What makes an ecommerce business sustain revenue and profit in markets of rising digital advertising costs and increased competition?
The development and execution of a proper SEO strategy that enables an ecommerce business to reach their organic market potential.
Organic traffic is unlike any other marketing traffic source. Every site visitor is free, and every free session is a potential sale and potential brand exposure.
Unlike paid campaigns in search or social, organic users don’t come with any immediate costs and dont balloon traffic expenses within your target niche markets.
However, more often than not, many online retailers get caught in a holding pattern for eCommerce SEO growth. Stagnation is their biggest enemy.
They’re unsure how to build landing pages that draw high-quality traffic and perform well in search results – increasing your visibility organically isn’t as simple as increasing your advertising budget.
Ecommerce brands need a foundation of proper technical practices along with a proactive approach to creating content that will resonate with your target audience.
If you feel like you’re hitting a wall for the types of effective eCommerce SEO strategies you can create, then you are in the right place! Follow this guide of 41 unique strategies and tips to help you increase your site’s ranking potential.
This guide will give you what you need to develop a true baseline for your SEO performance and provide the insight into where you should focus your efforts this year and beyond.
Let’s do this and drive eCommerce SEO performance on your website!
Before We Begin
We developed this report based on our strategic opinions of the market, guided by current developments, best practices, and data.
What works for the industry as a whole might not work for your site, and we cannot promise that you’ll see positive gains, even if you implement every change.
Any changes you make to your website should be done carefully. This way you can see what works for you — and what doesn’t — and be able to adapt your strategy before any changes become permanent.
Now since that service announcement is out of the way, let’s get to the first tactic to take your ecommerce SEO to the next level:
1. Let Search Engines Read Reviews
You already know that attracting new customers and increasing your visibility with unique, informative content on your product pages is critical to ecommerce SEO.
If you have hundreds or even thousands of product pages, it’s vital to keep these pages updated with newly written content that speaks to the challenges of your audience and how your product solves their problems.
You might have the bandwidth to constantly create new content but if you are looking for a boost, one option for developing a steady stream of new content is ensuring that your product reviews are “crawlable” and can be seen and indexed by search engines.
Almost 90% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family members, which means a few reviews can go a long way to boost your conversion rate but also provide your business with “commercial intent” sessions.
Content-rich reviews provide fresh updates to your pages, something Google rewards, and enhance the context needed by crawlers to understand why they should show your product in a search result instead of one of your competitors.
Unfortunately, some of the most popular product review tools display this rich, valuable content in a way search engines can’t read.
When building out a review platform, choose one that embeds the review content directly into the HTML of your site.
This guarantees that both users and search engines can read these endorsements, improving your long-tail keyword listing and increasing your qualified traffic leads.
An example of review text being “in-line” within a ecommerce product page at Overstock.com
2. Create Dynamic Meta Descriptions
Meta Descriptions have been around since the start of the search engine but this foundational on-page area still represents great opportunities for SEO’s to maximize effectiveness.
For those newbies out there, the meta description appears directly below a page title in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
In addition to the title and the URL, it’s the only information they have on your site before they decide whether or not you get their click. It’s vital in ecommerce to optimize this section of your website and test alternative approaches that maximize your CTR of your site.
An example (highlighted in blue) of a unique meta description
For eCommerce sites that offer thousands of products that often get replaced seasonally, finding a way to write engaging meta descriptions at scale can be a challenge.
Some companies invest the time creating a unique description for every page, but that’s not feasible if you’re a small business or major department store retailer.
Smart ecommerce SEOs use “Concatenation schemas” and establish a set of rules to automate meta description creation while generating unique content.
This is a small piece of code that uses a predetermined set of rules to write relevant descriptions automatically.
For example, the following rule could be written for photography retailer B&H Photo:
- Shop for PRODUCT NAME at BRAND. BRAND provides SUBCATEGORY and CATEGORY for all photography and electronics enthusiasts.
In action, the product description looks like this:
- Shop for Canon EOS Rebel at B&H Photo. B&H Photo provides DSLR Cameras and Digital Cameras for all photography and electronics enthusiasts.
Instead of taking days or weeks to update a category, this schema allows you to update your entire site automatically.
With a little testing, you should be able to find a description format via a defined schema that improves your organic click-through rates dramatically and equals more organic search sessions for your business.
3. Keep Your Product Descriptions Unique
Along with meta descriptions, you want to make sure your product descriptions are unique as well. It’s an absolute must if you want to maximize your ecommerce SEO potential.
Unique content became a priority after Google released its Panda algorithm update (many many moons ago), which focuses on promoting high-quality content that is relevant to users.
One of the goals from this was also to penalize duplicate content that was scraped from other pages.
Even with ecommerce businesses knowing the benefit of creating unique content to differentiate from the competition, retailers still show “manufacturer descriptions” that do little to inform the purchase decision, show the vibe of your brand and ultimately close the sale.
Don’t make the same mistake!
Take the initial step to boost your eCommerce SEO product effectiveness by identifying and updating any content on your product pages that contain duplicated copy, particularly pages that have the same description as products offered by competitors or manufacturers.
How can you tell if your copy is duplicated?
