Saturday, April 13, 2024

Grasp E-commerce search engine marketing in 2023: Newbie’s Information

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If you wish to drive extra potential prospects to your on-line retailer, e-commerce search engine marketing could also be simply the ticket.

Maintain studying to study what it’s, why it’s vital, and the best way to grasp it.

E-commerce search engine marketing is the method of optimizing an internet retailer to enhance its visibility and rankings in search engines like google like Google. It focuses closely on bettering the efficiency of class and product pages, as these are typically essentially the most profitable.

E-commerce SEO is mostly about ranking product and category pages higher

It’s usually a cheaper strategy to attain your prospects slightly than bidding on costly paid promoting key phrases.

Technical search engine marketing could seem essentially the most daunting place to begin, but it surely’s essential for e-commerce websites. That’s primarily due to points referring to faceted navigation, however there are additionally just a few issues to remember. Let’s undergo them.

Safe your website with HTTPS

HTTPS is a safe protocol for transferring knowledge between web sites and guests. It prevents hackers from stealing delicate info that guests generally share with on-line shops, similar to their title, deal with, and bank card particulars.

It’s additionally been a minor Google rating issue since 2014.

You’ll know in case your retailer makes use of HTTPS as a result of it’ll have a “padlock” icon within the deal with bar that appears like this:

HTTPS "padlock" icon in a Chrome browser

Hottest e-commerce platforms use HTTPS, so it shouldn’t be a priority for most individuals. However whether it is, be certain to repair it.

Make your website construction simple to navigate

Web site construction is how your web site’s pages are organized and interlinked. 

Most e-commerce shops set up their pages roughly like this: 

How to structure e-commerce sites

Listed below are two explanation why this construction makes sense:

  1. It’s simple to navigate Guests can discover what they’re in search of in only a few clicks.
  2. It helps Google discover your pages – Google can “observe” inner hyperlinks from web page to web page.

Getting your website construction proper from the beginning additionally means you’ll keep away from the headache of redesigning it later on. 

Relating to inner hyperlinks, it’s finest to maintain it easy to begin with. You need to use the arrows within the illustration above as steerage on the best way to interlink your pages.

For instance, your homepage ought to hyperlink to your class pages, which ought to hyperlink to the related subcategory pages, which ought to hyperlink to the related merchandise.

Implement faceted navigation appropriately to present your pages the perfect likelihood at rating

Faceted navigation permits guests to filter the merchandise on class and subcategory pages. 

Right here’s what it seems like: 

Faceted navigation example, via jbl.com

Regardless of its usefulness for guests, it will probably trigger critical search engine marketing points for e-commerce web sites as a result of filter mixtures typically create new parameterized URLs.

For instance, for those who filter for on-ear headphones, it might create a URL like this:

/headphones/?colour=crimson&model=sony&kind=wired

Even for those who solely have a handful of filters, there could be 1000’s of mixtures. Meaning 1000’s of recent URLs that Google can find yourself crawling and probably indexing.

That isn’t good as a result of it can: 

  1. Weaken vital pages’ skill to rank Filter mixtures can typically result in the creation of a number of URLs with the identical content material. Until Google realizes this (which doesn’t at all times occur), rating indicators will get cut up between the duplicate pages.
  2. Forestall Google from crawling vital pages Google will solely commit finite sources to crawling your website. If it has to crawl a load of junk, it might not have the sources to crawl all vital pages. 

There are numerous options to those points. For newbies and intermediates, a easy choice is to canonicalize faceted URLs to their grasp class or subcategory.

Some e-commerce search engine marketing platforms do that out of the field. Examine if so on your website by putting in Ahrefs’ search engine marketing Toolbar, visiting just a few faceted URLs, and checking the “Indexability” tab. If the canonical URL is non-faceted, chances are high this isn’t a difficulty in your website.

Right here’s an instance of this in motion:

Non-canonical URL example, via jbl.com

Chapter 2. Key phrase analysis

Key phrase analysis helps you perceive how individuals seek for what you promote. You need to use this information to create subcategories and product pages that cater to go looking demand. Let’s take a look at the best way to do this.

Discover key phrases for subcategory pages

Subcategory pages present the varieties of merchandise you promote in a class. 

For instance, a “headphones” class could have subcategories like “wired” and “wi-fi.”

You in all probability already know some subcategories that make sense on your retailer. However as individuals search in some ways, it’s helpful for search engine marketing to create subcategories that align with these phrases.

