In this expert-written guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about building an SEO friendly E-Commerce website.
Why SEO Matters for E-Commerce Websites ?
According to Kissmetrics 30.5% of all traffic to e-commerce sites comes from search engines.
In an article published in Searchengineland reports that the organic search accounted for 26% of holiday e-commerce orders.
It’s almost impossible for e-commerce businesses to thrive today without SEO. To be able to generate sales you need to rank higher than your competitors on Google. But designing an e-Commerce website is challenging due to the complexity of the job.
Which one first ? Web Design or SEO ?
Most of the business owners think that, if they want to design an E-Commerce website the first person to call is the web designer or the web designing company.
But most of them don’t recognize the importance of the initial research, especially the Keywords Research. Then they hire an SEO specialist or a company to optimize the website that is not properly built for SEO.
In an article in Search Engine Land explain this like below.
“ Baking a cake is easy — when you use all the right ingredients from the beginning!
But just imagine how it would be if you mixed the batter, poured it into a tray, sprinkled icing sugar all over it, and were just about to pop the creation into the oven… when you remember that you forgot to add eggs!
You’d have to do either bake it without the eggs, resulting in a flat and crumbly cake, or you’d have to start over again from scratch, this wasting valuable time, energy and ingredients.”
Where should we start ?
Step 1 – KEYWORDS RESEARCH
If you want an SEO friendly e-commerce website, make sure to kick things off with keyword research.
Because keywords research will lay the foundation of your website architecture and how your products and main product category pages will be. It will define a proper navigation structure to the website and it will help to decide how we should handle other technical SEO elements on your website.
This guide will not explain on how to find keywords for E-Commerce Website. You can find more information about E-Commerce Keywords Research here.
Step 2 – SITE/URL ARCHITECTURE
Any e-commerce website tends to have lots of product pages and it’s very different from a normal website with few pages. Because of this, you need to plan your website structure very carefully. If you do not follow a proper architecture , some of the product pages might not be indexed on Google.
Golden Rules for an E-Commerce Website Architecture !
1. Keep it simple and scalable .
2. Make sure your main keywords are available within your URLs
3. Manage your deep pages / categories – Keep every page 3 clicks from your homepage
Bad Example –
Ex : www.sample.com/product/ product-category/ product-sub-category/ product-sub-category2/type/product-page
www.sample.com/all-categories/organisation-calendars/diy-organisers.html – Category page
www.sample.com/scrapbooking-hopper-2016-wall-calendar.html – Product page
A good way to handle category issues of an e-commerce website is to differentiate your product pages and category pages technically.
3 clicks away from home page doesn’t mean that all your pages should be withing 3 clicks in the navigational menu or breadcrumbs. What matter is how deep your page exist from the home page. If your product page exists within so many directories like the one below you have very limited chance to rank your product page or sometimes even index in Google.
Ex: www.sample.com/product/ product-category/ product-sub-category/ product-sub-category2/type/product-page
How this help for SEO ?
We need to understand that Google also has limited resources . Don’t expect to google will come and save all your web pages in their index. They will visit the website and they will only crawl or save most important pages of your website.
How will Google know which pages are important pages in a website ?
It mainly depends on where your page located with your website and how many internal links pointing to that particular web page. In other words, it depends on each page rank. If a page located after so many categories/directories google think that it’s not an important page. But if a page stay just after the main root domain , that is an indication for Google this is an important page.
Once Google met with the limit allocated to your website ( Crawler Budget) it will leave the website without indexing very important pages on your site if your site architecture, not supportive enough.
An example of Bad site architecture. ( Image Source :backlinko.com)
An example of Good site architecture ( Image Source :backlinko.com)
Step 3– On-Site Content
For most of the E-Commerce web site main product category page and the individual product page will drive the majority share of the total organic traffic. But most of the online shops forgets to add enough content on these pages.
When you designing an E-Commerce website you have to have enough space to write content . We recommend having at least 300 words plus content on your product and category pages.Industry research found that longer the content you have more chances you can be rank in Google.
Creating detail content not practical ?
Well, take a look at pages of Amazon.com.
Your content should not be only about your product/ product description. You can integrate other functions like Reviews, Questions and Answers and Related Products elements to the products page. This will help to increase the overall content of your product page.
Step 4– Select right CMS Platform
When its comes to E-Commerce CMSs , Magento is the world most popular CMS for E-Commerce. That is because its architecture built to support E-Commerce websites to function more effectively. Also, many other people use Woocommerce, Drupal Commerce, Open Chart and Os Commerce etc.
We recommend to use a common CMS unless you have a bigger budget to have a customize CMS and you know what you are doing. Having built on common CMS will potentially avoid any critical technical SEO mistakes.
Step 5– Reliable hosting & Trust Factors.
Page loading speed is a very critical factor in an E-Commerce website. Make sure you have subscribed to at least managed hosting plan or dedicated servers or at least good server with good page loading speed.
Not only the speed and performance you also need to look at the trust factors of an e-Commerce Website. Make sure you implement sitewide SSL ( Https//:) for your website.
Things/features you can implement to increase trust factors on your store.
- Install site wide SLL ( https://)
This is a signal not only to your potential customers but also to Google that there won’t be any risk for Google to sending their clients to your website. In fact, it’s a ranking factor for SEO.
2. Make sure there will be an option to add and manage customer reviews on product and category pages.
3. Get Google Trusted Store Certification and other security certifications.
Especially, if you e-commerce store is a new one, these are the best ways to increase the credibility of your online shop. Go get the Google Trusted store certification you need to have a bit of transaction history.
But other certifications and information can be included on your website like below.
4. Implement sales notifications or user notification on your site.
When people see that other people buy products online in your store , it will increase your overall conversion ratio.
Step 6– Ready for Mobile
Mobile Search is overtaking the desktop search in every part of the word and it’s not a new thing. Most of the website built today are mobile friendly. Mobile friendly does not mean that everything is perfect. You need to think about user experience also. Make sure you run every touch point optimization before you launch the website.
Bonus Tips –
- Implement Google AMP Pages
What us AMP Pages ?
Google launched Accelerated Mobile Pages project couple of month ago. The main purpose in to increase the mobile user experience, especially removing heavy code and content from pages.
Recently E-Bay launched AMP pages , specifically targeting mobile users. If you are designing a new – Ecommerce website ask your web developers whether they can implement this.
- Make sure to have dynamic XML sitemap & HTML Site Map
I have seen with some clients, they have added an externally generated XML sitemap to the site. If you don’t have a dynamic sitemap, when you add or remove a product from the site the sitemap will not get updated. If your all the pages are not available in the sitemap most of the time Google will never notice your pages.
HTML Sitemap is another very basic thing you can do. Remember Google bot is also a user. Just like HTML site map help to general users although people will not use it, both HTML sitemap and XML sitemap is useful for search engine crawlers to find all the pages on your website.
Product review markups will help add review starts in Google search results.
- Social Sharing Buttons
Make sure you have options to share your product or category pages in Social Media.
Note: This post will be updated time to time with latest recommendations and findings. Make sure to subscribe to my blog to get the update.
Appriciate all your comments and thoughts.