We tend to buy online more and more willingly. It’s how most of us spend our free time, isn’t it? Even my mom isn’t afraid to buy online and has started to trust the popular e-commerce retailers with her money. This is a great sign that indicates a significant change of habits.

Today, online shopping has become a daily activity; something common that people do, regardless of where they live or how old they are. Online shopping allows us to save time for more important things and helps us save some money too (especially during all of this Christmas craziness).

With the increase of online shopping comes an increase of online stores. They seem to pop up like mushrooms after a heavy rain.

The tight competition in e-commerce makes it vital for your online store to have its UX in top shape and be search engine optimized. To make your life easier, I’ve gathered all the best SEO practices that will maximize your online store’s visibility in search engines and make it competitive.

Want to rank higher on Google?

We’ve scoured the Interwebs (and our brains) to find the best SEO tools available for e-commercers (people just like you).

Get your hands on our comprehensive list of 28 must-have SEO tools that will skyrocket your Google rankings.

Free Downloadable Bonus
Download our free SEO tools checklist right now and start ranking higher in the search engines.

Start with research

Sorting out your SEO demands that you start with the research. You have two areas to study. The first research steps should aim to identify all the keywords and their variations that can be appropriate and valuable for your SEO strategy. The next approach is to consider analyzing your competitors – their websites, day to day activity, and major achievements that helped them succeed.

Why are both of these steps so important? Because in the end, you should have a well-defined SEO strategy that reflects how you want to interact with your prospects, what needs your brand can fulfill and how, and of course, how to make them engaged with your website and products in order to encourage purchases.

Also, being informed about your market niche and knowing who the top competitors are can help a lot; the competitors can serve as inspiration and a guide for the steps you should take.

The fundament of SEO basics: keyword research

Keywords are the fundamental part of on-page SEO. Without strategically chosen phrases, you wouldn’t know where to go. So the first step is to create a list of your keywords. It all starts with the idea of your business. Remind yourself what the primary concept of your business is. What do you sell? Try to gather all the main keywords that come to your mind.

For instance, Zalando sells clothes; it’s a multibrand store. Their strongest phrases include shoes, shoes online, men’s clothing, buy shoes online, summer dresses, ankle boots, snow boots, hipster clothing, cheap shoes for men, platform sandals, etc

These are only randomly chosen phrases that zalando.co.uk is targeting. Meaning, they are ranking for those phrases in the search results and those keywords have the potential to bring them a lot of organic traffic as their search volume is pretty high. Their keywords list consists of thousands of keywords, and they cooperate with many experts that optimize the Zalando website every day.

zalando-co

You should have a list of your targeted keywords too. Once your list of words that describes your store or brand is ready, you should use it as a jumping off point for detecting other fruitful phrases.

Check each major keyword – one by one – in the search results. It’s better to use incognito mode for that purpose, as such results will be free from the results based on your search history and your online habits.

While checking each keyword, look at the first page and determine the variations in the way that keyword was used. Write down all the variations and any synonyms that you spot. Google Suggest can help you find new keywords too.

Google Suggest appears while you are typing your phrase in the search box. It’s also visible at the bottom of a search page. It’s highly recommended to collect all these keywords in a spreadsheet.

google-suggest-1

google-suggest-2

You may find that various free and paid tools are helpful when identifying keywords as well.

Adwords Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, Keywordtool.io, and Wordstream Keyword Niche Finder are just a few of the many available.

adwords-keyword-planner

Adwords Keyword Planner

ubersuggest

Ubersuggest.org

keywordtoolKeywordtool.io

You can decide which one you want to use to spot new keywords. The more tools you use, the more keywords you’ll find and the better – more precise- your strategy will be.

However, it’s crucial to remember that it’s not about the number of keywords that makes your strategy successful: it’s the potential of the keywords that matters most. So once your keywords list is ready, identify the keywords that have a high search volume and little competition.

You can do this by using Positionly. Just upload your entire keywords list to the app, take a break, and the app will provide you with the exact search volume, competition levels, and traffic opportunity.

keywords-positionly-dashboard

Based on the data from Positionly you can prioritize what keywords to target first and know exactly what results to expect anytime your visibility for a given phrase rises +1 position.

