According to Statista, worldwide e-commerce retail revenues for 2022 are projected to grow to 5.4 trillion US dollars. That's a considerable jump from the 3.35 trillion US dollars sales in 2019, pre-pandemic.
But the new normal has driven people to rely on online shopping, even when brick and mortar businesses have opened up and are welcoming customers with open arms. With this rapid growth comes an opportunity for retailers to grow their customer base with SEO.
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If you're not yet familiar with SEO, it stands for search engine optimization, which refers to the process of improving rankings on SERPS (search engine result pages).
Of course, as a retailer, you want your products to rank higher so that more people will see them and buy them – but how do you do that? This article will teach you valuable tips about e-commerce SEO that can help your business succeed online.
What is SEO for eCommerce?
Unless you've been stuck on some deserted island for more than a decade, you've probably once heard of SEO. It stands for search engine optimization and is the process of influencing the visibility of a website (in this case, an eCommerce site) in search engines' organic results — as opposed to being placed in paid listings (such as Google Ads).
Almost every company has a presence on the internet these days, but not all have optimized their websites to rank high in organic search results.
We search on the internet using a search engine; the first results you see are the organic listings — results that Google (or whatever search engine) has determined to be relevant for your search query.
That is why it's crucial to have a healthy SEO strategy for your online store; so that you'll improve your ranking and show up on the first page of results. It is a no-brainer that if your online store is ranked high, you will get more visitors.
A Brief History on the Evolution of SEO
Search engine optimization started with simple SEO techniques such as inserting key phrases into significant content elements on web pages. For example, you would include your primary keyword phrase on the page title, headings, and image alt tags.
Years back, you could get high rankings in search engines by using tricky wording and buying links. Keyword stuffing and link schemes were practices that worked, and search engines frowned upon them. These days, Google and other major search engines like Yahoo utilize AI and machine learning to prevent websites from tricking them.
Today, SEO is all about focusing on the big picture and following a series of best practices that Google recommends to achieve high rankings and drive more traffic to your website.
Benefits of SEO for eCommerce Websites
Good SEO is one of the most effective ways of getting free traffic from search engines like Google.
It's straightforward: in the world of eCommerce and in a competition where anyone can start an online store and sell directly to your customers, it's challenging to rank for competitive keywords — especially when you don't have any brand equity. Websites that follow SEO best practices typically see more traffic than those that do not. It may take up to several months or longer, but you will get results if you optimize your website according to well-known principles and use your resources well (time and money).
The importance of SEO for eCommerce websites cannot be overstated. Let's name a few benefits of SEO:
1. Improved Visibility
Being visible is crucial to your company's online presence, especially if your company is relatively new or in a competitive niche.
The more visible your website is, the more traffic you can get to your eCommerce store. It's the simple logic of the supply and demand equation: if many people want to buy something but cannot find it on Google or other search engines, they will be forced to visit alternatives like Amazon or eBay.
More traffic equals more customers. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo crawl the web from top to bottom. If you have a well-optimized website with low bounce rates and tons of backlinks, Google will notice that and increase your position on search results pages.
2. More Conversions
More visitors mean more chances for them to convert into customers. And usually, users that visit your website through search engines are interested in what you have to offer and have high buying intent.
As a result, some of these users may add the product to the cart and make a purchase; others will subscribe to your e-mails or share your content on social media — all these actions can create opportunities for you to get more sales and return visits from the same customer.
Remember: an increase in organic search referrals equals an increase in the overall conversion rate.
3. Increased Trust and Authority
Once you get on the first page of Google for competitive keywords, you will gain some reputation and authority in front of your targeted audience.
A study showed that 63% of people trust news and other information from search engines. So when audiences see your site ranking high on the search engine result pages (SERP), they will start seeing you as an authority in your niche.
People searching for something you sell would likely click on the link with the highest-ranking because of this perceived trustworthiness. You want to be trusted by your customers, don't you?
SEO is one of the least expensive ways to market your eCommerce website online. The best part about free traffic is that it's FREE! No matter how much money you spend on marketing or ads, you will never be able to beat the ROI (return on investment) of SEO.
