Ecommerce SEO

CHAPTER 1:

Introduction

Length: 1,847 words

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

This guide has almost 400 pages of advanced, actionable insights into on-page SEO for ecommerce.

Written by an ecommerce SEO consultant with 20 years of research and practical experience, this exhaustive SEO resource will teach you how to identify and address all of the SEO issues specific to ecommerce websites, in one place.

The strategies and tactics described in this guide have been successfully implemented on Top 10 online retailers, small & medium businesses, and mom and pop stores.

Please share and link to this guide if you liked it.

About this SEO course

Hello everybody, and welcome to my ecommerce SEO course. My name is Traian, and I will be your host for the next few hours.

If you are involved with ecommerce in a way or another or if your work touches even a bit on SEO, the course you are about to engage on is going to be full of actionable SEO tactics to help you optimize your website, the right way.

This guide is based on the contents of my book – “Ecommerce SEO”. For those of you who already read the book, you might remember I mentioned that the book would evolve into an easier to update medium – this online guide is now that medium. I would also like to thank everyone who purchased the book and left these five-star reviews:

Before proceeding further, I would like to take a few moments to thank several industry leaders who supported me with this initiative. I am humbled to have received reviews from them:

I would also like to thank everyone else in the SEO industry who supported me but are not listed here. Thanks a lot to all of you who left raving reviews on social media as well. It is much appreciated.

Please allow me to introduce my self.

I started playing with SEO in 1998 with a small website that I built to make some cash. I approached the business model with the “build it, and they will come” expectation, just like anyone else back in the day. You guessed right; it did not happen! Searchers could not find my website because it did not rank on the first page of Yahoo!, and back in ‘98, it was all about Yahoo, not Google. So, I started learning how to attract organic traffic. I read all the SEO books I could get my hands on; I read forums, articles, newsletters and then I tested, tested and tested again. I finally made it to the top five in a few months, and then …… I discovered my passion: SEO. A few years later I started being attracted to more complex SEO issues, specific to e-commerce websites.

Fast forward to today, I am still passionate about SEO and e-commerce. Meanwhile, adding more knowledge from different fields, helps me approach SEO with consideration to information architecture, usability, site performance, and user experience.

In the past, I worked with companies large and small, ranging from spas around the corner to multi-million e-commerce websites. I helped others like you to succeed in extremely competitive niches such as jewelry, hotel bookings, and online pharma. I am hoping that by creating this course, I will be able to help way more of you, than offering one to one consulting to just a few businesses.

Feel free to get in touch with me either by contacting me on the website or by connecting using LinkedIn and Twitter.

This course evolved from the desire to offer those involved in ecommerce, access to SEO advice in a single place. The Internet contains a large amount of information on this subject matter, and the online SEO community is amazing. However, the SEO resources that ecommerce professionals need are widely scattered.

So, I decided to put everything I researched, learned and practiced about SEO into a single resource, this course.

We will start with the foundation, which is the architecture of the website, and then we will continue with keyword research, which is essential for determining your content strategy. Next, we will learn how to guide crawlers and how to avoid search engine bots’ traps, and then we will explore using internal linking to improve relevance and create strong topical themes.

We will continue by deconstructing the most important pages for ecommerce websites—the home page, listing pages, and product detail pages—each in separate sections.

For you to get the most out of this course it is better to go through the lectures in the order they are listed, without skipping lessons. That is because I will often be making references to concepts and tactics described in previous lectures.

Who should take this course?

If you are a small or medium business owner who runs an ecommerce website, then this course is for you. You have probably realized by now that running an ecommerce business requires many skills. Depending on your educational background, you are either putting much time and work into learning various disciplines such as programming, design, usability and copywriting or, you are contracting qualified help.

This course will help you realize how complex SEO is, and it should help you set realistic expectations. More importantly, don’t expect organic traffic to be a silver bullet. Business-wise it is a good idea to diversify your acquisition channels to email, social, referral and more while working your way up in organic results.

