The Ultimate E-Commerce SEO Guide

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Sick of the low organic traffic on your e-commerce website? This e-commerce SEO guide will show you step-by-step what you can do when you don’t have a million dollars to invest.

E-Commerce SEO has a whole series of problems associated with it. There are lots of SEO experts who will tell you to try and rank for less competitive keywords.

That’s a really good idea.

But here’s the problem:

Even Amazon vendors are doing the exact same thing. The result is that there aren’t a lot of low-competition keywords lying around.

In this four-part E-Commerce SEO Guide, I am going to show you how you can work your way around the big brands to rank for competitive keywords.

Disclaimer: I am going to share a bunch of tools in this guide. I am affiliated to none of these products. The only reason I mention them is that they are really good. There are many alternative tools that you can use in most cases. But I genuinely recommend the ones I have mentioned here.

This is a really in-depth guide. So, maybe this Table of Contents will help:

Part A: The Basics of E-Commerce SEO

 The first part of this e-commerce SEO guide is made of the golden rules of Search Engine Optimization.

There are always going to be some basic things that you need to do in order to get started. The sad part is that most e-commerce websites don’t get the basics right or leverage these tactics to their fullest potential.

Chapter 1: Keyword Research

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You have great products and you read a ton of blogs that tell you how to market them. But somehow, it’s not working.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that Keyword Research for e-commerce SEO does not get executed well enough.

And yes, it needs to be done for each product.

The biggest problem is that most e-commerce SEO guides will tell you how to find easy keywords to rank for. But sometimes, that is just not possible.

Why? Because your competitors read Brian Dean’s blog too! Now they have taken some of the best keywords you can try to rank for. Even the easy ones.

Now, there are many different ways to approach keyword research for e-commerce SEO. I personally recommend using Ubersuggest, Wikipedia, and Amazon.

Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool that tells you the Search Volume of the keyword and the difficulty level for SEO and paid campaigns for that keyword.

If you would like to use some other keyword tools too, you can check out Robbie Richard’s post on the best keyword research tools for 2018. It’s really great.

My Process:

Step 1: Find the seed keyword for your product. For instance, let’s say that you are trying to rank for this product:

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This is a gold-colored tie. So, let’s plug in the keyword ‘gold tie’ into Ubersuggest and see what it spits out.

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As you can see, this is a pretty competitive keyword. Good news, though!

Check out the SERP Analysis column. The #1 listing is for Amazon. So, let’s head there!

Step 2: Check out your competition.

Type in ‘gold ties’ into Amazon and check out your competition.

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Just eyeballing it, you can follow this pattern:

 Brand Name + Gender + Solid Color + Size + Tie Color + Tie Type.

 Here’s how you can leverage this:

  1. Name the product in this exact pattern. In our case, it will become ‘KNotforSale Goldsmith Tie – Gold Pattern 3.5” Formal Tie for Men’.
  2. Your keywords for the product description are now:
    Men’s gold tie, gold formal tie for men, gold tie.
  3. Let’s take it one step further and include even the material (satin). So, our keywords are now:
    Men’s gold tie, gold formal tie for men, gold tie, satin formal necktie, satin gold tie.

(A quick search on Wikipedia will tell you that ties are also known as neckties.)

We now have a variety in our keywords. The problem is… these are all either hyper-competitive keywords or keywords with no search volume.

This means that you either have keywords where you can never rank high or keywords which absolutely no one is looking for.

So, how do we go about it?

Step 3: Check out your competition. I mean competitors that are not Amazon or Flipkart or other million-dollar ventures. How about ties.com? Let’s see what they have to say about gold ties.

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You can see their entire site structure right here along with the keywords that they are using. This will come in handy later on.

Here’s the problem, though – still the same keywords. The worst bit is – they are all fairly competitive keywords. (Of course, we ARE getting them from the existing competition!)

Does this mean that you give up? NO!

There are tons of ways to rank for the competitive keywords in any niche and that is the main objective of this blog.

Chapter 2: Title and Meta Tags

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The title and meta description to your page will make or break the deal. Don’t forget to use at least a couple of keywords in the title and meta description.

The purpose of the title and meta tags is to make your search results click-worthy.

Why is this important?

If your customers are clicking on your website instead of your competitors, what does that tell search engines like Google?
“Hey! Look, guys! People love this link. Let’s give it a higher ranking!”

Here are a few quick hacks that you can use to improve your Click-Through Rate significantly:

Use Click Bait such as:

  • Free Shipping.
  • X% Off On _____ Products.
  • Save Y% On _____.


Use Geo-Modifiers such as:

  • Free Shipping Within ______
  • Use Coupon Code X for ______ Locations
  • Buy the Best _______ Products in ______ Location.

Use Descriptive Modifiers such as:

  • Cheap ______ Products.
  • Buy the best _____.
  • Luxury ______ Products.
  • Great Selection of _______ at Affordable Prices.
  • Get the Best Deals On ______ Items.

A winning title and meta description can help you leap over the rest of your competition.

If you feel like you have too many pages, go to your Google Search Console and find the top three pages that get most links. Then head over to Google Analytics to find the three pages that get the most traffic. Lastly, list the top ten products that you want to start selling.

Start with these top sixteen pages. The rest will follow. Trust me, it’s well worth the effort.

Pro Tip: Make your products social media friendly. If you are using Yoast, head over to the Social Tab and set up clickable Social Cards for your products.

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If you don’t use WordPress, then I will recommend AnyImage. Using this nifty tool, you can create clickable social cards for literally any image and share it on social media right from their dashboard.

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The best part? You can get started for free!

Chapter 3: Product Descriptions

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Product descriptions in most e-commerce websites are seriously underused. Even a giant like eBay lost significant traffic just because of the thin content on their product pages.

What is Thin Content?


