There are a significant number of ways a business to implement an effective SEO strategy. The way you choose to deploy your SEO efforts should depend heavily on the type of business you run. For example, an e-commerce business will use completely different SEO tactics as opposed to a business with the typical website.
When it comes to e-commerce websites, you are probably already aware that they are very different to that of other websites. E-commerce websites are usually the only point of contact users have with the business. This means that your website, simply put, needs to be amazing.
If you have a less than average e-commerce website, this will dramatically impact the sales and profits of your business. Whereas, with other websites, they don’t typically sell anything and there is the opportunity for the business to impress consumers when they walk into the physical store as well as actually on their website.
E-commerce websites are so much more dependent on high quality SEO.
The website is the only thing your consumers will see. If the website is difficult to navigate or confusing you won’t see sales. On top of this, if you don’t use SEO then there is a chance you won’t even be found on Google, and therefore unable to make any money.
Okay, so I think I have drilled in the importance of SEO for e-commerce websites. Now it is time to address the bigger issue; the misconceptions of e-commerce SEO. And yes, there are A LOT of them. I’m not exactly sure where these misconceptions originated from. Whether it has always been what people believed or if some “expert” said something and everyone thought it was true.
It is important to mention here that you should always take everything you read on the internet with a grain of salt. People are writing with the view of a large proportion of target audience in mind. This means that they do not know your specific situation. If you are looking for especially important advice you should contact a specialist specifically.
On the internet, anyone can claim to be an expert about anything. When reading information off the internet, ensure that you are doing so from a reputable source. As well as this, do your own research. If 99 out of 100 websites are saying that the world is round, then it is highly likely that fact is true.
There are a lot of SEO “experts” out there that spread misleading claims and information that simply isn’t accurate. This is why there are so many misconceptions about e-commerce SEO. But don’t worry! I am here to put these myths to bed!
Have a read below at the top 4 misconceptions about e-commerce SEO:
1. Category pages aren’t important
On your website, category pages are most certainly the best way for you to rank for category-focused keywords. These types of keywords are important for you to include because they tend to be not as competitive.
This means you have the ability to see a higher ranking and faster.
For example if you are an online clothes business and someone searches for "dresses online", then you would want to ensure your website includes a category page that is dedicated towards that keyword.
Take a look at the screenshot I took from The Iconic. They have a number of different sub categories for dresses:
By ensuring your do a proper job of categorising your e-commerce website, you can then further optimise what to include on your navigational bar. After this, you should be able to choose a group of keywords around each different category.
For example, for the category “cocktail dresses” you can include further keywords like “best cocktail dresses”, “quality cocktail dresses” or “cheap cocktail dresses”. You will be able to do this for every different category you have, so “party dresses”, “formal dresses”, etc. can all follow the same pattern.
This is a great and effective way for choosing keywords.
So if you are strapped for ideas when it comes to keywords, just think about this. And obviously the keywords relate to the specific product you are selling. The more specific you are, the higher chance a user is going to feel as though your website can provide exactly what they are looking for.
2. All you need to do is build a fabulous website
Yes, building an awesome website is important. But that can’t be it. If you don’t promote your website then how exactly do you think people are going to find it? Your fancy website alone simply isn’t enough to assure customers and sales.
Your e-commerce website doesn’t have a physical store that a consumer could by pure chance walk past on the street. Therefore, your promotional efforts need to be a lot more effective to guide potential customers onto your website.
After building your website you need to understand how SEO works, make sure you have completed all the important on-page SEO components. You will have to do SEO for your e-commerce business, as this will determine your ranking in search engines. The higher your rank the greater your visibility.
Are you starting to see now why building a great website isn’t enough to gain new customers and improve your sales?
Most of the time the results in SEO tend to be slow forming. If you are looking for or need results almost instantly, then running a PPC campaign can also be effective. No matter the type of business you own, a PPC campaign offers many compelling benefits. If you would like to know more about the benefits on offer, please have a read of a previous blog I wrote.
As well as this, if you only focus on SEO and PPC and not on actually creating a good website then you aren’t likely to be successful. It is important to find the healthy balance of both. You need a good website for your SEO to be successful and you need SEO to increase visibility and traffic.
3. Focus only on technical SEO
If you believe you only need to focus on technical SEO you are certainly most likely going to become highly discouraged and eventually give up. This means that you should never focus solely on technical SEO, you need to broaden your horizons if you want your e-commerce business to be successful.
