SEO guide for e-Commerce
- 05 August 2020
The article was written for Dealavo by Przemek Jaskierski, SEO Specialist at Delante.
E-commerce is a term that refers to transactions over the internet. However, it’s not only referring to online stores, but also banking, online exchange offices, and auction portals. SEO activities can bring excellent sales results for these industries.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, which means all activities aimed at getting the highest possible position in the organic results of the search engine, i.e. organic results. When you send a query to the search engine, sometimes you will see ads even in the first 4 positions, as in the screen below. Only the 4th position is the organic result – it is no longer marked as an advertisement.
The position in Google is determined by about 200 ranking factors that we know about (there may be many more). Some are more, others less important. To get the greatest visibility on Google, you should run Onsite, Offsite and Content works. In the first case, it is about the work to be done on the website. This includes content optimization, using appropriate keywords and headings, meta title matching, using an SSL certificate, working on loading speed, internal linking, and more. On the other hand, offsite factors are factors that “lie” outside the site. This is primarily about link building, i.e. getting links on websites. Only comprehensive activities and focusing on all areas can bring satisfactory results.
SEO for e-Commerce – why is it important?
Google is the undisputed leader of the search engine market in Poland – it is chosen by over 90 percent Polish Internet users. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying before – “if you’re not on Google, you don’t exist.” This applies not only to online stores but to various activities that you can present on the web. The results of the study “E-commerce in Poland. Gemius for e-Commerce Polska” shows that in 2019 as many as 62 percent of Internet users were buying online, which means an increase by 6 pp. compared to last year. Interestingly, there was a large increase (by 14 percentage points) of interest in online shopping among seniors, i.e. people aged 50+.
The report prepared by Shoper should convince you of the importance of SEO, which shows that the dominant source of visits to online stores is Google. The report covers 2019.
About 1/3 of users land on to shopping websites from organic results, and 28% thanks to sponsored links on Google. Only 14% are entries from social media, and 12% of users enter the e-shops after typing the website name in the browser. Do you still have doubts about the importance of SEO? It can be the main source of traffic in your store, but most of all – a key sales channel.
5 SEO elements for e-Commerce
Keywords are phrases you should put on your website. They allow Google users to find it after typing a particular query to a search engine. It may be one or more words. We divide them into:
- General – e.g. washing machines. Such keywords are expensive in terms of their positioning because obtaining high positions requires a lot of time, sometimes even several years of a SEO specialist’s work. The user of the search engine entering such a query is not yet determined to buy. It is not even said that they are thinking of ordering at all. Maybe, for example, they are looking for a photo of the device or checking how to fix the equipment.
- With a long tail (the so-called long-tail) – e.g. cheap washing machines packed from the top. They consist of at least 2 words and describe precisely what the user is looking for. In this case, we can assume that they want to buy such equipment and are looking for the right one. Positioning such phrases is less expensive than general phrases, takes less time, and can bring better sales results.
- Regional (local) – e.g. washing machine service London. The phrase must contain the name of the city or possibly the region. Such phrases allow you to reach a specific audience. As for the difficulty of the activities, a lot depends on the city and the type of service. In the case of a small town, the effects may come quickly and at low cost, but overtaking competition in large cities will be costly and time-consuming.
- Branded – e.g. company name. Usually, it is used by customers who don’t remember the company’s domain address but remember the name or at least part of the web address. Getting high positions for such keywords is relatively easy and worth the effort because it prevents the users from finding a website or brand other than yours.
We should also mention phrases with the words: “opinions” or “reviews”. In such a case, users are interested in a given product but are still looking for information about it. Another keyword are questions such as: is it worth buying a washing machine packed from the top? These are the phrases that you can use on your blog.
A very important step towards gaining users who are interested in your offer is matching keywords. You can use many tools to make this task easier for you, for example:
- Google Ads Keyword Planner – a solution for those using Google Sponsored Ads. To use this tool, all you need to do is have your campaign added – you don’t need to advertise at the moment. You have different options in the system. One option is to enter a keyword, which will show you a list of related phrases along with the range of monthly searches, e.g. 10-100K
- Keywordtool.io – A popular tool where you enter what keyword phrase you’re interested in and then see a list of keyword suggestions. The solution is based on the hints that you see when typing a phrase in Google. However, you will not know the number of searches per month unless you choose a paid package.
Please remember that the data provided by the tools are estimates and it can differ between platforms.
The number of keywords for positioning should be determined considering the size of the website. It’s important to properly plan your strategy and focus on phrases that bring conversion. You can position general words, but it is the long tail that can bring much better sales results, and above all, achieving high visibility on them will be easier. Financial possibilities are another issue – without adequate resources, it will be difficult to achieve expected results in the case of general phrase positioning or a very large number of long-tail keywords.
