SEO for eCommerce Businesses In Australia
Online shopping has become a big business in Australia. As of February 2019, over 80 per cent of people were doing at least some of their shopping through eCommerce platforms and by 2021, it is estimated that 22 million consumers nationwide will be purchasing online.
While this is great news for businesses with eCommerce platforms, it also highlights the importance of focusing on digital marketing. More than ever before, it’s crucial to ensure you have strong search engine optimisation strategies on hand, allowing you to compete with the large volumes of rival brands out there.
So where do you start? Optimising all of your online content is the perfect stepping stone towards ranking high in Google search results pages, and to reach your audience through phrases they’re more likely to query. This is exactly where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes in, forming a critical cornerstone for 2020 online strategies.
Google looks for integral signals to connect websites’ relevancy to certain keywords. And these certain signals range from a whole heap of criteria – from technical on-page elements all the way through to your link building portfolio and beyond. Because there’s so much to the equation, it’s vital to ensure you tick every box to give yourself the best possible chance of appearing at the top of searches.
This in itself is vital as only 25 per cent of people will go through to the second page of Google, so sitting beyond page one ultimately means you’re missing out on massive amounts of traffic. If you’re an eCommerce business, keeping your business on page one also means you’re sitting ahead of the competition that might otherwise land those sales you’re working so hard for.
The most crucial aspects of eCommerce SEO – a checklist
There’s a lot to it, we know, and it can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are all the components that make up your SEO strategy, each of which you need to tick off to ensure you make those high rankings a reality.
Ecommerce Keyword research
Before you do absolutely anything, this is the critical first step that has to be done correctly. This is like the oxygen in your lungs, the fuel in a car’s petrol tank; without proper keyword research, your SEO strategy is doomed from the very beginning. These are the exact terms that your users are putting into search engines to find your products and/or services (or your competitor’s). They can be single words, long-tailed phrases or short. Think of how you conduct a search for something these days; more often than not, it’s a question or a long-from sentence.
It is important to know which terms your potential customers are using to find you and also the keywords your opposition are using. All of this helps you to target more accurately and create a strategy that’s effective. Google AdWords has the built-in Keyword Planner which is your obvious first port of call to help build up your list of phrases. You can then use these across your wider marketing strategies as well – like content marketing or social media posting.
There is also a large range of third party tools and platforms available these days that enable you to see the keywords your opposition are adopting. This is helpful as it means you can improve your strategies to target down to precise phrases making profitability and traction in your industry, using this method to constantly compare your site to theirs.
Always take the time to properly research your keywords and phrases and plan how you are going to use them on your website, in your articles, product descriptions, landing page content and general technical aspects. All of this creates relevancy to Google, helping those bots crawl your pages to connect them with the right audience. This is a large portion of beating your rival to the top of SERPs.
Long-tail keywords and how to target them
This is where you can get highly specific and hone in on the precise search phrases that people are using to locate your goods and/or services. For example, if you are selling activewear you could look at longtail keywords like ‘cheapest activewear Australia’, ‘best activewear’, ‘buy activewear online’ or ‘best value activewear’’. Even a simple Google search will give you a list of options that people are commonly looking for.
They can also get really specific, which is how you can link your competitive advantage to consumers that are looking for your specific product. In the case of activewear again, it could be search phrases like ‘organic activewear products’, ‘activewear products that are breathable’, ‘best activewear for cross-training’ and other specific phrases.
Tip: Look at Q&A or FAQ pages in your industry to see what your target audience are commonly searching for answers around. Sites like Quora and Reddit are great platforms for demonstrating the queries surrounding certain niches.
How to optimise URLs for eCommerce SEO and users
All of your URLs should be optimised for SEO, especially your product pages, blogs and articles. This is to help Google get a proper understanding of your website so it can correctly link your pages to search queries, which will enhance your traffic and leads.
Some tips on optimising your URLs include:
- Describe your content: Keep it clear and simple so that people reading the URL would know exactly what that page is going to contain.
- Include your keywords: This is an important place to include your keywords so that Google will match them to search queries.
- Keep them simple: You don’t want War and Peace in your URLs. Keep them tight so that people will be able to read them in Google searches, as longer URLs will not appear in full.
