Ecommerce SEO: Onsite Optimization
Onsite (on-page) optimization is one of the few optimizations that can yield a fast and significant impact with relatively low investment. In this process, we will be taking the keyword phrases we identified in the previous step and applying them to elements of our pages. The most important onsite elements for your ecommerce site are outlined below.
Content is the most basic part of a web page, the most fundamental way that search engines evaluate what a page is about. If you can only use your keyword phrase in one element of your page, it should be the actual content on the page.
Content has the biggest impact on search engines associating your page with a given keyword phrase.
Implementing 200 words of optimized content instead simply having a sentence or two will have a dramatic impact. In one circumstance, this led to a 6x increase in organic traffic to the set of pages we optimized.
While you want to incorporate your keyword phrases into your content, you don’t want to “stuff” your pages. Typically a good approach to your ecommerce onsite optimization is to include the exact keyword phrase 2-3 times for 200 – 500 words of copy and then include a few secondary keyword phrases and variations of the original keyword phrase once.
The test is whether or not the content reads well. If it doesn’t, start over. Your content is as much (if not more) to convert users as it is for search engines. It doesn’t matter if you bring people to your page if they don’t buy anything.
In terms of importance, the page title is right behind the on-page content. You want to make sure your primary keyword phrase is in your page title. If we go back to the templates from the keyword section, they will likely end up looking something like:
Products: [brand] [product name] [product type] | Store Name
Categories: [modifier] [category] | Store Name
Review Pages: [brand] [product name] [product type] reviews | Store Name
As with the page title, it is important to include your primary keyword phrase into the page’s H1 tag. While it is ideal to use your exact primary keyword phrase in the H1 tag, the H1 doesn’t have to be limited to only include this phrase.
As such, if your keyword phrase is “laptop computers”, your H1 could be “browse laptop computers” or “high performance laptop computers”.
While the H1 tag is not as influential of a ranking factor as it once was, optimizing this field still helps to create topical relevance for the keyword phrases you are targeting.
While the use of your keyword phrase in the URL is less influential than it was years ago, it still has an impact on organic performance. Further, the use of your keyword phrase in your URL can significantly increase a user’s perceived relevance of the page and its click through rate, improving your organic traffic.
That said, you may not want to change your URLs in all circumstances. Updating your URL structure necessitates that you do a 301 redirect. When you do the 301 redirect, you will likely lose 10% – 15% of equity and traffic associated with that URL. If your URLs are ok (crawlable, includes all or part of the keyword phrase, or variations of your keyword phrase), you’re typically better off not changing the ecommerce URL structure.
If you are starting up a site, you should try to optimize the URL structure for your ecommerce site before launch. Similarly, if you’re launching new pages, you should optimize your new URLs to ensure that you’re squeezing as much value out of your page as possible. If you have horrendous URLs that utilize random numbers and/or parameters, it will be worth it for you to revamp your URL structure in most circumstances.
Incorporating the primary keyword phrase into your image name can help increase topical relevance of your pages and help with your performance in image search. While this isn’t likely to have a huge impact on your organic performance, optimizing your image names should still be done if the amount of work required is reasonable.
Image Alt Text
Similarly, the primary keyword phrase should be integrated into the alt text to help improve the topical relevance of the page. As with the image name, this won’t have a huge impact on the organic performance, it is another signal that helps reinforce the keyword association and will help improve your performance in image searches.
If you need to audit your existing pages for keyword inclusion, running a crawl in Screaming Frog will help collect data (URLs, page titles, h1 tags, etc) that will help in your audit.
Below is a mockup showing these elements applied to a category page:
- Include at least 200 words of unique focused content
- Optimize the on-page content
- Optimize title tags
- Optimize H1 tags
- Optimize URL structures (sometimes)
- Optimize image names
- Optimize image alt text