Your Guide To Technical SEO For BigCommerce
Everything You Need To Optimize Your Ecommerce Site’s Technical SEO
The new year is just a few weeks away, which means that there’s never been a better time to refresh your SEO knowledge. Google’s algorithm changes all the time, which can make ensuring your site is optimized a challenge. With this in mind, we’ve put together a checklist of the essential factors for your ecommerce site’s technical SEO in 2018. Once you take care of these things, you’ll be able to rank higher and meet your business goals.
Never heard the phrase “technical SEO”? Here’s a quick refresher on the three types of SEO:
On-page SEO is your site’s content. Having high-quality, useful content that hits relevant keywords is the secret to on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO relates to your site’s off-page links. If other authoritative and well-ranked sites link to your site, Google will rank it higher.
In addition to these two categories, there’s also something called technical SEO. Technical SEO is a bit harder to understand but it can basically be summarized as the “everything else” of your website. It includes everything related to the foundation, structure, and performance of the website itself.
Check to See If Your Site Is Indexed By Google
Pretty simple, but a big one. Does Google know you exist? A simple way to check is to run the command < site:yourdomain.com. It should come up with a list of all your site’s pages, except those you’ve blocked Google’s robots from accessing. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to submit your URL and sitemap to Google if you want it to show up at all.
Optimize Your Ecommerce Site For Mobile
How responsive (or mobile-friendly) your site is makes a big difference in your rankings. Not only are mobile-friendly sites ranked higher overall but Google’s bots actually discourage mobile users from visiting sites that aren’t optimized for mobile. With about 60% of web traffic coming from mobile, that’s business you can’t afford to leave on the table.
So if your site isn’t optimized for mobile at all, or if it was optimized in a way that’s now outdated (e.g. you have a separate mobile site rather than a responsive design), then you should work with a developer to bring your site into 2018 with a flexible, responsive design and other mobile-friendly elements Google looks for, such as AMP pages.
Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? Try running it through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test!
Faster Websites Rank Higher, Everytime
Google has considered page load speed to be a ranking factor for years and studies shows that speed is the decisive factor affecting your bounce rate. It’s particularly important in ecommerce, where a slow site isn’t just inconvenient but might signal to the customer that your store isn’t trustworthy.
So how fast is fast enough? Studies show that the magic number for page-load speed is less than three seconds but even faster than that is preferable. Measure your site’s speed metrics with tools from Google or GT Metrix to see if you’re up to snuff.
Are Your Headers and Meta Content Relevant?
Content like website copy, blog entries, and relevant contact information are all important for both SEO and usability. But the content contained within your website’s structure (such as meta content) also affects your rankings. To make sure your site appeals to Google’s bots, every page should include the following:
- A title tag
- Meta content
- Relevant headers (h1, h2, etc).
All this content should be original and include at least one relevant keyword (but don’t “keyword stuff” or you’ll face a penalty!). You should also periodically check your website for duplicate content, as well as “thin content.” It’s easy for these pages to be generated and go unnoticed in an ecommerce environment.
Clear, Consistent Site Architecture Boosts SEO (and Sales!)
Site architecture is one of the most important factors for both your site’s SEO and overall user experience. Basically, the pages of your website should be linked together in a way that gives both Google’s bots and your users a sense of where they are on the site and where they should go next. In ecommerce, a logical chain would be home → category → subcategory → product. Using a “breadcrumbs” structure (a type of secondary navigation that shows users where they are in the chain) is the best way to do this.
Internal links – links that go to another page of your site rather than an outside page – are also an important factor in site architecture. Google links internal links for the same reason it likes external links: it shows that a page is important.
Do You Have Strong URLs, 404s, and Redirects?
Short URLs written in plain English contribute help Google’s bots understand your site and contribute to a clearer sitemap. For example, www.yourdomain.com/womens-shoes is a good URL but a URL that is mostly a jumble of letters and numbers may hurt your rankings and decrease customer trust.
If you’re playing around with URLS, it’s important to ensure that you’re not overloading your site with 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is a way of automatically sending visitors to a different URL than the one they typed in the search bar or clicked. Using them is sometimes necessary if you’re dealing with a larger or older site, but too many can negatively impact the performance and rankings of your site.
Another simple but essential SEO task is to create a custom 404 page. A 404 page is the name given to the “error” page that users land on if they type in or click a bad URL. The default 404 page is usually a plaintext “Not Found” and landing on it will almost certainly make your customer exit out of the site. However, building a custom 404 page with a clear link to return to the homepage will keep them from bouncing.
Contact Us Today And Make 2018 The Year You Rank #1
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