Now that we’ve clarified why your e-commerce business needs SEO, let’s break down some of the most common e-commerce SEO terms you’ll need to be familiar with.
General E-commerce SEO terms
The following are terms that you’ll hear frequently in connection with search engine optimization. They describe or refer to processes by which search engines evaluate and rank web pages.
As a general rule, this group of terms applies to SEO factors external to your website and its configurations.
A web crawler, also called a spider or bot, is a special software application that search engines use to gather information from web pages and assess them.
The term “bot” can actually refer to any program that runs scripts on the web; for example, bots can provide automated responses in chat applications. Search engine bots are just one particularly well-known use of this technology.
In order to be useful, search engines need to return content relevant to the search. This means that web crawlers have to ensure that the content they download is actually relevant. A popular singer’s official website, for instance, should be more relevant than an outdated fan page, or information about a person with the same first name.
Seach Engine Index
In the context of e-commerce SEO, “index” is both a noun and a verb. As a verb, it refers to the activity of search engine bots described above, retrieving and assessing web pages. As a noun, it refers the sum total of pages that have been indexed.
Because of the sheer size of the worldwide web, even the most powerful search engines are only able to index a fraction of the publically available net (one study cited on Wikipedia estimates it at 40-70% of more than 11.5 billion sites).
This restriction places an even greater emphasis on relevance when it comes to the selection of content a web crawler indexes.
SERP is an acronym which stands for Search Engine Results Page. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a page of search engine results that shows up when you search for a given term.
SERPs generally list around 10 results per page. Additionally, when it comes to SEO, there is a difference between organic and sponsored results.
Organic results are the pages that naturally turn up in a search for a given term. They depend entirely on the factors the search engine uses to determine relevance. Their rank rises or falls based on how well they meet these factors.
Sponsored results are also known as paid results. They are basically search engine advertising: for a set period of time, the sponsored page shows up higher in the results. However, this only lasts as long as the site owner continues paying for the improved visibility.
Pagerank is closely related to SERPs. As the name implies, it refers to the rank of a given web page in the SERPs for a given term. The higher the pagerank, the more visible the site will be in the search engines.
Put simply: it’s better to be on the first page of Google than the second (and better the first spot on the page than the 10th).
Links play a crucial role in how search engine bots determine a web site’s relevance.
There are two types. Outbound links are links you place on your site to take your guests somewhere, either to another page or another site altogether.
Inbound links, also called backlinks, are links to your site from other locations. When someone links to your site, the search engine bot takes that link as a vote of confidence. It tells the search engine that the page being linked to is a relevant source of information.
This is one reason (among many others) that Wikipedia tends to enjoy such favorable pagerank for so many terms. People link to Wikipedia all the time. Every time someone provides a link to the Search Engine Optimization page on Wikipedia, they’re telling Google that this page is a reliable source of information.
But backlinks can hurt SEO as well. Search engines don’t just look at links. They also consider where the link is coming from. If your page is getting links from disreputable sources (for example, sites that use bad SEO tactics), then it can have a negative effect on you.
In that sense, linking is a bit like bringing a friend to a party. If the friend (the person linking to your site) starts behaving obnoxiously, it reflects badly on you (even if you’re not doing anything wrong).
E-commerce SEO Terms for Your Web Store
The following e-commerce SEO terms refer to specific elements of your web store’s pages that you need to optimize for search engines.
While this might seem complex if you’re not familiar with the process, it’s important to remember that e-commerce platforms like k-eCommerce come with built-in tools that let you configure these elements quickly and easily.
The meta title, also called the title tag or page title, is specifically the title of a given web page. It’s the title that appears in the upper left-hand corner of your browser window while you view the page, and more importantly, in search engine results that link to your page.
It also serves as the default title when you bookmark the page or share it on social media platforms like Facebook.
From both a SEO and user perspective, titles should be short, focused descriptions of the page. Generally, the title should be under 60 characters long, as search engine results truncate longer titles.
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It’s the page’s web address, which usually appears in the address bar at the top of the browser. The URL is sometimes confused with other e-commerce SEO terms like the page title, particularly in cases where both the URL and the title use the same words (such as the name of a company).
URLs and site architecture form such an integral part of SEO that we will be discussing them in depth in a future article. For now, it’s important to know that, like other page elements, your URLs should be readable and relevant.
Meta descriptions are short summaries of a page’s contents that appear in search engine results, but don’t actually show up on the page itself.
In addition to providing a quick reference for anyone browsing the SERP, the meta description is vital for informing search engines of the page’s contents. Well-crafted meta descriptions significantly aid on-page SEO.
Meta descriptions should typically be 155 characters or less. As with page titles, search engines cut off overly-long descriptions.
Keywords are one of the e-commerce SEO terms you’ll hear the most.
From the user side, keywords are simply what you type into Google when you’re searching for something. SEO attempts to anticipate these specific search terms and optimize pages to rank well for them.
Site owners do this primarily through adding content to the page that uses the keyword consistently. In the example we’ve given, you can see that the terms “e-commerce” and “Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central” appear in the title, URL, and/or meta description for the page. These terms also occur throughout the page’s text.
In the past, defining the meta keywords tag on your page was as important as the meta title and meta description. In 2009, Google officially stated that it no longer factors the meta keywords tag into determining pagerank. It’s unclear what role (if any) it plays in the algorithms of other search engines today.
Alt (alternative) text is a written description of an image appearing on a page. It’s one of the most important e-commerce SEO terms we cover here, as it serves several purposes.
First, if for some reason the image doesn’t load on the page, the description will be available to anyone visiting.
Further, visually impaired users will be able to interpret the image with a screen reader thanks to alt text.
Finally, the alt text provides information about the image to search engines, allowing the SEO spiders to index them properly. This lets you work keywords into your alt text descriptions and boost your page’s relevance even further.