You may be forgiven for thinking that there’s only one eCommerce site out there *cough* Amazon *cough* that matters.
But you’d be wrong.
Whilst, yes Amazon does handle squillions of sales, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice of the eCommerce pie!
In the following preposterously detailed guide we’ll demonstrate how you, yes you, can implement SEO strategies for your eCommerce website which has sales pinging off, left, right and center!
So without further ado, here we gooooo.
1.Build Your Site Right For Ecommerce Visibility
The very first thing you need to do is build the site with organic ecommerce visibility in mind!
Now, don’t worry if this gets a bit too technical here, just understand the fundamentals and concepts we’re putting out there.
Any web developer worth their salt will be able to make sure these things are put in place.
So numero uno!
Essentially site architecture dictates the physical layout of your site.
It determines how pages are linked and how they sit in their hierarchy.
It’ll also have a massive bearing on how many clicks users have to make to get to what they’re after. (You’ll discover that user behaviour is a huge part of SEO nowadays).
There are two main approaches:
Top-down – where the website is categorised then content put into those categories.
And Bottom up – where content is categorised first then put into the structure of the website.
There are then various models within these two approaches:
Hierarchical, sequential, matrix, database and flat.
Hierarchical – is a very common site architecture. Picture the homepage like a tree trunk with branches representing categories and pages. BBC.co.uk is a great example of this model.
Sequential – this model is usually reserved for when needing to take users through a set sequence, such as onboarding or account creation.
Matrix – a fairly old site model which gives users the options to choose where they want to go. Wikipedia is an obvious example of this type of site architecture.
Database – best suited for dynamic websites where strong information architecture and best practices bust me adhered too. Sites like medium.com use this model.
Flat – the most important one for SEO. Simply put a flat architecture is whereby all pages are just one click away from the homepage.
This is important, so lets get into the nitty gritty details.
One of the first meaningful references to a flat site architecture in regards to SEO was mentioned back in 2002 by Brett Tabke in his seminal article “Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone – 26 Steps to 15k a Day – A Modern Guide to Content Marketing”.
Much later John Mueller made the following important statements.
“In general I’d be careful to avoid setting up a situation where normal website navigation doesn’t work. So we should be able to crawl from one URL to any other URL on your website just by following the links on the page.”
“If that’s not possible then we lose a lot of context. So if we’re only seeing these URLs through your sitemap file then we don’t really know how these URLs are related to each other and it makes it really hard for us to be able to understand how relevant is this piece of content in the context of your website. So that’s one thing to… watch out for.”
Here we can solidify our understanding that being able to navigate through a whole site by simply following links is a big deal. It provides Google context and improves their understand of a site, in turn helping improve rankings.
As well as giving Google context, a flat design has other benefits.
One, it reduces user friction. We can think of friction as anything which slows down or frustrates a user whilst interacting with a website.
Friction is bad.
Friction can result in high bounces and low conversions.
A flat website architecture provides the user with an easy navigable website free of friction.
Users can easily jump from page to page, following the on page links or using heading navigation.
Not only does Google like this in terms of context and understanding but will also reward you with improved rankings by analysing positive user behaviour.
That was a long way of saying make sure you choose a flat website architecture.
So how does a flat website architecture work in reality?
We can also think of this in terms of content (something we’ll cover in depth later on. But here’s a quick taster!
Draw it out
Now you know you should be using a flat architecture here are some actionable tips to help get you started!
First things first.
Draw it out. Start with paper and pencil – nice fancy computer diagrams can come later.
Understand your site – think about categories and products. How they all fit together. Also think about what content you can use to support said categories and products – this will be key to getting brand new organic traffic to your eCommerce site.
Once you have these things in place, start sketching your site architecture out – feel free to take inspiration from the above examples.
Once finished, you should have a page which flows nicely and provides context for both the user and Google.
The key really is to make sure that everything is linked in a meaningful and semantic way.
Google is all about understanding concepts and relationships nowadays, so we’ve gotta help them get there!
SEO authority flow
One last thing to understand in terms of site architecture is the idea of ‘authority’ or perhaps, more graphically, SEO juice.
Whilst Google itself doesn’t have a ‘domain or page authority gauge’ in its algorithm this concept can help SEOs measure and optimise organic performance.
If you think of authority as currency or votes – with bigger well known sites with more that they can pass down to small sites then you’re sort of on your way to understanding it.
This works within a website as well.
