10 Ways to Optimize your Online Store
for Search Engines
An online store is not difficult to come by these days, but as many business owners quickly realize, successful e-commerce businesses take time and attention to maintain. Running an effective online store means more than having a good-looking website and good product. The success of an online store depends on a variety of factors including the product niche, brand visibility and even more importantly, how the store ranks in search engines.
As a business owner, your mission is to bring your business to life by attracting customers who care about your brand and value your products.
In recent years, there’s been a heavy emphasis on brands to get their marketing efforts inline with search engine optimization best practices. According to recent SEO data, nearly 96 percent of clicks on a Google search go to the first four items listed under a search. There are specific techniques you can implement to give your online store the best chance of achieving high search rankings.
An optimized online store can generate significant returns and help your brand and products rank higher in search engines and receive more traffic to your site. There’s a lot of information out there about ways to make your site more searchable and achieve higher rankings. I’ve narrowed it down to 9 ways to ensure your online store is not only SEO-ready but in the best position to make conversions and drive sales.
These steps may seem like basic information when it comes to optimizing your store, but if you’re not seeing the numbers you’re aiming for, it might be time to take a step back and audit your current strategy to assess which areas can use improvement to get your traffic and sales up.
1. Optimize your domain name
Do not take for granted the importance of an easily searchable domain name. If the brand is not well known, creating a domain name related to the product you are selling can make or break your store’s searchability. Clever names don’t always perform well on search engines, so be concise and clear with your name to give your brand the best chance of being found by search engines. If you’re passionate about your store’s name and have decided it’s essential to your brand, be sure that the rest of your store is properly optimized with the necessary keywords and topics that will lead people to your store.
2. Evaluate your Store Platform
If you do not see the results you want with your current store, it might be time to reassess the tools you are using to host the site. Take a comprehensive look at the platform you’re utilizing for your store and weigh it against other options in the market. There are dozens of tools catered to meet industry and niche-specific needs when it comes to your online store. Compare your current platform with other top e-commerce platforms to see if there is another option that may be a better fit for your product.
3. Include custom titles, URLs, and meta descriptions
It can be easy to overlook metadata when your store has dozens of products, but including appropriate tags and detailed meta descriptions can make a world of difference in the searchability of your site. Most platforms will allow you to customize the URL on every individual page. Use this opportunity to create a descriptive, custom URL for each product.
Having thorough meta-descriptions that accurately depict your products and include necessary keywords can make or break the searchability of your store.
4. Produce original descriptions
Don’t rely on graphics and imagery to do the bulk of the work describing a product. Writing short and compelling product descriptions helps search engines identify your product more quickly and paint a picture of your product to visitors. Avoid stuffing the description with keywords and make sure it sounds human and relatable to your target audience.
When writing a product description, focus on the ideal buyer. It helps to have a buyer persona already established. Putting a name, face and personality traits to your ideal buyer will help you better visualize who your ideal client is and make it that much easier to write a description that will resonate with them.
Use descriptors and offer solutions to common pain points that they can relate to their lives. Making sure the descriptions answer common questions will make them sound conversational and further engage your audience.
5. Research customer behavior to understand buying patterns
Search engine rankings are important, but can only get the customer to the site, not guarantee a sale. A lot of online retailers are unsure why their customers abandon their shopping parts without completing a purchase.
Understanding behaviors and buying patterns of shoppers can help them understand why visitors aren’t converting into paying customers. Creating a fully-optimized online store often requires running various tests and reports to identify gaps and implement changes to your sales process.
If you’re not already, begin tracking analytics on your site and creating consistent reports of the patterns users are taking on your website. Take note of where they click, how long they spend on each page, and at what point in the buying process they are jumping ship without completing the purchase.
6. Invest in content marketing
In a recent survey of marketers, 72 percent said relevant content creation is the most successful strategy when implementing SEO strategy. Writing blog content or working with contributors to create content about your product will make your store more searchable and generate a level of credibility for your brand.
When creating organic content for your site, make sure to use important keywords and meta descriptions and optimize your titles and backlinks to ensure prime searchability.
7. Use apps or tools to monitor your searchability
Apps like On Page SEO Checker can help you quickly measure your store’s searchability and monitor growth and traffic. Use this information to identify shortcomings as well as what content is working to drive traffic to your site.
There are also a number of tools that will allow you to effortlessly check the effectiveness of your metadata, image tags and site speed to identify if any of those factors are contributing to gaps in sales.
8. Utilize Sitemaps
An accurate and up to date sitemap will do most of the heavy lifting and explicitly outline to the search engine which pages it should pay attention to. Remember that Google ranks individual pages not just your site as a whole. While you won’t be penalized for NOT having a sitemap, for SEO purposes, sitemaps are essential at maximizing your rankings and increasing exposure to your site.
To make this process even more streamlined, most search engines, including Google, make it easy to submit your sitemap to the search engine directly.
9. Capture reviews and customer testimonials
Positive customer reviews can increase conversion rates by up to 4.6% and add another level of metadata and searchability to your side. A customer’s personal experience with your brand can create a level of trust that has a lot of selling power to compel unsure customers to make the purchase.
Potential users place a lot of value on the opinions of other users and customers before making a purchasing decision. A good testimonial can impact their decision more than the wording and aesthetics on your website. Last year, 92 percent of customers sited that they searched for customer reviews on a product before making their final purchase.
10. Optimize for Mobile
As of last year, mobile devices were the tool of choice for people accessing the internet both in their homes and on the go. Even if you’re doing everything right in optimizing your website, your search engine optimization efforts won’t be as meaningful in creating conversions if the site’s mobile interface creates a stressful shopping experience. Google has even made it known that their algorithm gives higher rank and priority to mobile-friendly websites.
Luckily, the prevalance of responsive websites and the ability to adapt your site for mobile is easier now than it ever has been, and doesn’t require much additional work for you as a business owner.
It’s common for online merchants to overlook the importance of SEO in their online stores when selling a high quantity of products. When done correctly, taking these steps to optimize your stores can produce exponential changes traffic and conversions. While it is a more involved process to make stores SEO optimized than it is for standard websites, the payoff makes the effort worth the time.