SEO Checklist for Your E-commerce Business
E-commerce SEO isn’t something you want to chance. When you build a new online store, you want your customers to be able to find it, whether through Magento, WooCommerce, or Shopify SEO features. Here is a complete SEO checklist of important features, what they can do for your site, and which platform has them.
Independent Navigation Links
Streamlined navigation links are important for good SEO. But the text used for navigation links for products or product categories in your menubar could be automatically generated by some e-commerce platforms.
That’s fine — as long as you can edit the text independently. You wouldn’t “Adidas-Superstar Foundation Shoes-Men’s-Running White / Core Black / Running White-9” to show up in a website menu — but you’d probably want this to be the name of that product so that you can compete with the other 25 stores on Google using this exact wording.
Independent Page Titles
Like navigation links, page titles identify your page for visitors as well as Google and Bing. Page titles that include key search terms provide better SEO.
Say you are Banana Republic and you sell a product named “Dawson.” Smartly, BR names this product “Dawson Relaxed Chino | Banana Republic”, and it’s the top result for “Dawson pants” searches. If the brand hadn’t done so, customers searching for “Dawson” would have to sort through SERPs filled with late-90s TV characters, steakhouses, schools, and baby name recommendations. Meanwhile, customers searching for “relaxed pants” would see products from American Eagle, Walmart, and Carhartt before BR’s SERP listing.
Independent Page URLs
The page URL, the actual web address for your product page, should likewise include both relevant search terms and the product name for best results.
For example, a local Detroit watch shop, Shinola, has a men’s chronograph tachymeter watch named “The Rambler.” The page URL, “https://www.shinola.com/mens/watches/all/the-rambler-tachymeter-chrono.html”, includes all those keywords for the best ROI on SEO.
Independent Meta Descriptions
For meta descriptions, we leave the look of your website and focus on how your web page appears in the Google SERPs. If your SERP entry reads favorably to web searchers, there’s a much higher likelihood they’ll visit your site. That performance, in turn, will boost your SEO.
Independent Image ALT Tags
ALT tags are hidden text fields that describe images on your site. In some designs, the text will appear if the cursor hovers over the image. But while this information is largely hidden from visitors, it’s important for search engines, which read and catalog such info.
That could make a difference for customers doing an image search for your product. You want an e-commerce platform that lets you choose how to tag such images so that they have the best chance of being found in a search.
Independent H1 Headings
The H1 heading is the title field for a web page, so it’s a good idea if the H1 heading includes the keywords that web searchers are likely to use to find your page and that you’re likely to associate with your product page.
Ideally, your e-commerce platform lets you independently determine H1 headings. This gives you the most freedom to customize your SEO.
A canonical URL is a primary location for a product listing when that listing appears in more than one place on the site. Say you have the same shoe listing under “Sports Equipment” and “Shoes.” Google could devalue the SEO of both URLs without the canonical feature.
A few years ago, it would’ve been odd to suggest a store needed to run a magazine. But with the advent of content marketing, that’s basically what’s happened. Editorial content keeps a site’s freshness factor up and gains eyes, shares, comments, and links for your store. Having an integrated blog module that shares a corner of your online store is good for your customers and good for your SEO.
Similarly, the importance of social media sharing would’ve been odd advice to an old-time Mom & Pop store. But social sharing buttons and capabilities are important now. Customers can share your site content and product pages exposing new prospective customers to your brand while also benefiting your SEO.
Auto XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is another invisible part of a website that’s important for search engines to properly find and index your website content. While many websites may only consist of a few pages, an e-commerce site could have thousands of pages. The “auto” part of auto XML sitemap becomes important here. That means your e-commerce platform will automatically create and modify the XML sitemap for the search engines without your involvement.
Your Own Domain Name
While it may be more involved to set up your e-commerce shop on a self-hosted domain, such as “yourstore.com”, it’s one of the most important features to have. Some platforms will offer your shop a subdomain on their own domain name, such as “yourstore.squarespace.com”
Often those platforms will offer the subdomain-type shop at a free or reduced price. But this will cost your brand’s image as well as your SEO performance.
Ecommerce Platforms That Pass the Checklist
There are more than a dozen e-commerce platforms out there at this point, and features can vary quite widely. However, three top contenders check every box:
For most e-commerce SEO needs, these options are going to work well. With these platforms necessary SEO features are standard. Some others require custom coding or add-on modules to get this or that feature, so check the specs.
Your e-commerce SEO is worth doing right the first time. If you’re not sure how to get started, call us at 313-338-9515 or email email@example.com to learn how our full-service digital agency can help.