More popular pages will have more ‘authority’ than newer or smaller pages.
What we want is to pass this authority from higher performing pages to smaller pagers.
This is the basis of SEO content – again we’ll cover this later – but essentially by producing great content which ranks and performs well we’ll be able to funnel this authority to other category and product pages – which in turn will improve their performance!
Authority travels through links. Just your normal run of the mill hyperlinks, nothing fancy.
There’s nofollow and dofollow links. No follows stop authority flow – big websites might use these when linking to lesser known sites.
We want to maximise dofollow links from other sites as well as between pages.
This also goes for in and out bound links.
Flat site summary
In short use a flat website architecture. This will provide google and users context and improve understanding. It’ll reduce user friction and improve UX. It will also help authority flow easily through a site; turning poorly ranks pages into fountains of authority for the rest of your site.
2. Keyword Research Which Will Actually Help
Next we step into the wonderful world of keyword research.
Before we dive into the details; be aware you could spend loads of time on keyword research and not really get much out of it.
So make sure you following our following advice to do your keyword research the right way.
Head terms, short tail and long tail keywords and what to target
The first thing we need to understand is the different type of keywords.
- Head terms
- Short tail keywords
- Medium tail keywords
- Long tail keywords
To put these into some sort of context which makes sense in the real world, here are some examples:
- Head term – Shoes
- Short tail – Running Shoes
- Medium tail – Nike Running Shoes
- Long tail – Nike Pegasus Running Shoes
- Very long tail – Nike Male Pegasus 37 Running Shoes
As you can see each level up just adds to the extra detail included in the search.
Understand search volumes and competition
When we’re talking about search volume in relation to SEO or PPC or digital marketing in general we’re simply talking about the average number of monthly searches.
Generally speaking head terms which are broad in nature will have much higher search volumes compared to long tail keywords.
So where a head term such as shoes might have a average monthly search volume of 201,000 a long tail keyword (Nike Pegasus Running Shoes) might have a search volume of 880.
You could even go so far as a very long tail keyword where the volume could be just 10 average monthly searches.
Again speaking in general terms each step up in detail brings fewer monthly searches which roughly means less competition for those terms.
Research what people search for when they search for your products
For instance ranking your new local running store for ‘running shoes’ would be a pretty difficult task – not impossible – but unlikely.
However, ranking some content specifically targeting ‘Nike Male Pegasus 37 Running Shoes’ is more likely.
Sadly its not as easy as just shoving loads of keywords for a particular topic onto a page and having it rank number one on Google. No siree Bob, not gonna happen.
But what we need to do is gather a rich tapestry of keywords that are both natural in nature and all link together nicely in a semantic way.
For instance if you what to attract an audience for Nike Pegasus Running shoes you’ll likely come up with keywords that include:
- Nike Pegasus
- Nike Pegasus 37
- Nike Pegasus 36
- Nike Running Shoes
You’ll also want to know what about your products people are searching for. This is a great way of building content.
So for instance, using Uber Suggest by Neil Patel we can grab a massive list of helpful ‘question keywords’ that we can use for content.
Pop in your head term, in this case Nike Pegasus and you’ll get a list of questions people actively want the answers to.
Make a note of these and save for later.
3. Mastering The Form And Function Of A Great Content Structure
In this section we’re going to take everything you learned in the previous chapter and show how you can use it to produce great content which ranks well in Google, attracting shiny new customers to your eCommerce website!
The importance of content layout
You might think that the layout of your content doesn’t much matter, but in reality this can have a massive impact on how well it performs.
Well structured content will be easier for people to read and easier for Google to understand.
Whilst we’re primarily focussing on driving organic traffic to your eCommerce website in this guide, you’ll want to consider sharability too. As in how easy the content translates to being shared on social platforms as well as traditionally by email.
We’ll discuss the key components which make up a well organised and structured piece of content.
First off is obviously the introduction.
But its important to keep it punchy and easy to read it. It has to keep the user reading.
You’ll want to outline what you’re going to cover but just as, if not more importantly is what the user is going to benefit from by reading it.
What are they going to learn?
How is it going to help them?
Why should they read the rest?
One tip is to write the introduction at the end. Once you’ve written your content you’ll have a pretty solid idea of what it includes and what key takeaways it contains.
This will make it easier to emphasise the benefits in the introduction.
Contents not only improves navigation of the content but also adds to the perceived value of what you’ve produced.
