eCommerce or not, every website wants to rank higher than competitors on search engine. While making it to the first page seems like an impressive achievement, being on the number one spot is the real deal.
A study by Optify showed that websites on the number one spot of search engine result page (SERP) received 36.4 percent average click-through rate; 12.5 percent for number two and 9.5 percent for number three. The remaining 41.6 percent is distributed across the other sites on the first page and the other pages.
Unlike regular websites where the focus is on visibility and leads generation, eCommerce websites focus on conversion and maximizing profit.
Top eCommerce Websites in Canada
DISFOLD listed the following websites as the 2019 top 10 eCommerce websites in Canada based on monthly traffic
- Amazon Canada (140 million monthly visits)
- eBay Canada (34.5 million)
- Walmart Canada (21.6 millon)
- Best Buy Canada (16.7 million)
- Canadian Tire (15.2 million)
- Costco Canada (14.2 million)
- Home Depot Canada (10.4 million)
- Etsy Canada (7.9 million)
- Hudson’s Bay (6.6 million)
- Newegg Canada (4.2 million)
From Amazon to Newegg, all the websites on the list have things in common that distinguish them from regular websites. These distinguishing features will be discussed next.
eCommerce Web Design Vs Regular Web Design
eCommerce websites are quite different from regular websites in the way they function and behave. While the goal of an eCommerce website is to sell products, regular websites often provide services along with insights about the business.
The unique business goals of each eCommerce websites means having unique marketing goals, and of course, unique SEO strategies.
Visibility vs Sales
For eCommerce websites, owners are usually concerned with improving conversions, getting sales and maximizing profits. After all, the whole essence of the site is to showcase and sell products.
For regular websites, the aim is usually to get leads from traffics generated. This is the first difference, meaning a difference in design and approach to marketing (including SEO).
Intuitive vs Informative
A regular website is more intuitive than it’s informative. Too many complications in the web design may leave the customer frustrated. Navigation and nicely done inter-phase are very important to the users of regular websites. As stated earlier, lead generation is important to regular websites so the contact forms must be strategically placed.
For eCommerce websites on the other hand, there’s need to be more informative than intuitive. Buyers want to be able to read all the information and reviews they can get about products before making a buying decision. This has to be done without compromising on the website speed. An eCommerce website has to intelligently combine intuitiveness with informative to provide the best user experience.
Security is paramount for an eCommerce website for obvious reasons. Every online store has a payment gateway where buyers are usually required to enter highly sensitive details. These buyers have to be more than sure that the website is secured for transactions.
Most payment gateways are usually third-party solutions integrated into the website.
For regular web designs, security is less of a concern. This is clearly because transactions usually don’t happen on the website; the website is usually just the starting point to offline transactions. Nevertheless, regular websites still have some level of security concerns in order to build trust. For instance, a website with encryption (HTTPS) will be trusted more by visitors than websites without (HTTP).
The kind of contents on both sites differ glaringly. The contents on a normal business website include information about the business, services, contact address and so on. On the other hand, eCommerce websites have products names and images, descriptions, prices and reviews.
Though the two types of website tend to use images, eCommerce websites usually have higher number and variety of images.
Unique SEO Strategies for eCommerce Websites
Since it’s clear that eCommerce websites are different in diverse ways from regular, it’s only normal to have unique SEO strategies for eCommerce websites. What works for regular websites in terms of SEO may not for eCommerce websites and vice versa.
Here are 5 unique SEO strategies for eCommerce websites.
Unique, Engaging Descriptions for each Product
One of the most overlooked, yet highly effective eCommerce strategies is writing unique product descriptions. Product descriptions can be used by eCommerce site owners to strengthen their brand, engage and educate their audience.
This is especially important when the product can be found on competitors’ websites. Most eCommerce stores copy and paste product descriptions so the unique ones always stand out – to customers and search engine.
