SEO is key to boosting your eCommerce business, and with our expert guide, you’re sure to master this marketing strategy.
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Is SEO the Most Important Digital Marketing Channel for eCommerce?
Want to know what SEO for eCommerce reminds us of? Think full-contact sports, like boxing and MMA. No, really – stick with us here.
Unlike pay-per-click or other forms of advertising, you have to master skills to succeed with SEO. Sure, chance or luck can propel you to the top of a search result, but it comes down to a stellar strategy and mastery of SEO for eCommerce. It’s about mastering a skill, like a prizefighter, to succeed with this marketing tactic.
Sound tough? Don’t worry. There are some key fundamentals to ensure you master this marketing tactic.
Be the Best to Achieve Your SEO Goals
To have the best shot at “winning” at SEO for eCommerce, it’s all about focusing on the key fundamentals.
But how do you win? Well, when it comes to SEO, winning means you fill the first, second, third (or all three!) top spots on a Google search with your products. To do this, you have to train like a fighter. This means not just focusing on one aspect of SEO for eCommerce but all the core aspects to have the best fighting chance at securing those coveted top spots.
You may be wondering – “why such a heavy emphasis on SEO?” 25 to 40% of your new customers should come to you through organic traffic. That’s a big chunk of new business coming from a simple Google search, and people tend to choose one of the first few options they see. This 25-40% is key to creating a growing, profitable eCommerce business, and being at the top of their search result will ensure you do just that.
Why Small eCommerce Brands aren’t Successful with SEO
So, why do smaller eCommerce brands struggle with SEO? There are a few reasons.
Before we dive in, let’s define “small.” When we refer to smaller eCommerce brands, we are talking $10 million or less in revenue.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about eCommerce SEO mistakes.
Smaller businesses tend to lack a comprehensive SEO approach. A comprehensive SEO strategy requires a focus on five (yes, five!) different things to ensure a successful strategy. We will explain these five different aspects below, but typically we see that smaller companies focus on just one or a few and not all five. Larger companies will focus on all five, and if you don’t want to get lost in the sea of SEO strategies, you’ll want to ensure you hit all five, too.
To avoid falling victim to the classic eCommerce SEO mistakes and reach your revenue objectives, create a focused and dedicated strategy that touches on all five of our below requirements to stay competitive in this ever-growing space. This requires finding the resources to dedicate to all five focal areas or hire a company that can do so on your behalf.
The 5 Fundamentals to Be Successful in SEO
Just like a boxer, a dancer, or a professional swimmer, there are multiple aspects of their sport that require attention. From technique to form and physical abilities, there’s a lot that goes into perfecting your sport. Likewise, SEO best practices consist of multiple factors that culminate into a killer eCommerce strategy.
We need all of the fundamentals, all of the practice and tools, to win. Neglecting one area gives someone else who is paying attention to all other steps get a leg up, and we don’t want that. This is why all five fundamentals are so important – because if you’re not mastering all of them, someone else indeed is.
Let’s dive right into our SEO must-have tips.
1. Improve Your Technical SEO
The first fundamental for successful SEO is technical SEO.
Technical SEO refers to the optimizations you can make with your website and server to improve your organic ranking on search engines. By improving this, you are letting search engines, like Google, know that your website is high-value, aiding in ranking you higher, so you’re in those coveted top positions.
It’s an SEO best practice to get your technical SEO in order before diving too deep into your SEO for eCommerce strategy. Why? This lays the foundation for your SEO success, building your future marketing tactics on top of an already highly valued website. To do this, you’ll want to include elements like crawling, rendering, website architecture, and indexing to ensure your technical SEO is competitive.
That’s not all on technical SEO. Keep reading for our best tips to master this first fundamental.
1.1 Choose the Right Platform for Your Website
Technical SEO starts with choosing the right platform upon which to build your website.
