The Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce SEO (2017)
One thing that eCommerce store owners, like you, need to know before building their websites is how to plan ahead for eCommerce SEO. ECommerce sites have a unique set of SEO obstacles to overcome as opposed to stores who stock their own inventory, so it’s important that you know how to SEO. This beginner’s guide to SEO for eCommerce sites will help you with the SEO beginner guidelines and with some of the unique issues for running a eCommerce or datafeed based store.This article will give you a beginner’s guide to SEO for your ecommerce store, and it’ll help you grow the amount of organic traffic which your store receives.
Table of Contents
- Basic SEO 101:
- H1 tags
- Keyword counts
- Internal links
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- External links
- Canonical links
- Paginated pages
Because eCommerce SEO, like you, don’t normally hold inventory, they rely heavily on datafeeds provided by other stores, warehouses and manufacturers. These feeds are the XML feeds and spreadsheets that supply product and inventory to their stores.
Because the content, images, descriptions, and everything else within the feed goes to every site using it, the content is not “unique.” Because it’s not unique, the websites created with them end up with a problem sometimes referred to as “duplicate content.”
In this beginner’s guide to SEO, we’ll show you the importance of avoiding duplicate content on your ecommerce store. Duplicate content is when two websites have the same content (and in severe cases the same exact code). Since the content in dropshipping SEO is the same, search engines have a hard time knowing which one to show above the others. Datafeed sites rarely achieve good SEO rankings if they use the feed provided (duplicate) content, which is why it’s important to follow our SEO beginner guidelines by using the tips below.
Here is what to start with to help make your site unique from other stores that use the same feeds.
Improve Your Dropshipping SEO with Unique Images
The first part of our ecommerce SEO guide involves taking your own original product photos. This will really help you improve your eCommerce SEO rankings. If you can’t, download the product images from the feed. Next, rename them so that they describe the product in the image, and then upload them to your database and server.
The way you name your images is important. If you sell medium-sized and large-sized blue hats, you don’t want to confuse the search engines if they’re both called blue hat on your ecommerce site. Naming the image medium blue-hat.jpg and large-blue-hat.jpg will be more search engine friendly. This is an essential step in our beginner’s guide to SEO, make sure that you don’t forget this part.
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Alt Tags
The next step in the beginner’s guide to SEO is to make your alt tag reflective of the image name. This is one of the things that many search engines use to decide what an image is about and when to show it to a searcher. It appears in the HTML here
<img src=”image_url” alt=”insert_alt_tag_here”>
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Titles
The next step in our beginner’s guide to SEO is adding image titles and captions. These should be similar or equal to the name and alt tag if you decide to use them. The title attribute should be included in the title=”insert title here” section of the HTML.
Don’t overdo it. You don’t want too many keywords, descriptive terms (modifiers), or other words in the name or tags. This could be seen as “keyword stuffing” and may result in penalization.
Alternatively, you can optimize your image filenames, ALT tags and Titles using a 3rd party app like Minifier
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Mastering Descriptions
The product descriptions you import, if left unchanged, are also considered duplicate content. This is one of the more important things you’ll want to fix. Having unique and useful content on your pages (which we get into in the keyword count and content section) is what will help to set you apart from your supplier and competitors. To improve your eCommerce SEO, rewrite the following two pieces:
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Product Descriptions
One of the many important SEO beginner guidelines is that both the product long and short descriptions must be unique. If your product descriptions are the same as everyone else’s, you risk not appearing in search engines. Writing unique, helpful and accurate descriptions will be key in getting these pages to pick up both long tail and highly competitive keywords. If you can nail your product descriptions then you’ll be well on the way to knowing how to SEO for your ecommerce store.
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Product Specs
In eCommerce SEO, if your products have specs that come with the feed, find a unique way to display or talk about the specs. Although the search engines expect the specs to be equal in nature, that doesn’t mean you can’t give details about what they mean or display them in a unique and more helpful way.
SEO Beginner Guidelines – How to SEO
Next, it’s time for a basic understanding of SEO beginner guidelines. Below you’ll find actionable items that may help your site to rank better if you do them correctly and update it regularly. E-Commerce SEO is not a quick or easy thing. Also, it can change in an instant. However, the more you put into it without cutting corners or taking short cuts, the more you should get out of it. It’s a pivotal part of growing organic traffic for your ecommerce business, and we’re sure that you’ll be able to take advantage of our SEO beginner guidelines to make that happen.
ECommerce SEO – H1 tags
Your H1 tag is like the title of a book. As the search engines read it, it’s one of the first things that describes what a visitor will find on your webpage. If it’s a product page, your H1 tag will be the product title. If it’s a category, it will be the category name. Try using modifiers like ‘Best,’ ‘Top,’ and ‘Buy.’ Here is a list of modifiers you can use to get started.