Search the block of text in google using double quotations to see if Google sees the exact same text on other domains.
An example of searching a product description in quotes to assess other brands who have the same description
Once you identify duplicated content, rewrite it from scratch. Potentially using an AI writing tool can help your velocity but be careful with gibberish and nonsense type phrases. Here are some examples of AI tools you can use.
If you need to prioritize your content and have a seemingly endless list of product descriptions ahead of you, create content for your highest margin and best selling products first.
If you sell your products through other marketplaces, like Amazon or eBay, use the manufacturer’s descriptions on those feeds so your unique content isn’t shared across the web. Keep that on your domain only for maximum SEO benefits!
4. Index One Domain Version Only
Speaking of duplicate content, you want to make sure there is only one copy of any given page on your domain. Too often at Trinity when we analyze a prospect’s website we see this common error.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for companies, even large ones, to have their entire website duplicated. This is usually happening when a site has an active “www” and “non-www version”.
When you have multiple duplicated sites, your pages compete against each other in search, cannibalizing each other and increasing the probability of your competitors with only one page for a given keyword target will outrank you.
Duplicate pages often occur when subdomains aren’t blocked by Robots.txt files, gated behind a password-protected log-in wall, or redirected to the main www page.
Search engine crawlers find the duplicate pages and split equity between in the rankings. Instead of one page getting 100% of the value, two pages each get 50%.
There are multiple steps you can take to identify if you have multiple versions of your domain indexed:
- Crawl on your webpage using a tool like Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, or SEMRush
- Review Google Analytics data for organic landing pages to see if unwanted subdomains appear.
- Search Google’s index of your site by using advanced modifiers, such as “site:mysite.com -inurl:www” to display all indexed pages on your site that are not located in the www subdomain.
Ideally, you will block any duplicate pages before creating them, but if you notice them in your index, be sure to update your robots.txt as quickly as possible. We will take a much deeper look at Robots.txt later in this guide.
5. Add “View All” to Category Pages
On category pages with thousands of products, the last thing you want is to force users to load everything at once and then scroll through listings until they find something they want.
Most eCommerce websites solve this by breaking up the category into easily digestible pages with just a portion of the listings, typically with 25-50 items per page.
While this is great for customer experience, it can have a negative impact on your eCommerce SEO as Google isn’t sure which category page to display for users in search results.
Smart web developers will give users (and search crawlers) the option to view all of the listings on one page.
If you decide to add the option to your eCommerce pages, make sure you follow the canonical rules outlined by Google to prevent confusion and penalties by the search crawlers.
An example of a ecommerce merchandising category using “View All” functionality
6. Embrace Schematic Markup
Schematic markup is one of the most effective, but underutilized, tools for SEO eCommerce.
These little snippets of code improve your results by placing star ratings, price tags and other information directly in Google search results.
While schematic data isn’t quite a direct ranking factor, these visually pleasing additions provide context to potential customers and can increase your click-through rate dramatically – especially on your most vital pages, your product detail pages.
Implementing structured markup on your website means adding code to your page templates using industry standards from Schema.org.
An example of ecommerce schema that would power ratings and attributes
When properly integrated into your code, this Schema data enables Google to render more effective search results and can positively influence click-through rate.
7. Prioritize Site Performance
Starting in July 2018, speed initially became a ranking factor in Google’s mobile search results. This momentum has only increased since then, with Google Core Web Vitals being top of mind for any progressive SEO.
Along with impacting your eCommerce SEO, site speed has a significant effect on the user experience (UX) and likely your conversion rate.
Because of the vast penetration of Google Analytics (GA) and Google Chrome, search engines know exactly how your audience behaves when they come to your site. Google rewards websites when they become faster because they deliver a better experience to searchers using their product.
Focusing on improving your bounce rates, time on site metrics, load times and pages per visit as they will have a substantial impact on your SEO traffic as well as your average dollars you gain on individual ecommerce sessions.
As an example of the power of speed, an average increase of your mobile site speed by one tenth of a second can increase overall conversion rates in the retail sector by 8.4% and 10.1% in the travel sector. (Source: Google)
Google’s best practices say that a page should load in under four seconds, and the faster your site becomes, the better. As an SEO expert, you need to quickly identify and correct anything that slows your page speed down.
Start by monitoring the bounce rate, load time, and time on site to understand the health of your site speed. Use the page speed insights tool to help with key issues in your content rendering.
Lastly, use Web Page Test, to identify bottlenecks in page speed and precise optimization opportunities that exist with your image formats and sizes.
An example of Google’s “Page Speed Insights” output data for Trinity.one (our site)
8. Utilize Canonical URLs
Ecommerce sites have some of the messiest and longest URLs you can find online. The bigger the store, the worse it gets, as the inclusion of parameters from search and navigation systems can add millions of unique URLs based on click paths.
It’s not uncommon to see large retailers with up to 1,000 URL variations for a single product!
Thanks to ecommerce search/navigation functionality, this outcome is often unavoidable, and the last thing you want to do is prevent your customer from finding the products they’re looking for with the attribute filtering that enables precise product identification.
Unfortunately, this scenario is troublesome for retailers and brands since it wastes Google’s time as the crawlers can track down and index every version of the URL.