Zalando is a giant so if you are a beginning online store owner from the same niche – fashion/clothing – know that you won’t beat it. You can find your place in the market even next to such giants by targeting less competitive and longer phrases (long tail keywords), which bring less traffic but are much easier to rank.

There is a lot of room on the web for those who are savvy with how they market their online stores. And remember, you can build great success through small wins.

Discover how Airtame converts 3,8% of all visits to email subscribers and how you can, too.. Learn more

Competitive research: how to find your place in your niche

This part is about identifying your competition. You will already start to notice who your competitors are while you research your keywords. They’ll appear in the search results for the same keywords that you chose to target in your strategy. This refers to sites that appear in the organic results as well as the sites that are running ads for those phrases.

You should create another spreadsheet and add your competitors’ site links. Then use, for instance, the free MOZbar plugin to evaluate the strength of their domains by checking the domain authority (DA) and comparing it with your website’s strength.

Find out how much traffic they have monthly, where their traffic is coming from, which countries produce the most of their traffic, and what sites provide the most referrals. Compare this data with your website’s performance to have a clear overview of your hierarchy within the niche.

You may find that your direct competitors have equally strong domains with the same traffic levels. They’re most likely at the same growth stage and can compete with you for the same keywords and positions.

So, where are you on the scale?

The importance of on-page optimization 

Once you know what the best keywords for your business are, you can start with the on-page optimization process. On-page optimization means targeting each page of your website for a strategically chosen, primary keyword. The homepage should reflect the crucial keyword for your business, and other pages should be targeted for different main phrases. Together, this will complete your SEO savvy jigsaw puzzle.

The homepage should reflect the crucial keyword for your business, and other pages should be targeted for different main phrases. Together, this will complete your SEO savvy jigsaw puzzle.

To accomplish this, each keyword, its synonyms, and semantically close variations should be placed thoughtfully throughout each page. But how and where should you place a keyword?

1. URLs: Your URLs should be short, clear, user-friendly and SEO friendly too. This is why you should make them descriptive by including a keyword in the URL. Avoid ugly URLs such as this – http://positionly.com/blog/post/44056161958. It’s much better to make them readable like this – http://positionly.com/blog/long-tail-seo.

The example above presents URLs of two different blog posts on our website. The structure of your URLs should be similar https://yourdomain.com/your-keyword. The e-commerce example of a well-optimized URL is, of course, Zalando: https://www.zalando.co.uk/river-island-shop-women

2. Title tag. The most important optimization involves placing your keyword in your title tag as this is the strongest ranking signal that the specific page sends to search engines. 

The title tag should be short, indicate what can be found on the page attached and include a keyword. Experts say starting your title tag with a keyword carries more weight with search engines.

Also, add modifiers to your title tag where suitable; they will help you rank for long tail (longer) versions of your keywords.

3. Meta descriptions. This short snippet that appears under your title tag and URL is a concise preview of the page content and should present in an engaging way what a searcher can expect once they click through. This is why you should master meta description writing ;). You can also add your keyword to your meta description. Once a user searches for this keyword in the search engine, the result will show up with the keyword in the title tag, URL and bolded in the meta description.

zalando-title-tag-meta-description

4. H1: Always include one H1 – Heading Tag on each page. Craft your H1 tag so it expresses the same thing the Title tag does. The difference between them both lies in the fact that the title tag is displayed in the search results, while the H1 tag is your on-page title. So include a keyword in your H1 and keep it close to the beginning too. Modifiers that help you rank for longer phrases are also very welcome here.

sleeknote-url-h1

5. Multimedia: You should be adding various multimedia sources to your pages as they engage users more effectively than plain text does. Include videos and/or high-quality photographs that present your offers and products or services at their best. Take your time when producing packshots and creative videos appropriate for your type of business. This will always pay off as people will stay on your website longer, send positive signals to search engines and simply purchase more.

