In this post, we’re carrying on from Part 1 where we cover eCommerce website SEO tips in a step-by-step checklist guide. To read the first part of OMG’s blog – see our SEO Checklist Guide for eCommerce websites here.
…continued from Part 1
- Technical SEO
It’s possible that you’ve heard that so-called ‘infinite scrolling’ provides a better user experience. That’s true in a number of ways. Google even switched its preferences to infinite scrolling for mobile search results, so you’d imagine it was a done deal. However, infinite scrolling can also negatively affect SEO for both desktop and mobile usability.
But what is best practice for small business eCommerce SEO? In a recent study by the Baymard Institute in the US, they showed the results for pagination vs. the ‘load more’ button vs. infinite scrolling. This seems to be more about SEO (pagination) vs. a UX designer (infinite scrolling).
Pagination allows websites to divide content into smaller sections.
By adding pagination ‘rel=next and rel=prev’ tags to specify which pages are part of a series, you’re assisting the search engines in understanding the relationship between those pages.
The ‘load more’ button enables the user to scroll through the product list without having to click to the next page. The load time is much faster and it creates a better user experience.
While very few online stores currently use the ‘load more’ button, this is sure to grow when you realise how appealing it is when growing your product list.
Infinite scrolling can delay the user from reaching your website footer. The user can see the footer briefly, but shortly after the next round of results is shown. There can be an issue with this because your footer links help direct users to your top navigation pages or feature a ‘Back To Top’ link to save them scrolling all the way back up manually.
Which is best overall?
The ‘load more’ button coupled with pagination appears to be a happy medium for both user experience and SEO. However, this means setting a limit that the ‘load more’ button will display. Somewhere between 50-75 products per search on the desktop is recommended. On mobile, probably stick to 30-50 products per search.
Working out how best to canonicalise your eCommerce site is one of those boring elements of maintaining a website that nobody tells you about (or you can get your SEO Pro to do it for you). Naturally, you can publish a new product any time you like, but trying to stay on top of your canonicalisation every day can get overwhelming.
Here are some of the basics:
Check for any domain canonicalisation issues. Go to a category page on your website. Then, remove the ‘www.’ from the address bar and hit enter. If your domain is canonicalised, it will redirect to the correct version. If your domain is not correctly canonicalised, it will serve up a different page.
Then, add the rel=’canonical’ tag to original product pages. By adding this tag to the original product page, you’re telling the search engines which product to display. If you don’t have the rel=’canonical’ tag to the original product page…you’ll likely end up with duplicate products, which isn’t good from Google’s perspective.
If your website uses different URLs for sizes and colours etc, you’ll need to canonicalise the main product version. If your site uses different product options like ‘/product-1?size=10’ then canonicalise the page back to the original version: ‘/product-1’.
Cross-link your top pages
Unless you’ve had time to Google how to internal link on an eCommerce site, you’ve probably missed seeing the benefits internal linking can have on your website. While this process is fairly common among SEOs, it can often be forgotten for newcomers.
When you think of internal linking, you likely think of hyperlinking a keyword term to some slightly relevant page on your site. We’re going to discuss something different here. Internal linking allows the seamless flow from one page on your site to another. This improves user engagement and navigation. This is one of our top eCommerce website SEO tips.
Here are some of the key benefits to internal linking:
- It gives your consumers more options to engage with your site.
- It increases your chance to rank for certain keywords.
- It helps SERPs crawl your site more efficiently.
Ideally, you want these internal link efficiencies to spread to the top navigation as well, so having a good internal linking strategy is best.
Create a sitemap
An XML sitemap creates a readable map of your site for search engines. These sitemaps are a list of URLs on your website. If you have an eCommerce site with lots of pages, you’ll need to get familiar with XML sitemaps.
Google advises to list up to 50,000 files in one sitemap. So, unless you’re an online behemoth, you can likely use just one sitemap. It’s good practice to break down eCommerce sitemaps into different sections. Here’s what you can do:
- Products Only: This contains only individual products and should be updated as new products are added/removed.
- Categories Only: This contains only the category pages.
- Boilerplate Pages: This contains basics like ‘contact us,’ ‘about us’ etc.
- Editorial Pages: This contains links to any editorial content (e.g. articles, info-only pages).
- Blog: This contains links to your blog pages. You should list individual posts, tags, author pages and archives.
Make sure to ‘ping’ search engines once a sitemap has been created. You can do this by submitting XML sitemaps to Google Search Console upon completion.
Optimise for Mobile
Mobile traffic has been rising for some years now. Today, more than 50% of all traffic comes from mobile devices. Additionally, Google has moved to a ‘mobile first’ indexing, meaning that they crawl your site as a mobile device.