Your solution is to use Canonical Tags which provide directives to search engines into the URL variations that you want to distinguish as your primary versions.
Example: a ecommerce canonical that helps Google understand a primary URL
If you are using Google’s parameter exclusion tool to currently help with this problem, be sure to revisit your strategy as they are sunsetting that tool on April 26 of 2022.
9. Limit Architecture Depth
Speaking of eCommerce architecture strategies, reducing the depth of your website’s architecture can increase the rankings of your core category pages by consolidating site equity.
Usually, the best practice within eCommerce SEO is to construct a more horizontal architecture that limits the depth of pages that Google has to absorb in order to find and isolate categories.
In eCommerce, it’s not unusual to see architecture that seems to go on forever, such as:
- Home > Category > Sub-Category > Family > Brand > Product
While this granular architecture might make sense for your products, it buries those smaller brand or category pages, since each time you create a new branch you’re making it less likely that Google will assign any value to that page.
Developing a shallow site architecture, with most pages located only one or two subcategories off the primary domain, likely increases the value that Google assigns to each page.
This is a great area to “test” within your site. Create a new section that follows a unique architecture approach and monitor your placements and trending as Google serves these pages within the new structure.
10. Deindex Discontinued Products
When your products sell out, you likely set up a 404 error page on the site, meaning the page no longer exists.
This means browsers won’t find any information if they attempt to navigate your site or visit the page through an existing link.
Unfortunately, these 404 pages are often linked to by internal and external sources and trap Google crawlers that get confused by too many redirects or dead ends.
Instead, reduce 404 pages by establishing a process to gracefully remove the old page from the Google index quickly. You can also automatically redirect users to the category, brand, or family page so users can keep browsing even if that specific product isn’t available.
If you need to have 404 pages, be sure to link to related categories. Here is a great resource of unique brand 404 pages from Hubspot and this can serve as inspiration for your brand.
M&M’s takes a unique approach in branding within their 404 pages
11. Drive Social Interaction & Mentions
Social media interactions help drive branded search, increase visibility, and help companies develop a community of active fans online.
While there is no direct or exact correlation between social media and eCommerce SEO, social media can be a powerful traffic driver that points social crawlers to the health and value of your website.
More importantly, however, social media provides you with another opportunity to reach and interact with your users. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts give you ways to answer questions and showcase the human side of your business.
The most successful eCommerce companies on social media are those that genuinely connect with customers and provide real value online.
Create the content that solves a problem for your audience, host that on your root domain, and continue to promote it within your social channels as well as within outreach efforts to related websites.
12. Utilize Dynamic Sitemaps
One of the biggest opportunities in eCommerce SEO is gaining a competitive advantage in long-tail keywords. An example of a long tail search query could be “indoor vacuum cleaner for pets”
These search queries typically have four or more words and do not have a large search volume, think more in the low hundreds (or lower) versus thousands.
What they lack in volume they make up for in revenue, as these terms typically have a higher conversion rate because customers using them are generally closer to making a purchase due to the specific nature of the search query.
Properly targeting long tail keywords often requires content creation deep within your site structure. Typically this would be new landing pages that are going to be centralized for a target keyword.
In other instances, it may make sense to create more of an editorial content piece that can interlink with your category pages.
While these pages might have the exact answers your customers are looking for, Google has to find them and crawl them to assign value in the search results.
One way to take advantage of long-tail search terms is with dynamic sitemaps. Dynamic sitemaps are auto-generated XML files that outline all URLs on your website in a format that makes it easy for Google.
Google Search Console’s sitemap management tool
Essentially, you are giving search engines hints into how your pages are stored and classified to make their job easier when crawling. It’s also done automatically, so you do not have to worry about pages being discovered by Googlebot directly or by submitting the url manually within Google Search Console.
Creating a dynamic sitemap is fairly easy, but maintaining it is not. It’s easy for eCommerce sitemaps to become outdated, have broken URLs, or even missing URLs when they are shared with search crawlers.
Learn all about sitemaps according to Google and how you can use sit
13. Invest in Local SEO
Do you have physical stores as well as an eCommerce presence? Creating local pages can drive substantial eCommerce SEO improvements to both branded local and non-branded local traffic.
Local results appear when a user geographically near your store searches for products or services that you offer.
Potential customers can learn your hours of operation, directions to your location, and any offers or events you might have coming up.
If you want to maximize your local SEO benefits, then your local site should appear in the root URL (ex.Mysite.com/stores/Philadelphia).
An example of a local page ranking for a non branded ecommerce phrase
Not only will this make your locations easier to discover for users, it will also allow Google to assign equity your eCommerce store has to your physical location URL.
This means search engines are more likely to show your business location when local customers search for your products (ex. “Bike Shop in Philadelphia”).
14. Promote Your Content
Creating new links to an ecommerce brand can be a great way to gain SEO momentum when done using editorial methods. Traditional outreach strategies are often overlooked by retailers due to conflicting priorities but these tactics can serve as powerful traffic drivers that can improve your eCommerce SEO KPIs.
If a blog, website, or influencer that is trusted by your customers appreciates your content, they share it with their audience, driving traffic to your page, increasing your overall reach, and building a valuable backlink to your pages.
