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SEO for Ecommerce: Boosting Search Rankings for Your Online Store

Ecommerce giants like Amazon and other long-standing online businesses dominate the first pages of Google. It’s tough for smaller ecommerce sites to compete with big businesses, but it’s certainly not impossible. Let’s take a look at some DIY steps you can take to boost search rankings for your ecommerce website. These steps involve improving the content on your site, building links to your product pages, and streamlining your site’s structure.

Fix Thin and Duplicate Content

Fixing duplicate content and filling out thin content the right way can significantly improve your on-page ranking signals. Here are a few steps to get you started.

Incorporate Keywords

Customers use certain key phrases when they look up a product on Google, and you should incorporate those phrases into your copy. Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder to get complete information about the keywords customers use to search for your products and how many websites are already incorporating those keywords.

Researching keywords is still possible, but it will require a little more trial and error. Try some of these methods to start generating keyword ideas you can incorporate into your product pages.

Use Google Autocomplete

Type a search term related to your product into Google, and choose a search term from the dropdown list. For example, if you sell shoes, you might start with shoes and see the term “shoes for women” in the dropdown menu.

Search “shoes for women” to see how many sites are ranking for this keyword. A quick search will show about 319 million sites rank for “shoes for women,” and the top competitors for the keyword are Zappos, DWS, Macy’s, and Nordstrom. It would be tough for a small online shoe store to rank against those sites.

Reframe the keyword by adding more words or phrases to the original idea. For example, when you search for “stylish work shoes for women,” you narrow it down to 23.2 million sites. It still sounds like a lot, but it’s a much smarter option than going with shorter keywords likes “shoes” or “shoes for women.”

Check Related Searches

If you search for “heels for women,” you’ll find a list of related searches at the bottom of the page. You can click on the phrases relating to your ecommerce website to see how many other sites compete for each keyword.

Find Suggestions for Keyword Phrases

Instead of starting with Google autocomplete, you can use a tool like Übersuggest to generate a list of suggested keywords. Then, you can check search volume on Google to choose a phrase that shows fewer websites competing for the term.

Research Your Competitors’ Keywords

Use a tool like SEMRush to see the keywords for which your competitors rank. You can see which keywords they use most for both organic search results and paid search, which can give you a great jumping off point for coming up with your own keyword ideas.

Rewrite Product Descriptions to Make Them Unique

Many ecommerce sites recycle product description content from catalogs or manufacturer databases, or they add images without detailed descriptions. This approach saves time when you’re first creating your site, but Google penalizes duplicate and thin content, which can hurt your search rankings.

You can write new product descriptions yourself or hire a copywriter as a timesaver. Here are a few ideas for getting more original material into you descriptions:

  • Elaborate on specific product characteristics. Do more than just list technical specifications on a separate tab. Explain why certain specs are important. If you sell clothing, do more than list sizes. Talk specifically about how the clothing fits.

  • Take inspiration from online reviews. Look at Amazon reviews or other online reviews to see what customers love most about your products. Also, examine what magazines and high-profile bloggers have written about these products, and add those points to your product descriptions.

  • Incorporate user-generated content. Ask your customers if you can incorporate their images or testimonials into your product descriptions.

Build Inbound Links to Your Site

When a publisher links to your site, Google assumes the publisher is giving your site a vote of confidence. To help your search rankings, these sites need to be relevant to your products and preferably from medium to high-quality domains.

Many publishers link to big sites like Amazon to take advantage of affiliate programs. Most likely, you can’t offer a payment every time someone clicks your links, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build backlinks to your ecommerce site.

Broken Link Building

Ecommerce sites appear and disappear all the time on the Web. It’s quite likely that someone who sold items like yours has gone out of business over the years, and any website that linked to your competitor’s site now links to a dead Web page.

Publishers know that broken links take away from the reader’s experience and trust in their site. Your job is to find these broken links and offer a link to your product pages as an alternative. Start by finding competitors that are no longer in business to identify potential sources of broken links:

  • Review domain auctions. Check sites like GoDaddy Auctions, NameJet.com, or ExpiredDomains.net to find domains that are up for sale.

  • Search Google News for closings. Visit Google News and search for terms like “has closed” along with your industry name to discover recent bankruptcies and business closings. Sticking with the online shoe store example, you could search for “shoe store” and “out of business.” For even more relevant link-building opportunities, search for closed businesses in your geographic area.

  • Find closed businesses on Yelp. Open your browser and type the following search query: site:yelp.com intitle:closed + your business type. You’ll pull up a list of pages from businesses Yelp reviewers have labeled as closed.

Once you have some potential candidates for broken links, it’s time to find out which publishers are still linking to these dead domains. You can approach this in a couple of different ways:

  • One page at a time. Choose a site that you’d really like to link to you, and find the product and blog pages that are relevant to your products. Copy and paste the URLs of these pages into a free tool like the SEO Chat Link Analyzer to see a list of outbound links. If you find some of your expired domains within those links, you can target these websites for broken link building.

  • Crawl an entire domain. Use Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider to crawl a publisher’s entire domain for broken links. If you see a broken link relevant to your products, make a note of it.

Take your list of broken link options and email the Webmaster of each site. Send a short message providing the URL where you found the broken link and offering one of your URLs as a replacement. Keep your message short and free of salesy language. You’re providing a benefit to the publisher as well as to yourself.

Guest Blogging for Link Building

A lot of online business owners read popular blogs and spam the comments by including their own Web pages. It’s better to be an insightful contributor within a comment stream to win the publisher and community's respect.

Once you’ve established your trustworthiness and usefulness, email the publisher about possibly writing a post for the blog. Within the post, according to the publisher’s guidelines, provide a link back to your ecommerce website.

Build an Organized Site

The pages on your ecommerce website should have a clear hierarchical structure. They should also incorporate key phrases into the URL and title of each page.

  • Clear hierarchical structure. Web.com’s ecommerce website builder provides clear paths between category pages, subcategories, and individual product pages. Every time you add a new product page and link back to your subcategory and category pages, you add inbound links to these important pages.

  • URL and titles. Instead of using URLs with numbers or other irrelevant information, choose URLs that include important keywords relevant to your products. Also, include those keywords in your page heading and in your SEO title tag.

In addition to building an organized site, it’s a good idea to submit your online store’s XML sitemap to Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The sitemap explains your page hierarchy to search engines and helps them crawl your pages more accurately.

We Can Help

Web.com provides easy-to-use, free, and well-structured templates to create a free ecommerce website. If you’re wondering how to start an ecommerce website, our ecommerce website builders ensure that SEO is a part of your game plan from Day One.

If you’ve already built an ecommerce website, but figuring out SEO seems too complicated, we provide SEO services for ecommerce businesses. In addition to saving you a significant amount of time, our SEO services do everything possible to make your ecommerce site a real competitor for search rankings.

Small businesses don’t always get attention from large Web hosting and digital marketing firms. At Web.com, small business is everything. We specialize in getting small-business owners online and helping them become digital marketing powerhouses.