Very often Google employees mention that the search engine algorithm prefers unique, high-quality content, and this is true. For the page to be visible on the given keywords, they must be placed in a certain part of the website, preferably in several places. Creating valuable content is essential today for many reasons. Thanks to this, you increase the number of keywords on which the page is visible, strengthen internal linking, provide users with the information they are looking for, and they can repay you by sharing the material on social networks or adding a link on the user’s blog.
Pay attention to how often online content authors refer to research or analysis – after all, this is a great way to get links and to to build brand awareness. In the case of an e-shop’s content, pay attention to 2 key issues:
- Product descriptions – you already know that they should be unique. First of all, the name of the item should contain keywords. Instead of using e.g. 55UM7400, the product should be called LG UHD Smart TV 55UM7400. Thanks to this, you immediately provide information about the most important parameters of the product, and at the same time keep the model name. Include keywords in the description, but don’t overdo it – write for the user. Try to repeat the most important words a few times only when it is natural to do so. Don’t create a wall of text – divide it into paragraphs, use headings, bullets so that the content looks attractive and encourages reading. Use around 150 words as a minimum, and in the case of highly competitive products, let it be even 2-3 times more. Product descriptions are content in which you can also smuggle internal links to other pages of the website, and this is an important ranking factor. Write in the language of benefits – indicate why it is worth buying this product, but bear in mind that the description can be read both by people who are perfectly familiar with it and those who are not familiar with it. Everyone should understand what you are writing about. You can bold the most important parts of your content by placing them in the html code between the <strong> and </strong> tags, or you can italicize them using the <em> and </em> tags. Similarly, category descriptions should also be created, which should also increase the visibility of the page on Google.
- Blog – no matter what online store you run, it’s worth writing a blog. This will be another opportunity to use previously selected keywords, creating the opportunity to draw to the website the users who are currently looking for an answer to the question, eg “How to choose a TV?”. The first and most important point – the content on the blog must be unique and valuable. Remember that its quality affects your image. It is worth for the author of the article to be experts in a given field.. Another point – if you already have a blog, update it as often as possible. When choosing topics, take into account those that are popular with Internet users – you already know how to check it. And what should the length of the entry be? We just advise you to exhaust the topic. If you have no idea what else to write about, take a look at the content of the competition. It is also worth noting that, in terms of length, the article does not stand out from the publications that appear in high positions in Google for given queries. We are not suggesting whether it should be 200, 300 or 2000 words – create valuable content that covers the topic and Google will appreciate it. Remember about internal linking – in the content of the article, include a few links to other subpages of the website, related thematically. Similarly to the new content, manually place links on other subpages – this will affect the visibility of the article on Google. How to use keywords in your publication? The main phrase should appear in the title of the article, in at least one headline, in the lead and paragraphs. By contrast, words less and relevant, try to include them in the headlines and the body of the publication. Remember that valuable articles can be shared by Internet users on social networks, but they can also link to them from their websites.
3. Technical SEO.
Optimizing the website for search engines requires paying attention to many important issues. There are less, and more important ranking factors but all of them can increase your chances of being ahead of the competition. As part of technical optimization, pay attention to:
- Titles – this is the content in the <head> section of the page, e.g. <title> Page title </title>. You’ll often find out that they are supposed to be around 65 characters long, but that’s not true. The title can have a maximum of 600 px to be fully visible. You can check it, e.g. using this tool. If the title consists of only the letters “i”, it will be up to 150 characters, and if only the letters “W”, it will be a maximum of 35 characters. If the title is longer, Google will shorten it to 570 px and will display three additional dots. The title is a very important ranking factor. Try to put the most important keywords at the beginning.
- Website description – meta description. This is not a ranking factor, but it can affect your conversion. It is in the code, as is the title in the <head> section. In this case, the content is also limited by the number of characters, which should be a maximum of about 160.
- Sitemap – online stores are extensive, and the Google robot may have trouble reaching some parts of the website. In general, it is worth sticking to the principle that each page can be reached with 2-3 clicks. To facilitate and improve the indexing of your site, you should create a sitemap. You can use many applications and add-ons to create it. What exactly is a sitemap? First of all, it is a url list created for search engine robots, but it can also contain other information, such as the date of the last update of the content. The map should be uploaded to Google Search Console, where you can follow e.g. what part of the addresses has been indexed by the search engine.
- Friendly links – should be search engine and user friendly. For example, url http://eshopurl.com/whitegoods/fridge-gorenje-nrs9182mx already contains important keywords, a logically related string of characters and shows the Internet user where they are. There is no random content in it. Besides – Google has no problems with indexing such links.
