Ben: Today I am talking to a marketer from Sydney, Huyen Truong. Huyen is the founder and CEO of Result Driven SEO and started as a web designer for both information and eCommerce websites before moving into my specialization as SEO digital marketer and founding her agency.
Why should eCommerce businesses pay more attention to on-page SEO?
Google has changed a lot. It updates every 3 months, and there are more big updates coming, so stores really need to stay on top of their on-page SEO to stay ahead of the curve.
Ultimately, how search results are ranked is changing and moving more towards visual presentation and schema markup while backlinks are losing importance. Google is getting better at working out which links are natural versus not, which means there is more to be gained from focusing on on-page SEO.
How should stores optimize their on-page SEO?
You can do your own on-page SEO in five steps.
1. Keyword Planning
First, you need to look at your keyword research and pick your target keywords.
For eCommerce, there are 3 groups of keywords:
- Commercial keywords. These indicate a desire to purchase your products. For example, buy protein powder, coupons, prices, etc. These are intent-driven words and phrases.
- Informational keywords. These are used to research and learn more about the product or issues related to products. For example, how to use protein powder or protein powder tips.
- Brand keywords: These are words and phrases directed at specific brands like GNC.
Once we have these 3 groups, you can come up with a content and optimization plan.
Ultimately, 80% of the time users will be looking for information keywords and only about 10% on branded keywords and 10% on commercial keywords. Because of this, it’s important to also focus on information keywords since you might miss a large amount of search volume by focusing on commercial or brand keywords only.
Commercial keywords are targeted through:
- Brand/product pages
- Category pages
- Sub-category pages
Covering all 3 groups of keywords will make sure you have covered all 3 levels of commercial intent.
2. Develop Your Category Structure
Next, you will need to think through your product category structure to create proper categories and subcategories.
Don’t skip your sub-category pages because they are an opportunity for eCommerce websites to rank for valuable keywords, and have more opportunities to outrank major websites. For example, we were able to grow one client’s traffic from 1,000 visitors to 10,000 per month through developing content for sub-categories.
Review the keywords for brands and products to make your category structure. An example structure is shown below:
- Running Shoes
- Nike Running Shoes
- Casual Shoes
- Converse Casual Shoes
- Converse Shoes
- Nike Shoes
3. Develop Content
Now you will need to write unique content for each category, sub-category and product descriptions.
Don’t skip writing unique content here because eCommerce websites in particular often have duplicate content issues, and doing so will help your pages outperform others, so writing unique and helpful content is essential.
When selling the same product from a distributor, try to use the description from your wholesaler as just a reference. Many sellers will be using the same product description, so you will end up with duplicate content if you simply copy this.
Bear in mind that your eCommerce platform may automatically generate duplicate pages for different category options and filters that you may not expect, for example, colors and price options. So make sure those are unique.
What to write in your descriptions?
In terms of content, try to make sure it is comprehensive and long-form.
If you look at high-performing competitors, you’ll usually find that they have great long-form content, so you can use this as a reference.
Two practical examples here:
You can see that Step2Direct uses descriptions well, with unique content. Some pages have about 1,000 words per category description.
Mr Toys Toyworld
Another example is MrToys.com.au. You can see here that they also have a lot of content in their descriptions.
How to write your product descriptions
With your product descriptions, you should write for a conversion purpose. To do this it has to be value-building.
Outline in detail what this product can do and what it can do in comparison to other products. Go even further to compare it with alternatives or other products, and highlight the key differences.
Overall, aim to make shopping on your site as easy as possible. Write as if you were a personal shopping assistant.
4. Correctly Structure URLs
The final step is to make sure your URLs are correct for the website.
The main issue here is that many eCommerce stores have very long URL structures. You need to keep these neat and tidy.
For example, Mr. Toys uses /educational-science-and-stem-701 and omits ‘toys’ from the URL. This is to remove unnecessary words and folder structures from the URL.
Overall this makes sure your URLs are neat and easier to crawl.
There are a lot of other considerations for making sure your on-page experience is as strong as possible to improve your results overall.
- Make sure your website is super fast on mobile devices. Even though people usually purchase on desktops, they do scroll around and build up data about user behavior on your site.
- Make sure your user experience is as frictionless as possible.
- Try to make sure you have clear information about how people can return products.
- There isn’t much internal linking, between products or product categories
- Make sure you are interlinking between your products and category pages. Links are still part of the ranking and on-page SEO. For example, on your page about science toys, if you mention something about outdoor toys, link to the outdoor toys page. This will help Google understand your site better. Wikipedia is a great example of this.
The On-page SEO Routine
For marketers, I suggest the following short and simple routine:
In terms of researching competitors, use Ahrefs or SEMRush to find out the competitor’s backlinks and keywords, pages they rank highly for, and where they get the most traffic.
For content optimization, use 2 tools; Surfer SEO and Clearscope, to properly optimize your pages.
How Do You Scale on-page SEO?
For those that we’ve been doing SEO for a long time, there is only so much we can do. Especially for eCommerce websites. Try to keep on top of asking about new products and categories, that’s the main way to scale.
You can also start optimizing your site overall by attacking informational topics to drive traffic through that channel. Recall that 80% of people out there are using informational keywords, not only are they just ready to buy more, but there are many topics that you can develop content for through the blog.
For informational topics, pick the ones that are more general. Examples for a fashion store would be something like styling questions, what clothing can you pair with glasses, etc. Do long-tail keyword research around the topic to find other angles.
You can also check what articles are already ranking for this topic and see if you can do better content than competitors.
For those who want to learn more or connect with you, what’s the best way?
Readers can connect with me on LinkedIn or contact me through Result Driven SEO.