Complete eCommerce SEO Checklist [Download Free Template]
Whether you are just getting started or improving your existing eCommerce site, ranking higher than your competitors on Google is a must, but that’s not enough. These days you must rank number 1! Think Orion’s SEO checklist for eCommerce businesses will help you get there.
A research study by Optify in 2011 showed that number 1 ranking websites had an average of 36.4 percent click-through rate (CTR), number two had 12.5 percent and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent.
Better SEO means better clicks, which probably also means better sales. Unlike other types of websites, e-commerce sites are some of the most difficult to optimize in search engines. Search engines love sites with original and detailed content.
E-commerce sites are the exact opposite. They are mostly made up of product images and offer very few detailed descriptions. So, if you haven’t yet implemented a solid SEO strategy, you’re definitely missing out a lot, on impression, clicks, and sales.
If followed properly, our checklist will surely improve SEO for your eCommerce website and help you rank higher.
Follow this SEO checklist for eCommerce to help you rank your business #1 on Google
Download your FREE complete eCommerce SEO checklist at the end of this article and track your progress!
#1 Product page optimization
- Optimize the page with long-tail keywords
- Use CTAs whenever you can
Long-tail keywords for product pages
Every eCommerce marketer chase keywords with a high search volume, but those with less experience will often overlook long-tail keywords. They think that their low estimated monthly search volume won’t bring in traffic. Does that sound familiar?
Long-tail keywords are 3-4 words and sometimes more. They are less competitive, but since they are precise and targeted to the people at the bottom of the marketing and sales funnel, they convert well and help you outrank your competitors. In fact, Amazon generates 57% of its sales from long-tail searches.
Different CTAs function differently throughout the customer journey. Whether it was to add a product to their cart, to hit the purchase button, to share on social media, CTAs represents the best outcome for visitors to your site.
To optimize CTAs on product pages, here are 9 best practices make sure to follow:
- 1. Make it engaging and not boring
- 2. Mobile CTAs must fill the screen’s width
- 3. Test different shapes, sizes, and colors
- 4. Use imperative phrases
- 5. Make it clear and obvious (they shouldn’t scroll below the fold to it)
- 6. Place important information next to it
- 7. Make it simple and avoid clutter
- 8. Display security seals next to it
- 9. Include urgency elements next to it
#2 Pay close attention to the product description
- Use unique product description of more than 300 words to avoid duplicates
- Include features and benefits to encourage the purchase
- Include the keyword or semantic variation in the description
Unique product description of more than 300 words
Only use unique and original product descriptions. Avoid content provided by the manufacturers so you don’t end up with thousands of duplicate descriptions of your competitors.
Consider writing descriptions of more than 300 words and as detailed as possible using your keywords. Remember to enable product comments. Users’ submission of comments helps to attract search engines’ attention.
Features and benefits
First, write for humans and then optimize for search engines. Write in a language that helps customers know what is in the product to make the purchase. Focus on the features and benefits of the product, but keep it simple and to the point. Expressive and engaging descriptions show customers why your product is the solution they’ve been waiting for.
Keywords and semantic variations
Whenever people hear about SEO, the first thing that comes to their minds is keywords. That makes sense because, without keywords, all the effort and time spent on product descriptions will be lost.
Google Semantic Search
Google bots use semantic search to understand language just like any user would so they can pull up the most accurate results to their users.
So, your first step is to choose your preferred keywords and then research for variations to these keywords and add them. Doing this will make it easier for Google to understand your content, and therefore, you will have higher click-through-rates.
#3 Optimize Meta Tags
- Effective title tags
- Engaging meta description
- Write clear and keyword-focused URLs
Meta title tags help search engines understand your page’s content, and they are the first impression many people have of your page. Regardless of your site ranking, a good title tag can be the make-or-break factor in determining whether or not a user clicks on your site.
Here are 4 best practices for title tags; make sure to include:
- Keep your titles under 60 characters long.
- Add your keyword(s) strategically; SEO-stuffed titles create a bad user experience.
- Provide unique titles on every page to help search engines understand that your content is unique and valuable; this will increase your click-through rates.
- Add your keywords, preferably in the first half of your title tag.
It is the short description of a page that appears under the title in SERPs. It doesn’t impact rankings, but effective meta descriptions can improve click-through rates.
How to write effective meta descriptions?
- Naturally, incorporate your target keyword to encourage users to click through.
- Google may not use a meta description in SERPs, so well-written and relevant descriptions to the target queries increase the chance of Google using them in SERPs.
When it comes to the URL structure, it is important to include a keyword in there, but it is even more important to tell the consumer exactly what to expect. Product URLs should be:
- Short and descriptive
- Has “-” to separate different parts.
- Written in lowercase characters
- Excludes stopping words like “a,” “an,” and “the.”
- Include attributes and product characteristics (color, material, brand, etc.)
#4 Optimize Photos
- Write Alt Text tags for photos.
- Choose wisely your image dimensions.