Much like the image names and alt tags, don’t overdo it– This could be seen as spam. You may receive an over-optimization penalty if you do. Notice the repetition of ‘blue hats’ in the bad example, this is an example of ‘keyword stuffing.’
A good H1 tag:
A bad H1 tag:
<h1>Our Small Fun Blue Hats Are On Sale. Buy Blue Hats From Your Blue Hats Store Today</h1>
SEO Guide to Keyword Counts
The content length on each page plays an important role in eCommerce SEO. The more words which you include on your content page, the easier it is for search engines to understand what your page is about. In this ecommerce SEO guide we recommend that you should include at least 350 to 500 words for each page. Bare in mind that the content needs to be useful to your user, so they’ll have a good experience with your store, and looks natural. This is a critical step in your quest for learning how to SEO.
Stuffing content on the bottom of a page or hiding it under a menu or expandable field can result in site penalization. If it’s a category page, try adding in an introduction to welcome visitors.
If it’s a product page, describe the product in detail. What is it? Who is it for? Where can it be used? When is the best time to use it? Why should your customers use it? How should it be used? Don’t forget to describe your product’s competitive advantage.
SEO Guide to Internal links
Internal links are links that point from one page on your site to another page on your website. They are different than backlinks and external links. Internal links should always be do follow. You use internal links to tell the search engines which pages to rank and for what terms. They also help your customers discover other pages on your website.
In eCommerce SEO, internal links tell the search engines which pages you want to have rank for specific keywords. Also, they help categorize your site for them and pass authority to help the page you link to show up better. If you have a really good blog post or infographic page that has a lot of authority and quality backlinks, using an internal link off of a descriptive keyword may help the page you link rank better. However, the more internal links on a page, the less authority each can pass.
If you have 2 internal links, they each pass 50%. 3 means 33.3%. You also have to include navigation, category links, etc. The link placement may also carry weight. If you have three internal links and one is high up in your content and the other two are lower, the higher one may get 60% of the authority and the bottom two may get 20% each. Here’s a guide on building an internal linking structure.
SEO Guide to Title tags
In eCommerce SEO, title tags are important. When someone uses a search engine, the title tag is what shows up. According to Moz, the title tag should be under 55 characters. Also, it should be relevant to the search terms you want to rank for while enticing a click.
In this beginner’s guide to SEO, you’ll quickly realize the importance of optimizing your product page for the keyword you want to rank for. However, make sure it’s user-friendly. The title tag is also what people see when they bookmark a page. Use the browser buttons when they move forward and backward and also what appears in their history. This is why it is important that it’s descriptive, short and user-friendly.
SEO Guide to Meta descriptions
Another one of the important SEO beginner guidelines is ensuring your webpages have Meta descriptions. When you use a search engine, meta descriptions show up directly below the title tag. Keep them between 120 and 155 characters. They should be relevant and describe what the person will find on the page if they click through. If you nail this part of our beginner’s guide to SEO you’ll really stand out from the crowd.
In eCommerce SEO, make sure your description tags encourage clicks. Give the person a reason to want to click through by letting them know what they’ll find. It could be a great price, a how-to guide, or an attention-grabbing list. Read the title tags and meta descriptions of higher ranked pages. How can you write something that outranks them?
SEO Guide to Backlinks
When learning how to SEO, backlinks play an important role in driving traffic back to your site. Backlinks are links which point from another website back to your website. Combined with the content on your website, they are the most important things you can use to get a website to rank highly in search engines. Search engines take extreme measures to ensure that a website’s backlinks are organic. Don’t buy backlinks to increase your domain authority– your site will be penalized.
Here is the main jargon you’ll need to know in regards to backlinks:
- Do follow – these pass authority and help your site rank better.
- No follow – these link to you, but they do not pass authority so they will not help your website rank. They contain rel=”nofollow” somewhere in the <a href=” “> tag. You need a natural mix of do and no follow links, so don’t be upset if you get some.
- Keyword rich (anchor text) – these are links off of specific phrases or keywords (anchors).
- Natural – natural links will be off of your company name, your name, or a variation of your URL or brand.
- Unnatural – unnatural links are when you have tracking parameters attached, do follow links in sponsored posts, or anything that wouldn’t have occurred naturally like links to a category page on an ecommerce site. For example, an affiliate link.
Having too many keyword rich or unnatural backlinks may lead to penalties. Don’t build too many of them. Make it less than 20%, possibly even 10% of your total link profile.
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – What not to do:
There are a ton of SEO beginner guidelines out there on how to get quick and easy backlinks.
