SEO Basics: Optimizing Your eCommerce Website

February 17, 2016 Farah Fathy

eCommerce businesses rely heavily on internet-based technologies and search engines to attract audiences, convert leads and close delighted customers. So it easy to see why these companies depend on search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and techniques to attract and convert targeted local and global audiences.

Monitor search engine rankings and test different strategies for off page and on page SEO like keywords, site navigation, CTAs, domain structure, localization and translation, content offerings, etc. to decide which ones will be most effective for your specific audience.

Below are some strategies and techniques to improve your eCommerce website's SEO.

Audience Research

GPI-SEO-ECOMMERCE-AUDIENCE

To successfully sell something to someone, you must know who that "someone" is. What factors about them will make them want to buy your product or service. Identifying their demographics (age, gender, location, language, etc.) is an obvious first step, but going deeper will help you determine how to attract them.

What content are they looking for that you can provide? Blogs, videos, articles? Where are they accessing their information? Forums, reviews, blogs, LinkedIn group discussions? How are they accessing their information? Laptops, desktops computers, mobile devices?

Once you discover who you are targeting and what types of information they are seeking, you can begin developing that content.

Keyword Research and Optimization

Once you know your audience you will better understand what keywords and phrases they use in search queries. Test different terms for each of your audiences to determine competition and search volumes.

Develop multiple keyword lists depending on your audiences. If you are targeting global audiences, create lists for each language and location you are targeting. A professional translation agency can provide you with a list of correctly localized keywords and phrases. Avoid directly translating your keywords and phrases with machine translation tools like Google translate.

Use specific, long-tail keywords, and optimize your website content with those phrases. For every page that you have in your website, you should optimize for one keyword phrase. The most important areas to place your keywords are: page title, headers, subheaders, product descriptions, image file names, image alt tags, Meta title and description, and URLs.

Site Structure and Internal Linking

Your website's structure and navigation are crucial, good architecture will affect your website's usability, rankings, and conversions. Create a sitemap and link to it from your homepage. This ensures that your users are never more than two pages away from what they are looking for, and that the search engines can spider every page on your site successfully.

Good internal linking can be enough to boost rankings for specific keywords. Make sure internal links have good anchor text when you link pages of your website to other pages within your website.

Usability

Ensure that your site is easy to use for customers and potential buyers, which will play a huge role in the Google ranking of your site. Unfortunately many site owners go wrong with this step as they create content.

Here are some usability tips to follow:

  • Design and write for customers and visitors first, and search engines second.
  • Never sacrifice usability for rankings.
  • Give direct access to information. Never bury it.
  • Focus on appropriate design techniques.

Mobile Optimization

Google rewards mobile optimized websites and consumers are shopping online with mobile devices more and more frequently. Consumer purchase behavior on mobile devices differs significantly from that seen with larger, static devices. Providing various interface elements including button groups spaced apart, dropdowns, thumbnails, alerts, less text, and progress bars can help your clients easily find information and complete purchases on their mobile devices.

Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets provide a small sample of a site's content on SERPs. They enhance your search listing, making it more attractive for users to click on and easier for search engines to extract information.

To install rich snippet for specific page:

  1. Get into your HTML of the page that you want rich snippets on.
  2. Add the microdata for the rich snippet.
  3. Test it works at Google Webmasters tools.

Translation and Localization

To effectively attract global audiences, you must produce content in your target audience's languages. Translation is not enough. Localization is required to convey the meaning of your message. Every item in your SEO and content strategy needs to be localized for each of your target languages and locales. Your audience research will help you determine how you will have to adapt your strategy to your target audiences. Partnering with a translation agency that is experienced and knowledgable in your markets around the world will make your global SEO efforts pay off.

Locale Specific Search Engines

It is easy to only consider Google when creating an SEO strategy. But Google isn't the top search engine in some markets. Baidu controls 70% of the search engine market in China, Yandex has 57% market share in Russia, and Naver has 49% in South Korea. If you are targeting locales where Google doesn't dominate the search engine market, it is essential to understand how SEO works for the leading search engine.

Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are optimizing your eCommerce website for Baidu, Yandex or Naver.

Baidu

  • Baidu prefers domains that use a .cn top level domain (TLD).
  • Due to China's bureaucratic governance and its censorship regime, all websites should apply for an Internet Content Publishing (ICP) license.
  • Baidu rewards websites hosted in China and penalizes websites hosted outside of China.
  • Baidu favors newer content over older content, so regularly create and publish new, fresh content.
  • China-based SEOs report that the Baidu crawlers are not as powerful as Google's, and recommend placing important keywords near the top of the page.

Naver

  • Naver's SERPs are split into different sections: Naver Encyclopaedia, Naver Knowledge, Naver Cafe, Naver Blog, websites, images, videos, maps and news.
  • To appear in Naver's search results, your website should be submitted to the search engine (https://submit.naver.com).
  • It is essential that all your content is in Korean.
  • Each webpage should have different meta content.
  • Naver puts more trust in websites that use Naver products and gives these sites a higher ranking.

Yandex

  • Yandex's index is only re-calculated a few times per month for static pages, and several times per day for blog posts, whereas Google constantly crawls and indexes content.
  • Create a sitemap to help Yandex index your content quicker.
  • Anchor text optimization is not important.
  • Heading tags are very important.
  • Russia has a few social media networks that are not popular outside of the country including: VK, mail.ru, and Odnoklassniki (OK), so be sure to include these in your social media strategies.

Conclusion

SEO for eCommerce is mandatory. You should focus on it to attract qualified leads to your website. SEO has to power to change the path of your customers.

Further Resources on Translation Service for eCommerce Companies

GPI has provided language translation services to eCommerce and e-retailer clients worldwide. In addition, GPI has developed a user-friendly Translation Services Portal that makes it extremely easy for non-technical users in the eCommerce arena to manage website, catalog and other eCommerce content translations projects.

To learn more, feel free to check out the below resources:

You may contact GPI at info@globalizationpartners.com or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about translations. You may also request a complimentary Translation Services Quote for your project as well.

About the Author

Farah Fathy

Farah is a native Arabic speaker born and resides in Cairo, Egypt. She received her degree in Commerce and English from Ain-Shams University studying marketing, management, economics and accounting. Her experience includes working in various specialties in global digital marketing with specific training in Link Building, Website Traffic Analysis, On-page Optimization and Off-page Optimization as well as standard Social Media Marketing. She is skilled in a variety of tools including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Light Room and SEO tools such as Google Keyword Planner, SeoMoz, Opensite Explorer, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. She enjoys playing sports such as swimming and basketball and loves to read in her spare time.

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