- Only use lowercase letters: Google will just assume that if you are using capital letters, that is specific to your URL. That could mean a drastic decrease in traffic and ranking positions and besides, capital letters online look like you are yelling at your audience.
- Structure your website: Ensure your URLs flow into each other. For example, www.company.com, www.company.com/activewear or www.company.com/activewearsale. This not only makes the process easy for your visitors to follow, but it helps Google understand the hierarchy of your pages.
Not only are these optimised URLs essential for Google ranking, but they are also helpful for your visitors. All of this ensures your platform is easy to navigate, that users can set bookmarks for later and to identify what each individual page is about when they appear in searches, not just the basic home page.
What are header tags?
Articles always have a main heading and should then have subheadings to structure them. In SEO terms, these have HTML titles called heading tags and they actually have a far deeper purpose. To Google, these tags let the search engine know what your page is about, what the body of the content is relating to and the keywords involved. You can see why all this is so important to include when you’re writing up content that’s optimised for SEO.
Header tags are what you use to rank these headings and subheadings from H1 to H6. H1 is obviously your most important and this is reserved for the primary headline of the page or article, with all other subheadings ranked accordingly.
You can use these headers more than once as well. For example, you would reserve H1 for the main headline and not use that again. But H2 could be for all of your main subheadings that divide up themes and topics. Then you could use H3 and H4 headlines for all further points broken down under these subheadings.
Having all of these subheadings is not only good for the reader because it clearly defines where each section of information is and makes the entire article or page easier to read, but it also helps tell Google which sections are more important and the overall hierarchy which goes a long way to improving rankings and those nifty signals we spoke about.
While H5 and H6 headers may not carry the same weight as the other tags, that does not mean you should not use them if they are essential. Often highly detailed pages that include legal documents, terms and conditions, privacy policies, academic and research papers and more will deep dive into these levels of subheading and while they may not carry the same weight, they do carry weight and will help Google and your audience understand the hierarchy of information.
How to optimise your header tags
It is important to recognise the power of these header tags and their correlation between your website and your search engine rankings. Don’t just slap headings around willy-nilly; this process needs to be planned and strategised so that you are getting maximum optimisation and SEO results.
Make sure you using plenty of subheadings to break up your text. Less than 20 per cent of your audience is reading your pages and articles word for word, the vast majority are scanning the text. Group each theme and idea etc under their own clear headline so people can quickly locate the information they are after.
A great way to maximise your SEO with header tags is to use a longtail keyphrase as the subheading in the form of a question, then answer the question directly beneath in the paragraph. Google will match the phrase to what people are searching for and you will be delivering them value with the answer presented directly below the exact same question they just asked Google.
Just make sure you are making your headings and subheadings exciting and readable as well, not just bland keywords and phrases that are going to bore your readers. You are allowed to combine them both – and get creative.
How to add relevant heading tags (h2, h3 & h4s)
First of all, you should probably try and limit your headings and subheadings to H1, H2 and H3 as they hold the most SEO weight with Google. If you start diving down to the fourth, fifth and sixth level of subheading it is also getting much harder to read and collate information, although this can be essential for legal documents, scientific documents and the like.
Secondly, only use your H1 tag for your main headline. There is nothing specific written into the Google algorithm that says you can’t use the H1 tag more than once, but this is a big bold headline and if you start to use it all over your page it is not going to read properly and it is going to look clunky overall. Just use the H1 as your primary headline so that it is very clear what your content is about.
Then you need to break your text up into ideas, sections and themes. These are then divided up using H2 headers which are perfect for subheadings. This breaks the text up beautifully and tells Google exactly what each section is about. Then, if you need to, you can use H3 headers for further breakdowns of information within these sections which could include things like bullet points lists (Google loves these).
The importance of internal linking
There are two primary reasons why internal linking is important. Firstly, it helps visitors navigate their way through your page and secondly, it helps provide Google with a similar map so it can better rank your content. Building internal links is simple; all you need to do is hyperlink sections on one page that refer to another page. For example, your home page might outline the basics of your services but you could hyperlink each individual service to the product page where there is more information.
