14 Actionable Ecommerce SEO Tips That Will Increase Your Traffic

What is one thing that all ecommerce sites have in common?

No, it’s not delivering great customer experience or creating a superb service and product.

Although these are important factors for a successful ecommerce store, the one thing they all have in common is that they all want to maximize sales.

However, the world of ecommerce is fierce and competitive. With information overload being the number one challenge customers face every day, it’s hard to make your ecommerce store stand out from the crowd.

One of the best ways to stand out is by targeting the keywords they type in search engines, i.e. Google.

Also known as search engine optimization (SEO), this is a super efficient way to drive targeted traffic to your ecommerce site. A well-optimized SEO ecommerce site can double online sales revenue and traffic.

By getting even the SEO basics down you’ll have an enormous advantage over your competitors.

1. Optimize the meta title for category and product pages

The category and product pages are your most important pages of your ecommerce store so it’s best to write an SEO optimized meta title.

It’s best to write a custom and unique meta title. However, the problem with this is that if you have hundreds of thousands of products, it will get very tedious and repetitive.

This is why it’s best to create a “templated” meta title format. For example:

Buy {category/product name} {1 or 2 relevant keywords} online at {company name}

On the category page, it would look like this: Buy Outdoor Toys for Kids Online at The Best Toy Shop

On the product page, it would look like this: Buy NERF Super Soaker Alphafire Blaster Online at The Best Toy Shop

The benefit of this is that:

  • Having a template makes it easy to change and ensures consistency throughout your website.
  • Saves you time as you don’t have to reinvent the wheel by thinking of new meta titles every time
  • By adding action keywords, it allows you to capture long tail keywords from searches.

Here are some action keywords you can include:

  • Buy now
  • Sale
  • Exclusive
  • Best
  • Free
  • Click

Here’s an example of a pet shop company using action words in their meta title:

pet shop company using action words in their meta title

2. Custom meta title for category and product pages

Although meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, they are correlated with click-through rates from search results. And as click-through rates are a ranking factor, a well-written meta description will have an indirect impact on SEO.

This is why you should create custom a meta description for all your pages as this is your opportunity to draw them in.

Optimize your meta description by:

  • Keeping it at 155 characters
  • Specific to your target audience
  • Be persuasive by using action words

Use action words like:

  • Free shipping
  • 1-day shipping
  • Sale
  • New
  • Instantly

Here’s Zappos using the action word “free shipping” in their meta description for a GUESS watch:

Zappos using the action word “free shipping” in their meta description for a GUESS watch

3. Speed up your website

Page loading speed is a ranking factor.

This is reinforced by Ahrefs’ on-page SEO case study on site speed where it showed there was a correlation between ranking position and site speed.

This means if you have two websites with identical content, the page with the faster loading speed will outrank the slower one.

ahrefs graph showing loading speed against google ranking position

You can test your site’s speed with tools like:

These tools will diagnose your overall site speed and give your tips on ways to improve.

google page speed tool

Some quick fixes include:

  • Upgrading your hosting server
  • Reduce the page size to keep the loading speed low
  • Compress image file sizes

4. Compress product images

As mentioned before, page loading speed is a ranking factor.

Compress all your product images on your page for a smaller image size. This will:

  • Increase page loading time which means better user experience
  • Better user experience will mean more sales

There are many tools you can use. A free tool you can use is Tiny JPG:

screenshot of tiny jpg homepage with panda eating bamboo

5. Optimize images for search engines

Creating the best content ever means nothing if people can’t find it. This goes the same for product images.

Even if you have the most beautiful product images, with products worn by top fashion models, it means nothing if it’s not optimized for SERPs, i.e. no alt text.

