“If you build it, they will come.” Who remembers that classic line?
Sadly, we’re no longer in 1989, and as much as we all loved Field of Dreams, that saying is no longer true. Especially in the eCommerce realm, there are tons of people out there with great products, great websites, and… next to no traffic. What’s the fix? Are those businesses doomed to languish while others, having cracked some inscrutable magic code, thrive?
We say no way. It’s always possible to improve, and this goes double for things like SEO, where (as it turns out) incremental improvements often pay off more in the long run than huge moves.
Even if you already know a little about SEO, there’s always more to learn, and so it won’t be a huge surprise that there are specific SEO practices for eCommerce sites to help get your ranking back up where it belongs. I’m going to cover the top three right now.
The SERP, or Search Engine Results Page, is massively useful in terms of being able to control what users see about your business when they search. You can test this out right now -- if you grab your phone and Google “sneakers,” you’re probably going to see a few different things on the results page:
You’ll likely see a bunch of sneaker options, with filters up top so you can choose if you want to browse womens, mens or kids styles. If you tap “View More” on a product, you’ll be taken to a carousel view of the products, including a direct link to the product pages of the shoe website that carries that style. It’s so convenient, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some customers shop entirely like this. So, how can you make sure your products get into the mix — and even more, get seen?
Your next stop should be Google’s Merchant Center, which is a powerhouse of resources that will help you control how your business, and yes, even your inventory, will appear on Google’s SERP. All you need is a Google account and the time on hand to skim through their tutorials and make some optimizations. As a bonus, adding your products is entirely free... although you can integrate with Google Ads and other paid SEO efforts if you choose to.
SEO can be a huge task, so pull your existing statistics and see which pages on your site are already getting the most visits. You can focus on those pages to start and tackle the rest later. Or, if you have a specific need (say, a new product that’s launching soon), you can start adding keywords tailored to that product so you’re ahead of the game. Remember: it takes time for Google to index pages, and SEO is very much a marathon, not a sprint.
Don’t go overboard with the keywords, though. That tactic used to work back in the day, but lots of smart folks work at Google, and they’re wise to that trick — now, it can even get your site ranked lower by the algorithm, so make sure your keywords are relevant, and not spammy. Put your main keyword in your product name, or in the description, as well as in your meta tags and alt image tags, and sprinkle relevant, related keywords throughout the rest of your content. Always keep your content sounding like it was written for humans, by humans.
Still not clear about where to begin? Here’s a strategy you might try: Search for a keyword that you want to rank for, and visit one of the top ranking sites that comes up. Once you’re there, you can use a variety of browser extensions and tools (we like Moz and SEMRush, for example) to see what they’re using in their title tags, as well as the keywords they’re ranking high on. Don’t forget to check out their homepages, either — the homepage is generally one of the focal points of a strong SEO strategy, and there’s tons of good information to be found.
We could go on and on, and on! SEO is a huge topic, and just when it seems like you’ve mastered everything, an algorithm tweak on Google’s part could send you scrambling back to the drawing board. But if you remember these three tips, you’ll be as prepared as possible, and you’ll begin to see results as you make more and more optimizations. The only way to mess this up is not to do anything: people won’t buy what they can’t find!