How to Optimize an E-Commerce Website

E-Commerce websites face unique challenges when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO). Why is it that search engines don’t bring E-Commerce websites on the first page? Most of the time it’s because E-Commerce website owners do not take into account any SEO practice, focusing only on sales.

This article is both useful for a new E-Commerce business, as well as for an already established online store with thousands of products. There is no recipe for success that can apply to each and every business, but there are some aspects that must be taken into account for any E-Commerce marketing strategy. If used smartly, SEO can significantly increase sales.

1. Avoid duplicate content

One of the important issues from an SEO viewpoint is avoiding duplicate content. Here's how you can avoid such issues.

Try to avoid using the manufacturer’s product descriptions or list of specifications from a sell sheet. Write the product description for your customer, making sure that it includes unique selling points.

Keep the content smart, unique and attractive. Don’t stuff it with keywords! That won’t do your website any good in search results and it will certainly not do your client any good.

If you have different listings for the same types of products, make sure to concentrate all the options for a particular product on one page and use canonical URLs to give the main product page the SEO juice.

A canonical URL tells search engines which is the preferred content that the robots can index and show in search.

You can add a “rel=canonical” tag on the page or by a number of other methods.

Pick one of two or more pages as the canonical version. It should be the version you think is the most important. In our case, the main product page. Make sure that you pick the one with the most links or traffic.

Add a rel=canonical link from the non-canonical page to the canonical one. Link to the canonical URL by adding a link in the <head> section of the page accompanied by the "link rel="canonical" tag.

<link rel="canonical" href="">

If your site runs on WordPress, you can use the Yoast Plugin to set canonical URLs.

If you want to do this right, check Yoast's Ultimate Guide to rel=canonical URLs.

2. Do some keyword research and know your clients

To make the most out of the keywords related to your products, you need to read your client’s mind. What will most people write in the search field when interested to buy one of the products you have on your E-Commerce website? You can do this in a very simple way, no need to spy on anyone :).

By using keyword research tools, you can find out how many people search for a particular keyword per month, and even check more specifically for your own country or city.

Read more about how you can do a thorough keywords research and analysis.

3. Optimize the URLs for people and search engines

Ideally, URLs (uniform resource locators) should say something about each page, containing keywords which are related to it. Where possible, instead of using ID’s or parameters, it’s simpler, clearer and more descriptive to use real words.

4. Use unique title tags

In terms of SEO, properly written <title> tags (or HTML Title Element) are very important for an online business. Make sure that the ones you have on your E-Commerce website are unique and free of duplicate content.

5. Use unique meta tag descriptions for each page

A meta description tag is an HTML attribute provides a short description of the contents of a web page. Considered an extremely important search marketing component, this piece of content can help draw readers to a website from the search engine result pages (SERPs). It’s your big chance to advertise your content to searchers.

6. Allow users to post comments and reviews

Allowing users to post comments, questions and product reviews is a great way of generating unique content on your website. Reviews and feedback also help you offer good customer support. Keeping your customers happy is the most important thing of all. Always have that in mind whatever you do!

7. Smartly use images and videos

People like having a good look at what they are buying and while buying online, quality images help sell a product. It’s good to keep things simple. A white background is ideal for most products.

It’s always good to have at least two images for each product. Granting users that already purchased the products the right to upload their own images using the product or just unwrapping it, is a great way to improve your conversions because it shows the application of your products to real life.

An image that has a description and an “alt text” attribute will also do well in image search. Adding a few words about your image and keeping them meaningful and relevant will also make your website easier to use by people who are visually impaired. Make sure you don’t just stuff the description with keywords.

Videos also help sell and you can consider creating very short presentation videos outlining your product’s best features. If you have a short 60-second video clip of how to use your product, consider using that clip on your Instagram account.

8. Add sharing buttons to each product

It’s important to get your products shared on social media. This increases your website’s social media exposure, but most importantly,  it improves the organic search performance by providing back links which are very influential in all aspects of SEO. Establishing a presence on social media sites is a perfectly natural way of earning backlinks.