Fighting the Big Boys: SEO Tips for Small eCommerce Businesses
Updated: Sep 8, 2021
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.
So you’re not ASOS and you’re not Amazon, but you still want to succeed online – don’t cry yourself to sleep just yet. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a crucial part of getting found, getting known and getting sales on the web, but next to these eCommerce giants, small eCommerce stores constantly find themselves outgunned, outmanoeuvred and battered back to page 4 of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). These gargantuan sites have incredible links from authoritative sources, terrifying domain authorities and great big online marketing budgets. So what on earth can the eCommerce everyman and lady do?
Well, the big boys might have more firepower but, as anyone familiar with the Biblical classic David & Goliath knows, size isn’t everything (it’s the motion of the ocean, after all). We’ve compiled a few smart search engine optimisation strategies to help little eCommerce underdogs get a few punches in…
With an estimated (minimum!) of 14,356,763 products, Amazon has more pages and more items than you. This means it also has longtail potential you can only dream of. One thing it doesn’t have? Specialisation. With so much to sell, Amazon do not have the time to focus, to specialise and to target niche markets. You do.
Diversify your categories. You know your products and your customers better than the big hitters do, so create a category page for each type, style or brand of light your visitors typically search for, whether that’s “fairy lights for the garden” or “pink butterfly fairy lights”. You’ll understand your product range better than we do, so use your common sense here. This will help you to target longtail terms and impress visitors with your knowledge and helpfulness, as well as growing your site a little.
Once you’ve started specialising cleverly, it’s time to jump on the social media bandwagon. Huge eCommerce big shots have the budget for massive, paid social media campaigns, but, yet again, they don’t have the time or resources to offer expert, niche advice and information and grow personal relationships.
Set up a Facebook and a Twitter, launch competitions, spark conversations, if your stock is particularly visually appealing, set up an Instagram and a Pinterest. Fairy lights are perfect for this, especially if you’ve got your creative hat on (see our next tip). Start communicating and make sure your activity is not all one-sided, you’ll soon build up followers interested in what you do – especially if you’re providing interesting or fun links. Social sharing and presence is pipped to be incorporated into page rank and domain authority algorithms soon, so it’s a good idea to get moving on this front, before a big Google update takes place.
Blogger outreach is another great tool for building links from good sources. This will help with your domain authority (though nowhere close to the big boys’) but it will also help to get your business under the noses of people who care about what you do and of potential new customers who could convert into buyers. Through your social media channels, get talking to bloggers in your industry, in this case, home design aficionados are your guys. Get them interested in what you do, if they’re keen, send out samples, ask for reviews. You could even offer them a guest blog spot on your site as publicity for their blog. A little blog love goes a long way!
If you know anything about SEO, you’ll know that content is now king. Creating blogs, guides, images, infographics, videos (you name it) which people love, share, reblog and blog about themselves is a surefire way to get your brand out there online. You can’t compete when it comes to quantity, so don’t waste your resources. Instead, put time and energy into coming up with something your online audience will love and share for you. We can’t tell you what this will be, but we’re sure you have plenty of creative genius and industry expertise up your eCommerce sleeves.
Once you’ve coined a great idea, it’s time to distribute it. That’s where all the hard work you put into communication comes in. Your enthusiastic, engaged network of fans, bloggers, influencers and followers will lap up your work and build your links for you, as long as the content is on point and brand, sparkling new! Make sure you take a look at any referral links you get to chase up any future opportunities.
Ultimately, you have what the big brands lack: a personal touch. SEO isn’t the faceless, online marketing you may think – a creative, personal approach really can work wonders and, as high quality content becomes more and more important, you may find that you have a niche edge that will rocket you up the SERPs. You will never trounce ASOS or Amazon, but you can certainly earn yourself a place right beneath them.