For the uninitiated or tech novices, search engine optimization, or SEO as it’s widely known, can be thought of as the delicious candy house that tempted Hansel and Gretel in the popular German fairy tale that parents recount to children before bed.
Just as the sugary sweet abode drew the children to the witch’s home, SEO draws search engines and, as a result, consumers into your online store. Each brightly colored gum drop that adorns the witch’s rooftop is the equivalent to sweet SEO execution that entices search engines and lends itself to higher ranking within search results. The higher you ecommerce link appears on the search results page, the more likely people will click on it and enter.
An Optify study in 2011 found that “websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent; number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent; and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent.” While a second finding by Marketing Land the following year discovered that in terms of search results, “the share of impressions coming from the first position is almost double that for the second position, truly illustrating the value the first spot holds.”
What does all this mean? Well, that you must reinforce your candy house––that is your ecommerce website––with the most delicious, enticing treats to draw in the most people, increasing click through rates, conversions, and sales. Luckily, the tastiest treats don’t require confectionary mastery and there are simple steps you can take to boost your online store’s search engine optimization, search result ranking, and the overall tasty-quality of your business. Here are 3 quick SEO tips every ecommerce should be employing.
Though it may seem like we’re really running wild with the Hansel and Gretel analogy, breadcrumbs in the online world are so aptly named because they indeed leave a trail that leads to the tastiest of rewards: your products.
Navigation breadcrumbs assist visitors to find their way around your store. A breadcrumb is a sequence of links, oriented in a directional path, usually found at the top of web pages. It allows users to to see relevant subcategories as well as keep track of the pages they’ve viewed.
Implementing breadcrumb navigation into your online store automatically sets a URL hierarchy and gives your website organization. Breadcrumbs inherently create categories and subcategories for all of your products, enhancing your ecommerce website’s optimization, visibility, and user-friendly navigation.
Duplicate content, something well-known search engines such as Google and Yahoo dock you points for, can also be reduced by employing breadcrumbs. Whenever new merchandise is added, a new, unique link will be created under the appropriate level in the URL hierarchy––automatically, thanks to breadcrumbs.
Organizing your categories and levels ensures that search engine crawlers are able to find their way to all of your different subcategories and products in order to rank them. And in addition to crawl-ability and organization for search engines, breadcrumbs commonly feature simple, short descriptions, such as “Furniture>Seating>Chair”, perfect for establishing website keywords for search engines.
2. Meta Tags
While there are many types of tags and meta tags, the most important for SEO are description meta tags that tell search engines and viewers what your site is about. If you’ve ever searched for an item using Google, you’ll notice that the websites ranked on the results page are usually accompanied by a few sentences of descriptor text so you know what that specific site features.
A common mistake ecommerces make with the description meta text is to fill it with keywords––often resulting in a jumbled list of words. The correct and best way to utilize description meta tags is to fill all of the roughly allotted 160 characters with a well-written, comprehensive, and naturally worded description of your online store or its products that will entice viewers to enter.
For example, which store would you be more interested in checking out:
A) The Denim Shop
High-waisted jeans. Skinny jeans. Bell bottom denim. Pants.
B) The Denim Shop
The world’s largest curated denim collection for men and women, featuring the latest styles, most flattering pants, and rare-finds for the jean enthusiast.
Clearly, B. reads more engaging for shoppers. It also took advantage of all of the allotted characters to provide more information, presenting an overall assessment of its products instead of just listing out specific items. This gives viewers the impression that B. has more options than store A., plus, it’s obvious to consumers that store B. put more effort into their content, working in keywords naturally, which reads more professional and increases consumer click rates.
If this example isn’t enough to convince you to take the time to plan out your description meta tags, you should also know that large search engines such as Google will assess your description meta tags and automatically replace text that they feel isn’t up to standard. Bad or inaccurate descriptions of stores may be replaced with computer language (meaning jumbled coding and numbers) or just brief unappealing text.
Tips for writing description meta tags:
Here are basic steps to writing engaging descriptions:
Include a prompt: Prompting viewers with a call-to-action such as “Find out more about” or “Browse the best collection of” will encourage readers to take action because their interest is piqued. Use a verb or specific action phrasing to start your description meta tag: “Click here to see the world’s largest collection of denim…” for example.
Add cliffhangers: With our denim shop example from above, store A. listed products making it seem like those were the only pants they offered, while store B. used general terms that evoked a larger collection––one that shoppers would have to enter the website to see all of; use this “plus more!” strategy with your description meta tags. Always let customers know there’s more to be seen on your website. This can be done by simply adding “and so much more!” to the end of your description.
Write with the customer mindset: As you draft descriptions, reread them as the consumer. If you were browsing search results, would these 160 characters prompt you to click through the site? Is it engaging to viewers and does it pique your interest? Keep writing until you can definitely say, “Yes! I want to see more.”
And the best part about meta tags is that you can test if they’re working by checking your website’s analytics. Change up the description text every once in awhile and track the click through rates and search traffic––if there’s a spike correlating with any one of your changes, you’ll know your meta tag strategy is working.
3. Img Alt Tags
Again, there are many types of HTML tags that go into your website, but in this post, we’ll only highlight the quick and simple SEO boosting ones such as img alt tags. Img alt tags are alternative descriptions for any images posted on your website. The text descriptions aren’t displayed on your site but are instead read by non-visual readers––this can mean vision-impaired consumers who browse the web using alternative methods or search engine crawlers who use the descriptive text to identify and rank your website and its components.
Though we say it’s a description of the image, we don’t necessarily mean it’s text that literally describes the picture, instead we mean it describes its function for users who can’t physically see the image. For example, your img alt tag for a magnifying glass graphic on your site’s search bar would read “search” or “find” and not “magnifying glass”. The img alt tag should explain to a non-visual user what the image’s purpose is on your website.
Tips for writing img alt tags:
Keep these important points for writing img alt descriptions in mind:
Accurately name your image file and try to incorporate keywords: For our denim shop example, you’ll want to name a picture of high-waisted jeans as such, maybe even including a poignant descriptor like the brand and color, instead of an automated nonsensical file name like “img0293”. After all, what good would that identifier do for search engines that can’t physically see the image?
Include file extension labels: When a search engine crawler picks up a “.jpg” JPEG file extension, it knows that the file is a photo and ranks it accordingly, and if it reads a “.gif” GIF file extension, the search engine knows it’s a graphic image and can rank it as such.
Use logical descriptor text to identify the image: Just like our previous tip on description meta tags, you want any descriptive text associated with your website to accurately reflect its content and purpose. So be sure and add text that search engine crawlers can match up to the image, and not generic text that doesn’t identify a specific photo or graphic.
While there are many factors to consider with search engine optimization for your ecommerce website, we’ve listed the most basic, simple, and quick tips every ecommerce should be employing. As we touched on before, Google and other large search engines reward websites for original content, and well-written engaging content is a gold mine for SEO. So drafting up original, engaging text for not only descriptive tags but also your product pages is vital for search engine optimization. Be sure to read the Ecommerce Rules post on how to create captivating product descriptions and deck out your online store with the most delicious, customer-enticing, SEO candy out there!