How to put SEO at the heart of your online store

January 4, 2017 - 6  min reading time - by Patrick Foster
Home > SEO Thoughts > How to put SEO at the heart of your online store

Never underestimate the power of SEO for your online store. Without it, your store will be lost among a sea of other ecommerce competitors. Customers will struggle to find your store and inevitably you will lose valuable sales. Harness the power of words to get your brand noticed. By embracing an SEO-first attitude, you can design and launch a streamlined and SEO-friendly e-commerce store that yields great results.

If you’re ambitious and hungry for online growth, master the art of SEO to drive traffic and enhance sales. Utilize the three keys of SEO success – usability, relevance and authority. Keep your focus on these three factors to fuel organic traffic to your website.

Ultimately, search engines want to create the best user experience for all users, so you need to work in harmony with search engines to ensure this for your customers.

Target relevant keywords

Keywords are important to get your site ranking high, but it’s not as simple as cramming them into your content. Use free tools like Ubersuggest and KeywordTool to get started with your keyword research. Here is how to target relevant keywords and gain search engines’ trust:

  • Don’t only target the biggest, most obvious keywords for your niche – Popular keywords tend to be highly competitive and harder to rank well for. Target a mixture of short and long-tail keyword phrases to optimize your site ;
  • Target keywords with a high search rate and low competition – This will help to get you ranking even higher for those keywords ;
  • Use headings to your advantage – Use the right formatting (H1 for article title and H2 for subtitles) and target top keywords for great SEO results.

It’s important not to go overboard with keyword stuffing, or your website will look spammy and unprofessional. What’s more, beyond a certain point, the search engines will actually penalize you for it.

Craft compelling and unique content

At the heart of successful SEO is beautifully crafted, unique content. Compelling content is not just useful for driving sales; search engines actually crawl your pages and gather an abundance of information about your site. Lack of original and relevant content on your site will hinder SEO and have a bad effect on your website rankings.

  • Run a blog alongside your website to increase traffic to your site and boost rankings. Always include relevant keywords for various topics within your niche ;
  • Add fresh new content to increase SEO. Google loves a regularly updated website. Add new content for search engines to crawl through and rank for relevancy ;
  • Unique product descriptions are important for SEO and sales. Make product descriptions as descriptive as possible to hit as many keywords (and keyword variations) as you can ;
  • Always create original content. Search engines recognize and penalize site owners for duplicate content ;
  • Content needs to be relevant to your online store. This is how search engines understand your website and consider it useful for your audience. If content is not relevant, then you risk being left at the bottom of search results ;
  • Curate linkable assets for your store. You can use a blog to reveal useful information and shareable content for users to link and share too. This boosts the authority and trustworthiness of your website.

[Case Study] Driving growth in new markets with on-page SEO

When Springly began looking at expanding to the North American market, on-page SEO has been identified as one of the keys to a successful start in a new market. Find out how to go from 0 to success with technical SEO for your content strategy.

SEO for elements of your online store

SEO doesn’t only relate to content, titles and product descriptions – it relates to all components of your website. You want to give search engines as much information as possible to help determine what your site is all about and increase traffic to your site organically.

  • Title tag – This will identify what your site or page is about, both for search engines and customers. It should be around 60 characters long ;
  • Meta description – Don’t forget about your meta descriptions. These help search engines understand what your content and pages are about and how relevant they are for readers. It is the little snippet of text that appears on the search page, just underneath your title. This is what will draw customers to your website, so make them descriptive and inviting. They should be around 160 words long and unique to every product ;
  • Alt tags – These are hidden descriptions used for any photos on your website. Just because you can see the images doesn’t mean search engines can. Search engines need alt tags to understand and see any pictures on your site clearly. Use relevant keywords in image alt tags to give your site crawlable text for search engines to digest and understand ;
  • URLs – Make all URLs SEO-friendly by including relevant keywords. It’s important for them to be as simple and easy to understand as possible. Use short hyphens to separate words for clarity.

Give users an experience to remember

Search engines are very clever. They can measure user behavior online to determine a website’s credibility and UX (user experience). If you have low UX, search engines will discover this and lower your ranking. Bounce rates are an indicator that your site is not user-friendly, therefore search engines will be less likely to rank it highly. Use analytics to master SEO and see how well your website is performing.

  • UX is a very important metric for SEO – With great user experience comes more traffic and higher conversion rates
  • To do well, websites need to be logically laid out and easy to use – Intuitive navigation and few distractions are important to overall usability
  • Help customers reach their end goal as fast as possible – Do as much as you can to improve their experience and speed up their purchase process
  • Use helpful features to aid customers – Offer help boxes to assist during a customer’s shopping experience. Don’t go overboard, as they can quickly become intrusive. There’s a fine line between being helpful and being overbearing, so keep this in mind
  • Easy checkout process – Ensure that your checkout process is easy and simple to use, so customers are more likely to shop with you again. If you are noticing high bounce rates on your checkout pages, then it’s worth finding out why
  • Make the journey as seamless as possible for all customers – Whether they are using a phone, tablet or laptop – or a combination of these – your aim should be to make the journey easy and pleasant

Find out how to create perfect UX for your ecommerce store.

Use a CMS that does the work for you

An SEO-friendly CMS is crucial for your site. Just because everything looks fine on the front end of your site, doesn’t mean that it will be understood by search engines on the back end.

  • Search engines can only read certain types of information from your website, so give them as much to work with as possible
  • A hosted online store builder like Shopify has built-in SEO capabilities to ensure your website is search engine-friendly from the get-go
  • You can include SEO integrations such as Plug in SEO to help guide you in your SEO efforts

Putting SEO at the core of your marketing strategy will boost organic traffic to your site and drive conversion rates. Search engines only want to show content that is relevant and interesting to readers, so work alongside them to optimize your site and reach a wider audience. It’s important to increase your customers’ chances of finding you, in order to maximize sales and succeed online.

What SEO tools and strategies are you using for your online store? Are they working? Let us know in the comments.

Patrick Foster See all their articles
Patrick Foster is an e-commerce entrepreneur, coach and writer, sharing ideas on his own blog EcommerceTips.org. On his blog, Patrick shares engaging e-commerce content for entrepreneurs and business owners alike. You can follow him on Twitter, or add him on LinkedIn.
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