The truth of the matter is, technical SEO is extremely time demanding and at the end of the day, will only account for a small amount of your e-commerce achievements. Simply put, you should be spending your time on other aspects of SEO as they are less time consuming and will account for more of your business’s success.
Let me give you an example, an e-commerce website uses the platform Shopify or BigCommerce. Don’t get me wrong, these platforms are great (and certainly necessary) for getting you started. However, over time you spend so much money on things like sitemap optimisation, on page optimisation and technical audits.
Then at the end of the day, you haven’t seen any growth in your rankings what so ever.
People are left asking themselves why. They did SEO; they spent the money and dedicated the time, why are they not seeing any progress? Well, I can tell you it is probably due to their backlink profile. In SEO backlinks are so important! In fact, it is one of Google’s top ranking factors.
Backlinks are when other website’s put a link to one of your webpages on their page.
The more high quality backlinks you have back to your website, Google see this as a sign that your website is of high authority and they will most likely give you a better ranking. If you would like more details about the importance of backlinks for your website, I have written a detail blog about the topic.
In essence, it is incredibly difficult for your e-commerce website to rank on the first page of Google if you don’t have a solid number of high quality backlinks. This is because Google won’t see your website a trustworthy, relevant or authoritative.
If you would like to check out your backlink profile there is a great tool called Moz. If you are just looking for basic access this is a free tool to use. All you have to do is input your website’s URL and you will be shown important backlink information. This information includes:
- Domain authority
- Page authority
- Number of established links
- Amount and type of inbound links
- Spam score of inbound links (this relates to the relevance and trustworthiness of the link)
You are probably thinking, “I’m an e-commerce business, how am I supposed to get quality backlinks?” Well, the best way for any website (including an e-commerce website) to gain more backlinks is to produce high quality and engaging content, i.e. a blog!
On top of this, Google also loves high quality and fresh content.
So when you have an active blog as part of your e-commerce website, Google will again look favourably upon you. Therefore, it is important for your e-commerce website to focus on creating promotional content as this will help you find better opportunities as well as improve the visibility of your organic search.
4. Customer reviews won’t help your SEO
Whoever came up with the idea that customer reviews aren't good for your SEO clearly isn’t an SEO expert. Customer reviews add an incredible amount of value to your website. Reviews in themselves are content and as we have established in the previous point, Google loves new and fresh content!
Getting customer reviews on your products are basically like free SEO. Yes free SEO!
Let me explain how:
So people are more inclined to trust your products and the content you write about them when they are reviewed by other consumers who have used it. If you have enough positive reviews on a certain product, it increases the chances of the user purchasing it, as well as they will stay on your website for a longer amount of time. All of this will help to boost your SEO! And you didn’t have to spend a cent!
No matter how you look at customer reviews, it will always be a win-win. They promote user experience and conversion rates which sends the message to Google that your website is awesome and they should give you a higher ranking.
Customer reviews are so important to your SEO that I even wrote an entire blog dedicated towards it! If you would like more details on how your business can get awesome online reviews, please click here! Once you get the reviews flowing on your e-commerce website you are sure to see just how influential they can be.
There are certainly a lot more misconceptions about e-commerce SEO that those listed above. However, I have found that these 4 misconceptions are certainly the most common. These misconceptions can definitely impact your e-commerce SEO negatively.
Therefore it is important, no matter the topic, that you take the time to do your research and only trust reputable sources. Anyone can say anything they like on the internet. So take things you read on the internet with a grain of salt and hopefully your website’s success won’t be negatively impact by things you believe to be true.
By reading and understanding these misconceptions, hopefully you have a better understanding of what is good advice for your e-commerce website and what type of advice you should ignore. You should now focus your efforts on productive SEO tactics that are more effective.
Your category pages are actually important and you should spend the time to ensure that no matter the products you sell, you include sub categories on your website as well. Also, you will need to do more than just build a fantastic website. Yes this is a big part of it, but to actually get consumers on your website you will need to increase your visibility i.e. use SEO.
It is important to not only focus on technical SEO. There are other factors that Google looks favourably on, like content creation! Lastly, you should include as many customer reviews as possible on your website because it does, in fact, improve your SEO.
Sarah is the head of guest posts outreach and an SEO expert. Her interests are search engine optimisation, social media and brand management.