Here’s where things start to get very murky very fast. Everyone defines thin content in a different way and SEO experts generally depend on tools to tell them about it. In general, thin content is simply insufficient content. Yoast recommends a minimum of 300 words.

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On the other hand, if you use MarketMuse, you get different recommendations for different pages.

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I usually tell people to use different kinds of tools and go with what feels right.

The Problem Is:

Writing product descriptions is really dull, right? After the first description for a gold tie, what more can you really add to twenty-five other gold ties?

This is why started using the Expert Opinion Method. The Expert Opinion Method is a really simple 4-step process that will help you create the product description of your dreams.

What is the Expert Opinion Method?

The Expert Opinion Method is a way to engage with your customers and industry experts to gain valuable insight into your products.

Your e-commerce SEO strategy needs to be all about the customer. Using this method, you regain control over what is necessary.

Step 1:

Set up a basic product description with just the essentials. Product specifications, seller information, and company specifications. Use Yoast or WebpageFX Readability Tool to check readability.

Then head over to MarketMuse to get insights on what other people are doing. This is a freemium tool that you can use to get content ideas, ideal content length, and FAQs that you can answer in the content.

You do not have to answer all the related questions or cover all the suggested topics in one product description. Just make sure that you pass their Content Quality Score.

 

Step 2:

Now it is time to start building your perfect product description. You know who has a great in-depth knowledge of your product? Influencers, affiliate marketers, and bloggers.

Shoot them a mail ask them to offer insight as to what kind of people will use this type of product and what their key concerns are. Make sure to reward and incentivize them for them to impart their wisdom.

 

Step 3:

Create custom sections to incorporate all that you have learned from different people into awesome product descriptions that are well over 1000 words long by now.

 You can use plugins like Custom Product Tabs for WooCommerce or WooCommerce Extra Product Options to create custom sections for your content.

 

Step 4:

Boost your content further using reviews. Tie up with the affiliate marketers and tell them that in order to be an affiliate, they must review the product themselves.

Send them a 100% off coupon and get them to place the order on the site and leave a review. Now you have a lot of content on your product pages, reviews from verified buyers, and a bunch of affiliate marketers eager to sell your product for you.

If you don’t want to get into the whole process of affiliates and share your profits, you can actually go to conferences and meets and get prospective buyers to do the exact same thing. This way you get to know exactly what your prospects want to be sold.

 

The best part about this method is that you do a lot of things at the same time:

  • You set up influencer and affiliate networks.
  • You get an expert opinion on content that converts from people who make a living off making content that converts.
  • You have more than enough content to go around.
  • You spread the word about your products much faster.

 I know what you’re thinking. 

“This sounds like a lot of effort, though! Is it really worth it?”

 Absolutely! Here’s why:

Ever since the Panda Update by Google, thin content is a big no-no if you ever want to get good rankings for your e-commerce website.

Also, if you are competing with giants, you need to make sure that your traffic is absolutely delighted with your content. So, you NEED custom content for each product.

Another huge problem that this solves is the duplicate content issue. Sometimes plugins can cause some severe issues with duplicate content and those need to be dealt with separately.

But for the most part, this is going to help you get past the duplicate content issues from similar products.

Lately, Google has shifted its focus a lot from traditional SEO factors to User Signals. So, using this method, you can convince Google to send a ton of traffic your way and each time a user leaves delighted, you tend to get a bump in the SERP rankings.

Now, just getting traffic to your website isn’t enough, though. You need to focus much more on providing a truly awesome experience for your customers and online visitors.

Keep reading to find out more about optimizing your customer experience metrics.

The goal isn’t to just generate a huge amount of traffic. The goal is to make a ton of sales.

Chapter 4: Product URLs

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What is a User-Friendly URL?

The URLs to your product pages are meant to tell your customers and the search engines more your product.

So, a URL like this: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/soundstream-h2go-bluetooth-speaker/8q2b84k9x4pf/4n0n?activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab is not the best idea for an e-commerce store.

It is ridiculously long, and it has a LOT of junk that makes no sense to the user. Seriously, “8q2b84k9x4pf/4n0n” – what does that even mean?

Ideally, the product pages of an e-commerce website should have a URL structure like this:

https://www.mystore.com/product-category/product-name/

Why? Simply because it’s short, simple, and descriptive. It tells both the user and the search engine what your page contains. In most cases, you will probably include the target keyword in the URL as well for the same reason.

Now, a couple of things are important to note:

  1. An e-commerce website needs to have the ‘https’ in its URL. That’s called the SSL Certificate and it stands for the security and privacy of your online customers.
  2. The site architecture of Product Category> Products is difficult to achieve. Particularly for bigger e-commerce websites and this makes e-commerce SEO a bit challenging. We’ll deal with this problem in just a minute.

For now, let us take a closer look at what we can do to fix the basic URL structure issues.

Now, you can go through the entire website and fix the entire architecture of URLs manually. This is time-consuming, but can actually help a lot.

In WordPress, you can set up the permalinks right from the dashboard.

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Go to Settings > Permalinks > Product Permalinks > Custom Base and use /product/%product_cat%/.

This should sort out most of your problems.

If you are not using WordPress, it is best to consult a professional SEO before tinkering with the URL structure. But just in case you are wondering:

What is an SEO-Friendly URL?

SEO-friendly URLs are URL structures that contribute contextually towards the content of your web page.

Here are some things that you never include in an SEO-friendly URL:

  • Avoid dynamic URLs like https://www.knotforsale.in/?v=c86ee0d9d7ed that seem confusing. You can fix this using this free tool by Generate It as long as you are using an Apache Server.
  • Use hashes(#) in your URLs only when essential.
  • Avoid uppercase characters. (A, B, C, … )
  • Don’t include numbers unless specifying a model or version number.
  • Do not use pagination URLs for normal pages.

The next thing you need to do right away is to install an SSL Certificate.

