5 SEO e-commerce basics to get you startedPosted 7 July 2011 by Sandy Cosser
E-commerce sites are different from other websites in that their primary aim is to close sales and generate revenue. Their ROIs are tangible; they can be measured in bank statements. As a result, it’s very important to get SEO right, if not the first time then as soon as possible. SEO for e-commerce sites is much the same as for other websites, with a few key differences.
Let’s look at some of the basics:
Optimised URLs are one of SEO’s core practices. They are particularly important for e-commerce sites because they contain keywords related to specific products. The URLs need to mirror your site structure. So if you have a site that sells electronics your top level sections will be categorised according to products: digital cameras, TVs, hi-fis, DVD players, gaming consoles, etc.
Then you drill it down into brands:
Then you drill it down into models:
Notice how the URLs use very specific product-related keywords.
Another element that is vital to SEO is optimised content. A lot of e-commerce sites neglect content thinking that their products or brands will speak for themselves; that e-commerce sites are basically self-explanatory. This is not true.
People and search engines like to know that they’re in the right place. They like to know what they’re looking at. A couple of paragraphs at the top of each brand page will do your SEO efforts the world of good.
Now, when it comes to the actual products to be sold the number of pages on your site could run into the thousands. It’d be very time consuming, not to mention challenging, to write original content for each of these. This is where you get your customers to do the work for you in the form of reviews. Reviews can be great for SEO and have the added benefit of providing an element of trust for future buyers.
Internal linking structure is always important, no matter what the website. In e-commerce sites it’s very important to use internal linking as a type of funnel not only to achieve your goals but also to direct buyers to the pages they want to see.
Anchor text is particularly important for e-commerce sites as you can use brand and model names as your keywords and take visitors straight to the relevant page.
Note also that Google only registers the first link to a specific page so don’t waste your anchor text on a weak first link and then have a keyword-rich second link that will be ignored. Also ensure that if you have hyperlinked images that the links contain the proper keywords. Alternatively place your images after the first link.
Research has shown that casual browsers tend to use plurals while those further down the buying chain – those more likely to make a purchase – use singular keywords.
That means that e-commerce sites would do well to focus most of their efforts on singular versions of their keywords, such as Sony HD TV, Canon digital camera, Panasonic hi-fi, etc.
That’s not to say that you should ignore plurals. You still need to use them to attract the attention of the browsers. Once they reach your site you then have the opportunity to convert them, or at least leave such a favourable impression that they come back.
You also need to limit keyword use to one phrase per product page. If you use more than one you’ll dilute the effectiveness of the keywords and place your product pages in direct competition with one another.
It should go without saying that e-commerce sites need Google analytics. You will need to set up goals and filters for your various product pages. You’ll need to edit your settings to calculate ROI on specific keywords as well as specific product pages. You’ll need to see where visitors are abandoning the sales path and which paths are most likely to result in purchases.
Some of these settings are fairly complicated, but Google’s analytics tutorials make life much easier for newbies.