People intrinsically link the idea of a contents with thorough and informative content – whether that’s a traditional or electronic publication.
Using the keywords you discovered in the previous section come up with some key themes and chunk these into semantic chapters.
We’re aiming for complete content – i.e content which covers a whole topic – which is broken down into easy to manage chunks of information.
Also where possible try and include the benefit in the chapter heading. This won’t always be possible, but give it a go if it makes sense.
It just helps to emphasise the value and benefit of the guide to a user.
Headings & subheadings
You want to breakdown each chapter into smaller chunks using headings.
We’ll get into the technicalities of using HTML heading tags later, for now we’re stick to the content part.
You’ll want to include bold, engaging and descriptive headings of broad topics throughout. This helps Google understand the structure and importance of specific terms, but also greatly improves readability (more on this in a minute!)
Within each heading, you’ll want to include subheadings to further breakdown your content into easy-to-skim content. (Typically how people read online content).
Generally speaking you’ll have a hierarchy that looks something like this:
Page Title (Definitive Guide To Nike Running Shoes)
Heading One – Nike Pegasus Running Shoe
Heading Two – History and Evolution of the Pegasus Running Shoe
Heading Three – Pegasus 1 to 37
Heading Two – Nike Pegasus Variations
Heading Three – Trail Running Version
Paragraphs & readability
Now if you’ve paid any attention to any of these ramblings you’ll notice a very clear paragraph structure.
We’re keeping paragraphs dead short.
Easy to read.
Whilst this flies in the face of traditional writing culture, keeping paragraphs to a couple of sentences max makes it a million times easier for people to read on screen.
And if people find something easier to read, they’re more likely to continue reading.
To give you a hand we’ve outlined a couple of structures for different types of eCommerce SEO content you may wish to write.
First off we have the guide. This might be a piece on how to select the right running shoe for you or a guide to luxury watches.
Whatever it is, it’s going to have to be awesome. Its going to cover the whole topic in crazy detail whilst being an enjoyable and easy read.
How to structure a guide
So, for this type of content we’d recommend the following structure:
- Chapter 1 Heading (& Banner Image)
- Heading Two
- Heading Three
- Heading Two
- Heading Three
- Chapter 2 Heading (& Banner Image)
Here are few quick actionable top tips:
Keep paragraphs short
Use benefit rich headings
Include a content pages (& jump links)
Quick, punchy introduction
Brief summary / conclusion
How to structure a review
With an eCommerce website you might want to include some detailed product reviews.
You might want to structure them something like this:
Using keyword research
Here’s another primer on how to take full advantage of your keyword research and how to fully utilise it in your content.
How to use keywords from your research
Now you maybe tempted to just grab a handful of keywords and smush them into your content, but is that going to work?
What we need to do is carefully craft and sow the keywords into the content in a very natural way.
You want to incorporate as and when they come up whilst being mindful of them.
You’ll want to use very natural language like how you might explain something to a friend.
Not only is this more pleasurable to read, it helps guard against dreaded keyword stuffing!
Now the other thing to be aware of is LSI keywords.
All you need to know about this is that Google understands relationships between different concepts, ideas and things.
So by using more LSI keywords you help Google’s understanding of your content and what context it fits into.
So for instance if you were writing about running shoes, you’d also want to include running and similar terms. As well as all of the language used to describe a running shoe, such as the the upper, the lockdown, tread and heel cup.
All these words come together beautifully to fully describe a running shoe and the art of running.
Deepening Google’s understanding of the page.
So in short you want to use the keywords you discovered but in a natural you way.
Certainly no keyword stuffing! It’ll look and read poorly.
Use related terms to deepen your contents contextual foundations.
And in turn Google will reward you for you producing great, natural and informative content that covers a topic in detail and gives the user what they want!
4. How To Write Great Content That Gets Eyeballs (& Sales)
How to write well for online
So we’ve covered the structure and some bits of writing style.
But if we actually want people to read out stuff we really need to be using the following guidelines!
People love to sound smart.
They think by regurgitating a thesaurus they sound intelligent and important.
However, what if I told you good writing is the opposite?
It’s direct, straight to the point and easy to read.
Sure, complicated and technical writing has its place. But its definitely not here.
So when you’re writing your content remember the following:
- Use simple language
- Use strong verbs
- Don’t hedge, be assertive
- Use short sentences
- Consider your reader in mind at all times
Have you ever found yourself reading a sentence and getting short of breath?
