How to Design an SEO Friendly eCommerce Website in 2020: Guide

eCommerce Jul 21, 2020

Who wants to end up on the first page of Google search results?

Everyone does.

And everyone is a lot of competition.

Luckily, there are tricks to use, that can prompt any business to get a share of that coveted first-page customer attention.

In 2020 there is no way to get to the first page of search engines sustainably without SEO.  Search Engine Optimization is a relatively new science which, if implemented correctly, can propel an obscure business to riches sooner rather than later. But if ignored, it can mean the demise of an already flourishing concept.

This informative guide on how to do SEO for eCommerce websites comes from the Zoolatech team, who earn their living by developing hi-profile custom eCommerce solutions.

So you might as well soak in a few of these empirically-driven gems of SEO wisdom.

This Is Why SEO For eCommerce Matters

Here are a few SEO statistics in case page one of Google sounds too obscure:

  • 67.7% of all traffic heads to the first 5 organic results. That’s 2 out of 3.
  • 91% of all pages NEVER get any organic traffic from Google.
  • 70% of marketing professionals find Search Engine Optimization more effective than Pay Per Click strategy.
  • Number one organic results get an enviable 37% click through rate or CTR.
  • Each spot up on the Google search results improves CTR by 30.8%.

Features of SEO-Friendly Sites

High-quality backlinks

In contrast, the low-quality, spammy ones can get your eCommerce website penalized by downgraded search results. Ooops.

Backlinks are a signal for Google that your website is popular and can be trusted.

They can be DoFollow & NoFollow, genuine & commercial (marked with “advertisement” or “promoted content”). All of those factors, alongside the domain authority of the referring website, are taken into account by Google algorithms.

High-quality content

Just like backlinks, high-quality content is a major parameter when it comes to a search engine’s ranking algorithm.

Fun fact: the average length of the first piece of content in google search contains 2416 words. Keep in mind that bounce rate is another important ranking factor because content has to be highly engaging as well as complete and authentic.

Domain authority

When it comes to domain authority, that’s got a formula of its own, with factors like domain age, traffic, bounce rate & backlink power.

For best results, your own eCommerce website needs to have high authority, as do those other sites linking to your content.

Page loading time

For eCommerce, this is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge factor.

40% of users have the patience to wait only under 3 seconds. They leave if you make them wait any longer.

Just one second of page delay translates into a 7% decrease in conversion.

Backlinco.com SEO overview in Ubersuggest

Steps To Build An SEO Friendly eCommerce Website

CMS Platform Selection: Food For Thought

Some Content Management Systems (CMSs) are designed for blogging, others for eCommerce. The choice of CMS is a vital starting point for any eCommerce website development process.

It affects:

  1. the cost of the CMS solution itself, as well as the cost of development (some are really complex and have scarce talent to deal with it, which raises the price tag)
  2. features that your website will be stuffed with
  3. design possibilities, as many of the CMSs come with templates & themes that are ready to use.
  4. Google rankings (some CMSs, like WordPress, have been around for ages and Google understands them best, while it needs time to fully comprehend the newer market additions).

The plug-in market that surrounds some of the more authoritative CMSs is more developed.

https://www.shopify.com/online

Choose Reliable Hosting

Hosting providers as well as the choice of a hosting package mean a lot. They will affect your loading speed and downtime – which is crucial in eCommerce.

Research and then research some more. Make your choice thereafter. There are no gains to be made by saving costs on hosting. Cheap hosting will surely bring damage though.

The Right Site Architecture: The Rule of 2”Ses”: Simple & Scalable

In the best-case scenario, your website doesn’t have a single URL with more than 5 slashes (bear in mind that two of them come right after the https:).

https://www.Company/Category/Subcategory/Product

This is a site map architecture that is both simple and scalable. Thus it's Google's favorite, in fact.

Your user should never be more than 3 clicks away from your homepage.

Ensure On-Page Optimization

On-Page SEO is an overwhelming topic that needs to be mastered. In this piece, let’s review some of the most fundamental principles so you are inspired to dig further.

Title & description tags

Title & description tags are a science unto themselves. The more popular your page is, the more important it is that you spend time thinking of the best title and descriptions tags for the page. Using words like "%off", "Deal", "Buy" is a great idea to boost your CTR.

Content length

Ideally, any page on your website will contain 2000 words, or at least 1000 words. The more the better, with 2000 words being the current optimal length that has the best chances of winding up on the first page of search engine results.

Make sure to use keywords 3-5 times per every 1000 words of content.

Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile-first design is the new default setting for retail website development, especially so for eCommerce. There’s nothing to discuss and there’s no persuading. If you are in eCommerce, your online store has to be fully mobile- responsive.

Perform an SEO Audit

There are a few ways to perform an SEO audit. While beginners may be tempted to DIY it, the bigger players (and those aiming to become bigger sooner rather than later), should outsource it to professionals.

  • Quicksprout shares a useful set of files with its article on the eCommerce SEO checklist.
  • If you are looking for a quick overview of major mistakes, BigCommerce’s under 40 minutes SEO checklist will be useful.
  • But if you feel like you are ready to deep-dive into the process, Alexa's comprehensive step-by-step manual will come handy. BTW, they offer a free trial, so make sure you set aside some time for this process before it expires.Ahrefs offers a quick video on performing a crucial ‘technical errors’ search engine optimization audit that we find useful.
A Basic (Yet Powerful) Technical SEO Audit for Beginners

Once you reach the stage of having a few hundred bucks for a proper professional SEO audit, make sure to find an agency with great user cases and pay them to inspect your website and clean up all mistakes.

