Being an entrepreneur in the digital age means following a unique set of rules and strategies for operating your business and attracting customers. Running an eCommerce business isn’t as simple as registering a domain name and building an online store. After all, you wouldn’t open a brick-and-mortar store without putting thought into marketing, design, and everything else that’ll get people to step foot in your doors.
As all eCommerce professionals should know, ranking on search results is vital. If you fall behind, you could be sacrificing a sizable percentage of your conversions, engagement, and sales. In other words, high-ranking search engine optimization strategies are a must.
Of course, anyone who has ever built a website knows that ranking high on search engines can be easier said than done. There are a variety of ever-evolving tools, strategies, and best practices that have been studied and implemented. Fortunately, this guide will help you with tips on optimizing your eCommerce website to improve your SEO ranking. By following these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to gaining new organic traffic and engaging with the right audience that loves what you have to provide.
While every industry is different, these strategies are designed to work for most general cases. If, however, you find that any of the tips and tricks outlined here can be adjusted to suit your needs better, we say go for it. You might just be a pioneer in developing new, practical strategies that can bring you ahead of the competition.
1. Define Your Goals
An important aspect of perfecting your search engine strategy is understanding your business goals, what you want to accomplish, and how to do so. By reviewing some basic aspects of your business, you’ll better understand what your audience is looking for and why they want to come to you.
Some questions that you might want to ask yourself about your business include:
- Who’s our product for (who’s our ideal audience)?
- What’ll our audience care about?
- Why’s our business doing this?
- Why are we the ones to do it?
Sometimes, it may even help to write down a mission statement and show it to your employees.
Before you know it, you’ll have an actionable search engine strategy. You can develop search terms that align with your goals and even segment them into different marketing funnels. You can also use this information to perfect other aspects of your operations, such as product development.
2. Know Your Audience
We all understand the importance of creating a buyer persona. However, many people focus too much on that user model and neglect the reason behind certain behaviors and needs. That’s why knowing your audience’s search intent, or why they’re searching for a specific term, is so essential for your marketing strategy. You want to know their pain points, the trends they’re following, what sort of questions they have, and why they’re going to specific spaces.
Some ways to get to know your audience’s search intent a bit more include handing out user surveys, talking to people at industry events, and simply doing market research to see what’s popular among them.
3. Think Locally
While this certainly isn’t always the case in the days of digital shopping, people will frequently look for goods and services that are closer to them.
After all, 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day. Depending on your industry, you may want to focus your SEO efforts on being relevant in your local area.
For instance, you may want to implement a nearby location or big city in your keyword strategy. This simply means that instead of plugging in “best cupcake bakery,” you go with “best cupcake bakery near San Francisco” (or whichever areas are relevant to you).
4. Create a Site Worth Visiting
According to this study by Brightedge, 68% of all online experiences start with a search engine. Of those searches, 75% of users won’t go beyond the first page of results. One of the most important parts of creating your content will be the content itself. Remember, actual people are reading what you’re writing. You don’t want your online store’s blog to be a mess of repetitive, poorly written content that doesn’t provide any value to the reader.
Two primary goals of creating content such as blog posts are to be informative and entertaining to your audience. It won’t only make you an authority on the subject matter that people will turn to, but it’ll also make your website a place where your audience will genuinely enjoy receiving their information.
Avoid repetitive, boring topics and make your content substantive enough to keep your users around. Your reader should be engaged and not have the desire to leave the page in the middle of reading. You can maximize your credibility by adding relevant links and studies to your content and reaching out to other websites for backlinks.
Giving your content the TLC it deserves also helps make your site “link-worthy” or attractive to other people who may link to your website on their own pages.
5. Use the Right Keywords
We all understand the importance of keywords in SEO. If your audience is searching for “how to bake cakes,” but your website only has content related to decorating muffins, they might not be able to find what they need. It’s vital that you invest in strong, authoritative keywords and phrases that your audience will search for.
How to Find Quality Keywords
To find phrases and words that’ll help to optimize your eCommerce website, understand what your customers are looking for out of their search and how they’re looking for it. You can do this by surveying actual customers or interacting with people in your niche and industry on relevant online forums. From there, you can plug in various relevant topics into keyword research tools to observe their ranking.
