SEO Tips for E-commerce Sites

Updated on July 22, 2020
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Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

Applying SEO to your e-commerce site listings will increase sales whether you’re selling used baby clothes online or running a digital storefront for your brick and mortar business. Here are a few tips on how to improve the search engine optimization of your product pages to boost online sales whether you're on eBay or Etsy.

Product Titles

SEO guides state that you need to include one to three keywords or key phrase in the listing title. Vary your titles and title tags. This could be as simple as altering the model number or color for each individual product for sale. This helps to avoid confusion among customers and search engines alike. This also makes listings more compatible with social media link sharing.

A good example of product photos with built-in branding.
A good example of product photos with built-in branding. | Source

A Picture Worth a Thousand Clicks

Use more than one high-quality image on every e-commerce listing as well as your storefront. E-commerce platforms reward images that are at least 500 pixels by 500 pixels. Conversely, e-commerce listings with hidden text are penalized just as they are elsewhere.

When you upload images to your storefront and listings, remember to use alt tags. You can improve your e-commerce SEO by having a descriptive name for the images such as “lenovocomputer1” or “applephone4” versus “picture1” and “01234568”.

Product Descriptions

The listing description ideally should be at least 200 words of copy, including keywords mentioned at both the beginning and end. In reality, you can use related key search terms in the middle as well without seeming excessive. You may find SEO guides suggesting bolding the keywords, though this isn’t necessary for search engine optimization. In fact, it can undermine your credibility with potential customers. A good SEO expert will help you identify appropriate keywords and phrases that attract likely customers and convert them into buyers.

One alternative is using lists of product specifications to improve readability and including keywords in the bulleted lists. Be careful that your product listing on every ecommerce site, including your own store, is unique. Copying the same product description from your e-commerce site listing could result in a duplicate content penalty. Search engines don’t care if it was your copy.

E-commerce platforms create keywords for your product based on the item description. If the keywords are way off, perhaps you need to change how you categorize the products. This will also help your SEO, since people won’t land on your product page and bounce off just as fast because it didn’t fit their expectations.

Avoid using unrelated keywords, because it might end up penalizing the listing. If you put products in the wrong category, you’ll confuse customers and lose shoppers who are searching through everything in a given category. An SEO company can advise on the best product categories for items that could fall into more than one as well give you a list of keywords to include in product descriptions to maximize sales.

Always fill in the brand, mode, UPC and manufacturer part number fields where possible, since this is often a search criterion for users. Failing to enter this information hurts the SEO of the listing, while entering this information in these fields improves the searchability of the product on these values without having to repeat it more than once in the content. Fill in as many item specifics as you can.

This information can be reiterated in the content, such as listing VHF and UHF as frequencies for an antenna and then having a bullet item in the description that it accepts “VHF and UHF signals”. Repetition like this improves the SEO for e-commerce site, because it isn’t seen as duplication by search engines.

If cabling or other items are bundled in the product, say so. If something people typically expect isn’t being sold with the item, make that clear in the description so that you don’t get a bad review from someone who expected it. Remember that you can list what’s in the package to repeat the main product description and detail everything else you’re sending in terms of hardware.

Don’t forget to advertise what you do better than the rest. You can mention that you’re throwing in extras like a free pillow to stand out from the competition. If you offer same-day shipping or free priority shipping, make this stand out in the text. You might bold the text, or you may make it a single sentence in what is otherwise a wall of text.

Customer Reviews

Reviews impact e-commerce businesses as much or more than they do reviews for brick and mortar businesses. Reviews affect local SEO by showing people what neighbors think of you, but a three star restaurant still shows up in local search results unless people take the extra step to filter out those with lower rankings. On e-commerce platforms, searching for sellers with higher rankings is common, and if you get too many bad reviews, the platform itself limits your ability to sell.

Your Digital Storefront

If you have a storefront on an e-commerce site, you should include keywords in your store name. If you’ve already created a store name, it can be updated. For example, rename “Mike’s Store” to “Mike’s Electronics” or “Mike’s Computer Accessories”. If you sell personal items online or pick up a variety of items at local sales to sell online, then it isn’t necessary to put keywords in your store name or user name. If you primarily sell laptop computers, your e-commerce platform store name should be “Our Name Laptops Store”, not “Your Name Store”. This name determines your store’s URL, so a descriptive name results in a URL that clearly communicates what you sell even if all someone else sees is the link.

Your store description should also include your keywords such as products sold and brand names you sell. Some e-commerce sites won’t let you put links in your store description, but you are free to list the name of your brick and mortar business if you have one. It doesn’t hurt your local SEO to say, “We have a retail outlet in downtown Calgary at 123 Main, the intersection of Street A and Street B. We’ve been in business there for five years.”

You can often put a link to your business in the “About Me” profile page on the third-party e-commerce platform. This content should promote your business and include local SEO references as well.

Building a Good Backlink Profile

E-commerce sites allow you to send emails to customers as part of the transaction. Include a store signature and links to your business’ website in emails you send them about receiving their order, notices that the order has shipped and requesting that they review your business. You have complete freedom in this regard if you are running your own e-commerce site.

You can use images of your business with a URL or location information. Just know that very few people will manually enter it into a browser window, so it is more useful for brand recognition than backlinks.

If your business has a brick and mortar location, mention your online store and include a link to it. This generates traffic to the store and improves its SEO.

Summary

E-commerce storefronts and product listings should receive the same SEO optimization as your homepage and business social media accounts. In fact, there is a better case to be made for investing in good SEO for your product listings, because it directly impacts sales.

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