Optimising an e-Commerce website requires a slightly different set of tactics than those deployed to optimise a website without e-Commerce. Some of those SEO tactics are often undervalued by businesses that have a laser-like focus on sales and revenue, however, some of those tactics can help to contribute to growing your sales and revenue. Win-win.
Some of the tactics listed below and SEO tactics that can (and should) be deployed on both e-Commerce and non-e-Commerce websites, however, in this post, we are specifically focusing on the benefits they bring to e-Commerce websites.
Here are five SEO tactics we would advise all e-Commerce websites to deploy in order to grow their traffic and ultimately, sales and revenue.
1. Product Page Design
It goes without saying that your product pages on an e-Commerce website are some of the most important. Whilst it might be your category landing pages that drive the majority of the search volume (e.g. people land on your category page by searching “women’s clothing” rather than a specific product), it is your product pages that will lead to more sales and revenue.
A well-designed product page should create the clearest path to conversion possible whilst providing customers with enough information to allow them to make an informed purchase decision.
Key information that will help to take visitors from “browsing” to “purchasing” include:
These are all crucial elements in the purchase decision and making them clear and easy to understand is essential.
A recent study by Search Pilot also found that adding product descriptions above the fold also led to a 14% uplift in organic traffic on desktop. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and write super-long product descriptions. It simply means you need to make sure you place some relevant copy about the product above the fold.
Another important SEO consideration for product pages is ensuring they are not considered thin. Again, this doesn’t mean cramming your product pages full of unnecessary copy. It means providing meaningful content in a way that allows customers to read as much or as little as they want about a product.
In addition to a 50-100 word product description that sits above the fold, provide a more detailed section about the product further down the page where relevant. Talk about any benefits and features and how the product would benefit the customer.
It’s also a good idea to include an FAQ section about your products to answer any frequently asked questions that crop up. Talk to your customer service team and find out what these look like and look to make it easy for people to find the answers they are looking for.
If relevant, you can also include user-generated content in the form of reviews, photos or feedback.
The structure of your product pages is important, however, the content you provide for your customers needs to add value and act as your best salesperson, allowing your customers to make an informed purchase decision.
2. Structured Data
Structured data is imperative for e-Commerce websites if they want visibility within the SERPs. There are very few e-Commerce websites that are not using structured data (or schema markup as it is sometimes referred to).
Structured data is there to provide Google with more information about the content on a page. There are hundreds of types of structured data, however, the main one for e-Commerce sites to utilise is Product Markup.
As well as providing Google with more information about the content on a page, markup can also be pulled through to the search results page. This can significantly enhance your listing in the SERP, pulling through information such as review score, stock availability, price, and any special offers.
Structured data can also help to make your products more eligible for rich results, such as carousels, images and other non-textual elements.
In the example above, the Two Islands listing really stands out. We can see there is a star rating, the number of reviews, the price and the stock status, as well as an image of the product, all of which are pulled into the SERP from the structured data. This result is much more enticing for visitors to click through to as they know what to expect when they get there.
3. Crawl Budget
For e-Commerce websites, maximising your crawl budget is an essential activity in ensuring your most valuable pages are crawled and indexed.
Where e-Commerce sites differ from other sites without e-Commerce functionality is the number of pages that typically exist on the website. Managing how Google crawls those pages is an essential part of your SEO strategy, ensuring that your key pages are the ones that are crawled most frequently.
One key thing to remember is that we don’t need to index every page on a website. Whilst login pages and post-purchase thank you pages are an important part of the customer journey, they are not pages that necessarily need to show up in search.
Using the meta-noindex tag or disallowing Google from crawling pages through the robots.txt file is an expected way to manage your crawl budget and ensure that all your key pages are indexed.
Another way to manage your crawl budget is through the use of URL parameters. They are used to control critical aspects of an e-Commerce website, namely navigation and sorting of products.
It’s important to understand which of your pages with URL parameters are being served in the Google search results and which are driving traffic. You can then manage these pages through your robots.txt file to ensure Google is only crawling unique URLs within your navigation or sorting functionality.
On the subject of navigation, faceted navigation is such an important tool for e-Commerce websites to take advantage of when it comes to directing visitors to content across the site.
Faceted navigation is a way of creating a navigation architecture and menu that makes it easy for visitors to understand the content they will click through to see.
We can see from the example above how Myer – an Australian fashion retail site uses a very comprehensive faceted navigation to direct visitors to the key pages on their site.
More than the main navigation, however, Myer also uses a more in-depth faceted navigation within each category of the website. Above, we can see how they have created individual landing pages for the most important types of dresses they sell online, helping visitors to narrow down their search and get to the information they want much faster.
In addition, Myer also gives people more faceted navigation options at the bottom of their main category pages, giving visitors even more opportunities to click on the category of dress that most interests them.
Creating individual landing pages for each of these key sub-categories not only presents a better user experience but also allows Myer to rank for a much broader set of keywords. If they simply used a filtering system and URL parameters for “white dresses” for example, they would not end up with such clear navigation and strong architecture on the site. They would not have the same opportunities to rank for keywords with a much clearer search intent.
5. Site Speed
Site speed is important for all websites, however, for e-Commerce websites, it feels like speed could be the difference between making a sale and someone bouncing back off your site to buy from someone else.
Of course, testing every page on an e-Commerce website for speed and for Core Web Vitals is simply not practical. With hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of pages, it simply isn’t feasible to check them all individually.
Instead, it is better to test at the template level.
On an e-Commerce website, there will be a number of templates used to create the key pages across the site. A category landing page, a product page, an About Us page, the homepage – all of these templates can then be duplicated for similar types of content.
Pick a handful of pages that use each template and analyse these to give you a clearer indication of the speed and performance of those templates. Whilst the scores may differ slightly (there might be more images on one product page for example), a lot of the information and code will be the same and this will give you a good indication of the overall performance of those templates.
It’s also important to run those templates across a number of speed testing tools to get a more rounded analysis. Screaming Frog is a great tool to use and using the Google PageSpeed API, you can collect page speed scores for all the pages across your e-Commerce site.
WebPageTest and GTmetrix are two other tools that we will always use when conducting an audit of a client’s e-Commerce website to assess page performance.
Optimising an e-Commerce website is different to optimising a website with no e-Commerce functionality and it is important to ensure that you are following SEO best practices when it comes to maximising the potential of your e-Commerce website.
The five tactics outlined above are some of the most important when it comes to both organic performance, but also user experience. SEO and UX often go hand in hand. Even the best-performing website in organic search will be let down if the UX when people land on the site is terrible.
Equally, if you have great UX but no one is there to see it, there is little point.
Tackling the five tactics above will ensure that your e-Commerce website not only performs well in organic search but that it also provides a great user experience and helps to get more people converting once they do land on your website.