Ecommerce SEO Dos & Don’ts

From our friends at The Luxurist Method.

Ecommerce SEO requires the same basic knowledge of SEO: relevance, authority, and good site structure. But there are other aspects that are not commonly talked about for ecommerce sites, specifically larger enterprise sites.

The best areas to focus on for your ecommerce SEO strategy are:

Site Speed & Crawl Budget

Create Relevant Content

Content is king! High quality content relevant to your industry is the most essential ranking factor.

Search engines allow a relatively similar amount of time dedicated to crawling a site called a Crawl Budget. Crawl Budgets can vary depending on site size and the frequency at which you update your site. If search engines see that your site is small and is likely to stay that way, you will have a smaller crawl budget than a bigger site that updates content regularly. Crawl Budgets are not static and can change on several factors. 500 or server errors tell the search engines the server cannot handle all the requests. So, next time, the Crawl Budget will be lower. If you don’t fix them, then the budget will shrink until the 500 errors are not being flagged.

Site speed can also affect the Crawl Budget. Things like uncompressed code and images can slow down the rate search engines crawl through a site. Since ecommerce sites have tons of images and tracking code, it’s easy for a site to have lots of instances where the crawl budget slows down. You can compress images or use alternative image formats like WebP to help with speed. Code compressors are an ecommerce SEO’s best friend for site performance too. With the new Core Web Vital updates from Google, site speed is more critical now than ever.

Create Relevant Content: Vital for Your Ecommerce SEO

Create Relevant Content

Content is king! High quality content relevant to your industry is the most essential ranking factor.

Site Speed and Crawl Budgets are important, but there is still one thing that holds all the power for ecommerce SEO. Content. Google Webmaster Martin Splitt has reiterated across the internet that relevant, quality content is the essential ranking factor.

No matter the industry, the purpose, or kind of search, content that aligns with the search will always be the most significant ranking factor for the top search engines. Conducting keyword research to make sure you’re targeting specific keywords and being able to write engaging content is the best ecommerce SEO strategy.

Tailoring content to how users search is one of the best ways to increase the probability of guaranteeing a click. Writing titles using words like How, What, When, Why, Who, and Best are easy wins because that is usually how a user interacts with a search engine. So if you were selling shoes and had a page showing summer shoes, a blog titled “Best Shoes for Summer” would be highly relevant to a query.

Adding More Relevance

Relevance does not just pertain to writing content. Schema markup is a snippet of code that gives extra relevance for search engines. This means they have a better idea of what the site holds. There is a schema for every aspect of a website. Product descriptions, price, stock availability, reviews, phone numbers, or addresses are the most popular. Using schema can also land a Rich Snippet in results pages. These are worth their weight in gold for organic traffic.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Remember: not everybody uses Google. Your target audience could be living anywhere from Yahoo to Duck Duck Go.

Not all search engines are created equal. Depending on your target demographic, focusing on one search engine could mean a loss in revenue and traffic. A 2016 study done by ComScore found that users between the ages of 45-64 chose Bing as their search engine of choice, while those 65 and above prefer Yahoo, leaving the remaining age ranges of 18-44 to use Google. This is ever-changing. Although Google is still the majority shareholder, it has lost some of its market share in recent years, while emerging search engines like DuckDuckGo are growing fast.

From an ecommerce standpoint, other search engines outperform Google regarding conversion rate and revenue. Bing has an average conversion rate of 2%, followed by Yahoo at 1.75%, DuckDuckGo at 1.60%, and Google rounding out the big 4 with 1.49%. The revenue per 10,000 users follows the same trend, with Bing leading the pack at $50,000 per 10,000, Yahoo at $47,000, Duck Duck Go with $40,000, and Google just behind at $39,000. Google’s algorithm is far and away more complex, resulting in a better user experience. However, it is by no means the only search engine you should be optimizing your ecommerce SEO for.

Biggest Ecommerce SEO Don’ts

  • Soft 404s: Soft 404s are pages that either have content that search engines find as weak or old pages stripped of content that still return a full 200 status. Weak content is anything under 300 words, and can be disastrous for your ecommerce SEO. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule, such as pages that are not content-based by design. But you should aim for 1,000-2,000 words for content-based ones (much like this post). Pages stripped of their content but still live confuse search engines because they are looking for content that is not there.
  • Core Web Vitals: Core Web Vitals (CWV) are a recent update made in 2021 based on page experience. It measures the amount of time your largest piece of content takes to load, called Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). The next is First Input Delay, which measures how long it takes for a user to interact with your largest piece of content. The last is Cumulative Layout Shift which is how much elements shift when they render to when they adapt to the screen size. Many tools measure these like Google’s Lighthouse and Page Speed Insights. These free tools are a fantastic way to help with your CWVs. The best way to combat these is to minimize your images and code, set dimensions for images, and use lazy load or prerender your elements.
  • Multiple headers: Google has gone on record to say that, since the algorithm has gotten so used to them, they no longer consider these to be a significant ranking factor. But as SEOs we want flawless sites, so never turn down a proper HTML structure.
  • Non Indexable images: Under normal circumstances, search engines cannot crawl images. They understand that it is an image based on the code, but they have no real idea about its contents. Using Alt text for the images gives more relevance to what the picture is. Adding targeted keywords to these alt tags is a great way to have your product images appear in the SERP.
  • Not Paying Attention To Status Codes: Status codes tell us which pages need our attention. 200s are great, 300s are redirects, 400s are broken, and 500s are server related. A common theme is using temporary redirects when you should be using permanents. Even if the page is offline for a day, most SEOs never use temporary redirects as they do not pass on good authority the way permanents do. 400s are shown when something is broken like a 404 or forbidden by the server, which is a 403. 500s, as stated earlier in the crawl budget section, are bad for SEO for many reasons. The biggest is that the search engine sees your site as smaller and unable to handle all these requests. Load issues and timeouts can not only affect ecommerce SEO, but they also are frustrating for users.

Quality Over Quantity

Following these tips will help shape your website and start bringing in more relevant users. When it comes to ecommerce SEO, quality over quantity is the best-case scenario. Providing relevant content shaped by the way a user searches and creating a sound website will give the best experience for search engines and users. Ecommerce SEO is a revolving door, and no website is technically perfect. Furthermore, with new algorithm updates coming out every year, SEO is an industry that is not going anywhere. If you want to stay relevant, you have to maintain it. If you’re looking to improve your ecommerce site’s SEO performance, reach out to our team at The Luxurist Method to learn more about your SERP opportunities.

This article was written by Jimmy Griffith, Senior SEO Manager at The Luxurist Method, with visuals by George Radu. It was edited by Fergus Doyle.

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