SEO for eCommerce in 2021
This article has been updated since it was drafted back in 2014, with the addition to Shopify SEO, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and content marketing covering your online store and home page. It is important to note that today's tools are more technical, and have more metrics to measure your marketing effectiveness than back 7-8 years ago. The base rules still apply, the tools have just expanded.
Google Search Console: This needs to be connected to your google session's email and have the sitemap XML file entered in the console for the Google bots to crawl your pages and index them. This captures your organic content, your search keywords will be collected, and based on the authority of your site/page will direct search traffic to your online store. This is a must for all online stores to get searched.
Organic Content: Keeping your page and site active with updates in content and keywords that are optimized to your content marketing strategy is important to keep up. Your upkeep is going to tell the google bots of the changes and it will update and refine search results based on them. Keywords get associated with other keywords based on search patterns - these patterns change and updating your content for these changes matters too. Your target audience shifts in their search criteria.
Your online store structured data: In order to keep your marketing campaigns in line with your organic content, your page titles, title tags, meta tags, alt text, product pages, and product descriptions keywords must be aligned and be SEO friendly. Taking a piece of content from a page is not going to get the bots to notice that your website is optimized for that keyword - it is the whole website being taken into account, and where/how often with what correlated keywords it will index and associate to your site for relevance on a search. Social networks, Social Media Content, and video content are all part of this association, and whereas Shopify Apps might assist in getting your organized, your content marketing strategy is what will drive your brand awareness forward.
The online marketing industry, and in particular inbound organic marketing, has a huge variety of APIs that you can take advantage of for free starting right now. Pretty much every repetitive or monotonous task has been developed in some clever way and packaged up into an API product for paid or free use.
Many SEO APIs are sold on the back of premium SEO services. For example Moz.com, ahrefs.com, Majestic, as opposed to being developed as an entirely standalone service. This makes a lot of sense as these companies would be wasting a lot of useful resources and would be somewhat inefficient as a company if they didn’t leverage their own API functionality and data.
SEO API pricing
Because of the nature of API services already operating in the industry, you have to be careful not to pay twice for your APIs. What do I mean by this? If we take moz.com as an example, API packages are completely separate to the Moz marketing services. However, essentially the Moz marketing services/analytics (which range from $99/month to $599/month) simply take advantage of their own APIs (which ranges from $0/month to $10,000/month) anyway. So if you’re looking to find the PA of 100 domains all at once, you could do a loads of separate searches in Open Site Explorer, or you could make your own tool using their API and accomplish the same thing in just one search. The end result is the same, but using your own tool would yield faster results.
– Moz API pricing: http://moz.com/products/api/pricing
– Moz analytics pricing: http://moz.com/products/pricing
APIs are almost always priced on a per request basis. This is just as true for the popular SEO APIs – Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, etc). There are usually some free plans, but these are almost always throttled such that the speed of results is reduced significantly. As an example, the paid Moz API at the lowest monthly commitment of $500/month is still 2000 times faster than the free API.
– Paid rate limit: 200 requests per second
– Free rate limit: 1 request per 10 seconds
This is extremely clever of Moz; their sign up and integration process with the API is really simple, and once you begin using it you’ll definitely want to begin paying sooner or later just to get around the free rate limit (which is super slow!). Note that the rate limit on the free API plan is increased to 1 request per 5 seconds for all paid Moz analytics customers – that’s twice as fast as the alternative free rate limit, yet still 1000 times slower than the paid API.
What can an SEO API do for me?
There are actually a number of really great uses for SEO APIs. Here’s some functionality we’ve gathered from the numerous APIs available:
– URL metrics – Number of links – Anchor text analysis – Link profile analysis – Types of links – Keyword sentiment analysis – Redirect paths and status codes – Backlink analysis – Search engine keyword analysis – Structured results data
Also note that some APIs provide historic figures for such functionality, though this often has a cost multiplier attached such that all things being equal, you pay more for historic records than today’s records.
Example use case: SEO Competition Scorer
One great use of these APIs is to make your own custom competition scorer. “But there’s already so many out there”, I hear you say. Well, that is correct, but these scores vary so much between each other that it’s really difficult to know which one you should trust. Therefore creating your own competition scoring tool for keywords in the search engines is a good way to leverage your own experience and knowledge, rather than trusting others. For example, many competition scoring tools do not take into account different types of search results listing; local, authorship, video, image, commercial, etc. Organic listings differ so much that you need to know exactly how your competition score is being formed – this is not something conventional competition scoring tools tell you (it is their secret sauce and ultimate USP, after all!).
– Moz API – for its link metrics (PA/DA/number of links/etc)
– Structured search results data. You need to be able to extract the search results for a given keyword in order to analyse the keyword’s difficulty – you can either build your own scraping tool, use an open source option such as Simple PHP Dom, or an API such as Analytics SEO’s structured results data
– Knowledge of what makes a keyword easy or difficult to rank for
– Proxies – Not a requirement as such, but if you’re scraping Google often then you’ll want to consider proxies to stay in their good books and not ban your IP (hint: lots of captchas!)
Example use case: Rank Tracker
Create your own rank tracker that automatically tracks rankings and rankings changes to all of your desired keywords on a regular basis. You could create a simple script in PHP based on the structured data requirement in the SEO competition scorer use case above. All you need to do is input your required ranking domain, decide how many pages you want Google to check, and then input all of your keywords. Then based on the results save everything to a database and run it as a cron job for desired intervals.
– Structured data of the search results for desired keywords (as mentioned above)
– Proxies – so you don’t overload Google and get yourself banned
Example SEO APIs
As mentioned, there are many APIs that could be used for SEO, even if not directly created for it. For example, a sentiment analysis API could help with keyword research, or a keyword suggestion tool could help find new niches and keyword ideas. Here’s some example APIs you could start using today, but I urge you to search for yourself for your own specific use cases.
http://www.analyticsseo.com/seo-data-api/api-documentation-2/ https://ahrefs.com/api/documentation/pages http://moz.com/products/api/pricing http://developer-support.majesticseo.com/api/commands/ http://www.webceo.com/seo-tools-api.htm https://developers.google.com/adwords/api/ http://www.webseoanalytics.com/api/ https://www.brightlocal.com/local-seo-apis/
At TheGenieLab, we specialise in API development, knowing how to help you connect different systems, and we also have lots of experience building API connectors from the ground up. Give us a call for some advice on your own project!