Right here’s the best way to discover concepts for subcategories in Ahrefs’ Key phrases Explorer:

  1. Enter just a few broad key phrases associated to your class
  2. Go to the Matching phrases report
  3. Search for the varieties of stuff you promote

Listed below are just a few concepts for the “headphones” subcategories: 

Subcategory ideas for a headphones e-commerce store, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Notice that this isn’t all about search volumes. You must use widespread sense and select phrases that make sense as subcategories. 

For instance, “audio technica open ear headphones” gained’t be an appropriate subcategory as a result of it’s too particular. The identical is true for “bone conduction headphones” until you promote greater than a few pairs.

Right here’s a fast cheat sheet for selecting subcategories for search engine marketing:

How to choose e-commerce subcategories for SEO

Sidenote.

Typically talking, you shouldn’t select greater than a handful of subcategories. It makes your navigation messy and convoluted. Three to 10 is sufficient for many shops.

Repeat the method for different classes.

Discover key phrases for product pages

Product key phrase analysis isn’t actually a factor for those who promote branded merchandise, as individuals will seek for the merchandise themselves. 

For instance, there are an estimated 622K month-to-month searches within the U.S. for “airpods professional.”

Estimated U.S. monthly search volume for "airpods pro," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

If you happen to promote these headphones, your product web page already targets that key phrase.

Nevertheless, for those who’re promoting unbranded merchandise or merchandise from unknown names, you might wish to discover and goal extra descriptive phrases that individuals seek for.

For instance, let’s say you promote a pair of cat ear headphones. Until persons are particularly trying to find the model or mannequin, it might be higher to focus on a related key phrase that individuals really seek for, similar to “cat ear headphones.”

Estimated U.S. monthly search volume for "cat ear headphones," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Tip

Maintain search intent in thoughts when doing this. If the highest search outcomes for a key phrase are all e-commerce class pages, this may increasingly point out that searchers need a selection. On this case, it might be higher to focus on the key phrase with a subcategory web page or faceted URL (extra on these later).

On-page search engine marketing is the method of optimizing the content material in your web page. It contains optimizations to the content material you see and code beneath the hood. Let’s undergo just a few concerns and optimizations for e-commerce websites.

Save time with title tag, meta description, and H1 templates

Most e-commerce shops use templates for his or her title tags and meta descriptions.

Right here’s an instance of a meta description template.

Example of templated meta descriptions on a Google SERP

Utilizing a templated strategy is smart as a result of writing distinctive copy for 1000’s of product and class pages is no person’s thought of enjoyable. Sadly, it will probably result in stale, duplicate copy that doesn’t entice clicks.

You may clear up this with a hybrid strategy the place you employ templates for many pages however distinctive ones for these with essentially the most search visitors.

Right here’s the best way to discover pages with essentially the most search visitors in Google Search Console (GSC):

  1. Go to the Search outcomes report
  2. Choose the “Pages” tab
How to find top pages in Google Search Console

If you happen to don’t use GSC, you will get a free estimate in Ahrefs’ Web site Audit with an Ahrefs Webmaster Instruments account.

  1. Choose your venture in Web site Audit
  2. Go to the Web page Explorer
  3. Filter for inner pages
  4. Kind by natural visitors from highest to lowest
How to find top pages using Page Explorer, via Ahrefs' Site Audit

For H1s, it’s easy—simply use the class or product title. 

Example H1 on an e-commerce category page, via currys.co.uk

Use easy and descriptive URLs

Right here’s a easy template that works for class and subcategory pages:

area.com/class/subcategory/

For instance, listed here are just a few classes and subcategories for our audio retailer that observe this template:

area.com/headphones/
area.com/headphones/wi-fi
area.com/headphones/wired
area.com/headphones/over-ear
area.com/headphones/in-ear

Issues are just a little extra difficult relating to merchandise as a result of the apparent construction can be this: 

area.com/class/subcategory/product

Nevertheless, as merchandise typically fall into a number of classes, this will result in duplicate content material. In different phrases, the identical product is obtainable at numerous URLs. 

For instance, AirPods are each wi-fi and in-ear headphones, so that they’ll find yourself with two URLs:

area.com/headphones/in-ear/airpods
area.com/headphones/wi-fi/airpods

You may clear up this downside through the use of this template for product URLs:

area.com/product

Add distinctive product and class descriptions to assist guests and Google

Product and class pages typically have little to no content material. That isn’t essentially unhealthy, however including distinctive descriptions may help Google and guests higher perceive the web page.

Listed below are just a few ideas for doing this:

  • Maintain them quick and candy
  • Be certain that they’re descriptive and useful
  • Point out long-tail key phrases

To search out long-tail variations and synonyms, plug a competing product or class web page on your principal goal key phrase into Ahrefs’ Web site Explorer and examine the highest 10 rankings within the Natural key phrases report. 

