Best practices for ecommerce SEO (Part II)

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Earlier this week we shared five tips on how to get the most out of the SEO for your ecommerce site. Here are another five current and proven tips for all you entrepreneurs out there.

1. Optimize your images

A step that’s incredibly easy to overlook but beneficial all the same is optimizing your product images. This is two-fold: first, make sure you’re using keywords tastefully in your image ALT attributes, keeping in mind that these are intended to help the visually impaired understand your images. Surround those images with relevant, keyword-rich content (keep it natural) and consider naming the filenames with keywords instead of random sets of numbers for an added potential rankings boost.


No one's going to buy this hole punch. 

Secondly, consider the user experience and the importance of images in making the sale. Big, bold images with lots of angles and detail allow customers to better assess your product in a world that is intangible (online, you can’t feel the product or inspect it with your tactile senses) and can contribute to increases in sales and higher consumer confidence. 

2. Create tiered sitemaps

Consider your sitemap as a roadmap for Google’s search spiders – the easier it is to follow, the more pages you’ll have indexed and the smaller the load you put on a crawler. 

A “tiered” sitemap is simply a sitemap of sitemaps. Break your site into relevant sections and sort the URLs accordingly, creating sitemaps for each section. Then, create a primary sitemap that lists all of the different sitemaps you’ve already created. This drastically reduces the crawl load for search spiders, especially when you have thousands of pages.

Increased indexation means increased opportunities to rank – and that means potentially more customers! 

3. Plan a content strategy

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. Content is king, and that doesn’t change for ecommerce websites. Here are just a few things you ought to consider:

We already mentioned unique product descriptions, but these are a must.

Category-level pages can benefit from content too – just make sure it’s actually useful and descriptive for a client instead of a keyword-stuffed mess.

Consider using a blog to help target long-tail searches. Blogging can also be a source of links if you can cultivate a personality and a bank of content that users find genuinely helpful.

A “resources” section is appropriate in some niches – for example, if you sell outdoor equipment, a place to offer guides, professional product reviews, whitepapers and the like will give you a huge leg-up in the content department.

Consider user-generated content like reviews and how you can use these as social proof both on product pages and other areas of your website. For example, a client recommendations engine can be both a source of awesome unique content as well as a persuasive argument for buying from you.

Don’t overlook the home page – but don’t get bogged down. When people come into an ecommerce site, they want to see what’s for sale, on special or new in stock. Don’t let huge blocks of text undermine your user experience for the sake of SEO. It’s not worth it.

4. Test with PPC (be careful with SEO)

What’s a tip on pay-per-click doing in an SEO tips round-up? It’s pretty simple: When you want to test landing pages, content ideas or – arguably most importantly – new keyword verticals, running a small PPC campaign can help you test the waters before making a more involved and long-term SEO commitment. 

Given everything that must be considered for SEO (structure, content, on-page experience), PPC is a flexible way to see if your ideas are good ones. And because of (not provided), PPC also gives you a chance to dig a little bit deeper into keyword data (beyond the laughably inaccurate numbers in webmaster tools), offering insights you otherwise might’ve missed.

PPC can also act like a Band-Aid while new SEO initiatives are ramping up. If you’re brand new to the game, PPC can bring in immediate sales while your content is developed and earning links.

5. Choose your CMS carefully 

Given everything we’ve talked about, it should be abundantly clear that choosing your ecommerce CMS carefully is of crucial importance. While there are plenty of companies happy to offer “custom” solutions in various niches, oftentimes these providers are not well versed in SEO and build solutions that are too rigid to ever be SEO friendly.

Platforms like WordPress can be great for small ecommerce sites and bring SEO-friendly features you’ll love, but they’re not meant for sites with thousands of pages to manage and won’t easily accommodate larger projects. 

Other platforms, like Shopify, are great solutions with built-in SEO functionality. Before you pull the trigger on any management platform, be sure you have full control over URL parameters, content, meta-data, and important items that contribute to mobile friendliness and load times. 

Otherwise, your investment can turn into an expensive mistake!

It’s not rocket science, it just takes some planning. 

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