The Complete SEO Checklist For eCommerce Stores 2021
Did you know that the first result on Google gets almost a third of all clicks? Since most people conduct an online search before committing to a large purchase, it is essential for ecommerce stores to have an effective SEO strategy.
A good SEO strategy will lead to continuous, organic traffic. Since organic traffic is free, it can seriously improve your bottom line.
For many ecommerce sites, organic traffic is a determining factor as to whether they can maintain a positive ROI.
However, the competition can be strong at times, which is why you need to make sure you are covering all the bases, so you can stay ahead in the SEO race to the first spot on Google.
Today, I will be giving you the complete SEO checklist for ecommerce sites. Bookmark this checklist and refer to it from time to time to ensure your SEO strategy is up to date.
Let’s get into it.
Your first step is conducting keyword research. Without knowing which keywords to target, you won’t be able to optimize your pages for SEO.
You will need a good keyword tool to find the best keywords. There are many free and paid keyword tools you can use.
Here are some of them:
- Ubersuggest: This tool is offered by Neil Patel. It’s an excellent tool that we will talk about later in this article, as it includes not only a keyword tool but other SEO tools as well.
- KeywordTool.io: This free tool is somewhat limited, but you won’t have to pay anything to use it.
- Ahrefs: Ahrefs is an awesome suite of SEO tools that includes a keyword tool.
- SEMrush: SEMrush is a major competitor of Ahrefs.
What makes a keyword good? There are several things to look for in a keyword:
- It must have decent search volume: A keyword with just 25 searches a month won’t bring in a lot of sales. Look for keywords with higher search volumes.
- It must be easy to rank for: Most keyword tools will either tell you what the competition is like for a particular keyword or give you a ranking difficulty score. The less established your site is, the harder it will be to rank for higher competition keywords.
- It should have buyer intent: Consider the difference between “hockey puck” and “where can I get the best hockey puck.” The first search term is very general. The searcher might be interested in knowing what a hockey puck is or what it is made of, and not necessarily be interested in buying one. The second search term has more buyer intent.
Consider using LSI keywords. Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing to learn what web pages are talking about.
For example, it understands that “dog food” and “canine food” refer to the same thing. Don’t focus on one keyword exclusively; always include keywords that have similar meanings.
Once you have a list of keywords to use, it’s time to start using them. This step is known as on page SEO.
Use your keywords in your product descriptions, product headings, and tags. Again, use both your main target keyword and similar LSI keywords.
Be careful not to stuff your content with keywords, as Google doesn’t like that. You can use your main keyword in the title, the beginning of your product description or article, and 1-2 more times throughout the description, depending on the length.
Also, use it in your product tags and metadata, as per the following section. However, you can use LSI keywords more frequently.
Your metadata is what actually appears on Google and is what searchers will see in the search results. Your meta title should be 40-60 characters long, and your meta description should be up to 160 characters long.
Use your keywords in the meta title and description, but also optimize them for click throughs and conversions by including CTAs.
Good images will help your pages rank better. Use a few product images to show your product from different angles.
If you can take your own images, do that. Try not to rip off images from the manufacturer’s website, as they will show up as duplicate content on Google.
Did you know that you can add your target keyword to the alternative text of an image? That’s what appears on your website when the image is not available for whatever reason or can’t load, and it is one of the ways Google “reads” images.
You can also insert your keyword in the file name before uploading the image. That’s a cool trick not everyone knows about.
You don’t have to wait until Google’s crawlers discover your site. Be proactive and let Google know about your site and all of its pages.
You will need a Google Search Central (formerly known as Google Webmasters and Google Search Console) account to submit your site to Google. It’s free.
You will also need a sitemap, which is basically a map that contains all of your pages, so you can submit it to Google for indexing. The sitemap file will be updated in real time, so you only need to submit it once; whenever you add a new page, Google will index it.
If you use Shopify, here is how to find your sitemap. If you use WooCommerce, you can use a WordPress ecommerce plugin, like the free Google XML Sitemaps plugin, to generate a sitemap (if you have Yoast, you don’t need an additional plugin).
Then, follow the instructions on this page to submit your site to Google.
Create an account with Bing Webmasters, which accounts for Yahoo’s search engine too, and submit your sitemap there. Many webmasters overlook this, but Bing and Yahoo do account for a very small but not insignificant portion of organic search traffic.
Site structure is important as it helps people navigate your site, and it also helps Google understand what each post is about.
Create different parent pages (or main pages) for your product categories, and add your product pages as different child pages (or subpages). Your blog should have its own parent page.
Edit your URLs to make them shorter and more readable. Make sure the URLs include your main target keyword for that particular product page.
Half, or more, of all ecommerce traffic comes from mobile devices. That is why optimizing your site for mobile is so important.
Make sure you use a mobile responsive theme, so your site works well on mobile tablets and smartphones. Most themes on WooCommerce and Shopify are mobile responsive, but some are more responsive than others.
Some things will ruin the mobile experience. They include:
- Popups that are hard to close on mobile devices
- Popups that appear too frequently or too soon
- Self playing videos
- Text that is too large for the screen
- Slow loading pages
- Plugins that require software that only desktop computers have
Check for all of these things. You can disable some things, like popups, on mobile devices.
Google has a free Mobile Friendly Test Tool that allows you to check for mobile responsiveness issues. Enter your site’s URL or a page’s HTML code to see whether you can make your site more mobile responsive.
