- How to build a consistent retail SEO strategy
- Relevant keyword research
- Create E-A-T content
- SEO-friendly template for retail businesses
- Measure and track your online performance
Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be particularly challenging for retailers due to increased competition and the number of web pages containing products, making it time-consuming.
However, the benefits of retail SEO outweigh the effort it takes to drive organic traffic to your website.
UK eCommerce retail sales grew by a record 46.5% in 2021, and with growth forecast to continue, retailers should seek to leverage the power of SEO to help increase revenue.
According to eMarketer, US eCommerce retail sales will grow to 23.6% of all sales by 2025, equivalent to 13.3% growth year-on-year. Meanwhile, the UK’s eCommerce market is expected to account for 38.6% of total retail sales by 2025 – the highest prediction yet!
Although brick and mortar stores account for most sales, research reveals that customers prefer a mix of online and in-store shopping. Recovery from the pandemic also provides retailers with the opportunity to improve their omnichannel shopping experiences to win more customers. We’ve written a comprehensive guide on eCommerce marketing strategies that all digital advertising teams in the UK should read.
If you want shoppers to find your products organically, here are 10 retail SEO components you should prioritise to boost your performance in search engine result pages (SERPs).
#1 Relevant Keyword Research
All successful retail SEO campaigns start with keyword research.
Think about the kind of words users type into search engines when searching for products online, as this will be key to building an information architecture.
If you’re stuck on ideas, use tools such as Ahrefs or Keywords FX to help you discover the phrases and words people use to search for products you sell. Alternatively, look at what keywords your competitors are using, which will always provide good insight into what your website may lack.
As most user searches are specific, you must incorporate relevant keywords into important pages like product descriptions, page URLs, landing pages and other top-level web pages.
Remember that your keywords should also cover a variety of intent to capture all stages of the buyer journey. There are four types of user intent:
If your site is already up and running, review paid search data and incorporate keywords that convert traffic on your commercial/transactional pages. The goal is to appear on the first page of search results, better yet, the first position!
#2 Create a Local Retail SEO Strategy
Local SEO will increase your company’s online visibility in a specific geographic area.
Optimising for local search can help people quickly locate your business and increase your chances of appearing at the top of SERPs for local search terms – vital for retailers competing with powerhouses such as Amazon and ASOS.
However, optimising for a local audience goes beyond working on your website.
We strongly recommend creating a Google My Business profile, which is a tool that helps businesses manage their online presence on Google. With a Google My Business listing, you can display:
- Company address
- Opening hours
- Contact numbers
- Link to products, events and posts
- Questions & Answers section
- Link to social media accounts
When people search for your company, your Google Business profile will show in the right-hand column of SERPs.
To learn more about optimising for local search, read our Ultimate Guide to Local SEO.
#3 Structured Data
Structured data is a markup code that makes it easier for search engines to understand your website and help your listing stand out on results pages.
One of the most crucial structured data types for retailers is product schema markup. Product schema markup is a code that enables information such as price, availability and price currency to appear in search.
Retailers should apply product schema to all of their product pages so that Google and other search engines display your listing as a rich result.
Other important structured data types for eCommerce retailers include:
- Review schema
- Local business schema
- Event schema
To learn more about the importance of structured data here is an easy read: Why Schema Markup is Important for SEO.
#4 Google E-A-T Content
If you’re a digital marketer, content strategist or fall somewhere in between, you’ve most likely heard the phrase “content is king.”
We prefer to say “good” content is king at Soar Online.
Even if you regularly publish blogs or articles, content that doesn’t follow good SEO practises can destroy your rankings.
It’s essential to publish fresh, unique content that demonstrates your expertise and comes across as authoritative and trustworthy if you want to score the first page of search results.
The shift to online has triggered a wave of content, meaning retailers are competing more aggressively for key search terms than ever before. And with 81% of shoppers conducting research before buying, you must have content that satisfies their needs.
Make sure your product pages and product category pages contain high-quality content and supporting information such as FAQs to help resolve any queries users that land on your page may have.
Don’t copy and paste manufacturer descriptions. Instead, make sure all the content on your website is unique. Post customer testimonials to help increase your brand’s credibility and write how-to guides and blogs that share tips that are relevant to your brand.
Shoppers like to see what they’re considering purchasing, so make sure you add images of your products from various angles. Go a step further by using artificial intelligence (AI), allowing users to virtually try on the product or see how it will look within their home.
Still, uploading the image isn’t enough. You need to optimise the image file name, size, format and add ALT tags to help search engines understand the connection between your image and web page.
