While SEO has become complex over the years it is important to make sure the basics are not overlooked whatsoever. If we get tricked into thinking that SEO is all about link building and forgetting to do things like keyword research or title tag optimization, our store simply won’t get the traffic it deserves.
No matter how much experience you have with SEO, this 20-point eCommerce SEO checklist will help you focus on the most important things you need when launching a new eCommerce site or improving an existing one.
How To Get Your eCommerce Store Rank in Search Engines (20-Point SEO Checklist)
Ranking first in search engines can attract up to 33% of daily traffic. So, that would mean more people coming to your store and making purchases.
And the best part – You Could Rank Number One For Free. Thus, this blog is dedicated to providing you with the ticket to harness the power of SEO and prepare your online store with ideas that boost conversion.
eCommerce Technical SEO Checklist
Any eCommerce optimization starts with technical SEO. To create a sound technical SEO strategy, follow these steps:
1. Make Sure Your Site is Indexed or Crawled
Crawling is the process of bots finding your website and cataloging it on the search engine’s index.
First, make sure your site doesn’t have a robots.txt file blocking crawlers from indexing the site. You can check for this by typing in https://www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt in your browser and checking for the presence of an error message or a blank page.
If there is no robots file or it allows all crawlers to access the site, you are all set! If there is a robots file blocking crawler, you will need to remove it, and then submit your sitemap to Google Search Console so that they can begin indexing all of your new pages.
2. Optimize Your eCommerce Store For Mobile-First Indexing
Google has recently shifted its focus to mobile-first indexing, which means that the ranking signals it uses for sites are based on their mobile versions.
More and more people are doing searches on their phones, and Google is adapting to that reality. If your site isn’t fully responsive, you’re going to have a bad time.
Your pages need to load quickly and display well on mobile screens to get any search traffic. This means no elements should be hidden or fixed on the screen. Make sure that all of your content can be viewed by scrolling down the page, and that nothing requires tapping or swiping to see it.
3. Create Custom 404 Error Pages
Needless to say, no one wants to land on a 404 page. It’s not only a bad experience for your users — but it can also mean losing them forever.
Custom 404 error pages are designed to ease the pain of landing on one: they let the user know that the page they were looking for is unavailable and provide them with different routes they can take instead, like going back to your homepage, checking out your store’s blog section, or visiting the site map.
For example, check ModCloth’s 404 page here:
Who doesn’t love a dog in underwear? But in this case, it’s cute and then they’ve listed ways to find top-level categories and people can then head off. As a result, this reduces bounce rate and boosts user engagement.
4. Implement Structured Markup Data
Structured data plays an important role in the way your website appears in Google’s SERPs. By implementing it, you can increase your chances of your page appearing as a rich snippet, which could provide a huge boost to your click-through rate.
There are numerous schema markup types you can use for eCommerce websites, but here are some of the most important:
- Product schema: This tells search engines what kind of products you sell.
- Organization schema: This lets search engines know that your company is a legitimate business.
- Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs help users and search engines better understand how your website is structured.
A great resource for learning more about schema data is Schema.org, which shows you all the different markups and how they work.
5. Improve Category Navigation Structure
Customers who visit your category pages (middle of the funnel) are doing research, comparing different items, and narrowing down their choices.
Once they make a purchase (bottom of the funnel), they will likely return to the same category page to make their next purchase, so it’s important to make it easy for them to find what they want.
To optimize your category pages:
A. Plan your hierarchy to be logical
You should plan your category and subcategory pages logically. For example, a website that sells baby care products would have the following hierarchy:
Baby Care > Baby Skin Care > Baby Organic Skin Care
The product page would come under the Baby Organic Skin Care category.
The main reason for doing this is to help search engines understand your pages better. It also helps customers navigate your website easily.
B. Use HTML or CSS – No JS, Flash or AJAX
If you use these technologies, search engines will fail to follow your navigation. And of course, you want Google to be able to find its way through your site, so don’t use anything that blocks it.
C. Use Common Search Terms For Category Names
The way people search for your products and services might not be how you think of them.
You can find common search terms by using tools like Google Trends and Keyword Planner to compare different words and phrases or consider what questions your target customers might ask.
