Ecommerce SEO 2015 – 3 important steps

by Jim January 28, 2015

I’ve banged on about ecommerce SEO  and it’s unique challenge for retailers over the years. I’ve also highlighted some of the major issues with trying to SEO on popular ecommerce CMS like bigcommerce and opencart . Over this time the way do SEO for ecommerce sites has evolved significantly. Like everything we do at StewArtMedia, we put it down into a process and I wanted to share with you the three main areas you should be working on if you are a retailer.

Step 1 – SEO Housekeeping

SEO housekeeping is all about the fundamentals. It’s about having the right structures in place to ensure you are working from a solid foundation. We do this for all sites but ecommerce systems have their own set of challenges. The best place to start is inside webmaster tools. I’m constantly surprised how many businesses do not set this up. A few years back we did some work for one of the world’s biggest companies (sorry can’t tell you who it was here for contractual reasons). They were paranoid about giving us access to webmaster tools as they did not want to “hand that information to Google” . I had to explain to several of their lawyers around the world that we were handing Google nothing they already had all this information, we just wanted access to it! Webmaster tools will tell you what Google thinks fo your site. Specific areas to focus on for ecommerce include;

Search Appearance

  • Make sure you check under HTML improvements for tell tale signs of internal duplicate content. (Don’t forget our webinar tomorrow on this important subject)  If you do have lots of duplication you will see multiple pages listed under hereEcommerce SEO, Check for signs of duplication
  • Structured Data – If you are a retailer you need to have this implemented so Google can display things like price, size etc in the search results. It not only helps the user but it tells Google more about your products

Site Messages

  • This is where Google will tell you about major issues about your site. Thinks like manual penalties, downtime, spikes in errors etc will be reported here.


Search Traffic

  • For starters make sure you don’t have any manual actions!
  • If you are targeting mobile users (you should be) the mobile usability area is where you will find issues that Google is seeing that will affect mobile users. If you ignore this you could lose your ranking in mobile search as I reported last week. 
ecommerce seo search trafffic
Check here for SEO manual actions and SEO mobile issues

Google Index

  • The index status is one of the first things I check with an ecommerce site. Typically they are all over the place. Up and down like a slinky on a pogo stick. Usually they also have way too many pages indexed which is another sign of duplication and quite possibly a lot of 404 errors.  Where you see the graph flatten out below is where we had finished removing errors and duplication.

    ecommerce seo google index
    Fixing the index for ecommerce sitesCrawl


  • Really everything under here is important – Crawl errors – fix them all
  • Crawl stats – get your page load times under a second
  • Sitemaps – make sure you have one or several depending on the structure of your site and that they are free of errors.
ecommerce seo crawl stats
Pay attention to page load speed for SEO


Step 2 – Target Pages

Step 1 may take you a few months to implement everything depending on the size and type of site you have. Google will need to recrawl everything before you see any impact on your rankings. Make sure you are monitoring your key phrase rankings during this time so you can measure the effectives of your work. In Step 2 the on page SEO begins.

Short Tail Target Grouping

You may have several broad “short tail” generic phrases that you want to be found for. Make sure you know which page you want your users to find for a specific key word group search. Optimise them like we have described before. 

SEO For Product Pages

Every product page should be optimised. Page titles, URLs, Headings, file names, alt tags, captions & supportive links. If a vision impaired person wanted to understand your product page would their screen reader software make sense of it for them?

Step 3 – Content Strategy

As my good mate Trevor Young has told me in the past; You need to become the publisher. I can show multiple instances this year of how we have doubled and in some cases tripled clients SEO traffic from Google simply by having a great content strategy. Watch this interview I did with Trevor about content marketing

Don’t forget our webinar tomorrow on the Stealing Stealers That Steal Your Stuff! – All about content duplication

Jim’s been here for a while, you know who he is.

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