What does this mean exactly? Mobile optimisation isn’t just a mere nicety, it’s a must-have for any decent eCommerce website or online store out there today. If you’re not optimised for mobile yet, then follow these steps or talk to us today at Online Marketing Group for affordable small business SEO:
- Design for mobile:
Just as a starting point, this means adding call-to-action (CTA) buttons above the fold, creating specific mobile versions of your pages, making buttons bigger and easier to read, plus so much more.
- Decide on mobile configuration:
Choose between a few different design options for your site. Use responsive design, dynamic serving, or separate URLs.
- Do not block the following:
- Create mobile-friendly (low / reduced resolution) images to increase page load speed:
Optimise your image files so they’re smaller than 70 KB.
If you’re the owner of a website, you may already be aware that improving your page speed can be very hard to do. In fact, every website owner you talk to will likely remember a time (or even a number of times) when their site wasn’t loading fast enough.
Page speed certainly impacts user experience, which we know can also impact your SEO. As we mentioned, though, trying to work out how you can improve page speed can be a huge challenge. Is it your images, is it heavy code or animation effects…or is it something else entirely?
Fortunately, there are various tools out there that you can use to figure out what’s causing page speed issues. For example, try the Lighthouse Chrome extension to run an analysis report. Once it’s done, Lighthouse will assist you to diagnose those aspects that may be slowing down your site based on your Core Web Vitals.
Some of the common quick fixes for page speed include:
- Reduce page size to keep page load times to three seconds or less.
- Cache your content using a content delivery network.
- Compress data that’s sent to the browser.
- Upgrade your hosting server.
- Use different image formats (i.e. JPEG, PNG File) to help search engines create placeholders.
Most people out there probably won’t know too much about on-site SEO, except for two basic elements such as the title tag and description tag. Despite there being over 200 values (not all of them on-site), when you’re optimising a full product category on an eCommerce site, there is so much more you need to do than just the title tag and description tag.
In truth, there’s a whole world of untapped potential in the on-page and on-site SEO section. Some people believe that long-tail keyword terms and on-site SEO don’t go together, but that’s definitely not the case these days.
Let’s take a quick look at what a fully on-site SEO-optimised eCommerce page should look like:
- URL: this should be concise.
- SEO Title: add action words (e.g. ‘Buy’) to reinforce users’ purchasing intent.
- Meta Description: increase your CTR (click-through rate) by adding ‘Free shipping’ etc.
- Body Content: write over 1,000 words.
- Header Tags: utilise your keywords in your H1, H2, H3 tags.
- Image File Names: prior to uploading, rename images using keywords.
- Add Image Alt Tags.
- Use Clear & Concise Product Descriptions.
- Add Social Sharing buttons/links.
- Improve User Experience: add features such as ‘details,’ ‘video,’ ‘reviews,’ ‘delivery,’ ‘returns’ – to reduce bounce rate and increase dwell time (time on your site).
So, what makes a perfect product page in your eyes?
For some, it can be all about customer reviews, while others may consider a product page to be perfect by how well its images look. And, for many SEO Pros, it’s all down to who does the best copywriting.
Regardless of whether you care more about product videos or perfectly placed CTA buttons, all great product pages have one thing in common: they all have a really, really good SEO Pro working on them.
So, what delivers perfect on-page SEO for an eCommerce website? Here are a few key components:
I’m sure you’ve heard the same URL advice repeatedly. Use a unique, clean and short URL structure that contains the keyword. That’s true, but what about those pesky parameters that you have to add when you have various sizes and colours etc for a product?
Search engines have the ability to ignore these ugly parameters (e.g. ?%20), but creating a descriptive URL gives you yet another opportunity to improve user experience and increase rankings.
A potential customer viewing a URL that’s lengthy and contains a load of gibberish may lose confidence and move onto the next site. If you are using parameters, ask your developer to work with you on rewriting your URLs.
Here are a few guidelines to stick with:
- Only use lowercase characters.
- Use hyphens (-) as word separators, never spaces or underscores.
- Delete all special characters, including exclamation points and apostrophes.
- Remove all coding that includes things like %30, %5B.
SEO Professionals strive to create SEO titles which increase clients’ click-through rates. It could be something like the keyword placement or simply reinforcing the intent to purchase. However, another suggestion is to add action words to your titles. Action words can help you target long-tail keyword terms, which is always a plus.
As click-through rates become an increasingly important factor in SEO, it’s essential that eCommerce sites have their titles and descriptions optimised properly to increase CTR. Now, your meta description is unlikely to improve your search rankings on its own, but it will earn you more clicks when optimised correctly.
