Anyone paying attention to the rapidly evolving state of retail in Australia will know that eCommerce is booming. This boom is naturally focusing more marketers on the importance of organic search as a channel from a traffic, customer and revenue acquisition perspective. So how exactly does an online marketer go about growing and sustaining traffic to an eCommerce site?
1. Get a great developer
The number one tip we would give to any aspiring eCommerce entrepreneur is to hire the best eCommerce development team you can. Having seen firsthand the impact of great (and not so great) developers on clients eCommerce programs we cannot overstate this point. Qualities to look for when hiring include:
- An understanding of SEO and an appreciation of the importance of getting things right.
- A persistent Can-do attitude.
- High care factor / attention to detail.
- Collaborative approach.
2. Get the basics right
All the fundamentals still apply with eCommerce SEO. Unfortunately given the default settings of most eCommerce platforms sometimes the basics are not so basic which means you will likely need to roll out some customization (which is where point 1 comes in). Ideally every page generated on your site should feature:
- A descriptive (preferably short) URL structure featuring keywords targeted to the primary page theme.
- A unique descriptive page title featuring keywords targeted to the primary page theme.
- A unique descriptive meta description featuring keywords targeted to the primary page theme and including 1-2 benefits &/or calls to action.
- A unique descriptive < h1 > tag featuring keywords targeted to the primary page theme.
- Descriptive image alt tags that accurately describe the image ideally matching the primary page theme.
- Descriptive, unique and compelling body copy that matches the primary page theme and adds to the users shopping experience.
- Keyword rich contextual internal links to other relevant pages (think similar products, categories etc.).
- Unique descriptive Open graph tags (Whilst not directly influencing SEO, having unique OG tags per page will make sure that when your content is shared in social media the snippet will be more likely to attract the click.).
3. Ace your site structure and URL logic
We’re firmly of the opinion that it makes sense to silo content into taxonomies defined from keyword research which will then flow into URL formation.
An example of how this could play out is illustrated below for an imaginary online camera store’s eCommerce SEO templates (note the brilliantly manicured URL’s due to having an imaginary great dev team);
- Category; e.g.: happysnaps.com.au/cameras.
- Brand; e.g: happysnaps.com.au/canon.
- Brand + category e.g.: happysnaps.com.au/canon-cameras.
- Sub Category e.g.: happysnaps.com.au/digital-slr-cameras.
- Brand + Sub Category e.g.: happysnaps.com.au/canon-digital-slr-cameras.
- Product pages e.g.: happysnaps.com.au/canon-eos-100d.
- Ultimately while there isn’t a perfect structure for every site it makes sense to carefully think through how products are grouped together and to validate your decisions with keyword research (preferably gleaned from paid search data).
4. Publish unique and (preferably) great content
Publishing unique or “semi” unique content is critical to achieve enduring page one rankings. Whilst the mantra of “content is king” has been drummed into us by Google spokes model’s since they started publishing and policing the SERP’s the importance of content cannot be understated for eCommerce sites. Areas where eCommerce sites can come un-stuck with content include:
- Duplicating product descriptions; Whilst tedious, rewriting manufacturer supplied descriptions and injecting some personality into the content will set you up to win.
- Publishing pages with ultra-thin / duplicate content; think very similar templates where the only thing that is changing is the Page title, Meta Data and H1. Pages like this are bait for Google_Panda. A high ratio of pages with common / duplicate elements can be problematic and trap a site in rankings purgatory.
- Publishing templates that don’t allow for the customization of key SEO elements (see point 2). Ideally every template should be editable allowing for the customization of key elements to balance keyword targeting with marketing elements (think Calls to action and benefit statements)
- Publishing boring content that doesn't engage with the end user.
- Great copy that resonates with the end user will sell more products and help SEO. Think copy that pops like woot.com used to rather than dull product specs.
- Focusing exclusively on text and images; users want other content formats, video specifically.
5. Build links
When it comes to SEO the sites that are winning typically have lots of links. In essence if you want to compete you need to work out how to bake link building into your marketing processes or engage someone to handle it for you.
6. Don’t skimp on design, UX and images
While we’re not convinced that design is a core ranking factor (and can ultimately be algorithmically graded). A site's design aesthetics can have a dramatic impact on things like;
- Bounce rate and time on site which we do think are used for click stream analysis and could be used as a proxy for “relevance” and may affect rankings.
- A sites conversion rate (which is the absolute imperative focus of all eCommerce objectives).
- If people will link out to the site; gut feel would suggest that people will be happier / more likely to link to sites with a great design (and great content).
7. Make your site fast
Site speed is a ranking factor. It’s also a conversion factor. Aim for 2 seconds as a page load benchmark and task your developers to get there, anything above this should be treated as work in progress.
8. Don’t forget Mobile
9. Get great SEO advice
While there are a large (and increasing) number of SEO providers in Australia investing in the best possible consulting can (and should return a significant ROI). Attributes to look for when hiring internal or external talent include;
- eCommerce SEO experience. Ideally you want to hire someone who has eCommerce SEO experience and can refer to examples in the wild of sites they’ve optimized.
- Actionable strategy and tactics. Look for consultants that can layout an actionable road map. In essence SEO is about getting things done, with a view to build organic traffic and ultimately revenue and profit (rather than quoting sound bites from the SEO echo chamber).
- A collaborative approach. SEO isn't a silo-ed pursuit and as such to yield the best possible results you need your SEO team, actively collaborating with your development, design, marketing, social and PR teams.
Yes it’s that important.