Businesses are often looking to refresh their eCommerce site or digital ecosystem by changing the “look and feel” of the design. The truth is that many other aspects need to be taken into consideration to drive significant traffic and sales before launching. A new site eCommerce provides a significant opportunity to capture new organic traffic. Implementing a 3-point Search Engine Optimization (SEO) checklist before launch will make your site much more accessible from the beginning and provide a framework to optimize for more traffic and growth over time.
1. Build your XML Sitemap(s)
XML stands for “Extensible Markup Language,” lists all the URLs that make up a website, and maps out how the site is structured. Crawlers are used by search engines to index your website and organize its information. Having a Sitemap makes it easier for the crawler to process page data efficiently and quickly and online tools like Episerver easily allow you to create and manage your sitemap directly.
Once created, the sitemap can be at yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. Also, don’t forget to add the sitemap (s) into the Robots.txt file located at yourdomain.com/robots.txt.
If you have an extensive catalog, you can create separate sitemaps for product detail pages vs. content pages.
- Content pages sitemap:
- Include only working pages
- Include only pages that need to be indexed, and you want to be found by web crawlers
- Include Category/Product Listing pages with only the essential facets applied
- Products pages sitemap:
- Include only available products
- Do not include variants
Creating separate sitemaps for images (content and product images) enables crawlers to understand the image structure better, ranking higher search results.
2. Create search-engine-friendly metadata
Metadata stands for “data that provides information about other data” and its purpose is to help users find relevant information and discover resources, through a search by relevant criteria. Optimize your eCommerce site for SEO by writing metadata that will attract search engines.
Meta Title & URLs
The meta title is the title on the search engine results page, so it’s important to make the message clear and clickable. Every page of the site should have a unique title tag shorter than 60 characters to prevent getting cut off in search results.
Use short self-explanatory URLs when building pages that also include the target keyword. If users can’t read or understand your URL, then search engines may be confused as well, for example, use www.yourdomain.com/target-keyword instead of www.yourdomain.com/2334905.
Meta Description & Keywords
The meta description is the first section that people see when Google serves up your page to search users. Additionally, the relevance of the page for certain searched keywords is also determined by the meta description. To boost click-through rates (CTRs), always use meta descriptions. Keep the text under 160 characters so that the full description appears in search results and avoid duplicated meta descriptions. Add target keywords to the first 100 words of your article for an even bigger SEO boost
Add descriptive alt tags to help search engines understand your images. When users are looking for a picture, they search for keywords. Therefore, it’s important to include target keywords in image filenames and alternate texts. The key thing is to keep the description short and self-explanatory. Accessibility ADA compliance tools also check for alternate text length.
Leverage H1 and H2 tags to build a clear page structure. H1’s act as a wrapper for the title of the page and are displayed in search results if the page does not have a meta title. Having your keyword in the H1 helps to reinforce that the visitor is in the right place. It makes it clear that your content tackles the topic they likely Googled before arriving on your page. People will often link to your page using the title, thus including your keyword in the H1 will increase your chance of receiving links with your target keyword in the anchor text. The H2 tag helps define a more explicit page structure (especially for blog articles).
3. Increase Organic Traffic Using Schemas
The purpose of schemas is to mark up website content with metadata about itself. Search engine spiders and other parsers can recognize such markup, thus, granting access to the meaning of the sites (structured data on their web pages for use by search engines and other applications). On-page markup helps search engines understand the information on web pages and provide more relevant search results. Here are some must-haves when implementing Schemas on a website.
Products – Adding markup to product pages will allow Google to provide detailed product information in rich Search results — including Google Images. Users can see the product price, availability, and review ratings right on Search results, attracting potential buyers. Maintain the accuracy and freshness of product information, so your customers find the relevant, current items.