Alt text (also known as alternate text) is an attribute added to an image tag. It helps search engines understand what the image is about. It’s the text within the image if it cannot be displayed.

example of an alt text when image doesnt load

Ways to optimize:

  • Before uploading your image, change the filename to something descriptive with one or two added keywords
  • After uploading your image, write a keyword-rich, descriptive alt text.
  • Use high-quality images. It will generate more sales but also increases the likeliness of it getting shared via social media which will bring in more traffic

6. Have a good site structure

Having good site architecture is important for SEO, especially for an ecommerce site considering how many pages there are. I mean, have a look at Amazon and their 111 million pages on Google

amazon on search engine results page showing number of indexed pages

Benefits of good site structure:

  • Link juice can flow around your site effectively and in a systematic way
  • Better user experience as it maps how customers will flow through your website
  • Google crawler can find their way through your site easier more easily

A good general thumb is that customers can access product pages with at most 3 clicks.

Also, include breadcrumbs on all product pages and category pages so users can navigate to parent pages. This also helps Google able to navigate through your site easier.

A good example can be as follows:

diagram showing a good site structure layout

Source: Kissmetrics

7. Boost your pages with internal linking

Internally linking certain pages increases your chance of ranking these linked pages.

For example, a high authority page (e.g. homepage) links to one of your best-selling product pages. Now imagine not just your homepage, but several pages internally linking to that one product page, it will boost its chances ranking higher in SERPs.

Here are some ways we can add internal linking to our product pages:

product recommendations of electronics

  • Breadcrumb navigation – This is the little text internally linking to URL hierarchy.

Breadcrumb navigation by JensonUSA with road bike in picture

Source: Jensonusa.com

By adding these links, you will be able to semi-automate your internal linking.

For example, you add a new product to your ecommerce store. With all the different types of product recommendations, i.e. new products, inserted in your ecommerce site, you’ll be boosting this new product URLs power. Also, with your breadcrumb navigations on your product pages, you’ll also simultaneously transfer link juice up the category hierarchy.

8. Optimize category and product descriptions

It’s a well-known fact that long-form content ranks better in Google. This also applies to ecommerce sites, especially product pages.

Some common problems often seen in ecommerce sites:

A good rule of thumb is to have a minimum of 1000 words on your product pages.

The problem with this is that it will get tedious writing 1000 word product descriptions for thousands of product pages.

However, you can use certain sections in your product page to help contribute to your 1000+ word page:

  • Customer review section
  • Product specifications
  • Q&A section
  • Accessories included

With thousands of product pages on your ecommerce site, it is best to create a product page template which will allow you to speed up writing your product pages and ensure consistent formatting throughout your site.

Tips for writing your product pages

  • Write 50-100 words for the product description
  • Write original and unique description for EVERY product
  • Highlight the technical specs: brand, model, color, etc
  • Do not copy manufacturer’s description
  • No keyword stuffing
  • Use bullet points to list the features
  • Include product video if available

Bestbuy has a great example of a product description for their drone product

Bestbuy's product description for their drone product dji mavrik pro

Why put so much effort in the product description?

The Google Panda update in 2011 caused a lot of ecommerce sites to be penalized resulting in a massive hit in their traffic.

Since a lot of sites didn’t have enough content and copied manufacturer’s description, they were hit with thin content and duplicate content penalization.

google panda penalty hit on website's traffic due to duplicate content

Source: neilpatel.com

9. Switch to HTTPS

If you haven’t already, switch the entire domain to HTTPS

website with https in url

2 reasons for this change:

  • Ecommerce stores will likely be collecting a lot of private information like credit card numbers, passwords, and home addresses. It’s good practice to encrypt all this information
  • There is a slight boost in rankings for HTTPS site as confirmed by Google

What’s the difference between HTTP vs HTTPS

HTTPS (Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol) is basically HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol). The main difference is that HTTPS is a more secure version which avoids damages by third parties and keeps data encrypted.

There’s a great tool by JitBit that will let you scan your website for non-secure HTTPS pages after migrating. This will ensure your migration was successful.

10. Redirect your 404 pages

Google is all about user experience.

If you decide to delete a page or a product is not available, your customers may receive a 404 page which is not ideal.

