Either you own or be a digital marketer of ecommerce store you already know that SEO is one of the most important new customer channel. When you work too much, sometimes you miss fundamental issues. In this post you will see must-have’s for ecommerce websites seo’s. You probably do more than this checklist’s in order to beat competition. This is just an ecommerce seo checklist to will make you sure you don’t miss any fundamental issue.
I’ll explain issues in two parts. In first part, you’ll check setup of your website in terms of Google can find and crawl your website and setup of tracking and measurement tools (Google Analytics and Google Search Console). Second part will be about on-site SEO optimization. Please follow step by step and don’t forget to comment if you want to ask something or add this guide.
First thing first, let’s look at how SEO works.
Google bot’s tour around the web and when they find new content, they index them to show in search results.
You need to tell Google that “Hey, I have webpages and maybe you want to index these pages and hopefully show in search results.”
Google has a tool that make possible this communication between you and Google bots. It is Google Search Console. In this post you’ll learn three fundamentals of search console usage. Let’s start.
1. If you don’t have Search Console property, create and verify it.
Go to search console and add your website. When you add property be aware of you write correctly full domain with prefix and www section. For example when you go to homepage of your website if your website URL looks like https://my-awesome-store.com you need to write it as it is.
After adding property Google offers many ways to verify. Using domain name provider or Google Tag Manager/Google Analytics can be short cut. Choose which one works best for you and verify it. Now you are ready to proceed.
2. Add your sitemap
Sitemap is guide for Google Bot’s. It consist of webpages links you have and you want to be indexed. Based on your platform you can choose one of the plugin that create sitemap. Yoast is a good plugin for Woocommerce. Shopify creates sitemap automatically and it is stored in root domain as sitemap.xml. You can check it in URL: https://my-awesome-store.com/sitemap.xml
Click on sitemap on the right menu and you can add your sitemap in this screen.
3. Check index coverage
When sitemap issue is done, now you are ready to check your index coverage. Search Console shows you web pages that indexed or didn’t indexed in this report. Indexed webpages means that Google bots crawled your pages and ready to show your webpage content in search result pages.
If you complete these three steps, congratulations! Now you are ready to proceed ecommerce SEO checklist and start on page optimization process.
In this section we’re going to step by step on-page seo optimization. If you have any questions, use comments to ask and I’ll respond you as soon as possible. Let’s start.
1. Keyword Research
SEO is difficult and day by day it gets more difficult, like a war. Every keyword you choose is the front line in this war and this war is between you and Amazon, eBuy, Bestbuy etc. You got the idea.
If you choose wrong front line, you don’t have chance to survive. On the other hand as history told us, choosing right keyword makes it possible to beat strongest enemies. In this section you’ll learn to choose right front line.
Why choosing right keywords is so much important?
Every SEO effort from title to image alt-texts is take shape from keywords. If you have ten bullets, use eight of them here. Here we go.
Let’s say you’re selling shoes. When you use Google Ads Keyword Planner you’ll see that women shoe has a high search volume.
When you look at your competitor’s you saw that Amazon, Macy’s etc.
You need to find more product related long tail keywords that people are searching for, less search volume but also has higher ecommerce conversion rate. Here are three step process to find these keywords.
Amazon Search Suggestions
Amazon internal search suggestion works based on search data. This is a free wonderful resource to find out secret long tail keywords for your site.
If you want to discover more keywords like this, Keyword Tool Dominator is for you. It shows you full suggestion on Amazon.
There are many keyword tools. I generally use KeywordTool.io. Write down your main keyword and choose country you are targeting. It returns you lots of long tail keywords people are searching for.
When you’re going to choose long tail keywords search volume is become important again but don’t worry. You can still learn search volume of these keywords via Google Trends. I’ll explain it later.
Google Search Suggestion
The last keyword research method is using Google own suggestions.
When you try to search something on Google, it complete your query. Also when you search your main keywords and scroll down the page, there are search suggestion. Use both of them to get keyword ideas.
