Before you kick start your eCommerce website build, consider and research your content management system (CMS). No two eCommerce sites are the same, so avoid choosing a CMS based on ‘it’s what everyone uses’ and focus more on which will give you the functionality your online shop requires.
The CMS you choose will likely vary based on a multitude of factors, however here are some of the most common;
We always recommend working with a web agency where you can, they’ll be able to advise you on the best platform for your business. Once you’ve chosen your CMS, it’s then critical you find an SEO agency that can support that particular system.
According to data from Similarweb, 65% of website traffic are users on mobile devices as of May 2023. However, this can massively vary depending on your industry and the type of product being sold.
With pet supplies, for example, mobile traffic can be as high as 76%, according to Sistrix data.
It’s therefore highly important to do your market research to better understand your market - are your users likely to be browsing on mobile during their research stage before coming back on a desktop device to make their purchase, for example? If so, you need to ensure the user experience remains strong on both types of devices.
To create relevant landing pages based on your customers’ user behaviour ask yourself these questions:
This will help you create a site structure led by customers while helping you optimise the path to purchase.
Once you understand your customer’s journey the next step is to look at how you group your products to fit into appropriate categories. Be sure to think about how your customers are likely to be searching for those products.
Is it very popular for a customer to search for the product:
Consider how your categories can be broken down into subcategories, as this will help enhance your visibility and chances of ranking for long-tail, high-intent searches.
It’s also worth noting that not every customer is going to search for your product by its major name. For example, if you’re selling laptops, some customers will search for that top-level “laptops” keyword, but a much higher percentage will search by brand, screen size, colour, or even by SKU.
To make the most of your website’s performance in organic search, you’ll need to ensure that all of these angles are catered for in terms of possible points of entry.
Similar to the point above, the journey of how your customers discover you all comes down to understanding the language that they use. As an eCommerce merchant, you have exceptional expertise in the specific features of your products and you probably already have an idea of how to address them on your website.
You must find out how your customers are searching for your products and include these keywords in your descriptions on your product pages. Otherwise, it will be challenging for your customers to find your eCommerce company and its offerings in the depths of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
The lower you appear on the SERP, the more your average click-through rate decreases - a website ranking in 1st position typically gets around 28% of the clicks, through to about 2.5% on the 10th result, and even lower if you rank on page 2 of search results. With this in mind, you've probably noticed the ‘featured snippet’ at the top of the SERP. Showing up here is the ultimate goal, as your article will be the first thing the user sees.
By considering every type of user journey, you can produce content relevant for users at every step of their journey - users making question searches or asking for advice are likely to become transactional users later in their journey.
It is not unusual that your customers may have questions about your products and services. To make sure that your customers feel in good hands and get answers to their questions, we recommend that you:
Top Tip: If you’re not sure what questions are being asked, apart from asking your customers directly you can also use dedicated keyword research tools like SEMrush to identify questions that have high monthly search volumes or Answer The Public.
Not only is the FAQ section incredibly helpful in providing answers to your customers’ queries, but it is also a great start to make use of another fantastic ranking opportunity - the People Also Asked snippets. As you can see here, for the search query "creating an eco-friendly garden," there are four questions to which you can write an article that would then have the potential to appear above all organic search results and boost the SEO for your eCommerce website.
Remember how we discussed including the keywords your customers search for on your product pages? The same goes for your URLs. URLs are a strong ranking signal, and it’s all about providing the most relevant results to the search query. So if you can include your relevant keywords in the URL, this is a fantastic indicator for the search engine that the page should be ranking for that particular term as well as related keywords, although it can’t be guaranteed.
When creating a new page in your CMS, it will most likely generate the URL automatically. To ensure that your page can reap the benefits of this ranking factor, we recommend manually updating it and ensuring that the URL clearly shows the hierarchy of directories and relevant keywords to indicate what the page is talking about.
For example, a CMS will often use the ‘ID’ of the category when formulating a URL for that page. You should be able to overwrite this information with a keyworded URL structure, whether with a CMS plugin or being manually overwritten.
The creation of duplicate content is an extremely common issue for eCommerce websites. There are two major areas for duplicate website content: duplicate metadata and duplicate product content.
Especially on large-scale eCommerce sites, it’s easy to end up with sub-categories grouped by colour or brand.
This comes with the risk of creating duplicate page titles, as on many content management systems, the page title will simply be generated from the name of the category. On many occasions, we’ve seen categories simply with a page title of “White” or “Brand Name”, which is doing nothing for the ranking of that page in search results.
This is why our top tip to avoid duplicate meta titles is to ensure you create bespoke metadata that considers that page's specific details.
