40 Tips for E-Commerce SEO, Part 1: Technical SEO and Research Tactics
For e-commerce businesses, implementing the right search engine optimization (SEO) tactics can translate into increased traffic and revenue — but many need to know which levers to pull.
This article comes in two parts: In part one, I focus on technical SEO and keyword research tactics that enable you to pursue the best keyword strategies for your digital storefront. In part two, I’ll cover critical tactics for optimizing your on-site content and building site authority that’s aimed at helping increase your e-commerce brand’s SEO potential.
Technical SEO Tactics
1. Make your website mobile-friendly and responsive.
Today’s digital shoppers use myriad devices to peruse and purchase products. Ensuring that your site offers a compelling and seamless visitor experience across phones, tablets and devices of every size — through a mobile-friendly and responsive design — isn’t just beneficial to winning over customers and facilitating sales, it will help your site’s ranking with search engines.
2. Use a SSL certificate.
Converting site visitors into customers means convincing them to input sensitive personal data and payment information. This makes securing your site with a SSL certificate an absolute must. This is necessary to not only to win your customers’ trust, but having a SSL certificate in place is a component in Google’s site ranking algorithm. (Noticing a trend? What’s in the best interest for your visitors also pays dividends with search engines.)
3. Optimize your site to load quickly.
A fast-loading site helps raise your ranking in search engines and lower your bounce rate with potential customers.
4. Use Google Analytics.
Google Analytics can provide a treasure trove of insights into how visitors interact with your site. While those new to the platform may need some time to get comfortable with it, the data-backed information delivered can and should inform your strategies for site optimization around design, content, user experience and overall site structure.
5. Create a Google Search Console account.
With a Google Search Console account you can utilize powerful tools and configure settings to better manage crawler access, sitemaps, URL preferences, and plenty more. This is worth doing for any e-commerce business.
6. Make a sitemap, and submit it to Google and Bing.
A sitemap outlines your site to help search engines better review and understand your content. Proactively submitting your sitemap enables search engines to begin that process.
Tactics for Understanding Your Target Audience
7. Use buyer personas.
Constructing buyer personas means becoming immersed in the demographics and psychographics of your target audience, empowering you to better target keywords that are best-suited to bring this specific audience to your site.
8. Create customer journey maps.
Understanding how your buyer personas move through the customer journey — from awareness of your brand to consideration to making a purchase — will help you recognize useful customer questions, needs and goals that are common among customers. These can seed your keyword research for planning content to address those at each phase of the customer journey.
Tactics for Better Understanding Your Competitors
9. List and assess your competition.
Studying your e-commerce competitors through a competitive website analysis will help you understand how they reach their audiences. You can leverage those insights as ideas for your own SEO opportunities.
Keyword Research Tactics
10. Find and use both head keywords and long-tail keywords.
Use your knowledge of your target audience to build a SEO strategy that incorporates both head keywords (i.e., broad terms with high search volume and consequently high competition) and long-tail keywords (i.e., longer terms with lower search volume but used by potential customers who are often closer to conversion).
11. Find related keywords.
Beginning with the top search phrases in your corner of the e-commerce world, expand your list of targets to include related keywords that your target audience uses. Use tools to help with finding keyword variations you might not otherwise think of.
12. Find the top keywords that deliver traffic to your competitors.
Performing a competitor keyword analysis will identify keywords your competitors benefit from in both organic and paid search — and which, in many cases, you should consider targeting.
13. Qualify keywords before targeting them.
Use keywords that fit these criteria: high relevance, enough search volume to be worth the effort, and low competition so that ranking highly in search results for these terms isn’t an impossible challenge.
By following these techniques, you'll help strengthen the technical aspects of your site and increase its appeal with both search engines and customers. By understanding your customers, competition and related keyword landscape, you'll be more likely to make keyword targeting decisions that set you up better for e-commerce success. Part two of this series will cover techniques for correctly aligning site content with those keywords, and further establishing your e-commerce site’s authority and reputation.
Kim Kosaka is director of marketing at Alexa.com, whose tools provide insight into digital behavior that marketers use to better understand and win over their audience.
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