Some people argue that there are other costs involved with SEO, like hiring professionals for SEO services, but if you can do it yourself, it will probably cost less than $50 per month and bring massive rewards if done correctly.
5. Long-term Benefit
As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. If you're looking to get immediate results, then SEO might not be for you. Building your website's traffic and setting it up properly takes time - weeks, months, or even years if you are doing everything right.
But once you have achieved your goals, the return on investment is well worth it.
It has been proven that companies with higher rankings on Google's search engine results pages make more money than those without. That means all the long-term efforts will pay off big time in the end.
Organic SEO has a longer shelf life and, if done correctly, can improve your online reputation and credibility. Once you build up authority and trust over time with the help of SEO, customers will start visiting your website even if you stop (or don't have any) paid advertisements. Sooner or later, the free organic traffic will bring your business more sales and profits than you can imagine.
How to Implement SEO to eCommerce
By now, you're probably itching to get started, and that's great! There are a ton of elements that factor into getting your business the visibility you want. Let's discuss each of them in detail:
1. Improve Your Website Content
Many eCommerce sites tend to be more concerned with the design and appearance of their store rather than the content on their site. But it turns out that SEO means much more than just having a good-looking website — it's about creating quality content for your users. Your website should also help them navigate through your site and ultimately get what they came for — whether it's products or services, knowledge, or entertainment.
You can use content writing tips from Moz as a reference point when writing content for your website because it will help you understand how to write for people instead of search engine bots.
Write high-quality articles by yourself or hire a professional article writer depending on your budget and time constraints.
You must keep in mind when building up your website's traffic with SEO is quality over quantity. It may be tempting to hire 100 different content writers and pay them $2 per article, so they write 100 articles per day for a month straight, but this strategy will not get you any long-term benefit from Google's point of view.
If the content is "unreadable," Google will consider all those articles as spam and will treat your website as such. Focus on writing unique articles that help users find the information they need.
The following are the types of content you can add to your website:
- Product Description
When writing product descriptions for SEO, you have to keep in mind your keywords. For best results, put the primary keywords first for better ranking performance because all keywords should be included in product descriptions of new and existing products. For example, if your keyword is "Fidget Cube," you should use that as the first line of product descriptions of new and existing products.
To make sure your keywords are all over the place, another way to do it is by using synonyms. For instance:
Fidget Cube - Stress Relief
This Fidget Cube is made for relieving stress by allowing you to fidget with it anytime, anywhere. If you roll it, flip it, click it or play with its gears, this toy will keep your fingers busy and happy.
Another critical element of product descriptions is the "About This Item" section. These sections are also very SEO-friendly. Use them to describe your products more extensively, including size, color, material, and origin.
- Product Titles
Product titles should include keywords as well. You can add your brand name and a short descriptor as the product title. Following our initial example, it will be Antsy Labs Fidget Cube.
- Blog posts
Almost all available eCommerce platforms have blogging features; even Shopify has it. Whatever Shopify theme you choose, blogs are available by default. Just click on the Online Store tab in your Shopify dashboard, and other options will open up, including Blog Posts.
The great thing about Shopify blogs is that post titles, URLs, excerpts, meta descriptions, and image file names are already SEO-optimized for you. You do not need to edit or create any of these elements manually. Simply write the content and hit publish!
- Customer Reviews
Customer reviews are also another great feature of Shopify. The platform allows you to easily collect good and bad feedback from your customers on the product page itself. That is done through a rating system that includes star ratings depending on how many reviews each product has.
You can get customer reviews simply by asking your happy (or not so happy) customers to write reviews of their experiences with your business. That will help you find out what works and what doesn't work for you. It can even be used as a great marketing tool!
There are numerous ways to ask your customer for a review, one of which is via SMS messaging.
Requesting customer reviews is also an effective SEO tactic because product ratings usually show up in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The FAQ section is also another helpful element. Frequently asked questions are good for SEO because they are fantastic to have descriptions on your website of specific products that often come up in searches.
These FAQs usually show up as meta description snippets, so the more descriptive you are about what your customers want to know, the better your chances of being found by new and existing customers in SERPs.
- Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are created for each product, blog post, and page of your website that show up when people search in Google. These can be customized with keywords to help you rank higher in the SERPs.
The most crucial element in meta descriptions is the first of two lines that show up when your website is opened.
Meta descriptions are important for e-commerce SEO because you can make use of them to help your site rank higher in SERPs, even if the description itself is not very descriptive at all. It might not describe the product itself, but it's still an added element that helps increase the chances of being found.
When writing the meta description for SEO, you should never forget to keep it under 156 characters. You can achieve this by not wasting words and only including the most important information about your product, without any fluff.
Shopify has made it easy to apply SEO meta descriptions and blogs to your products, and they've also included some handy free SEO tools on the dashboard. A lot of other platforms offer these elements, too, like Shopify's competitors like WooCommerce or BigCommerce.
2. Add and Submit a Sitemap
Content matters, but the structure is important too, especially for web design, navigation, and placement. Think of the sitemap as a table of contents for your website that Google can use to do a quick scan and get the gist of what's going on.
When it comes to the sitemap on e-commerce platforms such as Shopify, they provide a good one by default that you can fill in yourself or just have it automatically generated based on your existing products.
Sitemaps are also helpful for web design, especially if you have a lot of categories and subcategories with infinite loops. It is important to note that these sitemaps should only contain relevant information, so do not include categories that have nothing on them or products out of stock.
Adding a sitemap on your website is a good practice for SEO as it helps Google crawl and index your website more efficiently. It can also help keep things organized on your end, making it easier to find specific products when needed.
Watch this video on how to submit a Shopify store's sitemap to Google:
3. Research Keywords
You should start with keyword research. You need to know what keywords you want to rank for and make sure they are highly targeted and relevant to your niche. Put them in a spreadsheet and track how competitive each of them is using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
Once you have identified 15-20 core keywords that matter the most to your audience, create pages around these keywords that speak specifically about products related to their search query on Google.
Ask yourself if you really need to rank for these keywords or if there are more of these that you can get with less effort.
You can then optimize your SEO meta descriptions and titles with the data you've collected in order to maximize your chances of ranking high.
For example, if someone searched "Nike shoes," then your page would be titled "Nike Shoes - Shop Nike Running Shoes & Sneakers," or "Nike Shoes: Top Choices for 2021" if it's a blog post. The title should include the keywords you selected and be visible on your page to attract search engine bots.
There are two types of keywords you should know about — the head keywords and long-tail keywords. Head keywords are the basic ones like "shoes," for instance.
Long-tail keywords are made up of multiple descriptive terms (usually three or more words), which tend to convert better than head keywords because they speak directly about what users want. That is why you need to target them with your content strategy, even though they may bring fewer search volumes compared to one to two short-tail keywords.
Some examples of long-tail keywords include "Nike running shoes" or "Best Nike Shoes 2021".
4. Build Links
Another thing that will boost your SEO rankings is getting links from other authoritative sites in the same or related industry.
There are three ways you can go about doing this:
- Guest blogging
If you write content for high authority websites, they may allow you to put a link back to your site in the resource section of the article. This is usually called guest blogging or contributor posts.
You should contact websites with a large amount of traffic and built-in audience so their audience will view your website as an authority site too if it has a link on their page.
You can also contact websites that are relevant to your niche and ask them to link back to your site if it is relevant for their audience. For instance, if Huffington Post wrote an article about dog breeds and mentioned yours in the resource box, then that gives you instant credibility. If you sell sports cars, then a website about car repair or Top 10 Car Websites could get in touch with you for a link-back partnership.
- Internal Linking
When you add a link in one blog post towards another blog post or page in your website, that is called internal linking. The more links you have on your site, the better rankings you get in Google because it shows Google that your articles are interrelated. It also brings your audience from one part of your website to another instead of exiting your website, which reduces the bounce rate.
When you make a post about acne, you could link to that article in the post by writing something like, "For more on this topic, check out our articles on how to get rid of dry skin and some other common skin conditions."
You can also link your blog post to your product pages, not just for the sake of SEO but for the sake of taking your audience to see your products. After all, the purpose of your articles is to encourage sales, more than SEO, right?
