Brands need to take a hands-on approach if they want to boost their organic traffic. UX, digital PR, photography, and videography are new skillsets to master for those who want to make an impact online.
Here are 11 non-negotiable SEO and digital rules for ecommerce stores.
If you are not conducting regular full site audits, you are harming your store in the long-run. Inhibitors to indexing such as poor coding, or a structure that’s slow for mobile can be fixed quickly. Review the information architecture of your entire site, make amendments, and then test the design on a range of devices.
Make sure you don’t become desktop complacent, design with ‘mobile-first’ in mind. The shift is happening and those merchants with a subpar mobile site will lose out to the competition.
Your user’s experience (UX) should be paramount for your online store setup. For instance, you will need to ensure that your audience can navigate the site quickly, sort through products in multiple ways, and get through the checkout process fast.
User Experience will also need to be factored into your title tags, product names, groupings, categorization, and much more. Good UX will help your store rank, and will improve online engagement levels (as well as sales).
The way to efficiently plan out your site is to carry out extensive customer research beforehand. Use social media and competitor analysis tools to build client personas and test your theories within focus groups. Activities like card sorting exercises are great for checking prototype concepts.
Keyword research can be conducted in many ways. Even if you are not selling through Amazon or eBay, it’s wise to research product listings on these sites. As they’re multinational giants, here you will find the best terms and categories for your industry. Aim for around three to five long-tail keywords for your product title and descriptions. Further, make sure you plan your product groupings carefully — you want customers to discover similar products easily.
Keyword analysis tools will provide you with essential statistics on monthly search stats. But, a quick scan of sites like Wikipedia can also help you determine your relevant product categories, audience preferences, blog post ideas etc.
As a minor adjustment that will count towards building brand loyalty, make sure you have an accurate inventory tracking system. There is nothing quite as annoying as getting all the way to the checkout page, only to find that the products you want aren’t in stock.
Depending on the ecommerce host you opt for, you can also get plugins that will generate automatic ‘back in stock’ emails. You can even automate referral emails, specialized discounts and much more.
Search engines want to give users the best possible shopping and search results — so make your store is 100% trustworthy and reliable.
At the bare minimum, your imagery will need to include multiple views of your products’ dimensions — preferably on a white background. But, if you want to make your photos impress, you will need to try a bit harder.
In all instances, hiring a professional photographer, or learning photography techniques will be essential. Lifestyle images, with the products modeled in use, is the way forward for ecommerce sellers. With the increasing popularity of social media influencers, beautiful backgrounds, natural light and ‘joie de vivre’ have become the norm.
Influential personalities always make sure their images are authentic, colorful and meaningful. Consider what reassurance the audience needs from your pictures and tell this story.
Also, don’t forget to provide imagery and alt tags that respond to the critical queries your customers have in mind. This will help you rank in relevant image searches.
Meaningful marketing experiences will help put your ecommerce business on the map.
Work on your brand narrative and think about the values that make you a successful company. Go back to your business plan and think about how you got to where you are today — and turn that into a story.
Guest blog and outreach to significant industry sites and publications. Make online connections with thought leaders — these could be journalists or niche accounts with more than 10,000 followers. Earning backlinks from high profile sites takes time and patience. Work through these sources methodically, and start building up good media relationships gradually.
To gain backlinks and build your site’s authority, an evergreen content marketing campaign is vital. You need informative, engaging, and authoritative content on your domain to justify any digital PR or backlinks.
Having regularly updated content can also provide the basis for your email marketing campaigns, as well as keep your customers engaged through social media sharing. Search engines also like to prioritize sites that regularly update their content.
Think about how you can add value to your customer’s shopping experience with your content. As far as you can, promote UG (user-generated) posts on your social media accounts. You can run competitions, created a branded hashtag, or repost user responses to get the ball rolling.
Product demonstration videos, or related tutorials, can make your products go viral. Videos influence buyer behavior.
To optimize your video clips you will need to:
- Include one longtail search keyword within the title, but make it sound natural. Consider the person buying your product, and title your videos accordingly.
- Regarding YouTube video descriptions, you have plenty of characters to play with, sp make them as informative as possible. Pay attention to the first few sentences that will appear ‘above the fold,’ — treat this as a headline and draw in viewers. Make sure you include all relevant links and sources in the bio to attract website traffic.
- Tags allow you to rank for many other secondary search terms. Conduct lots of research before uploading to ensure you are making the most of your video tags.
- Backlink to videos wherever possible. The more views your videos get, the more they will count towards your page relevancy.
Invest time and energy into getting video right, and you could attract a massive global audience.
Take careful consideration of the way you present your product pages. A visitor will likely view a wide selection of goods from many stores before buying from you. You will need to make sure you provide visitors with all the information they need to make a purchase.
This is especially important if you use dropshipping to generate ecommerce sales, as you will be competing with other sellers who stock the exact same products. Think of ways you can make your product descriptions unique. Look up the best practices for using semantic search and find ways to use long-tail search terms where possible. You could also try storytelling and humor as ways to make your listings stand out.
- Research your audience’s everyday vernacular, and include relevant brand names.
- Aim for over 1000 words if you have a technology/specialist product.
- If it is a more straightforward item (such as clothing), go into detail about the materials, fit, and give ensemble ideas. Aim for around 600 words in length.
- Structure the text in bullet points possible and promote the benefits and features in your descriptions.
Social proof is vital to customers and your site’s SEO. Make sure that you encourage positive customer feedback through industry review sites. You should also implement schema markup on your product pages to bring up review ratings in search results.
The most critical aspect of review collecting is to take on feedback, and over time, develop as a company. Take the time to reach out to customers regularly via social media, marketing emails, etc. Start building a community of customers.
Onsite testimonials and case studies will also help your customers make the right decision. Spend time building up a good list of reviews from loyal brand followers, as well as people you’ve supported in the past.
Location-based apps are becoming more popular, so make sure your online store is part of this trend. Ensure that you use structured data to include localized search terms. Also, consider push notification marketing offers for mobile customers within a certain radius.
You should also make the effort to compile a list of local directories and get added to these. Finally, don’t forget to engage in local community outreach. Find customers in your local area to help you improve your local SEO and ‘irl’ standing.
Going into 2018, ecommerce brands will need to ensure that they prioritize mobile, and do their best to provide a UX that allows users to search and find the information they need in an instant.
** About the Author: Victoria Greene works as a freelance writer and branding consultant, and she runs a blog called Victoriaecommerce. Here she shares tips with marketers looking to improve their store’s incoming search traffic and SEO standing.