As Search is the number one driver of users to Google and other search engines, it is essential that eCommerce websites are optimized to provide an ideal user experience – well written product descriptions, beautifully done photography, honest customer reviews and searchable content that contains targeted eCommerce keywords. At TechIndia Software, our experts understand customer behavior and what drives them to buy and we use this knowledge to optimize eCommerce websites using a holistic combination of all business elements that include social media, website architecture,web design, networking and copywriting. Our on-page and off-page SEO strategies are designed to work on all ecommerce platforms and are customized to your exact needs, so that you start achieving results within a short period of time.
One of the most important tasks of SEO audit is to locate the most common technical issues that could be hindering your page ranking. Technical SEO is more reliable than non-technical SEO for page ranking. In fact, technical SEO is a vital step to go with before setting hands on link building. Here is a checklist to follow when you conduct an onsite technical audit so that you do not miss out the most important tasks.
Is there a site map?
A site map file on the website can help the search engines understand the structure of the site, the location of the pages, and give the right access to your site. Sitemaps are installed in the root directory. You can search for it in Screaming Frog or simply add sitemap.xml or sitemap.html in the browser. Search in the site map section of Google Search console. If there is none, create a new site map using Screaming Frog. Check if it has all 200 OK errors and upload it.
Check if robots.txt exists
Robots.txt will ensure the health of the site. This file can impact the performance of a website on search results. It must always be set at ‘disallow’ without forward slash to enable the user agents crawl the site. Go to Google Search Console and go to go to Crawl > robots.txt Tester to check if it is live on the site at present and it any edits are required to improve the file.
Look for crawl errors
GSC’s crawl errors section will help you know if there are any crawl errors on the site. Any technical website audit must locate and fix crawl errors on top priority. In Google Search Console, find out if there are any 400, 500 and server not found errors on the site. Such errors must be fixed.
Rectify Multiple URLs
Multiple URLs and for instance Capital Vs Lowercase URLs can make Google to consider two or more versions of the same page as the source of a single piece of content on the website. Sites that have severe URL issues can have different versions of the same URL occurring multiple times. To fix this, point the rel=canonical of all these URLs to one version that must be seen as the source of the content. Since several URLs of the same page can be confusing, consolidate all the different URLs into one single URL set that URL to the rel=canonical tag.
Look for SSL certificate
Sites with secure certificate are highly preferred by Google. Those sites having https:// in their domain necessarily have secure certificate. If a red X is seen next to https:// in a domain, it means the security certificate has some issues. One good idea to resolve all the possible errors with secure certificate, get a wildcard security certificate which can automatically resolve all the possible variations of https:// .
Correct the HTML errors and W3C validation
At W3.org, use the W3C validator to find out if there are HTML errors and fix them. Always use the right DOCTYPE that matches with the page language that the W3C validator analyzes. If this is not done, there will be errors all over the place.
Optimize the site for mobiles
Mobile optimization must be a top priority these days given the predominant use of mobiles for search. From 2019, Google has been saying all brand new web domains will have mobile-first indexing by default. Install user agent switcher for Google Chrome and check how your content loads on different mobile devices. All the videos on the pages must load well and be compatible with the smartphones used for browsing. The site should be scrollable on the smart device and the design must be responsive.
E-commerce link building can look like a big challenge. However, the benefits of this mission can never be underestimated. Here are a few tips to make your e-commerce link building feel like a breeze giving you visible results all along.
Educate your customers
Have an education section in your website that offers some guides and advanced resources about the products you deal with. When people feel empowered with these articles, they will be motivated to make a purchase. An education section in your site will also help establish yourself as an expert in your domain, motivating others to subscribe to your content. On top of that, if your business is also conducting research, the education section will provide you with a chance to showcase your research abilities. If your research turns out to be unique, you have more chances for other sites to link to your pages. The underline is that when your customers have access to as much information as possible, they will feel confident in themselves and also in your brand, which will put them in an advantageous position with you to do business. On top of everything, an education section in your website will help build your brand and also build links.
Unlinked brand mentions are a real opportunity
When you find any page mentioning just a word or phrase that could be linked contextually to any of your pages, deem it as an opportunity to contact the concerned site host to recommend a link insert. Especially in the realms of e-commerce, unlinked brand mentions can present an incredible link building opportunity as they assure an incomparable ROI. The way forward is simple for you. You just have to find a site that is ready for grabs and check with them if they would be willing to link to your site. For example, tools like Ahrefs are great venues to gather viable site opportunities rather very quickly. Such mentions can be something related to the theme related to your products, your products themselves, your company or your brand. Whatever be the kind of mention you come across, they are potential opportunities to explore link building. Among these types of mentions, retail mentions could be the most powerful option you can think of. For example, if your site features on Gucci coupon codes or Gucci products for example, you have landed on a connection to the most searched brands in the world.
