Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a major factor when it comes to where your site will rank in the search results, and that includes e-commerce sites.
Properly optimizing your site for search makes it more likely that the people who are searching will actually find your products in the search engine results pages (SERPs) which leads to you reaching more people and, ultimately, making more sales and increasing your revenue.
Taking the time to ensure great SEO for your e-commerce store is the equivalent of having countless people scattered over all the street corners of the world, each of them spinning a sign with the name of your store on it, and directing massive amounts of traffic to you.
Sounds Like an Amazing Dream, but is it Possible?
Thankfully, it is possible to achieve the traffic results that you want for your e-commerce store simply by developing some strong focus keywords and using them throughout your e-commerce site.
Include these vital keywords where they fit naturally and logically without overdoing it, and you will be on your way to the top of the search engine rankings.
You can easily work these types of keywords into meta descriptions, URLs, product pages, image names, alt text, and permalinks.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is that this should only be done in a way that is completely natural. After all, you are writing content for humans and not robots.
In this post, we are going to take an in-depth look into the WooCommerce platform and how you can get your e-commerce site to number one on the search engine rankings.
We will discuss 9 easy but effective ways of optimizing WooCommerce SEO as well as some of the best SEO plugins that you can use.
Ready? Let’s Get Started!
The first thing we are going to look at is the difference between WooCommerce and Shopify.
When you combine WooCommerce and WordPress, you get a customizable eCommerce platform that is easy to use.
The plugin includes most of the common e-commerce features such as payment and shipping which are simplified.
You can also get some really awesome extensions if you require them.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that is designed to be easy to use for beginners, which means that you are limited in the amount of customization that you can do on that platform.
Both of these platforms provide everything that you could ever need to sell your stuff online, but WooCommerce offers a lot more when it comes to customization for those who want to stand out.
Also, WooCommerce is a lot cheaper than Shopify which is great for those just starting out on a small budget. The plugin for WooCommerce is open source. It’s available on WordPress for free whereas the Shopify plans start from $29 per month.
So while there are a lot of other fees and costs that go into creating an online store (like the domain name, hosting, SSL certificate, etc), for most online marketers it’s preferable to go with the option that doesn’t have ongoing monthly fees, which is why WooCommerce is considered the best choice by most.
But, is WooCommerce SEO Friendly?
WooCommerce and Shopify are really different when it comes to the area of SEO functionality.
Shopify’s platform has a structure that is SEO-ready which means that the platform is designed to help you get your store to the top of the search results thanks to its automatic generation of a sitemap, and its options for customizing meta descriptions, URLs, and title tags.
It also allows you to set file names as well as alt text for all your images, all of which are great for SEO.
How does WooCommerce Compare?
While WooCommerce is designed using code that is optimized for SEO, it does not actually have much to offer in terms of SEO features.
But the WooCommerce platform really shines when it comes to its integration with WordPress, and all its available plugins and extensions.
Plugins such as Yoast SEO (which we’ll discuss later) allow WooCommerce and WordPress to give you a huge SEO boost that rivals Shopify’s inbuilt SEO features.
But, you’re going to have to put some work into customizing them.
9 Tips for How to Optimize WooCommerce for Search
1. Include Product Descriptions
Consider your product descriptions as short, bite-sized pieces of content.
Take time to ensure that they are well-written and search engine-friendly. Use the keywords throughout the content, but keep the description engaging.
Product descriptions are used by search engines in much the same way as they use all the other content on your site because they contain important information about what keywords to rank your product page for.
While it’s possible to use product descriptions from manufacturers, it’s much better for your search engine rankings if you write your own because when it comes to deciding which piece of content is the original, search engines aren’t always very accurate.
2. Optimize Your Page Titles
The page titles that you craft need to be descriptive enough that both search engines and users know what your page is all about.
Most e-commerce sites have product pages and category pages.
Category pages help your customers to find the products that they are searching for on your site, and they also ensure that individual pages don’t compete with each other in the search results.
It’s better to optimize your category pages for a broad term while using product pages to rank for a variety of specific terms.
For instance, you could have a category for ‘Boots and High Heels’ with product pages that indicate the specific brand of the shoe such as ‘Black Jimmy Choo Pumps’.
3. Enable Breadcrumb Links
Breadcrumbs are those links that appear at the very top of product pages.
They help shoppers to easily move back to the previous category or landing page. The visitors can use them to see where they’ve been and where they currently are on your site.
But breadcrumbs aren’t helpful only for your customers, Google also uses them to see how your site is structured and shows them in the search results.