In today’s SEO environment, link quality trumps quantity.
A link from a trusted website counts for more than any number of artificial links placed in comment sections, forums, or related low-quality sites.
To build natural, authoritative links, you need to make something worth linking to.
Whether this is an infographic, an interactive page, or original research, it has to be something that engages your readers and helps them solve their problems with tactics or insight.
Example of link profile data helping show domain authority and anchor text
By making your content educational and not promotional, partner publishers will be more open to presenting your content to their audiences. You have to start with great content before other people will want to link to it.
Monitor your link performance and velocity using tools like Ahrefs which give a daily pulse on gained and lost links.
15. Switch to HTTPS
Google has made a tremendous public effort to encourage the migration of domains to secure HTTPS environments. What does secure HTTPS mean?
Think of it as a better security system for your house, making it much more difficult for potential hackers to take over a website or deliver malicious code.
Starting in July 2018, any website that doesn’t use HTTPS in their URL was marked “not secure,” in Chrome.
Even after all of the benefits have been known in the marketplace, it’s still not uncommon to see older ecommerce stores on non SAAS platforms to render a non secure domain.
Retailers rely on customer trust to convert them. If your customers don’t think your website is safe, they aren’t going to give you their credit card information or other personal indicators.
If you want to continue driving organic traffic and help customers trust your brand, then you need an HTTPS environment. This should be the first thing you execute if you do not have a secure environment.
In fact, Google representatives claim that all else being equal, Google uses the status of HTTPS to “break ties” within the search listings. If that isn’t a reason to implement security on your site, then we don’t know what else is!
16. Help Google Understand Your Video
Video content is a great way to drive brand visibility and boost your eCommerce SEO.
Almost 65% of customers say they bought a product after watching a branded video on social media. Furthermore, video content has been known to drive a 157% increase in organic traffic when paired with educational text.
Many brands forget to provide written transcripts when they upload video content. Don’t let that be you!
Google will see that you posted a video, but without the transcript, they won’t have any context in written form for what it is about.
If you plan to make videos frequently, consider uploading the video to YouTube and placing it on your website with the transcribed audio below the video presentation.
Make sure to format the text so it is easy to read. Not only does this give Google context for your video, it also appeals to customers who want to learn what the video is about before they press play.
Use headings to separate different ideas, and split the text into small, easy to skim paragraphs. Essentially, your video content becomes the blog post for the video.
An example of embedded transcription within a page hosting video at trinity.one
17. Clean Up Your HTML
HTML is the code and other elements within your web page that tells a customer’s browser how to display your content. Google also uses HTML to understand the context of the content and how it’s displayed to human visitors.
Without HTML, your customers would see either a blank screen or worse, a mass of illegible text. Title tags, meta descriptions, and headers all help people understand what your page is about and how to quickly find the information that is most relevant to them.
Google uses your HTML information to understand the relevance of your content. In fact, effective use of HTML is a ranking factor, as the easier it is for a crawler to determine what your content is about, the easier it likely is for users.
Review your HTML to make sure it isn’t outdated, bulky, or doing more harm than good. A few cuts could improve your eCommerce SEO while increasing your overall site speed.
A great place to start is this HTML validation tool that can provide quick wins to clean up your HTML and get it aligned to industry standards.
An example of HTML validation within the www.amazon.com domain
18. Identify Opportunity Pockets
In all likelihood, the rankings on your site vary widely depending on page type and target category.
Many categories and product terms likely rank well, while some are much deeper in the page listings within Google.
Your core items probably drive the bull of your organic traffic, while lesser products have a hard time generating links, visibility and clicks.
Strategic eCommerce SEO teams will follow a daily process to review these rankings in order to isolate the categories and product detail pages that need improved content efforts.
A tool like SEMRush gives you an updated view of your position in organic search, along with an estimate of how that positioning should translate into traffic.
Macys.com data showing top ranking “page 2” listings for targeting
You have a limited number of eCommerce SEO resources. Use this data to find low-hanging fruit that you can easily optimize for greater results and low-performing pages that should be doing better.
Start with a weekly process of looking at “risers”, “fallers” and “new opportunities” that warrant a new content unit or a revamp on an existing one.
19. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search with the help of personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa is on the rise.
50% of all searches came from voice search by 2020. Google reports 27% of consumers across the globe have used voice search on their mobile device.
If it isn’t obvious, now is the time to start targeting voice search queries.
Consider developing an answer section of your site, like a FAQ page, to address questions. You can also use the FAQ Schema markup to list answers directly on your product pages.
An example of using FAQ Schema to answer questions directly in the SERP’s
This approach enables your product pages to gain more real estate in the search listing pages and rank in the questions sections of Google results.
To understand what questions to answer, look at the historical data gathered by your on-site search, or through online queries on Google’s Search Console.
Notice the questions that users are already asking, and give them a way to find the information they need.
Another great tool is Answer the Public as it will give a visual tree of all questions and prepositions that align to a unique topical theme. These suggestions are great questions to target and you can isolate exactly which topical areas have yet to be covered in your content.
