The Ecommerce Marketer's Guide to Improving Search Rankings

The Ecommerce Marketer's Guide to Improving Search Rankings
Image credit: Hero Images | Getty Images

Based on data, organic search traffic is clearly one of the largest referral sources for most websites. There are more than 100 billion searches each month on Google alone, for example, and that works out to an average 2.3 million searches per second.

Related: 7 Advanced Ways to Improve Your Site's SEO

A certain share of those searches can be traced back to consumers looking to make a purchase or seeking information to help them complete a purchase.

Justin Butlion of Yotpo has described research he's conducted to uncover how much organic traffic the average ecommerce business receives. "When I analyzed the traffic sources of the 18,000-plus stores in Yotpo's database, I noticed that 30.5 percent of all traffic was coming from organic search on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines," Butlion wrote on the Kissmetrics Blog.

"There is a constant debate going on regarding the relevance of SEO for online businesses, but 30 percent is significant, so it still needs to be a focus for any online business owner."

If organic search can account for fully a third of your revenue, if not more, what can you do to grow that?

Search optimization is a deep ocean, but here are some core areas where you can take action right now to improve your organic search visibility and win over a greater share of those 100 billion-plus monthly searches.

1. Craft unique, optimized descriptions.

Don't settle on default product descriptions generated by the manufacturer. While this makes the process of uploading content easy, it's considered duplicate content, which makes it next to impossible to improve search rank for category and product pages.

Increase your odds for better visibility by crafting unique product descriptions optimized for keywords related to the product and how customers will use it. Make sure you include the value proposition and impactful benefit statements, which can help increase visitor-to-customer conversions.

"Value proposition is the number one thing that determines whether people will bother reading more about your product or hit the back button," wrote Peep Laja, founder of ConversionXL, for his book, How to Build Websites That Sell.

2. Don't forget about image optimization.

Images and photos should be optimized with targeted keywords. For products, keywords should be specific to the product name, make or model and manufacturer.

Image optimization includes the image name or file name as well as the alt tag associated with the image. Depending on the design and layout of your store, you might also consider optimizing brief image descriptions for each product photo.

In a post for Search Engine Journal, Jean Dion wrote, "That file name is part of the data Google examines and, in the absence of other valuable data, that file name might be used as the image's snippet in search results."

These actions can help your images appear in relevant image searches, which can drive additional organic traffic back to your product pages.

Related: Why Local SEO Is About to Become Even More Important

3. Create valuable content in different formats.

Content marketing is widely considered to be one of the fastest and most reliable ways to build organic traffic for any website, including ecommerce sites. But it can't be just any kind of content. In order to gain referral and follow-through traffic, and get those readers into your funnel, you need to provide significant value.

While high-value, 10x content on a blog is a good starting point for organic traffic, you also want to engage your audience on different fronts. Here are some ways you can leverage great content everywhere to build visibility and referral traffic:

  • Use videos on your site, and product pages, but also host those videos on sites like YouTube and Vimeo.

  • Create interesting and engaging photos that can be shared on social platforms, or put up/shared on Pinterest.

  • Source content from your audience, including testimonials, stories, pictures of products in use and even customer videos to improve trust and social proof.

  • Guest blog and then promote your content, using services like Quuu.co and Notifier, to increase social reach and referral traffic.

As Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi says, "If we only talk about ourselves, we'll never reach customers."

4. Set up your analytics.

Make sure you've set up Google Analytics and that you're checking your metrics. Watch for referral traffic sources you can leverage and monitor to ascertain where traffic is landing. This shines a light on content you can repurpose to improve organic visibility and traffic.

Your demographic and cohort reports will also provide insight into your audience so you can better understand how to craft your content, understand what they're looking for and determine the type of searches they might be doing to find products like yours.

5. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly.

In 2015, Google released an update designed to give mobile-friendly sites a boost in search results. Those sites not optimized for mobile use saw small-to-significant drops in search visibility.

Having a mobile-friendly site doesn't just impact search visibility. Thirty percent of mobile shoppers abandon a transaction if the experience isn't optimized for mobile. So, update your mobile experience. Otherwise, you stand to lose a significant amount of revenue.

Related: SEO Is Now 'Search Experience Optimization'

Google provides a testing tool to help you ensure your site has a mobile-friendly design.