Selling online is a lucrative business, with consumers spending £91bn in the UK last year alone. Thanks to technological advances online shopping is on the up, but it’s no longer enough to simply list all of your products and assume that huge volumes of traffic will start to roll in. To give your site the best chance of a high ranking with Google, and being found by your customers, the following tips will help you.
1. Clean up your URL
This is fairly basic SEO, but it's worth mentioning that the URL of a page is an integral part of your site's optimisation. It’s best to keep your page URLs as short as possible to increase ‘shareability’- so avoid unnecessary words such as ‘and, with, the, for’ etc. Plus, by using a shorter URL, more value is focused on each chosen word from a search engine spider. Your product URL should also focus on the keyword associated to the content on the page, this keeps you on the right side of Google and helps your customers to find what they are looking for.
Example of a bad URL: www.example.com/dvds/chart/dvd123456789
Example of a good URL: www.example.com/dvds/planet-of-the-apes
2. Get descriptive
I’m sure you’ve probably heard about the importance of product descriptions, meta titles and meta descriptions. If you aren’t sure how to tackle these or why they are important, then here’s all you need to know:
Product descriptions - As with the rest of your website, the words you choose can have a significant impact on your products' ‘findability’ in search engines. Many sellers overlook the impact of enticing descriptions on traffic and profits, and instead plump for standardised product information. Well-written product descriptions not only inform your customers and encourage sales, but help to provide 'unique content' which is rewarded by Google.
Meta descriptions – they aren’t as complex as they sound. Though meta descriptions are not particularly important to search engines, they play a huge role in encouraging customers to click through to your website. These snippets of content appear beside the link to your product in a SERP, which gives you the opportunity to sell your products to people who are searching for them. Try to keep these short and snappy, Google will truncate anything over 160 characters. This is what your meta description will look like in a search engine result:
Meta titles –Meta titles or ‘title tags’ are one of the most important factors in SEO and social sharing. These titles tell search engines what kind of content is within a particular web page. Title tags often show up across the top of a web browser and in search engine results and are around 50-60 characters long. This is how your meta title will appear in search engine results:
If you have hundreds or even thousands of products, creating meta descriptions and meta titles for every item can seem like a mammoth, unachievable task. If time isn’t on your side, enlisting the help of an SEO-savvy copywriter is the best way to go. They can take on the task of writing the content for all of your meta descriptions and meta tags to ensure that your products are optimised for search engines.
3. It’s all about your image
High-quality images will have a huge impact on the amount of products you sell. Showcasing your product with a variety of images, which can be enlarged or zoomed into, gives your customer the opportunity to see your product in all its glory and make a fully informed purchasing decision.
4. Customer Reviews
Even though there’s nothing wrong with giving your products the best promotion in your website copy, your customers know that it was written by you. Aside from increasing customer trust and conversions, user-generated reviews have huge SEO benefits. Most importantly, a good developer will be able to ensure that reviews are shown within search results which will bolster customer engagement and click-through rates. Displaying peer reviews will also give your customers 'word of mouth' recommendations from peers, and a greater desire to purchase your products.
To encourage regular reviews, systems can be developed to email customers requesting reviews a few weeks after their purchase, to ensure that your site receives as many as possible.
5. Get ‘rich’ with videos
The last few years have seen the introduction of ‘rich media’ such as product videos and 360 degree motion imagery. Adopting rich media can have a positive impact on engagement and conversion: while your visitors watch product videos it keeps them on your page longer, a factor that Google places a lot of weight on when it comes to SEO.
Your videos can also be embedded so that they show in search engine results, making these listings stand out and increasing the click-through rate even further.
6. Social sharing buttons
If you don’t already have them, social sharing buttons look a little like this:
Having these present on product pages allows customers to promote their purchases by showing the item to friends via social media, or sharing gift ideas with others. For this reason, these alone are a must…after all, it’s free promotion!
However in terms of SEO, Google treats social media profiles such as Facebook and Twitter pages in the same way as regular web pages, meaning that they are 'crawled' by Google's algorithm. Each time someone re-posts a link you have shared on social media, this generates another inbound link to your site which can have a positive impact on your organic search engine ranking. As any social interactions are likely to be picked up by Google, it's important to keep the content on your company's social media profiles interesting and fresh.
Of course the ultimate goal is to get a customer to make a purchase, but these social interactions benefit SEO and raise the profile of your product to other social media users.
7. Site Speed
Google confirmed that site speed was an influential ranking factor for SEO. Of course you want to present your product in the best way possible with rich content and quality images – however, the downside to this is that these factors can slow down the speed of your site. There doesn’t need to be a trade-off or a compromise here, if you have a knowledgeable team of web developers, you can have it all!
If you would like to analyse your own site's speed, Google have kindly provided a free tool for this.