Starting out in the big, bad world of e-commerce and have only begun to understand what SEO is and how it works? Know that you certainly are not alone! As expansive and ever-evolving as this particular extension of internet marketing is, it definitely is not impossible to get a handle on. Drawing up a successful SEO strategy is not very different from chalking out a good war plan – you must iron out every chink in your armour before you can be ready for battle. In other words, to put in place a sound SEO strategy for your business, you must be able to anticipate every challenge and have a feasible solution ready to be implemented.
There is a wealth of information about SEO on the internet, and it can get quite wearisome to make your way through it all. This is why we at INFIDIGIT have put our heads together to create knowledge pieces that will help you successfully manoeuvre even the toughest e-Commerce SEO challenges. For the sake of simplicity, we break the whole planning process down into the two stages of research, and implementation and optimisation. The following montage of the most-asked questions and comprehensive answers to them will help you ride the SEO wave straight to traffic-garnering success.
THE RESEARCH STAGE
1. How do I identify relevant, the most searched-for keywords when my site has for sale hundreds of thousands of diverse products spanning across many categories?
Fun fact – Google’s share of search marketing is a whopping 80%+ in many countries (in India it is more than 95%), which means that not only is it the most dominant search engine in the world, if its mentions of your site are not top-ranking, your site traffic will sag too. It might seem like doing an extensive customer survey, asking them for all the keywords they would use to look for your business makes sense but doing so can cost you money and time (lots of it)! Besides, it is not always accurate and can lead to errors that could adversely affect your site traffic.
It is next to impossible to categorize and prioritize your keywords manually. Instead, you can use formulas based on sound logic – for instance; you can group and rank your keywords based on key differentiation criteria, such as brand, gender, product group & product sub-group.
e.g. Brand = Nike, Adidas, Puma
Product Group = Shoes, Shirts, Saree
Product Sub-group = Casual Shoes, Cotton Shirts, Silk Saree
Then, proceed with creating formulas based on these groups, e.g. Brand + Product Sub-group (Nike casual shoes) or Gender + product sub-group (women causal shoes).
Once the list of keywords is ready based on the above formulas that you have selected, it is advisable to run it through Google AdWords keywords planner and get a fair idea of searches that are relevant to that particular keyword. You may want to eliminate all the keywords that have lesser search volume and retain only the ones that you feel are relevant.
2. What do I do if there are too many keywords?
We have already discussed the generic approach to this particular challenge in the previous question itself. Additionally, once your AdWords-filtered keyword list is ready, you must shift your focus to categorising these keywords further into Head, Torso and Tail keywords based on their search volume (in the descending order for the three types of keywords mentioned previously). Head keywords are the most commonly searched-for phrases that are broader in terms of meaning – they involve cut-throat competition, with many players all vying for the same top spots. Torso keywords are more exact and do not boast of as much competition as head keywords. Tail keywords are the most specific and have the highest conversion rate.
3. How do I generate the correct URLs for the various keywords?
Generating correct URL is an extension of what we already went through in the previous two sections. Few other things to keep in mind before generating URLs for your list of keywords are to not bother with stop words like ‘in’, ‘and’, ‘when’, ‘how’, etc. as Google does not consider them. For instance, ‘Nike shoes for women’ will be seen as ‘Nike shoes women.’ Another common conundrum is that of singular and plural keywords – search volume is your guiding light here, and you must pick the combination with the higher figure. Remove all spelling errors from your keywords as Google prompts the user to choose the correct options whenever an oversight does occur.
Avoid keyword stuffing by steering clear of different permutations of the same set of words. The search volume rule will prove invaluable here as well, helping you pick out the most relevant phrase. Simple formulas or even right URL generator tools can then help you compose a list of the corresponding URLs.
4. How do I track keyword performance keeping in mind the competition?
It is definitely good to be focused on your game but it is just as important to know what your competition is up to (you do not want them stealing your customers right from under your nose now, do you?). Besides using Google Analytics to analyse site traffic, you could also check out tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, etc. to keep tabs on everything your competition is doing. Direct navigation, i.e. traffic obtained from typed-in links, email leads, etc., referral traffic, i.e. traffic from trackable campaigns, and search traffic should all be considered.
Drawing up comparisons of performance versus market share is as important as drawing up and implementing your SEO strategy. Volume contribution and conversion rate are important metrics that no SEO aficionado can ignore, and they go hand in hand with monitoring the outcome of your SEO efforts. These statistics even come in handy when making digital marketing presentations or performance reports.
IMPLEMENTATION AND OPTIMISATION STAGE
1. What is keyword cannibalisation and how do I tackle it?
Keyword cannibalisation occurs when many sub-pages of your site are all targeting the same keyword due to the site’s information infrastructure being a certain way. E.g. the keywords tunics and kurtis. This leads to, amongst other undesired effects, a lower effectiveness of all your SEO efforts. You can circumvent this challenge by using canonical tags that signal to the search engine that any page carrying duplicate content (also called thin content, i.e. when the same content is seen on two pages, say abc.com/fila-bags and abc.com/men-fila-bags), is just a copy of the original, master page. In plain speak, canonical tags let the search engine know which URL you would want to pop up in search results.
