Social
X
Organic Search SEO

SEO for ecommerce sites

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 by Chris Taylor

Ecommerce sites are some of the most important online properties in need of SEO – that’s because it’s a tough marketplace out there; where smaller retailers often feel overwhelmed by behemoth-like competitors, such as eBay and Amazon, who seem to get a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) listing for nearly any given product across many search queries.

To punch above your weight, and stand a chance of ranking highly for your products, you must action some basic tips on SEO for ecommerce sites.

While this blog guidance could have run into tens of pages, I’ve highlighted around half a dozen essential steps you should be taking to stand up to today’s fierce ecommerce market.

Optimise your URL structure

Keyword friendly URLs are ideal for any ecommerce site. In short, this means ensuring your site architecture accurately reads much like the breadcrumb navigation around your site does. For example, a logical pathway to the latest Xbox game on an electronic retailers’ website would ideally read something like:¬†/games/platforms/xbox-360/bioshock-infinite/* (as best illustrated in this example implemented by Zavvi.com):

zavvi_bioshock_URL

The benefits of having such a structure is that it is such an intelligible and logical path for both users and the Google bots to crawl. It’s based on a parent>sibling type relationship, in exactly the same way breadcrumb navigation works. Ultimately, if the URL is user-friendly, crawlable and easy on the eye, then it is much more likely to be ranked highly for usability.

*Note: Creating well thought out XML or HTML sitemaps should complement this user-friendly site structure perfectly.

Optimise product titles and descriptions

Describing your vast array of top products is another no-brainer – no matter what industry you’re in.

One simple reason is that search engines love useful and relevant content. Every time you add a piece of detailed information about your product, you increase your chances of appearing in the search results. As you provide extra user value to the product you’re selling, you’ll also give Google more reason to think of you as a credible retailer.

*However, it’s incredibly important you do not use the manufacturer’s default descriptions. Unique content – no matter what kind – is a part of the Google algorithm. So, imagine you end up using the same, prescribed description as another dozen of your competitors. There’s little reason for Google to distinguish who is best, because it is duplicate content.

bioshock infinite product description Amazon

Secondly, another good reason to invest in your product titles and descriptions is that you should never overestimate how much your users know about your products. Just because they might have happened upon the listing by a Google search, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t shopping for another person, or know what a gigabyte is from RAM. Give meaningful descriptions and selling points to all your products and you’ll be rewarded.

These same rules should also apply to your landing pages. So in the instance of the Xbox 360 game given above, don’t hesitate to have a page describing age ratings or top sellers, for example. The more content you write – and the more information you provide for to the consumer – the better. This could just be the difference between you and your nearest competitor.

Encourage user generated content, such as reviews

Inviting user generated content on your ecommerce site, most realistically in the form of reviews, will provide you with a mass of unique and useful content that benefits both your SEO goals and your consumers.

For a start, you’re getting a wealth of original and honestly written content that’s been produced for the benefit of the shopping community. As we’ve seen in the case of social media, the opinions of other, real customers can really have an impact on making a decision to purchase or not.

Reviews can also be extremely useful at helping your product stand out in the search results, providing you set up rich snippet information for this:

Zavvi rich snippet listing for Bioshock Infitinite

Optimise your shop for mobile devices

Increasingly, consumers are shopping on their mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

With mobile transactions accounting for up to 20 per cent of all online purchases today, according to recent reports, it’s clear that Joe Bloggs is more than happy using an app or a mobile optimised site to make any kind of purchase.

If your business can’t afford a dedicated shopping app, then you should really consider creating a mobile version of your site at the very minimum.

Social. Social. Social!

Sexybookmarks social button plugin

You shouldn’t even think about developing a new ecommerce site without some kind of social integration nowadays. And if you have an existing ecommerce site – but haven’t implemented any kind of social features, then you should get on it immediately.

One of the biggest benefits of having an online store over a bricks and mortar one is that your customers have the ability to influence each other through the public display of their most recent purchases. Their reviews, their ‘Likes’, wants and desires – all this can be communicated through familiar social channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, perhaps provoking a peer-influenced snap purchase.

An influential Facebook ticket purchase

Social sharing buttons are such an easy thing to implement on the majority of sites – even ecommerce ones – and they can have such a dramatic impact on your product page click-throughs that they’re definitely worth investing in ASAP.

Social buttons and Pinterest in action

Social influence on images

While a relative newcomer, Pinterest has been the go-to social network for more direct product promotion – be it a broach, dog bed or even a holiday. Thanks to a increasingly accessible array of ways in which we can to Pin images to Pinterest, the social imaging network has become a dream platform for sources of inspiration.

Wordpress plugin - Pinterest pin it button for images

Creating a pin for Pinterest

Because Pinterest pins point back to the site of origin – no matter how many times they have been repinned – they retain their SEO value, so it’s a fantastic investment to optimise your images for this kind of social sharing.

As if you needed further reason to investigate using Pinterest for your site, Expanded Ramblings recently collated this set of impressive Pinterest statistics:

  • Pinterest launch date: March 2010 (3 years old)
  • Total number of Pinterest users: 48.7 million users
  • Percentage of total Pinterest pins are repins: 80%
  • Average Time Spent on Pinterest Per Visit: 14.2 minutes

SEO for Ecommerce summary and further reading

There’s no question that ecommerce sites need to get their SEO house in order, possibly more-so than most sites, if they want to stand a good chance of competing among the biggest brand e-tailers. When you’re aiming for the top, you’re also battling brand authority (Amazon, eBay, Asda/Walmart) as well as excellent user and SEO-friendly ecommerce sites.

See also:

  1. Ecommerce canonicalisation de-mystified
  2. Why Ecommerce sites need a paid search campaign and an expert to run it
  3. How should I handle removed products?
  4. Choosing the right keywords for ecommerce
  5. Setting up Google Analytics with ecommerce tracking

Hopefully you’ll have been inspired to implement – or further investigate – some of the tips present in this blog. Your business could very well rely on it! See how we do it.

Share this article

About the author

Chris Taylor