SEO tactics for e-commerce are a completely different ball game from those used for ‘normal’ SEO. There is a particular onus on ‘intent’ keywords and considerably more website optimisation to be done.
The main reason for this is that an e-commerce website, through necessity, has its focus on products and sales above all else, rather than just traffic in general. E-commerce experts recommend a 50/50 split of the whole website budget, between site design/optimisation and marketing, where this would more normally be 30/70.
Many e-commerce websites are guilty of a variety of ‘crimes,’ including poor url structures, poor product images and descriptions, lack of or inadequate ALT tags, poor internal links and a lack of any unique, relevant or new content.
A website which is designed to sell products online requires more thought and planning than a website that is used purely for advertising purposes. The Home page is literally a shop window. Basically, it has to look the part to make visitors come in and buy from you.
Product pages must be equally appealing and must load quickly. The overall aim as far as load times go is instant! To achieve this, avoid adding any flashing/moving images, sound effects or pop-ups. Apart from slow loading issues with this type of content, they annoy many users and are not supported in all browsers anyway.
Top quality images are an essential and using a professional photography service could make all the difference to how well your products are portrayed to visitors. Images should be further complemented with an ALT tag for every one. They are not just useful to website users, but also essential fodder for search engine bots.
Each image should also have its own grammatically correct textual product description. This should always include the price (state whether inclusive or exclusive of VAT) and delivery cost.
Many sales are lost at the checkout due to ‘hidden’ costs like VAT not being included or extortionate shipping charges.
Another glaring mistake that many e-commerce websites consistently overlook is their product descriptions. It is very easy to simply copy and paste them from a manufacturer’s website, but the search engines will see this as duplication. Make each description unique in some way and, if possible, offer further information on each product, plus relevant information, like customer reviews.
To increase usability and improve the overall user experience, it is worth offering a site search, pretty much an essential for large sites with numerous products, but also helpful to inexperienced visitors. To further assist users, it is also recommended to set up brand landing pages (if this is appropriate to your business), as users often search by brand name, rather than by product name initially.
E-commerce SEO is a huge subject and the suggestions listed above are only the tip of the iceberg. You will need to bear this in mind if you intend to outsource your e-commerce website design and SEO to an agency – choose wisely and only pick one if they are fully experienced in both!