If your Shopify e-commerce website isn’t ranking Google’s top 10 search results, it might as well be invisible.
Because if your website isn’t ranking well, the primary way people will find you is through paid ads or social media.
To get your website to rank higher for your target keywords—earning you more free website traffic in the process—you’ll need to follow some SEO best practices.
And even if you though you were following best practices, that may not be the case anymore. Unfortunately, search engines change all the time—especially Google. Because search engines change, so do SEO best practices.
To make sure your SEO strategy is completely up to date, and that you’re staying ahead of your competitors, here are the six best SEO practices in e-commerce for 2020:
1. Make your content match search intent
This SEO trend gained speed in 2019 and continues to be a hot topic in SEO today.
It is quite possibly one of the most important things you can do for your website.
What is Search Intent?
Anytime someone goes to a search engine, they have a goal.
Whether it’s to find out the weather for the day, how to get to their next appointment, or where they can buy ladies’ shoes, search intent is their unique purpose for their online search.
Why Search Intent is Important
Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
That means that your content, your products, and your website needs to be useful.
And matching your content to user intent is how you prove your worth.
How to Master Search Intent in 2020
Here are three steps to make sure your page’s content aligns with search intent:
Step 1: Target Your Keyword’s Intent
Every keyword needs to have a purpose behind it.
Sometimes the intent is obvious:
If someone searches “buy handmade soap in Canada”, the result clearly matches the user’s intent—where to buy handmade soap in Canada. But if the search is “homemade soap,” the organic results are about how to make your own soap:
Therefore, your target keywords need to be fine-tuned to what your target demographic is looking for to show that your website/page/product is useful to searchers with that intent.
Step 2: Create a 1:1 Search Intent Match
Once you know the intent behind a keyword, you need to publish content that matches exactly what your searchers are looking for.
If your customer is searching for “how to wear a pencil skirt” ...
...then you know your user is likely looking for instructions on how to wear a pencil skirt, or examples of outfits with pencil skirts.
The key here: The searcher is not looking to be sold pencil skirts on this page. This is more of an informational search than a transactional search. That said, you could certainly include a CTA that links your site visitors to your relevant pencil skirt product page.
Step 3: Go Back and Optimize Old Content for Search Intent
Now that you know what search intent is, go back and make sure your older posts are a good fit.
You can always (and should) update your older content to remain current and relevant to your users in today’s landscape.
SEO Tip: Use Google Analytics to Find Problematic Pages
See if your content is matching user intent. Look at your content pages with the highest bounces rates or the least amount of time spent on page. Those are good indicators of which pages need the most help to better match the search intent.
2. Master On-Page Optimization
While not new to 2020, this evergreen SEO advice is non-negotiable.
Your page’s metadata and on-page content are how you communicate with search engines, and how search engines know if your content and products deserve to show up in search results or not.
Here are three ways to master your on-page optimization:
Step 1: Optimize your title tag for SEO
Here’s how to write the perfect title tag:
- Include target keywords (but don't be spammy about it)
- Be accurately descriptive
- Match search intent
- Keep it short and sweet (under 60 characters)—otherwise it will get cut off in search results
- Make people want to click to learn more
For example, if you were selling pencil skirts, your title tag may be:
“Pencil Skirts | Shop Women's Skirts | YOURBRAND”.
Step 2: Optimize your meta description for SEO
To write an enticing meta description:
- Include target keywords (they will be bolded in search engines)
- Be descriptive, but concise
- Make each meta description unique
- Use action-oriented copy to drive clicks
- Match search intent
- Keep it short and sweet (under 160 characters)
For the same pencil skirt page, your meta description may be:
“Shop our latest collection of stylish pencil skirts in a range of styles. Canada’s biggest pencil skirt collection for the best prices. Free Shipping.”
Step 3: Write unique and engaging on-page content for SEO
To write an SEO-optimized page:
- Never copy content from yourself or other websites, make everything unique
- Write in your own style
- Speak the way your audience speaks
- Get to the point early in the content
- Use keywords sparingly in headings and page content (but never overdo it).
For the pencil skirt page, you can include product information, FAQs, pencil skirt fashion tips, and more.
SEO Tip: How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing
If you want to write an SEO-optimized page without keyword stuffing, here are some easy-to-follow tips:
Expand your keyword list.
No two users search in the same way, and your content should reflect that. Use Google’s “Searches related to” to see common search terms related to your target keyword.
Write for your reader.
Use tools like Answer The Public to find “long-tail keywords” (longer phrases related to your keyword) to build out your keyword list. Think about the questions you want to answer for your users.
Review, review, review.
Your content needs to be readable.
Read and reread your content to make sure you don’t have keywords in unnatural places. The best way to tell is to read it out loud—if it sounds weird, fix it.
3. Improve Your Page Speed
In 2020, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your web pages load at lightning speed on desktop and mobile devices.
You will lose more customers with a slow-loading webpage than for any other reason
Pages with heavy images are often the culprit. If there is one thing you do for your website in 2020, it should be optimizing your page speed!
