According to a research by Forrester about 90% of all web traffic originate from search engines and organic search contributes 51% of traffic to B2B and B2C websites. Scary? No, this is actually a good thing because this means you can get lots of free traffic. But you can only tap into this “free traffic” if you get one thing right: SEO.
When I first heard about SEO, I thought it was rocket science and it involved a lot of work to get it right. The fundamentals of SEO is easy. If you understand the basic nuances of SEO you can easily create and implement an effective SEO strategy.
So, What is SEO?
Search engine optimization I will say, is the art & science of optimizing websites so that they show up on the first pages of search engines for specific keywords. As a BigCommerce merchant, it is very important that your product pages rank high and show up on the first pages of major search engines.
I know your next question is, what do I optimize? Hold your horses, before we get into how to optimize your store for SEO. Let’s first analyze the anatomy of a search result (snippet). I will be using Google in my examples:
The keyword is the search term you enter into the search box of any search engine.
The results from any search engine is a bunch of page titles and meta-descriptions., This is why page titles and meta descriptions are one of the key things in SEO.
How to Optimize your Titles & Meta-descriptions
Your titles are key to the ranking of your product pages and should include the name of the product. Your titles should have the following attributes:
- Length: The length of your title should be between 50 - 60 characters. Search engines will cut off your titles and show an ellipsis to signify that the title is too long. Keep your titles short to enable customers get the full message.
- Keywords: Your titles should include the keywords you want to rank for and should be placed at the front of your title tags. This will not only help increase your ranking but also improve your click-through-rate.
- Store/Brand name: If your store is popular and has a lot of brand equity you can include your store/brand name at the first portion of the title tag. If you are selling online for the first time you can include your store/brand name at the end of the title tag.
Here is an example: “Premium Lady Bags at Affordable Prices | LadyBag Boutique” OR “LadyBag Boutique | Premium Lady Bags at Affordable Prices”
Although meta-descriptions are no longer a ranking factor, you definitely have to follow optimization guidelines when writing them. To optimize your meta-descriptions, craft convincing product descriptions that contain the keywords you are targeting. Most shoppers find what they are looking for by searching with long-tail Keywords (eg: affordable mountain climbing shoes to buy), keep this in mind when crafting your descriptions.
Search engines do not like duplicate content, hence, always remember to give each page a unique meta-description. Meta-descriptions should:
- Have a length between 150 - 160 characters.
- Contain you target keywords.
Optimizing “Titles” & “Descriptions” for SEO in BigCommerce
Optimizing Titles & Descriptions for Home Page
Follow these steps to edit and optimize the title and meta description for your Home Page.
- Go to Store Setup > Store settings
2. Scroll down to the “Search Engine Optimization” section and put in your title and meta descriptions.
Optimizing Titles & Descriptions for Categories
Follow these steps to edit and optimize the title and meta description for your categories.
- Go to Products > Product Categories
2. Under product categories, click the action icon for the category you want to edit and click on edit.
3. Under “Edit Category” scroll down to “Search engine optimization” and input your title and meta-description.
Optimizing Titles & Descriptions for Product Pages
Follow these steps to edit and optimize the title and meta description for your product pages.
- Click on Products > Add/View
2. Click on the “other details” tab then scroll down to the “search engine optimization section and input your title and meta-description.
Optimizing Product Pages for SEO in BigCommerce
You must put in careful thought when coming up with your product names and descriptions. First, you must understand how shoppers in your niche search for products; some shoppers may search by model number, color, brand name etc, you can determine this by conducting keyword research.
In the process of conducting keyword research and finding your target audience you will uncover long-tail keywords that are used in your target niche. Knowing this will help give you an idea about how to craft the content on your product page.
Craft unique product descriptions.
Sometimes online merchants, especially dropshippers fall into the trap of using product descriptions from the manufacturer. These descriptions are most often than not used by many merchants. This can greatly hurt your SEO. Search engines do not like duplicate content and they will try to credit the original content creator with the SEO juice. Don’t copy & paste the product description from the manufacturer, craft your own and this will impact your SEO positively.
Include additional content
Certain products tend to have short descriptions and can be supplemented with How-to’s, product guides, reviews and FAQs. This additional content should contain variations of the long-tail keywords from your research.
Generating quality content requires great effort; doing it right can make you stand out in your niche. Writing quality content about your niche will provide additional value to your target audience which will drive traffic and go a long way to improve your SEO.
Most of your content should not be crafted in a way that sounds too salesy, but should be approached with the intention of helping your audience achieve something by providing them with the right information.
When your target audience identifies your brand as a credible source of quality information, that perception will automatically be transferred to your products and store. Track your readers with tracking codes such as Facebook pixel and retarget specific content readers with specific products.
For example, if you sell baby clothing and accessories, you can put up a blog about “What to do when your baby catches a cold”. In the blog you can talk about using a Nasal Aspirator to clear a baby's nose. You can then retarget readers with a Nasal Aspirator if you sell one.
