Technical SEO for eCommerce: 6 Things You Need to Know (and Do)

From keyword optimization and link-building to responsive web design and page load time, there’s certainly a lot to think about when it comes to eCommerce SEO.

Let’s start by covering the three different types of SEO that you should know about: on-page SEO, off-page SEO and technical SEO.

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of individual web pages, such as the content and HTML source code. An example of on-page SEO is keyword optimization (trying to rank certain pages for certain keywords).

Off-page SEO helps to improve your domain authority. It refers to the optimization of everything off of your site, like link-building and relationship-building. With off-page SEO, you are basically trying to get others to promote your site.

Finally, technical SEO has to do with making website and server optimizations so that search engines are better able to crawl and index your site.

In this blog post, we’re going to focus on technical SEO. If you aren’t super technical, fear not. Technical SEO might feel a bit intimidating (because it can get pretty technical), but this blog post will try to provide you with a more high-level overview of what you need to know.

And then if you’re ready to get really technical, we’ll provide you with a few helpful resources at the end that will allow you to dig in a bit further—or you can get in touch with us and let us do the dirty work for you!

But first, here are six essential technical SEO tips for your eCommerce site:

1. Make Your Site Mobile-friendly

This really should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Your site must be mobile-responsive.

Even if your data shows that the majority of your shoppers come from desktop, Google favors websites that have responsive web design.

And in 2018, Google introduced “mobile-first indexing,” in which the search engine crawls and indexes the mobile version before the desktop version. Or as Moz puts it, “the mobile version will be considered the primary version of your website.”

So if you don’t have a mobile-responsive website, your business is missing out. Big time.

2. Use a SSL Certificate

A SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate is used to encrypt all data sent to your server, creating a secure connection between browser and server. You can tell if a website has a SSL certificate because the URL starts with “https://” instead of “http://”:

Since you’ll be accepting credit card information on your website, a SSL certificate is crucial for security purposes. As an added benefit, it can also help improve SEO.

As of mid-late 2018, Google even started flagging sites that don’t use SSL certificates as unsecure, which means that all visitors to these flagged sites are shown a warning that looks like this:

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SEO aside, I certainly wouldn’t trust or hand my credit card information over to an eCommerce store that is tagged as “Not Secure”…would you?

3. Speed Up Your Site

Nearly half of website users will abandon a site that doesn’t load within three seconds. Even just a one-second delay in page load time results in a 7% decrease in conversions. That might not sound like a lot….but if you make $100,000 in sales per year, then that means you’re losing $7,000 in sales.

In addition to increasing your bounce rate, a slow load time will also hurt your SEO.

So what can you do to speed things up? Well, a few things. You could:

  • Use a fast DNS (Domain Name System) provider
  • Minimize image sizes
  • Minimize “http requests”
  • Use one CSS stylesheet
  • Compress web pages
  • Minify site’s code (remove all non-essential characters from source code)

Here are more ways that you can decrease your page load time.

4. Fix Duplicate Content Issues

Just as it sounds, duplicate content is content that appears more than once at the same URL (ie: your website). When you have duplicate content on your site, the search engine doesn’t know which content to rank. As a result, it will end up ranking both pieces of content lower. For that reason, it’s vital to fix duplicate content issues.

Unfortunately, because eCommerce websites tend to have many more web pages than the average website, duplicate content is an easy problem to have.

Types of Duplicate Content to Look Out For

Pagination, where product listings are spread out over multiple pages, is a common issue faced by eCommerce sites. While pagination might be preferable to infinite scroll in certain ways (at least as it relates to user experience), the downside is that search bots might get confused as they are crawling your content.

There are a number of ways that you can counteract this issue. For example, if it’s suitable for your business, you could add additional category pages or include more products for each category page.

In addition to pagination, also be on the lookout for other things that will result in duplicate content, like printer-friendly versions of your content and multiple versions of a page or post.

What to Do About Duplicate Content

So what can you do to fix all these duplicate content issues? Take advantage of canonical URLs where necessary (canonical URLs tell search engines which piece of content or link to prioritize; a canonical URL is the URL that you want people to be referred to).

Alternatively, you could set up a 301 redirect from one page to the original page. This will help ensure that your pages stop competing with each other and instead are seen as one page by search engines.

5. Create an XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap lists all of your website’s URLs. It tells Google what pages to crawl, which can ultimately help improve your SEO.

In your XML sitemap, you could tell search bots which pages to prioritize; bots will then focus on crawling those pages first. You could also provide time-related information, like when your web page was last changed and how frequently it will continue to change.

Want to create an XML sitemap? Here’s how to do it.

6. Use Schema Markup

Which one of these four listings below would you be most likely to click on:

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Chances are, it’s the third one. The third listing relies on schema markup, which helps to increase click-through rate and visibility in search engines. But even though schema markup helps websites rank higher in search engines, only .3% of all websites take advantage of it. Make sure your website isn’t one of them.

So what exactly is schema markup, anyway? Schema markup is used to tell search engines what your data means. It allows search engines to better understand your content, index your site more effectively and provide users with more relevant content.

Schema markup allows things like rich snippets and star ratings to appear in search results, which makes it especially important for eCommerce websites. After all, even bad reviews help to improve conversions (by 67%)!

Technical SEO: Summing Up

Hopefully now you have a better overview of what technical SEO is and how you can take advantage of it to improve the ranking of your eCommerce site. To recap, here are six crucial technical SEO tips that will help you to increase your website traffic and more importantly, boost your sales:

  1. Make your site mobile-friendly
  2. Use a SSL certificate
  3. Speed up your site
  4. Fix duplicate content issues
  5. Create an XML sitemap
  6. Use schema markup

Need a little help with all of this? Our (very technical) team of SEO experts at eScale would be happy to provide a little assistance. Get in touch to find out about the eCommerce SEO services that we offer.

And if you’d like to venture out on your own with technical SEO, here are a few resources that you might find to be helpful:

Good luck!

Mary Blackiston

Mary is the Content Marketing Specialist for eScale. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, rock climbing, blogging, traveling, and soaking up as much eCommerce knowledge as she can.