Having good SEO (search engine optimisation) practices is a must for any business that operates a website, but for businesses that sell goods online, there are eight key factors that are absolutely essential to nailing your SEO.
In principle, SEO for online stores is much the same as for any other type of website. However, because online stores have a different site structure there are some SEO factors that are unique to online stores.
Here are eight tips designed for the unique traffic needs of online stores – that is, clicks that can be converted into a sale.
1. Product descriptions
Product descriptions are your best friend as far as SEO is concerned. Rather than skimp on content, write a generous description of each product, embedding specific keywords.
As you use keywords, keep in mind that they should be inserted in a way that sounds natural and is user-friendly. In other words, don’t spam users with 50 keywords – that will alienate customers – but rather insert keywords that will be helpful to the user in making purchasing decisions and pointing out key features.
2. Alt-text your images
This is a standard SEO practice now, no matter what type of website or blog you have. However because many people still cut corners by avoiding this step, and because as an online store you could have thousands of images, this tactic is a good way to get ahead of your competition.
As you may know, search engines can’t read visuals, they can only read text so by adding alt-text you are allowing your images and pages to be crawled and content indexed.
As an added bonus, this also ups your website’s inclusivity, as web readers for the visually-impaired use this alt-text to describe images on the page to readers.
3. Add metadata for each page AND category
As an online store, you will likely sell several different groups or types or products that will be listed on different pages according to category. Each category page allows you add unique SEO meta data to it.
Think about it this way: if you are a department store that sells linen, children’s toys and cookbooks, you wouldn’t try and sell such diverse products in the same way, using the same keywords. Instead, you would treat each separately and target each message individually.
By filling out the meta data for each page, you are helping the search engines distinguish each page from the others so they can send the right customer to the right page.
4. Generate positive customer reviews
Positive word of mouth doesn’t just benefit brick and mortar stores. Not only do customer reviews increase your trustworthiness but they can also benefit your SEO.
Encourage your customers to leave reviews on social media and online directories, and display them proudly on your website too.
5. Add a blog to your store
A blog that is frequently updated is looked on positively by search engines because it indicates that your site is relevant and active. Not only that, but the longer word count of blog posts allows you more freedom to add optimised text about your business and specific products, and include internal links.
6. Find unlinked brand mentions
Google takes into account high-quality external links to your site as part of its search engine ranking algorithms. Therefore, if you can get other reputable sites to link to yours, you may be able to improve your ranking in the search results.
A great way to boost your number of external links without having to exert too much effort is visit Google Alerts and search for people who are mentioning your company name, blog name or product name. If these sites or influencers have written nice things about your company, you can simply follow up with an email asking if they would mind inserting a hyperlink back to your site.
7. Fix broken pages
On large websites such as eCommerce stores, broken pages and links become inevitable over time as content moves around and pages get added and deleted.
Often you will not be aware of these broken links unless a customer points it out; and often customers won’t inform you, they will simply navigate away. This increases your bounce rates and can penalise your SEO score.
There are many free tools that can scan your site for broken links and email you reports including deadlinkchecker.com.
8. Improve your About Us page
Last but not least, you can often boost your search engine optimisation simply by hiring a copywriter to makeover the content on your About Us page.
Your About Us page generally is the page that receives the most hits, so you can help increase conversions by rewriting boring text and putting a wow factor into your content. Don’t forget to update out-of-date contact information, use higher quality images, and feature clearer calls-to-action for maximum effect.
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated for 2022.
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