Why are SSL Certificates Important for SEO?

Here’s what happens when you have no SSL Certificate installed:

Google Chrome warns all its users that your site is Not Secure by displaying it in the URL bar. The second a customer sees that sign, they flee like someone lit their house on fire.

What is even worse is the fact that hackers can easily break into your website’s backend and clean out sensitive information about your customers that your website stores.

These 7 GIFs perfectly describe an HTTP ecommerce site in 2019. Check them out, they are hilarious (Especially GIFs #2 and #4)!

What Can You Do To Install the SSL Certificate Right Away?

Head over to Let’s Encrypt to get a free SSL Certificate issued and ask your hosting service for instructions to install them.

Some hosting services like FastComet come with a Let’s Encrypt SSL Certificate already issued. There are detailed instructions on every web hosting service website for installing the SSL Certificate the right way.

Fixing your URL structure can actually help you retain up to 12% more traffic in my experience. If you haven’t already, get it done now.

Chapter 5: User Experience

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User experience is what truly counts on an e-commerce website. If you aren’t optimizing for the best UX practices in the industry, then your users are simply going to keep bouncing.

 

How You Can Improve Your UX?

One of the fundamental rules of UX is to make everything simple. Don’t make your users think. Make them buy!

The rule of thumb is to set up a site architecture where your users know instantly where they are by just looking at the URL.

The Problem Is:

It can be insanely difficult to accomplish this on a big website. So, my advice is to get this done as quickly as possible because chances are that you will be adding more pages and products soon.

What Can You Do About It?

There are four main parts of the Site Architecture that you can update and tweak to perfect your results:

Design: The first thing that you need to pay attention to is whether or not the website is attractive enough to retain your users.

What are the things that you are missing? What elements do you need to add? Here’s how you can find out and fix it:

You can use Optimizely to load a page and instantly create new versions of it with a few clicks. They also offer a 30-day free trial if you are on the fence.

You can also use Optimal Workshop for a bunch of really cool features for usability testing.

In general, try to at least make the ‘Cart’ and ‘Buy Now’ buttons very prominent. This blog on HubSpot by Brittany Leaning will give you some excellent ideas to play around with.

Flow: Once a visitor lands on a particular page on your website, where do they go to next? Are you serving them any error pages or broken links?

How easy is it to get to the checkout page? How long do they stay on your page?

If you have an e-commerce website, chances are that you will be deleting a LOT of pages or tweaking their URLs pretty frequently. These changes will land your visitors on 404 pages – a page that instantly turns all your customers off.

One of the best ways to handle error pages is by creating a custom error page. Check out this blog on brilliantly designed 404 pages by Creative Bloq.

You can also redirect the users to other pages using a permanent or temporary redirect but this is can be a horrible idea for e-commerce websites.

Broken links are incredibly frustrating and can be really confusing for users and search engines alike.

In the case of Broken Links, I recommend using a free tool like Screaming Frog to find them all and fix them one-by-one.

You can find a detailed tutorial by Screaming Frog on how to find and fix broken links.

This simple thing can make your users very happy and we all know what that means, right?

Clicks: What are your users clicking on the most?

Are they going for the ‘Add to Cart’? Are they going to the checkout directly? Are they browsing more products? Are they going for your blog?

Try UsabilityHub and sign up for their First Click Tests. By knowing where on your webpage your users are clicking, you get a better measure of what you can do to fix things.

You can also use Crazy Egg to find out where your visitors are going and why they are leaving your website.

Optimizing for clicks makes it incredibly simple to convert a genuinely interested lead. It can also retain the average visitor for a much longer time on your website.

Also, make sure that everything important on your e-commerce website is less than three clicks away.

Again, this is challenging for most e-commerce SEO projects but hard work can result in much better branding and sales.

Sales: Once a visitor starts his/her buyer journey on your website, how easy is it make that purchase?

Every time you add a page in between, your bounce rates and cart abandonment go up.

In fact, according to this infographic by Baymard, 28% of all abandoned carts are due to a lengthy or complicated checkout process:

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So, what can you do about it?

Try using Stripe as a payment gateway. The advantage with using Stripe is that the checkout page is clean, compact, and brief. This can help a lot with your conversions by making the buying process simple.

Remove all unnecessary pages in the buyer’s journey.

Chapter 6: Site Speed

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This is where it starts to get slightly technical. If you are using a WordPress e-commerce website, there are two plugins that you can use to improve your site speed.

But first:

Why is Site Speed Even Important?

Let’s take a quick look at some shocking stats in Sherice Jacob’s guest post on Neil Patel’s website:

  1. Your website taking more than 3 seconds to load = 40% of people leaving the website.
  2. A single second delay in page response = 7% reduction in conversions.
  3. Slow website = 79% web shoppers never returning + 44% of them telling friends about their poor experience.

(Sources: akamai.com, gomez.com)

Just imagine the damage a slow loading website could do to your sales and your reputation!

What Can You Do to Fix It?

As I said, if you are using a WordPress website, these two plugins will fix most of your issues:

WP Smush is a freemium plugin that allows you to compress and optimize your images to reduce load time drastically.

The free version works just fine but you can only optimize up to 50 images at a time. If you have an e-commerce website, the premium version is well worth the money.

WP FastestCache is also another freemium plugin that allows you to leverage a browser cache.

The pro version also comes with a built-in CDN and minification software to minify HTML, Javascript, and CSS for even faster delivery. You can even set up lazyloading for an even better experience.

Using these plugins, you can solve almost all of your issues with site speed. I also recommend using GZip compression to compress your HTML size.

If you are not using WordPress, though, you are in for a rough ride!

Thankfully, there are some tools that you can use to minimize the effort such as GTMetrix, Pingdom, Google PageSpeed Insights, and Web Page Test.