This means that users can easily find out more information that is specific to them while they are also going to spend longer on your website. This results in getting them more engaged, reducing your bounce rate and increasing the likelihood that they will make a sale or connect with you in another way like messaging you or signing up for more information.
Google can also understand the hierarchy of your website and which pages are more important, ranking them as such. That makes internal linking a strong SEO tool and one that should never be ignored. And for the specific products pages etc, Google is also able to connect you to people who are actively searching that exact product which means your traffic is more likely going to be motivated to buy.
What is anchor text in SEO marketing?
Put simply, anchor text is the words you use to connect an embedded link to another part of your website. When you read content, this text is coloured blue and underlined and is immediately recognisable as a link. For example, you may write a blog talking about how online accountancy has evolved in the last decade and could link to the page on your site that outlines your online accountancy services with a call to action. That way you can inspire a potential customer and give them a pathway to take action, but also show value to those intelligent Google bots.
These links can also come from other websites and these are highly important for your SEO. If another website uses anchor text to point back to your content, this is called a backlink and it is looked upon very favourably by Google. However, these links must be from authoritative websites, or they can actually do more harm than good.
The more reputable the site is that is backlinking to you, the better results you are going to get from Google’s end. This is how the search engine giant can get signals that show it that your site is also authoritative, so building a strong backlink strategy is extremely important.
Just be careful you are not going overboard with your anchor text. If you are overusing your keywords and linking them off to other pages on your site (or the same page), or if you are tricking people into clicking anchor text that takes them a totally irrelevant page, Google is going to penalise you for spamming. We recommend keeping internal links to around three per page, but there’s no hard and fast rule.
How to cross-link products and categories on your eCommerce site
Many of the people who visit your eCommerce store are going to have an idea on what they want to purchase already, but they may not be totally sure whether to jump into making the final transaction.
You should always be on the lookout for these opportunities, presenting options to your visitors to help them make up their mind quickly and purchase from your site. That is the basic premise of cross-linking your products and categories, to give your visitors that choice and inspire them to purchase what is right for them. It’s also why having high-quality, informative and nurturing content is so important to your overall strategy; you want to give them an answer to their problem and a reason to make a purchase.
The best way to achieve is this is by using plugins available through WordPress (or whichever CRM you using to manage your website) that insert options like ‘customers also viewed’ or ‘related content’. You can have tabled information within your product pages that give a snapshot into other, similar products so that your visitors can easily click through and make the purchase there if they like.
This simplifies the entire process, making your website like a digital catalogue. Just ensure that it is really easy for consumers to purchase at any point on your website, by adding these items to a cart and being able to pay in just a couple of clicks. The more simple it is, the more effective it is likely to be.
What are orphan pages and how do I avoid them?
These are the pages on your website that have no links going to them from anywhere else on your platform – in simple terms, they’re ‘loners’. They are lost and alone in the internet wilderness and your visitors are going to have no way of accessing them unless they have been given the specific URL. In some cases, you may want this, but it’s not always ideal. You could have very specific landing pages or other online events that you want to remain exclusive. But if this is not your intention, your customers won’t find your pages but search engines will – and they are going to get confused.
Search engines like Google need to be able to link specific, product pages and the like (which are often called children) to the main pages of the website that they fall under (called parent pages). This helps Google map your site, establish hierarchy and deliver the right traffic to the best URL. Orphan pages are not connected to a parent page, so when search engines discover them, there is no context or link to the of your website.
This is terrible news for SEO. If your own website doesn’t regard these orphan pages as important, Google is not going to favour them either.
How to add external links and which sites to point to
While we have discussed the importance of internal links, backlinks and anchor links, there is one more form of hyperlink you should be focussing on with every article and page on your website – external ones.
Put simply, these are the hyperlinks on your pages that connect to sources outside of your website. For example, this could be reference a statistic from another source in an article and you put the link in to show your audience where you got your data from.
Not only are these links a great way to make your articles reputable by including the source (as long as it is a reputable source), but this is also a great SEO tool and way to improve your Google search rankings.
There are two different kinds of outbound or external links, nofollow and follow links. Follow links are the ones that allow search engines to travel the path to the external website which will then make them add value to your article and improve its ranking as well as your overall website SEO. Nofollow links do not allow search engines to look at the link and there is no SEO benefit to your website whatsoever.
