There are those in the Online Marketing community who will try to convince any potential new client that ‘Search Engine Optimisation’, especially on-page optimisation is some kind of mystic artform, the knowledge of which is only available to a tenth level monk who lives on the top a mountain in the Himalayas.
The guy (or gal) trying to sell you optimisation services for your eCommerce website has probably spent the last 3 years studying with this very monk…
In truth, on-page optimisation requires a mish-mash of common sense, psychology and a little bit of knowledge on how search engines work.
If you have the time, I can tell you what you need to get the very best results from your eCommerce website. Let’s get started…
On-Page SEO Checklist for 2019
There are a couple of hundred different ranking factors for Google’s search engine, the content and structure of your pages covers a good portion of these. What you need to concentrate on for your pages can be covered with three questions:
1). How easy is it for search engines to find your content?
2). How good is your site’s user experience?
3). How good is your content?
Whilst there are varying answers to these questions depending upon who you ask, Google do have a fairly lengthy document snazzily entitled ‘Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines’ which can usually point you in the right direction as far as content quality is concerned.
Structuring pages so that content can easily be found takes a little bit more knowledge, but if you have access to the structure of your eCommerce website this isn’t a blocker to success.
Making It Easy for Search Engines
Making it easy for search engine bots or ‘spiders’ to find your content sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people mess up this most basic of steps. Here’s a quick checklist:
- Is each page within the website linked from somewhere logical? – A well laid out site navigation as well as strategically placed links to important pages using natural, focussed anchor text can tell search engine spiders a lot about your website
- Are you using Schema.org tagging? – This can direct spiders from search engines and social media sites like Facebook to your important pieces of page content quickly. These tags power everything from Google News to local snippets. Tag your content for best effect!
- Is your site secure? – Google are slowly ramping up the importance of site security and will penalise sites which are hacked. Going fully https on your website (instead for just basket and checkout pages) is an absolute must in 2019.
Making It Easy for People
A bad eCommerce user experience can sound the death knell for sales. If you’re serious about making money from your website then you really have to give users the very best experience.
- Which device are people using to access your site? If you haven’t already, install Google’s own Analytics package and look at the devices people use – you will probably see that more than half your website visits come from a mobile device. As this is the case, you definitely need a Responsive website. Responsive websites give the best user experience outside of an expensive dedicated app and as Google now use mobile rendered pages to index for every device it pays to make mobile experience a good one.
- Page load speed. This is massively important as not only do Google use this in their ranking algorithms but research has shown time and again that page load speed has a huge effect on both page and basket abandonment.
- Making it easy to buy – clear calls to action that are consistent throughout the site have a major impact on both ‘add to baskets’ and basket completions. If you want a good example of how to do it properly then take a look at Amazon’s website, this is the result of years of research and best practise layout to get to the kinds of profit levels that Amazon now enjoy.
- Make it easy to share – Do you really want to do all your website marketing yourself? Why not get your website users to do it for you! If you integrate social media sharing functionality then your website users and the people who buy your products can effectively share their experiences and purchases with their friends, increasing your potential website users in the process.
Making Content Shareable
Poor quality content on any page in your website gives a bad user experience. For an eCommerce website, it’s the equivalent of having a rude person serving at the till!
Content on an eCommerce website has two functions. First of all it helps you to get people into your website from search engines if done correctly and secondly, quality, well thought out content can help you to sell more.
In an eCommerce shop, you don’t have assistants to help sell the products with reassurance and sales patter. The content and user experience that you provide must do the selling for you, re-assure website users that you are the people to buy from and also give clear messages that your shop can be trusted should something go wrong. Top quality, unique content backed up by a sense of community on your website can give all of this and more.
You need to:
- Keep content fresh – this doesn’t mean re-writing category and product descriptions every five minutes but adding useful guides, information and anything else which can help customers make informed decisions will help you sell more.
- If you want to rank for shorter keyword terms then don’t think you’re going to do this with a couple of paragraphs of text and a couple of images. Competitive keyphrases will require top notch, lengthy, unique and authoritative text as a starting point, backed up by an array of rich media. Only once you have this resource can you start to share this content and get the authoritative links you need to get top search engine placement.
- Make sure all the basic optimisation for your pages are covered. Page titles, meta descriptions, ALT tags and proper HTML page structure should be geared for accessibility and should be focussed on the things people are searching for so do your keyphrase research beforehand!
If all of this is done then you will be on the right track for eCommerce success.
Head of eCommerce
David has been involved with Search Engine Optimisation and web development since 1999 and has spoken at many different retail and SEO conferences including Spring Fair and SES London