At this point, there can be no denying the pace and scale of global ecommerce growth. In 2019, it’s expected that 1.9 billion people worldwide will participate in commercial activities online. Experts believe that this will translate into a 13.7 percent overall growth for ecommerce sites as a collective platform for web-based transactions.
And while the likes of Amazon, Alibaba and eBay will command the lion’s share of the world’s ecommerce action, many consumers are unsure which online stores they need to go to for the products they’re looking for. That’s where Google comes in: around 93% of all browsing activities on the web begin with search and roughly 70% of these searches happen on the Big G. If you operate a small or medium-sized online store, it’s in your best interest to be favored by Google to help drive a constant stream of traffic to your webpages.
For the most part, hiring a provider of managed search engine optimization services (SEO) is the best way to attain a high degree of visibility on Google without distracting you from your goal of growing the business. However, it’s not always easy to find this kind of help and you may have to do some of the optimizations in-house. In such a scenario, applying the following techniques can go a long way in driving qualified traffic to your webpages from Google’s search result pages:
Organize Product Categories Strategically
The information architecture of your website is among its defining elements. This involves the hierarchical arrangement of webpages in your site which allow humans and search engines to understand the content themes in it and the search terms it should rank for. In ecommerce sites, pages are typically arranged in the home-category-subcategory-product page scheme similar to the diagram below:
In most cases, non-SEO savvy ecommerce operators put all their attention into building the home and product pages without realizing that the most crucial webpages for traffic generation are the category pages. This is due to the fact that category pages tend to represent your website for keywords with moderate to high search volumes and strong purchasing intents behind them.
For instance, if you’re running an online store that sells beauty products, it’s natural that you’ll want to rank for the term “beauty products.” However, that’s a competitive term that will be very difficult to rank for in any territory. Aside from that term, you’ll also want to have a high degree of visibility for keywords like “skin care products,” “lipsticks,” “facial washes,” and other terms that describe the categories of products you sell.
Keep in mind that each category page is a landing page for organic traffic. The more finely categorized your product portfolio is, the better it is for your search visibility. When trying to come up with categorization ideas, use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner or SEMRush so you can determine exactly how to name your categories.
Grow the Breadth of Your Content
Many of the signals that search engines use to determine rankings are related to the breadth and quality of content found on websites’ pages. If you want to get a leg up on the competition, one of the easiest ways to do so is to make your category and product page copy richer and more unique.
For many online stores, category pages are mere gateways that help users and bots navigate to groups of product pages. While this is indeed the primary function of category pages, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have ample content that will give them their own distinct identities. Adding a couple of paragraphs’ worth of copy can make a big difference in how much search visibility Google awards your site. Check out this vendor of Ford Mustang accessories, for instance:
The copy is positioned above the fold and comes before the selection of products to help search engines recognize the text’s importance and its relevance to the page’s target keywords. In other online stores, text is positioned near the bottom of the page due to design considerations but is usually lengthier for greater SEO effect:
Category pages aren’t the only ones that can benefit from having lengthier and more unique copy. Your product pages also represent you for niche keywords and should receive the same attention. Unfortunately, most ecommerce websites use generic content from manufacturer catalogs and websites due to the significant manpower resources involved with creating custom content for these pages.
The result is almost always poor search engine visibility for product pages as search engines filter them out of search results due to the absence of uniqueness. If you want to breathe some ranking power into your product pages, consider adding a short section where you can insert unique copy like this cosmetics website did:
Notice that instead of just listing the usual product specifications and descriptions, they actually added sections that are unique to their product pages such as Claim to Fame and Fast Facts. No other cosmetics vendor in their country is doing this, allowing them to stand out and grab top spots in Google Search results for their product-related keywords.
Use Sustainable Link Building Strategies
Google claims to use 200+ ranking signals to determine your website’s rankings for its target keywords. One of the most potent of which are the backlinks pointing to your pages from other websites. If you want to enjoy sustained success on Google Search, you need to drive a steady stream of these with effective and consistent link building strategies. These can include:
- Probably the most scalable of all link building practices, outreach via email to blogs for guest posting opportunities is an excellent way to earn links.
- Link Solicitation. Asking other website owners whom you have business relationships with for links is an easy way to boost your website’s ranking power. This can include the sites of sister companies, strategic partners, suppliers and more.
- Charity. Good deeds come around. On the Internet, acts of charity can be leveraged for the acquisition of quality backlinks. If your company supports non-profit organizations, academic institutions, government agencies and other cause-oriented groups, you can ask them to acknowledge your contributions by linking to your website.
- Thought Leadership. Being recognized as an expert in your field carries distinct benefits, including the passive acquisition of links. Regularly publishing useful and informative articles and Infographics is a good step in this direction.
There are tons of other ways to earn links from other websites but these are the most commonly used by ecommerce operators from different countries.
Make Your Webpages Mobile-Friendly
In 206, searches on Google performed on mobile devices officially surpassed those coming from desktop computers. Since then, Google started to go on a trend of prioritizing mobile users and incentivizing websites with mobile-friendly designs. To date, the search giant has taken things to the next level by announcing the rollout of its mobile-first indexing scheme which essentially treats the mobile version of your website as the “canonical” one over its desktop counterpart.
As an online store owner, you need to consider the fact that most shopping experiences on the web now begin with mobile devices. Therefore, mobile-friendliness and search visibility on mobile search should now be major considerations when developing and designing your storefront. This means that the following elements need to scale properly when viewed from a smartphone screen:
When implementing a mobile-friendly design, make it a point to test the scheme on multiple devices, operating systems and browsers.
Make the Webpages Load Faster
Site speed is becoming an ever-more-important ranking factor on Google. The quicker your webpages can fully load on both desktop and mobile devices, the more that Google looks at your site favorably. You can test your website’s current load speeds using the Google Page Speed Insights tool where your page needs to earn a score of 90/100 to be considered fast. Fortunately, the fool will give you hints on how to improve your webpage’s load times. The most common of which include:
- Eliminating code bloat
- Minifying HTML and CSS
- Optimizing images
- Reducing server response times
If these sound technical to you, you’ll want to take things up with your web developer. He or she will be the best person to rely on for executing these suggestions.
Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into optimizing an ecommerce website for search. However, these tips are sure to give you a solid foundation for greater visibility on Google. Follow each one and you’re sure to improve organic traffic numbers sooner than later for your store on the web.