Search engine optimization has evolved. As brands get more and more competitive in the digital space, SEO is no longer confined to the traditional approach. Today, it is a world of rivalries amongst keywords and titles, conflicting strategies, flimsy customers and hence high-octane drives to optimize conversions.
With the online space full of numerous similar options, the customer today finds himself in a good space. What about the businesses? More so in e-commerce, where high acquisition costs and cut-throat competition have left many high and dry. According to research, about 44% of online customers begin their search with search engines. So, it becomes utterly important for these businesses to stand out amongst this competition and differentiate themselves. Hence, SEO techniques have matured and need to be fully exploited to drive business growth.
In this issue we will discuss upon some key SEO aspects for e-commerce websites.
This refers to the organization of content on your website. Well-organized site architecture allows you to trace and direct the path a user follows as he traverses through your website.
To develop a robust architecture, key pages and relationships between them, as in which one should be logically preceded by the other, need to be identified. Also, make sure that the content doesn’t run too deep. Maximum 2-3 clicks should be sufficient to land the user back to the homepage. Some key pointers:
- Find out the search queries that are leading users to your website
- Monitor and compare these with the queries users type once they are on your site
- Identify your strength and weakness – your top traffic page and your top exit page
With their ever expanding catalogs, almost all e-commerce websites use drop downs to categorize and provide access to their product lists. One important catch is that search engines can’t seek navigation, unless the code has been written in HTML. Hence it is advisable to code all your navigation in HTML. Name your category pages by using the chosen keywords.
- If the product list is long, make use of the “load more” button. Do not “data-bomb” your visitor, lest he drives away. Feed him as per his appetite, not yours.
- Don’t make him scroll, scroll and scroll. Put a limit to the maximum number of full screen scrolls; ensure that it is easy on the eyes. Infinite scrolling makes your footer difficult to access. Since your website footer usually links to the best and most used pages, it should always be visible.
Cross linking your top pages increases the engagement opportunities for your visitors and allows you to guide them across your website, on a path favorable for your business. Navigation becomes easy not only for these visitors, but also for the crawler bots, optimizing your Google SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages).
With Google rankings now considering mobile-readiness as a parameter for their page ranks, your site needs to be optimized for the modern mobile (read smartphone) user. With mobiles driving a sizable chunk of online traffic, success without a mobile-friendly version as it is becomes difficult.
Another factor that may drive away potential customers is the time taken for a page to load. The time-savvy online shopper doesn’t want to waste time watching the “loading..” sign. He wants page loads and transactions as fast as the click of a button. Unnecessary waiting may put him of; make him move to another site. This is not what any business wants.
So, it is advisable to take the Google page speed test. The “analyze” option performs a thorough diagnosis of your site and tells you exactly what is reducing the page load speed.
This is one of the most, if not the most, important aspects of SEO. SERP’s are based upon keywords that crawlers locate and relate with your website. After all, a visitor who lands on your website via a search engine or SERP would have searched for something specific on the search engine. That something specific is the keyword(s) that you should be looking out for, using it as much as possible across your website’s content, without making it sound redundant.
How to arrive at a set of few probable but relevant words that a user might search online and that connect his query to your business? Keyword research is the solution. It is a big enough domain to command a separate post on itself, but let us try to analyze it concisely.
The importance of thorough research before choosing your keywords can be established from the fact that an average user processes more than 1 lakh daily words. 7 lakh google searches per minute imply that your keyword has to chosen with extreme caution and has to be optimized.
There are two types of keywords – short tail and long tail.
Short tail keywords or head terms, as they are popularly called, are 0-26 characters long and are the major source responsible for driving traffic onto your website. But they don’t drive converts. This is taken care of by long tail keywords. These are usually 26-40 characters long and are a more specific version of the short tail keywords. These are more concerned with the patterns and links amongst new clients and conversions.
For instance, “formal shirt” is a head term, while “linen club sky blue formal shirt” can be a related long tail keyword and this is what will matter while driving sales, once the customer comes to your website via the head term. Hence long tail keywords need to be meticulously and precisely defined, or else you might lose a potential customer.
Finding the right keyword:
The best method to choose the most pertinent keyword is by making a keywords bucket. As the name suggests, it includes forming a set of keywords based upon a common seed word, the basic product that you are offering to your customer. For instance if you deal in shirts, then your seed word will be “shirt”, and subsequently your keywords bucket can include “formal shirt”, “casual shirt” and so on.
Better still; if you don’t have any idea how to start, let the advertising gods from Google assist you. Simply enter your product name into the Google Keyword Planner, a free AdWords tool for “building new Search Network campaigns or expanding existing ones”, and you’ll have a list of potential keywords, along with easy to understand metrics based upon your targets, niche and location. An easy and reliable way to ensure that you use the best possible and most relevant set of keywords.
As the above screen shots show, Keywords Planner generates a group of ad group ideas, categories within which your product can be classified. It also generates a list of relevant keyword ideas. Its USP lies in the fact that it provides metrics for:
- The average monthly searches per keyword/ad group
- The level of competition that is using each keyword
- The amount of bid you should place for advertising on Adwords
This, thus helps you to zero in upon the keyword best suited as per your requirements.
Other options available to build keyword buckets include:
- Google Autosuggest
- Google related search suggestions
- Amazon suggest
- Uber Suggest
- Keyword dominator (specially recommended for businesses on the Amazon Seller Network)
Having touched upon these basic SEO techniques, in the next issue we will try to come up with a handy guide to on-site SEO. With the rapidly expanding online digital population and their level of awareness, the boundaries between on-site and off-site search engine optimization keep on getting blurred. The more inter-laced they become; the job of the marketer becomes all the more difficult.
In the end it is all about finding the right balance between the two, as both are equally important. You need to optimize these two optimization techniques. Turns out it isn’t that easy after all.
All Images Courtesy: Google Images