Once you have identified the keywords you want to use, it’s time to find long-tail keywords (essentially short 2–3 word phrases) based on your research. These phrases will be more descriptive and closely fit into your site’s sub-topics and niches. By being more descriptive, these keywords will help better match your audience’s search intent and be more relevant to their needs.
6. Use Your Keywords Correctly
After selecting your keywords, it’s essential to consider how they can be implemented. You need to make sure that they make sense in certain contexts, such as:
- Whether they can be a page title
- If you can properly use them in H2 and H3 headings/subheadings
- Being able to use them in the page URL
Of course, when trying to insert keywords into your content, you’ll need it to be natural-sounding and readable to the average user. Part of that isn’t making your keyphrase too technical or industry-specific. You also want to make sure that you’re not repeating the same words and phrases too often in your headings or the content itself.
This is called keyword stuffing, and it’ll break the flow of your content and overall make it less appealing to your reader. A sensible search engine marketing company can help you with the right overall approach that supports your keyword strategy.
7. Don’t Ignore Your Metadata
Website metadata is simply a description of certain aspects of your page’s content. This set of data helps search engines catalog information on your website and is important in getting your audience to find your page. There are three main categories that metadata falls into, which include:
- Administrative: This data helps in the management of resources on the page. It can include information about copyright and fair use.
- Structural: This describes relationships in different parts of a resource. Examples of this include indexes or tables of contents.
- Descriptive: This data is used for the discovery and selection of certain resources. This can include the title, headings/subheadings, abstract, and keywords.
Overall, you can think of your metadata as the first impression that your website is going to give to the world. In quick snippets, it is going to describe what’s on your site and how to find it.
8. Implement Alt Tags
Alternative text descriptions (also known as alt-text or alt-attributes) assign a text descriptor to an image. This gives search engines a way to find information that’s relevant to the content on your site, even if it isn’t text-based.
Alt-tags are also an essential part of making your site more accessible, as it assists screen readers in describing content on your site that may not be available to a visually-impaired user.
These tags should be short and sweet and use the same keyword that you’ll be using for the page itself. This will further assist in helping search engines index your page and make sure that your page isn’t bogged down by extraneous information. Like your other metadata, alt-text should feel natural and be easy to understand.
When assigning alt text, you also want to avoid breaking the flow of your page by adding information to media that doesn’t have any important or contextual information. For instance, you don’t want to describe dozens of decorative assets on your page that won’t tell your user or search engine anything about the page they’re on.
9. Consistently Update Your Content
Regularly maintaining and updating your site’s content will work in your favor in a variety of ways. In addition to helping you stay relevant to search engines, regular updates give you plenty of content to update your social media platforms and email newsletters with. Remember, you want to create value that your audience will seek out again and again.
Updating your content also gives you the opportunity to revisit your messaging, advertise new products, and assess the audience you’re trying to reach. While you certainly won’t need to examine these things every time you want to update your content, it can be useful when done on a semi-annual basis.
As an eCommerce business owner, you should be striving to post around three times a week. Ideally, you should also strive to add new content to your blog at around the same time. Fortunately, there are a variety of content scheduling tools such as HubSpot or Sprout Social that will help you get your posts out on your various platforms without the hassle of manually doing it yourself at the exact right time.
According to OptinMonster, businesses that blog experience twice as much email traffic as businesses that don’t. That’s twice as many people who are exposed to your brand and more likely to convert.
10. See What Your Competitors are Doing
Part of staying competitive and optimizing your eCommerce website is knowing what your most successful competitors are doing and trying to emulate that in a way that works for you. If you see that they are doing or implementing things in a certain way that seems to make them noticeably stand out, there is no issue with trying to capture that “secret sauce.” Of course, avoid plagiarism in any form at all costs.
It will also help you identify opportunity gaps in things such as keyword usage, backlinking, or subject matter. If you are noticing that a certain topic in your industry isn’t being discussed enough, filling that need in the market by creating content based on it will give you an excellent advantage.
Optimizing your eCommerce website for search engines is becoming more necessary by the day. In a world where everything is going online, you have to do everything you can to stay competitive and ensure that your business stands out. With a little bit of guidance, however, you should have a better understanding of how to master search engines and make them work for you.
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