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Online shopping has become the default for consumers worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Many consumers were already shopping online long before the virus appeared. Those who only did so occasionally (especially during the holiday season) are doing this more often and for more products. 

If you’re supplementing your brick and mortar store with a new eCommerce site, you’re serving your customers well by providing them with another shopping avenue. However, eCommerce has never been so competitive as it is today. Powerful players have stepped up their online strategies, making it just that more difficult for newcomers and even old-timers to compete. 

Use Every Opportunity to Inject SEO in Product Pages

It used to be that nice images and a brief description were sufficient for eCommerce sites. They still help, of course, but most business owners need a power play to stand out online.

“Inject SEO techniques everywhere you can on a product page.”

ECommerce businesses like yours need to adopt SEO techniques everywhere they can on each product page. Your website’s SEO tools and compelling product descriptions can give your site a real boost in SERP (search engine result page) boosts.

Get Your Keywords In Order

Keywords are still critical to getting your content noticed by Google and other search engines and to improve search ranking. 

How up to date are your keywords? If you’re relying on single-use keywords, you probably aren’t getting much value because the big guys “own” most of them. For example, you can tell a person you selling facemasks, certainly a hot consumer item for 2020. But you can’t rely on the single keyword “facemasks” to boost your eCommerce site because Amazon and other large retailers own that one category.

Spend some time on your analytics page to see what search terms people used to find your site. If you’ve been selling the same product for some time, you could be surprised to see some new data. If you’re new to eCommerce, research long-tail keywords that provide more exacting descriptions of your products and help your product stand out from the competition. For example, facemask sellers might consider long tail keywords or phrases like these:

  • “patterned facemasks”
  • “colorful facemasks”
  • “tie dye facemasks”
  • “locally made facemasks” for local search

Finally, recognize that we’re in a new era as far as commerce goes because many people are on tighter budgets. Try to develop keywords and phrases that address product quality and durability. Consumers may not want to go cheap as much as they really want to assurance that they are getting a solid, well-made product.

Use Your Software’s SEO Tools

Do you know those “advanced options” your software shows? Many were created to boost SEO. You or your web person might have overlooked them in the past; now you should use them, especially since you have fresh new long-tail keywords. 

Legitimate SEO strengthens your content and helps you secure a higher ranking in searches. Here are some ways to get started.

  1. Add photo captions and alt text that include keywords. You already rely on photos to sell your products visually so why not add captions to endorse them? It can be a simple description or a review (in quotes) that stresses what customers have said about the product.

Alt text (also called alt attributes) was originally created to make sites friendlier to users with visual disabilities. It’s most often used to describe images out loud in addition to captions. Google and other search engines decided early on to include relevant images in its rankings and quickly added alt text to its algorithm. Good alt text (especially those that include long tail keywords) gives your SEO efforts a nice push.

  1. Make sure your site and especially photos work well on mobile. At least half of all shoppers are using mobile devices for online shopping and if anecdotes mean anything, tablets are making something of a comeback. Most software packages resize for mobile so don’t sweat this too much. But do make sure the photos you upload to your site are properly sized and formatted for mobile.
  1. Create meta tags and descriptions for product pages. This is where the Yoast SEO plugin tool is so helpful. It has a strong association with WordPress and WooCommerce, but works on other open source platforms including Magento 2, Drupal, TYPO3, and Neos CMS. 

Meta tags are snippets that appear in a page’s source code to summarize content. Different types of meta tags include title tags (very important), descriptions, and images – but not keywords. Most website software will auto-generate title and descriptive tags but it’s often a good idea to customize them. 

  • Yoast’s free plugin will evaluate your original content and coach you to use keyword phrases, stay within character limits, and offer other SEO advice to help your page’s search performance. 
  • Its paid eCommerce plugin has tools that tell search engines specific information about products such as the brand name and manufacturer (two common keywords used in search), offers breadcrumbs that can be better configured to attract search engines, and supports Facebook and Pinterest pages.
  1. Add keywords to URLs. Most website software defaults to reflect page names which may not always be useful for product page URLs. Create your own URLS that include a keyword or phrase. Keep URLs short and remove stop words.

Update Your Product Descriptions with Long Tail Keywords 

Product content should be reasonably brief and highlight a product’s strong points – in other words, use your long-tail keywords. Content should echo your keyword research so that it answers customers’ desires and explains how your product benefits them. 

At the same time, you have to avoid content that reads like marketing brochures or forces in keywords. You want it to flow naturally and feel conversational. This can be tricky if you don’t enjoy writing or it is not your strength. Consider hiring a writer to create your content or coach you on how to approach long-tail usage.

Here are some other writing tips to keep in mind:

  • Your content must be original. Don’t copy content from other sites or rely on manufacturers’ descriptions – that can earn a penalty for spammy or repetitive content. Original, relevant content always works well.
  • If you sell variations on the same product, try to create unique descriptions. If you can’t do this or do it right away, use a nofollow or noindex tag to prevent search engines from crawling these pages until you can create fresh content. 
  • Make sure your content agrees with page titles and snippets. Misleading content can earn a spam penalty. At best, it results in high bounce rates, too.
  • Follow standard grammar rules and proofread. Search engines use pretty sophisticated AI tools that recognize poorly written content and generally pass over these pages unless they’re so niche that there’s little else to recommend. 

The world has changed a lot in the past months, even online. Feel free to contact us with questions about adding SEO tools for your eCommerce product pages to help you garner that valuable SEO! 

Cody Landefeld

co-founder at Mode Effect. ECommerce consultant. Coram deo.

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