Short sentences may seem basic. But they improving understanding greatly.
Now I’m not saying complex sentences are wrong – but consider who you’re righting for and if the situation warrants it.
Can you break your clauses down into two separate sentences instead of trying to smash them together in some sort of linguistic welding exercise?
If you’re struggling to keep track of your point then your reader has no chance.
Take it easy on them. Short sentences will win the day!
People won’t think ‘oh they don’t know anything’ by writing in short sentences.
Quite on the contrary, explaining something succinctly is an art reserved for those who know a topic deeply.
I know I banged on about this earlier.
But really shorten those paragraphs down. I mentioned at the start it goes against traditional writing convention where paragraphs are broken down by themes and concepts.
But we’re not trying to ace an English exam or comprehension exercise.
We’re trying to get information out of our heads, onto digital paper and into other peoples heads.
And the only way we’re going to do that is if people enjoy reading your work.
If you’ve been faced with a looming wall of text you’ll know how unappetising it can be.
You’ll give yourself any excuse not to read it.
But if information is portrayed in easy, bite-size digestible pieces, then its much easier to consume!
So keep your paragraphs short and do your reader a solid 🙂
Here’s an old classic copywriting technique:
That’s literally it. That sentence and answer.
By breaking down a clause in a stark question and break it breaks up the natural reading flow of a user and gets them to re-engage with the content.
It increases anticipation of the reader.
You can also do something similar in video – like all the cut away gags in Family Guy.
Using imagery to improve content
Content is more than the words.
Its the whole package:
How it looks and feels. What imagery you use. The tone of voice and vibe.
It’s the whole thing.
When spending hours of writing a piece of content don’t neglect the imagery.
As well as reading well, it must also look good.
Spend some time on your imagery and graphics. Make sure your titles, headings, subheadings and paragraphs are all styled correctly to produce a cohesive piece of content.
If you’re able; get professional design help.
If you can’t, its not the end of the world just be mindful of anything you put together.
These design principles might help guide you in the right direction.
When it comes to content it really is all about adding value.
Whether thats informative value or entertainment value. There needs to be something in it for the reader.
It’s not enough to regurgitate oft cited facts and strategies. There needs to be more. More value for the reader.
Another way of adding value or at least perceived value by is including different elements in a piece of content.
These can range from infographics, imagery, videos, podcasts or even downloads.
Anything that can be provided as extra to the original purpose of the content will provide that much required extra value to the other.
Stuck for ideas? A nicely formatted and structured pdf version of your content is great for someone who wants to download and read later.
Capturing emails for mail list growth
Where possible you also want to try and capture email addresses.
If you can get someones email address you’re one extra setup to building a relationship and securing a sale, or even future sales for that matter.
You can even consider leveraging the extra value items outlined above in exchange for contact details or even just an email address.
You can then (provided you put the correct GDPR caveats in place) use email marketing as another touch point for this perspective customer.
The sooner you start capturing emails the better.
There are many great guides out there for building email lists, so I won’t go into it now.
Copywriting tools & resources
Here are some of my favourite copywriting tools and resources.
Sure fire ways to tighten up your text and create engaging copy.
- Hemingway App
- Buttericks Typography Guide
- Banklinko’s Copywriting For SEO
5. Getting The Most Out Of Your Content With Onsite Optimisation
Hopefully by now you’ve written your awesome piece of content including added value!
In this chapter we’re going to discuss how to eke out every last bit of SEO juice and make it work.
The importance of a good page title
Getting the page title just right is key. It really can be the difference between sink or swim.
We want to achieve a couple of things with a page title.
Attract and engage people
Describe what the content is all about
Use search terms that will stick out in searches
Your starting point should be referring back to your keyword research. Look at search volumes and competition.
We want to tailor the page title to include some of these terms.
You’ll also want to try and include some high emotional words to make it more engaging and attractive.
Here is a neat little tool that can help you write a strong page title!
Here are also nice little examples you can use!
Ultimate Guide To
Definitive Guide To
You can also use some of these little hacks to improve click through rates and engagement.
Try including the following at the end of your page title:
(2021 or whatever year it is you’re reading this!)
(In Depth Guide) or other content descriptor like (List Post). Something which helps describe to the user what they might expect to land on.
Also don’t be afraid to revisit your page title.
You’ll likely get some more insights through Google Search Console once the page has been live for a while.
Use these insights to further optimise your page title and increase your CTR from organic search.