Introduce discount coupons and coupon codes
Researches tell us that most people are drawn towards products that suggest them there is a deal. People feel they are making smart buys when they are made to feel they are paying less. Discounts are a great way to make people feel a kind of positive association with your brand and products. As suggested by Shopify, a good idea is to offer coupon codes on holidays. You can also send out personalized mails to customers on your contact list on their birthdays giving them some special discounts. Coupon codes are a great way to develop customer loyalty in new customers. Experiment with different kinds of discounts and track the purchase activities of your customers so that you can gain insights on what works best for you. Remember that the way you present the deal can also make a huge difference in facilitating conversions. Be innovative and think from the hat of your customer.
Give away free stuff
Free products have always worked well as one of the most effective marketing strategies. Free products have also delivered high success rates. When you can succeed in giving for free what people really love, you are landing on an easy way to get people excited about your product. This can also bring some publicity for you. You can organize giveaways on your own website or a social media channel. You can also do this by creating partnerships with bloggers and influencers. When you try giveaway with partnerships, you also land on a chance to benefit from the partner’s social followings. When you take the route of influencer or blogger, be strategic in your approach since those with a huge social media following send out hundreds of messages per day making your success with them a real challenge. But when used wisely, this route can fetch your good gains.
To do well in ecommerce, your site must be relevant and must be able to attract a large number of visitors to beat the competition. Use this checklist to see if your ecommerce website is good enough to compete with the others in your industry domain.
Is your site user friendly?
Good web designing goes by the understanding that simplicity is at the heart of a great website design. At the same time, you do not have to compromise with elegance while retaining simplicity. Ease of use is the most important characteristics expected of a website, especially an ecommerce site. Some of the aspects you need to focus to make your site user friendly are fast loading, enhanced search functions, autocomplete features, easy navigation, and easy to use forms.
Does your site do well on mobiles?
Today, over 50% of online transactions happen on mobiles. When your website follows a responsive design, its content can intuitively adapt to all devices ensuring user-friendliness across multiple viewing interfaces. Do you know that Walmart increased its sales by 98% after optimizing its site for mobiles? Mobile friendliness of your site can increase its rankings on search engines besides improving sales.
Have you posted impressive pictures and videos?
Shoppers of our times want to see the products in multiple angles and want to know how the product will come to use in different environments. They wish to zoom the pictures and experience the product. Adobe says that images that take too long to load will result in a 39% drop-off rate. Vanity could increase the checkouts by 24% by adding Instagram photos to its product pages. The photos you upload must be optimized for page load and also must be of high resolution.
Does your site publish user generated reviews?
Over 95% of the shoppers read through reviews and over 57% of customers will make a purchase only if the product has at least 4 stars. Sometimes, even negative reviews can also work positively. While most people tend to feel that products without negative reviews are censored, negative reviews often help to bestow an element of genuineness and transparency across the brand.
Do you provide special offers?
Special offers have become a standard marketing process for online selling. Make the best use of social media following, text and emails to allure your buyers by announcing some attractive offers that are irresistible. Providing offers not only improves your sales, it also enhances the SEO.
Wish lists can help boost up sales
Ecommerce sites that are making the best use of wish lists are generating a lot of sales and revenues. Having the customers bookmark the items they will buy in future is like having gold in the pocket. It is also a stimulus to contribute to remarketing efforts. Wish lists also help share the brand with new customers. When the shoppers share their wish lists with families and friends, it amounts to a free traffic that can bring in more social proof to a brand.
Listing related items is a great idea to promote sales in new channels
Phrases like ‘you might also like this’, can help induce the curiosity of the visitors and make use of their excitement to drive more sales on new category of items. This strategy can effectively introduce an element of stickiness to the ecommerce sites that marketers are in fact trying to achi9ve in several other ways. This is also an effort geared towards comparison shopping.
Have you included an FAQ section?
FAQs on products help build credibility of the products and the brand and also build the confidence of the buyer. FAQ sections contain information about product support, product returns, and other self-help related queries.
Do you engage with your customers socially?
Connecting with your customers on an emotional level can help build brand trust and advocacy. Social connections are crucially important these days. Link social profiles with your ecommerce site and also have some user generated content. When you engage the customers socially, you can create customers for a lifetime. Social media is a great avenue to connect with the buyers in an emotional level and also promote the authenticity of the brand.
On-page SEO is a great way to improve your ecommerce site’s ranking on the search engines to drive more sales and profits. Here is a list of items you must work on as part of a deep on-page SEO.
Optimize for keywords
If people have to find your product, you must use the right keywords. The right keywords can also make your site visible to the search engines. A good keyword strategy will address the needs of people as well as the search engines. Place the keywords in page headings, headers, sub-headers, product descriptions, paragraphs, alt text and image files in addition to URLs, and Meta titles.
Optimize the product pages
Optimizing the product pages to suit the user intent is a strategy you can never ignore. Evaluate your competitors’ websites. Note what kind of CTSs, characteristics of products, and colors they use for page designs. On your catalogue, remove products that are unavailable. The appearance of the category page must be attractive and compelling for the visitors to make a purchase.
