So you set up your eCommerce store on WordPress, Shopify or your own custom solution. You took amazing product photo’s, grouped your products up, designed a beautiful website and added accompanying landing pages, and are ready to sell, sell, sell!
Here are the two most common things we hear in this situation.
1. “I launched my site, it’s been a few months and…nothing.”
2. “The site has been up for a long time (years) and our competition is STILL beating us, even though I know our products are better.”
You’re worried because your livelihood, dreams, and goals ride on this being a success, but worry not, this is completely normal.
The big issue is that your competition has the budget to outspend you on advertising. Fortunately, Google levels the playing field, and to a certain extent, you CAN compete with them for organic spots on page one (where everyone wants to be) using a well thought out eCommerce SEO plan.
Our (semi-secret) eCommerce SEO strategy.
Wait, wait, wait
I think we should probably start with WHY SEO in the first place.
1. Organic search is most often the primary source of website traffic
Being highly visible as a resource by Google is going to drive more traffic to your site than any other method, period. Google is used billions of times per day and we’ve seen organic traffic (as opposed to paid traffic) be a larger slice of the pie for a website’s visitors more often than not.
2. SEO builds trust and credibility
Establishing a strong brand takes patience, effort, and commitment, but also relies on establishing a good product or service. SEO builds trust by showcasing your product or services to Google’s users through multiple niche keywords.
3. Local SEO means more traffic and conversions
Establishing your business locally is a strategy we rely on here at The Guerrilla Agency. Local SEO is going to enable people to find you in your city. It’s going to result in more traffic to your site (locally) and to your storefront (if you have one).
4. SEO is relatively cheap
Doing SEO yourself can be time-consuming, but in the long run, it’s going to be the cheapest, best source of traffic to your site. Organic listings aren’t pay to play.
5. SEO is just like the movie Inception
SEO is great because unlike other forms of advertising you have the unique ability to make your customers think “they” thought of you.
I.E. when someone is searching for (insert your product) they look on the first page and learn about you for the first time. If your products align with their mindset, they buy. That purchase was their choice (winky face).
Ok, now that that’s out of the way.
Here’s our eCommerce SEO strategy.
You should always start your SEO campaign on your website. Google looks at a website as if it’s just blocks of images and text. From there, it crawls the site and decides where the site (based on keywords, amount of text, images, titles, etc.) should show up on SERP (search engine results pages). Knowing this, you can manipulate their search algorithm to work in your favor. To know how to work the system, you need to know the system. Here are all the major components of On-page SEO.
Website terminology you need to know:
Title tags are one of the most relevant indicators of what a page is about. The website title is pretty self explanitory (hint: it’s at the top of the page in big bold letters).
Our title for this post is “eCommerce SEO – The Guerrilla Guide”
Think about the title of an article you wrote in college, it should explain the topic thoroughly. You can then customize your titles for each individual page, product or service.
Meta descriptions are the blocks of text that show up below the title in SERP. Meta’s are Google’s way of showcasing what the article is about to save the searcher some time and effort. Your meta descriptions should be thoughtful and more or less explain what the page is about.
Subheadings (H1, H2, etc.) are more often than not, at the top of a paragraph signaling what the paragraph is about. The subheading for this block of text you’re currently reading is “Here’s our eCommerce SEO strategy.” Subheadings divide of a page and let Google know what to look for in each paragraph for relevancy. H1’s are also an important ranking factor for Google because it lets Google know that you’re using supporting text for your title.
Body copy is pretty self-explanatory. Body copy is the paragraphs that are included below your subheadings. They make up a bulk of what’s on your pages. Body copy should incorporate your target keywords and keyword synonyms.
Alt text is the text associated with a picture. Alt’s are used for seeing impaired individuals to be able to tell what an image is on the page. Alt text should describe the images that you’re incorporating into your pages or blogs.
Here’s a quick on-page SEO guide.
1. Write naturally
Before writing any content ask yourself “does this feel natural.” If the answer is no, rethink it. We usually start off by writing the material in an exciting way for the audience and then use best optimization practices.
Try and put your keyword as close as possible to the front of the title tag and don’t use too long of a title (shoot for under 60 characters).
Include the keyword in the URL
Make sure that your CMS wraps your subheadings in an H1 tag.
