Most eCommerce stores and makers love channels like Instagram for sharing their products but forget about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and its importance.
But you’re not one of those people are you?
You understand that without SEO you’re shop is going to be quieter than a china shop when the bull has taken the day off.
Let’s start with the basics…
What is SEO?
SEO is not a dark art that only some can master.
It’s also not rocket science.
Even the most un-tech-savvy humans can master the basics.
In reality, SEO is about making Google fall in love with your website.
Google is a fussy beast and we think it has around 200 things on its list of ‘what makes an amazing rankable website’, so SEO is just about
- knowing what those things are
- and knowing the order of importance
Why does SEO matter?
When I want to buy something, I don’t sit endlessly scrolling on Instagram hoping that the thing I want pops up.
I don’t faff on Facebook, desperately waiting for the perfect ad.
No. I go to Google and I type in what I want.
If I don’t find it, I add more detail.
And I’ll think you’ll find your customers do, too. The statistic that’s waved around is that 70% of all transactions (both eCommerce, and service-based) start with a Google search.
So if your site isn’t findable, you’re missing out on a huge piece of the pie.
Why do most people hate SEO?
When I say (or write) the words ‘eCommerce SEO’, I generally get a visceral reaction from store owners.
A visible shudder.
Because SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is dodgy, techy, and dull – right?
I’m here to tell you that SEO is glorious, easy, fun, and gets you fat juicy results.
These 5 simple tips will get your PayPal pinging and your carts ka-chinging.
Ready? Let’s go.
TIP 1: Titles and metas
Unless someone already knows your store and is searching for your brand name, it’s likely that the first time they’ll ever hear about you, is by spotting you in the search results.
And first impressions count, right?
Your little snippet will be competing with ads, shopping carousels and all manner of other NOISE on the SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) so it’s important to stand out.
Here are a few tips on how you do this:
- Write a clear, simple title tag – around 60 characters including spaces.
- Include your product name at the start of the title tag.
- Finish the title tag, not with your brand name, but rather with a sales benefit.
- Add a meta description that works with your title tag (like Batman and Robin, or Thelma and Louise) – keep it to around 155 characters including spaces (even if your platform allows more, it will be truncated).
- Think of your title tag and meta description as a mini ad. Ensure it isn’t just a list of WHAT you sell, but rather a reason WHY I should buy from you.
Bonus tip: Look at the ads above your listing, what phrases and benefits are they using? ‘free shipping’, ‘next day delivery’? Try to use some of these in your title and meta.
TIP 2: Your site navigation
So, this might not seem like an SEO thang, but it is, believe me.
If you’ve managed the magic of getting people to click through from the search results to your site, you have a minute time blob to get them to:
- stay on the site
- take the next step.
And one of the biggest issues with most eCommerce sites is lack of clarity.
The ‘I have no clue what this store is actually selling’ factor.
Of course, branding helps with this.
(A site called: ‘Bob’s Umbrellas’ is an easier get than a brand named after your pet cat.)
Another really easy way to show the breadth of what you sell is to have product-led navigation.
DO NOT: have one element called ‘shop’ and a monster dropdown.
DO: have your shop categories in your primary navigation (up to around 10).
Psst: you can shove your adminy pages, contact, blog, and returns in your footer, they don’t need to be in your main navigation.
Bonus tip: Remember to leave a spot for ‘New’, ‘All’, and ‘Sale’ if relevant.
TIP 3: Category copy
Us SEOs love a good pyramid – pyramids help us explain things.
So picture a pyramid please, dear reader.
At the top is your home page, the most powerful page on your site SEO-wise.
The next layer down is your category pages.
Then your subcategories (hopefully only a few layers here).
Then your products.
The power of your pages decreases as they flow down from the top. Still with me?
Now, most store owners put a lot of effort into their home page copy and try reasonably hard with their product copy (more on this later), but don’t give a poot about their category pages.
Category pages are powerful, people!
Try adding 100-ish words of keyword-rich, engaging conversion copy to these.
Explain how you chose the products, why you like them, and who they are for. Not only will this give Google something to chew on, it will also help persuade the reader.
Bonus tip: Ideally place the copy above the products, if you shove it at the bottom no one, likely not even Google, will read it. Also don’t overdo it and write 600 words of guff just to please the Google gods.
TIP 4: Keyword choices
When it comes to keyword choices with eCommerce there are no easy answers.
And no set formula that works.
You have lots of elements to consider. Say, for example, you sell clothing, and you might want to add the following elements.
- Brand name
‘Nike blue boys trainers size 8 leather’
But of course, you might change that around:
‘Leather blue trainers boys Nike size 8’
Psst: try both these out and see how the top results change.
Keyword research for eCommerce stores requires the same thought process as for general sites.
When you next do any keyword research ask yourself these questions:
- What is most important to customer searching?
- What is the volume of the phrase I’m planning to use?
- Who am I in competition with?
- Do the competitive sites have more authority than me?
- Is the top result a good relevant fit?
- How can I improve on the top result?
Experiment with different keyword orders on different products and base your plans on what works best for your site.
TIP 5: Duplicate content
Writing SEO-friendly product descriptions can be tough, you need to ensure they are unique – no duplicate content issues thank you – but you also need to ensure they include lots of information about the product.
And when you have 100s of products to write, how do you keep things fresh?
I get it, it’s sooo much easier to just cut and paste from another site, or if you’re a reseller, just use the copy provided by the brand.
But if you use their copy, guess what you’re in direct competition with them for ranking.
And guess what else?
You’re going to lose.
Take time to write your own product copy in your own voice. Add some quirks, some idioms, and explain:
- Who it’s for
- Why they’d like it
- How they’ll feel after they use it
- How to use the product
- When to use the product
- What the product goes well with
And then make sure the specifications of the product are clear and consistent, covering not just the features, but the benefits too.
I once had to write 100s of product descriptions for a cleaning sponge company (each product was pretty much identical) but I found a way!
If you’re really stuck, this template may help.
In summary, I know that SEO might seem dry and unsexy when compared to posting flat lays on Instagram.
But with a little effort and a little know-how, you can master the basics and so much more, driving more traffic to your site, and enjoying more sales.
About the author:
Kate Toon is an award-winning misfit entrepreneur, who works with small businesses and big brands to transform their online presence through powerful SEO, captivating content, and all the right digital marketing moves.
As a digital marketing and SEO educator, straight-talking copywriting coach, author, educator, speaker, and podcaster, Kate has helped more than 12,000 other businesses demystify digital marketing, grapple the Google Beast, and grow their success.
Kate was named Businesswoman of the Year at the national My Business Awards and has spoken at events around the world, as well as running Australia’s only dedicated copywriting conference, CopyCon. www.katetoon.com