Be sure to make each question a unique page and answer the question as detailed as possible to appeal to crawlers and voice search users.
20. Redirect Issues & Chains
Redirects are a vital web technology. The ability to use 301 and 302 redirects in ecommerce instances such as platform migrations or out of stock instances is an important task in any ecommerce operation.
Redirect chains can hurt SEO performance however for one reason: They can confuse search engine crawlers.
When a search engine crawler visits a website, it follows all the links on the page and indexes the pages that are linked to. If it encounters a redirect chain, it will follow each of the redirects and index all of the pages that are linked to.
This excess work and energy required by the search crawler makes it more likely that layers of non-indexation could take place (like a sub-category not being indexed).
This can lead to duplicate content issues, since the pages that are linked to may be indexed more than once. Additionally, it can be difficult for search engine crawlers to determine which page is the most relevant for a particular search query.
A better approach is to use a single redirect, from the old page to the new page. This will help ensure that search engine crawlers can index your pages correctly and that your website’s SEO performance is not impacted.
Additionally, use a redirect checker tool to test whether your redirects are working properly.
A live HTTP header showing a redirect status for SEO
21. Robots.txt Optimization
Why are robots.txt files so critical to ecommerce SEO?
Robots.txt files are one of the most critical elements of ecommerce SEO, as they help to control how search engine bots crawl and index your website.
By properly utilizing a robots.txt file, you can ensure that your most important pages are crawled and indexed, while preventing duplicate or less important pages from being crawled.
To create a robots.txt file for your ecommerce website, you’ll need to use the proper syntax and include the necessary information about your website’s structure. The following is an example of a basic robots.txt file:
In this example, the user agent is set to “*” which will apply to all bots, while the disallow directives tell the bots which directories and pages not to crawl on your website. The allow directive tells the bots which pages they can crawl and index.
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your robots.txt file for an ecommerce site.
First, you’ll want to make sure that you disallow crawling of any unnecessary pages or duplicate sections of your site. This can help reduce the load on your server and improve the overall speed.
You’ll also want to make sure that you include a crawl directive for your product pages. This will tell search engines where to find your product pages and help them index them properly.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you include a sitemap file in your robots.txt file. This will ensure that search engines can find and index your site’s pages quickly and easily.
22. Implement HREF Lang (if global)
One of the most important strategies for ecommerce SEO when your business sells globally is the proper usage of HREF lang tags.
These tags tell Google which language your website is in, and this is important because it can help you rank in specific countries or languages.
For example, if you have a website that’s in English but you’re targeting Spanish speakers in Spain, using the hreflang=”es” tag will let Google know that your website is meant for Spanish speakers in Spain, and it will rank your website accordingly.
Conversely, if you have a website that’s in Spanish but you’re targeting English speakers in the United States, using the hreflang=”en-us” tag will tell Google that your website is meant for English speakers in the United States.
By using the correct HREF lang tags, you can make sure that your ecommerce site is being optimized for the right geographic segment, which will help with overall conversion rates as well as deeper rankings in new geographic markets.
There are a few ways to address this issues:
- Use server-side rendering whenever possible. This will ensure that all of the content is seen by both users and crawlers.
- Use pre-rendering services such as Prerender.io or Rendertron. These services will render your site on a remote server, allowing crawlers to see the content correctly.
- Use code snippets to inject metadata into your pages. This metadata can then be used by pre-rendering services to generate a complete version of your page.
There are a few ways to address this issue as well:
- Use Google Tag Manager or another tag management system to consolidate your scripts into one place. This will make it easier for crawlers to access and index them.
- Use script proxies such as Scriptinjection or JSonPipe to make sure that the scripts are executed correctly. This will help ensure that the scripts are seen by both users and crawlers.
24. Clean Up Broken Links
When managing a website or SEO function for a brand, broken link assessments should be a monthly task within your workflow.
Essentially you will crawl the site in a live environment using a local crawling tool to ensure proper response codes within your page footprint.
Broken links are bad for SEO for a few reasons: first, they can cause your website to rank lower in search engine results pages (SERPs) because Google sees them as a sign of poor quality.
Additionally, broken links can lead users astray and away from your site when encountered, which can have a compounded negative impact to also hurt your SEO.
If you have a lot of broken links on your website, fixing them can be a time-consuming process. But it’s worth it in the long run, because broken links will 100% damage your SEO and hurt your website rankings.
25. Eliminate Orphan Pages
An orphan web page is a web page that is not linked to from any other pages on the website. Pages are frequently created outside of the primary site architecture that exists within an ecommerce platform or CMS (content management system).
These pages frequently become “orphans” and exists outside of a linking path for a search crawler.
Additionally, if there are no links to the page from other websites, it will be difficult for any user to ever find it due to the lack of link equity (internal).
There are several ways to prevent orphan web pages from happening. One is to make sure that all pages on the website are linked to from at least one other page.
Another is to use a tool like Google search console, which can help you identify orphan pages and fix the problem.
26. Maximize Your Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are a navigational tool used in ecommerce websites to help users move through the website and find what they are looking for.
They usually are a series of text links that appear near the top of a web page and provide a way for users to move up one level in the site hierarchy.
