The advent of online ecommerce store platforms like Bigcommerce is the single most important reason the rapid proliferation of online stores across the Internet spanning all geographies and sectors. Even though these ecommerce CMS’s have made it easy for anyone to start a store, the competition due to the sheer number has increased tremendously.
To keep your store breathing it is more than an imperative to start taking Digital marketing seriously. And Digital marketing always starts with Search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is so important because it helps you grow organically without actually burning your pocket in costs.
For any one who is using Bigcommerce to manage their online store, this guide would help you to check and evaluate your search engine optimization process.
BigCommerce – Search Engine Optimization
The first, foremost and perhaps the most important step in optimizing an ecommerce store is to have a logical category structure under which all your products are listed.
It is better to brainstorm and think through all the products that you intend to sell now and also those products that you are planning to sell in the future. Having listed all your products you should now sort them all under appropriate categories.
Categories can my multi-layered too, If you think that certain set of products needs another drill down of logical structure then go ahead and create the layer.
For instance if you are planning to sell mobile phones, then a probable logical category structure might look like this,
Mobile —> Smart Phones -> Brand -> Apple -> iPhone.
Having a logical category helps enhance your store in two ways,
1. First it creates a easy to navigate and clutter free way for your customers to search and find your product, this easy to use experience indirectly helps increase the “stickiness factor” that makes a one time visitor a repeat customer.
2. “ A place for every thing and every thing in its place”, As the famous Japanese productivity saying goes Having a proper hierarchy helps search engines bots to easily crawl and index pages. If your product pages are strewn all overs with out linking it to any other pages, search engine bots might never get a change to find and index your page.
The product developers at BigCommerce ecommerce have made it easy for you to complete your optimization process by giving you relevant fields where all you need to do is enter the right information depending on the product page.
To add categories, log in to your Bigcommerce account, on your admin dashboard, click on Products drop down and select Product categories.
To make a new category click on create a category, you’ll now be taken to a set of form with text fields where you’ll be able to add all the necessary information needed to optimize the category page.
Name: Add the name of the category or sub category, as you want it to get displayed on your store. Make sure you use a relevant and high volume keyword as the name of the category. Since this category name is technically a URL anchor, using appropriate keywords would make this category rank higher for that keyword.
URL: The URL structure of the category page also helps determine the path of navigation on the site. It also helps Search engine bots to navigate and drill deep to find all the pages. Your URL structure must directly reflect the category structure of your store.
A perfect example of a good ecommerce store URL would be,
Add the name of the category, as you wanted on the URL. As said before the best practice is to have an appropriate high volume keyword in the URL helps the page rank better.
You can have a complete control on how the URL structure must look like on Bigcommerce. Go to Setup & tools – store settings – click on URL Structure tab to select the format on which your URL structure must be based on.
Description: Add relevant description that best describes what this category or sub category of products is all about. Since this is this description is going to be shown on the search engines make sure you persuade by adding offers and using call to action words on the description.
Page Title: Page title is one of the most important On-Page SEO factors that when done properly helps you rank better. The information you enter on the page title is what always use relevant keywords that people might search for on the page title.
Keyword analysis for an Ecommerce Page. Where to start?
Competitive analysis using SEMrush:
You can use SEM automation tools like SEMrush and do a comprehensive research on your competitors website to mine all sorts of SEO data. For instance if you are selling iPhone cases, you can find all the most important keywords that your competitors ranks for in that category just by doing a market research analysis on SEMrush.
You could also do a reverse engineering analysis by finding out all the competitors who rank on top for the product you are going to sell.
Google Adwords Tool:
One could also use “keyword planner” tool in a Google Adwords account to kick-start your keyword analysis process. Log in to your Google Adwords account using any of your Gmail account. Click on Tools dropdown and select Keyword planner.
Now click on “Search for new keyword and ad groups” and enter a few keywords that you might thing your customers might use to search the product, click on get ideas. You’ll now be given with all the other relevant keywords that people are using to search the given product.
Select keywords that are directly relevant with high search volume and use them on your product category page and products page.
Product Page Optimization
Any one who does a basic keyword analysis would know that the search volume for people searching for particular product is more than that of general niche searches. So important is the optimization of a product page that some times meticulous attention to smaller details might help you rank better on search engines.