You can also use Uptrends for a great dashboard of website speed tools. You can test your website’s performance using different parameters such as location, screen resolution, device type, browser, and even internet speeds!

Using the test results, you can optimize your website accordingly.

Here’s what I personally recommend:

  • Get better hosting services.
  • Start using a CDN for pocket-friendly solutions.
  • Minify your HTML, Javascript, and CSS files.
  • Reduce the number of resource requests.
  • Delete unnecessary pages.
  • Optimize your images.

I know that it sounds like a lot of work, but some of these take very little time to set up.

Chapter 7: Rich Snippets

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Rich Snippets are all the rage right now and although there is no proven connection to better SEO, there are no harmful side-effects. In fact, if done right, you could increase a lot of traffic to your website.

What Are Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets are small snippets from your web content that tell both the users and the search engines more about your content.

Using Structured Data to create Rich Snippets can create highly clickable links to your website when they appear in the Search Engine Results Page.

Structured Data is just a piece of code that tells Search Engines everything about your website. The happy side-effects of implementing Structured Data are Rich Snippets, Featured Snippets, and Knowledge Graphs.

Now, for any ecommerce website, the most important outcome can be Rich Snippets that improve your organic Click-Through Rate (CTR). A high CTR will automatically improve your search rankings.

Where Do You Sign Up?

Not so fast! Rich Snippets sound amazing but they require some work and there is no guarantee that it will improve your rankings.

So, why even mention them? Consider the following link:

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Now, consider this one:

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Which one do you think a customer is more likely to click on? Obviously, the one with the fancy star rating.

Of course, this is a somewhat confusing picture. The one with the rich snippet is a gold bow tie and not a gold necktie.

Which brings us to why this is a great idea:

Even your biggest nemesis, a.k.a. Amazon, does not have rich snippets for the gold tie!

Can you say opportunity?

Seriously, Where Do You Start?

Start with Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. This is a free tool by Google to help you add Structured Data for Rich Snippets.

You enter your URL, Tag Data on your website to generate the HTML Code, and get the HTML code required for your Rich Snippet!

It’s that simple.

You can also manually update the data if you want or need.

Here’s where it starts getting technical. You get two kinds of Structured Data from Google’s tool: JSON-LD and Microdata.

You can pick either, but I usually recommend using JSON-LD markup because the code is a lot smaller. Fewer lines of code means better load speed, so why not?

 You have the code, now. What do you do next? If you have an e-commerce website that is built from scratch, your developer will know where to use the code. If you are working with WordPress, follow along!

Step 1: Go to your WordPress backend and edit the page you want to add the code to.

Step 2: Scroll down till you reach ‘Custom Fields’ and click on ‘Enter New’.

Step 3: Name this field ‘schemamarkup’ and add your code to it.

Step 4: Click ‘Add Custom Field’ and then click on ‘Update’.

Step 5: Go to your ‘header.php’ file and insert the following code to it before the closing </head> tag:

  1. <?php
  2. $schemamarkup = get_post_meta(get_the_ID(), ‘schemamarkup’, true);
  3. if(!empty($schemamarkup)) {
  4. echo $schemamarkup;
  5. }
  6. ?>

Step 6: Click on ‘Save’.

Now, every time you serve a page, your structured data is loaded too.

Remember to head over to the Structured Data Testing Tool to check if everything is working properly.

That’s all! Once you have this done for your website, you will get even more traffic from organic search results.


Pro Tip: If this seems like too much to do, you can always install a plugin and get the basic Schema for your website. It is not as customizable, but it can certainly get the job done much faster.

Chapter 8: Social Media and Image Optimization

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One of the most important marketing channels for an e-commerce website is Social Media.

Social Media links rarely contribute to e-commerce SEO (or any kind of SEO) directly. So, why should you do it? Three words – Google’s Possum Update.

What is the Possum Update?

The Possum Update is a filter that Google set in place to ‘filter out’ some local search results.

Google Local Search Results don’t always show all the businesses in the same area optimizing for the same keyword.

This does not mean that your Google My Business listing has been deactivated. It is just ‘playing possum’.

It is not even a penalty. This is just Google filtering you out saying that you are not really that important.

When people zoom into the map, your business listing will pop up. But this can lose a lot of potential customers because they see your competition before you.

What Does this Have to Do With Social Media?

The basic point behind the Possum filter is that Google will only show the reputable results first because it knows that people already love them.

So, how do you overcome that? It’s simple – better branding. If you are a brand as opposed to just another website, Google will prioritize your e-commerce store.

The simplest way to improve your brand signals is by improving your brand’s Social Media presence.

I am not suggesting that Social Media alone will help you rank faster in local search results. You need to support your listing with strong backlinks and good content.

Now, Local SEO is really a completely different ball game. Check out our Local SEO Guide for 2019 to understand what you can do to boost your local traffic. But a strong social media presence will get you there much faster.

So, what should you do? And which Social Media sites should you target?

Here’s a Quick List to Get You Started:

  • Facebook and Instagram are a must for all businesses.
  • Pinterest and Tumblr (although not technically Social Media sites) are great places to promote your site with visual content.
  • Twitter is great for branding and awareness.
  • LinkedIn is great for B2B marketing.

Start off by selecting your business priorities. Is it B2B or B2C? Depending on your business needs, set up at least three Social Media accounts.

Since most e-commerce SEO relies heavily on visual content, you need to optimize your images next.

Why Should We Optimize Images for an E-Commerce Website?

Images are one of the most practical tools for explaining a product online. No matter what kind of ecommerce website you own, you definitely need to optimize images for web content.

Optimized product images bring in a lot of traffic from Image Search Results. Also, if you are ranking for Image Searches, you get a definite uptick in your Organic SEO because of the same traffic.

The thing is, like everything else, you need to put in the effort to optimize your images.

