10 Critical SEO Best Practices for E-commerce Sites
Do you have an e-commerce website? If so, you might find SEO (search engine optimization) a tad more complicated than what other types of businesses face. Here are 10 SEO best practices for e-commerce sites.
1. Reduce Image Size to Increase Speed
It’s important to add images and if possible video of each product, as many shoppers use Google Images to search for items. However, pictures that are too big will slow down your page load times, which in turn will hurt your search engine rankings. To test your webpage speed, use Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
2. Optimize for Mobile Devices
Mobile optimization is becoming increasingly important for all businesses, but it is especially crucial for e-commerce sites. Shoppers expect to move seamlessly between devices, and e-commerce platforms that are not mobile friendly are almost useless on a mobile device. Create a mobile website or app, or use responsive design to automatically scale your site to the size of each user’s device. Use Google’s free Mobile-Friendly test tool to check for any mobile usability issues.
3. Streamline Navigation
Usability is an important factor in Google’s new algorithm. Design a visually appealing site with clear, obvious navigation options and minimize the number of clicks required to reach a specific page. Clearly label your product collections, and for larger websites, use an internal search engine that gives users the ability to quickly find what they need.
4. Write Unique Product Descriptions
Avoid the temptation to rely on manufacturer descriptions or to repeat content for similar products. To boost your Google rankings, you must have unique, high-quality content on each page. This initially requires a lot of work, especially if you already have numerous products for sale. However, this is well worth the effort to ensure your product pages have a shot at ranking in Google. If your descriptions are duplicates of other webpages online, then Google is not very likely to rank your webpage high in the search results.
5. Perform Frequent Site Maintenance
E-commerce sites have a lot of moving parts so it’s important to run frequent maintenance checks, especially if you’re adding and removing products regularly. Use the free Google Webmaster Tools to search for outdated links, 404 errors, and other problems. Counterintuitively, it can be best to leave pages up for products that you no longer sell rather than taking them down, if they are ranking and driving traffic. Just be sure to add a note that the item is no longer available.
6. Group Products by Category
Nothing is more frustrating to an online shopper than trying to wade through pages of unwanted items. Make it easy for your customers to find what they want by creating logical, well-labeled product categories. Consider adding some seasonal categories as well, which are easy to promote for a limited time.
7. Optimize URLs
URL structure is often ignored by website owners, but not by Google. Google’s algorithm takes into account the words in your webpage URLs so make sure to include your relevant keywords and/or the product name. For example, you might choose domainname.com/kids-cat-costume instead of the auto-generated URL domainname.com/page-123456.
8. Use HTTPS Encryption
The more secure your site, the more likely shoppers are to purchase from you. It also lets Google know that you have a legitimate, safe site, which helps boost your rankings. HTTPS provides an extra layer of security over traditional HTTP sites.
9. Encourage Product Reviews
Encourage customers to post reviews on your product pages and then add Schema markup so Google can easily find these reviews. Positive (and even negative) reviews provide social proof to your prospects, which helps boost conversion rates. Plus, reviews provide social proof to Google, which helps boost your rankings
10. Integrate Social Sharing
Make it as easy as you can for shoppers to share individual product pages with others. This helps draw new prospects to your page and these social signals can help improve your Google rankings. Create buttons for Facebook, Twitter, and other prominent social media sites, and add them to each product page. Of course, you should integrate sharing throughout the rest of your site as well, especially if you have a blog or informational articles about your products.
Would you like more SEO tips? I created a simple checklist that walks you through specific actions you can take to improve your rankings and traffic. Click here to get my SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.