Online Store SEO: How to Rank In Search
As an eCommerce inbound marketing agency, we counsel our clients about the value of P.E.S.O. (paid, earned, shared and owned) strategies. Organic search and online store SEO fall under the owned portion of this acronym and offer long-term benefits for both new and legacy stores.
Unlike paid marketing approaches, organic search benefits do not require an advertising budget. Additionally, the traffic benefits of appearing in search results can last months or years, if properly maintained.
To help you increase online search presence, we've outlined a few eCommerce SEO best practices below to get you started.
Online Store SEO Tips
- Optimize Your Pages
- Link Internally
- Optimize for Mobile Users
- Create Blog & Other Relevant Content
- Earn Inbound Links
Page optimization and keyword research are arguably some of the strongest SEO tactics available. This approach ultimately starts by determining the keywords your customers search for the most.
Next, analyze your competition. If you're unsure where to begin, we wrote a related blog about eCommerce SEO tools that covers this topic in more detail. However in general, we recommend Keyword Keg, MOZ and Google Keyword Planner to help identify keywords that make sense for your business.
When incorporating keywords into your website, we recommend only optimizing one keyword per page. This approach ensures you tailor content appropriately and don't compete against yourself in search results.
Once you determine a target keyword for your page, incorporate it in the following areas:
- Page Title
- 2-3 Times Throughout Page Copy
- Image File Name
- Image Alt Text
We also recommend optimizing your product category, detail and other systems pages using the bullets above. However, we caution you to avoid keyword stuffing. This tactic can negatively affect your search rankings. If you're looking for more information, we recommend exploring more in our blog about eCommerce SEO strategy.
Internal linking helps Google understand your website’s hierarchy. These links demonstrate relationships between content and show what pages are more authoritative about specific subject than others.
Additionally, pages with multiple internal links can experience higher search rankings. This phenomenon is a benefit of a content marketing strategy called topic clustering.
Originally coined by HubSpot, this approach creates a cluster of content that relates to a larger anchor piece. This longer-form content piece sits at the center of the topic cluster absorbs the linking benefits of the other pages.
Although HubSpot topic clusters are a relatively new marketing concept, building internal links is a tried-and-true SEO best practice. Stores that include relevant internal links to related products, sizing guides and other content can improve user experience and help search engines understand how your site relates to specific inquiries.
Mobile & User Optimization
With mobile website traffic surpassing desktop for most eCommerce businesses, responsive website design has become a design must for any online store. However, the benefits of mobile optimization extend far beyond user experience.
Google rewards websites whose users spend time engaging with content. This "dwell time”factor influences search rankings because in Google's eyes, the longer someone stays on your site, the more they relate to your content.
When optimizing your site for mobile, look at factors like live chat, detailed product descriptions, and customer reviews to keep visitors engaged.
Brands should also consider page load time and site layout/design. Recognize that visitors are using smaller screens and optimize images and layouts to respond and load quickly. If you're interested in learning more, we recommend exploring our related blog about mobile eCommerce trends.
Fresh content and page updates signal to search engines that a website is current and relevant. As a result, brands should look for regular opportunities to keep their store up-to-date.
Many stores find blogging regularly can provide many SEO and user benefits. On the SEO side of things, blogging enables brands to target a swath of keywords that relate to their businesses. As a result, this tactic can expand search visibility and increase organic search traffic to your store.
Additionally, blogging offers previous customers or visitors more reasons to revisit your store. Helpful content establishes trust with website users, and as a result, can encourage repeat purchases. If you're looking to improve your blog writing skills, we've outlined eCommerce blogging tips in a related blog here.
Inbound links refer to external pages that reference and link to your website pages. These links carry SEO weight because they help Google determine the context and relevancy of your site.
Inbound links are still one of the strongest ways to bolster domain and page authority for your online store. To reap the full benefits of these links, brands should ensure these pages have high domain authority, are from reputable sources and include relevant anchor text.
Although collecting inbound links is one of the most difficult SEO tasks, we encourage brands to get creative and explore new opportunities to expand their content's reach. Consider tapping into influencers, partner networks and social media to build a linking matrix.
Finally, remember that SEO is a long-game strategy and linking building takes time. Be patient and stay motivated to continue moving your online store forward.
As search engines evolve, techniques to improve SEO will continue to change. Overall, focusing on usability should be your guiding light. Make sure visitors spend time on your site and have positive experiences. If you follow proven best practices and focus on your users first, the rest will follow.
For 10 additional tips to increase traffic and organic search rankings, check out our eCommerce SEO Checklist for 2019.
Need help improving your online store’s SEO? Feel free to reach out through the form below. We'd love to connect!