2. How do I deal with a huge number of dynamic URLs?
Dynamic URLs, unlike their static counterparts, can be present in the order of millions (yes you read that right!). This is because they are generated when the user makes a specific search query and are a standard feature of product lists and other websites. The primary challenge here is the Google Panda algorithm, the sole aim of which is to put sites with thin content or content farms at the bottom of search results, and help legitimate sites regain their top spot.
You can get on top of this particular predicament by resorting to automation and tagging these dynamic pages as noindex, i.e. indicating to a search engine to not consider the page for indexing in its search rankings. Only the SEO team will then have to take up the task of making the target pages Google-crawlable.
3. Is there a difference between uppercase and lowercase URLs, and how does each affect my SEO efforts?
You will be surprised to know that there indeed is a difference between uppercase and lowercase URLs (although it may also depend on the web server you use – Windows OS considers them as the same thing while Linux and UNIX servers do not). Simply put, uppercase and lowercase URLs can lead to a fall in your traffic due to the splitting up of back-linking references and other factors. Although lowercase URLs are preferred as most people visiting your site would query it that way, you can sidestep this problem of case sensitivity by using the tried-and-trusted method of canonicalization (already discussed) or a 301 redirect (when you redirect all requests to a target URL, saying that the old page has been permanently moved).
4. How do I track the performance of my SEO efforts for thousands of keywords?
Manually tracking all the keywords you are trying to boost site traffic for is an impossible idea. Besides, there are many great tools to help you do this seamlessly, including Advanced Web Ranking and Wherestand, amongst many others. Everything from keyword rankings to competition tracking can be done for any number of keywords; it’s just that simple!
5. What happens when ranking URLs for various keywords keep changing?
The SEO scene is undoubtedly a dynamic one – when a user queries a particular keyword, the URLs that rank high can and will vary over time. E.g., for the keyword shoes, the products list page with shoes, men’s shoes or women’s shoes might turn up as a top search result. This is undoubtedly exasperating to a user who is looking for something in particular. Hence the importance of proper internal linking on your website to take them to the page they wanted to go to in the first place. You must also make sure that any URLs used in other marketing campaigns in PPC (Pay per click), social media, Affiliates, etc. must contain the correct URL for uniformity.
6. How much content can I include on a target page if I want the best possible conversion rate for it?
Many SEO tenderfoots think that high site traffic is their endgame. Conversion rate, the most coveted metric of them all, is a measure of the degree of the intractability of your webpage with the user. In short, it is to indicate whether you were successful in getting them to do what you want, and in the case of e-commerce websites, it is to buy. Including bulky, keyword-stuffed textual content is certainly not the way to go as it can only do so much for you. Instead, rely on multimedia-rich content that piques the user’s interest. Establishing yourself as the real authority on a subject with quality, popular content on blogs and other content forums will help build and strengthen your brand!
7. Why and how do I identify any site errors?
Website errors like dead URLs, broken links, malware, short titles, duplicate meta tags, HTML errors, and even the site’s mobile compatibility can all be tested using specific capable tools that do all the heavy-lifting for you. W3C markup validation, Google Webmaster Tool, Woorank, etc. are just some of the insightful tools that can give you a hand in your quest for website perfection.
8. Why are backlinks so important?
Backlinks are merely the inbound links or references to your site coming from an external website. Be warned that search engines, in their desire to level the playing field, look for quality mentions of your website on other sites that have relevant or related content. Influencer marketing is your trump card here – scout out for people who are opinion leaders and can influence a large section of the audience you desire to target. They can post product or service reviews on their blogs or other forums; they include, based on your industry, gadget geeks, trend watchers and fashion designers, nutritionists, etc. Influencer marketing can take the form of paid or unpaid marketing and create instant credibility through tonnes of exposure for your brand.
9. How can I improve my page rankings?
10. What is CTR and how do I increase it?
CTR or click-through rate is the ratio of the number of users who visit a page by clicking on a link to those who view an email ad or marketing page in total. Structured data can be included in your webpage’s HTML markup to take advantage of the rich snippets (they are just what they sound like – bits/glimpses of data) that Google then generates to make search results more informative. Schema microdata is another powerful tool that can be used to tag your page in a way that search engines comprehend (look through schema.org).
We recommend a two-pronged approach to SEO – your firm’s internal team might not have the specific skill set that is required to tackle the various challenges of e-commerce websites. They, along with a capable external SEO agency can work together to follow up with multiple product developers and owners as well as deal with other dynamic SEO issues that can crop up from time to time. If you liked this post, watch this space for the next one on a detailed study of competition analysis. Till then, keep us posted about both your SEO hits and misses, or ask a question, and we shall answer!