For example, if you sell women’s dresses, you could name your category “dresses” instead of “frocks” (which is a more technical term).
eCommerce SEO Keyword Research
When it comes to building out an eCommerce SEO strategy keyword research is the first thing that should come to your mind.
So, there are 4 things that your eCommerce Keywords must have:
6. Focus on The Search Volume
The first thing to consider when doing keyword research for your store is search volume. Because if you target a keyword that no one searches for, then what’s the point.
Now, this can be tricky depending on what niche you are in. Some niches have high search volumes within the thousands or multi-thousand searches per month. While other niches are within the low 100s or 50s or even zero.
So, depending on what niche you are in, the search volume will drastically change and that leads to the second point.
7. Don’t Forget The Buyer’s Intent During Keyword Research
So, when people shop online or in general they funnel through a sales funnel, and in each part of the funnel there’s a specific intent attached to it:
This is where people are trying to figure out the reasons for content that is a lot more general and is trying to help people understand a particular solution to a problem. Awareness keywords include –
- List of
- What is
This is where people are already interested in the product you offer. Interest keywords include –
- How-to keywords
- Product categories
- Brand name, etc.
This is where they know the products. Now, they are evaluating the products, comparing things by looking at:
- Top 10
D. Purchase Keywords
This is where they are ready to purchase they have their credit card in hand and they are going to buy and usually people are typing in like –
- Free shipping
- Buy now
Developing content that is optimized for these types of keywords will let you drive the right customers to your products at every stage of the funnel.
8. Check The Keyword Relevance
The third factor to consider is relevance because not only do you need to attract people with the right intent but they must also be looking for something relevant to you.
This means you can’t optimize for Wooden Gymnastic Rings if you only sell Metal Gymnastic Rings. Make sure the keyword you want to target is relevant to the products or types of products you sell in your store.
9. See What Your Competitors Are Ranking For
You must target keywords you can realistically rank for. And that means targeting more specific long-tail keywords that have significantly less traffic than the broader keywords in your niche.
This allows you to laser focus your efforts on the low competition keywords that have high levels of relevancy and purchase intent. These keywords will be responsible for the majority of your organic sales.
eCommerce SEO Content Checklist
If you have an online store, it is essential to focus on content strategy. Without one, the chances of your site getting found online are going to be slim. Here’s a checklist of how you can set up and evaluate product page optimization techniques:
10. Avoid Thin Content
When a website is full of low-quality, poorly written content that doesn’t provide any value to users, it’s called thin content.
Here’s what you can do to improve thin content:
- Look for pages that are less than 500 words and are not receiving traffic or links
- Update the content on these pages and add more copy to make it more helpful for your visitors.
- Add external links to reputable sites that are providing additional value and context.
- Fix issues with redirects and broken links
11. Don’t Let The Category Page Content Get Too Long
As you know, it’s not easy to fit a long article on your category page. Unless you have a content-heavy category, you should keep the text short. According to Google, long category content does not rank well in an eCommerce silo.
A shorter page is always preferred since it covers fewer topics and lets your users find what they’re looking for without having to go through several paragraphs of text.
When writing the content for your category pages, make sure to include:
- Keyword-rich URLs
- The targeted keywords in title tags and meta descriptions
- Category description with relevant keywords
12. Consider Using Videos To Promote Products (And Services) On Display Pages
Online shoppers are increasingly visual. The average clickthrough rate of videos on social media is 1.84% (source).
Videos are also a great way to increase your conversion rate. A video that shows you how to use a product is more likely to convince viewers to buy it than a simple image, for example. Additionally, people are more likely to link to video content than text or images (source).
Avoid making your videos too long and complicated, though: according to the same study, the ideal length for a video on social media is between 16 and 30 seconds.
13. Include Reviews And Social Proof For Products, Category And Manufacturer Pages, Etc
Online shoppers want to be confident about their purchases. They are looking for a reason to buy from you and not your competitors. Reviews and ratings can help reassure shoppers that they are buying from a reputable source.