Understand how to write great meta descriptions
The second thing to consider is your meta description.
This is the little block of text which shows up underneath a page title and URL on a search engine results page.
Whilst Google and other search engines may dynamically generate this description to suit the search better you can definitely help by designating one yourself.
Things you’ll want to consider when writing a good meta description.
Does this describe the content?
Does it include some of your keywords?
Is the copy engaging and easy to read?
Does it include or highlight some benefits or stats people will only find in your guide?
Now, you’re not given many characters to play with in a meta description – so getting it right can be a bit of an exercise.
But get it right and you’ll improve your CTR.
Like with the page title tip above, feel free to revisit and use Google Search Console data to uncover and implement search query insights.
The best you can do to naturally and engaging include different search terms into your meta descriptions the more success you will have.
Writing useful alt tags
This next fundamental stems from accessibility.
Screen readers are programmes which can read out the contents of a website to the visually impaired.
This includes describing images to the user.
To describe these images they need to have alt tags. These are plain text descriptions of your images that sit in an alt tag.
It may look something like this in the HTML code.
This would display your image and provide the description to both screen readers and on hover mouse to users.
Now the best thing here is to simply provide a detailed description of the image in question.
However, if you’re able to naturally include a keyword or two that would be nice too!
Next are LSI keywords.
“LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are conceptually related terms that search engines use to deeply understand content on a webpage.”
Brian Dean, Backlinko – https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/lsi
This is just a fancy way of saying that Google can understand relationships between different keywords and how they come together to form concepts or things.
It helps them to understand a page’s content better and provide their users with more relevant results.
In reality all you need to do is make sure you’re including related terms to your main content keywords that help Google to construct a picture or understand of what your content is all about.
If you were talking about Cars the movie you’d want to include, film, movie, CGI, voice actors etc.
However if you were talking about cars the vehicle, you may include, manufacturers, engine, models, colours, wheels and tyres.
That sort of thing.
Next up is considering your URLS.
In an ideal world you’ll want your URLS to be short and descriptive. Potentially including a keyword or two from your research.
As we can see in the URL above for LSI keywords its very descriptive and also short.
You don’t really want a long chain of keywords and fillers words for a URL.
Google isn’t a fan and neither are users.
Have you ever tried taking down a big old URL. It’s a massive pain right?
But a short URL like that is simple and easy to understand.
Schema markup and reviews
Now this is actually a really important one for eCommerce sites like yours.
Essentially scheme is code that describes information.
There are many types of schema but there are a few we’re really interested in. These will help with both your products and content.
Product / Review Schema
By implementing these types of schema throughout your site you’ll improve your search engine results page visibility.
You’ll be able to pull through star ratings of products as well as FAQs.
This is a great quick easy win to gain more organic traffic.
Here is an in depth guide to implementing schema.
6. Building Links To Boost Sales
The final piece of the puzzle is using your new content to build an extensive and authoritative backlink portfolio.
What does this actually mean?
Essential links from other websites count as votes of confidence in your website.
Now, the more established these links or votes come from the better.
So we want to use the awesome bit of content we’ve written as leverage for backlinks from these sites.
The first task is to find some targets!
We want to find websites in your industry that talk about the sort of products you sell and the content you’ve created.
Obviously this excludes your competitors!
Start by doing a simple Google search for your keywords and identify websites that would be a good fit.
You’ll want to identify existing content that your content would add extra value to.
This gives you platform to reach out to the website owner. Positioning your content has a great addition to their current piece which will provide value for their readers.
Go through this process many times and establish a spreadsheet which includes the website, page url and contact information for each.
Creating engaging outreach emails
Once you’ve compiled your list of outreach targets you’ll need to create some outreach emails.
You’ll want to keep these casual and friendly.
You’ll want to start off by stating what the recipient will get out of your email. If you start off by asking for things they will immediately turn off!
The recipient must instantly see a benefit for reading your email.
Include the page you think your content could expand on and a link to your page.
You want to position your email as helping out the recipient rather than the other way.
You may suggest sharing your article directly with their following, be that on Twitter or even by email.
You’ll want to get as many eye balls as possible on your new page!
So there we have it.
A complete guide to SEO for Ecommerce sites.
If you follow these steps and produce some excellent content you’ll be in a good position to secure new organic traffic!
The more you do this, the better you’ll get at the process and the more traffic you’ll be able to get.
Ultimately leading to more sales and happy customers!