E-commerce 101: What You Need to Know

E-commerce SEO, sometimes called Shop SEO, is a specialized form of SEO that deals specifically with online storefronts (or shops).

Why Optimize for E-commerce Sites?

Currently, E-commerce has a 10% market share of retail sales in the United States, but this market is expected to increase every year. Amazon is currently the industry leader, followed by such big box stores as Target and Walmart that have embraced the online storefront as well.

Competition in the E-commerce realm is therefore fierce, which makes top quality E-commerce SEO essential. While much of the SEO that can be implemented for E-commerce sites is the same as for any other type of site, there are many essential requirements Google has put in place specifically for this niche.

Let’s talk about a few of these elements.

  1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO, an element of on-page SEO, refers to optimizing the coding of a website, rather than its content. Poor coding will impact the site’s rankings.

Take site speed, for one example.  According to research, most people will “bounce” from a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load on their device. If that’s not bad enough, Google’s web crawlers can detect how long a page takes to load, and will penalize it if it takes too long. This is a special problem for E-commerce sites, which tend to be very image heavy. Images should be resized before being uploaded to the site.

Another essential element for E-commerce sites is that every page be secure, so a security certificate should be purchased (designated by https://, rather than http://, in the URL). Not only is this safer for the businesses’ customers, but Google penalizes sites that don’t have such security in place.


  1. On Page SEO/ Blog

On page SEO – focusing on quality content – is especially important for E-commerce sites. Typically, the only text an E-commerce site has on its category pages is captions for each product photo. That’s why it’s important for each photo to be optimized via its name, alt text and description. No opportunity should be lost to place keywords on each page. If possible, clicking on a photo on the category page should take the user to a specific page for that product, where keyword-rich text describing the product can be used.

Search engines also reward fresh content. An integrated blog on a site, with regular, keyword-rich entries, provides the content that search engines like, but also helps build brand loyalty with customers who will appreciate the entries.


  1. Keywords Research and Implementation

Long-tailed keywords are essential for E-commerce SEO success. For example, a car enthusiast who needs new items for his or her classic car will not do a search on “car rims.” It is far more likely that they will search for “black rims for muscle cars,” or “chrome Mustang emblems” or “1954 Chevy quarter panel.” People who do a search on exactly what they want, which is why they use such long phrases, are far more likely to convert from a visitor to a purchaser on their first visit.

Choosing the right keywords is extremely important when the E-commerce site is in a very competitive niche. That’s why researching one’s competitor’s keywords is a good idea. Keywords must be relevant to the business. It does no good to “trick” someone to come to an E-commerce site by following a specific keyword, only to find that the site is not what they thought it would be.

By paying attention to these three elements, E-commerce SEO helps ensure that sites are rewarded by search engines with high rankings, and by converting visitors to customers.

Small Businesses Checklist: The Big Four for SEO Success

More and more people search for what they want – products or services – on the web. It is therefore essential that your company’s website show up on the first page of Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs, and ideally in one of the first ten spots on that first page, because that’s as far down as most people look.

What can you do to get your website into one of those rarified positions? Ensure that your site is search engine optimized.

  1. Create a website that Search Engines will reward

Designing a website these days is so easy that many small businesses elect to do it themselves. They purchase a domain name and a hosting package from a provider, and use that provider’s one-page template to create their site. All the information is on one page – “About Us,” “Who We Are,” “What We Do” and a contact form.

This design is optimized for smart phone users, but it is not optimized for SEO.  For SEO purposes, your website should have at least five pages, and each page should be “optimized’ for certain keywords related to your business. The more pages your site has, the more opportunities for search engine web crawlers to find your site, index it, and reward it with a high position in SERPs for those particular keywords.

Smart phone users can easily access all those pages, by the way. Menu bars are responsive and show up at the top of the screen as a small button. The user merely taps the button to see a drop down of all pages he or she would like to visit.  PC users will reward you for providing all the information they could possibly want, and more, about your company.

  1. Design for both smart phone and desktop computers

Because a lot of information –condensed versions – is on your home page for the benefit of your smart phone viewers, the ideal solution is to give headers to each piece of information that will differ from the page names you will have in your menu bar.

For example, if you have a header called “About Us” in the body of the home page, create a page entitled “Meet Our Team” in order to expand on what each team member does. Similarly, if you have a header called “What We Do” on the home page, create a page called “Services” to expand on the services they can obtain from you. In fact, depending on how many services you offer, create a drop-down menu with a different page for each service.

One important page that always seems to be missing from these do-it-yourself websites is the Privacy Policy page. If you collect emails from your visitors – and you really should for your online marketing – you must have a Privacy Policy page. It’s also a page that search engines expect to see.

  1. Use an integrated blog and social media

Search engines reward new content – but it’s rather hard to add new content to static web pages on a regular basis. The solution is to create an integrated blog to which you post at least once a week. Each post should be at least 500 words and be optimized to a specific keyword (4 uses of the keyword – also called a key phrase – per 500 words).

Facebook and Twitter are the two big social media applications that people love. At the very least, they will expect your business to have a Facebook account, from which you can offer discounts, specials or coupons to reward loyal customers. Properly written Facebook and Twitter posts, with appropriate hashtags, can do wonders for your SEO – and your business ROI in general.

  1. Become a thought leader

Search engines reward your website if there are a lot of external links that point to it. Typically, a small business owner does not have the time to create the number of external links needed, but one way that you can build those links is by becoming a thought leader – establishing yourself or members of your company as experts in what they do and writing articles, blog posts and comments to blog posts, with links back to your website.

Not only are you rewarded when search engines find those links, but individuals reading these articles will begin to view you as a thought leader and influencer and this will build respect for your company, which will translate into more sales or clients.

These days, your company simply must have an online presence. SEO, properly instituted, can help bring your online presence to the forefront of your industry, and to the top of Page 1.