Long-tail keywords for "wireless headphones," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

For instance, listed here are just a few notable key phrases that one of many top-ranking pages for “wi-fi headphones” additionally ranks for:

  • bluetooth headphones
  • wi-fi earphones
  • bluetooth earbuds 

It will likely be simple and pure to say these phrases within the web page’s description. 

Hyperlink constructing for e-commerce shops is tough as a result of there’s often no worth for another person to hyperlink to a product or class web page. Nevertheless, there are just a few tried and examined strategies. You too can use different strategies to get hyperlinks to your homepage. Let’s go over just a few ways. 

Use the “product suggestions” method to get featured

When you’ve got merchandise that solely you promote, the “product suggestions” method may help you get featured on lists of the perfect merchandise in that class. 

Right here’s the method:

  1. Discover in style lists of the perfect merchandise
  2. Supply the writer your product in return for suggestions
  3. Ask them to contemplate together with it on their listing (in the event that they just like the product)

Given that almost all authors will hyperlink to the merchandise they function, this can be a easy strategy to construct hyperlinks on to product pages.

To search out lists of the perfect merchandise that don’t point out yours, search Google for finest[product category] -brandname.

Searching Google for product listicles that exclude a particular brand

Alternatively, run an “In title” search in Ahrefs’ Content material Explorer for a similar factor and filter for pages with visitors to search out in style lists.

Searching Ahrefs' Content Explorer for popular product listicles

For instance, right here’s an inventory of the perfect sensible audio system that don’t point out any Sonos audio system:

Blog article listicle with no mention of Sonos, via techhive.com

If Sonos desires to construct extra hyperlinks to considered one of its sensible speaker product pages, it will probably provide to ship the product to the writer at no cost in return for suggestions. If the writer loves it, Sonos can ask the writer in the event that they’ll think about that includes it of their put up.

Tip

By no means explicitly provide to ship authors your product in change for a hyperlink. It might result in a penalty as a result of Google sees “exchanging items or companies for hyperlinks” as a hyperlink scheme.

Declare unlinked model mentions in opinions

Unlinked mentions are on-line mentions of your merchandise or model with out a hyperlink to your website. 

They will occur for all types of causes. Nevertheless, they’re typically troublesome to show into hyperlinks as a result of there’s hardly ever an apparent or compelling pitch angle. 

For instance, right here’s an unlinked point out for Audio-Technica:

Unlinked mention for Audio-Technica

Sadly, on this case, there’s no compelling pitch angle. That’s as a result of the unlinked point out is in an article a few band promoting gear to fund music schooling, and there aren’t any hyperlinks to different talked about manufacturers. 

Nevertheless, if somebody opinions your product and doesn’t hyperlink to you, asking them to hyperlink to the official product web page so readers can study extra concerning the product is a logical and no less than considerably compelling angle. 

You’ll find unlinked opinions with Ahrefs’ Internet Explorer, which searches an index of billions of pages. Simply enter this search: Intitle:[your brand] evaluate -outlinkdomain:[yoursite.com] -site:[yoursite.com.

For example, if you wanted to find unlinked reviews for Audio-Technica, you’d search this: intitle:audio technica review -outlinkdomain:audio-technica.com -site:audio-technica.com.

Finding unlinked reviews using Ahrefs' Web Explorer

It’s then just a case of reviewing the pages and asking them to add the link where it makes sense. Even if only a few reviewers do this, that’s a few easy links to product pages. 

Use HARO to get high-authority links

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a service that connects journalists and bloggers with sources. 

If you sign up as a source (free), HARO sends you daily emails with requests like this: 

Example HARO request

In this case, the blogger wants recommendations for the best office headphones.

If we plug their website (Welp Magazine) into Site Explorer, we see it’s a Domain Rating (DR) 59 site with plenty of organic traffic. So it’s certainly worth pursuing the link.

Domain Rating (DR) for Welp Magazine, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Even better, we know the blogger will link to those they feature because their request says this: 

Request example from blogger

Long story short, we could probably get a link from this site by sending our recommendation to the blogger along with the other details they want. 

Sidenote.

Since we first published this method, HARO has become more competitive, but it is still possible to get high-quality links if you are persistent.

Chapter 5. Content marketing

Capturing the attention of your audience is vital in e-commerce. By creating valuable, relevant, and engaging content, you can enhance your online store’s visibility, build customer relationships, and drive more conversions.

Let’s consider a few of the top priorities in content marketing for e-commerce sites.

Find commercial investigation keywords to target with blog posts

Commercial investigation keywords are terms people are searching for when researching what to buy.