When you got all keywords from these methods you need to prioritize them. Now you can use Google Trends to determine which keyword is more important for you. Go to Google Trends and choose last 12 months. Enter your keywords and when you search for it, you will see which one has higher search volume.
Now you know that choosing main keywords is not a good strategy. You need to find out long tail keywords. Amazon, Keyword Tools and Google Search Suggestions are main ways to find out long tail keywords.
Now we are ready to go next phase.
2. URL Structure
You know which keywords you are going to target and get traffic. Now you need to optimize your URL structure. There are very simple and common URL rules. Following this rules is the good starting point.
First, do not use parameters in your URL’s. For example you have a category page for Women Shoes. Your URL should be like www.my-awesome-store.com/women-shoes not like www.my-awesome-store.com/category?id=3
General URL: www.my-awesome-store.com/category-name
Probably you’ll have also subcategories. General rule for subcategories is www.my-awesome-store.com/category-name/subcategory-name Let’s say you have Sport Women Shoes subcategory under Woman Shoes. Now your URL should be like: www.my-awesome-store.com/women-shoes/sport-women-shoes
Try to use keywords in your URL but do not try to use all of the keywords! Keep it simple, readable and parallel to your site structure. You’ll be fine 😉
Now you’re ready to make your website more secure for your users. HTTPS is a protocol between your website and your users. The latest letter S stand for “secure”. Last few years Google promote websites with HTTPS over HTTP.
Another big deal is some of browsers start to alert users when they browse a website with HTTP protocol. Who wants to buy “unsecure” website, right?
I don’t want to bother you with technical details. It is very simple to switch HTTPS and looks more professional and SEO friendly your website. Here are two ways;
First; if you manage your domain try to use CloudFlare.com. Sign up for free and redirect your domain (a few simple changes in your domain settings). Now it protect your websites over attacks and you can enable HTTPS with just a simple button.
Second; if you do not manage your domain, contact with your hosting provider. Generally they offer free SSL setup and that’s it!
4. Mobile Friendly Website
Did you know how many of your website’s visit your site via a mobile devices? Go to Google Analytics and check mobile user report under Audiences -> Mobile. Probably %70 – %80 of your users comes from mobile.
Mobile usages increase day by day and Google knows it. A while ago, Google start mobile first indexing process. What does it mean? Google first look at your mobile website’s content and user experience. Mobile plays huge role for your overall SEO performance.
What do you need to do?
First, check your website’s mobile experience right now. Can you search, discover products, find all information you can see at desktop and easily buy products? As you guess, if you;
Find all information available in desktop devices,
Easily find and look at products,
Don’t disturbed by popups
you’re fine! If there are issues with usability terms you need to fix problems with your developer.
5. Page Speed
Google’s first priority is giving best experience for searchers. This includes your webpage’s design, user experience, content and of course page speed.
According to Kissmetrics when page loads more than 3 seconds, 40 percent of users quit website before even page loads, so Google!
Increasing page speed depends on technical issues. I will share you some essential ways to find out why your website is slow and how can you make it faster.
First of all go to Google Page Speed report and check your website’s performance. Click here to checkout your website page speed and Google’s suggestion.
When you’re done with Google Page Speed report, you can also Google’s Lighthouse extension for Chrome. Install Lighthouse extension and when your page loaded click on the Lighthouse icon. It will check your website and report your performance.
6. Title, Description and H1
Another important factor for SEO is your page’s title, description and H1’s. These are effect your SEO in two ways.
First one ise you need to use your keywords in H1, title and description to tell Google what is your page is about.
Second thing is title and description is what users saw when they make a search. IF your write compelling good copy there, your CTR’s will higher than your competitors. This is also a good sign for Google to show you in a better position.
Let’s check a good example.
When you search for “Women Shoes” organic results looks like this;
Checkout titles and description. First one has “Free Shipping” (very important issue for e-commerce) in title section and description field has very rich text that explain why you should click on this 😉 So let’s click on it.
Page start with a few banners. After a small scroll, there are main keyword which is in H1 tag.
Use your keywords in H1, page title and description. Don’t forget to write compelling texts on title and description section. Also don’t forget that one web page should have just one H1 tag.