On Bigcommerce admin dashboard click on Products drop down and select add a product. This will take you to a set of form fields where you can enter all the information regarding a product.
Name: The Name is actually the name of the product. Best practice is to add the name of the brand with the particular product name for greater visibility (Samsung galaxy, apple iPhone).
URL: The Name field will also be used on the URL of the page and in the page title. You can use the URL Structure settings that we used to change the category URL to change the URL structure of your products page.
Description: Description is the most important part of the product page that helps persuade a customer to actually buy the product.
The best practice to write a perfect product description as recommended by Bigcommerce is as follows,
Always Think like a Customer
Empathy has always been the most sought out and least understood part of a marketer’s vocabulary. Step in the shoes of your prospective customer and think how would he search for the product? What are the important pain points he would have? And what would he need to make him feel confident in buying the product? Address these points in a simple, easy to understand and unambiguous vocabulary.
Unique Selling Proposition (USP):
Where there is an alternative place to buy products from, why would any customer buy from you? To address this question always try to include that single thing that acts a key differentiator between you and your competitor.
Optimizing Description for search engines: Do a basic keyword analysis as mentioned above and try to use those keywords that people search for on the description without breaking the natural flow of the content (no keyword stuffing)
As your ecommerce store grows and expands keeping a track of old products will in self become a process of its own. In the traditional ecommerce sites, sometimes a product category or set of products will be unplugged from the store just like that. This is a bad signal for search engine bots, reason being all these unplugged web pages might once be live pages that might be crawled and indexed by search engine bots, now that the page is not live and when some one clicks on the page from a search engine your store will throw a 404 not found page. This is a bad experience for a person using a search engine, to improve experience these search engines starts degrading all websites that don’t take care of their 404 pages. One way to handle these 404 pages is to do a 301 redirect to appropriate or closely related pages. This also helps to retain all the SEO link juice the page received by channeling to the relevant page.
Bigcommerce helps you to easily manage all your 301 redirects from a single redirect dashboard. Go to setup and tools, click on 301 redirects. You’ll now be taken to a redirects manager where you can redirect old inactive URLs to new URLs.
Sitemaps as the name suggests is an XML file that lists all the webpages on your ecommerce store. Sitemap is the agreed format by which you notify the search engine bots about the pages on your website. Sitemap is also the most recommended and the easiest way(both for the store and search bots) to get your store indexed faster.
Bigcommerce automatically generates and updates the sitemap as and when new pages are created. One can access the sitemap using http://www.yourstore.com/sitemap.xml to view the listed pages.
Integrating Google Analytics:
After setting up a completely SEO optimized online store, it is necessary to track and monitor the results of the optimization process. This can be tracked by Google Analytics. Log in to Google analytics using any of your Gmail ID, Enter your website and other details to get a tracking code.
On your Bigcommerce admin panel go to Setup and tools – Web Analytics and select Google Analytics. Copy and paste the tracking code that you got from your analytics account in the tracking code text field. You can now track and monitor all your stores traffic on Google analytics dashboard.
Having an active blog not only helps you to educate your customers on new products but also helps you to build and maintain strong brand equity. A blog can also be used an effective content marketing platform that in turn helps you to leverage it for SEO purposes.
Unlike other ecommerce store that requires you to manually integrate blogging platform with your ecommerce store, Bigcommerce offers a free inbuilt blogging CMS.
To create a blog all you need to do is go to Web Content dropdown and click on blog. Now click on the “+” button to write your first blog post. Its that easy and seamless and it takes no time.
Bigcommerce blog has all the basic settings that you can expect from a blogging CMS. You can change your blog title, URL. You can add social sharing buttons and have a complete control over moderating comments on your posts.
You could also do a complete On-Page optimization of your all blog posts by editing the post URL, blog title, and Meta description and even add Google Authorship (Google has removed authorship, but still it is a good way to contact or learn more about the author)
Search Engine Optimization has now become the most important part of any Digital marketing process. It is the most basic and also the most important process that decides success and failure of your store. BigCommerce has made SEO extremely easy even for some one who doesn’t know the intricacies of it. All you have to do is perform a little keyword research and apply them meticulously wherever needed.
Search engine optimization process is never a one time process, you can use tools like Google Analytics to continuously track and optimize the under performing pages to perform well.