A backlink is a link from another website pointing to your website. They are also called inbound links. The more backlinks you have, the better your SEO rankings will be because Google wants to rank sites that are popular with other high-quality sites.
Creating profiles on online directories will help give you more backlinks. Make sure to add your website to industry-specific directories, local business directories, etc., even if it's not the best directory around the web.
Google+ Business Pages are also a great way to get more backlinks without having too many ads popping up all over the sidebar or footer of your website. You can simply use Google My Business to set up pages that are optimized for SEO with complete control over custom URLs and descriptions.
Profile links and Business Page links count as inbound links, so do not forget to include these in your SEO strategy along with other types of linking, such as comment links and resource box links.
To make things easier for you, there are several Shopify apps that help with this task, which we shall discuss later.
5. Improve Page Speed
Google has already announced that page speed is one of their ranking factors for search results. It is an important factor for Google because its main goal is to always improve the user experience. If the user clicked on a specific result in the SERPs and the website took too long to load, the user's experience would be poor.
As such, this is what you should do:
- Minimize the number of images on your pages by compressing them if possible or substituting them with vector graphics or CSS sprites. This may be applicable only to specific products, but it's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to image optimization. Compression tools can help you with this task quicker and easier.
- Caching is good for SEO because it avoids requesting content from the webserver every time it is opened in the browser. Caching also speeds up page load times by storing web contents like images and scripts in a location that is closer to the user's physical location.
- The good news is that Shopify created their stores to be lightweight enough even if you upload multiple images and have hundreds of product pages. But if you still want to improve your website speed, the Shopify apps that we'll mention later can help.
6. Improve Mobile SEO via SMS Marketing
Another thing to keep in mind is that more and more consumers are starting to use mobile devices to access the internet.
This is especially true for younger users who tend to do their shopping using phones or tablet computers—as such, having a mobile-friendly website will be very important if you want to gain traffic from search engines.
One way of promoting eCommerce sites via SMS marketing is by creating shortcodes that include keywords relevant to your store's products. These shortcodes can then be used as advertisement channels via text messages. They can also be placed on business cards, websites, flyers, posters, etc., so make sure they are easy to remember.
Google is working hard to improve users' mobile experience, and mobile traffic and mobile usability of your website are one of the things they are looking at. If search engines see that you get most of your traffic from mobile and the user experience is good, they may increase your mobile SERPs ranking, too!
If you haven't started SMS Marketing on Shopify yet, make sure you try WinBack. It's a simple to use and affordable SMS Marketing app that you shouldn't miss.
7. Use CTA and Share Buttons
Readers will not always read everything that you publish. Even if they are interested in what you have written, they still might leave for some reason or another before getting to the end. So, the way to encourage them to perform your expected action is through the "Call To Action" buttons.
Call to action is a marketing term that means getting people to do something. In the context of SEO, it means asking your visitors to take a particular action on your website, which can either be searching for more information or buying a product. Just like any other element on your website, you have to use call-to-actions wisely.
Social media sharing buttons are also call-to-action, with the CTA being sharing the content. Getting your content shared on social media is also a good way to improve your site's SEO.
Enhancing SEO on Shopify Store
Now that you have a better understanding of SEO, it is time for you to apply it to your Shopify store. Since the focus of this article is only to provide basic SEO knowledge, we will not be talking about how to improve keyword discovery or where to place them on your site. Instead, we will be covering Shopify's built-in SEO features and third-party apps.
Shopify has built-in SEO features incorporated into the platform. This means that you will only need to go into the admin panel and configure a few settings to get all the benefits.
In fact, when Shopify creates new stores for their users, they automatically add some SEO settings, so it is ready to use when you launch your store.
You can add the main content in the product description section when you're on the product edit page. Once you scroll down to the very bottom of the page, you'll see the meta description section.
You can also add alt texts to your images for SEO purposes.
Shopify SEO Shops
Shopify only comes with basic SEO features by default, which is what SEO agencies fill. But what if you could get more of that valuable traffic without needing to hire an SEO agency? With the right SEO apps, you can!