Make sure that your target keyword is in ONE subheading.
Example: <H1>your target keyword here<H1>
Great videos and images will decrease your bounce rate and increase a person time spend on the site.
6. Keywords in body copy
Your keyword should be in the first 100 words of the copy
Example: When you’re looking at a *your keyword here* think about all the additional options and…
7. Internal links
Internally link to pages that relate back to the topic and or service. This passes on “link juice.”
Example: If you reference a service on the home page, link to that service page.
8. Use LSI keywords
LSI Keywords are synonyms for the parent topic. Use LSI keywords inside the body copy where it feels natural.
Your target keyword
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MINIMUM have your pages be 500 words There is no Max here, but Google has a ranking factor called dwell time, it’s how long a person dwells on the page. Write great engaging content that keeps a reader interested in what you have to offer (750+ words).
10. Keyword density
When writing your copy and incorporating your exact match keyword, use a density of no more than 2.5%. I.E. for every 100 words of copy, incorporate your keyword 2 times.
Things to avoid
You don’t need to over optimize your content. Avoid something we like to call “keyword stuffing.” In reality, as long as you sprinkle your keywords throughout the content and in your headings a few times, you should be close enough to the mark. However, including your keyword, too many times can trigger Google’s spam alert and leave you struggling to rank at all. That’s why we wrote “feeling natural” above. A good rule of thumb is to write your content organically and then optimize after using best practices.
Keyword Research for eCommerce Sites
When you’re trying to figure out what keywords to put on your site, it’s a good idea to research different keywords and phrases to find the optimum (least difficult, highest volume) keywords to rank for. Ideally, you’re going to want to optimize for buying keywords – so “a history of green widgets” isn’t going to be as good of a term as “buy green widgets.” The other important aspect here is to make sure that you’re not going after too competitive of keywords. You want to be the big dog in the space, but you have to walk before you can run.
It would be challenging to cover the topic of keyword research better than publications like Moz or Ahrefs, so here’s a quick and dirty guide on how to do keyword research quick and more importantly, on the cheap.
The goal is to find keywords that have a high volume, are buyer focused (think “buy green widgets”) and are “easier” to rank for.
We think that Keywords Everywhere is a great tool to use in this situation. Keywords Everywhere shows up on the right side of Google and it displays all the keywords and keyword volumes. If you’re on a low budget, it’s a great free tool.
Use Google suggest
Accompanying Keywords Everywhere we use Google suggest. Basically, type any term into Google and don’t hit enter. It will show you suggested other searches.
*Using these two tools together all you have to do is hit the star button. This will add all your keywords into Keywords Everywhere and be easily downloadable into a CSV file.
Repeat this process for all your products or services. We suggest a different excel spreadsheet for each product or service page. From there, it’s time to figure out the difficulty.
The Moz bar
Use the Moz bar to figure out how difficult it’s going to be to rank for certain terms. Download the Moz bar (it’s a Chrome extension). You’ll be able to see something called DA and PA.
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.
Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time.
Page Authority (PA) is a score developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engine result pages (SERP). Page Authority scores range from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.
Page Authority is based on data from our web index and takes into account dozens of factors. Like Domain Authority, it uses a machine learning model to identify the algorithm that best correlates with rankings across the thousands of SERPs that we predict against, then produces Page Authority scores using that specific calculation.
Now that you have the Moz bar downloaded use the DA/PA score of each page to indicate difficulty. Start out by seeing what yourr sites DA/PA is and write that down. The secret here is to see all the search results on page one and figure out if you can outrank them. DA is a good indicator of the overall URL rating (how do you compare) and PA will show you that specific page or blog post. A good rule of thumb is if the DA/PA is under 25, you’ll have a good shot at outranking them.
*Disclaimer, we use Ahrefs for our keyword research. The way that we do it with a robust software (Ahrefs) is to figure out how many referring domains a page has. Once you figure that out you can see how many referring domains your page would need to beat them.
eCommerce Product Descriptions
eCommerce product descriptions tend to be extremely neglected. Almost all the time we see product pages that offer little to no detail on the description of the product (outside 2-5 bullet points). If this is all you’re offering on your product pages then you’re most likely doing a poor job on Google search. This also probably isn’t enough information for a consumer to go off as well.
