On-page SEO can help your ecommerce website rank higher, engage users, drive more traffic, and convert more leads.
People typically start their product research with a search (usually on Google).
To make an informed buying decision, they usually:
Compare prices and features.
Search for tips and advice.
If your website isn’t visible when people are searching for the products you sell, you’re losing out on potential customers and profits.
Let’s examine some of the most significant concepts for improving on-page SEO and winning valuable organic traffic.
Keyword Research & Optimization
If you want people to find you, you have to use the right words.
If you want greater visibility in search engines, you have to use the right words.
Notice a pattern there?
You must optimize for both people and search engines.
You can choose from many useful keyword research tools.
For example, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer provides keyword suggestions for any business niche or search engine. You can monitor and manage the metrics that reflect how efficiently your keywords match user queries.
Some other free keyword research tools include Google Trends, Keyword Shitter, Google Correlate, Wordtracker Scout, and Google Search Console.
Here are a few tips on how to use the keywords you find:
Place the most important keywords in page titles, headers, subheaders, paragraph copy, product descriptions, image file names and alt text, meta title and description, and URLs. Use different variations.
Put all details (shipping costs, user reviews, return policy) on the product page. If the customer has to leave the page to look for extra information, they are more likely to leave the website altogether.
Provide users with real value by writing a helpful copy. Avoid unnecessary keyword stuffing, which can appear suspicious to Google.
Update your seasonal sales in a timely manner. Don’t disappoint your customers.
Remember that people, not Google, buy your services and products, so it is vital to optimizing your ecommerce pages to satisfy users’ intentions.
Start by evaluating your competitors’ websites. Your analysis can shed some light on which factors are worthy of attention. Look for:
Specific colors used in product page designs.
Characteristics of services/products.
The number and the appearance of calls to action, or CTAs.
To improve your on-page SEO, consider removing unavailable products from your index. When left in indexing for an extended period of time, these pages can eventually hurt your ranking.
You can arrange your work in the following manner:
Compare the number of indexed pages in Google Search Console with the number of indexed pages from your Sitemap, as well as the number of pages from Google organic.
Make sure that only pages from your Sitemap are open for Google indexing.
Ecommerce website owners often pay the most attention to product pages, landing pages, and the homepage of their websites, forgetting that category pages in their catalog should also look great because they directly influence conversions and search rankings.
If web users do not like the appearance of a category page, they will not even open product pages, and all your SEO efforts will be in vain.
Here are some key metrics to monitor in order to keep your category pages optimized:
Conversion rate: The ratio comparing the number of sales to the number of site visitors.
Engagement: The time visitors spend on the website’s pages. The longer people spend viewing your content, the more likely they are to buy something.
Click-through rate: Transitions from category pages to product pages.
Revenue per visitor: The ratio between your revenue and the number of visitors. This metric is even more important than the conversion rate. It is better to have fewer clients buying expensive items than many customers buying inexpensive products.
A decade ago, blogging was mainly perceived as an entertaining add-on, but today, this powerful tool is actively used by ecommerce companies.
A blog can help your ecommerce site deliver valuable information to customers, gain their loyalty, and build strong relationships. Also, by incorporating popular keywords into blog articles, you will attract more visits from search engines.
Here are some criteria for high-quality SEO optimized content:
It should include strong queries that bring your pages to the top of search rankings.
Your posts should answer questions that are frequently asked by your clients: how to use some products, how to choose among several similar services, how to extend the lifespan of items purchased, etc.
Apart from text, your articles should include vivid and captivating visuals to break up text segments and keep readers engaged.
Your articles should contain links to product and category pages in your catalog.
You should thoroughly proofread and edit your content for grammatical errors, as well as misleading or obsolete information.
Meta Title & Description
The meta title and description are short but meaningful elements. They give you favorable exposure in search engines because web users see them when choosing from among a number of similar sources.
Your meta title and description should briefly summarize the subject of the page in a way that makes people want to visit and further explore it.
Header tags (H1, H2, H3, and so on) are extremely important, since they make up the structure of your articles. When visiting blogs and product pages, web users first look at headers and, within a few seconds, decide whether the material is worthy of their attention.
