We are big fans of SEO (search engine optimization) at Dogwood and have shared a lot of posts about it, but what about eCommerce sites and SEO? While the process is a little different for eCommerce sites, the same basic SEO principles and practices apply. Let’s explore more in today’s blog post.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of identifying the topics of content on your website and communicating that to search engines. In doing so, search engines are more likely to rank your web page higher in organic search results. For a complete guide to all the details of SEO and your website, check out Dogwood’s Guide to SEO.
The crux of SEO is identifying keywords or keyphrases of your web content and reinforcing those keywords to search engines. A keyword or keyphrase is the main idea of your text
Search engines want to know 1) what is your content about? And 2) does your content provide valuable information on that subject? When both questions are answered, they are more likely to match your keyword to search queries and higher in search results.
The Difference Between Ecommerce Sites and Traditional Websites
Traditional websites are more content based while eCommerce sites, like Shopify, focus on selling products. While eCommerce sites incorporate traditional style page content, the bulk of their content is listed products. These products do contain text content (or can) but unlike traditional websites, the text dedicated to product descriptions is much shorter.
While it is easier to organize content on traditional web pages that can identify your keyword, it is a little trickier to do so with e-commerce sites. Since text on product listings is usually shorter in length, you must be intentional about identifying keywords that pertain to your individual listings in other ways. In other words, every word counts on eCommerce sites in regards to SEO.
In addition to optimizing your product listings which is explained below, you want to make sure you follow traditional SEO practices for any standard pages or blog posts on your site.
Ecommerce Sites and SEO Best Practices
If you have an eCommerce website and want to show up higher in organic search results, there are a few best practices with SEO that you can easily implement.
When choosing keywords for eCommerce listings, you want to choose keywords that have high monthly search volume but also low competition. If I create a listing for candles and choose the keyword “candles, ” I may have high search volume but also high competition. The keyword is so general all different types of candles could fall into the category. I would have better luck choosing a more descriptive keyword such as white pillar candles and working my content around that. If I am selling a specific brand of white pillar candles I could also include that in my keyphrase for more refined search queries. An example would be “White Pillar Candles by Dogwood”
To learn more about choosing the right keywords or keyphrases for your listings check out our blog: Keyword research
Title Tags, Descriptions, and URLs
For every page and/or product listing, use a unique title tag. Use the exact search term in the title tag, the product name, and the description. If you have more than one candle for sale on your site but choose to put simply “candle” on every title tag, search engines will be confused about which to show in search results and may not show them at all.
Title tags are best optimized to include a descriptive keyword, the category the item falls under which is your secondary keyword, and then your storefront name. Best practices for SEO and title tags are organizing titles like this:
Primary Keyword | Secondary Keyword | Storefront Name
So if my business was Beth’s General Store and I was editing the title tag for white pillar candles, my listing would look something like this:
White Pillar Candles | Household Goods | Beth’s General Store
If your title tag is longer and exceeds 60 characters, the amount that shows up on a search engine results page (SERP), that is ok but try to make sure your primary and secondary keywords are within the first 60 characters of the listing. In other words, we want users to see the name of the product first to entice them to click on it, the storefront name can be cut off in SERPs because once they click on the listing, it will be obvious it is your store.
Best practice with eCommerce sites and SEO for URLs is to include your primary keyword in the URL. You can leave out words like “the” and “and” when writing your URL. Search engines understand the terms without these words. Keep your URL as short as possible but also include your primary keyword and secondary keyword if possible.
Headers, Descriptions, and Meta Descriptions
Headers known as H1’s, H2’s, H3’s, and so on are used as designations in your content to let search engines know what the content in that section is about. SEO best practices are to usually have only 1 H1 per page. So when I click on the URL for “White Pillar Candles” then on the back end of my site the title of my product “White Pillar Candles” should be designated as an H1. This signals search engines that this listing page is all about white pillar candles.
After designating my H1 on the page then I will fill in my description. Best practices include using my primary keyword (and second keyword but only if it flows naturally into the content.) It is very important to make sure your description offers value to the reader and also flows well. Do not put your keywords in the description just for the sake of SEO and do not repeat them over and over simply for the sake of SEO. This is known as keyword stuffing.
The meta description is the short description that follows a search engine listing. This is not shown on the actual product listing page but only in search results. Be sure to include your primary keyword and an enticing description of your product. Keep this description short and within the recommended.
Image Names and Alternative Text
Even though this section is at the bottom of the list, it is very important for eCommerce sites and SEO. Search engines cannot read or decipher an image. They can only know what it is by your description. We let search engines know what an image is through the name of the file and alternative text.
If possible the image name of the photo you upload with your listings should include your primary keyword. I know this is tedious but can be a beneficial practice for e-commerce sites and SEO.
Alternative text is the text that is not visible to a visitor but is meant to aid those with low vision needs to understand what an image is portraying on a website. Alternative text is a best practice for every site but is especially beneficial for eCommerce sites. Many will shop online through image searches and alternative text allows search engines to crawl, index, and rank according to search queries. Include your primary keyword in the alternative text of each image.
Let Dogwood Help with Your Ecommerce Site and SEO
Our crew at Dogwood would love to help optimize your eCommerce site for search engines. We do all the keyword research, optimize your listings and pages, run monthly audits for site functionality, and provide monthly reports for your review. Let’s work together to help you rise above the noise on the web!