Here are the main reasons why:

  • Rank in Google Image Searches: The  real estate in Image Searches is nowhere nearly as crowded as the Organic SERPs. Sure, there is a lot of competition. But you also get easy exposure. Also, if you have great custom images, bloggers and journalists will pick it up and leave a juicy backlink!
  • Reduce Website Load-time: People hate slow-loading websites. Reducing the file size of the images on your website can significantly improve load speed and reduce your bounce rates.
  • Improve Dwell Time: Optimized images can boost a visitor’s dwell time and give you a better chance to convert. The Dwell Time is the average duration for which a visitor stays on a page on the website.
  • Improve Image Shareability: Relevant and SEO-friendly images make your content shareable across multiple platforms. This alone can make your Click-Through Rates skyrocket.

Image captions are read 300% more times on average than the body copy itself. (Source: KissMetrics)

Images account for 9% of search results according to the Featured SERPs at MozCast.com on 11/30/2018.

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What Can You Do?

It probably sounds great in your head when you think of SEO friendly images and a ton of traffic.

But you are probably wondering how to optimize images for web searches. These eight awesome tips that you can use right now will help you get started:

Image Dimension Optimization

According to this study by Stone Temple, 55% of searches come from mobile users. Google has introduced a mobile-first index to make sure that everyone pays attention to mobile SEO as well.

So, make sure that your images are the right size across all your devices.

Image Compression by Deleting EXIF Data

You can compress your images to reduce file size. For instance, you can delete the EXIF data in your images to trim down the file size.

EXIF data contains metadata embedded in the image such as Geolocation, MakerNote data, and Time formats. While these lend insight and relevancy to the image, they do not have to be embedded in the image itself.

You can use Structured Data and image sitemaps to submit that information to Search Engines instead.

Image File Name Optimization

Image optimization does not end at optimizing just the file size and dimensions.

One of the primary aspects of image SEO is to optimize for relevancy and context. Imagine an image file that is named “IMG-108-099”. An auto-generated file name like that tells a search engine nothing about the image.

If a Search Engine does not understand what the image is about, they have no clue as to how they should rank it.

Give your images descriptive names instead, like “The Goldsmith Tie – Gold and Black Tie.”

Image Alt Tag Optimization

Stuffing in random keywords into the image alt tag is not going to cut it.

The image Alt-tag is meant to serve as a text alternative to the image for Search Engines to interpret. Also, in case the image is not loaded, the alt tag will be served to your users instead.

Not optimizing the image alt tags can leave Search Engines, and ultimately your users, very lost.

Image Captions

Captions or Image Texts are a big SEO factor. Captions are shown to the user and can be used to tell a story that increases the impact of the image.

Using text effectively right underneath the image can really improve the UX of the site.

Dedicated Image Sitemap

A Sitemap tells a Search Engine where a particular resource is located on a website.

Using an image sitemap improves indexability and makes it simpler to optimize images for website crawling.

The sitemap includes XML tags that tell Search Engines everything about the image – file type, context, caption, title, location, and more.

The image sitemap helps you avoid duplicate image issues. It can also help index images hidden by Javascript forms.

The Good News

Optimizing your images can help you with Social Media and Email Campaigns too. This is a neat trick that allows you to leverage a lot of juice towards your product pages.

The best part? Most of these can be handled by your graphic designers and photographers if you just tell them what you need!

Part B: Improve Your User Base

You could have the world’s best products on your e-commerce website. But without a good user base, it won’t mean a thing.

The best you could probably get is a couple of sales before you start investing a lot in product inventory hoping that more people will buy. 

There is absolutely no need to worry! Start leveraging the power of your Social Media accounts to drive a ton more traffic towards your website.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Wait, why is Social Media a part of e-commerce SEO? Shouldn’t it be part of Social Media Marketing?”

Ideally, yes. But e-commerce SEO largely hinges on how many conversions you can bring about. To generate traffic, you need to leverage Social Media platforms to help out with your e-commerce SEO.

Chapter 1: The Social Media Calendar

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Planning ahead is one of the best tools for Social Media Success. Most Social Media sites are highly dynamic and involve a lot of user interaction on the fly.

So, planning your Social Media content ahead of time and automating the process will help you free up more time to spend with your contacts.

This is a Crucial Mistake that Most Social Media Marketers Make:

  • Create awesome content.
  • Automate posts and feeds.
  • Stop interacting with the contacts.

No! Stop doing this! Even if you have awesome content, the posts that get the most interactions are personal ones.

The point behind automating your Social Media should be to free up more time to spend with your contacts.

Imagine This Scenario:

Person A: Shares a ton of content but is never available to talk to you. The few times that you have interacted with A, they start making pitches to you.

Person B: Shares content on a schedule and spends a lot of time interacting with you and getting to know your problems.

Whom do you trust more? Of course, it is always going to be Person B. When it finally comes to buying the product, you will always trust B over A.

Social Media is all about developing a brand and one of the fundamental rules of good branding is being there for your target audience.

How Can We Automate Social Media Content for an E-Commerce Website?

Automating Social Media content comes in two parts – setting up a Social Media Calendar and finding the right set of tools to help you automate everything.

Setting up a Social Media Calendar is pretty simple. In fact, all you need to set it up is a spreadsheet like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.

Here’s a free sample Social Media calendar to get you started. All you have to do here is fill it up with your own events and ideas.

Not sure what events to start with? Don’t worry, There is a whole list of content ideas included in the calendar for you to choose from!

Next up, you need to create the necessary content according to the calendar. My advice is set to have the content ready at least a week in advance so that you have time to tweak it and set up the automation tools.

What Tools Can You Use to Automate Social Media Posting?

One of the most popular tools for social media posting is Buffer. Buffer has freemium tools to automate, engage, and analyze your social media activities.

If you are using Buffer, you can pair it up with PromoRepublic – a tool that comes up with great content for your Buffer account and adds it to your Buffer queue directly. It’s completely free and all you need is a Buffer account.