Every product on your page should have a unique, compelling description that contains your very best sales copy. Each product page should be written to the standards of the guide above ^^^ and contain all your SEO keywords and multiple calls to action. Think of the product description as just one aspect of the page.
Smaller shops usually use cut and paste versions of their product, If the products aren’t unique. Each of these descriptions is indexed thousands of times by Google on different sites. We recommend creating a unique description for each product on your site. Please get rid of the standard descriptions and write your own unique take on the product. You want to give the customers fresh content.
When writing the copy, think of it more like a review. Start off what’s wrong with the current solution they are using.
I.E. You’re most likely using widget X, this results in a time consuming, less than optimal process because…
From there, provide information on how this could be better.
I.E. We started using widget Y and we saved time, money, etc. Here’s a list of traits that makes widget Y different/better and how to use widget Y to enhance the quality of your life.
I.E. Mention how the product reduces closet-clutter, or how it makes learning fun for children, and so on. Give consumers ideas on how the item can fit into their lifestyle or home.
*Remember, keep your end user in mind. If your product or services are meant for children, then write your descriptions to moms on how their son/daughter can use this product to enhance their skillsets in school. Here, you would about the benefit in a tone suited to the parent – not the child as it is often the parent or other adult making the purchase decision.
This description really needs to be your very best sales copy. It may be a huge timely task to go through each page and replace the copy, but it will be worth it in the long run when your customers are purchasing more from you as opposed to your competition.
NAP for eCommerce
NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone Number. NAP is critical for businesses wishing to rank well in SERP. Google takes this data into account when determining which companies to show for geo-targeted searches.
Teach me how to NAP
Start with a NAP audit. Search around the web on large indexes (think Yelp) and figure out if your name, address and phone number(s) are right. It should be the exact same across all indexes. We’re a local SEO expert and we’ve seen time and time again how NAP can play a huge roll in businesses ranking and discrepancies in NAP can keep businesses from reaching page one.
I.E. it’s incredibly unlikely that a spam site is going to have a physical address listed on their website, along with their business listed on all the major data aggregators. The more “local citations” you can build up with consistent NAP information, the better.
Yes…if you don’t have a blog, you’re going to need to add one to your site ASAP.
We call it “value-add” content, but in reality, it’s all about your end customer(s). Think to yourself “what are they going to be searching for” or “what are some of their pain points.” From there, you should be able to come up with a relevant list of topics to write about. Honestly, when we’re writing a blog post, we always start with SEO in the back of our minds (as opposed to the front). Yes, we want this blog post to rank on the first page for niche keywords, but more importantly, we want it to add value to our end customers.
If they are enjoying your blog content, they are going to be more likely to:
A) Read more of your content
B) Keep you in mind when they decide to purchase
We (The Guerrilla Agency) do SEO/marketing for eCommerce sites, this blog post is all about how to do it yourself. If you’ve gotten this far, it’s added some value (we hope). Maybe if you’re just starting out you might try this yourself, but at some point, you might decide to outsource and we hope to be top of mind.
Our recommendation is to pull up a Google Sheet and write down as many value-add topics as possible. From there, order the blog posts from “what provides the most value” to “what provides the least value.” Then when you’re writing a post think about the various keywords you could incorporate into that post. Use the same on-page guide we detailed above ^^^.
Contrary to popular belief, link building is STILL the number one factor for SEO success. As an agency, this is one of the main things we spend our clients time/money on. Links are useful for visitors to discover new web pages so they can find the information they are most interested in accessing but are more important to Google to determine which site should be number 1 and which site should be number 100.
In some ways, on-page SEO is the easy part. It’s pretty easy to use the guide above and write a well thought out page on your site. However, when it comes to link building, it’s more art and relationships than actual science.
A rule of thumb is that you should do it carefully and deliberately. If you decide not to use a fantastic link building firm like us, I would go at this with caution. If you get the wrong links from the wrong sites it could hurt you more than help you.
We wrote this entire guide here to explain our link building process!
So there you have it. This is your all-encompassing guide to SEO success with your eCommerce site. It’s going to take some time to get things ramped up and you’ll probably have to do some more digging for further information. If you do have any questions at all, we can schedule a free consultation.