You’ve launched an online store… which means customers will start pouring in any minute, right? Not quite. In a competitive marketplace, entrepreneurs have to find a way attract the attention of online users to drive traffic to their websites and generate sales. The best way to catch the eyes of potential customers is through search engine optimization (SEO). That way, you can capture organic traffic from individuals just starting their shopping journey.
Scoring the first page of a search engine result is good; nabbing one of its top spots is even better. Here are three basic SEO principles for ecommerce to keep in mind as you make your web store search engine-friendly.
Engage in Keyword Research
In order to meet people where they are, you have to find out what they search when they sit down at a computer or pull up a browser on their mobile device. Using a program like Google Keyword Planner, you can figure out the right keywords for your store. Kissmetrics recommends targeting those with:
- High relevancy to the products/services you sell
- High exact match search volume locally
- Low difficulty when it comes to competitiveness (use Moz tool)
While it might seem like a potential “win” to target keywords tangential to your store, your bounce rates will inflate as people visit your site, realize you don’t actually have what they’re seeking and leave. However, if you only target highly competitive keywords it will take you a long time to rank (if ever).
The best move is to target both head terms and long-tail keyword phrases. For example, good head terms for an online shoe store would be “tennis shoes,” “high heels” or “sandals.” While head terms can boost overall traffic and brand awareness, you can bet every other online store in your industry will target them as well. That’s where long-tail searches come in. By also targeting longer keyword phrases like “black leather ballet flats,” “new Nike basketball shoes,” and “best lightweight Gore-Tex hiking shoes,” you’ll capture extra, more specific monthly searches—they’ll bring less traffic, but it will be more specialized.
Consider Your Website Architecture
User flow also matters when it comes to SEO. Poor site architecture means less link power, convoluted site indexing and worse navigation for shoppers. As Search Engine Journal points out, it’s helpful to think of your store in distinct tiers. It will look like a family tree when you’re finished, with each subsequent level linking back to a single page before it.
Tier 1: Domain
Tier 2: Main navigation (home page, store, “about us” page, contact page, etc.)
Tier 3: More specific pages (product categories, staff bios, careers, etc.)
Tier 4: Highly specific pages (product listings, open job listings, etc.)
Hint: The fewer steps it takes to get back to the home page from a subsequent page, the better. The control you have over your website’s structure and navigation has a lot to do with how you build it; while some entrepreneurs try to do it all alone, it’s easy to get confused or bogged down. Hosting your store in the cloud simplifies things on the back end. Conduct a cloud ecommerce platform comparison beforehand to find the right support tools.
Evaluate Content for Usefulness
Is every page on your site serving a purpose? Extra URLs will bog your site index down. If you can prune some of the “dead weight” from the early days of your ecommerce store, you’ll see results. Plus, you won’t have to worry about suddenly writing thousands of pages of copy. Once you’ve narrowed your site down to just the pages you need, clean up the URLs (the shorter and more descriptive, the better) and your actual content (which should always be original).
Implementing these foundational SEO principles for ecommerce will maximize your organic search impact and attract new customers to your site.