24
May
man buying online

12 Ways to Optimize an eCommerce Site for SEO

According to Dubai Chamber statistics based on PayPal data, the size of the UAE #ecommerce market is expected to reach US$5.1 billion by the end of 2015, and $10 billion by 2018. With such eye-popping growth figures, online shops cannot ignore the potential upside of having a well optimized website.

ECommerce is a huge growth market with projected figures of 215 million by the year 2018, so there is plenty of opportunity to be found. The number of people willing to make online purchases grows year-on-year, but this also means the number of entrepreneurs looking to seize the opportunities gets bigger. An eCommerce site requires visibility to make a mark on an industry, and search engine optimization offers a way to put your site directly in front of a targeted audience. However, a site that has not been optimized is facing an uphill battle to reach the top spots in any of the search engines.

Create Unique Product Descriptions

It may be time-consuming, but writing unique product descriptions can benefit your SEO. A site with lots of duplicated content will not be optimized to its fullest, so simply copying descriptions from the manufacturer may cause problems. Take the time to write something unique and relevant about each product, even if you have a large number of similar items in your inventory.

Create Category Descriptions

Category descriptions are often ignored, but they can become some of the most powerful pages on your site from the search engines perspective. While you will want to rank for various product names, the broader category search terms will often receive greater search volume, particularly among people who are not absolutely certain which brand they want to buy.

Responsive Design for Mobile

Mobile commerce — both smartphone and tablet — is expected to account for over 25 percent of US eCommerce revenue in 2015, so it is no longer possible to ignore mobile users. Google are implementing penalties for sites that are not considered mobile-friendly, making it virtually impossible to rank in the mobile search if your site provides a poor user experience. Responsive design adapts your site depending on the device accessing it, making it visually and functionally effective.

Limit Duplicate Content

Many eCommerce sites include a lot of general text that features on every page, but this duplicate content can harm your SEO results. There will be occasions where small areas of texts will need to be included on multiple pages, but try to find ways of limiting larger portions of duplicate text. If you have a detailed returns policy, for example, you could link to another page or open it in a pop-up.

Allow Product Reviews

User-generated content is a great way to enhance a product page, giving you the chance to reach different keywords and phrases organically. Product reviews are the most effective way of encouraging user comments, while also providing a good service to your customers. There may be  concern that reviews could negatively impact sales, but customer reviews help to gain trust and show you stand by your own products.

Use Unique Titles

Title tags are important for SEO, being the first thing a person sees in their search results, but also conveying to the search engines exactly what the page is about. Titles can be tricky for an eCommerce site if there are many similarly named items, so you need to be creative when you are naming the page. Adding descriptive words, whether it is the color, size, or material of the product, will be enough to differentiate one page from another.

Readable URLs

Some eCommerce sites complicate URLs by naming them with a string of letters and digits to form a unique address. URLs may be auto-generated depending on the way your site has been built, but to optimize the site, for search engines and readers, make the URL the same as the page title. If you need to change the URL structure, use 301 redirects to inform the search engines that the page location has changed.

Clear Navigation

Navigation is an integral part of an optimized site, but the method you use might vary depending on the size of the product inventory. A smaller site might be able to include most links on one page, but a large site will need to group items in a silo structure, possibly creating categories and sub-categories to make items easier to locate. As you collect more data, you can put the most popular links first in your navigation, while not forgetting a sitemap and search bar.

Optimize Images

Images are vitally important to an eCommerce site, but they can often slow loading down to a crawl. You want images to be high-quality for sales purposes, but size them to the level where they are not excessively large and a burden on your server. Adding image tags will also help to optimize them, and you may find they start to appear in the image search results.

Include Video

Videos can be a good way to sell a product, but they also provide another source of media which assists you with the search engines. Bounce rate is one of the many factors assumed to be part of the search algorithm, so if you can keep a visitor on your site watching a product demonstration, you get an added benefit.

Suggest Related Products

Most people are familiar with stores that offer related products next to each individual item, often leading to multiple purchases, but there are also some SEO advantages. Related product links allow you to create a good internal linking structure, making direct connections between similar items. If one page gains search engine trust and authority, each linked page is able to benefit from the direct connection.

Create Split Tests

The effects of any optimization changes can only be gauged by consistent split testing. Running regular A/B split tests allow you to base any changes on a track record of data, leaving you with a highly optimized site. As mentioned, bounce rate is an important search engine metric, so you can run tests to encourage people to spend longer browsing your site, while also aiming for an increased conversion rate.

Conclusion

While many types of site have suffered from search engine changes, optimized eCommerce sites are still thriving. Web stores allow you to build a real business, creating regular income with resale value. You could spend a lot of money on paid traffic, and this is certainly a option worth trying later on, but consistent traffic and revenue from a successful SEO campaign is a certain way to generate a high return on investment. SEO will still require ongoing promotion, but optimizing your site from the beginning will give you the best chance of landing on page 1 for all the right search terms.

Mohamed Alazzawy
About Mohamed Alazzawy
Mohamed is a Senior Search Planner at Sandstorm Digital FZE working on high profile accounts such as National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), Etisalat, Meraas, City Index and Souqalmal.com. His experience includes both the technical and content aspects of SEO.
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