- eCommerce, SEO

eCommerce SEO Checklist That Every Beginner Needs [Free Tools]

Did you know 90% of new e-commerce businesses fail within the first 120 days?

And 90% of global traffic comes from search engines?

For your online business to thrive, you can’t afford to neglect Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

But you may be thinking, ‘Where do I even start?’.

This simple guide has everything you need to get started with growing in search engines and getting your website in front of potential customers.

Keyword Research

Let’s say you’re looking for some new bedsheets. So, you google ‘Pure Cotton Bed Sheets’…

Well, they are keywords.

Quite simply, they are the words used in a search query.

They are useful because you want to target these keywords so your website has a chance of appearing in the search results.

To find out exactly what your potential customers are searching, use the free keyword research tools I’ve included at the end of this post. (I’ve tried loads of free ones over the years and I think these are the best!).

Here’s what you need to know about using keywords on your e-commerce website…

Keyword Difficulty

You should:

Go for low competition keywords.

Why it helps you in Google:

When talking about the competitiveness of a keyword, I’m talking about the search volume. If a lot of people are searching for a term, more websites will try to target these keywords as they want as much traffic as possible.

High authority websites will outrank smaller websites for competitive keywords, so start with low competition to boost your ranking.

You’re much more likely to rank for an average monthly search of 10-100 than 1,000 – 10,000.

You will get more traffic from being on page 1 for a low competition keyword than page 5 for a high competition keyword.

Avoid keyword stuffing

You should:

Stay below 2.5% for your websites keyword density.

Why it helps you in Google:

You need to include keywords on your website pages so you can rank for them, but don’t overdo it.

Over-using them in an unnatural way is seen as keyword stuffing, and you will be penalised by Google for it.

As a rule of thumb, make sure your keyword density doesn’t exceed 2.5%.

You can calculate this by the number of times keyword is mentioned / number of words on the page x 100. E.g 16 / 952 x 100 = 1.6%.

On-Site Content and Copy

How Much Content Your Website Needs

You should:

Ensure most of your pages have at least 500 words.

Why it helps you in Google:

Google doesn’t like ‘thin’ pages. This is a page that has little to no text.

It’s unavoidable to have some pages that contain very little content but try your best to avoid it.

There should be at least 500 words on each page to avoid being penalised for ‘thin’ content. 

Here are the most common downfalls for e-commerce stores when it comes to thin pages and how you can avoid it:

  • Out of season products – ensure they all have product descriptions. Use keyword research tools to find topics if you are stuck for ideas.
  • Category pages – add a summary at the top of your category page explaining what kind of products the user can expect in this category. ASOS do this really well.

  • Order Confirmation – If you’re stuck for content ideas, FAQs are great for avoiding thin pages and providing users with the answers they’re looking for For example ‘When will my order arrive?’ or ‘When will my order be shipped?’.

The Importance of Fresh Content

You should:

Post regular fresh content on your e-commerce website.

Why it helps you in Google:

Regularly posting fresh content on your website is super important for SEO.

If you are providing unique insightful content for the user, Google loves this and will contribute it towards your ranking.

However, I’m not suggesting you regularly update your websites core content as this would be confusing for the user and could potentially negatively affect your ranking.

Creating a blog is a simple outlet to consistently upload fresh content. It can also bring in more traffic and give you resources to share on social media.

There’s no exact schedule as to how much you should post, but research shows once a week to twice a month is the sweet spot.

Meta Data

What is Meta Data?

Metadata is data about data. Boring? Kinda. Confusing? Nope, it’s pretty simple once you know what to look for.

Here’s the metadata you need to pay attention to…

Meta Titles and Descriptions

You should:

Make sure every page on your website has an optimised meta title and description.

Why it helps you in Google:

Your websites meta title appears above the URL in search engines results. Your meta description is the text below the URL.

This tells Google what your website is about and is the perfect place to include the main keywords you’re trying to target.

When a user searches a query, Google uses metadata to provide them with the most relevant content. If the keywords in your metadata match this query, Google is more likely to serve the user your content.

Google often updates the maximum amount of characters for these fields, but at the moment it is 50-60 characters for a meta title and 155-160 for a meta description.

URLs

You should:

Keep URLs short, descriptive and relevant to the page.

Avoid this:

And go for something like this:

Take out any filler words and keep the key information with a dash between each word.

Why it helps you in Google:

Take a look at this statement from John Mueller who works as a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google…

Short URLs are cleaner, easier to understand for the user and a super simple way to improve your SEO.

Image Titles

You should:

Save all your images with short, relevant and descriptive titles.

 

Why it helps you in Google:

This is often overlooked, but what you save your images as is important.

Describe what is in the image with the key information. 

This helps visually impaired people who use voice reading computer software that reads out image titles to describe what is in the image.

As this aids the user, Google takes it into consideration for your search engine ranking.

It’s also another opportunity to target the keywords you find in your research.

Link Building

Here’s a brief overview of the different types of links in SEO…

Backlink (AKA inbound) – another website linking to your website.

External (AKA outbound) – your website linking to another website.

Internal – one of your pages linking to another page on your website.

Internal and External Linking

You should:

Ensure you have an even mixture of internal and external links across all of your pages.

Why it helps you in Google:

You may be reluctant to use external links as it directs people away from your website, but it is beneficial for your search engine ranking. 

Linking to high-quality content from authoritative websites helps you appear to be an authority to Google and is an indication as to what your content is about.