6. Heading tags: Use H2 and H3 on pages where it is appropriate and add a keyword. Bigger font sends a stronger ranking signal, so it’s necessary that you always use keywords in your heading tags, no matter which one heading tag it is. Of course, the H1 heading is the most important, and H2, H3, and the rest follow. 

7. Content: Your text should flow naturally, and don’t ever make it look spammy. Just remember that there should be a keyword included in the first 100 words. In general, you content and product pages should always include 1000+ words and use your keyword 3-5 times.

Keywords, their synonyms, variations, and long tail versions should appear here and there whenever relevant in your text, but not too densely. The most important part of your content is well written, engaging copy. Always. 

There is also another truth about effective content optimization. The longer your text, the better it ranks for the targeted keyword. A longer text is more comprehensive and therefore includes more keywords. Always try to extend the word count, but don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

8. Internal links: Help users dig deeper into your website and suggest other relevant pages. For instance, if you’re selling clothes, below the particular product display of the full outfit are suggestions and miniatures of other products. Or if you sell books, you can display other books in the same category or the same author under the specific product.

Internal linking is very helpful in terms of improving engagement rates; it lowers your bounce rate, increases time on site, and beautifully encourages your customers to simply buy more. It also defines a clear website architecture, which in turn helps search engines crawl your website more efficiently.

zalando

9. Outbound links. When you support some statements when writing a blog, for example, don’t restrain from adding outbound links to the valuable sources that validate your point of view. This will boost your credibility because people will see that there are real facts behind what you are talking about. What’s more,  linking out to the related sources helps Google categorize your content. 

10. SEO friendly Images. It’s not only HTML and text that should meet specific requirements. Any images that you upload to your website should also be optimized for a targeted phrase. Start with the appropriate filename. It should reflect what is presented in the image and be linked to the keyword that you are trying to rank for on the specific page. 

So if your keyword is calvin klein blue jeans, then the filename of the image your product should be calvin-klein-blue-jeans. But that’s not all. There is also an alt tag that shouldn’t be empty. The filenames and alt tags of your images should match, so write them in the same way.

11. Responsive Web Design. I bet you’ve heard about the recent statistics referring to the use of mobile devices. The number of people using mobile devices is constantly on the rise. Go to Google Analytics → Audience → Mobile → Overview & Devices and see how many of your visitors use smartphones and tablets. Your website should be mobile ready (especially because Google punishes those who aren’t mobile ready yet). Use responsive web design to make user experience flawless no matter what device is used.

overview-analytics

12. Site speed. It is one of the most important ranking factors. Test your site speed using Google Speed Test, and follow the tips for maximizing your load speed. The tips refer to the size of your images, some unnecessary plugins and HTML elements, the CDN and hosting.

13. Social Sharing. Although social signals aren’t directly linked to higher search rankings, sharing buttons are the easiest way to improve the reach of your content. Sharing buttons make it super easy for any user that likes your content to share it with their network on a preferred social media channel. More sharing means an increased level of interest in your product and more traffic and conversions. Sharing buttons are a must on each one of your pages.

shareability

Want to rank higher on Google?

We’ve scoured the Interwebs (and our brains) to find the best SEO tools available for e-commercers (people just like you).

Get your hands on our comprehensive list of 28 must-have SEO tools that will skyrocket your Google rankings.

Free Downloadable Bonus
Download our free SEO tools checklist right now and start ranking higher in the search engines.

Wrap up

Looks like we have it! I hope you like my SEO basics for e-commerce. Now you can go to the final part – the execution. Remember that it’s all in your hands! I can promise that once you optimize your website so it meets all the mentioned requirements, you will notice an improved performance of your online store.

Did I miss something? Would you like to add anything to this piece? Or do you have something else to say about this topic? Let me know in the comments below.

Good Luck Guys!

Kasia Perzyńska
Kasia is Content Marketer at LiveChat Partner Program. Kasia enjoys her role much, especially when she can just lose herself in creative writing. When she is not working, you can find her cooking healthy food, running, traveling or playing with her whippet.

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  1. What a nice list of SEO tools. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  2. thanks, i love this post!

    Reply
    • Sam Thomas Davies

      Glad you like it, Fabrico 🙂

      Reply

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