You’ve built an online store or e-commerce website, and now you’re wondering where all the customers are?
We’ve been there and we feel your pain. It took some time, but we got smart and figured out how to do SEO for an ecommerce store (actually for all three of our online stores!).
In getting to know other ecommerce store owners in forums, private Facebook Groups like the one from Sellosity, or at local online marketers meetups that we go to, a lot of new ecommerce site owners seem really confused about SEO for ecommerce stores. Even though they know you have to do SEO for a content site, they seem to think that with an ecommerce store you just load up the products and then hope the customers will somehow come – as if its all in the hands of fate.
Maybe its the interface of an online store that confuses people and makes them think there isn’t really anything you can do to SEO an ecommerce site. I’ll admit that when we fired up our first ecommerce site, we were a little clueless as well about the SEO strategies we could use to ensure the store got search traffic. Which is really wierd since we’d already had a 10 year run at dominating the Google SERPS using 100% white hat SEO to drive our authority niche content site all the way to thousands of 1st page rankings on Google.
Yet, when it came to our first ecommerce site, we were like “Geez, what can you really do to SEO an ecommerce site?”.
Man, saying it makes me feel like such a dork when I look back at those early days when we, like so many other ecommerce site owners, were inexplicably clueless about SEO for an ecommerce site.
The thing is, your ecommerce website or online store is just like any other website – it needs SEO if customers are going to find their way to it.
Its not enough to just load it up with pages and pages of products. If you want free search engine traffic to bring you customers, you need to give the search engines what they want (most importantly, the Big “G”). Peop’tle tend to think there isn’t a lot you can do to SEO an ecommerce website, but actually, there are some pretty smart SEO moves you can make specifically for ecommerce stores.
Here is our SEO strategy that we use on our three ecommerce stores (this is exactly what we do, and it works).
Write Long Product Descriptions
One simple little trick to increase the search traffic to your ecommerce site or online store is to write long product descriptions. Google
likes needs to see lengthy product descriptions so it can really figure out what your product is and what its about. It may seem tedious, even silly, to write a super-long product description for a relatively simple product, but I promise you, this is the path to better search traffic for your online store or ecommerce site. Ideally, you should be shooting for about 1000 words
But make sure the content is meaningful and truly descriptive. Don’t just spit out a bunch of gobblygook – Google got wise to that a long time ago. Garbage is not going to rank on Google today. Dig deep and really think about what you can say about your products that is genuinely descriptive and helpful both to the buyer in knowing what they are ordering, and to Google in knowing what you are offering.
Short URLs are Better Than Long URLs
Generally speaking, the longer your URL for the products on your ecommerce website, the trickier it is to rank. So if you are going to SEO your ecommerce website, you want to strive to keep your product URLs as short as possible. Keep them descriptive, but cut out all unnecessary stuff.
Keep this in mind when you are building product pages. But be careful about running off and renaming all your URLS if you already have a lot of products; this can be risky business if any of your products are already ranking. Your would need to set up re-directs on all those pages or you’ll simply lose your rankings, and that can be a lot of work. So instead of going back and renaming every product URL, just use this strategy going forward.
Yes, Backlinks Matter in SEO for an eCommerce Website
If you know anything about SEO in general, you know that getting links from other websites (link-building) is a core SEO strategy which most online businesses should be devoting time to each and every week.
Backlinks won’t just happen. It’s something you need to be putting work and effort into building over time. It’s a long-term strategy. The best way to approach the process is to give yourself some goals to work towards.You should be building links every week and every month. The trick is to set weekly and monthly goals, and then hold yourself accountable to achieve them.
We recently came across some backlink building software that we want to try in the next couple of weeks. The results shown on the sales page were pretty exciting, in terms of SEO effect, so we’re eager to give it a try. If I recall, there is a one week trial period for just $7, which, for us, makes it a no brainer. If it doesn’t work, $7 bucks is not much to spend, but if it DOES work, WooHoooo! I can’t remember the price of the software after the trial, but its not much. I’m just waiting til I have a little time to play with it because right now I am so stretched for time, but I’m really excited to try it.