There are many different options to choose from, from WordPress to Squarespace and Weebly, with each offering different capabilities. Still, you’ll want to find the most SEO friendly platform for your unique business. Our team at Comrade has created a great list of the top-performing website builders to help you narrow it down. How do we do this? When it comes to choosing the right one for you and your business, consider the plug-ins and features that are offered, ease of use of the site interface, the helpful features, as well as user satisfaction.
On top of the commonly known website-building platforms, there’s another option called Magento. Our team at Catapult Revenue has years of experience working with Magento (we’ve even been ranked among the Top Magento Developers in January 2021, according to DesignRush). We can say that Magento is user-friendly like WordPress – great for those without a technical background. The platform has updated its layouts and plugins for a seamless eCommerce experience and features elements like navigation links, page titles, and website loading speed to optimize eCommerce. We do have some key tips to improve your SEO success on Magento, including avoiding duplicate content and using HTTPS, but overall it’s a seamless platform.
Ultimately, the platform for you comes down to the nitty-gritty details. What elements are a must to make your website a success? This depends on your unique business, and ironing out what are must-haves will be key before selecting a platform.
1.2 Develop Website Structure
An SEO friendly platform is a must to optimize your SEO efforts. But why is this so important? Our team at Catapult Revenue is here to break it down with six tips.
The right structure can boost your SEO efforts, maximizing the overall impact of your website. Here are the six ways to get a great website structure:
- Ensure it’s scannable for quick viewers.
- Make sure it’s fast, so people aren’t waiting for it to load.
- Use keywords to name pages to get Google’s attention.
- The main menu should only incorporate the most important categories.
- Use contextual links to outside sources to show credibility.
- Update website navigation, removing old pages and material viewers don’t need to see.
1.3 Make Your Website Secure
Security is a top priority for many consumers, and HTTPS offers that peace of mind.
HTTPS keeps customers that are viewing your site safe by encrypting the data between the server and browser. Is this that important? Actually, yes. Google has become increasingly dedicated to HTTPS, now marking sites as “Not Secure” when they don’t use it.
Incorporating HTTPS on your website is a simple way to win the SEO for eCommerce game with a super SEO friendly platform. Don’t skip this easy step!
1.4 Create SEO-Friendly URLs
Did you know that even your URL can be SEO-friendly? It’s true!
SEO-friendly URLs are often short and highlight keywords, helping meet the needs of users with simple, understandable, and accessible sequences. When it comes to creating these URLs, we recommend using keywords, avoiding unnecessary words and characters like “the” or “and,” and making sure they are comprehensive and future-proof, so your URLs don’t have to change as the business grows.
Need an example? We’ve got you.
So, we mentioned readability. Imagine you’ve created the following URL:
Seems long, right? To optimize your URL, make it clear to searchers what they are looking at by shortening it to:
Now we know what it’s for, without going to great lengths to read it. Easy and user friendly.
1.5 Improve Page Speed
This may be the most obvious of the tips, but offering a high-speed website is a must.
We live in a super fast-paced world, where instant gratification is a top priority, and no one wants to wait around for a page to load, especially if they are just browsing. For this reason, ensuring your page speed is quick to load is important to get those new customers onto your site quickly so they can begin viewing your content. They want to see it immediately, and improving your page speed makes sure they get that.
2. Build a Strong On-Page SEO Base
On-page SEO tactics refer to optimizing the content and HTML source code of individual web pages to improve search engine rank and gain traffic.
With an effective on-page SEO strategy, you not only garner relevant traffic to your business and brand, but you help search engines to better analyze your content and website to ensure those searching are looking for what’s on your site. This makes sure your traffic is intentional, which helps boost sales.
How do we get a strong on-page base? With these on-page SEO tactics, you can ensure you get the right traffic to your site.
2.1 Choose the Right Keywords
When we talk about keywords, we are referring to the words or phrases that are relevant to your site. With the right keywords, you’ll drive relevant traffic to a website through organic searches – making them a great tool to connect with your ideal audience.
