The eCommerce and SEO intersection

Every eCommerce business owner is aware that their website is their lifeblood. If the site doesn’t perform well it will influence sales and revenue. The same is true for the site’s visibility in search engine result pages (SERPs).

When users are searching in Google for what they want to buy, you need to do more than hope your site will show up in the SERPs. This article tackles 5 must-dos for on-page eCommerce SEO.

On-page SEO defined

On-page search engine optimisation refers to factors within a website’s coding and content that have an effect on the website’s listing in natural search results. These factors are controlled by the website owner and involve updating content or coding on the website. Examples of on-page optimisation include actual HTML code improvements, meta tags, keyword placement and keyword density.

Off-page optimisation by contrast, is activities outside the boundaries of the webpage that may have an effect on a website’s ranking in SERPs. The most important off-page activities are link building, social media interaction and social bookmarking.

Keyword research

The first step is selecting the right keywords. These are the words or phrases people are most likely to search if they’re looking for your product. Then use those keywords throughout the copy you write.

What determines the results of a search in Google? Your website’s page ranking (against other websites) plus its relevance to the search.

When search engines index your website, they detect keywords used. Google uses keywords (among many factors) to determine what your website is about. From here Google can infer when a searcher’s query is relevant to your website’s content.

To do keyword research well you need to know and get inside the mind of your customers. What problems do they have that your products solve? What vocabulary are users likely to use when they’re searching? Consider that users won’t always know a specific product name when they’re searching.

Meta titles

A page’s meta title is is HTML code embedded at the header of a web page, above the meta description. The meta title appears too in SERPs and use of relevant keyword in the meta title is a search engine ranking factor.

The meta title element of a web page creates value by providing an accurate and concise description of a page’s content. Google takes note of the meta title and so do users.

Title tag structure

Structure product page Meta title tags in this way:

[Product name] | (Category or Descriptor) | [Brand]

Product name – always use and always lead with this

Category – use when relevant but mix it up so not all page titles are the same

Descriptor – definitely use when it is relevant – colour, size, etc. are good descriptors

Brand – always use this, best to use last – exception when the brand is highly recognisable, then lead with the brand name

Title tags basic best practices

  • Keep your title tags under 512 pixels in width, generally 55 to 60 characters
  • Use your keywords as close to the beginning as possible
  • Make your title tags naturally readable
  • If you include a brand in the title tags, place your brand at the end of the title tag unless it is a well-known brand that people seek out
  • Make your title tags unique – do not duplicate across multiple pages

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions present a major opportunity to differentiate yourself from competitors. Use the description to convince searchers that your page is worth navigating to. By writing compelling text you can increase the click-through rate for your organic search results. It is important to use a short “call to action” in your meta description.

Writing page content

An important aspect of on-page SEO is to use a variety of keywords that users are searching throughout the page copy. Keywords should not be repeated over and over in the content of the page. Using keywords unnaturally in the content does not increase rankings. The main goal of creating relevant content is to meet the expectations of the searcher. Don’t assault them with “over-optimised” content.

The header text, or H1 text, is usually the title of the page or article. It will appear as large or bold text at the top of your page and carries a

identifier in the code. Search engines place extra importance on the keywords in the H1 text. The H2 tag is a subheading, and should contain keywords similar to your H1 tag. You should only use one H1 tag per page. You can use several H2 tags per page when they naturally title a section of content.

Image alt text optimisation

Images are an important part of building a successful eCommerce business. Images are the building block of the product discovery site, Pinterest. You can also attract new shoppers searching Google images.

Keywords in image names and in image alternative text offer more opportunities to help the search engines understand what your page is about. Unlike humans, search engines read only the ALT text of images, not the images themselves. Add descriptive, SEO optimised ALT text to images whenever possible.

Include 360-degree view product photos

A study conducted by The Simply Group found that customers that had a 360-degree view of products were 20% more likely to purchase. The Simply Group also reported that product return rates could be lowered when customers could inspect every angle of a product prior to purchasing.

Just the tip of the iceberg

These 5 crucial on-page initiatives – keyword research, meta titles, meta descriptions, page copy and optimised images – are only the beginning of a successful eCommerce SEO strategy. They are certainly foundational elements that contribute to website integrity. It’s worth getting these things right before you jump into off-site SEO activities.

If you found this article helpful and you’re looking for more – watch this space! BirdBrain is working on a comprehensive eCommerce SEO Guide that will launch in 2016. So check back here for more information coming soon.