On-Page SEO for eCommerce websites
If you want to rank higher, engage users for longer periods of time, get more traffic, and convert leads into customers then you need to optimise each and every page for SEO.
On-page SEO refers to the practice of optimising individual web pages (in this case category and product pages) in order to get higher rankings and more relevant traffic in search engines.
That’s why it is imperative that you understand what on-page SEO is and learn how to optimise your site, but more importantly your category and product pages. These pages are very important to your eCommerce as they get the most traffic on your website.
There are a number of key factors that will allow you to optimise your category and product pages and these are listed below:
- Keyword Research
- Page Content
- User-Friendly URLs
- Meta Data
- Title Tag
- Meta Description
- Header Tags
- Multimedia Optimisation
- LSI Keywords
- Responsive Design
- Internal Links
- Outbound Links
- Social Media Sharing
Note that the above list won't guarantee the top spot, but it will most definitely help you climb up the rankings.
With that in mind, let's get started!
Keyword Research for On-Page SEO
Keyword research is a key factor when it comes to on-page SEO for eCommerce sites.
It is the practice SEO experts use to find the right terms or keywords that people use to find an answer to a query they submit to the search engines.
When optimising a page, you need to take into consideration the following statement.
The content you create should not only be optimised for people but also for search engines.
Therefore, you must optimise your pages with both people and search engines in mind.
Choosing one or the other isn’t adequate because other eCommerce owners will do both and when Google compares your site that has been optimised for either people or search engines to another which has been optimised for both, it is clear that your eCommerce site will rank lower.
In this article, we are not going to cover step by step how to conduct your keyword research for your eCommerce site as this has already been covered in detail in our keyword research guide for eCommerce sites.
Considering that you have researched and recorded the keywords you wish to rank for, we are going to move straight into our 2nd point.
Undoubtedly, there are 3 key factors that contribute to making the content of an eCommerce category or product page worthy of high rankings in the SERPs.
Therefore, attention must be paid to the following:
- Content-Length, Uniqueness, and Relevance
- Meta Data
No matter what you do, if the content of your page is irrelevant to what a user is searching for means that the user will just bounce off because what he sees on your eCommerce site doesn’t solve his query.
As such, Google will take into consideration the bounce rate and will think that your content is irrelevant to the search that the user did and as a result, it will rank you lower.
You should keep in mind that the more descriptive, unique, and relevant your product page is, the better it is for both customers and search engines.
As a customer, I always want to find out as much as possible about a product before purchasing it. This is also the case for most customers.
In fact, it is the same for Google. Consider Google as another customer who tries to understand what your product page is all about. The more unique and relevant content you provide, the easier and better it is for Google to understand and rank you accordingly.
Ideally, a total count of over 1000 words should be included in each and every product page. Also, it is recommended that you use your keyword about 5 times in the copy and should always aim to include it at least once within the first 100 words.
The more descriptive and more detailed a product page is, the better for both users and search engines is as it allows them to have a thorough understanding of the product.
*Note - considering that you may have hundreds or thousands of products, it may be both hard and time-consuming of a task. That’s why you should at least try to do this for your most important and profitable product pages first.
Create User-Friendly URLs
It’s a good practice to start from the top of a page and work towards the bottom. That is why we are starting our on-site SEO with the URL first.
A URL appears on the search engines and looks like in the screenshot below.
Naturally, eCommerce sites have longer URL links than a regular informational website. Simply because the products are usually within a subcategory which in turn is within a category.
For instance, you may find a product on Amazon with the following link: https://example.com/category/subcategory/productname.html and that is if you are optimising your site’s URLs.
That’s why when creating a new product page, you should also try and make SEO-friendly URLs.
Let’s set the following as an example so you can compare your URLs to this one:
For category pages, you need a 1 or 2-word descriptions.
Following the same process for subcategories the link will look something like this:
Finally, product pages must include your target keyword or keywords, separated by dashes.
Note: Some eCommerce sites prefer to exclude the category and subcategory in their links. This means that the URL looks like this:
This allows them to have shorter URLs and be more keyword dense. Even though this may not harm their rankings, it is recommended not to use this method.
SEO metadata is a term that refers to a web page’s title tag (aka page title) and meta description (aka page description) that appear on SERPs when a user submits a query and your website comes up as the answer to that query.
A title tag refers to an HTML element that specifies the title of a page and informs the search engines what a page is about.
Title tags or page titles are found on SERPs, web browsers, and social media. They are the headline of a given result as shown in the screenshot below.
A web page’s title tag should be precise, accurate, and relevant to a page’s content. This is a place where you definitely need to include your keyword as it tells the search engines what your page is about.
For on-page and eCommerce SEO, it is important to also include modifiers to get more traffic. Such words are listed below:
- Free Shipping
Modifiers are words that will increase your customers’ click-through rate as they are terms that people normally search for.