Site audit recommendations dashboard in Ubersuggest

SEO-Friendly eCommerce CMSs

If you are looking for an eCommerce platform with the best SEO features, it's got to be one on this shortlist of 5 major players:

Shopify

3dcart

Bigcommerce

Magento

Squarespace

Which one is the best eCommerce platform in 2020? We leave this decision to you. If you are not into reading much, this 12-minute overview might give you an idea of where to start.

Shopify vs Woocommerce vs SquareSpace vs Wix vs Amazon vs Bigcommerce vs Etsy vs BigCartel + More

eCommerce SEO Best Practices

The following SEO activities for eCommerce websites will help digital entrepreneurs drive more quality traffic to their online stores and convert more leads.

Start With a Strategy

When you want to drive from point A to point B, you just type the name of point B in your Google Maps, tap "Directions" and drive along accordingly.

Otherwise, chances are you will spend too much time and gas driving around aimlessly.  

You need to know where it is you want to end up at the end of your SEO journey. Sit down and make an effort to come up with a strategy for every leg of the process.

Including the following points in your strategy will help produce a clear picture of the plan:

  1. Choice of SEO vendor & RFP collection from shortlisted agencies
  2. Design / Review of site map & website architecture
  3. Review of technical SEO for eCommerce
  4. On-page SEO for eCommerce websites (top pages, if too many).
  5. Content marketing strategy & budgets, review of vendors
  6. eCommerce link building plan, budgets & vendors
  7. Keyword review & optimization plan

All of these pieces of the puzzle need to find their place in light of financial and time limits. At the end of the strategy session, you also need to know your priorities: which of the available levers bring the highest ROI in the shortest time, and which of them you can implement later?

Deep-Dive Into SEO: Locally, Globally, Within Your Niche and Beyond

For best results, you need to become a bit of an SEO geek yourself at the end of the day. It may sound excessive for a big boss to know all the details of the SEO craft, but the truth is: 1. You won’t anyway, 2. This knowledge will bring you monetary rewards sooner rather than later.

  1. Research the SEO topic. (Niel Patel, Backlinco, Ahrefs, MOZ are the names you might want to check out for a few videos and texts).
  2. Armed with an understanding of fundamental principles of Search Engine Optimization, request an SEO audit for one of your competitors. (If your budget is tight, you can find cheap labor in groups where beginners are willing to do a job for the sake of growing their skills).
  3. Launch a DIY SEO audit with the help of two eCommerce SEO checklists, sourced from two different companies.
  4. Research a reliable vendor with an impressive portfolio.
  5. Research & provide your chosen vendor with references you find across the web that you liked in terms of search engine optimization.

Understand User Journey

If you know your user, you can optimize your keywords and your content, choose the right tags, and select the most appropriate resources for your backlinks.

That’s a lot of useful points on SEO for eCommerce websites.

Is it Millennials? Gen X? Do they binge-watch Flack? Are they GOT fans? Do they read Forbes? Do they own 2.4 cars per household? Do they start their day with TikTok? Do they travel by car, or are they trying to minimize their environmental footprint?

If you walk in your client’s shoes via a thoroughly compiled customer journey and user persona, you will be able to address their pain points better, resonate with them more, and increase brand loyalty without much effort.

Keywords Choice & Scattering

Keywords belong to the title tag, description, H1, H2, product page, reviews, and blog articles.

Ensure you are not spamming with keywords but they all make perfect sense in context and appear 3-5 times per 1000 words.

Invest In High-Quality Content

Use Google Console to discover your most frequently clicked keywords and articles. Keep optimizing the ones that work and the ones that need a little push to work better. Then focus on the high-margin ones that don’t work at all.

As we mentioned, 2000 words is the optimal word count for any page on Google that has the ambition to be featured on top of search results. Keep the spam rate low and relevance and authenticity high.

If a product description is hard to expand into 2000 words, add reviews, manuals, and descriptions of fabric and materials from the manufacturer.

It’s a wild, wild West in the world of backlinks. But this fight is the one so worth taking up, as it yields the best rewards.

You can do it via the old school PR-type of outreach. You can use the Moving Man Method, or you could even resort to buying links from authoritative websites, using services like PRnews.io.

Work On Your Social Media Engagement

Social media is huge. Google gets that.

The company must have noticed when its advertising revenues started melting away. But Google is all about users anyway. So it knows that social media business page activity is important. It’s now part of the algorithms.

Keep your social media presence active.

Better still: keep it popular.

The best scenario: make it viral.

Zoolatech Knows How To Build an eCommerce Website

If you loved our eCommerce SEO tips, if you think we know a thing or two about eCommerce SEO best practices, if you are looking to put your online store on Search Engine Optimization steroids, and if you need to develop an eCommerce website from scratch in a way that allows it to grow Google rankings fast, well then….

Zoolatech is a full-cycle software development company that specializes in custom eCommerce development. Each website we design or enhance has a thoroughly planned architecture with a shallow but well-expanded menu that is both user-friendly and search engine friendly.

Ask us how your website can go to 1st page Google heaven.

We know how. Let's discuss it. You will be pleasantly surprised by our offer.

Zoolatech Team

We are a team of technology addicts eager to transform our clients’ needs into efficient and innovative solutions through high-quality service and reliable customer support.