The Ecommerce space is chock full of players and competitors, it’s more of a rat-race now than when it began.
What’s more, the rules of the online business keep changing, and there are several smart strategies that lots of related businesses use for their competitive advantage.
With the heavy saturation of ecommerce businesses, there are several, often overlooked factors that pose significant challenges for online store owners.
Among these is search engine optimization (SEO), which is a crucial component of ecommerce.
Why SEO Poses a Major Challenge in Ecommerce
It’s fairly easy to set up the ecommerce website, but getting traffic to trickle in is another hurdle altogether.
A lot has changed since the days when you’d simply submit your site to directories, especially with digital marketing becoming more complicated, and the internet filled up with billions of websites and web pages.
Statistics show that 63 percent of marketers struggle most with tracking and making sense of website metrics such as traffic and leads. Another 40 percent struggle to prove the ROI of their marketing efforts, while 28 percent struggle to secure a budget for their activities.
With such metrics-driven challenges, ecommerce stores can struggle if they don’t know what to expect, how to work around the challenges and the proper marketing tools.
It’s not easy to implement SEO for ecommerce sites as most of them are run by multiple people from different professional backgrounds – not necessarily SEO professionals.
1. Positive user signals
With search engines like Google constantly changing their algorithms to integrate more things than just keywords, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to elicit positive user engagement from users.
As they search for specific keywords, search engines recognize the role that positive user signals play, thus these are included in rankings, making them as crucial to your ecommerce business’ SEO as backlinks.
If you need more clicks from your store’s search listings, make sure you engage your visitors from the moment they land on your site.
- Create attention-grabbing headlines or title tag using words like free shipping, discount or huge selection.
- Having a compelling Meta description also makes users want to click, so use tools like Google AdWords to find words people use for search terms you’re targeting, and include them.
- Add videos to your ecommerce store pages to keep visitors there for longer
- Place prominent links to your buyer guides to increase page visits, conversions, and time on site
2. Content quality and optimization
This is another huge SEO challenge for ecommerce businesses. Since the Panda algorithm was released, all website owners, whether publishers, ecommerce or others, have to ensure they churn the best quality of content for their target consumers.
Besides putting out quality content, another challenge here is optimizing product pages’ content for individual items on the pages, in order to have custom content for each.
Some of the things that bring about this challenge are manually filling in hundreds of titles, product URLs, Meta data, product descriptions and unique content for every page of the site to combat duplicate content that may trigger SEO ranking penalties.
- Use a tag (a rel=canonical tag) code to tell search engines not to crawl or treat product pages as unique.
- Use apps and templates to automate creation of new product pages
- Applying user-generated content to fill the void. For example, Amazon features photos, videos and customer product reviews
- Optimize your content. You content marketing should generate ROI. It should give people a reason to visit your online store even if they’re not buying immediately. It also helps them with research before buying something from your store.
For ecommerce businesses, having a blog is a necessity nowadays. What’s important is that you keep it updated with quality content. If you don’t know what to publish on it, you can start by focusing on problem solving and answering your readers’ questions as a start.
Improving indexation is another big SEO challenge (and opportunity) especially if you have a large ecommerce site. If you have thousands of URLs, it can be a struggle to get your page URLs indexed.
- Have clean XML sitemaps and check that they’re being generated at most once a week
- Check that the URLs in the sitemaps serve 200 responses instead of redirects
- Use the best version of the URL in the sitemap (not multiple versions) so that search engines can focus on the best one (keyword friendly)
4. Link building
Another SEO challenge is not building links the right way. Link building is important for SEO because links signal to search engines that your website is a quality resource, and that it’s worth being cited, in turn earning it higher search rankings.
- People are always seeking out great deals, so give your users coupons and offers, plus discounts on products or services.
- Use internal linking for your product and category pages as they’re packed with valuable keywords that can improve SEO performance. For example, Amazon uses the “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” carousel.
- Use review sites for your business to give the site legitimacy, traffic, and get topic ideas for your content and blog.
- Partner with influencers to drive traffic via social media links among other benefits.
5. Personalized URLs
Personalized URLs are important as they prevent broken URL links being indexed on search engines. This can impact your site’s SEO and Google page ranks negatively.
- Settle quickly on URL names early enough.
- Track any URL changes diligently.
- Establish 301 redirects immediately to prevent 404 errors, and redirect audiences to your new page via the old page’s SEO rankings.
6. Neglecting the Technical Side of Things
So your content game is great, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on the technical SEO bit, because if Google can’t index your content properly, then it’s worthless.
Like typical blogs and standard websites, ecommerce businesses also have to apply the same SEO fundamentals. However, there are certain things that make the challenge for these businesses such as duplicate title tags, improper linking, lack of “clean” URLs, and slow load times.
- Make your store’s site easy to use and clean. You can use breadcrumb navigation all to improve your site’s usability and click-through rates
- Use unique Meta titles for products (no duplicate title tags). You can use Amazon’s model of writing the brand, model and item type. Most users search for phrases instead of single keywords and this can improve CTRs and search rankings
- Clean URLs are easier to read and understand by search engines and human audiences too. They’re also shareable and offer an opportunity for you to add keywords to your site.
- Ensure your site’s load time is fast to avoid cart abandonment and improve customer satisfaction. You can also try out accelerated mobile pages, and enable caching on your site or use a content delivery network to handle your site’s media if it’s relatively large.
- Enable SSL that shows Google that your site uses security best practices, so you can rank better.
7. Lack of Professional SEO & SEM teams
A knowledgeable SEO and SEM team will ensure that mistakes are kept in check thus saving you time and costs that come with poor management of the process, let alone poor site rankings.
It’s easy to destroy the SEO efforts you’ve built up over months in just a short time, so knowing the SEO basics isn’t enough. Your site can suffer if its design is poor and not mobile-ready, has poor boilerplate and descriptions among other design issues.
If you buy backlinks, it’s a big issue especially with search engines as your site can be heavily penalized. Plus, if you don’t actively market it through outreach or brand development, it’ll suffer a lot.
- Combine SEO and SEM efforts to get the best of both worlds
These are just a few of the many possible SEO challenges that an ecommerce business faces, but once you know what to do and what to avoid, you’ll have a competitive edge in the SEO field.
Apply the workarounds we’ve mentioned here and your SEO/SEM team’s skills to best effect, but ensure you always keep SEO at the forefront of your mind.
Roberto Garvin –
Roberto Garvin is the co-founder of Mofluid. He is amazed to see how technology continues to evolve. From email to browsers, search engines, mobile, AI and now blockchain, he feels fortunate to witness it all and is really excited to see what’s next.