They also just launched a Story Creator for Social Story posts.

Another great tool for Social Media Automation is Socialhoox. They have a ton of awesome features and they have a lifetime free package! Even their premium packages are pretty affordable.

Klear offers a bunch of really great tools to uncover and connect to influencers in almost any space across multiple social media platforms. It even tells you how much influence these people hold and how friendly they are known to be.

If you are looking for a simple tool to convert your Social Media traffic insights into actual posts, SumAll does a pretty neat job. It has a lot of really cool automated post ideas that you can use for free.

One of the most interesting ideas is that SumAll allows you to set up automated thank you posts to your most active contacts every week based on real metrics.

The funniest thing is that this post actually increases your engagement even more with that contact!

Another way to get a ton of Social Media followers is to use Pressboard. Pressboard lets you sign up for free and post your content on some of the most influential media publications.

You can sponsor different publishers to promote your content from one dashboard. The only problem is that they are limited to the US and Canada only.

Using these tools, you can generate a massive social media following within a very short span of time. But if you are just starting out or you blew all your money on inventory, buying premium tools can be a real pain.

So, what can you do to drive more sales, increase your brand value, and improve Public Relations without spending a huge sum of money? You can use the Review Reindeer Method!

Chapter 2: The Review Reindeer Method

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Just think about Christmas – the two things that absolutely need to be there are St. Nick and the Reindeer.

This Christmas, use this method to be the St. Nick and let your existing buyers be the Reindeer that pulls your sales up into the starry sky!

How? By following a simple 3-step method that guarantees better conversions.

What is the Review Reindeer Method?

Short answer – it is an easy three-step process to leverage your customer reviews and land more traffic and sales. The best part is that it requires zero investment.

What Three Steps are We Talking About?

Here they are:

Step 1: Be St. Nick and send your existing buyers a gift certificate in the mail and ask them to leave reviews for the stuff that they bought from you.

Step 2: Publish the reviews from your buyers on Social Media and really spread the word about it through thank you tweets, Facebook group shares, and any other Social Media channel that you are currently using.

Step 3: Tell your online audience about three amazing products that you have a limited supply of that is now up for a discounted price for a limited time. If you sell things from different brands, upsell items from the brands where you just got customer reviews. If you only sell your own products, pick any three that you like!

The idea behind this method is simple – show social proof on social media, improve your brand image, and make more sales.

Why Does The Review Reindeer Method Work?

First of all, everyone benefits from this method – your loyal customers feel important and cherished, you get valuable consumer feedback, and your prospects get a sweet deal.

Also, engaged customers are more likely to buy again. In fact, personalizing the entire Social Media process makes your consumers shop MORE than thrice as frequently with you! (Source)

Don’t forget – the gift certificates that you sent out? Chances are that your existing buyers will use them during the festive season.

You can even keep sending these people some products on their wishlist or their abandoned carts and give them a small nudge to buy. Most abandoned carts and wish lists contain items that your customer already wants. See how personal that feels?

The Review Reindeer Method is actually not a novel idea. It is based on things that marketers have been doing for ages. Show your customers a shiny stat and then quickly lead them to your product so that their minds associate these two things.

This simple method can drive a quick boost in sales just before a holiday like Christmas. The best part? You can keep reusing this tactic to keep getting more people engaged and more people buying without investing any money at all! You can use this for any holiday or occassion as long as you remember to adjust for the theme.

The Bottom Line

Growing an ecommerce website does not have to be an expensive process. Most of the investment is often just hard work. Most of these tools and methods are either free or very affordable. The biggest thing that you need to focus on is your user base.

Part C: Buyer Personas

How can you personalize your customer’s buying experience without knowing what they like or dislike? Now, for any e-commerce website, that is a ton of data to consider. Then you have to put that data to good use.

Is there a better way? Yes, there is. Some e-commerce websites create pre-defined buyer personas while others do it on the fly with real data.

My opinion? Do both! Start with a basic idea of who you think will buy your products. Then keep tweaking it based on real data.

Chapter 1: The Initial Draft

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What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal buyer drafted from real data. Knowing exactly whom to sell to plays a lot into your e-commerce SEO. Your product or service is not meant for every person out there.

By creating buyer personas, you can get in front of people who definitely need your product or service. This way, you don’t create a mountain of bad reviews from customers who are never going to like your product.  

The basic buyer personas that you will create has to integrate with your marketing methods and content. So, it is a good practice to give buyer personas specific names and treat them as real people.

Getting back to the gold tie example, the basic buyer personas I would draft based on gut instinct alone are:

Overachiever Pandey: The type of guy who has always excelled at everything and has a cushy job in an MNC. He is likely ambitious and likes the finer things in life. And he definitely wears a tie.

Yes Boss Bobby: You know the one – the boss’ best friend. You can bet that he will be wearing a tie and telling his boss about it.

Valentine Veronica: The woman who is always buying nice things for her man in the futile attempt to make him look less like a caveman. She would definitely gift her man a tie!

See how fun and easy this is? Using these personas, you can unify your departments to provide a seamless sale. After all, everyone in your office knows the buyer!

Is It All Just Guesswork?

No! That is just the starting point. Buyer Personas are usually drafted through guesswork depending on how well you know the product and the target customers. After that, you fine-tune it using consumer data.

There are lots of ways you can get intelligible consumer data. One of the best places to start is by going back to the Expert Opinion Method.

By reaching out to people who know about your products, you will get a better measure of who is buying them.

But that alone is not enough. Setup Google Analytics to understand from where you are getting your traffic. Getting geo-location data will help you narrow down your marketing spends by a significant margin.

Set up Lead Quizzes to create fun and interactive quizzes for your customers. You can get them to submit their email address and much more. In fact, you can even generate instant product recommendations based on what they like!

You can also use Apester as a free alternative to get started.

