SEO for ecommerce is not all just links, content and meta tags.
There are numerous other elements that factor into search engine crawlers’ evaluation of your web store’s pages. Although some have been confirmed, the search engines themselves do not disclose all or even most of these factors.
Nevertheless, many of them can be surmised through careful observation and methodical, repeated testing. Here is a look at some of the more well-known criteria that search engine experts look at when optimizing a site.
Given the importance of links to SEO for ecommerce, it’s not surprising that the page’s own URL is a crucial element as well.
It goes without saying that the URL can provide an excellent opportunity to use your keywords. One study found that in 63% of various top page results, the websites included keywords in their URLs.
On the flip side, failure to observe best practices in constructing your URLs can have a negative impact on your ranking. It’s important to remember even here that search engines favor sites designed for a human reader. So, for instance, URLs should be concise and informative. If the URL is too long or wordy, your page may not rank as highly.
A country code top level domain (such as .ca, .uk, .it, etc.) may improve your site’s ranking in that country more quickly than using the standard .com or .org. However, these country or language-specific domains can at the same time limit your ranking elsewhere in the world.
Incidentally, receiving inbound links from sites with a country code top level domain can also help you to rank better in that country, without affecting your global ranking.
Breadcrumbs are a special navigational tool that lets both visitors and search engines easily determine where they are on a site. They provide a quick way to retrace your steps to any point along the path that led you to your current page.
A good example is a web store catalog in which you go from categories to subcategories, and then to specific product records. This can have a very positive effect on SEO for e-commerce. It allows you to use keywords to create a meaningful context for the page, helping search engine crawlers assess relevance.
Search engines heavily penalize sites that are not mobile-friendly. As of 2019, approximately half of global web traffic now comes from mobile devices. Which means, search engines aside, a non-responsive web store basically penalizes itself.
As we’ve mentioned before, the speed of the page can affect your page rank with prominent search engines. Using a content delivery network (CDN) to host heavier page elements like product images and video can improve your speed.
If your server is regularly down or your site is unavailable for long periods of time, it can negatively affect your page rank. This is why it’s smart to invest in a cloud-based e-commerce solution in order to guarantee maximum possible uptime.
Overall site quality
“Quality” might seem vague, but it really comes down to best practices and reader-friendliness. For instance, spelling and grammatical errors are one factor that hurts a site’s overall quality. On the flip side, using bullet points to make text easier to read improves quality.
Other quality indicators include valid HTML and proper coding. It is uncertain how much of a role these factors play in determining page rank. Nevertheless, a well-coded site with grammatically correct content is always the best practice, and crucial for consumer confidence.
WhoIs is a query/response protocol that can be used to identify the registered owner of a domain name or IP address block. In most cases, it also provides the owner’s contact information.
As a web store owner, you have the option of keeping your WhoIs information private. There is some debate as to whether or not doing so can negatively affect your SEO. The thinking is that search engine crawlers may interpret a private WhoIs as a sign that the owner hiding something. Certain cases appear to support this, but other factors may have been to blame.
That said, it’s crucial to make sure that any information you provide on your Contact Us page matches your WhoIs information. The Contact Us page is a critical lead-capturing tool, customer service touchpoint, and source of information for search engine crawlers. Sites that appear to provide misleading or false information can expect to be penalized.
Google’s web crawlers have a preference for recent and regularly updated content. Such content is by its nature more fresh and relevant, and thus contributes to a better user experience.
When it comes to updates, the significance of the changes made is a factor. For example, the addition of a paragraph or more of text has a greater impact than the correction of small typos.
Similarly, the frequency of updates is important to consider. Content that gets updated regularly is more likely to be relevant than content that only changes every few years (or never). The more frequently you update your content, the more frequently search engines index it.
By the same token, an older page that enjoys regular updates has a good chance of outranking a totally new page.
Bad linking practices
We have already discussed how low-value links from disreputable sites can lower your page rank. But just as in the case of coding and content, failure to observe best practices hurts your good link building, too.
It’s important to curate your links and make sure they still work. Broken links give the impression that the site is out-of-date or otherwise neglected.
Links should be diverse. Too many links from the same source (for example, from a single blog) looks suspicious and spammy. And too many links in general can result in penalties if the search engines believe your site to be a link farm.