Here are a few tips for optimising your meta description:
- Keep the length to about 155 characters.
- Think of it as writing a headline for an article.
- Give an answer to a question.
Ensure your keywords are specific to your target audience. For example, you could write a meta description that targets summer sales based on seasonal changes. There are hundreds of words and phrases that can help drive up your click-through rates in search engines.
Here are some favourites:
- Free Shipping
Body content or body copy is important to get right for eCommerce sites. The writing needs to be structured and executed well, otherwise, readers will click back to one of your competitors in SERPs who’s taken more care with their content. Contact OMG for your content writing requirements, we’d be happy to help.
In the SEO world, it couldn’t be more true – with the realm of super-competitive keywords, split-testing or A/B targeting headline titles, high-end conversions and impressionable consumers.
Here are some pointers on structuring your body content:
Step One: Cover the Basics in Your Content
When it comes to content, the general rule is ‘more is better,’ although it varies between different industries. The more content your target audience is served, the higher the chance that Google can position your site correctly.
If you only have very thin content, you’re unlikely to score well with Google. Additionally, duplicate content is an absolute red flag for Google, too – and you will be penalised for this aspect.
You don’t necessarily need to write 1,000+ words for every single product page, but you can optimise other areas of your product page to match the user intent of your consumers.
Here are a few secret methods to incorporate quality content for your eCommerce product pages:
- Think beyond simply keywords in your product description. Focus on the buyer, rather than the robots/search engine.
- Highlight technical specifications like the model, colour, size etc.
- Add key features and product benefits.
- Make use of your customer reviews around ‘fit’ or service etc.
- Answer typical consumer questions in a FAQs section.
Here are a few things you shouldn’t do with your product page descriptions:
- Copy & paste content from other sites.
- Apply keyword stuffing to your product descriptions (this is a guaranteed penalty from Google).
- Make the content too thin.
- Copy the manufacturer’s description. Change it to suit your target audience.
Step Two: It’s Not About Keyword Stuffing
When writing your product page with SEO in mind, avoid the keyword stuffing phase. Instead, approach it from a user intent perspective. For example, if you’re targeting ‘work shirt,’ incorporate benefits, features, and long-tail keywords to match the intent of your users, such as ‘men’s cotton work shirt,’ ‘high vis work shirt’ and so on.
With this method, you can use synonyms of the keyword as opposed to just repeatedly stuffing the same keyword in there.
Internal linking on your product pages is absolutely necessary. Linking from high-authority pages to high-priority product/category pages strategically is often already done on your homepage and blog page.
But how and where do you link on product pages? Here are a few ways:
- Breadcrumb navigation.
- Related products.
- Related categories.
As an overview, internal linking should be designed to add value to users rather than to try to ‘impress’ the search engines. This strategy will always win out.
It should be intuitive for users and naturally prioritises the most important content with highly relevant keywords.
Although we live in a highly visual-centric world – in SEO terms – images aren’t seen by search engines unless they’re alt-optimised.
If you’ve spent a small fortune on a photoshoot with a brilliant photographer, it still won’t mean anything if you don’t properly optimise your images. Your images won’t appear in search. While beautiful product images can increase conversion rates, there’s a lot more you can do with them.
Let’s go through how to get the best bang for your buck with your images:
- Use keyword-rich descriptions to name your file before uploading to your site.
- If you right click the image, then ‘open image in a new tab’ you’ll see what the image file is named.
- Always add your image dimensions and sizes to the file name.
- Write a keyword-rich descriptive alt tag after your file is uploaded.
- To find the image alt tag, just right-click then select ‘view page source.’
- Select ctrl+F on your keyword and search for ‘alt.’ You’ll see a number of alt tag options but look for the JPEG or PNG file images.
- Change the file size or compress your file images to make sure you’re not reducing your page speed.
It’s astounding to think that the giant, Amazon, would lose $1.6 billion annually if their pages were to slow down by just one second!
Picture yourself clicking on the shoes category on your favourite store’s website. You keep scrolling. You reach the product you’ve been after for a while, and you can see your soon-to-be-new-favourite pair of shoes in video format.
With this format, you’re effectively living it before you buy it. That’s a really powerful tool for consumers, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Studies in the US found that over 70% of consumers were more likely to purchase a product or sign up for a service if they watched a branded video that explains the product or service. That’s a statistic that can’t be ignored. Added to which, with the algorithm changes coming in the near future for Google Search – MUM will also support multi-modal listings in SERPs.
If you’d like us to quote you for SEO or an eCommerce site, contact OMG today.
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