For example, if you search for “best wireless headphones” on Google, it’s likely you are ready to buy a good pair of wireless headphones.

Identifying “best” product searches is a simple way to start finding commercial intent keywords.

The easiest way to do this is to: 

  • Enter your keyword into Keywords Explorer.
  • Add an Include filter containing the word “best.”
  • Apply the filter and hit Show results.
Finding commercial intent keywords using the "Include" filter in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

We can see from this quick search that Ahrefs has identified over 9,396 keywords we can potentially use.

As well as “best” keywords, you can also find commercial intent in questions. For example, if you were to search for “how do noise canceling headphones work,” chances are you’d be interested in buying a pair.

In Keywords Explorer, you can find these types of keywords in the Questions section after you’ve plugged in your keyword.

Here’s a quick example of an informational keyword for “noise canceling headphones.”

Searching "noise canceling headphones" in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Remember to look for keywords relating to problems that your products help to solve.

For example, keywords like “how to clean headphones” don’t work because the searcher isn’t in the market for new headphones. But keywords like “how to fix broken headphones” may work because most headphones aren’t easily fixable—so a new pair might be the best solution. 

Once you understand the psychology behind commercial intent keywords, you’re ready to create product-led content.

Create product-led content to attract more customers

Product-led content helps readers solve their problems using products you sell. Creating this content around keywords people are searching for can attract more potential customers from organic search.

For example, this blog post about fixing headphones that only work in one ear gets an estimated 13.3K monthly search visits:

Estimated monthly organic traffic to a post about fixing headphones that only work in one ear, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

It explains how to fix common issues before recommending new, durable headphones for readers who didn’t manage to get things working.

Recommendations for new headphones in a post about fixing headphones

In this case, the site recommends products on Amazon. But there’s no reason you can’t recommend and link to your product pages in these articles.

Optimize your product images for search to get more clicks

Google Images is the world’s second-largest search engine. It’s responsible for over 20% of all online searches.

So when potential customers are searching for your products, it’s likely they’ll browse through it to find the product they’re looking for.

Headphones SERP, via Google Images

If you want to appear at the top of Google Images, you’ll need to start by optimizing your e-commerce images for SEO.

You’ll then need to add a descriptive filename separated by hyphens. Try to keep your filename to the point and remember to include important keywords, like the example below:

Image filename of a pair of AirPods

Then add descriptive alt text to your image. Alt text is code that looks like this:

<img alt="your alt text description goes here">

So, for example, for these headphones, the alt text can be:

<img alt="Apple AirPods Max in silver">

Tip

These days, most content management systems (CMSs) will have the option to add alt text when you’re uploading images, so you won’t need to edit the code manually.

You should make your alt text as succinct as possible. Here’s an example from Apple, where the alt text reads: “Front view of AirPods Max in Silver.” 

Airpods Max code highlight, via apple.com

Although the principles of alt text are easy to understand, it’s easy to forget to add it. A lot of websites will have at least a few images that have missing alt text on them.

The fastest, free way to check your site for missing alt text is to use a tool like Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. 

Once you’ve run a crawl of your site using the tool, head to the overview in Site Audit to see if there are any issues. 

Here’s an example of a site with 2,712 images with missing alt text.

A site's missing alt text, via Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

Clicking through on the “Missing alt text” issue takes you to the affected URLs. You can then order the list by clicking on “Organic traffic” to prioritize the pages already performing well in search. 

URLs affected by "missing alt text" issue, via Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

If the page already has high organic traffic, it’s likely the images on that page can perform well in Google Images.

Once you’ve optimized your images, you can monitor the clicks they get by clicking on “Performance” and then selecting the search type as “Image.”

Image performance tracking, via Google Search Console

Chapter 6. Advanced e-commerce SEO tips

Everything above will get you off on the right foot with e-commerce SEO. But there are other things you can do to attract even more search traffic and sales. Let’s go through some of them.

Index faceted URLs with search demand to get more clicks

People search for products in many ways, so you’ve probably come across terms during keyword research that didn’t make sense for subcategories. But if you have faceted navigation on your store, you likely already have parameterized URLs targeting many of these terms.

For example, there are an estimated 150 monthly searches for “jabra over ear headphones” in the U.S.:

Estimated U.S. monthly search volume for "jabra over ear headphones," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

If you sell these products and let visitors filter for them using faceted navigation, they’ll probably end up at a URL like this:

/headphones?brand=jabra&design=over-ear

Since most e-commerce stores canonicalize faceted URLs to a master category or subcategory, this URL probably isn’t indexable. However, you can fix that by changing the canonical to a self-referencing one.

If you do this for all faceted URLs with search demand, you often attract more search traffic without creating any new content.