Also, headers are valuable from an SEO standpoint. Google pays more attention to these tags than to the body text.
Keeping in mind these two nuances, compile H tags reflecting an idea of each textual segment and including relevant keywords.
You may run a top-notch advertising campaign and sing the praises of your company through all available information channels, but prospective clients will still approach your brand with a bit of skepticism, suspecting you are emphasizing your products’ advantages just to hit high sales.
It is another story when web users read unbiased testimonials on independent review platforms.
People tend to trust other consumers, and 91% of all consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family.
Posting a lot of positive reviews on your product pages can pay off big. Negative comments won’t have as much of an impact, as long as they are in the minority.
Let’s be honest, every product has some drawbacks, and the absence of dissatisfied buyers may seem suspicious.
Customer opinions are more helpful for on-page SEO than you may think.
Reviews provide original, fresh and consistent content that is helpful for both search engines and potential customers. Not to mention that reviews often contain relevant keywords, which come as an added bonus.
Encouraging users to leave reviews is more or less a marketing goal. As an SEO specialist, your task is to analyze existing comments and point out their quality and quantity.
The best way to gain more reviews is through well-thought-out email marketing and by making it easy and convenient for shoppers to leave reviews on your website.
Remember that content does not exist to simply fill empty spaces in your blog and catalog.
Content is your weapon for conquering the market. So make it powerful and striking.
You will never know if your content is truly effective if you don’t evaluate it.
Regular analysis and updating outdated information will help you achieve excellence.
Choose a specific point in time to revise all your published content. That could be once per month or once per year.
Monitor the behavior of your target audience in terms of comments, clicks, average reading time, and other metrics.
Analyze questions that customers frequently ask of your customer support team, and use them as topics for your blog articles.
Also, if you notice some interesting content solutions on your competitors’ websites, be sure to leverage them.
Image optimization is a smart investment of your time, as it has the potential to improve your page speed tremendously.
Here are the most crucial points to keep in mind when working with images:
Perfect format: PNG and GIF for large areas of solid colors, JPG for photos.
Compression: There is a variety of free or paid tools and online services to compress your images.
Aesthetics: Product images should be appealing, awaken positive emotions, and stimulate web users to place an order. It is best to enlist the support of a professional photographer to showcase your products from the best possible perspective.
SEO: Incorporate keywords into alt text, especially text surrounding images.
When working with video, pay attention to the following practices:
Use MP4 format, as it produces the smallest file size.
Select the optimal file size with your visitors’ screen size in mind.
Remember to compress all video files.
Reduce the length when possible.
Upload the video to YouTube, Vimeo, or other similar resources instead of serving them locally.
Checking and improving usability is an essential task for every SEO specialist.
Your job is to perform an accurate analysis, including the following factors:
How much time does the average user spend on the page?
What is the bounce rate?
How well do the CTAs perform?
Which pages are most visited?
Bring your results to the table, and get your marketing and development teams involved. Issues that negatively affect usability can be either technical or non-technical.
For instance, too many ads, poor copy, too big or too small fonts, buttons that don’t work, and other issues can dramatically affect usability.
Your task is to find those weak points and to delegate relevant tasks to other team members.
Below, we list the most important elements influencing user experience.
It should be easy for customers to find the information and products they need. Make sure your menu is convenient, intuitive, and provides the shortest pathways to different sections. When your website is pleasant and easy to use, visitors will stay there longer.
Internal linking should be well-thought-out for ecommerce sites.
There are three major reasons to use internal linking:
Simplify on-site navigation for users and offer them engaging content related to the information they are interested in.
Help search engines to crawl your site and identify the themes of your content.
Encourage users to stay longer on your site by visiting multiple product pages.
Let’s say a customer is not totally delighted with an item they clicked on in Google SERP. Will they leave the website immediately? Not necessarily, if you offer them links to other similar options. This can be your first step toward converting leads.
Internal linking also helps establish your own anchor text. This is an excellent way to ensure your top keywords will occupy the first positions in search.
The best takeaways for a proper internal linking strategy:
Add links where appropriate only.
Don’t place too many links with similar anchors.
Leverage the power of breadcrumbs to help users understand the site’s multi-level hierarchy for better navigation.
