2021.1.22

Six Search Engine Optimization Tips for Retailers

Written by Austin Chegini

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Entering the e-commerce market is a wise move for many retail stores, but standing out and making sales can feel near impossible at first. The industry is very competitive: Not only do you need to compete with giants like Amazon and Walmart, but you also need to beat out small businesses as well. 

While building your brand through marketing, word of mouth, and excellent customer service are key, you cannot ignore the power of organic search traffic. Just ranking on the first page of Google can massively increase sales volume. 

However, getting to the top of Google takes a concerted effort. To make sure you rank well, your store needs a search engine optimization (SEO) plan.

What is SEO?

Google and other search engines are constantly crawling and evaluating websites. These robots try to determine what a website is about, the value of the content, and the overall usability of the website. Search engines rank websites based on these criteria.

SEO is a process of making a website highly-appealing to search engines. With the right approach, you show a platform that your website is reliable, relevant, and the best resource for a specific search term. 

At the basic level, SEO begins with keywords. Search engines want to ensure the words you use on your website match a user’s search terms. In the old days, saying “best restaurant in Atlanta” all over your website would make you rank higher when someone searched that exact phrase. 

These days, however, the algorithms use many more factors to determine rankings, but context and phrasing are still very important. Google now uses natural language processing to help make search more human and less reliant on keywords.

At a deeper level, SEO involves some other factors, including:

  • Site speed: Search engines like websites that load fast. 
  • User experience: Google does not want to rank websites with pop-ups, poor organization, and other annoying elements.
  • Mobile usability: Most internet traffic comes from phones, so websites need to be mobile-friendly.
  • Backlinks: The more high-quality links that point back to your website, the more trustworthy and valuable you may appear to search engines.

SEO Tips for Your E-Commerce Website

Follow this advice to give your store a fighting chance and make it as appealing to search engines as possible.

Learn how to use keywords

As we indicated, search engines determine relevancy via keywords and overall context. But what keywords should you use and how often should you add them? 

To get started, you need to do keyword research. This is the process of finding what people are searching for, what terms your competitors use, and which terms will convert the most users. Read over this keyword research guide by Ahrefs to learn the basics.

After deciding what terms to use, you need to include them naturally without keyword stuffing. At the very least, be sure to use the selected keyword:

  • In the H1 title
  • In the first paragraph
  • In subheadings
  • In alt text
  • Throughout the content

If you need some help, you can find the optimal keyword density percentage with a tool like Semrush SEO Content Template.

Optimize images for speed and relevancy

Using imagery is perfect for boosting experience and quality, but large files can slow down a site. Likewise, images that are not responsive will appear too large on some devices. If any instances like this occur, Google will take note and can rank you lower in search results. 

Luckily, compressing images is easy for most businesses. If your website is built on WordPress, Shopify, BigCommerce, or other platforms, you can use a third-party app to optimize photos. Most of these are free and will save you hours of time.

On top of this, your images need to have proper file names and alternative text. While both of these should line up with your keywords, accurate labeling also improves accessibility for the visually impaired. When you add an image, make sure to write a visual description of it in the alt text section. For example, ”Woman wearing Nike black backpack.”

Read Yoast’s helpful guide on image SEO to learn more.

Fix technical issues

Search engines evaluate every aspect of your website. 

For example, they don’t simply take a static snapshot of your website. Their crawlers comb through each page and click all the links that appear. If a link goes to an error page, this reflects poorly on your website and hurts rankings.

When it comes to technical SEO, search engines look at items like:

  • Load time: Do pages load quickly? 
  • URL structure: Are links organized well, or do they follow random paths?
  • Canonical URLs: Do you clarify which pages are the appropriate and original sources of content?
  • Redirects: Do your redirect point to the right page? Do they slow down functionality?
  • Sitemap: Did you submit an organized sitemap to Google Search Console and other search engines?

Most website builders handle many technical SEO issues, but you should still review the above areas to identify problems. For more help, read over Neil Patel’s guide on conducting a technical SEO audit.

Create engaging, keyword-rich titles and descriptions 

When you look at search results, you see a short title for the page and a few lines about the content on it. Not only can these provide contextual information for search engines, but they can also prompt users to take action. 

Epos Now SERP SEO Tip

Make sure your pages have structured title tags. On most web builders, you can add your own tag under the SEO section. This tag is how the page will appear on search results. 

Title tags should be 50-60 characters long and include the keyword. For most pages, follow this generic template: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Store Name

Example: “Children’s Waterproof Boots - Black | Epos Now Store”

For meta descriptions, you want to include the keyword and prompt the reader to take action. It should include an active voice, clearly state the purpose of the page, and catch attention. Most meta descriptions should be around 155 characters. 

Example: “Our children’s waterproof boots are stylish and provide protection on cold, rainy days. Shop today to get 10% off your first order.”

Create shareable, helpful content

Content marketing is a cornerstone of any SEO strategy. The right approach lets you reach new audiences and rank for keywords that you wouldn’t otherwise use organically. For example, a shoe store can drive traffic to its site by writing a blog article titled “How to Clean Suede Shoes.” 

Someone who is not looking to buy shoes will read the article and see the brand in a positive light. Even better, they may sign up for the company e-mail list in return for a discount. In the best cases, they will learn about a new product and buy it that day. Either way, the brand gained free notoriety with the reader. 

However, blogging is only one form of content marketing. Your store can produce videos, buying guides, product reviews, and even memes. Anything that people will value and share can help grow your store.

Whatever you do, be sure to follow these basics:

  • Focus on quality: Your content needs to answer a question or solve a problem. It should be easy to digest, straight to the point, and optimized with keywords.
  • Publish regularly: While posting new content as frequently as possible is best, be sure to stick to a routine. Whether you publish daily or monthly, keep it predictable and make it a habit.
  • Capture leads: You want to capitalize on this new traffic and turn these curious readers into customers. Include a lead form to capture the visitor’s email address and contact information so you can remarket to them in the future.

Use internal links

Links across your website help search engines see the relationship between pages. For example, including a link from your blog to a product page helps give the product page a little more importance. More importantly, it makes it easier for customers to find and buy new products.

Internal links also complement your SEO tactics for specific pages. Many businesses use anchors like “click here” as the link text. However, this doesn’t tell Google the context of the page you are linking. Rather, you want to use anchor text that matches the keyword for the linked page. 

If you have a page targeting “best women’s shoes,” you can make that term the anchor text for the link. 

Examples:

“If you need to replace your old footwear, our store carries some of the best women’s shoes on the market.”

“If you need a new accessory, browse our collection of men’s watches.”

Need help building your website?

Epos Now is much more than a point of sale company. While we offer systems for in-store use, we also help retailers break into the e-commerce marketplace. 

With an Epos Now retail point of sale, you can:

  • Build a powerful website: Integrate with Shopify or BigCommerce to get off the ground in no time.
  • Send marketing emails: Use our Mailchimp app to keep in touch with customers and drive sales.
  • Do business from anywhere: Our systems store all data on the cloud, so you can run your store from any device.

See the power of Epos Now. Speak with a consultant today.

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