Here’s a cheat sheet from Aleyda Solis to help you figure out which ones to index:

How to choose which faceted URLs to index

Sidenote.

Some e-commerce platforms make selectively indexing faceted URLs easier than others. If you’re planning to do this and lack technical expertise, we highly recommend hiring a knowledgeable SEO and developer to help.

Tip

If you notice people searching for product attributes you don’t have filters for, consider adding them. For example, there are many searches for headphones compatible with various devices:

Examples of popular product attributes, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

You can easily add a “Compatible with” set of filters and index relevant faceted URLs to attract search traffic from these terms.

Add schema markup to product pages to win rich snippets

Schema markup is code that helps search engines better understand and showcase your pages in the search results. Adding it to product pages can help them win rich snippets like this: 

Rich snippets on a Google SERP

Here’s what the schema markup can look like for a page selling AirPods Pro:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "https://schema.org/", 
  "@type": "Product", 
  "name": "AirPods Pro",
  "image": "",
  "brand": {
    "@type": "Brand",
    "name": "Apple"
  },
  "offers": {
    "@type": "Offer",
    "url": "",
    "priceCurrency": "USD",
    "price": "249",
    "availability": "https://schema.org/InStock",
    "itemCondition": "https://schema.org/NewCondition"
  },
  "aggregateRating": {
    "@type": "AggregateRating",
    "ratingValue": "4.9"
  }
}
</script>

It tells Google the product’s name, brand, price, review rating, and if it’s in stock.

There are plenty of free schema markup generators like this one, so you don’t have to write the code by hand. Some e-commerce platforms also have the option to add built-in schema markup. 

Link to important subcategories to highlight them for visitors (and Google)

Linking to important subcategories from your category pages prioritizes the links that visitors are most likely to be interested in. 

This makes it easier for your store’s visitors to navigate around your website.

Here’s an example where important subcategories have been highlighted near the top of the category page.

Subcategories highlighted near the top of the category page, via Sports Direct

This design allows visitors to get to the subcategories they want to quickly. It’s also helpful for mobile users, as it means they don’t have to scroll through thousands of products.

It’s also possible that the location of these links may boost the authority of these subcategory pages, according to the reasonable surfer model established in Google’s patents.

Here’s another example where another retailer has linked to popular subcategories at the top of the category page.

Subcategories highlighted near the top of the category page, via John Lewis

Monitor technical SEO issues to avoid unexpected traffic drops

A solid technical foundation helps you avoid common issues that often plague e-commerce stores. But technical SEO isn’t a one-time thing. New problems will arise over time.

That’s why monitoring your technical SEO health and fixing issues as they pop up are essential.

Using Site Audit with an Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account, you can do this for free. It monitors for 100+ common SEO issues, including those you often see on e-commerce sites, like duplicate content, canonicalization issues, and orphan pages.

Duplicate content issues found using Ahrefs' Site Audit

You can schedule daily, weekly, or monthly crawls to stay on top of issues.

E-commerce SEO mistakes to avoid

Here are a few examples of common issues that can affect e-commerce websites and hurt rankings.

  • Not including breadcrumbs – Visitors (and Google) find breadcrumbs on e-commerce websites useful.
  • Forgetting to add schema markup – Adding schema can help you win rich snippets. 
  • Indexing low-quality pages – Indexing e-commerce filters or search pages that don’t add any value.
  • Keyword stuffing – Repeatedly mentioning your keywords on your website.
  • Blocking key pages of your website – Sometimes, noindex tags or “Disallow” directives in robots.txt can be added by mistake, meaning pages don’t show in Google.

The future of e-commerce SEO

I don’t have a crystal ball to predict exactly what the future will look like for e-commerce SEO, but here are some thoughts.

With Google starting to incorporate generative AI into its search experience, it’s likely that search and e-commerce SEO will evolve into a different experience from what we have today. 

Here’s an example of what the SERPs look like today for a search for “bluetooth headphones.”

Google SERP for "bluetooth headphones," via google.com

If we ignore the “People also ask” results, the rest are category pages from e-commerce stores.

Now take a look at the SERP for this same search under Google’s AI-powered Search Generative Experience:

Generative AI Google search results, via google.com

With this result, Google’s effectively generated its own category page right there on the SERP.

If this change becomes reality, it’s possible that the future of e-commerce SEO could shift its focus more to optimizing product pages.

Aleyda also talked about these potential changes and her predictions for e-commerce SEO. 

Final thoughts

E-commerce SEO is far from straightforward. Getting the basics right is easy enough, but catering to search demand while avoiding common technical issues is often more complicated than you think. 

Here are a few helpful resources to learn more about those issues:





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