Ecommerce SEO

CHAPTER 1:

Introduction

Length: 1,847 words

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

This e-commerce SEO guide has almost 400 pages of advanced, actionable insights into on-page SEO for ecommerce. This is the first out of the 8 sections.

Written by an e-commerce SEO consultant with over 25 years of research and practical experience, this comprehensive SEO resource will teach you how to identify and address all SEO issues specific to e-commerce 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 like it.

About this ecommerce SEO resource

Welcome to the most comprehensive ecommerce SEO resource on the Internet – if you can find one that’s more extensive than this one, I will remove this statement:). My name is Traian, and I am the author of this e-commerce SEO compendium you’re about to read.

If you are involved with e-commerce in one way or another or if your work touches even a bit on SEO, you are about to engage in a source of knowledge full of actionable SEO tactics to help you optimize your website correctly.

This guide is a web version of my book – “Ecommerce SEO” –now retired from the shelves. For those of you who have 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:

Many thanks to 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 is not listed here. Thanks a lot to all of you who left raving reviews on social media. It is much appreciated.

Feel free to contact me on the website or via LinkedIn or Twitter.

This e-commerce SEO guide evolved from the desire to offer those involved in e-commerce access to SEO advice in a single place. The Internet contains much information on this subject, and the online SEO community is amazing. However, the SEO resources that ecommerce professionals need are widely scattered.

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

We will start with the foundation of an ecommerce site, which is the website’s architecture. Then, we will continue with keyword research to determine parts of the content strategy. Next, we will learn how to guide crawlers and 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.

To get the most out of this resource, it is better to go through the chapters in the order they are listed without skipping them. I will often reference concepts and tactics described in previous chapters.

Who read this resource?

This is for you if you are a small or medium business owner who runs an ecommerce website. 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 source of information will help you realize how complex SEO is and 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 media, referrals, and more while working your way up in organic results.

If you are an ecommerce executive, read this guide to understand how almost any decision you make regarding the website will affect its search visibility. The information here 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. It 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 resource 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 information.

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

The information is also very valuable for web developers involved with e-commerce since it 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, the developer should decide which approach is best, given your particular technical setup. For example, sometimes a 301 redirect is impossible, 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 information for?

This repository of information is for websites that face complex issues such as faceted navigation, sorting, pagination, or crawl traps, to name just a few. However, remember 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, regardless of their revenue. This compendium is just as useful for large websites (e.g., sites with tens of thousands of items) as small and medium websites (e.g., with tens to thousands of items).

Ecommerce extends across many 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 most examples presented in the book and website are for retail and CPG, the SEO principles discussed here apply to all other ecommerce segments. These principles also apply to non-ecommerce websites with complex structures and navigation.

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

We’re going to address on-page SEO issues only. Link development is a big part of the SEO equation and requires its own knowledge asset. However, while links have been the main target of SEOs for a long time, you should optimize your website by putting people and content first.

Level of Expertise

The source of knowledge contains intermediate to advanced SEO tactics but is also a good start for newbies. If you are one of them, the information shared here should set you in the right SEO mindset.

You may find that I give particular advice or opinions 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 often been asked what the best SEO advice I can give those who do SEO for e-commerce is. Here it is:

Optimize for users without chasing the algorithm. Your ultimate goal is the long click, a.k.a. fulfilling or terminating the query. We will discuss “the long click” internal metric used by Google later. In a nutshell, it means a searcher Googles something and finds 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. But you need to have the necessary knowledge from various tech and web development areas. You must also keep updated with how algorithm changes affect e-commerce websites. Remember that you also need to work hard to achieve first-page results; this is not 2010 anymore, where a few tweaks would rank your pages at the top.

I would love to hear your success stories, so don’t hesitate to contact me.

See you at the top!