In eCommerce SEO, many of the blackhat tactics you’ll find may eventually lead to your website getting penalized. Unfortunately, you risk not being able to rank again. In addition, you’d have to do even more work just to get the penalty removed. Furthermore, if you do get a penalty, it can take years for it to be lifted.
Here is how you DO NOT want to build links:
- Directory submissions – unless they are 100% niche, content relevant and manually updated. Going with no follow is much smarter if you do choose to use these.
- Blog comments – don’t use these, especially off of keywords.
- Forum comments and links – because they’re so easy to do and anyone can get them, the search engines frown on these.
- Automated link builders – these are software programs that use bots and spiders to comment on blogs, forums and communities for you. Using this method can create a bad brand image with the communities and bloggers. Also, the backlinks are easily mapped so your site making you more likely to be penalized.
- Link exchanges – Try to avoid reciprocal linking. Too many of these becomes unnatural and is a practice that created one of the first penalties by Google.
- Link farms – sites and services that go out and create link farms are another way to get mapped and penalized.
- Sponsored posts – giving people or influencers money or product in exchange for a post with a do follow link may cause your website (and theirs) to get penalized. You probably will want to work with real influencers, but make sure everything is no follow so that your site doesn’t increase its risk of getting penalized.
SEO Guide to External links
In the beginner’s guide to SEO it’s important to remember external links are the links which you give to other sites. Fortunately, backlinks may be a ranking factor to help your website do better. If you own an ecommerce store, incorporate them into blog posts only.
As you source a site or mention something relevant to your audience, this is where you include an external link. Importantly, the reason you don’t want it on a shopping page is that it may take a person off of the page. Also, it can distract them on the new website. As a result, they might not come back to complete their purchase.
However, before you give an external link, first read Google’s guidelines on do follow vs. no follow links and then ask yourself the following.
- Will linking to this website benefit my reader?
- Is the page I’m linking to going to be around for a long time, or could this site go under?
- Is there other content on the site that might be irrelevant or not good for my readers.
If you said yes to the first two and no to the third, this is probably a good site to link to. Next in the SEO guide, is to determine if it should be do follow or no follow. The SEO beginner guidelines I mention above will provide you with detailed instructions on this.
SEO Guide to Schema
This is an invaluable section of our beginner’s guide to SEO. Schema.org is a resource put together by the major search engines. It provides you with the code and snippets to tell search engines the specifics of your page. For example, code is used for showing that there is a video on the page.
Notably, by adding schema markup to your pages (it’s a lot easier than you think, don’t let it overwhelm you), you can further help the major search engines know what that page is about. Also, it shows what the end user will find on your page. Next, you give them new features to show in the search results (videos images next to a result) as well as further define the user experience. Schema is an important and often overlooked part of SEO that can help give you an advantage as a datafeed and eCommerce site.
More SEO Beginner Guidelines
Next, there’s always going to be more to optimize in eCommerce SEO. Below are a few of the SEO beginner guidelines. You’ll be able to find an automated tool for most of the items mentioned. For example, you can always try using Google and Bing’s webmaster tools. Also, you can learn by reading an SEO guide or watching a video on YouTube. The more knowledge that you consume, the better idea you’ll have on how to SEO successfully.
SEO Guide to Sitemaps
An essential SEO beginner guideline is learning how to SEO by creating a sitemap for your website. Importantly, a sitemap is simply a listing of all of the pages on your website that Google should know about. They’re broken out from the highest level pages. They include categories, subcategories, and product pages. You can create sitemaps in multiple ways with links, XML feeds, and other options. Notably, be sure you avoid having a 404, 301 redirect and pages listed like a log into your site or admin page appearing on your sitemap.
SEO Guide to Canonical links
Next in the beginner’s guide to SEO is canonical links. Canonical links are links that tell search engines which page is the one to index in their search results. Suppose you have three pages on your site that all feature the same product, content, and image. You would use a canonical link to tell the search engine which is the right one to index. Importantly, you don’t want all three competing against each other for space, or giving you duplicate content issues, like we discussed earlier in this beginner’s guide to SEO. If you’re running a split test experiment to determine how successful some of your store’s pages are you might want to use canonical links.
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Paginated pages
Next, in the SEO beginner guidelines is pagination. Pagination is when you have a series of pages. Think about a category page that has page 2, 3, 4, 5, etc. You may have individual unique pages, but the content will stay the same. Previously you would have used a canonical link to a page which had all of your products on it, but now Google has devised rel prev and rel next. By incorporating this into a paginated series you can guide it through the series without having the worry of Google penalizing you for duplicate content, which was discussed earlier in this beginner’s guide to seo.
Based on what you’ve learned from this beginner’s guide to SEO, which of the SEO beginner guidelines will you work on first? Let us know in the comments below!