Now that you have data to get started with, what do you do?

If you have downloaded our Social Media calendar, you will find a sheet on Buyer Personas. You will also notice that it has key target demographics to consider. If you feel like adding more data points, just go right ahead and edit the spreadsheet.

Pro Tip: Include as many people as you can in drafting the Buyer Personas. The more diverse your data, the more realistic your personas will be.

Get Different Departments Involved

The most important reason to create buyer personas is to streamline all your departments. So, of course, involving different departments can be a wise decision.

Each department will have questions about the customer that can be used to refine your buyer personas.

 For instance, the marketing team will have questions such as:

  • What kind of language, tone, and imagery is the customer most familiar with?
  • How does the persona frame their problems and what keywords do they use?
  • Where does the persona seek help – forums, search engines, friends and family?
  • What channels of communication does the persona use most often?

The questions by the marketing team will help you create and position content that appeals to your ideal customer.

The Sales Team will have questions such as: 

  • How important are the products to the persona?
  • How urgently does the persona need the product?
  • How many people are involved in the purchasing decision besides the persona?
  • What is the ideal length of the sales process?
  • Does the persona consider the pricing of the product to be fair, average, or expensive?

All these questions help you create efficient sales strategies, personalize the sales process, and create a benchmark for future sales.

The Customer Service Team will also have questions such as:

  • What has to happen for the persona to be completely satisfied?
  • Which aspects of the product does the persona find most confusing?
  • Which aspects of the product does the persona find most appealing?
  • What has to happen to make the persona happy enough to recommend your product to other people?
  • What makes them so upset that they tell other people NOT to buy the product?

These questions will help you deliver a solid user experience that encourages your customers to recommend your products to more people. This will create a lot more traffic without wasting a ton of money.

By involving more departments to participate, you get a ton of extra knowledge about your buyer persona that you couldn’t have guessed.

The important thing to remember is that your buyer personas are not perfect and they never will be. You have to keep modifying and updating them constantly to stay in the game.

Over time, you may need to branch out and create new buyer personas altogether!

Chapter 2: Tweaking the Content

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Always keep tweaking! The more you refine your buyer personas, the more you need to focus on delivering the right kind of content for them.

Create different types of content for different buyer personas and see which persona is most likely to buy right away.

Focus on the buyer personas who are engaged but not buying. What kind of content could get them to buy from you?

Create on-page content that includes language, tone, and imagery that your personas are most comfortable with. Your website instantly feels more familiar to your ideal customers!

Chapter 3: Start Promoting

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Now that you have buyer personas that you can really focus on, start promoting your products on social media.

You can instruct your social media team to focus on engaging with people who fit your buyer persona.

And voila! Instant boost in engagements and possibly even sales! You can set up posts that complement your product promos so that you don’t come off too sales-y.

For instance, polls, quizzes, contests, and giveaways are all great ways to boost your brand presence. Funnily enough, these are all great ways to collect a lot of customer data to refine your buyer personas even further!

You can take some help from HubSpot’s Persona Maker to set things up. Although it’s meant mostly for HubSpot services, you will get a clearer picture of how to proceed.

Now that you already have a lot of sales, a lot of traffic, and a clear idea of your ideal buyer, what’s next?

For one thing, keep doing exactly what you have already done. One-time sales mean nothing in the e-commerce industry. You have to keep on hustling.

The next thing to do is to build up a ton of authority in your space. How do you do that? Keep reading!

Part D: Building Authority through Backlinks

The only concrete way to build up authority is through backlinks.

Here’s the problem:

Not a lot of people want to link to a product page.

So, how do you build backlinks to your e-commerce website?

Chapter 1: Find Closed Businesses

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In his E-Commerce SEO blog, Brian Dean outlines a detailed way to build backlinks to your e-commerce website. One of these is simply awesome – find closed businesses for backlinks.

The idea is to scan news sites for closed businesses, find out their backlinks using a tool, and reach out to the websites linking to the closed site to link to yours instead.

This is a really innovative and clever idea. Unfortunately, this is VERY time-consuming and lots of people are already doing it because everyone loves Brian Dean!

The upside is that when you do find a good prospect to swipe links from, you get a ton of high-authority relevant backlinks. Check out his blog to become a backlink ninja!

Chapter 2: Get Press Links

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The biggest problem with finding closed businesses for backlinks is that the links don’t always generate a lot of traffic.

So, what can you do?

What kind of links are guaranteed to see a lot of traffic?

Links from press releases and news sites!

But how do you get those?

You can use websites like Your Story to get a paid press release. But most of these services are usually very expensive services.

Here are some alternative strategies that you can use to get press links:

Strategy #1: Respond to Press Request Alerts

Press Requests Alerts are sent out by journalists every single day. Lots of journalists want quotes from industry experts to make their job easier.

Answering these requests can get you press links that generate a ton of traffic from really high-authority sources.

Here are some free sites that you can use to get press alert requests:

Strategy #2: Build Long-Term Relationships with Journalists

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is assuming that a journalist that uses your quotes will always link out to you. A lot of times, it simply isn’t up to them.

Don’t push for a link. Instead, keep fostering a good working relationship with them. Most often, you will get a lot more out of a mutually beneficial relationship than just one backlink.

In fact, you can use a lot of great tools to start building relationships with press people.

Here are a few:

  • Promotehour: Promotehour not only gets you organic press releases, but it also gives you lifetime access to a curated list of journalists in your space.
  • Pressfarm: You get a list of journalists to connect with and you can leverage their social media connections for traffic.
  • Twitter: Journalists often send out press requests on Twitter with the hashtags #JournoRequest and #PRrequest.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a gold mine for freelance journalists. Reach out to them and start fostering working relationships with them.

You can achieve a lot by reaching out to journalists. However, most people forget one thing – in order to link back to your content, you must have content first!