Reviews provide valuable information to shoppers, but they also provide contextual relevance to Google. In addition to adding reviews and ratings, you can also provide other elements of social proof on the product, category, and manufacturer pages. These include:
- Social media posts featuring your products
- The media mentions your brand or products
- Celebrity endorsements
14. Avoid Duplicate Product Content
Unique product descriptions are one of the most common elements missing from many eCommerce sites — especially those that rely heavily on manufacturers’ descriptions.
Posting duplicate product descriptions on your eCommerce website is a big no-no for two reasons:
- Search engines will penalize you for publishing duplicate content.
- It’s bad for the user experience
- Customers won’t be happy if they read the same description all over again when looking at different products. Also, it looks unprofessional to have duplicate content on your website.
In many cases, the products on an eCommerce website sell themselves. However, if you want to see steady growth in your traffic, you need to provide compelling content that search engines can understand and that users find helpful.
15. Add High-Quality Product Images To Product And Category Pages
75% of online shoppers rely on product images before making a purchase decision.
Product image optimization is an essential part of an eCommerce store. They are the first thing users notice when they land on a product page. Good product images on your online store help customers make better buying decisions by giving them a clear idea of what they can expect from the product.
Things you need to keep in mind for your product images:
- Are of High quality
- Align with your brand style
- Multiple in number
- Contain informative alt text
- Have a small file size
General On-Page Optimization Techniques
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your online store content to make it more visible to search engines and, ultimately, improve its ranking in organic search results.
16. Get A Higher Click-Through Rate With Meta Descriptions And Title Tags
Search engines often use the meta description of a page as its snippet when showing search results. This means that you should describe the page’s content in the meta description.
A good way to think of the meta description is as a short ad. Include a call-to-action while continuously referring to the main product or service of the website. This will result in more clicks and, consequently, more traffic to your website.
The title tag is another important on-page SEO ranking factor, which is used by search engines to show search results. It should be no longer than 65 characters and is usually displayed in search results as follows:
Main keywords | Brand name:
Having your brand appear in the title of a SERP result can further convince users that the web page is reputable, trustworthy, and has useful information.
17. Incorporate Internal Linking Strategy
When it comes to SEO, linking is crucial.
One way to use internal links on your eCommerce site is to create a navigation that makes sense for users, and also helps search engines determine how important each page is.
Your homepage should link to every other page in your store. This can be challenging if you have thousands of products, but the more inter-linking you do between pages, the better!
Every product page should link back to your category pages. This tells Google that the category page is important and it’s worth ranking. The more links from unique sites, the higher the likelihood of ranking.
18. Optimize URLs For Every Page Of Your Website
A short and meaningful URL is essential for a product because it makes the store easy to understand and helps potential customers find the desired product quickly.
An easy way to optimize URLs is by using the main keyword in your URL structure. For instance, if you are selling shoes, then each category and subcategory should have keywords like “men-shoes” or “women-shoes.”
Use hyphens to separate words, not underscores or spaces. Make sure that your URLs are lowercase (search engines see the same thing as capital letters).
19. Create A Sitemap For Google To Crawl Your Site Easier
A sitemap is a file on your site that tells Google about each URL in your store and how often it’s updated. You can easily generate this file using an online sitemap generator tool like Screaming Frog or XML-Sitemaps.com.
Once you have it, upload the sitemap to the root folder of your domain and submit it in Google Search Console under Sitemaps.
20. Maintain a Healthy Link Building Strategy
Some bad links can hurt your SEO ranking and make your website harder to find. Bad links come in many forms — a link from a spammy blog, an unnatural link from a competitor, a paid link, etc.
Regardless of what type of bad links you have pointing to your website, there are three things you need to do:
- Identify all the links that are pointing to your website
- Find out which of those links are potentially hurting you in search engines
- Disavow those links so that they stop hurting your rankings
Make Your eCommerce Store a Force With This Solid SEO Strategy
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when trying to optimize your site for SEO. The key takeaway from all of this is that SEO is all about long-term thinking and planning, not quick fixes and tricks.
In the end, if you have a clear goal in mind for your site, and you prepare yourself for the long haul, you should be able to achieve success. Happy SEO-ing!