Why SEO Optimization Matters for Your Online eCommerce Store
For an eCommerce store, web development isn’t finished until the website has an SEO friendly web design. A website can’t convert visitors, fill digital shopping carts, and earn you sales, unless you get web users to your site. Search engine optimization plays a bigger role here than many realize.
Here’s a striking figure: four out of five shoppers do an internet search before making a purchase. Gaining their business has a lot to do with whether your company, your website pages, and your products appear in those searches. This is why SEO matters for your online eCommerce store. Let’s take a look at three areas where SEO can help you get ahead of your competition.
Finding Your Store
With so many online sales riding on search, it’s crucial that your customers be able to find you online. Like all websites, an eCommerce store needs to show up in search results and ideally rank on the first search engine results page (SERP) for key search terms.
Optimizing for search engines here means making sure URLs are straightforward, keywords are targeted but not stuffed, and that content is not needlessly duplicated. The last of these can be more challenging for stores, where a range of products are often very similar, meaning URLs, header tags, and product descriptions overlap. A solution preferred by many in the SEO world is canonical URLs, which can take the search user to one product page with many options for color, size, etc.
Another important SEO factor for such pages is semantic markup, a way of defining content on the back end of your website so that it displays beautifully in search results. Semantic markup can make your SERPs entries more eye-catching for 74% of younger demographics, who are often swayed by SERP-included imagery, ratings, product descriptions, etc.
Speaking of product descriptions, this content area is rich with SEO potential. Unique and interesting product descriptions not only entice site visitors to buy a product, but they can also help get users to your page.
Product descriptions shouldn’t be dull when there’s an opportunity to catch a buyer and a search engine’s eye. This starts with keywords. While many of the most important product keywords will appear in header tags or the page title, lesser keywords may help take some internet users to your SERP entry. Is the item vintage, mid-century modern, comfortable, space-saving? Include keywords a buyer might be concerned with. As such descriptions appear in search results, great copy and detail information will get more interested shoppers to click, further helping your SEO ranking.
Many online business owners know the importance of Google as the world’s premier search engine. Fewer are aware that a significant portion of Google’s search market share is strictly visual.
While Google text searches are around 65% of the market, Google Image Search is another 21.8% of the market share — yes, this is in addition to, not a slice of that 65%. As Search Engine Journal notes, it doesn’t make sense to ignore this market share volume, even if the majority of searches that bring people to your site still comes from old-fashioned text searches.
For an eCommerce store, especially those with large product catalogs, optimizing images for SEO can make a lot of sense. With technical SEO, you can specify an image filename, URL, and image alt attribute that might help the image show up in an image search — think “classic blue party dress” or “men’s black winter jacket.”
Social Proof and Reviews
Finally, another key area for optimization is leveraging social proof for your brand and products, such as reviews. Sometimes this can be the tiebreaker between a sale or no sale. And with search, it can sometimes mean the difference in whether a potential customer clicks on your search entry or that of a competitor. A Shopify report notes customer testimonials and product reviews can boost conversions by 14–76%.
Again, semantic markup can make a difference here, with highly rated products sometimes appearing the SERPs. However, social proof extends beyond your product reviews or testimonial page. Search users may also view company “About” pages, hours, location, and contact info, and your brand’s social media profiles. Social accounts can often rank very highly in search for your brand or area of expertise, so take advantage of claiming the relevant social handles for your brand.
SEO is too important a factor for online retail businesses to neglect. With 80% of buying journeys beginning on Google, it pays to set your business up for success with SEO friendly web design and web copy. Even small improvements to product pages, product images, and backend housekeeping can produce big results.