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Balance SEO and UX With These Ecommerce SEO Best Practices

Every day, users around the world submit over five and a half billion Google searches. That’s a lot of competition, especially when there are so many ecommerce businesses out there, competing for the same limited real estate at the top of the SERPs. Standing out from those competitors requires enlisting some help from tried and true ecommerce SEO best practices to ensure your website ranks competitively and efficiently. 

Search engine optimization will help your website rank more effectively, but it is only one facet of maintaining a successful online presence. Showing up in the results will help encourage conversions, but it is not the only way to influence them. It’s also critical to deliver an enjoyable, on-brand user experience, or UX . And the best part is, UX and SEO often go hand in hand. 

Ecommerce SEO best practices that create a better UX

SEO is about much more than keyword optimization and site speed – those things are critical components of optimization. But without the support of an enjoyable UX, visitors who get to your website will likely bounce in droves if it doesn’t meet their expectations. 

The following SEO best practices will have a profound impact on both garnering a higher SEO score for your website while at the same time positively affecting the experience of your customers. 

1. Create easily digestible segments of content – and optimize titles and meta data

Content is one of your best assets when it comes to balancing on page optimization and user experience, especially written content. Although users may be increasingly desirous of video and visual content, both Google and interested readers can easily scan the written content your site contains, whether in the form of product descriptions or blog posts.

Your customers, whether they come to your blog for information or your online store for products, are looking for something. If you can furnish them with helpful tips regarding the use or care of your products, or simply original information that they can’t get elsewhere, they’re going to remain on your page and become more likely to convert. 

That said, written content can be optimized in more ways than one for both the readership experience (UX) and SEO. 

With respect to readership, offer small, digestible, actionable items and morsels. Don’t overstate it, keep it brief. Optimize your headers with keywords and header tags (H tags). This is done so that both readers who skim and Google’s web crawlers can pick them up. 

As for the metadata associated with those pages, the same keyword research can serve you well when it comes to optimizing meta titles and descriptions. Write concise meta descriptions that contain a mix of useful keywords and inform the readers as to the nature of the page. Do the same for the meta titles, and keep the keywords strategy consistent across each page – a little help from these ecommerce SEO best practices will help give your website a boost.

2. Don’t neglect the effect intuitive navigation has on SEO

The organization of your site structure and the effects of intuitive navigation can impact both SEO and user experience (especially user experience) in very pronounced ways.

Site structure is one of the most important factors affecting SEO, and as a website’s collection of products or pages increases in scope, the more difficult it can become for users to navigate through it all intuitively. Developing a rational site architecture, augmented by features like a well-organized mega menu is one valid way to improve both SEO and UX.

Yet some customers need more than this, preferring instead to search for products, services, and ideas by name. Providing intuitive, prominently displayed site search functionality can improve the customer search experience and boost conversion rates in very obvious ways, by connecting customers with products and services that meet their needs.

Some ecommerce clients are concerned about certain aspects of site search application integration, on the grounds that some applications were built or integrated using code that Google could not crawl, which would in turn have an adverse impact on SEO. 

Both faceted navigation and Javascript have presented issues related to SEO in the past. For one, faceted navigation results could quickly chew up an ecommerce store’s crawl budget very quickly, as iterations of search result options grow exponentially. The other is that Google’s bots used to struggle when crawling and rendering Javascript, which hindered some ecommerce businesses’ SEO initiatives. 

However, the issues associated with Javascript have since been resolved, enabling businesses to implement search solutions like Searchspring to offer the ideal balance of optimization for UX and SEO. Now, crawlers that are able to crawl Javascript will see the Searchspring results, and crawlers that can’t will see the cart’s original results. This allows ecommerce businesses the best of both worlds – the positive UX associated with faceted search functionality, without any loss of SEO value.

3. Utilize and optimize original, relevant, high-quality imagery

One of the most basic best practices for fostering a pleasant user experience on your website is to make use of high-quality imagery, but it can’t just be high-quality. It should be original, and unique. Don’t use manufacturer or stock photography and images. Use imagery that frames your products and services favorably and shows them in action. Use imagery that you would share if you were a customer.

Quality photography doesn’t just help promote your brand and engage your customers. If it’s original, as we’ve suggested, it will help you avoid a duplicate content penalty from Google, but it gets better. 

You also have the option to optimize the images that appear in your ecommerce website’s blog posts and product pages with alternative text. Most visual and text editors allow you to easily enter alt text associated with your target keywords. It’s a small boost, but everything helps. 

One more ecommerce SEO tip – you can improve your SEO score by optimizing your images for load speed, which by the way, will also enhance your UX because nearly half of users (perhaps even more) will bounce if a website or its contents take more than 5 seconds to load. There are also a variety of ways you can optimize your images for speed, including adjusting the dimensions, using the right format, or compressing the image. 

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4. Invest in a pleasant, functional mobile design – now

Over half of ecommerce sales now come through mobile devices, and though the growth of mobile commerce, or M-commerce, is slowing, it is still positive. These facts offer a straightforward conclusion. The time to invest in a pleasant, UX-optimized mobile design was yesterday – but if you haven’t yet, there’s no time like the present.

There are two significant ways to approach the imperative for a well-arranged mobile website design. One is from the perspective that it will affect user behavior. If a visitor to your mobile ecommerce website is pleased by the balance of elements, not struck by lopsided images or text-heavy, scroll-unfriendly architecture, two things are likely. One is that the user will spend more time on-page or visit more pages on your website, both of which can be important Google ranking factors. The other is that the visitor will be more likely to convert, which is the ultimate goal of your ecommerce site, anyway.

The other way to approach the need for a mobile-friendly, responsive website is strictly limited to the direct impact it will have on SEO. In September 2020, Google began mobile-first indexing across the board. This means that Google will first crawl and index a website’s mobile version before it addresses the desktop version. It’s a sign of the times, and it couldn’t be a clearer statement that mobile design influences SEO directly and dramatically.

Bonus ecommerce SEO best practices (which may still help UX)

The four aspects of SEO that are the focus of this article will have a marked impact on UX as well, but as you’re giving your website the once over, consider these bonus ecommerce SEO tips:

  • Find keywords that are worth pursuing: not all keywords are worth targeting as a part of your keyword strategy. Sometimes keywords that look promising are too competitive; other low-hanging fruits simply lack the volume to make them worthwhile. Your strategy should include both long and short-tail keywords, some that are competitive, and others that are more attainable. 
  • Create content that users will want to share: a content strategy will hook your loyal customers and attract new ones, especially if you furnish them with tips for using, maintaining, and pairing your products, which they simply can’t find elsewhere. 
  • Allow customers to submit user-generated content: reviews, customer imagery, and testimonials are all excellent for UX, which can translate to more time on page and more backlinks, increasing referral traffic and SEO value. 
  • Find and remove broken links: Google’s crawlers hate broken links, and for what it’s worth, it looks pretty shoddy and creates a fairly negative customer experience when a customer’s click serves up a 404 on a silver platter. 
  • Get serious about site speed: there are countless ways to improve site speed, from migration to a more capable platform with better security and uptime, to compressing images and minifying code. Every bit counts, and every half second shaved off of load time has the potential to translate to several more seconds of time on-page. 

There are countless more helpful ecommerce SEO best practices, many of which will also have a positive effect on UX. The ultimate goal of balancing a pleasant user experience and outranking the competition has a lot of moving parts, but one can only make a difference one step at a time. Start with these: every little factor counts in SEO, and every improvement may result in additional organic traffic that’s more likely to convert.