Note that you should only use one H1 which is your page’s main title. All other headings should be H2 or lower depending on their importance.
The meta description refers to an HTML tag that, for Google’s standards, should consist of approximately 155 characters (this often slightly changes) that summarises the content of a page as shown below.
Search engines display the meta description in SERPs when a user searches for a term that is included and usually targeted for in that description. This is why the meta description is very important for on-page SEO.
Again, the description must be relevant to the product that you are trying to sell. Aim to describe the product in a simple yet informative way while including magnet words that increase the click-through rates such as the following:
- Lowest price
- Free shipping
- Overnight shipping
- x% off discount
Magnet words, or aka power words, are very eye-catching to customers and increase the likelihood that someone will click-though and possible convert. Meta descriptions also allow you to use more words than title tags. This is how you can utilise long-tail keywords when and if needed.
Header tags or also known as h-tags are what you see in this blog as header lines that are numbered and make up the structure of this article.
I highly suggest you try and create a table of contents as the one that was created for this blog as shown below.
These tags are very important as they help visitors to scan through an entire blog really quickly and allows them to decide if the content of that page is relevant and worthy of their time. It also that helps you structure your page and helps visitors to read pieces of text in small readable chunks.
H-tags may not be as important as metadata or authoritative backlinks when it comes to SEO, but Google still pays attention to those.
Header tags sure have value and are a great place to add your keywords too.
That being said, you should not attempt to include your keyword in each and every header.
On-page SEO is important, but you should only include your keywords as you see fit. Don’t be spammy and overuse them.
Note that your keywords should feel and read in a natural way. Forced keyword usage (keyword stuffing) is not recommended.
Multimedia optimisation refers to the practice of improving imagery, audio, video, text, graphics, animation, etc. so that the content is not only engaging for the viewers but also optimised in terms of SEO and performance for the search engines.
Search engines do not have the ability to view images or videos. They have the ability to read images though. That is why they rely on the text that we provide them with to understand an image or video.
This is the reason why you may have heard many times to optimise your images’ alt attributes. The alt description is not only important to the search engines, but also to the visually impaired users who use screen readers, when internet connectivity is poor and images cannot load, or for other reasons that make search engines to display an image.
This is also a good place to include your targeted keywords in your product page but also gives you a chance to show up in Google image results. That is why you should also include an internal link in that image if possible. This will allow anyone who happens to view your image to visit your website just by clicking on your image.
Lastly, ensure that the image size and dimensions are not causing your site speed issues.
It’s a common mistake that people make. Using high-quality imagery is a good thing. However, if that is causing your site to slow down then I suggest you do something about it.
In any case, if you decide to invest in this, you should follow the practices listed below for better results.
- Formatting: choose png or gif for large areas of solid colours and jpg for photos.
- Compression: you can use to photoshop or any online image compression tools such as tinypng.
- Appeal: product images should be aesthetically pleasing, clear, and should be showing what a potential buyer needs to see to increase their likelihood of a conversion.
- SEO: include keywords in the alt description if possible. Don’t force it if it doesn’t make sense.
Image optimisation is an easy, yet smart way to invest your time in. It is one of the main ways you can increase your site’s speed, ranking and performance.
Likewise, similar rules apply to other multimedia elements we mentioned above.
When optimising video or animation for on-site SEO, pay particular attention to the following practices:
- Use MP4 formats which are known to produce the smallest file size which is key when it comes to a site’s performance.
- Choose the right file size based on the platform you are uploading the video to or the screen that is intended for.
- Compress files to the point that they don’t compromise when it comes to quality.
- Create short but engaging content. Get to the point and do not prolong.
- Upload your video or animation to video platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo and link from there instead of serving them locally as that would cause you some speed issues.
Remember that YouTube is also a search engine that specialises in video searches instead. YouTube gets huge amounts of traffic on a daily basis that you can also benefit from if utilised correctly.
LSI stands for latent semantic indexing keywords and in simple terms means synonyms, similar, or related terms to your target keywords
For instance, we searched for the term “eCommerce” and offered a list of suggestions with LSI keywords as seen in the screenshot below.
Using variants of a keyword not only will it help your article be more vocabulary rich and easier for the viewers to read but it also helps search engines to better understand the content on your web page.
Previously, the use of keyword density was important to search engines as that would allow them to understand what the topic was about.
Nowadays, search engine algorithms are smarter and their goal is to be able to understand a page’s overall topic instead.
That being said, you don’t necessarily need to overuse them for the sake of search engines.
Creating long and unique content that answers the users' query is far more effective than just adding LSI keywords everywhere.
Even though a responsive design doesn’t directly fall under on-page SEO, it is something that you should definitely know about as it is a part of SEO.
