Without a shade doubt, we can say that the pandemic has been the growth engine of e-commerce for nearly two years. The health emergency and the consequent measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 have had a strong impact on the purchasing and consumption habits of many goods, especially essential goods.
In addition, in times of lockdown, e-commerce has become the primary means of conducting business and sometimes reinventing it. Even before Covid-19, online shopping was widespread, especially for non-food items, but now we’re facing the rise of e-commerce.
To make the most of this moment, it is essential to understand how to enhance the value of your e-commerce and increase its online visibility. Being easily found online, in fact, is now the foundation for the success of any business, and in order to succeed, you need to do it through e-commerce SEO.
In this post, we’ll take stock of the current and future state of e-commerce and examine some of the trends that are affecting online purchases in order to understand how to take advantage of them based on your business needs. Finally, we will focus on the actions to put in place to optimize e-commerce in terms of SEO and increase its visibility.
E-commerce: why consumers like it
As we have already anticipated, e-commerce is experiencing a real rise, mainly due to the health emergency.
According to a survey conducted by NielsenIQ, in 2020 the growth rate of e-commerce sales for consumer goods in Europe increased significantly compared to the previous year. Examples include Italy, which went from 55.6% to 106%, Spain, which went from 24.3% to 108.5%, and the United Kingdom, where sales increased nearly 90% over the pre-Covid period.
To analyze the e-commerce trend in Italy over the last year, the results of the survey conducted by the Politecnico di Milano show explosive growth of product segments, with an increase of €8 billion compared to 2019. Specifically:
- IT and Consumer Electronics increased by €1.9 billion;
- Food & Grocery saw an increase equivalent to €1.3 billion;
- Furniture and Home Living saw €1.1 billion more than in 2019.
This data confirms that e-commerce has firmly become part of consumers’ buying habits.
That’s not all. In this historical period, e-commerce is proving to be a real growth engine for commerce, which is why it must play a prominent role in companies’ business strategies. What they need to focus on today, then, is not whether or not consumers are shopping online, but their e-commerce buying behaviors.
Mobile commerce and social commerce: two trends to follow
As far as consumer habits are concerned, not only have we moved from a physical or omnichannel approach to a primarily online one, but it’s interesting to note how mobile commerce has become more relevant. In 2020, in fact, in Italy, 51% of e-commerce purchases took place via smartphone. (source: osservatori.net digital innovation)
This is something to keep in mind in order to improve the whole user experience and optimize e-commerce from mobile. It’s also no coincidence that more and more companies and social platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, are focusing on social commerce.
In fact, according to Talkwalker’s global Social Media Trends for 2022 report, purchases via social media will continue to increase and evolve, making online purchasing increasingly accessible and immediate and giving rise to a customer experience that is spread across various channels.
It is indisputable, therefore, that e-commerce is redesigning the business models of companies and also has an impact on sales in physical stores.
We have seen that many brands have been able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by e-commerce, enhancing the value of physical stores as well. Just think of brands like H&M, Zara, Feltrinelli, Giunti, and many others, which make it possible to buy online and pick up the order in the physical store.
This makes the online shopping experience more human and interactive and entices the consumer to buy other products in the physical store when they pick up their order.
All of this preamble allows us to say that now and in the near future it will be essential for companies to have an e-commerce platform and above all, to know how to enhance and optimize it so that customers can easily find them.
This is where SEO comes into play.
Traditional SEO and e-commerce SEO: what are the differences?
In a previous post on our blog, we talked about how to write and optimize a blogpost from an SEO perspective. However, the strategies we talked about are quite different from the ones we will cover in this article.
This is because SEO changes according to the goals it allows us to achieve. Every SEO strategy, in fact, must be well structured according to the goals set, buyer personas, and the budget available.
To understand the difference between traditional SEO and e-commerce SEO, we must focus on the objective and the type of traffic you want to generate.