To make the most of your WooCommerce breadcrumbs SEO capabilities, simply use a plugin like Yoast SEO. You’ll learn a little more about this plugin in the section for SEO plugins below.
4. Simplify Your Site Navigation
In addition to the breadcrumbs, there are other ways of ensuring that people who come to your e-commerce site don’t get lost and confused.
One way is by using a site navigation that is simple and clean. This can have a huge impact on the time spent on your site and thus decrease your bounce rates.
If shoppers are spending more time looking around your site, that will raise your rankings in the search results.
To improve the navigation of your site, keep your main navigation simple and easy to follow. While Google may crawl all the pages on your site, your visitors will not.
Therefore, your main navigation should only have links to pages that are the most vital for your users.
Place all other links in your site’s footer area.
5. Use Short, Descriptive URLs
If you are using WordPress then you can enable WordPress permalinks to make your URLs accessible to both search engines and visitors alike. You can enable them by going to your Settings->Permalinks and then choose a URL structure.
A permalink lets you use keywords in your URL instead of the product ID.
To some, this may seem like such a small thing, but you’d be surprised at the difference that it makes to the ease with which your visitors move around your site.
So for someone not using permalinks in their e-commerce site, their URL would look something like this:
Whereas if you’re using permalinks, your default will look like this:
6. Craft Unique Meta Descriptions
These do not directly help your SEO but they do go a long way in improving your clickthrough rates.
Meta Descriptions show up under the page title in the search results, and they provide a description of the content of the page. A well-written meta description is a great way of getting searchers to click on your results.
Because Google sometimes uses these meta descriptions to generate search results snippets, it’s recommended that you write a unique meta description for each of your site pages.
You can use the Yoast SEO plugin to edit these descriptions.
Meta descriptions don’t have a fixed length, but according to Google, the snippets that house the meta descriptions are typically created by their systems dynamically.
With that being said, the average length for those snippets shown in desktop search results these days seem to be around 150 characters.
7. Include Image Alt Text
Alt text is the text that shows on the page when your image doesn’t load (for whatever reason).
It’s helpful to add alt text to your images because it makes your site more accessible to those people who browse using page readers.
Also, using alt text can boost your SEO. Your alt text should be clear and concise, and it should provide a very good description of that image. This is a great place for placing keywords but remember as always that the keywords have to flow naturally and make sense.
8. Avoid Using Duplicate Content
If you have duplicate content on pages of your site, or if some of your pages are too similar to others on the web, then Google is likely to prevent your content from ranking high in the search results.
So it’s vital that you watch out for any duplicate content on your site especially if:
- You use the same content in different areas of your e-commerce site
- You publish and share press releases regularly
- You have multiple websites that publish similar content
The best way of ensuring that your content ranks high is to only write and publish high-quality content that is original.
9. Choose the Best WooCommerce SEO Plugins
There are thousands of WooCommerce extensions and plugins that you can use for growing your business.
With this number of plugins available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to find the ones that are best for your WooCommerce site SEO.
But lucky for you, I have listed the top picks below:
This is one of the most effective SEO plugins that you will ever find. It allows you to choose a focus keyword for each of your site pages, and then gives you suggestions on using it to achieve great SEO results.
The right keyword use is vital if you are to attract the right type of visitors to your site. It’s also a determining factor in the rates at which you convert leads to customers and Yoast SEO will assist you in effectively using the right keywords.
404 errors should not be a common occurrence on your site.
This plugin can help you find all the broken links so that you don’t end up with a high bounce rate due to lots of 404 error pages. Because the Broken Link Checker is a resource-intensive plugin, you can’t leave it installed and active on your site.
Just install and activate it only when you want to use it. Go through your site at least twice a year to keep all your pages updated.
This is a great plugin to use especially if you already use Google Analytics for tracking site visitors, top keywords, and other similar data.
MonsterInsights affords you the power to use Google Analytics directly from your WordPress admin dashboard.
You will be able to monitor everything from potential problems to traffic spikes in real time in order to maximize each customer’s potential revenue.
These are 9 of the most important tips for making the most of your WooCommerce SEO.
But the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t get too obsessed with the technical side of things and forget that you’re dealing with actual people. So no matter what you do, make sure that the content on your site is well written and engaging.
Do not throw readability out the door simply because you’re trying to see how many keywords you can get away with stuffing into your titles and descriptions.
Write content for people, and use the tools mentioned here to help you rank that content at the top of the search results.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!
Updated: Originally published July 20th 2018