Keywords are the connection between the content offered on your website’s pages and the search engines that potential customers are using. By using keywords that let people know you have the content they’re looking for, you’re ensuring you’re a top result as they search for a solution.
When selecting keywords, consider the various ways you can phrase what you’re offering on your site to account for all the different ways people will search for something. This will help guarantee you’re a top result.
2.2 Write for Humans, Not for Bots
When it comes to attracting new customers, a clear, enticing copy is what will keep them coming back for more.
Our team at Comrade has a lot of tips for On-Page SEO, but it comes down to readability. This doesn’t mean skipping on the keywords. No, these are still a must in your SEO copywriting! However, knowing the best keywords and sprinkling them throughout your content to still focus on the consumer’s needs will have the best results.
How do we do this? We like to ensure we get our keywords in our titles while incorporating the most valuable keywords throughout. Then, it’s all about being unique and descriptive. This not only attracts new users but search engines too. Search engines can tell when you jam-pack a title with keywords, so instead, opt for the most powerful ones accompanied by a killer description for best results.
2.3 Give Relevant Media
Okay, not everyone wants to read a block of text. Some of us are just doing a quick scan to see if the information is what we are looking for. This is where different media forms come into play.
Using multiple media forms will further entice casual searchers with more engaging content, from images to infographics and videos. Everyone takes in information in different ways, and by catering to multiple preferences with different media options, you’re sure to please more new users.
2.4 Link to Other Websites
Having external links on your site is said to boost your ranking power on search engines, helping drive traffic and customers. These links can help connect you to other sites, creating connections and relevancy to help boost your search engine standing.
Additionally, linking to relevant, reliable sources helps gain the trust of new customers. Sharing links to other sources helps back-up what you’re saying with a source that’s an authority on the topic, boosting credibility and also making it clear that in any area where you’re not an expert, someone that is is there to back up your word. This instills trust with new customers – a key component to retaining them long-term.
3. Make a Mobile-Friendly Website
We spend countless hours of the day on our mobile devices, so why wouldn’t your website account for those viewers?
According to this analysis, in July 2020, Datareportal reported 5.15 unique mobile users, which accounts for about 66% of the population. This means most of the population is utilizing their mobile devices to search and, subsequently, shop. According to the same article, mobile ad spending is expected to exceed desktop by 2022, making it a focal point for marketing strategies.
With this in mind, it’s essential to focus on SEO for mobile search strategies to target those mobile shoppers as their usage is only expected to grow.
Here’s how we recommend prioritizing SEO for mobile search needs.
3.1 Provide the Fastest Page Speed for Mobile
As if we weren’t impatient enough when searching for answers and products, we have a heightened need for speed when using our mobile devices.
For this reason, it’s vital to ensure that your page loading speed is extremely quick on mobile devices. Typically, it’s a standard for a page to load in less than 3 seconds. However, Google recommends that it take less than 1 or 2.
3.2 Be Ready for Mobile-First Index
We weren’t bluffing when we said mobile is the growing focus! For this reason, it’s a must to focus on the mobile-first index to stay on the pulse of the latest searching trends.
Google now primarily focuses on the mobile version of the content for their indexing and ranking. Yes, that means your site’s mobile version is what will determine your place on Google’s charts. In the past, Google focused on the desktop version, but as more users switch to their mobile devices, the Googlebot will now crawl and index with a smartphone agent.
So, what does this mean for you? Boost your mobile site! Ensure it has all the right keywords and structure to ensure you are best positioned amongst the ranks.
3.3 Improve Mobile UX
Having a mobile version of your site isn’t enough anymore. As mobile usage continues to grow, it’s important to improve the user experience with a high-quality, mobile-friendly site.
Where do we begin! There are a lot of great ways to optimize your website for an improved mobile UX, but here are some of our top tips:
- Create a clear menu that includes a search option.
- Use white space, headings, and borders instead of dividers.
