With over 35% of online purchases starting with a Google search, it’s vital to have a well thought out SEO (search engine optimisation) plan. Getting to the top of search rankings can be a lot of work – but for ecommerce retailers that are dependent on conversions, it’s essential.

A report by Searchmetrics – ecommerce Ranking Factors 2017 – reveals details about the different practices needed for a non-transactional website and an ecommerce site. Some of the more important points are below.

Speed is everything

An ecommerce website with a two-second delay in site load time results in abandonment rates of up to 87% meaning site loading times are one of the most important factors when developing any website, not just ecommerce websites.

In general ecommerce websites are over 30% larger than other sites due to the increase in information on products and their associated imagery. This means speed of loading must be prioritised.

Ways of increasing the page speed include:

Minimise HTTP Requests

An HTTP request is made when downloading the different pieces of the page including images, stylesheets, scripts, etc. The more elements that are downloaded, the more requests are made. Reducing this number helps to speed up the page.

Enable compression

Compression reduces the bandwidth of your pages, thereby reducing HTTP response times.

Optimising your images

Oversized images take longer to load, so it’s important that you keep your images as small as possible. Reducing the file size of images is a great way to reduce the overall page size of the site.

Optimise Style Sheet Delivery

CSS (cascading style sheet) defines the style requirements for your site. The best way to deliver these are via style sheets and not inline styling. Look to combine your CSS into a single style sheet where possible.

Interactive Elements

High-ranking ecommerce pages have a 40% higher number of interactive elements on their pages compared to other high-ranking sites.

This is about creating engagement with the site, keeping visitors involved to guide them comfortably and intuitively through the investigation and purchasing processes.

Introducing elements such as mega menus, clear calls to action, carousels, galleries, and guided processes are all ways to increase the interactivity of a site to keep the visitor engaged.

Increase your internal links

Backlinks to your site or category pages does help raise your rankings, but the importance of internal links should not be overlooked.

Ecommerce websites have over 70% more internal links than other websites.

An easily navigable site with menus, product categories  and a high number of product pages will inevitably lead to a page having a high number of internal links.

This should be about creating a better user experience and guiding your customers through the process, and not just increasing the quantity, but the quality.

Online stores above the fold

Google top 20 search results for ecommerce shows that well over half of ecommerce pages have an online store that is above the fold, this is more than double the overall average.

Search engines such as Google will place more prominence on content that is above the fold. This is also however about providing visitors about your products as quickly as possible without them even having to engage with your site.

Improving your content and word count

On average ecommerce websites have a 25% higher word count than non-transactional websites indicating.

The content that’s created for each product and product category needs to provide customers with as much information as possible. Sizing guides, specification information, care instructions, features and benefits all need be present in an easily digestible format.

The content created needs to be representative of the product, service or category it’s describing, while including key short and long tail search terms without over stuffing the content.

Structure your content

It’s important to present your information about products and services in an easily digestible format for your customers.

This means presenting key information with defined titles, detailed bulleted lists, clear and concise content areas and informative signposts.

Ecommerce sites which clearly structured their content, rather than having walls of copy, increased conversion by over 60%.

Video isn’t always important

The use of video content is growing all the time. However for ecommerce sites it’s not as important in the transaction process or in the improvement of your SEO.

For ecommerce sites, only 35% of pages in the top 10 have embedded videos.

The focus for online retailers should be traditional content on the website. However video content is great to use on your social channels to highlight certain features of a product, or the unboxing or review of a product with links back to the website.

What does this mean for you?

Small changes to your site can have big impact on performance.

Creating a simple process for a customer landing on your site, finding product information and then converting are your main objectives. You should provide clear and concise product information in a structured format while optimising the site to respond rapidly.

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