SEO for Ecommerce Sites

What is Different for SEO with E-commerce Sites

E-commerce sites require a little different SEO strategy over a normal business or informational website.  E-commerce sites have a vast number of pages thanks to the category / sub category / product like structure and opens the ability to rank for a huge range of keywords when done properly.

First of all ecommerce sites typically have a very clear hierarchy (home page, category page, sub category page, product page).  This hierarchy has to be evaluated to make sure it’s not too shallow and not too deep.  Having it too shallow will cause navigation issues for humans and having it too deep will make a large number of your category and product pages too weak to rank.

A second hurdle is which platform you are using.  Most ecommerce platforms are SEO friendly but there are still some platforms that sadly aren’t that great for SEO, Open Cart is one example that doesn’t come with standard SEO friendly URLs.  As well having an SSL certificate and a PCI Complaint check out is a must.

But the biggest area most ecommerce sites tend to fall short is content.  Google loves content and now requires a minimum of 500 words on a page. The problem is writing 500 words about a product or category isn’t always possible so it’s always a challenge to ensure your ecommerce site also has enough content. This is where the naming of products and having product overviews become important.

Future SEO Hurdles for E-commerce Sites

Open source carts in general are still accepted by Google but it won’t be surprising if sometime in the near future Google will start giving preference to carts on secure and PCI compliant platforms given their increasing updates number of updates around good code and trusted content.  In the long run opting for a hosted solution (i.e Big Commerce, Volusion, Shopify) will more than likely end up giving you an advantage in SEO.

Things to Consider When Hiring an SEO Company for E-commerce Results

  1. Most ecommerce sites won’t just be for the local Toronto area or the GTA.  Consider what areas you wish to target.  Do you want all of Canada or do you want North America or even global results.  Be sure of what countries or areas you wish to target.  In some cases it may be too competitive if your domain name is new or under a year or two old.  Don’t be surprised to be told something may have to be a long term goal of 1-2 years to see results.
  2. Make sure they are familiar with your platform and if they know of any SEO short-comings for that platform.
  3. Make sure they have garnered results with ecommerce sites for a range of keywords (i.e. not just the home page). Don’t be afraid to ask for examples that show they have rankings for a few different categories.
  4. Make sure they can work with you to find the best categories and keywords to target first.  If you site has several categories of products, not everyone has the budget to optimize them all at once but with good keyword research you can optimize the best keywords first (best might not always be the highest searched, it can also include ones you can rank for faster to get more immediate traffic, or it could include categories you know sell well and convert buyers faster).  Your keyword research should be a collaboration with your SEO company to make sure the best keywords are optimized first with a plan to optimize more later once you have the budget for it.

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