E-commerce seems to be the way the world is moving, and has been for some time. The current COVID-19 situation has only just amplified the international need for e-commerce business, as most of the world is in lockdown of some sort of form and they are unable to leave their homes for extended periods of time.
If you are currently playing in the e-commerce space, or have done some research, you would know just how busy the market is in many different industries. Despite this competition, the costs of running an e-commerce site are quite low, especially compared to typical brick and mortar businesses.
This attractive low overhead cost means it is easier for you to get your business up and running, but it also means that it is easy for everyone. So, you have to compete with more businesses, as well as the businesses with a typical shop front.
In these uncertain times you should always be looking for something that can give you an edge on your competitors. There are certainly many different ways you can get an edge, but one you should seriously consider is SEO. SEO is an important piece in your e-commerce success puzzle.
The thing that you need on your e-commerce site is traffic. Without traffic you won’t have sales! One of the best (and most cost effective) ways to bring in traffic is through improving your SEO. Now, this is certainly easier said then done, but there are some must do’s for those who are running an e-commerce website.
These actions that you can implement give your website the best chance of rising up in the rankings for your chosen keywords, and will hopefully get your website more visible, translating to more eyeballs on your site and an increase in sales.
So, have a look below at some of the best SEO tactics that can be implemented on your e-commerce site to improve visibility and increase your chances of overall success:
Conduct a Technical Audit
Starting with a more “scary” one! Well, a technical audit doesn’t actually have to be that scary, or difficult, you just need to know what you are looking for. The great thing is that there are a number of tools out there that can help you.
Most of the tools do cost money (well, the really good ones do at least), but it can certainly end up saving you money down the line as well as time! If you decide to go down the road of hiring an SEO agency to assist you, this is probably one of the first things they will do, and they will conduct regular audits to make sure everything is still properly functioning.
Technical audits are great for spotting those little issues that might be preventing you from getting to the first page of a search engine. There are a number of areas that a technical audit should look at but the main areas where there are typically issues include:
- Poor URL structure – it is important to keep your URLs as short and concise as possible. Use keywords in your URL and try to avoid random letters or numbers. Also, look to avoid URLs with too many parameters (so for example www.mywebsite.com/cateorgy-1/cateorgy-1a/new-section/different-product/buy-now). This may be created by your content management system (CMS), so make sure you are aware of the potential issue.
- Slow website – this can be a big issue for a lot of different websites, but especially e-commerce websites as they tend to be quite image/ video heavy. It is a good idea to run your website through Google’s Page Speed Insights Toolas it will not only tell you how your site speed is, but also offer suggestions on how to fix the issues.
- No/poorly marked up schema – schema is a very important aspect of your website because it helps Google read your website easier. It also allows the potential for your search engine result listing to be more unique (think of those yellow stars that are displayed on review listings). There are all different types of schema you can implement, but be sure to only include the schema that is actually relevant to your website. Schema.org provides a list of all available schema.
- Duplicate content – Google doesn’t like duplicate content, even if it is on the same website (and users probably don’t like it as well). So look to minimise the amount of pages that have the same content on it.
- Too many redirects – there are two common redirects, 301 which is a permanent redirect or a 302 which is a temporary redirect. You should implement redirects when you are deleting a page, so that the page doesn’t end up turning into a 404 error. However, as a general rule, you should try to limit the amount of redirects as this is something Google doesn’t like too much.
- XML sitemaps – a sitemap is important as it tells Google about all your important pages and the overall structure of your website. Your sitemap can be static (meaning you have to manually update it) or automatic (meaning you can essentially leave it alone). With an e-commerce website where you have a lot of new products being added to your site, you should look to implement an automatically updating sitemap to ensure Google knows the most up to date information.
Revising Business Listings
Sometimes your business information will change. A perfect example of this during COVID-19 is opening hours, if you run a physical store as well as an e-commerce website then you would need to update your listing to showcase whether you are open or not.
There is nothing worse for a customer then seeing your Google My Business listing and that you are open, only to click on your website to find that you aren’t. So make sure you update your business listing as soon as possible, whenever your details change.
Google in particular are great at adding more and more features for businesses to add onto their listing, so make sure you take full advantage of those features. Making your businesses listing as detailed and as accurate as possible will help keep both Google and users happy.
One of the important things to include in your business listing is reviews. Many customers read reviews and base their purchase decision off those reviews, so it is important that you firstly actually have reviews, but secondly, have positive reviews.
Now, customers are pretty savvy these days, so they would probably be quite sceptical if a business only had 5/5 star reviews. Things happen and will probably inevitably go wrong, so you can’t make everyone 100% happy all the time.
As well as this, customers are more inclined to review if they have had a negative experience as opposed to a positive one. But potential customers will be looking at how you deal with those negative reviews. So make sure you don’t just stick your head in the sand when it comes to negative reviews.
It is a good idea to reply to all reviews, especially the negative ones. If you truly feel as though the customer has treated your business unfairly, then (nicely) explain it from your point of view.
Always make your response visible for all to see, but also provide some details to arrange a further private chat to resolve this issue. Never reply to negative reviews with a generic “I’m sorry” type of response. It shows you aren’t genuine and give off the perception that you don’t really care about your customers.
On your website and in follow up communication with your customers, you should regularly encourage people to leave reviews, may it be positive or negative. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know! The more reviews the better for your business listing.
Fully Optimised Content
Content is probably one of the most important parts of your website. Now more than ever, Google is placing emphasis on user intent. So, you need to ensure you understand what intent you are trying to satisfy and write content for that.
Not all users will have the same type of intent, for example, someone might be looking to purchase a vacuum cleaner, they have all ready done their research and know which type of vacuum cleaner they want so they type into Google “buy dyson vacuum cleaner cheap”. Or they might not have started their research so they type in “best vacuum cleaners 2020”.
See the difference in intent there? One person is ready to buy and will probably make a purchase, and the other is just looking for information at the moment. Depending on the type of e-commerce website you run will influence the type of users you want.
If you are selling products on your website, then you want more users with the transactional intent, i.e. those looking to make a purchase. So you have to ensure that most of your content is targeting those with a transactional intent.
However, you can’t just simply ignore all other customers. Those just looking for information at the moment may turn into a transactional intent later on, so you want to ensure they get their information from your website and that hopefully when it comes to making a purchase, they remember your website.
To make sure your content is all in tip top shape, you should consider running an audit of your content on a semi-regular basis. As well as this, performing keyword research again to identify any hidden or new opportunities you may have missed in the past.
Include Structured Data
Structured data was touched on in the technical audit section, but because it is such a vital part to your e-commerce website, is it important to pull it out into its own section. Structured data can help to make knowledge graphs (the thing that shows up on the right hand side of Google results on desktop).
So like updating your business listing, it is important that you update the structured data on your website as well. For example, if you run a website that is supposed to have an event coming up, is that event cancelled, is it still going ahead just without live spectators or will it be held virtually? These are all important things to include in your structured data.
You should also check with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to ensure that it is valid and will work in the Google results page. Make sure you keep checking the results page on Google to see if it has been updated.
These are unique times for all businesses, including e-commerce websites. In such uncertain times you should be looking to stay ahead of the curve and do all you can to get an advantage. The above SEO tactics should be deployed on your e-commerce website as it could look to increase visibility in search engines and more traffic for your site.
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