Guest blogging on authoritative websites can also help you generate backlinks to your store which will pass down SEO juice to you and help you increase your ranking. Getting other reputable sites to link back to your store can be a daunting task but if done well will significantly improve your SEO and ranking.
Always remember to keep your content fresh and up to date by regularly updating.
Images & “ALT” Tags
“A picture is worth a thousand words” but in this case, it’s worth thousands of traffic & customers. Quality product images can increase conversions and reduce your bounce rate.
It is in our nature as humans to see, touch and smell something before we buy it. Touch and smell cannot be implemented online, hence, you must put in effort to make your products come alive with quality images. Your images should be clear and every detail visible.
You can use images that are in context of its intended use. If you are selling a couch you can use an image with someone sitting comfortably in one.
If you are selling earrings or necklaces you can use an image with someone wearing it.
Do not show only a single image, use alternate & detailed images of your product.
Show different angles and detailed sections of your products, implementing a zoom feature can also help your visitors engage with your product images.
Doing this will help improve visitor engagement, reduce your bounce rate and increase conversions.
Now let’s talk about the SEO bit of product images. Search engines cannot view images - so how do search engines know what an image contains? Search engines leverage ALT text to identify and tag images, this is why you should add ALT text or image descriptions to your product images.
Add keywords to your ALT text but make sure not to make it complex, simply write the content of the image and use keywords appropriately. Do not stuff your Alt text with keywords. Keyword stuffing is wrong.
In BigCommerce ALT text are referred to as image descriptions and you can simply add an image description after uploading an image. Here are the benefits of image descriptions:
- Enables search engines understand the contents on your website
- Broken links are replaced with image descriptions for better user-experience
- Helps your product images to rank higher for image searches
- Enables software to tell visually impaired visitors what contents are in the image
User Generated Content (UGC) in the form of product reviews not only help increase conversions but they also help boost your SEO. Encouraging your buyers to leave product reviews after purchase helps keep your site “fresh” because buyers keep on generating fresh and relevant content for your site - search engines love this.
Product reviews does not only help power word of mouth and increase customer trust but also it positively impacts your SEO in many ways which includes:
- Product reviews helps your store rank for long-tail keywords
- Helps boost social SEO
- And helps you to effortlessly build links with the help of your customers
In BigCommerce you can use the in-built review system to collect, manage and display reviews, but for more power and functionality you can use one of the 3rd party apps in the app store. One review app that stands out due to its affordability and capabilities is Kudobuzz review.
With Kudobuzz reviews, Rich Snippet is enabled to optimize your reviews for search engines which in turn improves your rankings in search results. With Kudobuzz review, you can automatically share your 5-star reviews on social media in order to generate more leads. Kudobuzz reviews also gives you the option to choose from a range of review widget options and collect social reviews.
*Read about Rich Snippets under Advanced SEO tactics
Advanced SEO Tactics
Create a site map
A site map is an XML list of all the URLs on your site, it tells search engines about your site’s structure and content. Search engines use the sitemap as a guide to index the pages available on your website. The site map also contains information about each page such as when it was created and the last time it was modified. Including a sitemap on your store/website will help speed up the indexing process done by search engines such as Google.
BigCommerce automatically creates a sitemap for every store. All you need to do is to create a Google console account and submit your sitemap for verification.
Follow these steps to submit:
- Log in to your Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)
- Click your website, click the sitemaps bar at right side of the screen
- Click on the Add/Test sitemap button
- Input “xmlsitemap.php” into the blank box and then click the submit sitemap button
- A success message will appear telling you that your sitemap has been submitted successfully
A Rich Snippet is a search result that contains other key information that are relevant to your site and are also key information that the user needs.
Rich snippets have many advantages which includes but not limited to:
- Rich snippets are a way to quickly give customers the information they need.
- They make you stand out and increase your click through rate (CTR)
- They tell the customer what to expect, hence this improves your bounce rate
To implement Rich Snippets on your BigCommerce store, you will have to write some <code/>.
RDFa, Microdata and Microformats are the 3 different ways to implement rich snippets. Google recommends using Microdata.
There are apps that can enable rich snippets on your store by injecting additional code into your site. One app that does that well is Kudobuzz reviews which enables rich snippets for your reviews.
If you know what you are doing, you can follow this guide to manually add Micro-data to your store.
In 2017, mobile contributed about 60% of all ecommerce traffic and 40% of mobile visitors will go to a competitor if they receive a bad mobile experience. In this modern era of smartphones and tablets, if your eCommerce store is not optimized for mobile then you are losing tons of money.
Due to mobile and tablets being an everyday tool used to visit websites, Google now gives a lot preference to websites that are mobile responsive. You can use this tool from Google to check if your online store is mobile friendly. BigCommerce stencil themes are mobile friendly and responsive.
40% of visitors abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Improving the loading speed of your pages will not only help you increase conversions but also improve your SEO.
You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool to analyse the speed of the pages on your store.
The modern landscape of marketing has drastically changed due to the advancement of digital technology. For now, SEO remains one of the greatest strategies for every modern marketer and business owner, hence, to understand and utilize it, will put you 2 steps ahead of the competition.