SEO Tip: How to Check Your Page Speed
There are many tools on the web that will show you how well (or poorly) your website is performing.
One of the best tools out there is Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
This tool will show you the areas where you’re weak and gives you suggestions on how you can improve. Remember, Google is the top search engine. Make them happy first.
- Optimize images
- Use lightweight themes
- Use lazy loading for images
- Reduce redirects
Read more SEO tips on how to improve your Shopify site speed.
4. Build Better Backlinks
Since the beginning, SEO has always been about content and links—this hasn’t changed in 2020.
While Google’s algorithms are always a mystery, they have said outright that backlinks play a key role:
However, the quality of your backlinks continues to grow in importance. That means high-quality, highly relevant websites linking back to your website. Not links from spammy link farms.
SEO Tip: How to Build Better Backlinks
Here’s a sure-fire way to get higher-quality links to your websites:
- Reverse-engineer articles that are performing well in search engines and make higher-quality versions of those pages (known as “skyscraping”).
- Become a source for reporters and bloggers (check out HARO).
- Offer your services as a guest blogger on other sites.
- Publish guides (“Ultimate Guide to…”, “How to...”, “Top 5 Best Ways to...”
- Share your customer stories (case studies, interviews, etc.)
- Connect with thought leaders and experts relevant to your product.
- Create linkable assets (something worth linking to).
Building links isn’t easy, but it’s a necessary step to SEO success.
5.Get Ready for Visual Search
Is visual search a game-changer? Not yet. But it’s coming.
What is visual search?
Visual search uses real images (photographs, screenshots, or internet-acquired) to search instead of using words.
The most popular visual search tools include Google Lens, Pinterest Lens, Snapchat Visual Search, and eBay Image Search.
Why is visual search important?
Our culture is dominated by images. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Humans just process images better.
What’s more, is the next generation of power shoppers communicate more with images than words.
Here are some impressive visual search statistics that show why this search trend is here to stay:
- 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual (T-Sciences + Technology)
- It takes just 13 milliseconds for the human brain to process an image (MIT)
- It’s predicted that the image recognition market will grow to $5.32 billion USD by 2024 (Global)
- 62% of millennials want visual search over any other search technology (ViSenze)
- Brands that offer visual and voice search will increase their digital revenue by 30% by 2021 (Gartner)
Visual search will be key for e-commerce
Your customers know what they want, just not always how to describe it.
Visual search works especially well for fashion and home decor retailers, allowing them to suggest products based on style or theme—but it shows incredible promise in other product lines as well.
The major players in e-commerce visual search engines include both Amazon and Shopify. Amazon’s StyleSnap launched in June 2019, just on the heels of Shopify releasing their Visual Search App earlier that year.
Major retailers like IKEA, Wayfair, Neiman Markus, and ASOS have also built their own proprietary visual search tools, showing this technology is not going away any time soon.
SEO Tip: How to optimize for visual search.
Optimizing for visual search may put you a step ahead of your competitors if it catches on in a big way.
Name your images with target keywords.
Before you upload an image, don’t leave the filename as untitled.jpeg. Choose a filename that describes the image in a way that searchers (and search bots) will understand.
Add a title attribute to your images.
This is what appears when a user hovers their mouse over an image. This is prime real estate to tell your user more about the product.
Not only do captions hold value in SEO, but they help users make sense of complex images.
Use alt tags.
This is one of the most important points. It is worth spending a few minutes on this. Make them detailed and include target keywords, using coherent and conversational phrases.
Use high-quality photos.
Make sure the subject of the image is clear and good quality and appealing to your audience.
Optimize your images.
Make sure you choose the correct file type and reduce the file size as low as possible. Read more about image optimization.
6. Optimize for Voice Search
“Alexa, order a face mask made in Canada.”
“Ok Google, order me a pizza.”
“Hey Siri, add yogurt to my shopping list.”
Voice search is transforming the retail industry. From smartphones to smart home hubs, people are on or near their smart devices for most of their day.
Here are some stunning voice search stats from 2020:
- The voice industry is expected to be worth $40 billion by 2022
- By the end of 2019, 39.3% of millennials used voice-supported virtual assistants monthly
- 43% of voice-enabled device owners use it to shop, and 51% use it to research products
- 51% of consumers use voice search to look for restaurants
- 28% of consumers immediately call the business they used voice search to find
- 25% of people aged 16 to 24 use voice search on mobile devices
- 41% of smart speaker owners feel companionship with their device
- 11.5% of smart speaker owners make transactions with their devices monthly
- 20% of mobile search queries are voice
- For their holiday shopping, 1 in 4 shoppers used a voice assistant, statistics show
SEO Tip: How to optimize for voice search.
In a study conducted by the SEO masters at BackLinko:
- Your content needs to rank high in search results
- Include a question and answer in your content
- Ranking in a featured snippet helps A LOT
Kickstart your E-Commerce SEO with Marketplace Solutions
Marketplace Solutions builds SEO-friendly Shopify e-commerce sites that make it easier to dominate the search results.
To learn more about how we can boost your e-commerce SEO efforts, contact Marketplace Solutions today.
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