So why do nofollow links exist? To combat spam and Black Hat SEO tactics where people were putting links to their websites or blogs everywhere they could. WordPress and Wikipedia now put nofollow tags on all user-submitted outgoing links to prevent this practice.
So which sites should you be linking to from your site and your articles? The more reputable the better. Official government pages for statistics or recognised research institutes are key. Publicly listed, popular companies with large followings like Microsoft and Apple are also important. Try to avoid other blogs and dodgy links as they won’t carry as much value as outbound links to reputable sources.
Meta title and meta description tags for eCommerce SEO
These HTML tags are extremely important as this is the information that Google will use to display your page content in searches and around the internet. These tags will be used as the main headline in SERPs and also in anchor text when it is being shared on other sites, so it is important these title tags are concise but as informative as possible.
There are two ways to put a HTML meta title tag on the pages of your website. The first is to code it into the HTML at the top of the page using a string that looks a little bit like this:
The other way, which is much more simple, is to let your content management system (CMS) do the work for you. WordPress and most other CMS’s include title tags in general settings, so you can just put the information there and the CMS will put the code in automatically for you.
When it comes to your blogs and articles, WordPress also includes the SEO section where you can include the meta title and the meta description where you can put the information in. That means in Google searches the headline and snippet below it will be exactly as you have put into WordPress.
So to optimise these titles and descriptions, be sure to include your strongest keywords but also make it snappy, readable and sure to grab the attention of people scrolling through. Be a bit creative here and stand out from your competition. If the article is an opinion piece, put OPINION: Example article title here so that readers can clearly see what the article will be about.
These titles are also one of the most important Google ranking signals so ensure your keywords and phrases are not only included but pressed right up at the front of the title for maximum success. But don’t stuff the title and meta description with keywords to the point it is unreadable, or Google will penalise you.
With your meta description, keep it short and sweet – ideally less than 160 characters – or you will find the end of it being snipped off. Use those characters carefully to include your keywords and specific and relevant language to describe the page and/or blog content.
Now any site can put dry meta descriptions that describe what is on that page. Add more to yours with calls to action, solutions and benefits, value to make people click through. But forget anything anyone has ever told you about clickbait. Do not lie to your audience by deceiving them with a meta description and/or title that does not match the page or content. All you will do is infuriate them and they will never return. Play it straight, keep it snappy and use action-orientated language and you will have the most success.
Include images, videos and other multimedia formats
Images, videos and other multimedia formats are a great way to present your article and make them engaging for readers. They break up the text and provide visual and interactive elements that are likely to keep people on your page for longer and may also entice them to click through to other pages and make purchases or take other action.
These visual elements also offer more SEO benefits as Google offers specific searches for images and videos and this is another place where you can house your keywords that will deliver more traffic without the risk of penalty. However, simply sticking a stock image or video into your content is not the way to go for two main reasons.
Firstly, these images and videos are unlikely to have been compressed and they will weigh down your website like an anvil around the neck which slows down the experience, frustrates videos and sends negative SEO signals to Google. Secondly, if you are just slapping in images and videos with the proper captions and alt attributes, you are not telling Google what they are about and they will fail to rank effectively.
There are many tools available that will compress your images so they are lightweight but still look fantastic on your visitor’s screens, even those using large desktop monitors. Make sure you are using them before uploading to your site. Upload all of your videos to YouTube as they will compress the video. You only need to share the link to your page and WordPress will populate the content with an included link to YouTube for an added SEO hit.
Make sure you are putting proper captions on each visual element and if they are from somewhere else, credit them properly and use an outbound or external link. Never forget about alt attributes, this is a place where you can put all the keywords that describe the image and article that will allow Google to understand its context and improve your search standings.
Final notes on developing an ecommerce SEO strategy
It may shock you to learn that while it all seems quite simple when listed out like this, a lot of your opposition websites will not be taking the time to optimise their SEO.
With proper planning and application, you will be able to leapfrog them all in the Google search rankings and consequently, you will reap the benefits of more traffic, leads and more for your hard work. It’s always worth it. Use our ecommerce SEO checklist to help you pave the stepping stones to success, and if you need an extra hand, remember our experts are always on hand to help.