They are typically displayed as a list of links, starting with the home page, followed by links to each preceding level of the site hierarchy. Here’s an example:
Home > Category > Subcategory > Product
They also play an important role in SEO, as they help Google understand the website’s hierarchy and structure.
By adding breadcrumbs to your ecommerce website, you will likely improve your site’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Since these links render on every page, Google will give more equity to the anchor text that you use as the naming convention within a category so choose your category names wisely and after research!
An example of breadcrumb navigation at Chewy.com
27. Optimize Image Formats
As earlier mentioned, your core goal in ecommerce SEO should first be mobile responsiveness and improving the speed of how your site renders on a device.
Especially within the category page layers of your site, as these pages have numerous images to serve, these pages can be slow to load and both users and search crawlers notice the lack of responsiveness.
It’s true that much of the opportunity in these scenarios is cleaning up the business logic of your overall website theme, so that there is less to digest on the page for all the content to load.
You can gain SEO benefits at scale, by optimizing the format of your images to progressive formats so that all category pages render faster.
If you are looking for a great tool to assess your images and show you the exact benefit is the image analysis tool at Cloudinary
An example of a category image and potential enhancement impacts through compression and format change
28. Leverage a CDN
Does your brand use a CDN? If not, you should. A CDN, otherwise known as a Content Delivery Network is a powerful tool to ensure that your content gets served to users as fast as possible.
A content delivery network serves the purpose of storing and providing content on the Internet. When a person visits a website that is part of a CDN, the CDN will serve them the content from its servers instead of the server where the website is actually hosted.
Credit Wikipedia: A visual example of a CDN and distributed servers vs one central
(CDN environment in orange)
This has a few benefits that help your overall website stability and SEO in parallel:
– The content is more likely to be delivered faster because it is coming from multiple servers in different locations.
– It reduces the load on the website’s server, which can improve its performance.
– It makes the website more resistant to attacks and outages because the content is not all coming from one server.
29. Utilize Lazy Loading
Lazy loading is a design pattern commonly used in computer programming to defer initialization of an object until the point at which it is needed. In more simple terms, it’s essentially “holding off” on executing on certain parts of a web page until it makes the most sense.
Lazy loading is a kind of lazy evaluation that refers to the process of delaying the initialization of an object until the point at which it is needed.
One typical use of lazy loading is when dealing with large data sets on ecommerce category pages that are not necessarily required for processing at browser load. The user sees the product images for the items above the fold, but the products below the fold (i.e. the user’s visual pane without scrolling), load when the user action warrants it.
With lazy loading, only a small subset of the total data set is loaded into memory when the program starts; more data isloaded only as needed.
This can improve overall performance by reducing unnecessary processing and memory usage. As we know and have discussed all through this report, a better experience on the page will lead to enhanced rankings as Google will reward you.
30. Compress CSS Files
Another great tactic to improve your speed and site performance is “compressing” (i.e. shrinking) the size of your CSS files that power your website.
CSS files contain the styles that dictate how your web pages should look. Primarily used by user experience developers and designers, they include information on colors, fonts, layouts, and other visual elements.
While CSS files are important for making your website look good, they can also add unnecessary bloat to your page load (which is bad for SEO). This is why it’s important to compress your CSS files whenever possible.
There are a few different ways to compress CSS files. You can use a server-side solution like Minify, or you can use a client-side solution.
Use CSS tools to help compress your CSS and improve Ecommerce SEO
If you’re not sure whether or not you need to compress your CSS files, ask yourself this question: Are my CSS files larger than 150kb?
If the answer is yes, then you should definitely consider compressing your CSS files. However, if your CSS files are smaller than that, you may not need to compress them at all.
31. Smart Heading Usage
What are header tags and why are they vital for improving SEO performance?
Header tags are HTML tags that indicate the beginning of a new section on a web page. They help to divide up the content on a page, and also allow browsers and search engines to better understand the structure of the page.
They have been around since the start of the web browser and have been a reliable SEO tactic to help distinguish the topical nuances within a webpage that a SEO wants to target.
While all HTML tags are important for SEO, header tags are especially so. This is because they give clues about the hierarchy of the information on the page, which is used by both browsers and search engines when they are trying to figure out what is most important.
An example showing how to use header tags to help in the hierarchy of content
For example, if you have a blog post with several sections, you might use header tags to label each section.
Not only do header tags help improve the SEO performance of a page, but they also play a vital role in making sure that the content is easy to read and understand for the user because they can be used to break up large chunks of text into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Here are a few tips for optimizing header tags::
– Use header tags to indicate the hierarchy of the content on the page.
– Make sure that each section of content is clearly labeled with a header tag.
– Avoid using too many header tags on a single page.
– Use header tags to make the content on your page easier to read and understand.
32. Expand In-Content Linking
When it comes to “easy wins” within your eCommerce SEO effort, nothing is as easy (and maybe as underutilized) as strategic internal linking.
Internal links are important for two reasons:
1. They help search engines understand the structure of your website and the relationships between your pages.
2. They help distribute equity (i.e. “juice”) throughout your website, which can impact your search engine rankings.
Literally every day your website should be adding new links and pathways for pages to be interrelated to each other. Doing so enables more pathways for search crawlers, more diverse anchor text to consider, and potentially new pages to discover and serve.
