SEO for eCommerce: what it is and why the right strategy can improve your conversions.8 min read

Building your own eCommerce is not just about having a website and products to upload for sale; there are many specific steps you need to take to make your way in the various sectors. One of these is the design of a proper SEO strategy. Let’s see what we are talking about in detail.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the branch of Digital Marketing that includes the best practices needed to rank among the top search engine results. It is not an exact science: knowing how to stand out among many has become an art. Emerging among your competitors, while respecting the rules imposed by Google, is becoming more difficult every day; this is where Copywriters, SEO specialists and SEO analysts come into the picture. If you find yourself managing not just a blog or a showcase site, but an entire eCommerce, the matter becomes even more complex.

How to do SEO?

There is no general rule: there are many operations to be carried out that, linking together, give (or should give) the results we expect.
Basically, there are two general major areas to move in: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. While the first includes all the operations to be carried out on your own site, the second concerns the effects that these will have more generally on the web.

The use of these practices is motivated first and foremost by a fundamental need for eCommerce: to prevail over competitors, dominate the SERP (Search Engine Result Page: the most useful and the most valuable) and, consequently, increase sales. First of all, a thorough audit of your SEO situation should be carried out; there are plenty of tools, both free and paid, with which to assess the different situations of your site, or to prepare an action plan in case you want to create one from the beginning.

The main sections to consider are:

  • Structure of the site, i.e. everything concerning the hierarchy of the pages, the links between them and the usability;
  • HTML, i.e. the coding of your site: the more fluid and well-designed it is, the better our eCommerce will perform;
  • links, but not only internal links; if the sequence of internal linking of the site is fundamental, and must not exceed on any side, external linking and all the related link building must also be well-thought-out. Thinking of having a well-made site but no external linking (and therefore off-page SEO activities) is quite absurd, for us and for search engines;
  • content, which we have put last on the list but which probably play a crucial role; originality and relevance are now the two keywords (we will also talk about these) for any worthwhile content strategy.

Speaking of the last ones, they are now the ones that determine the quality of a site (at least according to Big G’s latest algorithm). But we’re not just referring to product sheets (which are still extremely important); everything that is text must be properly optimised: UX content, landing pages, anchor text, breadcrumbs, URLs, emails and corporate blogs. The slightest error in the choice of keywords in any of this contents is enough for our online reputation to fall dramatically.

Some practical tips from a SEO Specialist

We asked Gabriele A., SEO Specialist and Copywriter for MBK and ProduceShop, to explain in a few words some of the best practices when designing a SEO strategy.

Q) What are the key best practices to follow for a good SEO strategy? How important is the correct choice of keywords in terms of SEO compared to the rest of the factors to be considered?

A) In order to develop a profitable and effective SEO strategy, there are some essential best practices to follow. First of all, you need to produce valuable content, aiming at end-user satisfaction in terms of quality of information and overall readability of the text. Writing only to facilitate the task of search engines, accumulating keywords to the point of exasperation, is an outdated method: today, UX is the first factor to be taken into consideration. In addition to this, there are other aspects to be considered carefully, such as, for example, the optimisation of titles and images, the use of internal and external links, the hierarchical structure within pages, and much more. However, the correct choice of keywords plays a major role in an SEO strategy: targeting the search terms most frequently used by users means intercepting their query and thus providing a relevant answer to their questions.

Q) In consideration of recent developments in Google’s algorithm, which rewards content (in the footsteps of the famous ‘content is king’), do you think a semantic approach to writing is more effective, or a more analytical one (i.e. the concatenation of keywords and synonyms in a creative way, or more logical strategic positions)?

A) The constant evolution of Google’s algorithms lays the foundations for writing that is increasingly semantic and less rigidly based on keywords and their distribution within the page. Focusing on a topic, and not on a single keyword, has become essential to obtain results in terms of positioning, especially considering that the Mountain View search engine has now learnt to recognise the context of statements.

SEO for eCommerce: a real challenge for Copywriters and Analysts
Q) Speaking of SEO for eCommerce, how would you explain the importance of the two concepts of mark-up scheme and masting in the design of your strategy?

A) For an eCommerce store, adopting a markup scheme in the pages of your site can be useful to make it easier for search engine crawlers and, above all, to get more comprehensive and detailed results in the SERP. Using such a meta-syntax does not ensure a climb towards the top positions, but it undoubtedly makes a product sheet more clickable and reliable from the first glance, enriching it with interesting information for the user.

A reasoned and well thought-out layout should also be the starting point for any respectable eCommerce store: putting your ideas in order and making an informed choice about how your site should be structured is of paramount importance for the success of a project. The user experience must be taken into consideration: is navigation simple and intuitive? Are the main pages easily accessible? And are there landmarks to guide the visit and enable a smooth return to the homepage? Are products placed in the most appropriate categories? User Experience is becoming more and more important in terms of SEO, and the design of a website cannot be left to chance.

Specific SEO for eCommerce

To give us some more specific information, we asked Ronny Soana, COO of MBK Fincom, for a short interview. Summarising the short interview into one comprehensive speech, this is what he left us with:

“Analyzing trend data, both diachronically and diatopically, is the foundation of a proper SEO strategy for eCommerce that yields the desired results; performing benchmarking that returns competitive data not only helps the company to understand how competitors move, but leads to developing an attitude aimed at continually reviewing our own methods. Increasing internal know-how, in fact, changes the perspective towards objectives and leads to improving the performances in digital terms but also offline; all this without losing sight of the innovations and solutions that many competitors, often unknowingly, suggest and provide.

Another crucial step is the choice of a CMS that is tailore to your business. Among the many tools that the online market offers us, choosing a specific one must be a safe and reliable choice. Finding yourself halfway through having to change it can be a major stigma for your site, especially if, like ProduceShop, you are dealing with four-figure daily sales volumes. A key step for us was to integrate a specialised development team with cutting-edge skills into the company; this allowed us to break out of the CMS box and integrate specific functionality that has greatly improved our performance as an online platform.

In addition – says Ronny – a key position is User Experience; by analysing the behaviour on our sites, but also online in general, we were able to set up a whole series of small tricks to improve the UX. Not only in terms of site responsivity, but above all product quality, graphic presentation, UX writing and, most importantly today, the mobile friendliness of the site.

Finally, a few words on Google and its tools: Big G now has a 90% market share; it is therefore clear to everyone that aligning with its needs is crucial for any eCommerce that wants to make its way. Using both the various tools offered by its suite, and internal software that is capable of providing reliable short and long-term projections, is a priority for us”.

In conclusion

Talking about SEO for eCommerce (but not only) remains taboo for many.

Few people know how to move beyond a 70% guaranteed result; the mutability of algorithms and the online and offline purchasing behaviour of consumers make it an extremely volatile field. Testing solutions and analysing results, proceeding one step at a time and learning from your mistakes, remains one of the most reliable solutions to date. However, this does not detract from the fact that a proper study of the situation and the application of a few basic rules can give a business a more effective boost than its competitors.

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