The most clickable links are those with engaging images. Take this into consideration, to keep users on your website.
When someone is ready to take action and buy something on your website, why not offer related products to increase your revenue?
For example, a furniture brand might offer a set of chairs to a customer buying a table. A hotel booking website might offer discounted deals on rental cars.
People appreciate helpful services that satisfy all their needs and make their lives easier.
FAQ / About Us / Contact pages
When optimizing your general pages, think about your FAQ content. People will go elsewhere if you are unable to answer their questions.
No matter how descriptive your products/services pages are, users will still have some questions. Having an informative FAQ page on your site can help fill the gap.
Make sure you cover all the basic information, including the website’s security measures, shipping options, and return policies. Providing this information can increase buyer trust and skyrocket your sales.
An engaging About Us section will add stars to your reputation. Tell prospective clients about your history, corporate values, and your company’s key merits. This lets visitors know they are dealing with a reputable business and not a fly-by-night website.
On your Contact page, list all the ways users can contact you, including phone and FAX numbers, email addresses, Skype, WhatsApp, social network pages, website contact forms and live chat.
Simplify the decision-making process for your buyers by providing a convenient product comparison tool.
It should collect and compare basic data from product descriptions and suggest the best options, based on customer needs.
Make videos showing how your products can be used. Choose a suitable format for your niche.
If you sell equipment, for example, provide installation and maintenance tips. Or if you sell cosmetics, you could create your own beauty vlog and publish makeup lessons.
Showing visitors how to use your products builds trust and boosts conversions.
Spare your customers from having to browse through your entire site to find what they need.
A prominently displayed search box helps them quickly find the product they are looking for.
Amazon is a good example. Their search box takes shoppers directly to the desired product category.
On-page SEO can help your business grow by leaps and bounds.
SAN JOSE – With more advertisers and bigger budgets crowding onto Facebook and Instagram, acquisition costs are climbing. Advertisers can make their social ad dollars go further by re-thinking campaign fundamentals.
“You need to make sure you’re scaling your available inventory for click-through rates, mirroring your audience, and being dynamic,” 3Q Digital’s Senior Strategy Development manager Madeline Fitzgerald said in sharing tips for lowering CPAs across Facebook at SMX West Thursday.
Deconstructing Facebook CPCs
Audience size: bigger is usually better. CPCs on Facebook are affected by audience size, account structure, and click-through rates (CTR). The narrower and smaller your target audience, the more competitive your bid will need to be, Fitzgerald explained. The competition in the auction will ultimately impact the CPC outcome.
“If you’re noticing that your CPCs are really high, one of the first things you should do is check your audience sizes. If you’re seeing that [it’s] getting too specific, see if there are any other interests, behaviors, demographics that we can add.” Doing so, she explained, will help to broaden the target pool and give the Facebook algorithm more options to show your ads.
If you’ve reached a ceiling, broad targeting might be the next step. “If you already have a mature account, don’t go straight to this if you’re still early on in your testing phases. But if you’re trying to get to that next level, broad targeting is great way to do so,” Fitzgerald explained.
Account structure and segmentation. Account structure and the way we segment our ad sets can also determine the available ad inventory. Ads can run across a range of Facebook properties – from News Feed and Messenger to Stories and Instagram feeds. When we add segmentations like placements or geographies, the audience pool becomes restricted and advertisers might miss out on more efficient inventory.
“The algorithms are smarter than we are,” she reasoned. “Let the robots have it on factors like devices and placements. A couple of years ago, we laughed at everyone who did that. But we’re actually seeing a 13% lower CPA with some of our clients who [no longer segment those].”
Segmentation can be valuable when focusing on the funnel stage – i.e. audience personas, creative, and destination pages. But Fitzgerald recommends skipping demographics, geographies, devices, and placements — any of the factors you can’t edit after you set them up.
Campaign budget optimization. Soon, ad set budgets will be going away, in favor of campaign budget optimization (CBO), which uses machine learning to automatically serve ads to the target audience based on predictive analysis.
“I think the biggest way to figure out how to work this into our strategy is to think about the language Facebook is using to tell us about how the algorithm operates. Facebook tells us that CBO looks at the available opportunities – which is a combination of audience size and the audience’s propensity to actually convert into billable opportunities.”
Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes volume over potential for conversion,
which is why CBO works, she explained. Marketers can group together audiences with
similar potential reach or size and the budget optimization tool will see more
conversion potential for larger audience within the budget.
Conversions are in the creative
Mirror your audience. “As advertisers, it’s our job to help users see themselves
and their goals – what they want to accomplish – in our creative. We need to
make sure we’re making it very obvious for them,” said Fitzgerald.
Compelling ad creative should be able to clearly visualize
the value proposition of what’s being promoted. And it’s not just about getting
more users in the door, it’s about getting the right users in the door
because they were drawn to your creative.
Engage audiences with video. Facebook has been pushing advertisers
to use animation and video for some time now, but Fitzgerald argues advertisers
still aren’t doing enough with it.
“A lot of advertisers take existing creative and put a slow
zoom on it, or pull a three-minute explainer video and think that counts as an
ad. But that’s not really what we’re being called to as advertisers here,” she said.
“It’s our job to figure out how to leverage movement in a more disruptive way,
and think about new original ways to talk to people.”
Highlight clear value in the copy. Effective copy isn’t about being brand heavy. It’s about
making users comfortable with clicking on an ad. Fitzgerald explained that advertisers
can build that trust and comfort by keeping ad copy directly tied to the value of
what you’re selling.
“We want to make sure users don’t need to go through any guesswork to figure out what’s going to happen next,” Fitzgerald said. “People don’t want to have to read through your whole website to understand why they should engage with your brand.”
This story first appeared on Marketing Land. For more on digital marketing, click here.
About The Author
Taylor Peterson is Third Door Media’s Deputy Editor, managing industry-leading coverage that informs and inspires marketers. Based in New York, Taylor brings marketing expertise grounded in creative production and agency advertising for global brands. Taylor’s editorial focus blends digital marketing and creative strategy with topics like campaign management, emerging formats, and display advertising.
In April 2019, Google was experimenting with a new local SERP that highlighted alternative directory sources for the same query. At the time, we saw an example in the wild for Germany. Now, an updated version of the SERP featuring branded directory buttons appears to be live in the UK, Belgium, Spain, Greece, and France – if not already throughout Europe.
A more prominent directory box. Below is an example screenshot from a UK search, showing directory links above the map and local pack.
SERP showing results for ‘asbestos removal Halifax UK‘
This change in the SERP grows out of Google’s continuing effort to comply with the European Commission’s antitrust decision in shopping search. It’s also an attempt by the company to preempt a separate antitrust action in local search.
Yelp previously criticized these types of screens as a return to Google’s “rival links” remedy, which was originally proposed in 2013 and ultimately rejected by the European Commission.
UK SERP showing a local carousel above the map
How are the directories selected? One obvious and immediate question is how are the displayed directories chosen? This isn’t an ad unit, in contrast to the solution implemented in shopping search. In the latter context, comparison shopping engines and Google Shopping bid against one another for placement in PLAs. However, there’s no comparable “sponsored” or “ad” label in the directory box or carousel above.
We must assume that Google is algorithmically choosing the directories to display. In the UK example above, clicking on the directory box links takes users to a category page in the case of Yell but a business profile page in the case of Cylex. Other searches (e.g., “dentists, London”) show a carousel with multiple, alternative directories.
In some cases, the directories appear on the first page of the organic results, below the map. In other cases, they do not.
Why we care. It remains to be seen whether this approach is acceptable to the European Commission. Part of that will depend on whether the buttons drive meaningful traffic to these publishers. If so it could revive the fortunes of at least some of them (think “barnacle SEO”), which have continued to see declining traffic as Google My Business and zero-click search grab more user focus and engagement.
About The Author
Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.
E-commerce category pages represent a larger opportunity for ranking and driving organic search traffic than product detail pages, according to research unveiled at SMX West 2020 on Thursday.
Across nearly 30 top U.S., e-commerce sites ranking for more than 25 billion keywords, category pages outperformed product detail pages, driving more keyword rankings and estimated traffic, as well as showing higher potential to capture additional traffic with optimization.