- Reduce the size of the images
- Choose the right file type.
- Use image sitemaps
Alt Text tags for photos
Rename the image file using the keyword (product name) when it is still on your computer before uploading it to the site. Also, insert the chosen keyword (product name) in the ALT attribute of the image.
We recommend three different eCommerce photo sizes but make sure to keep it consistent for all product images.
- 50 x 50 for thumbnail
- 370 x 370 for listings on category and search results pages
- 1000 x 1000 for image zoom circumstances
The larger the size of the image, the longer it takes to load, which can make or break your site’s performance.
The image size is specified by its dimensions in pixels or by the total number of pixels it contains. Play around a bit to find the right file size for the quality you need.
JPEG images maintain high quality at reasonable file sizes. With this file type, you can choose the level of compression you would like, but make sure this doesn’t go at the cost of image quality.
They are extensions of an XML sitemaps file that gets images indexed and help you generate traffic from image search results.
Image sitemaps must feature:
- ALT and Title attributes
- Image caption
- An SEO friendly image name
#5 Manage out of stock products
- Enable Pre-Orders
- Clearly label the product as temporarily out of stock
- Use schema product & offer markup
- Link to closely related products
Pre-order is a powerful tool in customer acquisition that captures sales landing on product pages instead of sending them away.
If you’re using Shopify, an app called Pre Order Now replaces your add to cart button with a “Preorder Now” button.
Temporarily out of the stock label
Marking the items as “Out of Stock” is a tactic that does not need much effort and ensures your website’s usability. Users, in this case, won’t feel frustrated wasting their time clicking through an unavailable product.
Schema product & offer markup
Using both of these together ensures that users are able to see your ratings and whether the item is in stock or not. They make you stand out in search results, especially for mobile-friendly sites; they increase page ranks and click-through rates.
Closely related products
Users landing on out-of-stock products are most likely to buy something from you. Make sure to link similar products to those out-of-stock and track the conversions to see how well they generate revenue.
#6 Simplify Menu and site Navigation
- Keep the design uniform
- Use clear labels
- Categorize effectively
- Include a search bar
- Use HTML sitemaps
Consider using the 3-click rule, which indicates that the user starting from the page he is on must find what he is looking for after 3 clicks.
The pages identified in your menu are the ones that are most likely to be indexed and ranked in the search results.
Home Depot is a great example. Its “All Departments” menu includes only the 17 most general product categories. However, when passing over each category, it expands into subcategory options (and also into tertiary options and so on). This way, the internal linking value provides a noticeable boost to Home Depot’s menu pages.
Keeping the design uniform and adhering to a navigation arrangement show customers that you’ve invested in your brand to improve their shopping experience. The more pleasant and convenient it is, the more customers will keep coming back to your site.
Use navigation labels so that customers can scan and instantly understand what those labels represent. However, stay away from generic labels as they communicate nothing to the visitors. Instead, use descriptive labels to reduce bounce rate.
Instead of just having generic arent categories, include subcategories to be more specific with filtered options. This tactic increases the time on site and enhances the click-throughs for better metrics and conversions. A “New Arrivals” or a “What’s New” category shows customers that you refresh your inventory consistently.
Add a prominent search bar on your homepage instead of integrating it as part of the navigation menu. Avoid clustering elements around it as these may compromise its effectiveness. It saves your customers time and effort trying to find what they’re looking for. Besides, the auto-complete option helps customers with accurate results and increases the probability of more complete conversions.
#7 Create a Sitemap
- Use only a canonical version of the URL
- Submit your category listing pages
- Break your data into smaller sitemaps
- Include the link to your sitemap in your robots.txt file
Customers most likely want to use as many filters as possible. To prevent random sort orders from appearing in the search results instead of your curated first page, you should add the canonical tag. It identifies the ‘main’ version of the page and avoids duplicate content due to sort options.
Category listing pages
Besides the homepage, the second most important pages are the category pages. Since they are located high in the hierarchy, they can potentially become high authority pages. Consider optimizing category pages by adding category titles, meta descriptions, and H1 tags.
The smaller the XML sitemaps are, the less strain you put on your server and the better the indexation and traffic is. Google has increased the accepted size of sitemap files from 10 MB to 50 MB and 50,000 URLs per sitemap.
This is more than enough for most sites, but you may still need to split the pages into multiple sitemaps.
For example, an online shop with 200,000 pages will need five separate sitemaps to handle all that.
Sitemap in robots.txt
Robots.txt files are used to block robots from accessing the website until it’s ready to be launched. It is usually the first place crawlers visit when accessing a website. Having the XML Sitemap in robots.txt provides details on every page on the website you want search engines to discover.
#8 Use internal and external links
- Use keyword-rich anchor text
- Link deep
- Use links that are relevant and natural for the reader
- Use a reasonable number of internal links
Create a structure of internal links to products, product categories, new arrivals, and promotions directly in the product sheets’ contents. As for the external links, they are as crucial to eCommerce business as for any other site. Backlinks are needed but focus on those that help improve the reputation of the brand.
