Сreative goods, top-notch service, competitive prices, – all these things are of little value if your shop is in the middle of nowhere. Only a small percentage of your target audience will visit it. A similar tendency is currently occurring in e-commerce. If your online store gets stuck somewhere on the outskirts of SERP, you won’t profit from your hot deals. Buyers just won’t find them.

Today, competition is fierce in Google search. It’s a real challenge to turn web users into customers. Most of them buy from time-tested e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay. According to the report by BloomReach, 55% of consumers start their product search on Amazon, while only 28% go to search engines like Google.

Sure thing you can submit your products to Amazon too. But if you are a small retailer who counts every dollar, you may not want to share your income with third parties. A surefire way to market your business online is through SEO. It has a different approach in e-commerce compared to blogs and other types of websites.

In this guide, you will learn how to optimize your store to appear in the Top 10.

Get Done with Thin Content

A filterable menu makes it easy to browse through large inventories. But what’s comfortable for your customers is not always positive for you. When they filter products, your e-commerce system may automatically generate hundreds of URLs with thin content.

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If Google can index those URLs, your store will look like another content mill in its eyes.

Learn how to fix this technical SEO issue step by step.

  • Check out how many pages of your store Google can index by running a ‘site:yourdomain.com’ search. If their number is too high, the engine probably indexes auto-generated URLs.

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As an alternative, you can view this data in Google Search Console. Log in to your account and go to the Index Status report.

  • Next, choose a category page and run a ‘site:yourdomain.com/category-page’ search. It will show you how many versions Google indexes for a single page.
  • Add a “noindex,follow” tag to your dynamic pages. Google won’t index them in the next crawling session.

<code>
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow”>
</code>

  • Once the engine re-crawls dynamic pages and removes them from its index, make sure they won’t come back. Go to URL Parameters in Google Search Console. In that section, you can specify parameters, by which you want to hide pages from Googlebot.

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Handle URLs with Discontinued Products

There comes a time when any product loses its demand. For example, clothes go out of fashion, while devices get new models. If you just delete pages with discontinued items, you’ll lose some SEO value. Here’s how to handle URLs you don’t need anymore.

  • Set a 301 redirect to the page with a new product model or a very similar item. That’s how you can prevent broken backlinks.
  • Reuse URLs that don’t contain any tech specs like a serial number.
  • If a page has a lot of backlinks and traffic, tell customers the product was discontinued and offer them an alternative.

Secure Your Store Domain with HTTPS

While HTTPS may be optional for blogs, it’s critical to online stores. As a store owner, you are responsible not only for your content. You deal with customers’ private data like credit card details. There’s no way you can put them at risk. If their data leaks somehow, guess who will be in charge.

Google also rewards online retailers who care about their customers’ security. HTTPS stores get a small ranking boost from the engine. So, if you haven’t switched to HTTPS yet, it’s about time. If your store already runs on HTTPS, feel free to test its security level using Qualys. Just specify your URL, and the tool will generate a report on your store protection.

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Optimize Title Tags for Product and Category Pages

The goal of any online retailer is to drive conversions, not just traffic. In the first place, you must target ready-to-buy searchers rather than virtual window shoppers. The best way to go is to optimize title tags with purchase intent keywords.

As a rule, these are long-tail keywords that include calls to action. They do not have a high search volume but have a high potential of converting visitors into buyers. Here are common call-to-action keywords:

  • buy, purchase, order;
  • cheap, affordable, low cost;
  • local, near me, 24/7.

Different niches may have different purchase intent keywords. For example, if it’s medicine, you can use “cure,” “relieve,” “remedy,” and “treatment” besides “buy”-patterned phrases.

Check out the title tag formulas for product and category pages.

<code>
<title>Buy {product category name} {+ 1-2 relevant keywords} online at {your store name}</title>
</code>

<code>
<title>Buy {product name} {+ 1-2 relevant keywords} online at {your store name}</title>
</code>

There are a lot of keyword generators that can help you choose purchase intent phrases. To see long-tail keyword variations only, filter all the suggestions by monthly volume of up to 80 searches.

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Create Click-Worthy Meta Descriptions

Although meta descriptions are not ranking signals, they influence the click-through rate. And CTR is a ranking signal in its turn. There’s some correlation between everything on the web. To create a click-worthy meta description, add a unique selling proposition to it. Here are examples of USP tricks:

  • free shipping;
  • one-day delivery;
  • best / cheapest price online;
  • 50% discount expiring soon.  

Feel free to split test different USPs to figure out the most efficient option.

Add Some Text to Category Page

Just like your body needs food to digest, Google needs unique content to index. A lot of store owners overlook this fact when optimizing category pages. Every product category you have must contain an original description. Not only will it increase its ranking potential, but also reduce the risk of thin content issues that can lead to penalties.

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Don’t Copy and Paste Product Descriptions

When retailers sell products from other manufacturers, they often copy their official descriptions. But Google doesn’t care about the official status. The engine has its own rules. When the same content appears on different sites, Google treats it as duplicate content. Make sure you add a unique piece of text to every product page. If you sell on your site, Amazon, and eBay, you should submit an original description to each marketplace.

Note that a large inventory is not an excuse to write single-line descriptions. They don’t work in SEO. The text must be meaty for two reasons. First, your products will rank for more keywords in organic search. And second, you’ll be able to list more product benefits to increase a buying incentive. Here’s a tried-and-true format for product descriptions.

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Customers can also help you with content generation if you enable them to submit product reviews. That way, Google will get some fresh content to index occasionally, which is another SEO benefit.

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There’s one problem with user-generated reviews. As a rule, happy customers are not so eager to express their joy as dissatisfied customers are willing to share their anger. You may need to send follow-up emails and offer special bonuses for their feedback. Besides getting unique content for free, you’ll build customer loyalty.

Compress Product Images for the Web

Product images can speak a thousand words. But if they are too big and slow down your page loading,  40% of visitors will never see them. They will leave your store if it keeps them waiting for at least 4 seconds. That’s more than a third of your potential customers. Even big players in e-commerce can’t afford such a loss.

So, your next step is to downsize your product images. Note that a smaller size shouldn’t compromise on the image quality. Customers can’t touch your products through the screen. All they can do is watch. That’s how they make their buying decisions.

To compress images with zero quality loss, use Optimizilla. This free tool can minimize the size of JPEG and PNG files in seconds, while visually they look just as good as before compression.

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If it still takes ages for your store to load, consider changing your hosting provider or connecting to a CDN.

Set Up Rich Snippets

As rich snippets can increase CTR by 30%, they are indirect ranking signals. With their help, you can reveal additional product info in SERP, including star ratings, price, reviews, and availability.

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To set up rich snippets, implement Schema markup on your product pages. Also, use Google’s testing tool to make sure you did it the right way.

Enable Pop-ups on Exit Intent

If mobile users can’t access your content instantly, Google will downgrade your store. Pop-ups are the main things that cause such a problem. While they are effective for driving conversions, their role in SEO is more negative. It doesn’t mean you have to disable pop-ups at all. Just set them up on exit intent rather than on entry.

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Afterword

With these steps, you will lay an SEO-friendly foundation for your online store. The coolest part is that you don’t need super advanced tech skills to do the job. Just add some tags, configure settings, optimize content, and your store will rise in search results. Do you know any other SEO strategies to use in e-commerce? Share them with us in the comments, please!

Author Bio:
Nick Campbell is a content creator and marketer at Ahrefs with a passion for technology, SEO, and copywriting. “Work up every idea from chaos to clarity” is his motto.