The data – culled by JumpFly and seoClarity from Google’s rankings in the U.S. – highlight the outsized role that category pages play in upper-funnel marketing efforts to drive brand awareness and interest.
Specifically, e-commerce category pages – which include parent category, subcategory and product grid pages with faceted navigation – ranked for 19% more keywords on average than product detail pages ranked for. The additional keywords they ranked for drove an estimated 413% more traffic, based on the keywords’ search demand and the pages’ ranking position. With optimization, those ranking category pages also showed the potential to drive 32% more traffic.
Even though category pages drove strong traffic, there’s a significant amount of room to improve ranking performance. On average, each captured an estimated 9% of the share of voice in its search results page. That means that the other ranking pages captured an estimated 91% of the clicks. Product detail pages, by contrast, captured just 2% of the share of voice.
E-commerce sector trends
The strong-category-page trend was most apparent across sectors that naturally target more generic head and torso keywords. For example, sites that sold cordless hammer drills, table lamps and cowboy boots drove stronger performance with category pages, including fashion, home goods and home improvement, as well as department store sites.
Interestingly, the results varied for one sector tested: electronics. One likely reason that product detail pages perform more strongly in this sector could be that electronics keyword themes tend to contain more concrete product attributes than those in other e-commerce sectors. For example, common TV searches include specifics like the size, display technology, resolution, brand and whether it’s “smart” or not. Product names for electronics also tend to contain some of those attributes to differentiate the many similar products available. Therefore, the relevance between a detailed search query and the details in the product name is higher than it would be for other sectors.
Regardless of sector, however, the direct-to-consumer space drove the strongest category-page results, with category pages ranking for 356% more keywords than product detail pages. These brand manufacturers selling their own products on their sites – like Apple, IKEA, The Gap and Nike – drove an estimated 202% more traffic with category pages, and had the potential to drive 233% more traffic.
Marketplaces and auctions
No e-commerce story is complete without a look at marketplaces and auctions. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a strong consensus among the sites in either group.
Behemoth Amazon bucks the trend with product detail pages ranking for an incredible 21,847% more keywords: 34 million keywords compared to the meager 155,000 keywords that its category pages ranked for. Amazon’s product detail pages also drove an estimated 57.5 times more traffic, and had the potential to drive 275.7 times more traffic.
This makes a certain amount of sense based on Amazon’s strength in media and electronics sales. Both sectors are more focused on the types of keywords that product detail pages would naturally win – book and movie titles, and product attributes. In fact, one of Amazon’s best practices for product detail pages involves placing as many product attributes as possible into its 50- to 250-character product names.
Conversely, the product names, and consequently the title tags that are typically based on them, tend to be very short and vague on most e-commerce sites. One luxury jewelry site, for example, has more than 10 products named simply “Ball Ring.”
Walmart’s smaller marketplace system acted more like Amazon with product detail pages that ranked more strongly. Though technically classified as a marketplace since its Target+ expansion to include third-party sellers last year, Target’s much smaller network acted more like a department store with stronger category pages.
On the auction side, eBay acted more like a department store with slightly stronger category pages, while Etsy drove more rankings with its product detail pages.
Why it matters
This research suggests that category page optimization is a valuable area to prioritize to boost your organic search rankings and traffic.
Category pages form the backbone of an e-commerce site as the clickable representation of the site’s taxonomy. Every category page naturally targets a series of keyword themes that form a path through the funnel. The head keyword sits at the mouth of the funnel, while the related, more detailed themes step lower to form the torso and long tail that move toward the tip of the funnel. Traditionally, the product keywords sit at the very tip of the funnel, converting the customer to a sale.
For example, an e-commerce site that sells clothing could have the following click path through a series of five category pages: women’s clothing > dresses > maxi dresses > black maxi dresses > XL black maxi dresses. Each of those five pages targets a unique keyword theme with a place in the sales funnel. Optimizing category pages enables you to capture those searching customers as they explore their purchase options.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Jill Kocher Brown is a 14-year SEO consultant, author, speaker, and editor. She loves data-driven decisions, scalable SEO strategies, e-commerce and technical SEO. A veteran of five agencies and in-house twice, Jill can be found these days at digital marketing agency JumpFly, Inc., where she’s pioneering the SEO practice.