Getting a stable stream of new leads is an integral part of running a successful e-commerce business, but with paid advertising becoming more competitive than ever before, it’s essential to make the most out of the potential that SEO can offer to ensure sustained growth.
With search engine optimization, it’s possible to gain an endless stream of hyper-targeted leads from the biggest search engines that are used by millions of people every day.
However, making your e-commerce site appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) is no easy task – there are hundreds of sites competing for the attention of the same users, so if you are going to stand a chance, you need to implement the best SEO practices that are used by the top companies in your field.
So, to get you started, here are a few of the most important things you should keep in mind if you want your SEO strategy to bring you consistent results.
Audit Your Site’s SEO
Before you can come up with an effective strategy for improving your rankings, you need to understand the issues that are keeping it from rising to the top of the SERPs.
Google algorithms are always changing, so the requirements for e-commerce stores that want to remain competitive are becoming stricter as well.
What’s more, with every market is becoming more competitive, getting your site ranked higher than some of the top players in your niche will require a lot of effort, so you need to eliminate any potential bottlenecks that could be stifling your progress.
Luckily, it’s not difficult to identify the key problems that are keeping your site back. And once you fix them, it will become much easier to implement strategies that can quickly increase your traffic numbers.
But where should you get started?
Well, it’s best to take a structured approach for your ecommerce site’s SEO audit and look at each key area separately to find out where you need to make the changes.
- On-Page SEO. The first step of the process is finding out the things you can improve on your website – Google’s Webmaster Guidelines provides specific instructions on how to set up your site and its pages to make it easier for both search engines and visitors to navigate it. Some of the things you should look into include your navigation, pages, title tags, meta titles and descriptions, content structure, as well as the overall quality of the content that you have.
- Off-Page SEO. As the name implies, off-page SEO includes all of the SEO strategies that you can employ outside of your website. Google uses a range of quality SEO signals to determine which sites are worth putting at the top of the rankings for relevant keywords. They include backlinks from other websites, social media signals, various citations, as well as forum comments. Understanding what sites are linking to your site can give you a better idea of what your site might be lacking when compared to your competitors.
- Website Authority. Another critical aspect that helps to determine a site’s value is Domain Authority, developed by Moz. It can help you gain a better understanding of where your website currently stands in your niche and let you know how likely it is to rank for the keywords that you want to target.
Although you can perform a lot of the SEO audit tasks manually, it can be very time-consuming, especially if you haven’t done it before.
Luckily, there are plenty of SEO audit tools that can help you gain insights about your site’s current SEO performance and pinpoint the most pressing issues that you need to fix.
Find a Reliable Hosting Provider
A common mistake made by e-commerce site owners is not taking the time to research and find a reliable hosting provider.
Google and other search engines view page loading speed and uptime as essential factors when ranking websites, so if your hosting provider isn’t able to deliver consistent service, your rankings will suffer.
What’s more, if your site isn’t working when visitors are trying to access it, you will end up losing potential customers that could otherwise be interested in buying from you.
But how to find a reliable hosting provider?
Well, the easiest way to find out which hosting provider is worth entrusting your e-commerce store with is reading what others have to say. While finding just one review may not be a reliable metric, if you go through a few, or look at user-generated ranking sites, you’re likely to be able to reach a more objective conclusion.
As we mentioned before, the key things to look for in the reviews are comments about the loading speed, as well as uptime. You should consider buying the hosting services from a provider that has an uptime guarantee so that you know they take the commitment seriously.
Another thing that you must look at is site security – a reliable hosting service should offer a range of security features that help to keep your site protected against breaches. For instance, EuroVPS is an excellent example of a provider that has not only put in strong security measures, but also offers 24/7 support of security specialists should any issues arise.
Take the Time to Find the Right Keywords
As you probably already know, choosing the right keywords plays a vital role in the success of your SEO campaigns. If you don’t select relevant keywords that are typed in by your ideal prospective customers, all of the efforts that you put into attaining the rankings won’t bring you the desired results.
What’s more, if you choose the keywords poorly, you will face an uphill battle from the start. First off, picking broad-keywords that are very competitive will make it almost impossible to reach page one of the SERPs, taking months or even years to achieve even the slightest results.
Secondly, if you don’t pick keywords that are directly related to what your site offers, you’ll have a hard time ranking for them because the search engines won’t see your site as the most relevant choice to display, even if you put in the work to set up SEO signals.
But there are reliable methods for picking the right keywords that will take the guesswork out of the process.
The first thing you need to realize is that behind every key phrase is a real person who is trying to solve a specific problem. If you take the time to understand your target audience and what they’re likely to be looking for online, you’ll have a much better chance of getting in front of them, and you’ll know that your solution is exactly what they need.
Once you have a rough idea of what your ideal customers may search for, you can start looking at the key phrases and digging deeper to discover more targeted ones that aren’t as broad and don’t have as much competition to rank for.
You should also perform a thorough keyword competition analysis to see what your competitors are ranking for, as well as gain insights about your chances of climbing to the top of the rankings and learn similar key phrases that you may want to consider.
By digging deeper and looking for similar phrases, you will eventually discover the most promising keywords that will not have a lot of competition but will be targeted and have enough monthly searches to be worth the effort.
If you take the time to perform this step thoroughly, it alone can help you discover enough high-value keywords to greatly increase your e-commerce store’s traffic in a relatively short amount of time.
Utilize Content Marketing
While content marketing may not be the most popular online advertising strategy for e-commerce stores, it can be a very powerful tool to help drive steady traffic, if you know how to use it correctly.
In fact, if you sell online, having a content marketing strategy is a must – today’s online users are more skeptical than ever before, and they’re cautious about buying from online stores that they haven’t purchased from before.
That’s where content marketing can be so helpful – by starting a conversation with your audience, you can build trust and establish your status as the authority in your industry.
If you’re able to educate your readers and provide useful information that helps them make more informed buying decisions, they will be much more likely to trust you and might even become loyal customers because you’ve provided value beyond just the products that you’re selling.
What’s more, creating content allows you to re-engage your current customers and keep them coming back to your store – if you can generate interest around your products, it can serve as a valuable tool to keep your audience engaged.
But while all of those reasons are powerful on their own, the area where content marketing can leave the biggest mark is search engine optimization.
Google and other search engines place quality content as one of the top metrics for determining how high a site should be ranked for a keyword. The search engines are always tweaking their algorithms, trying to make the user experience better and only place the very best content at the top of the results pages.
That’s why, if you’re able to produce informative, relevant, and in-depth content around your niche, it will serve as a strong SEO signal that can help your site quickly climb the search engine rankings and outrank websites with bigger budgets and more powerful backlinks.
But creating content isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have the people on your team who can produce it consistently. Luckily, there are websites where you can hire writers for your site that can produce top-quality, SEO-optimized content for your website, so you can focus on running your business and leave the writing to professionals.
David is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of TaskDrive. He’s on a mission to rid the world of bad customer experiences.