Site architecture and on-page SEO for eCommerce

In 2020, the way that businesses operate has changed far more that anyone could have predicted. With the usual shift toward a more advanced web, and the way search evolves, we knew that this would be the case, but when you add in the small matter of a global pandemic and a collapse of major economies the difference year-on-year is startling

One of the main shifts is that, with government enforced closure of high street stores, businesses have been looking at how they can continue trading. One solution is to offer a digital store and rely on eCommerce.

The idea sounds simple, you build a site, list your products and add in a payment function and off you go. In truth most businesses do this for the greater return on investment which most cases offer but the problem comes with the more technical nuances of SEO and getting the page or products in front of the right audience at the right time. The following text is taken straight from Chapter 2 for our SEO for eCommerce series and you can read the full boxset here.

What are on-page SEO metrics?

On-page SEO, is the process of optimising various parts of your website both (front-end and back-end components) so that it ranks in search engines and brings in new, relevant traffic. There are plenty of elements to good on-page SEO and the following 10 areas are those that we feel make the biggest difference – especially for eCommerce businesses.

  • High-Quality Page Content
  • Page Titles
  • Headers
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Image Alt-text
  • Structured Markup
  • Page URLs
  • Internal Linking
  • Mobile Responsiveness
  • Site Speed

Making sure that these areas are considered and addressed is vital as it tells Google all about your website and how you provide value to visitors and customers. The on-page term alludes to the changes that you make that you visitors can actually see, whereas off page is the more technical stuff in the background that we have covered in other resources.

High-Quality Page Content

The last thing you want on your website is thin content that doesn’t offer much to the user, and by this I don’t always mean that it is short content that doesn’t contain the correct keywords, but rather that, in some cases, it is irrelevant content.

One of the terms which has been used in the industry is ‘pogo-sticking’, that is, when a user performs a search in Google, sees the link to your site and clicks for more information. Within seconds of hitting your site they head straight back to the SERP as the content, products or services aren’t relevant to the search term, and they want a different option. High quality on-page content stops this from happening, as you are more likely to fulfil the search query and offer the information that the user requires.

‘Quality’, by its nature, is generally qualitative – there’s something ephemeral and subjective about the definition. However, in a field which – rightly or wrongly – prides itself in being predominately data-driven, such a non-specific term is virtually useless to us.

For that reason, what we need to do is to break down this ‘quality’ that is much discussed in to quantitative terms. Measuring the immeasurable is not as much of a losing battle as it may first seem, however, as the ‘quality’ we are looking to define here is a series of machine translatable aspects of a larger whole.

Because we are looking at quality as it could be understood by an algorithm, we can bypass the quality of the writing – beyond structural, grammatical and accuracy measurements (spelling, punctuation etc.) and we can look at elements of a piece of content or a web page which an algorithm could easily understand.

In our recent eBook looking at content quality, we asked the following questions:

Can the content be reached?
Firstly and importantly, the ability for the data to be discovered by search engines has to be the first point in any checklist. This means that you should ensure your content is not blocked by robots.txt or any in any other way out of the reach of search engines.

Is the content quick for users to access?
With the shift to mobile devices, search also developed the need for low demand, high speed pages. In order for your content to be considered ‘quality’, it will need to load quickly – so you will need to avoid render blocking scripts, loading too many animations, images or excessive numbers of fonts to ensure that the content is fast loading.

Is the content well written?
This is not a measure of literary value, it simply refers to the use of correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. As far back as 2011, Matt Cutts was advising that such things were already a ranking factor (though presumably of low weighting), so ensure you’re running your copy through a spell checker.

Is your data using the right structured data types?
Schema helps to add machine readable context to your content, so ensure that you’re employing the various schema types that are available to your content and your industry.

Are you attracting the right links?
There has been an over reliance on DA as an indicator of quality as far as links are concerned – but in reality, we should be looking at industry relevant domains to build our authority in order to serve as a frame of reference for our content.

Among other things, these are five quantitative measurements we can make that can allow us to better build our chances of producing ‘quality’ content.

Internal Linking

When you (or your web dev) initially built your site, there would have been a fairly strict hierarchy in place – through your main nav menu, for example, and through category and other pages that have been stocked with well researched copy, are keyword targeted and which point to all appropriate pages. However, over time – no matter how careful we are – this structure will begin to fray at the edges and, if left unchecked, the whole thing can unravel altogether.

For this reason, it’s vital that part of your organic search (SEO) strategy is a periodic assessment of your internal linking. This is not to say all pages need to lead to all other pages – just that as a site expands (and if you’re successful, they almost all do), it is important to nurture the consumer journey and allow for Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) to flow through the site well.

From an eCommerce perspective internal linking is vital. When you display a range of products make sure that you link to similar products or services in the range, that you offer other recommendations and that there are opportunities to pair items.

We cover the full list above in our latest ebook which you can read here in order to determine the importance of these factors. Those choosing to download will also get access to SEO for eCommerce – Chapter 1 as a bonus download.

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