Regardless of the kind of product, unique product descriptions always boost the ranking of the product and ultimately, the site, on search engine. Of course, this will be effective if the descriptions are SEO friendly.
An SEO friendly product description is such that talks about the main features and benefits of the product, as well as its practical use.
Every year, mobile penetration continues to grow globally. More people access the internet using their mobile devices and here is the catch – 78% of location-based mobile searches lead to purchase. This right here is the number one reason optimizing for mobile use is a crucial SEO strategy for eCommerce websites.
Also, Google has over the years maintained that they are switching to the mobile-first index. This means that for every query on Google, the search engine pays more attention to mobile-friendly sites than others.
If Google is prioritizing mobile experience, then every website, eCommerce especially, should also make it a priority. And considering the fact that most shoppers begin their shopping experience on Google, then it’s important for eCommerce websites to be mobile-friendly.
Effective Management of Out of Stock Products
Products can get out of stock. This is a normal phenomenon with all businesses. However, eCommerce site owners should never just delete a product or product category when it’s out of stock. This can hurt SEO efforts.
There are a number of ways to handle out of stock products but none involves abruptly deleting the product off the platform.
- The first way to go about this is leaving the page up with a message saying the product is out of stock. Then links to related products can be added redirecting visitors to similar products.
- The old page can be taken down with a 301 redirect to the most relevant page (new page, similar product or blog article on the old product). Any most relevant page that can effectively replace the old one can should be used.
Relevant and Unique URLs
An eCommerce website is expected to have as many products as possible. This means many pages and URLs.
Every URL on an eCommerce website should be unique, relevant and optimized for keyword. Some eCommerce websites use automatically generated URLs which often give URLs ending with long series of letters and numbers.
Though the numbers may be unique, they don’t tell search engines anything about the product. An example is having a product “yellow iPhone pouch”. The expected url would be something like www.domain/product-category/yellow-iphone-pouch-v5 and not www.domain/product-category/43564450640
Simple Site Architecture
Site architecture plays a very important role in SEO for eCommerce websites. eCommerce websites should have distinct hierarchy of navigation from homepage to product categories and then to the products. The experience has to be seamless for shoppers.
A well-structured internal linking of pages and products will enable search engine bots easily crawl the site. The internal linking should be easy to follow and should not be over-done.
Yes, internal linking can be over-done. Excess internal linking can lead to suspicion from Google bots that a site is into something shady.
The rule of thumb for eCommerce website owners is to ensure users can reach what they want within three clicks. The first click being from the homepage and down to the final click on the product.
eCommerce websites thrive more on localisation. Did you know that 55% of consumers prefer online shopping in their mother language? It goes without saying that localisation is at the heart of eCommerce today. Large stores like Amazon have specific websites dedicated to shoppers browsing from specific locations. Shoppers from Canada are automatically redirected to amazon.ca. Localisation in content, style and language give international buyers an online shopping experience that they can find relatable. The possibilities of who you can reach with a localized eCommerce site are endless. Considering that 74% of customers are likely to buy from an online store for a second time if the customer support is provided in their mother tongue, localisation is vital.
SEO may seem straightforward from afar. However, in reality it can be quite tedious as there are a lot of interlocking pieces that have to be observed and adjusted in order to get results. The process is even more challenging for eCommerce websites that get regularly updated with new products.
All of the above strategies will help eCommerce websites compete favourably with their competitors on search engines.
Meanwhile, there are some SEO strategies that are not peculiar to eCommerce websites. They are more like general SEO strategies. They include
- Keyword research
- Quality Backlinks
- Great contents
- Responsive websites
- Low bounce rate
- Competitor research
Finally, eCommerce websites should not focus on Google alone. While Google is the biggest and most known search engine, there are a couple of smaller search engines with reasonable market share. Optimizing for these search engines such as Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com among others gives an eCommerce website an edge on the platforms ahead of competitors.
These strategies are all going to help an eCommerce website attract more traffic, make more sales and ultimately, more profit. But that would depend largely on execution.