Make the best use of blog
Blogging is a powerful tool today to drive sales on ecommerce sites. Blogs help deliver valuable information to the users and thereby gain their loyalty and develop strong relationships. When you incorporate popular keywords to the blog articles, they can also in turn attract more visits through search engines. Give product links in the blog content to products in your catalogue.
Meta title, description and H tags
Though short, Meta Title and description are meaningful elements. They provide a favorable exposure to the search engines as the searchers get to see them while looking for products. The Meta titles and descriptions you use must briefly summarize the subject of the concerned page in a way arousing the interest of the visitors to land there to check what is there. Also compile the header tags from SEO view point.
Reviews can be more important than you feel
Prospective customers always look for user reviews to understand the quality of the product. People tend to trust in what the other customers say since their views might be based on their personal experience of using the products. Studies show that customers trust online reviews as much as they trust the personal recommendations made by family and friends. Post a lot of positive reviews and also do not forget to include some negative reviews too so that the pages sound authentic and honest. Also, reviews provide fresh, original and consistent content for users as well as search engines. Since reviews will also contain keywords, they can be an additional bonus. Asking users to leave a review is a good marketing tactic.
Perform content audit
Content is a highly useful tool to capture the market. Ensure that your content is powerful and compelling. Analyze the content regularly and make necessary updates to see that it is relevant. During specific intervals, revise the content thoroughly. It is good to monitor the behavior of your target audience with regard to average reading time and comments. Gather the questions your customers frequently ask about your customer support and use all of them as topics for blogs.
Optimize images and videos
Image optimization can significantly improve your page loading speed. Choose the right format for images and videos. JPG is the best for photos and PNG and GIF are right formats for solid colors. Compress images using paid tools or online services. Using professional photographers to produce nice images is a great idea. Incorporate keywords into alt text. Use MP4 format for vides and compress all video files and reduce the length wherever possible. It is a good idea to upload videos to YouTube or Vimeo than serving them locally.
The most important task of an SEO professional is to check the usability and improve it in all possible ways. Find out the bounce rate, performance of the CTAs, most visited pages and the issues that affect the usability of the site like poor copy, too big or too small fonts, buttons not working, too many ads and others. Some of the most important aspects of user experience you must assess and improve are navigation, and internal linking. Users also get attracted to buy when you include sections like ‘Related products, FAQs, informative content, product and price comparisons, and product videos.
A sound content strategy helps increase conversions and enhance the brand image. Whether you are updating your existing content or would set your hands on creating new content for your ecommerce site, here are the points to focus on.
Content creators and content users
The first thing to work on is who will create the content. The content team must have a sharp eye for details in addition to possessing excellent skills in copywriting and editing. They must be able to locate the relevant information and then extract it and analyze it summarizing complex data and information in a clear, simple to understand and engaging way. An ideal content creator will be an adept equally in creativity and communication.
The content must also represent the interests of the product development, sales, operations and other functions in the organization. If your business is large, you can think of working with a content strategist. Depending on your budget and requirement, you can outsource content to freelancers or have an agency to provide bulk content. Content also includes topics like writing, graphics design, video editing and photography.
In crafting the content, go by the understanding of who your target audience is. The content should be tweaked according to who you are trying to connect with. The content must clearly state what problems of the users your products can solve. Ensure that each piece of your content can solve a need of the user like information or navigation or transaction
Invest in the power of technology
Emerging technologies like AI or machine learning can help your content development strategy in several ways. For years we have been using automations for taking care of repetitive tasks like competition research and keyword research. AI can also help now in prioritizing tasks and making decisions. Intelligent automation can help analyze the search data and also understand on-site customer behavior. It can help find out the content gaps in the journey of the customer and create relevant content to fill those gaps. Such a content can be targeted towards searchers who might display similar kind of behavior in future. The team working with technology must know your business goals and the knowledge of how technology can support developing a quality content that stands out and gives the best results.
Investing in the right processes
A scalable process is at the heart of a successful SEO and content creation strategy. Never give room for redundancy and conflict in your content generation. Clearly defining roles is the best way to ensure this. Talk about the permissions and approvals protocol that precedes content publishing. The schedule of meetings, the design of collaboration among the team members, communication portfolio and the editorial calendar must all be discussed clearly with the stakeholders involved in content creation.
Make the best use of Editorial Calendar which can provide a living guide to your content efforts. It is important to provide access to this to each member of the team. Google sheets can be a great choice for this. The different components of your editorial calendar the content ideas that have been already approved, the purpose of each piece of content, the channel to publish the given piece of content, channel information, information on who is responsible for the content creation, research information that is needed for each piece that will be published, supporting content like linking information, background and other information, CTAs, status updates, submission deadlines, status updates and notes on the progress of work, approvals needed and others.
It is a good idea to make one team member the owner of the calendar and this person will be responsible for updating the calendar while each piece of content is progressing across the different segments of the company.
Make a separate tab in your editorial calendar under the title ‘Content Inventory’. It is in the content inventory that you record the information about each piece of content including name or title, URL, topic, product category, dates of publication, and metrics that are important. Also, reflect on the possibilities to make use of the content that is already performing well with necessary updates rather than going for an entirely new content.