On the one hand, traditional SEO has the main purpose of attracting traffic, as much traffic as possible actually, and informing and engaging with those who end up on your site. On the other hand, SEO for e-commerce is used to attract profiled users and pursue sales goals.
Another aspect to underline concerns keywords. To optimize an e-commerce site from an SEO point of view, it is fundamental to set your keyword research according to the search intent of potential customers.
The intention of a search is the reason why a user starts an online search. Google has identified four micro moments, which correspond to four objectives:
- The “I want to know” moments, when a user wants to inquire and learn, but not necessarily buy something;
- The “I want to go” moments when he looks for a product or a store nearby;
- The “I want to do” moments when he wants to learn how to perform a certain activity;
- The “I want to buy” moments when he wants to buy a product.
Being able to intercept the search intent of users who want to buy is the real goal of an SEO specialist. For this reason, research must be focused on the so-called transactional keywords.
According to the definition of Semrush, transactional keywords are the words a user employs when he is determined to make a purchase. They are more specific keywords and generally contain explicit call-to-actions such as “buy,” “on sale,” or “subscribe,” words that describe the product or service in more detail or that contain the name of the brand.
Transactional keywords allow us to attract relevant users who are in the final stage of the funnel and achieve the set sales goals.
Having seen the main differences between traditional SEO and e-commerce SEO, now, let’s talk about the main ecommerce optimization strategies.
Seven tips for optimizing an e-commerce site for SEO
In such a delicate historical and economic moment, e-commerce has become an opportunity for small and large companies that are redefining their business strategies. However, it’s not enough to have an e-commerce site and it’s not enough to appear on the first page of Google search results. It’s important to rank as high as possible.
In fact, according to Serpwatch, about 67.60% of the clicks on the SERP are on the first five results, while results from sixth to tenth gain only 3.37% of the clicks.
To be able to get a good ranking, therefore, you’ll need to put some SEO optimization strategies in place. Let’s take a look at some:
- Have a good site structure. It’s important to create a simple site tree, both because it makes it easier for Google to read and understand the pages, and because it allows you to have a clearer view of the content and avoid duplication. Also, a website that has a well-defined structure requires less code resources and loads faster.
- Don’t underestimate URL structure. An effective URL must be short and must not contain capital letters or spaces. Keywords in the URL should also be separated by the punctuation mark “-“. Finally, it is important to include product attributes within the URL, such as: /ipad-64gb-black/.
- Make the site “secure.” A very important step in terms of reliability concerns the migration of e-commerce from the http protocol to the https protocol. This is a process that does not directly affect SEO optimization, but it can have a strong impact on the user who intends to buy.
- Give importance to breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are internal links that are located at the top of the page and allow the user to return to the previous section or home page of the site. In this regard, it is essential to include the main keywords in the breadcrumbs in order to facilitate user search and indexing of product pages.
- Eliminate duplicate content. This is identical or very similar content that is located within the same domain and has different URLs. This content is highly penalized by search engines and it is therefore important to know how to manage it properly through the use of canonical tags. In fact, canonicals help search engines understand that there is only one version of the URL that needs to be indexed, regardless of the various versions of URLs that are displayed.
- Don’t forget the shopping cart. The shopping cart is a page that search engines don’t want to index, which is why it’s important to set them to “noindex” or “nofollow” or use the X-robots tag. This is how you tell the search engine not to index the shopping cart page and avoid being penalized.
- Enhance product descriptions. Adding poorly detailed descriptions of the products in your ecommerce site can penalize you both in terms of organic search traffic and in convincing the user to make a purchase.
These are just some of the many strategies for optimizing an e-commerce from an SEO perspective. Being able to apply them all correctly allows you to have a better chance of improving your ranking in the SERPs.
Today, this is what it takes to have a competitive advantage in your target market. To conclude, we can say that e-commerce is a great opportunity for brands that want to expand their business and increase their sales. Being able to enhance it and make it co-exist with the physical store is definitely a challenge worth facing.