There are a few SEO best practices when it comes to internal linking:
Use keyword-rich anchor text. This will help improve your click-through rates and Rankings for those keywords.
Link to “deep” pages. Try to avoid linking to your home page or other pages that don’t add value for the user that is specific in nature. The best strategy is to use a hub and spoke approach with blog pages, category pages, product pages and internally hosted video pages.
Don’t overdo it. Too many internal links can actually be harmful to your website’s SEO. Try to always keep your linking to a maximum of 100 per page.
A great strategy to find the best pages to link to is by going to Google Search Console and isolating your top terms by impressions. These usually are your top terms to target with internal links since they probably can benefit the most from increased visibility (from a traffic perspective).
Link to these pages from your other related blog posts and articles to help improve their rankings for other terms that you may be ranking for. Again use diverse text and stay consistent.
Target a new 20-30 links for each target URL and keep your text diverse. Rankings should soon go northward on those target URLs after these SEO efforts get a chance to be indexed and factored into Google’s algorithm.
An example of isolating high impression phrases in Google Search Console
33. NoIndex URL’s in Sitemaps
A “no index” tag tells a search crawler to not include a page within the search engine index so it can’t be served.
One of the common issues that we frequently see is that these types of URLs, although they have this tag included, are included within the sitemap. Yikes, this definitely gives the wrong signals to a search engine.
This can be problematic for a number of reasons, including:
- It gives conflicting information to search crawlers, causing confusion
- It can result in lower rankings for the website as a whole, since the search engine may view the site as less relevant if it contains a lot of no index URLs.
- It can result in unintended pages getting indexed, which can expose pages that are not intended to be viewed delivering a poor user experience.
The best way to avoid this problem is to consistently evaluate your sitemap files and be proactive in reviewing an existing index footprint monthly at a minimum.
Again Google Search Console will be your place to turn for your sitemap submissions and messaging.
An example showing no-index classification to a URL within Google Search Console
34. Improve Mobile Usability
Through this guide we have talked a ton about speed and performance relating to mobile devices and the direct correlation to organic search results. Also very vital is the aspect of mobile usability, which is now a distinct report in Google Search Console, as it becomes more important to SEO results than ever before.
Google’s definition of mobile usability is: “The ability of a user to experience optimal viewing and interaction with a website on a mobile device.”
In other words, it’s all about making sure your website provides an excellent experience for users regardless of what type of device they’re using.
The primary questions to ask yourself as it relates to your website’s mobile usability include:
Mobile-friendliness: Is your website designed and built with mobile users in mind? This includes everything from the layout of your content to the size and placement of your call-to-actions.
Viewability: Can mobile users easily see and interact with all the content on your website? This includes things like font size, button size, and tap targets.
Functionality: Does your website work properly on a mobile device? This includes things like form submission, video playback, and image galleries.
Google’s ultimate goal is to provide its users with the best possible experience. If your website makes it easy for mobile users to find what they’re looking for, then Google is more likely to show it to them.
If you’re not sure how your website stacks up in terms of mobile usability, Google offers a free Mobile-Friendly Test that will analyze your website and provide you with a report. Fix what is outlined and you are on your way to improving your mobile experience!
Example from Google’s Mobile Friendly tool that provides specific improvements
35. Maximize HTTP Headers
HTTP headers are the core components of webpage requests and responses, and they play a vital role in SEO.
Headers carry information about the request or response, such as the content type, length, cookies, and cache control.
This information helps search engines understand what kind of content is being served up, how long it will take to load, and whether or not it can be cached. Properly configured headers can improve SEO by helping search engines index and serve your content more efficiently.
Configuring HTTP headers correctly can be a complex task, the main thing to be concerned with are:
Cache-Control: This header controls how long and how often a resource can be cached by the browser or intermediate caches. Setting a longer cache time can improve SEO by reducing the number of times a search engine has to re-crawl your content.
Content-Type: This header tells the browser caches what type of content is being served up. Search engines use this information to determine how to index and serve your content.
Content-Length: This header tells how long the content is so they can determine if it needs to be loaded in chunks. If your pages are loading slowly, this header can help improve SEO by telling browsers to load resources in smaller pieces
In addition to impacting SEO, HTTP headers also affect website security. Headers can be used to prevent cross-site scripting attacks and clickjacking attempts.
36. Expand Navigation Format
The way we structure website navigation can have a big impact on how well our website ranks in search engines. This is because the terms that we use in our navigation can be used by search engines to determine what our website is about and how relevant it is to searchers’ queries.
If we want our website to rank well for certain keywords, then we need to make sure that those keywords are included in our navigation. Otherwise, search engines may not consider our website to be relevant for those keywords, and we’ll miss out on valuable traffic.
How do you best use keyword research to improve my website navigation for SEO?
1. Identify the keywords you want to rank for
2. Use those keywords in your website navigation (crawlable text!)
3. Monitor your website’s search engine rankings to see if your efforts are paying off
4. Adjust your keyword strategy as needed by monitoring how target phrases are represented in the search results
By following these steps, you can ensure that your website navigation is helping, rather than hurting, your SEO efforts.
