Ultimate Guide to Marketing a Store - Chapter 2 On-Page Optimization

When eCommerce business owners think about rankings, they usually go ahead and build backlinks.

But this is a grave mistake.

You see, the search engines just don’t work this way.

Sure, they look at your backlinks to determine the topic of your website and they put a lot of weight on that.

But they also look at what’s INSIDE your website.

What does this mean?

It means that search engines also consider your website’s content and HTML tags.

So what should you do?

That’s simple. Optimize your website for your desired keyword and that will do the trick. What this does is confirm that your website is indeed about your target keyword.

The result?

Higher search engine rankings.

Here are some factors that you need to look into when optimizing your website.

How to Create Search Engine Friendly Title Tags

Title tags are quite the same as name tags. It is the first thing that anyone sees when they visit website.

Like a name tag, it shows the brand of the website along with its main topic. This introduces the website to anyone that comes across it - whether it be a human or a search engine robot.

Title tags are especially helpful for visitors because it helps them get a glimpse of what the website is about in just a short phrase.

And it is helpful for search engines for it tells them the main keywords that the website is going for.

Title tags are also valuable for product pages for it helps the visitors understand the product page.

So how can you optimize your title tags?

That’s depends on the page.

For your homepage and other related pages (privacy policy, delivery policy, contact page or about page), you just need to include your main keyword (what your website primarily sells) along with its brand name. That will usually enough to get it ranked with the right promotion.

Optimizing inside pages, on the other hand, can be a bit tricky. Some eCommerce website owners follow this rule for product or category pages:

Keyword - Main category - Brand Name

Here’s the format in action. Look at how Aldo followed the format showed above.

As you can see, they have the product keyword first (AFOALLE Flats), followed by the category (Women’s Shoes) and the brand name (ALDOshoes.com).

This works because of three things.

First, having the product keyword at the beginning gives it a higher chance of showing up in search.

Second, having the category next to the product keyword also gives the listing a chance to rank for the category keyword.

Third, the brand name is kept intact. The link looks natural and the brand is instantly shown. If the brand has enough of an authority, this alone can increase the chance of getting clicks from searchers.

However, all of these will end up in vain if you did not do your keyword research. So do that before you attempt to optimize anything.

How to Use Header Tags for SEO

Aside from title tags, you should also aim to optimize your header tags for your target keywords.

What are Header Tags?

Header tags pertain to those titles that has the H1, H2 and H3 tags in them.

Here’s how a header tag looks like in code and size.

Hello. I’m a H1 Tag.

Hey there. I’m a H2 Tag.

Howdy. H3 here.

You can easily use these header tags when you edit the source file of your eCommerce website.

Why Do You Need to Optimize Header Tags

Search engines need more than just your title tag when looking at your website. It also needs to understand the subtopics that your website tackles. Header tags can help them understand your website a little more.

It would be good to use LSI (latent semantic indexing) or related keywords in your header tags as this can improve your rankings.

Looking for LSI keyword ideas?

You can instantly find them at the bottom when you search for a keyword in the search engines.

What Makes a Good SEO Product Description

We tackled how you can optimize your product page’s title tag in number 1. Now, we’re going to look into how we can optimize product descriptions.

When you visit an eCommerce website, you’ll usually see a generic description in their products like this.

Or like this.

What it does is that it describes all the specifications of the product in great detail.

Great, right?

Wrong.

Usually, this description is copied from the manufacturer’s website and pasted into the new eCommerce website.

The goal of these website owners is simple: Get as many products in the new eCommerce website as fast as possible.

It is a good strategy, right?

Wrong again.

I hate to say this but that is such a lazy way to create an eCommerce website.

In fact, it is so wrong that it lowers the chance of your website getting ranked.

Think about it. If you are in Google’s shoes, would you rank a website that just copies content from another website?

Heck no!

You may think that product descriptions are exempted but they’re not. To Google, they are just the same - any written content is a type of content. End of story.

So what should you do?

Take the time (or hire someone) to write descriptions for your product pages.

You may even go another mile and write sales pages for each one.

I love how this website added a different description to their blenders.

Can you see how it made a difference?

The description is not as boring as listing the features as if the product description area is a condensed user manual. It talked to the reader instead.

Also, the description is so short that it is easy to do for all of their product pages.

A word of warning though.

Changing product descriptions will take time especially if you have thousands of products in your website. But doing it is worth every ounce of effort.

Sure, it will take time. But you’ll get ranked faster and not incur penalties for your online store.

