E-Commerce SEO Techniques: Long-Tail SEO For Niche Products
SEO is a tricky animal at times; there are some sites with an obvious mass market appeal and a whole array of keywords with an obvious customer generation potential:
If your website is about credit cards, your SEO strategy might be pretty clear
(although probably very challenging of course)…
But what if you sell a range of very niche products? Is SEO right for you? And if so, how should you go about doing it?
Niche Vs Broad Keywords
The good news is that “long-tail” key phrases are actually known to produce better traffic. In other words, ranking for more specific phrases will generate more visitors who are actually ready to buy, rather than broader phrases which produce less targeted traffic.
Baby Products Example:
Let’s say you sell niche products for babies (push chairs, cots etc…):
You could target broad phrases such as “baby accessories” or “push chairs”. These phrases would have a lot of potential traffic, but they would be hard to rank for.
The investment required to rank for these keywords may not actually be worth it (particularly for small businesses); historical data suggests that these phrases would not convert well. You would certainly make some sales from all that traffic, but possibly not enough.
Choosing Long-Tail Phrases
What about instead targeting phrases such as “three wheel quinny strollers” or “drop side toddler cot beds” (I don’t know the actual search volumes, these are just examples).
You might expect (quite rightly) that these phrases would not provide very much traffic; But whatever traffic they might provide would be very likely to result in a sale.
The real power of long-tail searches is that the small volumes of visitors provided by each phrase soon add up when you find your website ranking for dozens of different search phrases.
SEO Strategy For Long-Tail Phrases
When targeting a handful of phrases, doing the SEO is pretty easy: You will probably build a few links for each phrase you are targeting and spend plenty of time optimizing each page…
But if you are targeting the long-tail, you need to rank for many different phrases in order to get good results. Sometimes, traditional SEO methods just aren’t feasible…
Here’s how to get your e-commerce SEO up and running:
Avoiding Duplicate Content
Your first step is to make sure you don’t have any duplicate content. Each and every product you sell should have its own product page, with a unique title and description as a minimum. Don’t be tempted to use generic manufacturer descriptions.
If you have a suitable e-commerce system you should be able to build a product database in Excel. You can craft a descriptive title and description for each product without it taking too much time; and it will be worth the investment.
The product title can also be used as the page-title; so make your product titles long and descriptive, but keep them under 70 characters since that is Google’s display limit.
Create a short description for each product:
No more than 155 characters. This can be used in search results and category pages and will also be the product’s meta_description (again, for SEO purposes).
Also; create a much longer description:
This one will go on the actual product page, for the benefit of the customer. It can be as long as is necessary (don’t waffle though). Make it unique, descriptive and helpful… Try to actually sell the product!
Use Dynamic Content
Another great way to add content to your pages is by using dynamic content. A typical example is allowing customer reviews. Incentivise your customers to come back and leave reviews which will be helpful for future customers.
You can also use widgets which tell visitors what other products might go well with this product, or what other customers have bought/viewed (check out Amazon.com for a fantastic example of how to do this).
Consider Starting A Blog
One of the big challenges of niche SEO is building links. You simply can’t build links to every single product and you probably shouldn’t bother trying. Instead; try to build authority.
Your company blog will be where you talk about related but slightly broader topics. You can do all the normal SEO stuff on your blog pages and target broader phrases – don’t spend all of your SEO effort on tenuously related blog posts, but feel free to keep a list of keywords to target.
How To Blog & Writing Posts
Make it your goal to blog regularly (once a week is pretty sensible for small businesses like yours) and make each post interesting and helpful to your target audience.
Even if it doesn’t generate a lot of traffic directly, a well-kept blog will lend you a lot of credibility as a business, and that will lead to authority – which will help your rankings on other parts of your site (ie. Your product pages).
You can use your blog to let your business’s personality shine through. You should try to keep your posts relevant, but you can occasionally explore broader topics if you feel that your audience will find them interesting. Above all else, try to engage your audience, and take the time to ensure each post is well written and worthwhile.
How To Build Links
Ok, I know I said you can’t build links to your products, but you can very sparingly build links to some more popular products. A better strategy though, is to build links to your blog…
Baby-related blog owners (to stick with our earlier example) will much more readily link to your blog rather than your products and you can use guest posting to get your brand in front of your potential customers… This will only work if your blog is well maintained and good quality of course.
Building Links Like This Has 3 Benefits
If you get posts on popular and relevant blog, you will probably generate some bonus traffic, which can be very helpful in the early days.
It will get your blog some links, which is not just good for the blog; Building the authority of your blog will have a knock on effect on your entire website!
If your website/store is good enough (good products, prices and customer service) it will get people talking about you and you may gain more links without even trying.
Give Google The Right Information
For e-commerce websites there is one more thing you can do to help your products to perform better. Look into Schema.org and make your website compatible.
Schema is a way of labeling products on your website so that Google can “understand” what each bit of information means. You can label manufacturer, product image, price, description etc…
This is a great opportunity to stand out from the competition, especially since correctly labelled products can have enhanced listings when they do show up in search results. Your products may start showing up with product information shown and even with a thumbnail picture.
Focus On Your Website’s Performance
Once you start building traffic and making sales you will have the opportunity to track how your site is being used and you can start trying to improve it.
For e-commerce websites there are often too many pages to make optimizing individual pages worthwhile, so instead, try optimizing page layouts, templates and navigation.
Designing A Split Test
Hopefully, most of your traffic will be coming in via product pages (or maybe category pages), so start with these. For your first test, try a small adjustment, perhaps re-positioning the product title or image, making the description bigger, or moving a button.
Whatever you change, use Analytics (or split testing software) to see what difference it makes. For SEO purposes one of the best stats to track is bounce rate (although testing conversion rates is sensible too). In particular you need to filter the data to see the bounce for search engine traffic across all of your product pages.
Do a test for a week at a time (you can adjust that time depending on your traffic volume) and compare figures. Reducing your bounce rate will mean that you retain more visitors and it is also a very positive signal for the search engines.
Optimizing For Load Speed
E-commerce is all about user experience, so our final bit of SEO is going to focus on speeding up your site. Site speed doesn’t have a huge impact, but it does have an impact and improving user-experience can also benefit your SEO indirectly; which makes this win-win.
Going For The Easy Wins
Your site will probably have a few images, so make sure that you optimize all of them. Save them as small files (jpegs at 80% quality are normally best for the web) and if you use thumbnails, save these as separate images rather than just re-sizing them in the HTML (this can save a lot of loading time on category pages).
If all of this is too technical for you, it is well worth paying an expert to optimize your site, it should only take 2-4 hours to get 90% of the benefits.
And Finally: Customer Service
If you do all of the above, and keep doing it, you should be most of the way to an e-commerce site that actually deserves to rank. But remember that your website is your business… For long term success you need to build a business that deserves to rank.
You can set up a Google alert to track whether people are talking about you online. Make sure that your customer service is always excellent and be there to sort out problems when they do occur – look after your brand and you might find that your customers actually start helping you with your SEO!
Pay It Forward!
If you have enjoyed reading this post, please leave a comment and let us know. Better still, share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.
We rely on people just like you to spread the word and keep our community alive, so please take a moment to let us know which of these strategies you will be trying, or anything else that you think we have missed!