7. Publish High Quality Content
Product pages won’t always be enough to get your site to rank. It is of the essence to publish high quality content as well.
A blog is a great way to provide high value content and improve your search engine rankings. Not only can your blog posts target buyer intent keywords, but they will also improve your product pages’ rankings, as sites with more content rank better overall.
Your blog can contain:
- Lists of the best products for a specific need
- How-to articles
- Company and industry updates
- Exclusive research
- And anything else that would offer value to readers
Try to publish posts on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be every day, but your blog should be updated at least every week.
Focus on long form content, as blog posts with at least 2,000 words tend to rank higher. You need to include images in your blog, as well as inbound and outbound links to relevant, high quality sources.
Site speed is another crucial SEO factor. Google confirmed many years ago that their algorithms take site speed into account when ranking sites.
That’s for good reason: A slow-loading site provides a poor user experience, and Google wants to keep its users happy. Let’s go over some ways you can speed up your site.
Too many plugins, or a heavy theme with too many unnecessary features, can slow down your site. If you are coding your site from scratch, use light code.
Before uploading your images, compress them to make them a smaller size. That won’t affect image quality.
Instead of uploading videos to your site, upload them to YouTube and then embed them in your pages using the short code YouTube gives you.
Use caching to speed up site delivery. A plugin like WP Super Cache for WooCommerce will deliver a static, cached HTML file to most users.
On Shopify, you can use a plugin like Hyperspeed to speed up your site.
Google has a free PageSpeed Insights tool that will tell you how you can speed up your site. It will point out errors slowing down your site.
Google’s AMP project helps web pages load very quickly on Google, usually within a second or two. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages.
Go to this page to learn more about using AMP for ecommerce. AMP plugins exist for both Shopify and WordPress.
I already talked about on page SEO, but what about off page SEO? One off page SEO method includes getting backlinks to your site.
Pages with more backlinks tend to rank higher, according to Backlinko, which analyzed millions of Google search results to see what the top results had in common. Let’s go over some of the best ways to get backlinks.
Submitting guest posts to other sites is one of the most effective ways to get backlinks. It is a win win — you get a backlink while they get free content.
Try to focus on high quality sites that allow a dofollow link. Links that are marked as nofollow can drive traffic and even help boost your SEO, but Google usually doesn’t crawl them, so they don’t usually pass over page juice.
Instead of submitting guest posts, you can also create a unique infographic and let others use it in exchange for a dofollow link crediting your blog as the source. Reach out to people who have blog posts covering the same topic your infographic covers.
Use a tool such as Check My Links to find dead links on popular sites in your niche. Sometimes, bloggers are so busy they don’t realize a site they linked to went down, or that they copied and pasted a link wrong.
If the dead link was linking to a blog post similar to a post you have, reach out to the blogger and suggest that they link to your blog instead. It’s a win win; you get a free link, and they get to fix their dead links and link to a useful article quickly, without doing much work or research themselves.
Social proof is so important, not only for sales but for SEO as well. Encourage buyers to leave reviews on your site.
Positive reviews count as user generated content, as they can rank in Google for organic keywords that reviewers use without knowing.
Once you have buyer reviews on a product page, you can make those reviews show up on Google next to your search snippet by using Schema.org markup. Use Schema’s WordPress plugin for that, or the Schema Plus plugin if you are on Shopify.
Schema.org markup can help boost your rankings. Additionally, when people see a product with high reviews, they will click on it.
An improved click through rate also ends up improving your rankings.
Social signals are often overlooked, but they are important. They’re not typical backlinks, but they do show Google that people on social media find your site interesting enough to talk about.
Here’s how to create social signals and social chatter:
- Create social media profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Link to your site in your bios
- Share content from your pages to social media
- Interact with users on social media and encourage them to reshare your social media posts
- Add social sharing buttons to your pages, so readers share blog posts directly from your blog
Finally, make sure you are constantly improving your SEO strategy. I’ll talk about a few ways to track your results and improve your SEO campaign.
There are many tools you can use to conduct a full site audit and discover SEO issues. Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest tool has a free site audit tool you can use.
Screaming Frog is another great SEO audit tool.
Common problems include dead links and a lack of proper redirects.
A great tool for checking if your rankings for a particular keyword have gone up or down is SERP Robot. It’s free to use, but there is a premium plan too.
Google Analytics and Google Search Central are two amazing tools for tracking how much traffic you are getting, where your traffic is landing, and more.
For example, you can see which content is getting high rankings; that helps you figure out which keywords rank the best. You can also see which content is getting the most clicks on Google, which can help you figure out what topics to cover in future blogs or what type of headlines to use.
Google Search Central can also help you spot site structure problems, such as 404 errors.
So, there you have it: A 12 point checklist for improving your ecommerce store’s SEO rankings.
This is the complete checklist, and the only checklist you will need, so bookmark it and refer to it as you build your site and become more knowledgeable in SEO.
Vibhav Gaur plays a key role in empowering Ebzion’s Automobile Aftermarket clients to sustainably grow their online revenues by leveraging technology + digital marketing.
With a strong background in technology and key focus in Automotive marketing he has helped multiple aftermarket OEMs and Retailers make it big online.
Need quick insights to improve your current online strategy?
Feel free to reach out: [email protected]