We won’t lie. Getting backlinks to an ecommerce site is considerably less straight forward than it is to get backlinks to a content site. (It’ll be exciting to see if the software I mentioned above will help with that). People may be persuaded to link to and share great content, and they may even do it naturally, without being asked. But they don’t generally feel as inspired to just go out a link to a product someone is selling on their ecommerce store (unless it is really something amazing). Sure you might get the occasional link, but getting large numbers of links can be tricky.
We have found that a couple of the best link building strategies for ecommerce websites is, first, to reach out to bloggers in niches compatible with the products in your online store, ask if you can send them a free product for them to review, and ask them to include a link to your product in the review. Yes, this costs a bit because we have to give them a product for free and pay to ship it to them. But if its an influential blogger, this can actually do more than just get you a link for SEO purposes, it can send some targeted customers and sales our way. So when we do this, we make sure to carefully choose the right bloggers, and match our products to the particular bloggers really well – and make sure the products we send out for review are awesome, so that we pretty much know readers of the blog are very likely to head over to us and buy. Don’t even try this if your product is just so-so, because it won’t be worth it – the product needs to be fabulous in the eyes of the blogs typical audience.
The other strategy we use to build links to our ecommerce sites is to send out press releases to the media – even a link from our local paper has SEO value if its not a no-follow. We’ve also sent sample products along with a product press release to relevant magazines, and have gotten some valuable links that way as well.
If you are new to backlink building then here is some additional stuff you need to know:
Backlinks fall into one of two categories which are referred to as follow and nofollow. A follow backlink is a link from another site that tells search engines, “I endorse this website”. This type of link can help in SEO for an ecommerce website, just as it can for any website. Alternatively, a nofollow backlink, is a link where the person/website giving the backlink is saying “I’m linking to them but I’m not necessarily endorsing them”.
To make a link nofollow, an author simply needs to add an extra bit of text to the HTML of the link. By looking at the HTML you can also tell if a link is follow or nofollow:
Example of a “follow” link:
Example of a “nofollow” link:
Unfortunately, links from Facebook, Twitter, blog comments and forums are almost always nofollow links. Its still great to get these links because they give exposure for your ecommerce store, but no follow links like these generally don’t do anything to boost a site in search engine rankings.
Even when it comes to follow links, some links are still more important than others. The better quality and more popular a website is, the more important and valuable a link from them pointing to your site will be. “Garbage” websites really have no value to you at all, and can actually be harmful to your search engine rankings (this is referred to as “negative SEO”). They’re usually a lot easier to get links from than links from high quality sites, but forget about it because they could end up being worse than no link at all.
Like I said, building links to an ecommerce site is slower and trickier than it is to get links to content, but it can be done – and you do need to do it if you want to SEO an ecommerce website!
Key Words Also Matter in SEO for an eCommerce Website
Your product keyword (the main search string people are searching for when they look for your product) should appear in your product title, in your url, and, of course, in your product description. In fact, it should appear 3 times if possible in your product description, distributed evenly through the description – in other words, use it close to the beginning of the description, use it in the middle of the description, and use it toward the end of the description. But again, be sure to use your keywords in a meaningful and sensible way. If you are simply keyword stuffing, and if your use of keywords looks unnatural to your customers, Google is going to detect that, and there will be no free search traffic for you!
These are the top 3 techniques we use to SEO an eCommerce website or online store. Do this and you’re going to be well ahead of 80% of the other e-commerce websites competing for your keywords. Ever notice how so few ecommerce websites and online stores write much, if any, of a description for their products? That is such a huge mistake and a major missed opportunity for ranking an ecommerce website. Clearly, the more information you can feed to Google about what your product is, the better it is going to understand your product page, and therefore, the more traffic it will be able to send you. When we started doing this with our 3 ecommerce stores, traffic jumped dramatically.
This one step alone is so important, and it is such an easy improvement to make that its just silly not to do it. Yes, it takes a little time, effort and thought, but the payout if well worth the effort.
Try it for yourself and and watch the traffic for your ecommerce store start to rise. Let us know how it works for you!
BTW, if you’re serious about building a successful ecommerce store, a program we highly recommend is Sellosity.