy. If the current strategy isn’t delivering the right results, it may need some tweaking rather than a radical overhaul. Remember, SEO doesn’t happen overnight and takes time to show results. Each E-Commerce site is different, so any strategy needs to reflect the individual site. Trying to apply a generic strategy across multiple E-Commerce sites will not deliver positive outcomes for every site. Some may show growth while others stagnate or show decline. Evaluating each site individually will help determine what works and what doesn’t work for a particular site.
SEO Strategies and Optimization Tips for E-commerce Sites
Taking everything into consideration, some or all of the following SEO strategies and optimization tips for E-Commerce sites may apply.
1. Actively engage customers
The growth of social networking sites is an opportunity for E-Commerce sites to embrace user content generation. This can take the form of user reviews, video demonstrations, interesting or quirky product images, charitable deeds or just about anything. Acknowledge and engage with customers on popular social networking platforms and build relationships. Ignoring social media is leaving the door wide open for competitors to build up relationships with your customers.
2. Use rich snippet markup
Using rich snippet markup on E-Commerce sites helps provide essential information for search engines to determine better matches. E-Commerce sites not using rich snippets are giving the edge to other sites using the markup as it was intended. The idea is not to try and trick the search engine or users but to use it as it was intended.
3. Optimize images and video
Every E-Commerce site uses images or videos to showcase products. Failing to optimize both of these is failing to capture potential customers.
4. Integrate social sharing options on-site
People may be unwilling to link directly to product pages, but if something catches their eye they may share it on social networks. Failing to allow people to share information is a wasted opportunity for some free viral publicity.
5. Optimize for mobile browsing
Shoppers are increasingly using mobile devices to browse the web and failing to optimize an E-Commerce site for mobile users is just putting more obstacles in their path. The easier people can browse through sites on mobile devices the more likely they are to buy through them.
6. Ignore low-quality SEO link building methods
There are far too many SEO companies offering link building services that fail to deliver any long term results. Using forum link profiles, blog comment spam, spun article links and paid links on low-quality sites will not deliver results. Getting listed on every site that allows you to post a link is also low quality. You should focus on building links only from relevant sources and even then, only when it is useful for your visitors.
Submitting product feeds to shopping engines, product comparison and review sites can be useful depending on your site.
7. Never let homepage content go stale
You do not have to update the homepage every day, but at least have one area that updates regularly. For example, if you have a blog then include a recent blog post section on the home page. Alternatively, you could have a twitter feed or Facebook feed.
8. Optimize all important pages
Every page on the site should be unique. Use descriptive keywords for each URL and avoid duplicate content issues. All URLs should be user friendly permalinks rather than confusingly long URLs with product ID numbers or tracking code attached to them.
9. Sitemap and search feature
Make it easy for people to find things quickly. A site search feature should return relevant results from your site and help people find things quickly. If they have to browse through a lot of pages to find the item they are after, it will lose sales. A sitemap can help people locate things quickly and help search engines index all the relevant pages, but a site search feature also provides insight into what people are searching for on your site. This insight should help you improve the overall user experience for visitors and ensure they buy from your rather than a competitor.
10. Trust, accessibility and speed
Large sites hosted on poor performing servers will drive customers away in droves. Optimize server performance to ensure the site loads quickly before people look elsewhere. If people are coming to your site to buy a product, don’t hide it away and make them click a dozen times to find the item. Keep all products within 3 clicks of the homepage where possible. Similarly, don’t drive customers away by failing to include contact details and important trust indicator pages such as a privacy page, terms of service page, disclaimer page or by failing to display professional association badges.
Remember, E-Commerce sites perform better when people are able to find things quickly. By presenting a fast loading, easily navigated and optimized site to customers search engines will be able to index and rank a site for more search terms than you have considered. Focus on internal optimization while making it easy for people to link to pages and external SEO can take care of itself for E-Commerce sites.