Before everything else, you should analyze your current linking sites. That’s because it’s important to know if the sites linking to you are authoritative and relevant. One tool you can use for free to find these links is Moz’s Link Explorer. You just put your URL into his tool and you’ll have a report of your backlinks.
Keyword-rich anchor text
Anchor texts are clickable texts on a webpage that links to another place on the web. Since Google and other search engines use anchor text to determine a page’s topic and how it should rank, a keyword-rich anchor text significantly increases the chances for pages to rank well.
Deep links for eCommerce can directly impact conversions because they make it easier for customers to land on category or product pages. For example, if you run an online promotion for Valentine’s Day gifts on your website, you want customers to land directly on that section and not on the homepage, then search for Valentine’s Gifts section.
Deep links impact search engine rankings as well, since a website with links only to the home page is unnatural, and it could be considered spam.
Relevant and natural links
Link building is one of the major off-site search engine optimizations. Natural and relevant linking is essential since the more links you have and the better quality they are, the more search engines will rank the pages. Influencers, video marketing, and creating shareable products are all ways that can help eCommerce businesses build them and increase their brand awareness and credibility.
A reasonable number of internal links
The search engines can roughly crawl 150 links per page. Although this limit is somewhat flexible, it’s wise to limit the number to 150, so you don’t risk losing the ability to have additional pages crawled.
#9 Website Speed
- Reduce Size of Page
- Use a Content Delivery Network
- Use Caching and In-memory Technology
- Compress Data
- Avoid Redirects
- Use Fast Hosting Servers
The page’s size affects its loading speed, which is very important, especially for mobile users. They are on the go and mostly using data connections. They need to get the information they want as fast as possible.
Content Delivery Network
A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of servers distributed worldwide to store files accessed by website visitors. Other than delivering content, CDNs also help at times of significant spikes in traffic to avoid long load times or even server crashes.
eCommerce stores rely on CDNs to ensure that all customers have a pleasant user experience, regardless of location.
Caching and In-memory technology
They enhance websites’ performance by decreasing their loading speed, which reduces the load on the server and its consumption.
It is essential for eCommerce businesses as no customer would wait for a website taking ages to load pages and process transactions quickly.
Data compression is a method of reducing an image’s size with a little reduction in image quality. It is useful to decrease load times and is also helpful for consuming less digital storage space, and the amount of data served to customers (bandwidth).
Use fast hosting servers
For leveraging the maximum performance, eCommerce websites need top cloud providers for a fast hosting service. They can’t afford downtime; customers will leave a slow site. When choosing a host, consider the encryption, PCI compliance, backups, file sizes, and account limitations.
#10 Optimize site for mobile
- Make content easy to read on Phones
- Use HTML5 for video and animated content
- Optimize title and description tags for mobile SERPs
Easy to read content
Having a mobile e-commerce site is vital for online business. Searches from mobile devices have dramatically increased in recent years, surpassing those from the desktop since they are user friendly, easy, and quick.
- Easy-to-read fonts and zooming is not required.
- Avoid popups.
- Hassle-free and straightforward so users can click where they want
HTML5 for video and animated content
Videos and animations on eCommerce websites are entertaining and encouraging for the user to stay a little longer. For short, animated videos, you can use HTML5 or convert your GIF to Imgur’s GIFV format. Doing this will reduce the size by at least 10 percent or more.
Title and description tags for mobile SERPs
Title tags are clickable headlines for organic search results.
They provide relevance and increase organic click-through rates.
The closer the title tag is to the keyword searched, the more likely users are to click.
However, a meta description tag helps explain the content, but it’s unclickable. Although it doesn’t boost the SEO, it helps dramatically increase CTR.
#11 Collection of reviews
- Make it easy for customers to leave a review
- Send customer surveys
- Engage in customer feedback
Make it easy
Although they are part of the product sheet, they can be related to both the products and the seller.
Reviews are likely to play a significant role in customers’ purchasing decisions.
Knowing that many people have had a positive shopping experience with an e-commerce business eliminates any doubts or uncertainties about whether or not to buy on the platform. Therefore, you want to make it as quick and as easy as possible for them to leave you feedback.
A quick rating system is a great option, and you can leave a text as well if they want to say more. It is also important to show your top reviews on the home page or put a badge above the menu or in the footer.
Do not limit this by a form within the product sheets. You can consider sending emails to customers to fill out a survey or inviting their Social Network followers. Just make sure to keep the process easy for your customers.
Engage in customer feedback
Replying quickly and politely, even to a bad review, shows your fantastic customer service and how well you listen to your consumers and value their opinions. A professional response to a bad review can be a great form of advertising.
Every aspect of your website needs to be thought through carefully. The positioning of an eCommerce site on Google is complex, but carefully implementing the above-listed SEO checklist will help your eCommerce website see dramatic improvements in the traffic and sales results.