- Schema for products – you may have already encountered an extended search result on Google, which can be obtained using the so-called schemas, i.e. online dictionaries that should be implemented in the website code, which will result in better understanding by Google. Thanks to Schema, you can show the search engine what is on the page even better, and Google will be able to present more accurate results. Information on how to implement the scheme on your website can be found at https://schema.org/. Thanks to this solution, you can highlight a lot of relevant information. Take a look at the screen below. Booking.com uses extended descriptions to show the hotel rating, number of reviews and price. The same principle can also include data such as telephone number, opening hours or addresses of shops. A big advantage of using the schema is the increase in CTR (click to rate), i.e. the click-through rate. All thanks to the fact that the result is more attractive and attracts attention. Are you sure you implemented the schema well? To check it, use this tool.
4. Link building.
Link building is still one of the important ranking factors. You can create the perfect website with great content, modern and meeting the expectations of your users, but if there are no links to it, don’t count on success in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). Here are important rules to follow when it comes to link building:
- Link to different types of subpages – you should get links not only to the home page, but also to categories, products and blog entries. Most often, stores consist of a very large number of subpages, and linking them will facilitate their indexation and affect visibility in Google search results.
- Check the competition – at the first stage of getting links, it is worth analyzing the websites of other companies. This can be a good way to get links from free sites. It is also a sure method of finding valuable paid “spots”. To check competitors, you can use popular tools such as ahrefs.com or majestic.com.
- Diversify sources – Use all sources of valuable references whenever possible. The key word here is “valuable”. If you find an article where you can leave a comment with a link, but you see 100 similar posts there, don’t waste your time on it. Avoid spotted places. However, take into account forums, sites with announcements, guest books, or just articles with the possibility of commenting, where you can get a link for free. Another source is links from sponsored articles or guest posts.
- Links without anchors – initially I advise you to get only links consisting of the website address, possibly with the brand name. After some time, however, it is worth betting on links with anchors that hide the link under a specific word phrase, e.g. SEO. Such links are more powerful, but use should be moderate in their use. You will come across various recommendations, but such links should be more than 10% of the total number.
- Dofollow and nofollow – dofollow links convey the power of SEO, and nofollow not, or at least that was the case until recently, and Google suggested using such attributes. Currently we also have “ugc” (user generated content) suggested for links where users can add them themselves (eg forums) and “sponsored” suggested when it comes to purchased link. The most important thing is that the site should not only have dofollow links, as this is unnatural.
- Link thematically – the issue of whether links from websites on the similar topics give better results has been discussed for years. However, approach it differently – a link from a page like this gives a greater chance of conversion, i.e. that the user will click it and go to your store’s website.
- Quality – do not focus on quantity when linking. In the past, this approach worked, but these times are unlikely to come back. Instead of dozens of links from sampled websites, get a few from valuable sources.
To obtain satisfactory results, you should constantly conduct link building activities and observe whether the adopted strategy brings results.
Do you run SEO activities and expect results? There are many tools you can use to evaluate the effectiveness of your work. Thanks to analytics, you will also check which pages are visited most frequently, how much time internet users spend in your store, what phrases you owe the most visits to, and more. In this case, we recommend 2 free tools from Google:
- https://analytics.google.com – is a solution with which you can learn a lot about website visitors. To make it possible, you need to place a special code on your website, which will be generated after adding the website to the system. Thanks to this, you can get a lot of information, including about the number of users who are online on your site and what pages they view. You will check the bounce rate, session duration, number of users in particular periods, pages from which users were most often redirected to your website. Analytics is an excellent source of knowledge for analysts. It can also be the basis for making important decisions and setting goals, e.g. the number of orders placed in the store. On this basis, you can measure the results and conduct activities aimed at improving them.
- https://search.google.com – i.e. Google Search Console. All you need to do is verify the website and you will get access to a huge knowledge base about your store. You can see what links lead to it, and among them there may be links that other tools won’t show. With GSC you will find out which keywords your website are displayed and which keywords bring the greatest number of redirects to the website. As mentioned, you can add a map and check for any crawl errors. You can also index and delete given addresses from Google, solve problems related to the website. It is a key source of knowledge in SEO activities for e-Commerce and other websites.
As you already know, the Google search engine can be a key source of traffic to your online store. Therefore, if you run such an activity, you should not give up building visibility in Google’s organic results. Search users can be your customers.
SEO Specialist at Delante
Experience gained in e-commerce translates into positioning. In 2014, he began his adventure with internet marketing, which continues to this day. He spends his free time at the gym, playing board games and watching TV series.