10-Step SEO Checklist for Ecommerce Sites Entering 2016
With 2016 soon approaching, many ecommerce sites are restructuring their approach to SEO. With SEO strategies and best practices continuously evolving to the new standards of Google's search algorithm, there is no better time to revamp and optimize an ecommerce SEO program.
To help shed light on the vital areas that could use attention, below is a brief 10-step SEO checklist for ecommerce sites entering 2016.
10-Steps to Better SEO for Ecommerce Sites
While you could hire a SEO expert to conduct an ecommerce SEO site audit to address most of these elements, most of the following aspects can be handled with basic knowledge and access to the right tools. They include:
1. Pinpoint HTML Errors
Ecommerce sites are deep and highly technical. Any issues negatively impacting search engine crawling and indexing can plague SEO. Check Google Webmaster Tools to pinpoint any obvious HTML errors. Further, use tools like W3C Markup Validation Service to ensure the ecommerce site is error free.
2. Check for Broken Links
Similar to the latter process of pinpointing HTML, make sure all broken links and 404 errors are corrected. These can hinder SEO and should be fixed with proper redirects.
3. Scan the Site's Backlink Profile
Using tools like A href's, Majestic, or SEO SpyGlass, get a full picture of the backlinks pointing to the ecommerce site. Audit both the sources and anchor text of the links. Spammy links can be disavowed. Further, too much optimized anchor text (keyword-stuffed anchor text) can indicate that any future link building should be done in natural fashion (using anchor text like "domain.com," "click here," or "learn more.")
4. Are You Using Schema Markup?
If you're not using any form of Schema markup (i.e. Product Schema for product pages,) then this is the year to get on board. While Google has yet to admit any correlation of using Schema and seeing better rankings, many ecommerce SEO's claim to experience dramatic improvement in search engine visibility.
5. Enhance Titles & Meta Data
Writing new page titles and meta descriptions for each page might be a bit much for an ecommerce site. But take a look at your top 10-20 pages generating the most organic search traffic and assess the page titles and meta data.
Are your titles keyword-relevant and under 63 characters? Are you meta descriptions creative, compelling, and under 154 characters. Writing great copy for these small yet significant page attributes has been shown to increase click-through rates, as well as uplift rankings.
6. Audit Your Page Copy
Similar to auditing the page titles and meta descriptions (which are visible in Google's search results), read over the copy populating your top pages. Does the copy reflect the voice of your ecommerce brand? Is it accurate, grammatically correct, and unique? Do you have at least 200 or so words on your key money pages?
7. Evaluate Your Ecommerce Site's Footer
Because footers are site-wide, or on all pages of your site, any links in the footer get special search engine attention.
Not all footers are created equal. For this reason, make sure your site's footer is aligned with your ecommerce SEO strategies. For example, having a section labeled "Most Popular Posts" is a great place to link a few of your best, traffic-generated blog posts. Further, you can link to "Top Products," "Video Reviews," and other linkable SEO assets in your footer.
8. Expand Your Sitemaps
Using a sitemap, or many segmented sitemaps, is essential for ecommerce SEO and ensuring proper crawling and indexing of your key money pages. If you current sitemap only contains a few major pages in your site's navigation, then it's time to expand. Because ecommerce sites often have thousands of pages, try developing segmented sitemaps based on various product categories or brands. There are no rules, but do apply a layer of logic and organization to constructing your sitemaps.
9. Assess Your Social Media Status
If you've been slow to embrace social media in 2015, now is the time to establish a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn (at very least.) These social media platforms can greatly help fuel your ecommerce SEO efforts.
10. Craft a Content Strategy
In addition to being powerful channel for inbound marketing, content marketing is one of the best supplements to ecommerce SEO. First, determine the various types of content that you're capable of creating (i.e. articles, blog posts, video, graphics, etc.) Next, make a list of questions, problems, solutions, and topics that you want to convey in your content. Lastly, create the content and get it published, whether on your ecommerce site, or on another relevant sources (preferably one that gets a lot of traffic.)