Organic traffic is definitely the best traffic, and organic search traffic is the best kind of organic traffic thanks to it’s high intent.
So in this article I am going to skim over a number of different, yet foundational aspects of your online store that you need to be optimising to give yourself the best chance of winning the Google pagerank race and having your link seen (and clicked on!) by searchers.
So to make sure your SEO efforts are not built upon sand, ensure you have all these fixed up properly…
The only way to make sure of this is to do some sound keyword research. Keyword research should be, by far, the first thing you do and will have an incredible effect on everything you do after it and the success of that work.
I can’t stress it enough - Do extensive, exhaustive and vigilant keyword research!
Use keyword discovery tools to find key phrases and long tail search terms to target as well as help you pick your phrasing throughout the site. Remember, when people say keyword these days, they generally mean keyphrase. You can’t just target ‘shoes’ if you are a shoe shop. People don’t just type ‘shoes’ into search. You must find out what search terms your prospective customers are typing into Google then look at volume and competition to decide what to target.
Do not half ass keyword research!
Once you have done this, you need to optimize all your pages, focusing primarily on one keyphrase per page. Page titles, meta description, heading tags, image names, alt texts and more all need to be optimized.
An in depth study about how improvements in mobile site speed affect a brand’s bottom line showed that conversion rates for ecommerce stores goes up 8.4% for every 0.1 seconds cut off of page load speed! Average order value increased by 9.2% as well! This is due to reductions in bounce rates and an increase in engagement. This isn’t even SEO related though, it’s just a conversion optimization bonus!
The fact is, Google and other search engines factor in page load speed as a big ranking factor because it has a great effect on the user experience and search engines are ultimately trying to deliver as excellent of a web surfing time to their users as possible in terms of finding what they want and user experience. With all of this in mind, you want to make sure that your website is usable even to those on older phones with poor network connections.
Fortunately, Google encourages improving the internet experience for everyone and has a free tool called PageSpeed Insights which you can use to scan your site and get excellent feedback on how you can improve your site. There are lots of tools out there that can help with this, but I like to use the one that is provided by the people that you ultimately want to appease.
Unless you have invented some sort of surreal new niche to cater to, there is a bloody good chance that will have competitors in your market. You would be silly not to do your research on them. You can try to reverse engineer their strategies to see if they’re worth emulating or look for gaps in their efforts that you can fill.
By using competitor analysis tools in SEO services like Ahrefs and SEMrush you can learn what keywords they are targeting and doing well at. You can also see where they got their backlinks from as a source of, and inspiration for, prospective links building efforts in the future.
There are lots of reasons to research your competition and no real reasons not to.
This is another aspect that, done well, gets you two wins in the form of increased conversion rates and sales as well as improved search rankings. You see, the more convoluted your store, the trickier it is for both humans and search engine spiders to navigate. Both will only follow so many links until they leave your site.
In the case of a human, this could be through frustration of finding what they want because it’s lost in the clutter or it is buried so deep that it takes too much digging.
In the case of the search engine spider, unless your website is CNN or Amazon, then they will only commit so much time to crawling your site. By having a deep site architecture that requires the crawler to click through too many pages, it can leave before finishing the job or just find it more confusing to pinpoint exactly what a page is about. Deeper down pages on the sitemap are also seen as less important to search engines. And on a store, the deepest pages tend to be product pages!
Clean and simple, shallow site layout people! The less clicks from start to cart, the better!
As with most SEO good practices, this one is also excellent for user experience. Internal links are simply a link on one page of your site to another page of your site. Your CMS or online store platform will obviously auto generate a lot of these links with menu items, categories and such, so make sure that your category names use targeted keywords. The words used in link text are important to help search engines understand the page that is being linked to, remember that and revert to your research to pick the appropriate link text, or anchor text as it is known. Related and recommended items will help reinforce similar products too.
You will also have a lot of opportunity to add your own internal links throughout the site. This can be in a number of places like category page content, product descriptions and there is huge opportunity for linking in blog articles to related products or even products that the articles are dedicated to. I highly recommend making sure that your store has a blog because…
Blogs offer an insane amount of opportunity to target search terms that prospective customers might be typing into search bars and then use the article to drive them toward the product. A simple form of content marketing.
For example, if you sell spare parts for lawnmowers then researching what people with broken lawn mowers are typing into Google can inform you on what their problems are so you can address them.
Maybe your keyword research shows that the search term ‘Why won’t my lawnmower start?’ is of high volume and low competition. Sweet, now you can write a blog article with this as the title that goes through how to troubleshoot the problem and then suggests what part they might need and where to find it… with an internal link to a page on your store.
If this article gains favor with Google's algorithms after some optimization, then not only will it draw organic traffic to the content but also pass on rank juice to the pages linked out to from it.
Content is king in SEO and product descriptions don’t offer too much opportunity to rack up a word count, whereas blogs do.
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