How I’m brushing up on my ecommerce SEO

How I’m brushing up on my ecommerce SEO

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You know those fixed-term savings accounts you get at high street banks? You pay in your money, promise not to touch it for 12 months, and in a year you can buy yourself a coffee with the interest you’ve earned.

That’s not what ecommerce SEO is like, but I sort of get why some people treat it that way.

For a lot of ecommerce businesses, the amount of resources tied up in improving SEO doesn’t seem to match the returns they’re getting. Compared to the instant results of paid ads, it seems like a lot of work with no immediate impact on sales.

I can sympathise with that view, but I think it’s wrong. Good ecommerce SEO:

  • Brings free, organic traffic to your store
  • Cuts your reliance on advertising (probably your biggest variable overhead)
  • Saves you money in the long run
  • Increases trust in your brand and products
  • Ultimately gets results that are absolutely worth the effort

I’m going to show you some things I’ve learned about making meaningful SEO improvements to your store. Not overnight success PPC results, but cheaper and longer lasting results.

I’ll be sharing:

  • Advice on working on your own SEO vs hiring an agency
  • How to structure your data to improve SEO
  • Ways to encourage Google to crawl and rank your store
  • Some simple tips for driving more organic traffic to your site

Should you hire an SEO agency or DIY?

The starting point for your ecommerce SEO journey: who is doing the work? I’ve dabbled with both approaches, muddling along by myself at first, then effectively hiring Gizem — from the Juni SEO team — as my SEO agency. Here’s what I found…

Doing your own SEO

You might recall I’ve already abandoned one store after my amateur SEO efforts pretty much wrecked the whole site. That probably makes me the poster boy for hiring an SEO agency.

But as a result of my mistakes, I know far more about SEO now than when I started. That will be beneficial going forward. My only regret is using my store as the place where I learned through trial and error.

Pros

  • Save money
  • Learn new skills
  • Retain control over your results
  • Spot when things aren’t working more easily

Cons

  • Wasting budget on the wrong keywords
  • Spending too much time on the wrong things
  • Creating problems that take a long time to fix
  • Time-consuming (the work and regularly refreshing your knowledge)
  • SEO is very complex

Hiring an SEO agency

As soon as I had SEO professionals on board, I had a much clearer idea of where I’d been going wrong. Juni’s SEO team helped me realise it would be easier to start my store from scratch than try to fix things I’d got wrong.

My conversations with them also improved my own SEO knowledge, so I’ve got a much better handle on it now. In retrospect, hiring an SEO expert should have been one of my first moves.

Pros

  • Saves you a lot of time
  • Easy to switch agencies to find the best one for you
  • Set targets and task an agency to use your budget to achieve them
  • Focus on your core business

Cons

  • No guarantees your agency is improving conversions (if you’re charged based on traffic)
  • You’re introducing another overhead
  • May drive a focus on the quickest fix without getting to the bottom of the problem

DIY vs agency: what I’ve learned

Even if you intend to outsource, I’d strongly recommend you get to grips with SEO. Learning SEO is a great resource to help you get started. While learning the basics of SEO is important, you should hire a professional to help you. SEO pros are wizards who empower you to build trust in your store. My time benefiting from Gizem’s expertise has shown me this.

If you go down the agency route, do your research and find one that specialises in the specific SEO support you need. Don’t just go with a generalist agency. Check in regularly with your SEO pros so you know what they’re working on and how it’s progressing.

Top ecommerce SEO tactics to bring to your store

From my own research, mistakes, and soaking up the Juni SEO team’s expert knowledge, I’ve found some key ways to improve SEO for my shop.


I was tempted to call them quick wins, but that risks comparison with those oh-so-addictive PPC clicks. So let’s give them the less catchy label of 'things you can do relatively easily that will improve your SEO in good time'.

Write better image alt text

We’re all vaguely aware it’s something we’re supposed to do. We’re told it makes us more relevant on search engines. But how? Well, crawlers can’t see the image like humans do, so the alt text helps them to understand what the image is. It’s your way of telling Google what your products look like.

So your alt text should include useful, descriptive text with appropriate use of highly relevant keywords.

Use structured data

I don’t know about you, but I was raised in the days of metadata as the ultimate of SEO. I’ve learned that structured data is now far more important than metadata. Using the right HTML tags makes it easier for Google to understand your site.

Google has code templates to help you structure data on product pages, FAQ pages, author blocks, and other areas of your site. They are basically instructions on how to make it as easy as possible for your store to rank highly in the search results.

Answer your customers’ questions in blog posts

If someone’s searching for a specific product, Google shows product pages in its results. But when the search query is a question (or queries with informational intent, in SEO lingo), Google prioritises educational blog content that provides the answers.

Use blog content to drive more traffic to your site, and then direct people to products from the articles. Focus on intent-orientated query keywords in blog posts, so you’re not competing with your own product pages. That means ‘lion t-shirt’ should be a keyword on the product page, while ‘what to wear to the zoo’ could be a query keyword on a content page.

I’m going to be hunting out long-tail keywords to make sure that I become an industry expert in something a bit niche.

Maximise your crawl budget

The internet is a near-infinite and ever-expanding space. Google doesn't have the resources to crawl every single URL. Your store has a crawl budget: the amount of resources Google commits to indexing your site. This crawl budget is based on two key factors. Firstly, crawl capacity limit is the maximum number of simultaneous connections a Googlebot calculates it can make without overwhelming your servers. Secondly, crawl demand, which is the amount of crawl time necessary based on a site's size, freshness, page quality, and popularity in comparison to other sites.

In the same way you would optimise your ad budget, you need to get the most out of this crawl time. You can do this by:

  • Increasing page speed - slow page load means less crawling time (plus Google uses page speed as a ranking factor)
  • Removing duplicate pages - duplicating pages wastes your crawl budget and creates indexing problems
  • Optimising crawling and indexing - improving user experience and your approach to crawling makes your site easier to crawl (and easier to use)

Create a specific URL for each variant

Google recommends creating unique URLs for each product variant and gives very clear instructions on how to do it. Getting this wrong prevents variants from showing in search results and causes crawling issues.

Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the recommendations closely enough initially. I built product URLs that didn’t fully comply with best practice, so I’ll probably have to scrap a few and redo them. Save yourself that problem by creating a specific URL for any variant that is a key selling point of each product. That could be size, colour, material, or something else.

Create organic growth for your store

We all want to achieve organic growth over time for our stores. If you don’t invest the time in doing SEO well, you’ll never know the potential growth you missed out on.

My tips to start working towards this growth right now are:

  • Hire an agency for specialist SEO support and work towards making an in-house hire
  • Improve your alt text
  • Structure data for each element of your site as Google recommends
  • Use query keywords and blog content to drive organic traffic to your website
  • Optimise your crawl budget

I'll be taking a short break from writing blog posts while I focus on launching the Juni Shop. I hope I'll have plenty of stories, successes, and yes, probably a few hiccups to share with you when I return.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear about your experiences with my blog series so far. What's been the biggest help to you? What experiences do you want to hear about when I'm back blogging? Has there been anything in my posts that you want to challenge me on?

Drop me an email at community@juni.co and let me know your thoughts.

How I’m brushing up on my ecommerce SEO
Juni
Financial platform

Juni is the financial platform built for ecommerce. We give you a unified view of your finances, with cards, mulitcurrency accounts, and banking, accounting and advertising integrations - all in one place. We can even help boost your cash flow with working capital, cashback and more.

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

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