Example of a “mega-menu” that targets niche phrases for SEO & Users
37. Minimize Subdomain Issues
If you can consolidate your content into a single domain and directory structure then by all means do so! It’s easier to manage and easier for Google.
We know though in the world of IT this is always not possible however. As SEO’s we have to be able to handle the challenges that a sub-domain centric environment creates.
Sometimes you have the deal with the hand you are dealt — we get it – but let’s first start by looking for issues.
Some of the main SEO issues that websites have by using sub-domains include:
- Search engines may view sub-domains as separate websites, which could hurt your website’s search engine ranking.
- Your website’s link popularity could be spread too thin if you have too many sub-domains.
- You could run into duplicate content issues if you’re not careful with your use of sub-domains.
- It can be more difficult to manage your website’s SEO when using sub-domains.
If a business has to use sub-domains, the best way to protect against SEO issues would be to :
- Use keyword-rich sub-domain names.
- Make sure each sub-domain has unique and original content.
- Use 301 redirects to point any links from leacy domains to the new sub-domain.
- Monitor your website’s SEO KPI’s regularly to make sure there are no indexation issues.
38. Institute Cache Control
We touched upon it a bit earlier in the HTTP headers section but it deserves more clarification due to its importance. What is Cache control and how does it affect SEO?
Cache control is a setting that can be configured on a server or in the HTTP headers that tells the browser (and intermediate caching systems) how long to cache content for.
The duration can be set to anything from 0 seconds (no caching) to several weeks.
If you have a website that is updated frequently, you may want to set a shorter cache duration so that visitors always see the most up-to-date version of your site. On the other hand, if your site doesn’t change very often, you can set a longer cache duration so that visitors don’t have to download all the same files each time they visit.
Cache control can also be used to force browsers to re-download resources that have changed. This is known as “cache busting” and can be useful if you need to update a file but don’t want visitors to have to wait for the new version to propagate through the caches.
Cache control can have a significant impact on SEO because it affects how quickly search engines are able to index new or updated content on your site.
If you have a long cache duration, it may take some time for search engines to see your changes; if you have a short cache duration, they will be able to index your site more frequently but may also end up re-indexing unchanged pages more often than necessary.
In general, it’s best to strike a balance between these two extremes so that your site is cached frequently enough that search engines can index it quickly, but not so frequently that they end up re-indexing unchanged pages unnecessarily. The specifics will depend on how often your site is updated.
39. Monitor Core Web Vitals
Core web vitals are Google’s measurement protocols for assessing page experience data within mobile devices. It’s an expansive topic that can probably be best explained within a previous post that we have written and that you can access here.
Rest assured, Core Web Vitals are absolutely paramount to organic search performance and must be a part of your overall optimization strategy. Take a deep dive into the above post, use Google’s page speed insights tool to gauge your performance and be sure to review the scores of all your template types often.
An example of core web vitals data that is outlined within Page Speed Insights
40. Ensure Anchor Text Diversity
Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. It provides context about the page that you are linking to, and can be a powerful ranking signal for search engines.
Unfortunately, it can also be abused by spammers who try to stuff their anchor text with keywords in an attempt to manipulate the search results. This is why Google and other search engines have placed a heavy emphasis on anchor text diversity in recent years.
Anchor text diversity is important because it helps to ensure that your link profile looks natural to search engines. If all of your links have the exact same anchor text, it will look suspicious to Google and could result in a penalty.
On the other hand, if you have a diversified link profile with a variety of different anchor texts, it will look much more natural and is less likely to trigger any red flags.
There are a few different ways that you can diversify your anchor text. One is to simply vary the actual text that you use as your anchor text.
Instead of always using the same keyword or phrase, mix things up and use something else that is relevant to the page you are linking to.
The days of trying to rank for a phrase by building 50 links with that text in the anchor text or in our rear view mirror, don’t make the mistake of embracing SEO tactics from the past.
41. Grow Domain Authority
Any enterprise SEO should monitor domain authority because it’s a valuable metric that can help you fine-tune your SEO efforts by seeing if efforts are working.
Domain authority is a prediction of how well a website will rank on search engines. The higher your domain authority, the higher your chances of ranking on SERPs.
Domain authority is determined by several factors, including the age of the domain, the number of backlinks, and the quality of those backlinks. You can improve your domain authority by building high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites.
To check your domain authority, you can use a tool like Ahrefs has. Just enter your website’s URL and click “Search.” You’ll see your domain authority score, along with other useful data, such as the number of backlinks and inbound links.
If you want to improve your domain authority, focus on building high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites.
You can also improve your score by regularly publishing high-quality content, and improving things we have already discussed such as your internal linking structure, and making sure your website is free of technical errors.
Work With Trinity, start with a FREE diagnostic technical review.
Overwhelmed by SEO? Trust us, you are not alone.
It’s impossible for one person to do everything, and eCommerce SEO is highly complex because you need to factor in product pages, landing pages, and content pages in unison.
If you are looking for help and insights, Our team will run a no cost comprehensive SEO audit to learn what you’re doing right and where you need to improve. Let’s set up a free consultation to discuss your eCommerce SEO opportunities.