404 Page by adidas with white sneakers in background

This can cause problems when a page that had lots of links pointing to it becomes a 404 page, i.e a loss in link juice. Google will eventually de-index the page since it does not exist and you will lose what keywords you were ranking for.

It’s a good idea to redirects your dead pages with 301 redirect (also known as a permanent redirection) to a new location. This will help preserve your rankings and keep your customers happy.

The reason for 301 redirects:

  • 301 redirects pass between 90-99% of link juice (ranking power) to the redirected page.
  • 302 redirects won’t pass any link juice so steer away from these

What do you do with expired product pages?

Like fashion and electronics products, these tend to get replaced with newer models and styles, which means the products are never going to come back. Many ecommerce stores simply delete the product page and think that’s that. However, this is a big no-no in terms of SEO, and also for people that bookmarked that page – they will land on a 404 error page.

Here’s what you can do:

  • 301 redirect older model products to the newer model. It will preserve the link juice
  • 301 redirect to the category page as long as it makes sense and provides value to the customer
  • Reuse the URL If the page is about generic products (no model number or technical specification)

11. Submit a sitemap to help Google crawl your site

You want to submit a sitemap to ensure all the pages on your site can be found by Google.

An XML (Extensible Markup Language) sitemap are a list of all the URLs on your site which creates a readable format for Google. This isn’t a big problem if your ecommerce store has good site architecture, but hey, anything to help Google, the better.

You can list up to 50,000 files in one sitemap. So if you’re ecommerce store is like Amazon, you’ll have to submit multiple sitemaps.

12. Design for mobile

Mobile devices are growing fast and you must ensure your ecommerce site is designed for mobile users. Here’s why:

  • One-third of all ecommerce purchases during the 2015 holiday season were made on a smartphone.
  • 80% of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations
  • 42% of all visits to retail websites were generated via smartphone.
  • A Yotpo study of over 120,000 ecommerce stores in 2015 showed that 34% of search came from mobile.

Also, with Google announcing that mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, designing for mobile is a must.

Check if your site is mobile friendly with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

homepage of a website tool to see if website is mobile friendly

13. Add schema markup

Schema markup is a code that you put on your website to help search engines display informative results to users on SERPs. You typically see these in the rich snippets on Google SERPs.

For ecommerce sites, there are 2 schema markups you should use:

  • Product – Users can see price, availability, and review ratings on search results.
  • Review – Users can see the reviews and ratings for businesses, products, books, movies, etc.

Here’s an example of adding a schema markup which results in a rich snippet:

google search results with schema markup which shows additional details of product

This may seem really technical to set up but it’s not. Don’t worry, there are lots of articles explaining how to add Schema Markup.

14. Leverage the power of user-generated content

User-generated content is anything created by your customers. This can include reviews section, Facebook comments section, Instagram section, etc.

Benefits of user-generated content:

  • Unique content ranks higher
  • Your pages will be updated frequently – Freshness is a Google ranking factor
  • Social proof. High review rating will mean higher conversions

Daniel Wellington incorporates an Instagram section in their product pages:

daniel wellington instagram

Conclusion

Your ecommerce store is constantly changing every day with new products being added and removed.

Having an SEO framework from day one is important if you want your products to be discovered on page 1 of Google.

Take advantage of tools to make your life easier and to make you able to identify any errors in your SEO. Tools like:

  • Google Webmaster Tools: free tool to identify SEO issues on your site and allow you to see how well your product pages are performing on SERPs
  • SEO Screaming Frog to identify problems within your ecommerce website

It’s not possible to cover everything about ecommerce SEO in one article, but these tips should give you a good start and put you ahead of your competitors.

Any other SEO tips I missed?

Showing 2 comments
  • Alex Kim
    Reply

    The use of action keywords in the meta title and description is genius!

  • Emily Pille
    Reply

    I love these tips. There’s a few that I’m missing on my site. Will have to try these out.

    Would there be a fluctuation in ranking when switching from http to https?

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