E-commerce 101: What You Need to Know

E-commerce SEO, sometimes called Shop SEO, is a specialized form of SEO that deals specifically with online storefronts (or shops).

Why Optimize for E-commerce Sites?

Currently, E-commerce has a 10% market share of retail sales in the United States, but this market is expected to increase every year. Amazon is currently the industry leader, followed by such big box stores as Target and Walmart that have embraced the online storefront as well.

Competition in the E-commerce realm is therefore fierce, which makes top quality E-commerce SEO essential. While much of the SEO that can be implemented for E-commerce sites is the same as for any other type of site, there are many essential requirements Google has put in place specifically for this niche.

Let’s talk about a few of these elements.

  1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO, an element of on-page SEO, refers to optimizing the coding of a website, rather than its content. Poor coding will impact the site’s rankings.

Take site speed, for one example.  According to research, most people will “bounce” from a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on their device. If that’s not bad enough, Google’s web crawlers can detect how long a page takes to load, and will penalize it if it takes too long. This is a special problem for E-commerce sites, which tend to be very image heavy. Images should be resized before being uploaded to the site.

Another essential element for E-commerce sites is that every page be secure, so a security certificate should be purchased (designated by https://, rather than http://, in the URL). Not only is this safer for the businesses’ customers, but Google penalizes sites that don’t have such security in place.

 

  1. On Page SEO/ Blog

On page SEO – focusing on quality content – is especially important for E-commerce sites. Typically, the only text an E-commerce site has on its category pages is captions for each product photo. That’s why it’s important for each photo to be optimized via its name, alt text and description. No opportunity should be lost to place keywords on each page. If possible, clicking on a photo on the category page should take the user to a specific page for that product, where keyword-rich text describing the product can be used.

Search engines also reward fresh content. An integrated blog on a site, with regular, keyword-rich entries, provides the content that search engines like, but also helps build brand loyalty with customers who will appreciate the entries.

 

  1. Keywords Research and Implementation

Long-tailed keywords are essential for E-commerce SEO success. For example, a car enthusiast who needs new items for his or her classic car will not do a search on “car rims.” It is far more likely that they will search for “black rims for muscle cars,” or “chrome Mustang emblems” or “1954 Chevy quarter panel.” People who do a search on exactly what they want, which is why they use such long phrases, are far more likely to convert from a visitor to a purchaser on their first visit.

Choosing the right keywords is extremely important when the E-commerce site is in a very competitive niche. That’s why researching one’s competitor’s keywords is a good idea. Keywords must be relevant to the business. It does no good to “trick” someone to come to an E-commerce site by following a specific keyword, only to find that the site is not what they thought it would be.

By paying attention to these three elements, E-commerce SEO helps ensure that sites are rewarded by search engines with high rankings, and by converting visitors to customers.

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