Meta descriptions are often easily overlooked, either remaining blank or using the same description on each and every product page. If the meta description is not as relevant as it could be, Google will fall back to using text from the page - which, in some cases, can end up with a very irrelevant meta description that could negatively impact your click-through rates.
Sometimes the products your company sells are similar. And with large numbers of products in your eCommerce shop, it can be challenging to come up with a new product description each time. Nevertheless, this is something you shouldn’t ignore. If you start copying and pasting product descriptions, you run the risk of Google penalising your content for duplication.
Did you know? In 2011, Google introduced the ‘Panda’ algorithm update to combat pages that simply copy and pasted content from elsewhere. The idea is that if you’ve copied and pasted content from somewhere else, your website probably isn’t of the highest quality. This Google algorithm update would therefore penalise you by not showing you as highly in search results as perhaps you did previously. However, while this change affected things like blogs and news websites positively, it also changed the thinking behind eCommerce product content, too.
In many industries, copying and pasting product content straight from a manufacturer-provided spreadsheet or catalogue is commonplace.
However, in this instance, you’d be falling foul of the duplicate content algorithm, and chances are, those products will never display in search results.
Therefore, however, you do it:
Did you know that about 62% of GenZ prefer visual search online? This is precisely why your business should optimise for image search.
Images provide contextual information for search engines but can pose a risk of slowing down your website and leading to high page loading times if not optimised correctly. Image quality is often an area that eCommerce websites forget about - if your competitor is providing imagery that shows the product in greater detail or helps the customer visualise how the product works, it’s likely to result in a greater conversion rate. Using 360-degree product photography, for example, can increase conversion rate by as much as 2.5%, according to this study.
However, just using good photography isn’t the only thing to consider. Our top image optimisation tips include:
But not only is it important to optimise image search to make your products more discoverable by GenZ and Zillenial customers, but it also plays a major role in website accessibility. Meaning that you can make your website accessible to people who have disabilities and impairments and who use assistive technologies such as screen readers. Read our website accessibility report to learn how to do this.
A study by |nvesp found that 86% of all potential customers search for reviews of the business before committing to a purchase. The practice can be traced back to the human behaviour element of the concept of social proof.
The concept of social proof states that a prospective customer may become convinced to make a purchase decision after being interested in a product because they read a positive review about that product. Social proof works by validating the claims made by the company about the features of the product through reviews and strengthening the customer's trust in them.
Google understands that user reviews are a highly relevant answer to queries around “best” and “top” products, and your brand name appearing in the top results for these would certainly be a welcome boost to your brand image.
Also, consider the user experience when customers make a query such as “your brand name reviews” in search results. If your business is not shown in a positive light when such a search is done, then this is the same negative experience that your potential customers will see - potentially losing you a sale.
When your customers browse your site and questions arise, your customer service must be available to answer their queries and help them complete their purchase(s).
How a lack of customer support can encourage customers to look elsewhere:
This risk is largely eliminated by setting up a chatbot on your eCommerce website. This chatbot can then answer FAQs, but can also solve more complex queries with the help of modern technologies. For the customer, using a chatbot is effortless and fast, so it is often perceived as very helpful.
In a survey by Spiceworks, 56% of respondents said that chatbots increased the likelihood of them making a purchase, so the benefits are clear.
Event tracking, as well as the general recording of your website performance metrics, is a must for every eCommerce merchant. Many eCommerce CMS systems offer internal tracking. However, we recommend you set up a Google Analytics account that will allow you to monitor the order of pages your customer visits before making a purchase, determine which was the converting page and much more.
By accurately recording and analysing these metrics, you can quickly identify trouble spots and pages with optimisation potential, thus improving your conversion optimisation strategy. This will help you have happier customers and ultimately generate more revenue.
Metrics you should include in your eCommerce tracking are:
Ever since Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm update, page speed has become a definitive ranking factor. This is because such parameters as the page's load time contribute massively to usability. Images and graphics are worth adding to your page, but as mentioned above, you should ensure that they are optimised and do not negatively affect the page speed due to their size. Among the elements that can affect your page speed are:
To assess your site against these risks, you can use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool, just read our article on Core Web Vitals before you start so you know exactly what you should be looking for.
While this is only touching the surface of potential problems with your eCommerce SEO, for most websites, the biggest issues will be one of the ten on this list.
If you think your eCommerce website is suffering or has seen traffic reduce in recent months, consider an SEO audit for your website, a service that we provide at Reflect Digital. Get in touch to see how we can help your eCommerce website hit the ground running again.
Andy drives high-quality, high-converting organic traffic to a wide range of businesses, from local companies to global brands.
A strategic search marketer, Andy’s expertise lies predominantly in ecommerce websites and technical SEO, and is particularly adept at finding opportunities to provide quick wins and long-term return on investment.More about Andy