Here’s what you need to do:

Create awesome blogs on tips related to your niche. This way, when you get a juicy press link, you can ask the journalist to link to your blog.

Make sure that your blog contains internal links to some of your products so that it passes the link juice onto your product pages as well.

But what if you don’t have a blog post on the topic?

No need to worry, you can simply as them to link to your domain. If you leverage internal linking properly, you can increase the rankings for your product pages as well.

Chapter 3: Blogger Outreach

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Imagine this – what if there was a way you could get bloggers and influencers write about your product and promote it to their followers?

There is! Two words – Blogger Outreach.

This is one of the oldest tricks in the digital marketing book.

Send bloggers and influencers some free stuff and ask them to feature your product in one of their blogs.

A lot of times, bloggers will charge an affiliate commission for their services. But it is completely worth it.

Here’s why:

You pay the blogger to direct traffic to your websites.

But once that traffic is on your site, if you can delight your customers, you keep generating revenue over a long period of time!

Pro Tip: Always ‘no-follow’ your affiliate links. These are bought links unless you want your website to get penalized by Google.
Also, don’t ask the blogger to feature the product. Let things take their natural course. If the product is good, people will link out to them.

Chapter 4: Review Sites

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Review sites are exactly what they sound like – they are websites that review your products and services and add it to their online directory.

Here are 7 awesome review sites that you can start using today:

Review sites typically generate a lot of traffic to your website and can collect the best thing for an e-commerce website – reviews!

Chapter 5: Coupon Sites

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The idea behind coupon sites is quite similar to affiliate marketing. You create a coupon for a group of products or a specific one and you submit it to a coupon site.

Not only do you get a backlink to your website, but you can also get some really great traffic. Everyone loves a bargain. Why not give it to them?

The best part about the traffic generated by coupon sites is that it converts fairly easily.

Why?

Think about it: people browsing a coupon site are not there by accident. They WANT to buy something.

Here are 8 great coupon submission sites you can use:

Pro Tip: Make the coupon offers sound really appealing. A good idea is to include a few details in the offer description such as discount amount, product description, and the target audience.

Chapter 6: Start Using Quora

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Quora is one of the most underrated platforms for generating traffic.

If you use Quora the right way, you can drive a ton of new business towards your e-commerce site simply by answering questions about your product or your industry.

However, simply stuffing in a bunch of keywords and backlink is not a good idea. Keep helping people on Quora by giving useful, relevant tips on your products.

Share blog links instead of direct product links and make sure you read Quora’s guidelines very carefully. If you start spamming, you will get blocked.

Pro Tip: Look for questions where you can submit a list of something. Say, for instance, ‘Where can I buy a good tie online?’

Answer the question with a list of places including your own where people can buy a good tie.

It doesn’t really matter if you include your competitors as well. Quora is all about building trust. It is not selling your products. If you absolutely have to advertise on Quora, do it using their paid ad network instead.

Chapter 7: Ego-Baiting

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Nothing works better than stroking a few egos to get some killer backlinks.

But how can you create effective ego-bait blogs?

Here’s the basic idea:

Step 1: Create a list of something worthwhile to a lot of people. A list like ‘Top Ten Places to Buy Ties Online’ works perfectly well.

How do you create the list? Set up a poll! Go back to the Expert Opinion Method. You will get a ton of data that you can use for the blog to back your results.

Or if you are selling a service, you can use Klear to find and manage the right influencers in your space to create a list.

Step 2: Once you publish the blog, create a nice badge to award the businesses on your blog. Make sure that it looks nice on any website. Also, make sure to include a nice graphical representation of the data.

Step 3: Email these businesses with the award badge. Tell the business owners that they won a badge according to your contest that ranked the businesses based on consumer data.

Make it clear that if they want access to the data, they can see the findings and the graph you created in your blog. Ask them to link back to you by putting up the badges on their website.

If the businesses you featured are not industry giants, they will most likely reply to you and even link back to you. Even the worst case scenario is that they simply share your content to millions of their fans and users.

The best part is that most of these websites will feature the badge on their homepage. (Cha-ching!)

Why does this work?

For one thing, you are creating a contest to promote these businesses. Then you gather consumer data that they desperately need and hand-deliver it to them for free. You also gave them a nice shiny badge that they can show off!

Why wouldn’t it work? Can you think of some improvements on this idea? Let me know in the comments below!

Chapter 8: Feature Roundups

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Roundup blogs and articles bring in a bunch of industry experts and they all talk about one topic.

Not only is this highly shareable content, but also if you have 50 contributors you get 50 backlink opportunities for one article.

Even if you don’t get links right away, that’s fine! You can ask all the contributors to share the blog on Social Media to get a ton of exposure. Other bloggers will find you and they will link back to your article.

Chapter 9: Viral Roundups

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Viral Post Roundups are a quick way to improve your social shares and traffic to get long-term passive links.

So, what are viral post roundups?

Simple – you find a bunch of viral posts in your niche from different social media sites and put it all together into one post.

The brilliant thing about this idea is that the content that you are curating has already gone viral.

So, almost everyone will know at least one of the items on the post. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have seen it all.

Pro Tip: Get in a good mix of content. It could be memes, GIFs, tweets – anything that went viral. A good idea is to put together a few older items for your post as well.

A Special Shoutout!

Here’s to the awesome tools and the brilliant minds behind them without whom we would all have a much harder time with SEO. Thank you so much for the help and support. We really appreciate it.

If we mentioned you in the blog, but your logo isn’t here, and you would like for it to be – send us an angry tweet @theSEOElixir (along with your logo). We like that!

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That’s All Folks!

This E-Commerce SEO Guide is over 10,000 words long. Think you can make it better? Drop a comment below and let us know.

Download a PDF version of it now along with the Content Calendar + Persona Maker Template. If you loved this blog, make sure to share it on social media!

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