The same goes for internal linking.

For example, if you mention one of your products on a blog post, make sure you link to that product page. If you link to your bed sheets product page with the anchor text ‘cotton bed sheets’, this tells Google what the page is about and will boost your ranking for these keywords.

Build your backlink profile

You should:

Gain backlinks from high-quality websites. Here are a few ways you can start to build a positive backlink profile:

  • Guest posts – search for your industry + “Write for us” to find guest post opportunities.

 

  • Content collaboration – design an infographic for another e-commerce website to publish on their site. 
  • Submit to directories – find the best directories for your industry and create a profile for your website.
  • Write testimonials – If you work with other businesses, for example, fulfillment or packaging companies, ask if you can write a testimonial for their website that contains a link to yours.
  • Broken link building – This is where you reach out to a page with a broken link and suggest they replace it with a link to your content. It’s best to do some research on this technique before implementing it, but it’s a great hack once you understand the strategy.

Why it helps you in Google:

Backlinks are seen as a ‘vote of confidence’ in your website from other sites.

It’s confirmation to Google that you’re providing high-quality content that users want to see, share and link to.

Your backlink profile plays a huge role in your rank position.

Technical SEO

Site Speed

You should:

Monitor your websites site speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. They provide a free diagnosis and opportunities to improve the speed of your website for desktop and mobile.

Why it helps you in Google:

Site speed is an important ranking factor and Google has stated that having a fast website will help you rank higher.

It all comes back to the user. Faster website = better experience for the user.

Crawlability

You should:

Make sure your website is being crawled and indexed by Google. You can do this by Googling “site:yourwebsite.com”. For our website mercarto.com, I would search for “site:mercarto.com”. Make sure you include the quotation marks.

Why it helps you in Google:

Even if you do a fantastic job with your SEO, there may still be issues with Google’s ability to crawl your website.

If your site isn’t being crawled, it can’t be indexed and won’t appear in search results.

If this is the case for you, Google search console has a URL inspection tool that will help find the issues with your website.

SSL Certificate

You should:

Buy an SSL certificate for your website. Once you have one, you will see a little lock symbol in the address bar:

Websites that don’t have one will look like this:

Why it helps you in Google:

An SSL certificate encrypts sensitive information and keeps your user’s data safe.

This creates more trust with your customers and it will contribute towards a higher ranking in search results as Google favours safe websites.

Responsiveness

You should:

Ensure your website is fully responsive across all websites. You can check this dragging the window to make it bigger and smaller…

Or right-click ‘Inspect’ and click through the various devices to see how your website responds.

Why it helps you in Google:

All a ‘responsive’ website means is that it’s a positive experience for users across all devices. This includes aspects such as:

  • Images scaling down to size
  • Text being readable across any size screen
  • Making sure buttons are a suitable size
  • Collapsing menus if they’re too big for smaller screens
  • Removing elements which may not work for mobile such as videos or interactive features

Analytics

Google Analytics and Search Console

You Should:

Sign up for Google Analytics and Search Console for your e-commerce website.

Why it helps you in Google:

You need to monitor the success of your SEO efforts to grow your website in the long term. It is invaluable to measure what strategies work best for you to continue climbing the rankings.

Google analytics provides super in-depth data about your traffic, demographics, behaviour, acquisition, conversions, user journey, technical SEO and much more.

Search Console helps you analyse, improve and troubleshoot your website’s performance in search results.

And both are completely free and easy to sign up for. 

As promised, the best free keyword research tools…

Keyword Tool

Pros

  • Good for general topic ideas
  • Shows data for different search engines and social platforms
  • Some filter options
  • Organises the data into Keyword Suggestions, Questions and Prepositions

Cons

  • Shows a limited amount of keywords
  • Doesn’t show search volume

 

Answer the Public

Pros

  • Gives you a lot of data
  • The most powerful free tool to show specifically questions
  • Ideal for product descriptions and blog posts
  • Data is clearly organised

Cons

  • Only given a limited number of searches per day
  • Doesn’t show search volume

Google Keyword Planner

Pros

  • Gives you unlimited data
  • Shows average monthly search volume and competition status (e.g high or low)
  • Gives bid estimate for PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns
  • Allows you to customise your research with filters such as location, language, search network and dates

Cons

  • You’ll need to create a Google Ads account to use this tool, although you don’t have to spend any money or create any campaigns.

TagCrowd

Pros

  • Gives you a visual representation of the keywords your competition is using
  • Easy to use, all you need to do is enter the URL

Cons

  • A pretty basic tool that doesn’t provide in-depth quantitative data

Keyword Guru

Pros

  • Gives a clear structured overview of trending keyword topics across different search engines.

Cons

 

  • No search volumes
  • No filter options 

 

Go forth and GROW!

Implementing these simple SEO strategies will transform your ranking and visibility in Google. If you have any questions about the techniques in this post or any other marketing topics then feel free to drop me a line at isabel@mercarto.com or @_isabeledwards on Twitter 🙂


Author Bio:

Isabel Edwards runs the marketing operations for Mercarto, a unique e-commerce marketplace platform that allows anyone to start their own online business. Her passion is empowering everyone to fulfill their business’ potential online and she covers a wide range of topics around technical SEO, organic growth, social media, and marketing strategies.

Social Links: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/isabel-edwards-8153a7153/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_isabeledwards

eCommerce SEO Checklist That Every Beginner Needs

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