SEO Checklist & Tips for eCommerce Websites

Whether you are creating an eCommerce site from scratch, doing a platform migration, or just looking to breathe new life into an existing installation – then this SEO checklist for eCommerce websites is written for you!

The checklist is broken into 3 main categories: Technical SEO, Content, & Social

This checklist is intended to provide you with a high-level overview of the key aspects of an optimal eCommerce SEO implementation and to provide you with things you may consider pursuing in your own installation; and lastly to make you aware of issues you may encounter if not dealt with ahead of time.

1) Technical SEO

Big Picture

  • Did you set-up ‘template/formula’ recs?
    • I like to call these ‘template recs’, sometimes I have seen people call them ‘formula recs’.
    • Using the power of web templating in modern CMS systems, you structure your page templates such that they take advantage of ‘page variables’ – things like the product type, product category, product name, etc. — all variables that the CMS system makes available to you through the templating functionality.
    • Using these, you create page titles, meta descriptions, and so forth which are ‘smart’ in that they use these page variables. In a way, they are a ‘formula’ that is applied to all pages of a certain type.
  • Does your site hierarchy make sense?
    • Is it structured by category, sub-category, topically, etc.?
      • Do content pages have their own URL’s and navigation?
  • Are you using user-friendly URL’s?
    • Do not end up like those sites with URL’s that are meaningless to the user like:
      • domain.com/product/10982802714
    • Instead try something that provides more information to the user, and the search engines, like this:
      • domain.com/product-category-name/product-name
  • Are you taking advantage of ‘structured data’?
    • There are many opportunities to enhance your Google search result appearance with structured data, using rich snippets.
    • Once incorporated into your site, then things like prices, reviews and more can be shown directly on the Google search results page. It’s a really big deal, and can seriously improve the CTR of your search results.

On-Site

  • Is your robots.txt configured correctly?
    • Do a sanity check on your robots.txt; make sure it is only disallowing those pages/paths which you do not want exposed to search engines.
  • Is your sitemap.xml configured correctly?
    • You will want the sitemap to be regenerated every time you add a new page
    • You will want to make sure that ALL pages on the site which are intended to be made public will be linked to from here.
  • Does every page have a unique ‘canonical URL’ tag?
    • Doing this will help to prevent duplicate content issues that can sometimes occur on eCommerce sites.
  • Are you using proper anchor text in your internal links?
    • E.G.: Don’t use ‘click here’ when you could be using product types/categories/names as anchor text instead.

2) CONTENT

Big Picture

  • Do you have a content strategy?
    • Modern SEO relies on content. “Content is King”, and when it comes to eCommerce sites, it’s especially important to remember because it’s so often forgotten and it can be a real distinguisher.
      • The truth is most eCommerce sites have little-to-no real content strategy.
    • Most eCommerce sites think their product pages are their content; that is not true.
    • eCommerce sites need to also create content; in the form of text/graphics/video,etc., that goes hand-in-hand with your products. This content will embrace your products, and link to them, and be good referrers for them – however the content is not your products. This ongoing stream of content is what will keep your site moving up the mountain. With time, you will get better at identifying what content is thriving and converting and focus your efforts more-so on those.
    • If you aren’t sold on this point, you may want to read our other blogpost – No Shirt, No Shoes, No SEO Service – Why We Won’t SEO Without A Content Strategy.

On-Page

  • Do you have a unique page title, meta description & H1’s on every page?
    • Pro-tip: Use Model Numbers in titles & H1’s
    • Pro-tip: Use Brand names in titles & H1’s
  • Do you have a product description for every product?
    • Is it unique content?
      • Fight the urge to use manufacturer provided copy as-is. Many eCommerce sites fall for this trap, and end up all having duplicate content.
  • Provide unique, and descriptive, alt tags for all images
    • When well-done, image alt tags can propel your rankings in Google Image Search.
  • Do you have product reviews?
    • Product reviews are great, not just for usability and conversion rates, but also for search engines who love to see additional unique and highly relevant content added to product pages.

3) SOCIAL

  • Is your site easily share-able by users?
    • Do you have share buttons?
  • Are you set up to push new content out thru your social networks?
    • Make sure you have social accounts setup, and procedures in place so that the right people have access to social accounts and know what their responsibilities are.
    • Pro-tip: find a way to automate simple posting of new blogposts/product pages
      • E.G.: When new blogposts, or product pages, send out a pre-formulated tweet. Like so: “New blog post! [Blog post title here] [blogpost link here]”

In Conclusion

Due to their nature, eCommerce sites require much more scalable SEO implementations than standard websites. eCommerce sites will often have many thousands of products; providing ample opportunity for organic traffic — unfortunately, most eCommerce sites are never given the opportunity to shine because they end up lacking some SEO essentials; or suffering from issues like duplicate content, and never capitalize on the opportunities out there in their space.

Hopefully this checklist has provided you with some things to think about. If after going through this list you found your eCommerce site, or plan, to be lacking specifically in any one area then you probably want to take some time to map out what adjustments should be made there. If you would like some help doing that, you can contact us at Philly Marketing Labs  or learn more about what help we can provide you at our eCommerce Website Development page.

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