31Dec
By: Justas Markus December 31, 2016

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the rankings of a website or a web page in non-paid, also known as “organic”, search engine results. SEO combines creative and technical aspects that influence search engine rankings and can be broken down into three main areas: on-the-page SEO, off-the-page SEO, and violations.

You won’t be able to improve your search engine rankings by focusing on and optimizing only one area of SEO, as they are interconnected and affect one another. As a marketing strategy, SEO focuses on optimizing all elements that influence search engine results, including keyword research, content, HTML, site architecture, link building, and so on. It’s also important to note that SEO can target different kinds of search: image search, video search, local search, news search, academic search and vertical search that focuses on a specific industry.

Why does my eCommerce shop need SEO?

eCommerce industry is booming, with new online stores popping up every day. As a fairly new online business trend praised for its profitability potential, it represents an enormous opportunity for entrepreneurs. However, high profits also means high competition. Every eCommerce store is trying to get to the top of search results to drive more traffic to their site and eventually, generate more sales. Optimizing your store’s SEO can give you an advantage over your competition and help you quickly increase traffic as well as boost your sales. In addition, websites that appear higher in search results enjoy better brand recognition, which leads to higher long-term sales effects.

Best SEO practices and methods for eCommerce stores  

A good way to think about the SEO benefits for your online store is that if you are missing out on clicks due to lower search rankings, you’re most likely missing out on sales, too. As with every other marketing strategy, you should focus on getting the SEO basics right first, and then shift to more sophisticated strategies that are in line with your business goals.  

So how can you make sure your eCommerce shop ranks at the top? Here is a brief step-by-step guide to the most powerful eCommerce SEO practices:

  1. Research is the most important part of SEO. Start your SEO work from keyword and competitor research to identify your search opportunities and evaluate your competitors’ SEO strategy. When researching competition, take note of their inbound links strategy (where are they getting their backlinks from?) and their site architecture (what is their site navigation like?).
  2. Next step is carrying out a thorough site audit to identify possible problems. You can use tools like Screaming Frog to quickly pick up and fix errors on your own site. Once those are out of the way, check your site’s loading speed, as slow websites suffer from higher site abandonment rates.
  3. On-page SEO optimization has an immense influence on your site’s performance. You can think of it as a low-hanging fruit because it’s entirely in your hands and can be done fairly quickly. The eight key aspects you should focus on when polishing your on-page SEO are:
    • keyword optimization (headers, subheaders, image Alt tags, product descriptions, etc.),
    • site structure (aim to create “flat structure” that requires a minimum amount of clicks to navigate from your homepage to your product pages),
    • internal linking (establish your own anchor text but use internal linking sparingly),
    • usability (streamlining your checkout process, making the contact information easily accessible and creating a generally pleasant user experience),
    • mobile version of the site,
    • social proof (customer reviews lead to more conversions and positively impact your SEO),
    • and social media integration (adding social buttons helps customers to easily share your content and products, which leads to Google giving your site more authority).  
  4. To set yourself up for success, you need to implement a robust testing strategy. This includes things like running A/B tests to experiment with page content, using analytics to determine your best-converting keywords, testing meta titles and descriptions to improve click-through rates and utilizing PPC campaigns to discover high-converting keywords that should be part of your SEO strategy.
  5. Leverage your keyword research by creating exceptional blog content. Not all of the keywords that are important to your business will make it onto a page of your site, so you should really double-down on producing high-quality content optimized to rank for those keywords and provide value to your readers.
  6. Take the off-page SEO optimization seriously. In simple terms, off-page SEO tells Google what others think about your brand and most people associate off-page SEO with link building; which is correct, but there are other activities you can try. Quality backlinks have a major impact on your search rankings, so spend time searching for link opportunities from high authority sites and avoid spammy looking websites. The best way to earn links is through relevant guest posts, infographics, research reports, and press releases. You should also consider submitting your XML sitemap to search engines if most of your traffic is generated through long-tail keywords.   
  7. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and take advantage of the leading SEO tools, such as:

Open Site Explorer
Ubersuggest
Authority Labs
Google Keywords Planner
Keyword Tool
AhRefs
Screaming Frog
Broken Link Builder
Buzzstream
MOZ Keyword Explorer

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