In 2015, Google started penalising sites that are not mobile-friendly. That’s because as time goes by, more and more people use mobile devices. Nowadays, over 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices and this number is expected to increase even more.
Not to mention that mobile-first indexing is prioritised over desktop indexing. This means that if your site is not mobile-friendly, you have lost the war before you have started the battle.
It is highly recommended that you use a responsive design for your eCommerce site as it improves user experience, increases traffic, and makes the overall site more professional as it is accessible from all devices.
Internal linking refers to the anchor links that guide a user from one page to another on the same website. Internal links help mainly with navigation and information hierarchy.
Such links indicate to search engines as well as users that the content you are linking to is good and relevant to what they are writing about. Readers often want a much more detailed description or explanation of a product, FAQs, user reviews, or product specs.
Internal links are something you can’t just decide on the spot. They are something you need to be conscious of in advance, especially if it is for your eCommerce site and your on-page SEO.
You should implement this practice if you aim to simplify on-site navigation for users and offer links to engaging content that is also related to the content they are interested in. This will benefit you in two different ways.
- It helps search engines to establish a hierarchy of your pages as well as it allows them to crawl and understand your content
- Increases the chances of users to spend more time on your site and view multiple products which may lead to more conversions.
For example, if a customer visits your website after clicking on a result from a product query but is not totally satisfied with the outcome, they will most likely just leave your site. That’s if you don’t offer any links to similar products that may be of interest to them. That’s why internal links are important when it comes to on-page SEO.
Note that internal links can also be added to images which get a high click rate when they are engaging.
Outbound links are links that direct you to a new page. They are also referred to as external links and usually are used to verify facts, link to studies, or simply point towards products or services.
They are quite important, primarily, to the search engines as it allows them to understand your page’s topic and also informs them that our page has some quality information on it.
Outbound links are also a white-hat SEO strategy that is liked by the search engines. It is a good practice and suggested to link to other websites with high authority that also reflect on you and whatever you are writing about.
You can’t be linking to sports websites while talking about cars. That doesn’t make sense in most cases and it will confuse the search engines in their attempt to understand your page.
If possible and as suits, try to include no more than 5 outbound links for every 1000 words. But again, if you are going to link to a site with low authority, bad reputation, and low trust, you may as well just skip this step as it will probably cause you more bad than good.
Social Media Sharing
Honestly, social media may not have a direct impact on SEO and your website’s ranking, but they do help in generating more traffic that can convert into more sales if your content is good.
Also, the more traffic you generate based on the quality of your content, the more likely you are to get more backlinks. Assuming your content is valuable, people and other website owners tend to link back to your product or blog which will potentially increase your domain authority and backlinks.
Adding social media sharing buttons such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. is a quick and easy thing to do that may directly increase your site’s traffic and may indirectly increase your rankings.
Giving the option to your customers to review your products is an easy way to provide your site's visitors with unbiased opinions of people who have already purchased your product.
These opinions tend to be very trustworthy and valuable to other potential buyers who are ready to buy and are just making some final checks before they convert.
Reviews are great when it comes to on-page SEO because they provide you with unique, consistent, and fresh content that can help you in two ways.
First, they help potential customers to better evaluate your products. Take for example the following screenshot of a review.
This person’s experience seems to have been a great one and that’s the reason she wrote this. Other potential customers are very likely to take it into consideration as it is an unbiased opinion.
Second, reviews also help search engines to better understand your product as they contain additional keywords.
How many times have you purchased a product from, let’s say, Amazon and then you received an email after a couple of days asking you to review the product?/p>
Asking users to make a review is for a lot of eCommerce site just another marketing goal. When you receive many reviews, it’s only a matter of finding the best ones, analysing them and highlighting their quality and quantity.
One of the best ways to get more reviews is through email marketing and easy to follow steps that allow your customers to leave a review. This is, however, another topic that we will not discuss any further as it deviates from our topic which is on-site SEO for eCommerce sites
On-page SEO is one of the main key SEO factors that can make or break your eCommerce site. It can help your business scale, improve your brand images, videos, attract more traffic and ultimately more conversions and sales.
On-page SEO includes a lot of subtopics that need to be implemented for optimum results. It easy time-consuming but if you invest adequate time and follow best practices then the reward is worth the while.
However, no matter how much you learn, how hard you try, and how well you implement everything. If your eCommerce website is not mobile-friendly or on par with today's standards, a lot of your hard work will be pointless.
That’s why you should start your journey by ensuring that your eCommerce site allows you to implement on-site SEO best practices and can easily scale as your business grows.
Check out the Aphix WebShop, an award-winning integrated eCommerce solution, that is fully responsive and can help you achieve your goals with as little effort as possible.