It is a well-established fact that most of us start the shopping process by researching products online – and this is why even the smallest businesses need a ‘Google-friendly’ website. It goes without saying that it is even more crucial to ecommerce businesses which only operate online (also called ‘pure-play websites’), but their life can be made very difficult by the regular updates to Google’s algorithms. At the top of the results page one day, they can suddenly disappear overnight for no other reason than the fact that Google have shifted their priorities.
The good news is that you can reduce the impact of those algorithm updates by getting the fundamentals of search engine optimisation correct. So here are 5 ecommerce SEO tips to make your website more Google-friendly:
ONE: Clear Navigation
Everybody has become so obsessed with being on the fabled first page of search results that we sometimes forget that, ultimately, websites are for human beings. Web crawlers may love your site, but if your human visitors can’t make sense of it or can’t complete their transactions easily and go to your competitors, it will be of little comfort. So remember that customers are your focus, and your website should provide them with a good experience.
From an SEO point of view, this should translate into clear and topic-based navigation which will be interpreted by all search engines as a well-planned site.
TWO: Optimised Content
Ecommerce websites provide powerful opportunities in terms of website optimisation, as shoppers are more likely to search for specific products and brands than stores, and with very targeted content, you will stand the best chance to draw traffic to you. So make sure you optimise all your pages, just keep it simple with unique meta data, relevant page headers, some useful product content information, and clean URLs for every page.
THREE: No Duplicate Content
Google is very tough on duplicate content, and this is why you need to make sure that your product descriptions are unique. It makes sense that you don’t want to see lots of search results pages coming up with all of the content. That’s a poor customer experience for people searching, which is why Google penalise sites with duplicate content pages.
So as time-consuming as it is, it is absolutely crucial that you write optimised, unique and interesting blurbs about each product, and resist the temptation to paste in the manufacturer’s information. That’s lazy, and it will definitely be seen as duplicate content by web crawlers which will make it very difficult for you to improve your rankings for terms relevant to that product. Worse, if your entire site is copied, then you will run the risk of your site being labelled as a spammy site, and have most of your pages removed from any search results by Google.
Likewise, as products can be listed under several categories, make sure that search engines recognise it for what it is rather than duplicate content by using a canonical tag in the head section of your primary web page. That’ll mean you only have one ‘master’ product page, which is perfectly acceptable.
FOUR: Rich Snippets
Displayed to the left of the organic search result, or in the right-hand column above the paid results (not yet in New Zealand), rich snippets provide extra information about a company such as special events, business overview, to which pictures and logos can be added. On a web page full of text, it grabs users’ attention and increases your chance of a click-through so get yourself some more traffic. Definitely worth doing. So go do it. Yesterday.
FIVE: Social Media
It is now well known that engaging with potential and existing customers through social media channels has a major impact on your ranking (especially Google Plus), so make sure that your online store’s URL features on your social media pages.
Without a physical store to attract customers, ecommerce businesses have an ever greater need to implement the intricacies of search engine optimisation, but with these simple and effective strategies, they can be both successful and reasonably immune to algorithms updates.