When it comes to fine-tuning SEO for ecommerce, the text you write is only half the story. The Internet is an increasingly visual platform. Modern web pages are designed around focused messaging with concise text supported by engaging, high-quality images and other media.
Consumers love images. According to a recent HubSpot study, 51% of B2B marketers consider visual asset creation their biggest priority. What’s more, 32% consider images their most important form of content. So it’s only logical that search engines favor image-optimized websites as well.
And it isn’t just images. Other forms of media such as video generate high levels of engagement and increase page rank. User-generated content like comments and reviews further enhance the customer experience of your website. According to AdWeek, close to 93% of online shoppers claim user-generated content helps in the buying process.
All while boosting your ecommerce SEO.
On a technical level, adding images to a web store page is probably the easiest thing you can do. Optimizing your images for search engines, however, takes a bit more finesse.
Here are some tips.
By now we’ve established that relevance is king when it comes to SEO for ecommerce. So it should come as no surprise that this rule also applies to choosing images for your web store pages.
Images are a vital component of an optimized product page, for reasons that go well beyond SEO. Consumers want to see what they’re buying before they spend money. An image directly illustrates the product’s benefits.
Pictures are an effective storytelling tool and you should consider them a critical part of your online selling strategy. It doesn’t take a search engine crawler to tell you that a power drill page should feature images of the drill.
The product page example may seem obvious, but the point is the image shouldn’t be misleading. If it’s a DeWalt drill, the photo should reflect that.
Use the highest-quality images available, making sure they are optimized for performance. Scale the image properly to fit the page. When choosing a file format for your images, .jpg is generally the highest quality, followed by .png and then .gif. That said, each image format has its specific purpose.
Use alt tags
As we discussed earlier, alt tags for images are a vital component of your under-the-hood SEO. The alt tag provides a text-based description for the images on your page. This serves two purposes. First, it informs the search engine what the page is about. Second, it provides a text description when the image is unavailable.
This gives you a perfect opportunity to optimize your page on the back end by working keywords into your alt tags. Just remember that relevance is the most important factor. Alt tags should above all be useful descriptions.
Customize file names
Even the file names of photos you upload to your web store can boost your SEO. The same rules apply: keywords and relevance. Your DeWalt drill product page should have a high-quality image of the drill, dewalt-drill.jpg, with an alt description that includes “DeWalt drill” on a page with the brand name in both the title and meta description.
Perhaps even more than images, high-quality video contributes to a strategically optimized user experience. Since they can’t actually see and touch a product directly, customers like to witness the product in action whenever possible.
Consumers watching video retain on average 95% of what they see, compared to 10% of the same message in text.
Naturally, for certain products video might not be relevant. Our drill, however, is a prime candidate for a product video. A video demonstrates the tool’s functionality and power in a way that photos can’t. As such, a relevant, well-deployed video can significantly improve your SEO.
Just like photos, videos need to be optimized. Videos have meta data that you should not ignore. Of prime importance are the title, description and thumbnail. The title and description should incorporate keywords when possible. And, as with photos, you should make sure the video’s file name includes the keyword.
Thumbnails are scaled-down images that serve as a “preview” of the video before you play it. They are often (though not always) screenshots from the video itself. Thumbnails frequently make the difference between videos that get clicks and videos that don’t. So make sure to customize the thumbnail for a more engaging image.
Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Whenever possible, it is important to host media (photo and video) on your own domain. This gives you greater control over your media. It prevents situations where it becomes unavailable due to issues with the host site.
The downside is that this can create performance issues. The solution? Use a content delivery network (CDN). The CDN hosts heavy page elements, including media and stylesheets, reducing the amount of time it takes to load the page (and thereby optimizing its performance).
Which brings us to the other reason to use a CDN. Faster load times are major factor in your SEO. The quicker your pages load, the more highly the search engines will evaluate them.
And the more enjoyment your customers will have shopping with you.
Like the name suggests, user-generated content (UCG) is content that users of your website add themselves. A classic example of user-generated content would be the comment section of a blog post.
Search engines love user-generated content. By its very nature, it tends to be totally unique and highly relevant material that reflects that individual user’s opinion. It shows search engines that people engage with this web page, confirming with each additional post that the page is pertinent.
In the context of SEO for ecommerce, user-generated content typically takes the form of customer reviews. With most ERP-integrated ecommerce platforms, customer ratings and reviews are a feature you can enable through your web store’s admin.
User-generated reviews can obviously help your customers to choose the right product. Often, they answer questions that would otherwise go to your support team. And when you provide excellent customer service, reviews will reflect shoppers’ experience with your company.
In a competitive online environment, this can be even more valuable than reviews of your products. And because search engines like user-generated content, this will only push your rankings up further.