That is ultimately better than getting a website up in a few hours without getting a single sale.

How to Create Categories with SEO in Mind

You may also want to optimize your categories.

Sorting your products into categories not only helps your customer find the products that they need but also build strong internal links to your product pages for SEO.

More than sorting, you should put your categories in a place where it can be easily seen.

The best place for categories is on the top navigation bar, a homepage dropdown and in breadcrumbs.

Let me discuss each one below.

Top Navigation Bar

It is quite common for categories to be on the top navigation bar.

Just take a look at how Argos has its navigation bar securely placed on top of its product page.

What makes this effective is that it gives your customers something to click on if they want to explore more products. It can instantly show them similar products as well as direct them to other categories that might interest them.

Homepage Dropdown

When you visit some of the most popular eCommerce websites, you’ll see that they have implemented these dropdowns instead of a category navigation bar.

This works for websites that have too many categories to fit in a navigation bar. This may be the reason why big websites like Walmart and BestBuy do this.

The best place to put your categories is in breadcrumbs.

What are Breadcrumbs?

These are the navigation bar with arrows that you can see in your product pages.

This reminds your customer about the category that they are in and gives them lots of related options to click on.

The best part?

It can also give your internal pages some link juice.

How to Optimize Your Categories

Rather than using random related keywords, I would suggest doing keyword research to uncover the most profitable keywords for your online store.

There will always be variations of the word. Your goal is to find a keyword that is not only relevant to your website but is also profitable and easy to rank.

For this, you should use tools such as SEMRush and Ahrefs. This will help you find the most profitable keywords for your categories.

Create SEO-Friendly URLs

Don’t forget your URLs. While they may seem hidden compared to other onpage optimization factors, it is still very important.

For URLs, a good rule to follow is to keep it simple.

Don’t add useless categories and product numbers in the URL.

Don’t have overly long URLs like this:

www.site.com/category1/collection1/product1/index.jsp?productId=5622145

Here’s why.

URLs like this don’t work because no one is searching for product IDs.

Also, the categories may just be too general and competitive that you will hardly rank for it at all.

Instead, aim for a shorter URL.

According to Backlinko, a shorter URL tends to rank higher on the search engines. They are able to derive this from their study of 1 Million URLs.

Here’s what they found: As the number of characters of a URL gets longer, the position is also lower.

So make your URLs shorter.

If you can, just include your product name, brand and some specific description. Forget the categories and the collection in the URL. Put that in the navigation bar or in breadcrumbs instead.

Improve Your SEO Using Alt-Text on Images

You may notice that eCommerce websites contain thousands of images. This is a perfect opportunity to optimize a website for your target keyword. How? Through Image ALT text.

Image ALT text is an attribute that you can add to an image URL in HTML.

So instead of a simple Image URL like this.

<img src="/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sampleimage.jpg" class="aligncenter" />

You can have the images to have an ALT text like this.

<img src="/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/sampleimage.jpg" alt=”What This Images is About” class="aligncenter" />

This helps your website in two ways.

First, it relates the image in your website to a particular keyword. This tells the Google robots what the image is about and may assist in ranking your website in the search engine.

Second, it also helps Google in understanding the topic of your entire website. It gives Google an idea of what the image stands for other than its URL. Since Google Robots cannot see images, these codes help them understand the images that they encounter in your website.

The Importance of Canonical Tags

I hate to say this but eCommerce websites can be somewhat notorious for having duplicate content.

I have talked about this earlier in the product description section. Online store owners have this bad habit of copying and pasting descriptions just to get a website set up.

And this is not only true for manufacturer websites. They also tend to do this internally - they tend to copy and paste descriptions in other products as well.

A way to get around this is through canonical tags. This gives credit to the original content so that you don’t get penalized.

Implementing this is simple. Just add a canonical link relationship to any link.

Here is the HTML code of a simple link.

Here is the link with a canonical tag.

It’s easy, right?

Recap

Here are all the things that you have to optimize in your online shop.

1. Title Tags
2. Header Tags
3. Product Description
4. Categories
5. URLs
6. Image ALT Text
7. Canonical Tags

This may take some time if you have thousands of products in your website.

But the effort is all worth it.

Hopefully, this has helped you in optimizing your eCommerce website. Feel free to ask questions below.

DOWNLOAD FREE
ECOMMERCE EMAIL MARKETING GUIDE

How to Get More Leads and Sales from Email Marketing