An average ecommerce website has at least hundreds of webpages. Google needs to understand your page hierarchy. Breadcrumbs is great way to shows Google parent and child pages and also helps users to discover your internet site easily. Look how Amazon use it;
When you implementing breadcrumb make sure you use Schema.org’s standarts in your HTML code. Just adding links in your webpage does not become enough for breadcrumbs. Your code should looks like this;
<ol itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/BreadcrumbList”>
<li itemprop=”itemListElement” itemscope
<a itemprop=”item” href=”https://example.com/dresses”>
<meta itemprop=”position” content=”1″ />
<li itemprop=”itemListElement” itemscope
<a itemprop=”item” href=”https://example.com/dresses/real”>
<span itemprop=”name”>Real Dresses</span></a>
<meta itemprop=”position” content=”2″ />
You can find more information at https://schema.org/BreadcrumbList
8. Image Alt Texts
If you are complete all steps up to here, you are in a very good position in terms of SEO 101. Great job!
Let’s continue with using images for optimizing your images.
Google can crawl your text and can understand what is your pages about easily with keywords. On the other hand images can not readed like texts. How can you tell Google what is your images about?
Simple answer is using “alt” tags. Image used in HTML code like this: <img src=”black_women_sport_shoes.jpg”>
You need to use alt tag in your image code to tell what is your image about. Like this: <img src=”black_women_sport_shoes.jpg” alt=”Black Women Sport Shoes”> This will tell Google images context.
Try to use similar keywords you have used in your H1, title and description. This will make your page stronger since all of signals point to specific keyword.
9. Crawl Budget, Block Unnecessary Pages, Canonical
YaY! You’re at the final step of ecommerce seo checklist. We have covered nine issues and all of them related to giving more information/pages to Google about your webpages. In this step you are exclude your pages from Google in order to increase your SEO performance.
Sound interesting, right? Let’s look at logic behind this. Crawling your webpages takes energy from Google’s side. Bots needs to scan your pages and understand what is your pages about. Google wants to use this effort wisely so they do not waste their energy with empty or meaningless webpages.
How does Google manage it? Every websites has a crawl budget and based on your content and site structure it can be increase or decrease. It is up to you.
Let’s see a few bad scenario causes to decrease crawl budget.
You have a product and it has five different colors and each color comes with has four options. If you have 20 different web pages and all of this web pages has some content, your crawl budget because you use it in a bad way.
Or let’s say your Women Shoes category pages has 15 different web page. If you do not exclude pages from 2nd to 15th your crawl budget are going to be decreased.
Final example. Your webpages needs to be service webpage’s like signup, login, password reset, etc. These webpages has low content and this leads to decrease your page’s crawl budget.
What can you do about it? It is very easy.
If you have webpages has similar content, you need to use canonical tag. Canonical tag tells Google to original source of your webpages. Here are examples;
If you have these web pages you need to pick one page to rank in Google search. If you choose black, you need to place <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://my-awesome-store.com/XYZ-black-shoe” /> in white, red and yellow ones head section.
If you have webpages has no content, now you need to use noindex tag to tell Google don’t crawl this page. Let’s look at one exaple;
https://my-awesome-store.com/login is your login webpages. You need to place <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> code in your head section. That’s all. Google will not crawly your login pages.
SEO is an important factor your e-commerce website growth. I shared nine step ecommerce seo checklist with you that start with keyword research and end with crawl budget. You have very simple to-do’s for beginning. Before begin anything else you need to check your website can be indexed by Google and there is no error via Google Search Console.
Then you start with a strategy based on low and high intent keywords to beat competition and start to optimize your webpages based on your keywords from title, h1, description to image alt-texts.
Also your webpage should be user and web friendly with mobile experience, HTTPS and breadcrumbs.
I hope this ecommerce seo checklist will help you to get more traffic from Google and growth your ecommerce store.
If you have any question, please feel free to write it down in comments section. I’ll answer it ASAP.
Also don’t forget to check Ecommerce Instagram Ads Guide and Ecommerce A/B Testing and Conversion Rate Optimization Guide.