Below is a list of free and paid SEO apps you can use:
1. Plug-In Seo
Plug-In SEO is one of the highest-rated Shopify SEO apps, and for a good reason. It's easy to use and helps you boost your shop's SEO in a variety of ways. Plus, it's constantly updated to keep up with the latest changes in search engine algorithms.
Here are some of the things Plug-In SEO can do for your eCommerce business:
- Help you easily create structured data using JSON-LD for rich snippets in Google to help with SEO rankings.
- Help you bulk edit meta titles and descriptions for product and blog pages in your Shopify store with the unique templating technology.
- Give you access to a keyword tool that can help you find keywords that will drive traffic to your eCommerce business.
- Allow you to easily scan your store's SEO performance on-demand or let us deliver periodic SEO reports to your inbox.
- Give you access to an index of Shopify SEO training videos that will help you better understand how to optimize the SEO performance for your store and individual pages.
- Help you track keywords that help drive traffic and improve search engine rankings directly inside the app with Google Search Console integration.
Smart SEO is an app for Shopify that automates the daunting SEO tasks, improves rankings, drives more organic traffic, and boosts sales. It's the only app for Shopify to generate meta tags instantly, and it also supports multiple languages and image alt tags. Plus, its JSON-LD structured data is the most complete among all SEO apps for Shopify.
Here are some of Smart SEO's features:
- Generate meta tags instantly for each page of your store
- Create meta title and description snippets from a single source
- Customize the snippets with variables such as keyword, price, product name, etc
- Generate image alt tags with the most relevant keywords
- Add structured data to your products in JSON-LD format
- Enable Google rich snippets on your product pages
SEO Image Optimizer Pro is a great way to improve your Google Search Result SEO rankings and boost your Organic Traffic. Best of all, it's free to use!
They've done all the hard work for you! All you have to do is install their free app, and they'll automatically give you the greatest SEO boost possible by automatically adding alt-text from keywords in your images, so they show up in google search results.
4. SEO Manager
SEO Manager is a powerful tool that helps you take control of how Google sees your store and gives you real-time feedback about your search engine optimization efforts.
Their step-by-step tour guides you through all the features in SEO Manager, but they've also included comprehensive help documents for those who prefer written instructions. And since it integrates with Google Search Console, Bing, and Kit – as well as many other tools – there's no need to manage multiple apps or services.
SEO Manager has over 20 features, 15 of which are unique to this app (such as the focus/keyword suggestion feature). But what really sets it apart from other SEO tools is that it focuses on the solution rather than just providing you with a list of things to fix. For example, you can run a quick scan and see how many SEO issues there are for your store – with associated suggestions – as well as prioritize them based on severity.
SEO Manager makes it easy for you to understand and implement SEO that will help your store rank better in search engines.
We've discussed above how important mobile-targetted SEO is. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is Google's initiative to speed up web pages to load quicker on mobile devices.
AMP by Shop Sheriff App has built-in integrations that allow you to AMP all of the pages of your store with ease. It also has powerful SEO features that will help your eCommerce website rank higher in search engine results pages.
AMP by Shop Sheriff's features include:
- Notifications such as letting you know when AMP is enabled and also if your product images need to be optimized via the Shopify Media settings.
- A user-friendly interface that lets you build and edit pages quickly and with ease.
- Easily connectable to popular Google apps such as Google Analytics and Content Marketing services.
- Allows you to create a seamless experience for your shopper by making sure that all of the pages on your site load faster on mobile, increasing conversion rates and earnings per visitor.
Final Thoughts on eCommerce for SEO
Achieving a high ranking on search engines such as Google is no easy task. It takes time, effort, and the right strategy to optimize your eCommerce store for SEO so that you can reach more customers and grow your revenue without needing to hire an external agency. The tools we've recommended should help you take control of how Google sees your site – including its speed – by giving you real-time feedback about what needs fixing and where improvements need to be made.
Remember that mobile marketing also affects SEO greatly, so start implementing mobile strategies using SMS Marketing. Sign up for a free trial today fo Winback today and start implementing it on your Shopify store,