- Tone down the design.
- Focus on speed.
- Limit ads.
4. Create an Off-Page SEO Strategy
We talked about an on-page SEO strategy, but what about off-page SEO?
Instead of focusing solely on what’s on your actual website, off-page SEO focuses on the activities you do off of your site to improve your search ranking. These tactics help improve the way search engines, like Google, and users view your site.
One of the main tactics for off-page SEO is link building. Linkbuilding is when other websites hyperlink to your site, which increases the inbound traffic through links.
Ultimately, this helps further drive traffic to your site, converting new viewers into long-term shoppers.
4.1 Choose Your Linkbuilding Strategy
When it comes to link building, there are a few things to consider to optimize your results. First, you need to narrow in on your target audience. Get to know them, what they like, and where they go for information to properly target them on different platforms. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to better narrow down the sites that will most appeal to them.
Then, it’s time to write content, like blog posts, that your target audience will love. With the right content, you can contact the websites your audience visits, asking them to link to your posts. This will help drive users to your site based on a genuine interest in what they were already searching for.
Lastly, don’t forget to use social media. This is a great tool to further drive traffic directly to your content by posting links on your platforms.
4.2 Avoid the Black Hat Technique
A great fighter doesn’t cheat their way to the top, and an awesome SEO strategy doesn’t either. For this reason, black hat techniques are a big no-no.
A black hat SEO technique is when you try to get a better ranking using unethical practices, which can result in a penalty from search engines. These “black hat” techniques include using private link networks, keyword stuffing, and cloaking.
These tactics will only hurt your business’s reputation, and while they may look like a quick solution, there are serious long term consequences.
5. Make SEO a Part of Your Digital Strategy
Like a world-renowned athlete, SEO is not just about one strategy (or competition) but the whole picture of the fighter.
A great SEO strategy is one that is implemented and integrated into the general marketing strategy. SEO for eCommerce isn’t as strong on its own, and when it works in cohesion with the rest of your business’s marketing strategy, the full picture comes together for a compelling story that’s sure to pay off.
Here’s how to ensure your SEO plan is properly integrated with your overall marketing strategy.
5.1 Provide Retargeting Campaigns to Customers
We know that a pay-per-click strategy can get expensive, but utilizing your SEO strategy to retarget customers can help turn passing interest into an actual sale.
Search retargeting is used for retargeting customers that have searched for your brand or visited your website, quickly offering an ad on the next website they visit to tempt them back to your website. This helps remind them to complete their purchase or revisit what your business has to offer with a targeted ad.
5.2 Promote Your Materials on Social Media
We’ve said it once, and we will say it again – utilize your social media platforms!
To further boost your SEO efforts, create a content strategy that helps drive traffic from your social media platforms to your website and products. Social media not only allows you to share your brand and message with the world but will enable others to share it, too. It’s a convenient tool that can do wonders for your business.
The key to social media is consistency, so be sure to build out a plan and post on a consistent schedule so you gain a loyal audience and let your voice stand out from the crowd.
5.3 Combining YouTube and SEO
We mentioned social media, and this includes YouTube! Our experts at Catapult Revenue did a deep dive on how to use YouTube for eCommerce, but here are some of the SEO-relevant takeaways.
When it comes to SEO, integrate your keywords into your video titles and files to help drive traffic. Additionally, you can optimize your YouTube video descriptions with a custom thumbnail that puts you at a higher ranking in searches.
If you mastered the rest of your SEO strategy, integrating your keywords on YouTube will be a simple step that can make a big difference in your traffic.
With these fundamentals, you’re now ready to effectively grow your business using SEO. From improving your technical SEO to incorporating SEO in your overall digital strategy, there’s a great deal you can do to come out on top of the search engine results.
To ensure your SEO strategy is top-notch, our team of experts at Catapult Revenue can work with you to build your eCommerce business. To get started on your new strategy, request a free consultation or call us at 312-625-0447 today.