Key Fundamentals about SEO for Ecommerce
Acquire search engine traffic and gain insights on how to improve your business search engine rankings.
tl;dr — This post will give you a foundational understanding of how to grow your business through search engine traffic. After doing a lot of research and understanding how SEO works, we compiled this post with everything we learned to help guide you towards your SEO journey with your store. We also use these tactics on our personal ecommerce store.
After reading this post, you will gain an understanding of:
- How search engines work
- How search engines interact with online pages
- How keywords work and how to select ones that are relevant to your businesses
- How to optimize your webpages for search engine traffic
A report shows us 39% of all ecommerce traffic comes from search (2018).
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of increasing your brand’s exposure through non-paid or organic search results. Many people think SEO is all about search engines… but in reality, it’s about people — how they search, and what they’re searching for. This gives businesses an advantage over other channels, because users are specifically searching for the terms.
Today we’ll learn about SEO best practices and gain an understanding of how you can use them to better optimize your website and gain organic traffic.
Lesson 1: How do search engines work? (1 minute read)
Before we learn about how to optimize our website for search engine traffic, it’s important to understand how SEO works and how search engines rank pages on the search engine results page which is also called SERP.
Search engines allow web users to search through content on the internet. They work using a 3-step process that involves: crawling, indexing, and ranking. Below, we’ll take a look at a quick overview (or refresher if you’re experienced in SEO) on how each step works.
Web crawlers, also known as spiders, help users find relevant results or ‘answers’ to their searches on the search engine.
For example, if you do a Google Search for “Kookaburra birds” Google will crawl the internet looking for web pages that include that term.
Search engines scan the web looking for pages that match a user’s search term, and then display those findings in a giant list.
Indexing is the process of adding websites into Google search.
Once a search engine crawls a page, it analyzes it. In the process, the search engine analyzes the page’s contents and stores that information in an index. The index is then used to provide the search results for webpages you see when searching for something.
In SEO, ranking refers to the position of a website in the search engine results pages (SERPs). There are a number of factors that determine how high a webpage appears within a SERP. This article will walk you through some of the important factors for 2019.
SEO is constantly changing, so the ranking factors that are relevant today may change tomorrow. The best way to stay up to date with SEO is to subscribe to a blog like Search Engine Journal or Moz — both are great for keeping up-to-date with the latest SEO news and trends. I would reccomend to subscribe to one so yo can stay in the loop.
Lesson 2: Google Search Console (1 min read)
We’ll learn about website and server optimizations that help search engines crawl and index your website.
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free online web services tool created by Google. It allows you to monitor your website’s search performance and integrates with other systems like Google Analytics and SEO monitoring tools, like Moz or Yoast.
This tool is currently Google’s primary channel for communicating changes and updates to site owners.
Having a registered Search Console account allows Google to send you information on website issues, errors, and penalties.
For example, if you have any pages that aren’t being indexed by Google, Search Console will let you know which pages aren’t being crawled and why.
Google recently updated to a newer version of Search Console. You can read about these updates and get instructions on how to migrate/set up the new Google Search Console in this article.
Lesson 3: XML sitemaps (1 min read)
An XML sitemap is a list of all the URLs on your website. It acts like a map of your site and tells search engines what content you have and where to find it. Your sitemap is what helps search engines provide accurate results to search queries.
XML sitemaps are beneficial to websites that:
- Have a weak internal linking structure (we’ll discuss in greater detail later)
- Have a lot of pages
- Make content changes frequently
- Add new pages often
While submitting your sitemap doesn’t guarantee that your site will be crawled, indexed, or ranked…doing so can significantly increase your chances of all three.
Your XML sitemap is a list of pages you recommend search engines to crawl, but it doesn’t need to include every page on your website. When submitting your sitemap to Google, be sure you exclude the following:
- Duplicate pages
- Pages blocked by robots.txt
Lesson 4: URLs (1 min read)
A Uniform Resource Locator, better known as a URL, is the web address of a page or resource on the internet.
Domains are a key component of SEO because they’re what Google looks at when deciding whether a page is relevant to a search query. They also help to create a good user experience by allowing users to more easily navigate to and around your website.
URLs are made up of three parts:
- A top-level domain: This is the text following the dot (.). Top-level domains classify your domains by location (.au, .uk, .ca, .com) and type (.edu, .gov).
- A domain name: This is the website or company name (ie. Unicorn Horse, Facebook, etc).
- An optional subdomain: The sub domain appears before the first dot (.) in the domain name. (i.e. www.example.com or shop.example.com).
When creating SEO-friendly URLs, keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep URLs as simple, relevant, and accurate as possible
- Include keywords where and when applicable
- Make them clear — a user (or crawler) should be able to know what to expect when they click on a URL
- Use hyphens to separate words
- Use lowercase letters
Example of SEO-friendly URLs:
This is an SEO-friendly URL because it’s clean and easy to read. It also includes the keyword ‘black umbrella’.
This is not an SEO-friendly URL because it’s hard to read, it doesn’t include any keywords, and it’s very long.
Lesson 4: Breadcrumbs (1 min read)
Breadcrumbs are paths (usually small text located at the top of a webpage) that show users a trail of where they’ve been and where they are. Every step of the trail is clickable and allows users to navigate back to the homepage. I use to think breadcrumbs had no use on a website, but after doing research and learning more about SEO, breadcrumbs are really helpful.
There are a few different types of breadcrumbs you can use on your website:
- Location-based breadcrumbs: These will tell users where they are in a site’s structure and how to get back to the homepage. Location-based breadcrumbs are the most commonly used for online web content.
- Attribute-based breadcrumbs: Are most often used for ecommerce websites. These typically contain product attributes like color, size, brand, etc.
- History/Path-based breadcrumbs: History-based breadcrumbs are ordered based on how a user navigates a website.
Breadcrumbs create an enhanced user experience and can help lower bounce rates, by reducing a user’s chance of getting lost. They can also help to increase a website’s ranking with Google because they help crawlers to better understand a website’s structure.
These are some of the key fundamentals for SEO in ecommerce. As I study this topic I will be writing more about it. If you think this post taught you something and helped you understand SEO better, please share it with someone you know it will help.
If you ever want to connect, don’t hesitate to DM me on IG, click here to head to my profile. Throw me any questions you have, any feedback, suggestions, or if you need help with your store.
Thank you to everyone that made it this far in reading this post, if you did make it this far, I know you’re interested in building your own store. Trust me just go do it. Build the sh*t out of it. Keep building and don’t ever stop.
PEACE And take care everyone! I will be back.