Google has published a guide for ecommerce sites outlining SEO best practice to ensure the site works well with Google. With the upsurge in ecommerce and online retail fuelled by the pandemic, Google’s guide is a useful checklist of SEO considerations.
Google says while the focus is on online ecommerce sites, many of the points are just as relevant to sites listing products only available at brick and mortar stores.
“When you share your ecommerce data and site structure with Google, Google can more easily find and parse your content, which allows your content to show up in Google Search and other Google surfaces. This can help shoppers find your site and products.”
The guide consists of 7 sections:
Ecommerce content can appear on a variety of Google surfaces - Search, Maps, Lens, Image Search, Shopping, My Business - and these support multiple ways in which content can be displayed.
Google says providing the right kind of content on the appropriate surface can help you reach new potential customers. While product data is the most obvious kind of ecommerce content, other types of content can be useful at different stages of the buyer journey, for example company data, offers, reviews, customer service touchpoints and more.
Sharing ecommerce product data with Google increases eligibility for richer appearances across more Google surfaces. To tell Google about your products it recommends the following methods:
- Include structured data in your product pages
- Uploade a feed to Google Merchant Centre, which tells Google directly which products you want to show on Google
Structured data is a way to present explicit information about the meaning of a page, improving the accuracy of Google's understanding of your content. The following structured data types are particularly relevant to ecommerce:
The guide goes through the steps to take when you register your site with Google to make sure Google can find your ecommerce site at launch.
It also covers the pros and cons of different kinds of launches:
- Grand reveal - whole site available to Google and the public at the same time.
- Homepage launch - make only the Homepage available, initially. This could be a placeholder page with text of your choosing.
- Launch without product availability - launch the full site with products marked ‘out of stock’, allowing products to be indexed before you are ready to fulfil orders. An on-page message could give the site’s official launch date.
- Soft launch - launch the full site as soon as production ready, and hold an official marketing launch later.
How to avoid issues related to crawling and URL design specific to ecommerce sites. The guide covers:
- Why URL structure is important
- Best practices for structuring URLs
- How to use URLs in your content
A good navigation structure is key both for search engines and visitors to your site, and you should ensure all your pages can be reached via your navigation. Google recommends adding links from menus to category pages, from category pages to sub-category pages, and from sub-category pages to all product pages.
It also advises that you should consider adding links to your best products from your home page or other content on your site (eg a blog or newsletter). This will help Google understand the relative importance of this product.
You can improve the experience of users on your site by displaying a subset of results to improve page performance. The guide outlines the pros and cons of the different UX options for incremental loading:
- Load more
- Infinite scroll
It also covers the actions you may need to take to make sure the Google crawler can find all your site content.
Whether you have a new, or well-established ecommerce site, this is a helpful guide to make sure your SEO is in line with Google best practice, ensuring you get the maximum possible visibility for your products. For the full guide see Google Search Central.