If you are an ecommerce executive take this course to understand how almost any decision you make regarding the website will affect its search visibility. The course will show you what needs to be done to have an SEO-friendly ecommerce website, but it is up to you to prioritize based on your current situation and objectives. This course will also help you have more educated conversations with your search engine optimizer(s).

Even if you work in a medium-sized business, you may realize that you do not have all the expertise or resources in-house, so you will have to hire outside talent. This course should help you understand what to look for when hiring that talent. As an executive, your time is probably at a premium, so if you do not feel like learning SEO stuff, at least let your web dev, marketing or production department know about this course.

If you are a search engine optimizer, I hope you will find this course helpful not only because it presents most of the SEO issues encountered by ecommerce websites in a single resource, but also because it provides advice and options for addressing those issues. Let your manager know about this course. Going through this course will help them understand that ecommerce SEO cannot be addressed overnight. Also, ecommerce SEO does not have strict recipes for success, because SEO is part tech, part marketing, and part art.

This course is also very valuable for web developers involved with ecommerce. The course discusses on-page SEO issues and proposes solutions. However, it does not detail how to write the code to address the problems. While working on addressing an issue, you, as a developer should decide which approach is best, given your particular technical setup.

For example, sometimes a 301 redirect is not possible, whereas a rel=”canonical” is. While I may recommend one approach over another, you will have to decide whether it is possible to implement the recommended method.

What type of websites is this course for?

This course is for websites that face complex issues such as faceted navigation, sorting, pagination or crawl traps, to name just a few. However, keep in mind that a website’s complexity is not directly tied to how big a business is in terms of revenue. Start-ups, SMBs and enterprise websites can be complex no matter their revenue. This course is therefore just as useful for large websites (e.g., sites with tens of thousands of items), as it is for small and medium websites (e.g., with tens to thousands of items).

Ecommerce extends across a multitude of segments, such as travel, where you can sell air tickets, railway tickets, hotel bookings, tour packages, etc. It also extends to retail, financial services, digital goods and services, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and many others. While the vast majority of the examples presented in the course are for retail and CPG, the SEO principles discussed here also apply to all other ecommerce segments. These principles also apply to non-ecommerce websites with complex structure and navigation.

Throughout this course, I will use the terms item and product to refer to a physical good, but an item can also be a digital product, such as a game or a song. The term item will have a different meaning depending on each business. For an online hotel reservation website, the item will be a hotel, and it will be presented on the hotel description page; for a paid content publisher the item may be a journal; for a real estate listings website, the item will be a real estate property, and so on. Also, I will refer to item and product interchangeably.

On-page SEO issues only

This course addresses on-page SEO issues only. Link development is a big part of the SEO equation and requires a course of its own. However, while links have been the main target of SEOs for a very long time, you should optimize your website by putting people and content first.

Level of expertise

This course contains intermediate to advanced SEO tactics, but it’s a good start for newbies as well. If you are one of them, this course should set you on the right SEO mindset.

During the course, you may find that I give particular advice or opinion about a topic, without getting into detail. That may be because that topic is discussed in detail in a referenced work. If you want to know more about those topics, or if you are a total newbie to the SEO field, check out those resources.

I have been asked very often, what’s the best piece of SEO advice I can give to those who do SEO for ecommerce. Here it is:

Optimize for users, without chasing the algorithm. Your ultimate goal is the long click AKA fulfilling or terminating the query. We are going to discuss “the long click” internal metric used by Google, later in the course. In a nutshell, it means a searcher Googles something, they find your website at the top, and when they land on it, they find whatever they are looking for on your website, without needing to go back to the search results.

Before ending this intro, I would like to tell you that you can make it on the first page of Google, Bing or any other big search engine, given that you have the necessary knowledge, you keep up to date with how algorithm changes affect ecommerce websites, and you work hard to achieve it.

I would love to hear your success stories, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

However, for now, bring some paper and a pencil, and let’s start the course.

See you at the top!