Given that as much as 40% of ecommerce traffic originates with a search engine, no ecommerce site owner can afford to neglect their ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). While much of the focus with regard to SEO falls on on-site performance, off-site elements should not be neglected.
What do we mean by on-site and off-site SEO? In layperson’s terms, on-site SEO is how your site performs according to search engine algorithms based upon the content, layout and user interaction of the site itself. Meanwhile, off-site SEO is how your site is represented in all other areas of the internet, including social media, in-bound links and product review sites, among others.
For those still struggling to differentiate between the two or understand how they can harness both to catapult their website to the top of SERP rankings, this beginner’s guide should give you the basics of everything you need to know.
On-site ecommerce SEO
On-site SEO performance quite rightly comprises the bulk of efforts that most ecommerce site owners make when it comes to boosting their SERP rankings. Here are a few areas that you should pay particular attention to:
Undoubtedly the headline act when it comes to on-site SEO, finding the right keywords that not only accurately match the products you’re selling, but also have high search volumes and conversion rates, is of paramount concern. Place these strategically in URLs, title tags, title descriptors, product descriptions, blog posts and FAQs on your site to boost its SEO performance.
Effective linking between different pages and posts on your sites allows your target audience to quickly and easily find what it is they’re looking for. This will not only result in a more positive user experience (UX) for visitors, but keep them on your site for longer, giving an additional boost in the eyes of Google and other search engines. Mend broken links as a matter of urgency, as this can be devastating for SEO.
Consumers are favouring mobile devices to browse items online with increasing frequency – last year, more than half of all ecommerce traffic occurred on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. Ensuring your site resizes and converts across all devices without any technical issues is crucial to keeping customers interested and maintaining your place in SERPs.
Rich snippets are tiny but intricate pieces of code which organise data on your site so that it can be organised and displayed more effectively in SERPs. Among other items that can be included in these rich snippets, you’ll find authorship of a post, images of a product, customer reviews and other vital information. These can work wonders in bringing traffic to your site, so should not be neglected.
Off-site SEO is a more neglected animal than its on-site counterpart, perhaps partly because it’s a trickier stunt to pull off. That’s because it involves interacting with other sites and receiving favourable reviews, backlinks and other mentions that can drive traffic to your site. A few ways in which it can be achieved include:
Reaching out to existing, like-minded blogs that already have a strong readership can allow you access to a whole new market. All that’s required is to get in contact with them and offer to write either a one-off or regular series of blogs for their site, then include backlinks into the content you create. Be discerning with your choices, however, because search engine algorithms do not take kindly to poor quality backlinks from so-called “content farms” (which will publish blog posts on any topics from anyone).
Social media presence
Between them, sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook account for a huge amount of internet traffic, so cultivating an active social media presence is an ideal way to interact with potential customers and draw them to your site. You should create engaging profiles on all of the major players and coordinate updates across them every time you publish a new blog post, run a competition or release a new product line.
Attract positive press
As well as participating in social media yourself, you should also work to garner attention from bloggers and influencers on those sites. You could do this by offering to send prominent individuals operating in your sector free tester products in exchange for reviews or blog posts. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets such as newspapers and magazines should not be neglected in your SEO strategy, either.
Tying into the rich snippets segment from on-site SEO above, product reviews are a fantastic tool for increasing brand exposure and generating a buzz around what you have to offer. Gain a foothold on product review sites and you’ll have your own customers doing the job of bringing you fresh business right to your doorstep, so be sure to include yourself in all relevant directories.
Covering all the bases
When it comes to on-site and off-site SEO, the key takeaway to remember is that an integrated approach combining aspects of both is the ideal strategy for success. On-site SEO should represent the priority because without it off-site SEO will be virtually useless, but sufficient attention should always be devoted to both.
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