You will have heard of SEO and understand the importance of it in your content marketing efforts for your blog. But, SEO is just as important for the ecommerce portion of your site as well. There are strategies that can be utilized on your sales pages to help more people find your site, and more importantly, turn these visitors into paying customers - the goal of all ecommerce businesses.
If you are ready to take your ecommerce site to the next level, you first need to understand how SEO can be applied to your business and digital assets. While not a complete list by any means, there are a few key strategies that you should focus on.
1. Have a compelling call to action
Most people know about the importance of a call to action (CTA), but many ecommerce sites are leaving opportunity on the table when it comes to this critical piece of digital marketing. Whether included within social media posts, landing pages, or email blasts, a compelling CTA consists of several key parts:
- Visually striking - The CTA needs to be visually striking and include copy that will compel buyers to click the offer.
- Short - This is not the place for lengthy copy; you want a CTA that is succinct. Ideally it will be no longer than 5 words.
- Actionable - You need the buyer to act on your CTA, therefore you want to begin with a verb. Tell them exactly what action they should take. Begin with words like "Download" or "Register", so specific things they need to do.
- Visible - You want your CTA to be something that the buyer easily finds. Put it in a place that follows the natural flow of your site and cannot be easily overlooked.
- Stands out - Not only do you want to put the CTA in a place that is easy for the buyer to find, you also want it to stand out from the rest of the things that are on the site. The color should contrast with the scheme that is on the rest of the page, but it should still fit in with the overall aesthetic. You want it to stand out in a good way, not like a sore thumb.
- The right size - You want the CTA to be large enough that people spot it easily, but not so big that it distracts attention away from your main content and what you are selling.
- Clear - The buyer should easily understand what they will be receiving if they follow the CTA. If a reader sees a CTA that says "Start a free trial now", they understand that if they click through they will be receiving a free trial of the product.
Let’s take a look at an example from Amazon, who, at the time of writing this, is hosting their annual Prime Day. This event received a lot of promotion leading up to the day-of, and Amazon wants to make sure all of their customers know about it. Right on their homepage is a great CTA that stands out from the rest of the page and captures the attention of the user:
Macy’s, on the other hand, could use a little work when it comes to advertising their major sales event. With too many buttons to choose from and six different numerical values highlighted, their CTA is cluttered and confusing:
Find even more great examples of ecommerce CTAs here.
2. Keep URLs readable
Your URL structure can play a big role in your SEO efforts. It should contain keywords that allow buyers and search engines to understand what they are going to find if they click on your link. All websites have the ability to customize URLs, and this is something you should be taking advantage of. When your URL is unrecognizable it can cause a feeling of distrust with readers. They don't want to click on a random URL when they have no idea where it is going to take them. Let’s look at this in practice.
Take, for example, the following two links. While each entity is a finance company, their URL structures are very different. Look at the links carefully and see if you can guess what is on the other side of each. Then, click through each link to see if you got it right:
Hopefully this simple exercise highlights the importance of a clear and logical URL structure.
3. Categories – accessibility and introductory content
When a buyer is on your site, you want them to be able to quickly find what they are looking for. People are busy, and they won’t stay on your site if they aren't able to easily find what they are trying to buy. To help the buyer, you need to create categories that easily identify what types of products are included. You also want to make it easy for them to see where the list of categories is. Many ecommerce sites utilize the sidebar or a top navigation dropdown to let shoppers quickly find the category they are looking for.
If you have a lot of items in a category, then you want to include subcategories. If someone arrives at an ecommerce site looking for a black dress to purchase you want them to quickly find where dresses are located and then be able to narrow the search down to only black dresses. When you are creating your categories and subcategories, you need to think about how your buyers are going to look for the items. What do they call the item when they are looking for it and how do they identify it.
FTD Flowers does a great job of structuring their menu. With an understanding that people generally give flowers for specific events and holidays, they created a category for ‘Occasions’ which then lists sub-categories such as birthday, anniversary, and seasonal holidays.
4. Product images
People don't like to buy things without seeing them. When they are at your ecommerce site they are unable to pick up the item, turn it over, or try it on. That means you need to give them as much as you can to help them out. Include clear and professional images of each item. Use photos from multiple angles so they can see what it looks like from each side. Allow the buyer to zoom in on the product to see the details. If you are offering the product in multiple colors, let the buyer see what it looks like in all of these options.
Zappos does an excellent job of this, offering not only 6+ images of each product, but also a video showcase (1) and all of the additional color options available (2). On top of that, they effectively utilize customer feedback to further limit any potential disconnect a customer may experience with the item being listed on a virtual storefront (3):
5. Product description
Some ecommerce sites can have a lot of pages. Like 50,000+ a lot. And while the content that's on your homepage and category pages needs to be optimized, that's the easy part. When trying to rank your specific product pages, you are going to need to create optimized content to include on those pages, as well. This can be a lot of work, but when you are strategic about it, you will see improvement for the SEO on your pages.
Nuts.com really does an outstanding job of this, as evident on their page for chia seeds. With nutritional information and seven reasons why one should eat chia seeds, their product description is informative, action-oriented and unique. By incorporating this optimized content, this product page is more likely to rank higher than a product page without additional content:
Many owners of ecommerce sites fail to see the ways that their sites can be optimized for good SEO and UX. These strategies will help people to not only find your site, but find what they are looking for and convert into a paying customer. Some of these tactics will result in immediate improvement and others need to be kept up over time before you begin to reap the rewards. But, if you stay with it, success will undoubtedly follow.