Optimising the image file size will prevent slow page loading speed, which is a direct ranking factor for many search engines, including Google.
The same applies to video, so make sure all your media files are optimised.
#6 Optimise for Mobile
According to Statista, mobile accounts for almost half of web traffic, with mobile devices generating approximately 50% of global website traffic in Q4 2021.
As mobile shopping is taking over, retailers need to ensure that their sites are mobile-friendly, meaning that they should feature:
- Easy-to-read text
- Buttons that are large enough to be tapped with a finger
- Fast page loading speed
- Seamless experience
- Responsive web design
Google now uses a mobile-first indexing system, meaning that it crawls the mobile version before the desktop site. As page experience is a direct ranking signal, failure to optimise the mobile version of your site could hurt your performance in SERPs.
Recent research has shown that a significant proportion of online shoppers will exit a website if it loads too slow.
#7 Link Building for Retail Companies
External links, also known as backlinks, are vital for any SEO strategy.
High-quality backlinks can drive significant traffic to your website and boost your position in search as search engines will perceive your website to be a trustworthy, authoritative source.
It’s important to avoid having links from spammy sites or broken backlinks, as this will negatively affect your SEO.
With the right link profile, you could find your website outperforming the likes of Amazon and eBay for specific search terms. Furthermore, good-quality backlinks will reduce the need to invest heavily in paid advertising – it’s a win-win scenario for eCommerce retailers.
#8 SEO-Friendly Page Templates
An SEO-friendly website can ensure better performance, allow users to navigate your site quickly and make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content.
When building your website, it’s essential to choose an SEO-friendly template. Take the time to create simple navigation, good URL structure, and optimise your keywords.
It’s vital to use exact-match primary keywords and secondary keywords in your title tags, h-tags, content and metadata to help users and search engines understand the context of a web page.
As a rule of thumb, title tags should be no more than 65 characters and meta descriptions a maximum of 155 characters. You can check the length of your metadata by using the SERP Preview Tool or the Yoast SEO plugin.
When dividing words in your metadata, ensure you keep consistent branding by using a pipe or a dash – avoid using both. Consistency across voice, messaging, and tone is important with search and can help users recognise your brand immediately.
We strongly recommend using a call to action in your metadata, such as “Book now”, “Call (company name) on…” or “Learn more”. However, don’t be overly promotional to avoid annoying users who come across your search listing.
Only include one H1 tag on a page and ensure the primary keyword is placed near the front of the heading to help provide context. Then, break up content with compelling, keyword-rich H2 tags, which will create a better reading experience.
Body Copy Recommendations
Search engines love long-form content.
According to recent studies, the ideal blog post length is around 2,000 words, while landing pages should contain at least 500 words.
Utilise your target keywords throughout your content and strategically place internal links to help boost chances of conversion and increase page dwelling time.
Compress images and ensure they are optimised with ALT tags to improve the user experience (UX) and help search bots crawl your web pages.
Avoid peppering pages with ads or transaction/promotional vocabulary, as this will frustrate customers and give them a reason to shop elsewhere.
Although URLs are a minor ranking factor, it’s important to keep them clean, consistent and keyword-rich to help users and search bots understand the page’s context.
Keep URLs as short as possible by removing stop words such as “the” or “an”. Maintain consistency by only using a lowercase text format and dashes instead of underscores to separate words.
#9 eCommerce Site Audits are essential
Conduct regular site audits to determine how your website is performing and identify any technical issues which need to be addressed.
Many SEO crawling tools are available, including Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl and SEM Rush (our personal favourite).
When performing a website crawl, look out for factors such as:
- Broken links (404 error status)
- Duplicate or thin content
- Duplicate title tags
- Incorrect pages discovered in sitemap
- Missing ALT text
- Missing HTTPS
- Pages that can’t be crawled, e.g. no-index tags or robots.txt files
- WWW resolve issues
#10 Measure and Track Success
Tracking and measuring the success of your work and ongoing efforts is critical to your online retail success, customer retention and perceived SEO value.
It will also help you alter your retail SEO strategy if something isn’t working. For example, suppose you added a popup ad in the basket to encourage customers to consider making an additional purchase. However, upon review found that this caused a high bounce rate, you can decide whether to remove the pop up altogether or relocate it to a different stage of the buyer journey.
Always monitor your important KPIs, which may include:
- Branded and non-branded rankings
- Bounce rate
- Organic visits
- New organic visitors
- Page dwelling time
- Sign-ups/lead generation
You need to constantly optimise websites and target new relevant keywords as the site ages and customer behaviour changes to remain competitive and drive business value and ROI.