SEO and its impact on Google ranking is one of the most effective ways to increase revenue for your online store.
Most brands prefer to use ads to drive sales. The only problem is sales cease as soon as the ads are turned off. SEO, on the other hand, sets your store up for long-term success. Google and other search engines will keep sending you traffic long after you’ve finished optimising your site.
Getting to the top of Google isn’t easy, though. It takes time and effort. You’ll also need to know what it takes to rank. And here’s the kicker: there are more than 200 factors in total! That’s way more than your average eCommerce store owner can handle.
Lucky for you, you don’t have to worry about them all. Below we’ve shortlisted the most important Google ranking factors so you can focus on the things that move the needle most.
Google Ranking and BackLinks
Your website’s backlinks are one of the essential SEO rankings.
A backlink is simply a link from another website to your store. Backlinks show search engines that other websites trust your store and that it probably provides high-quality content and a great experience.
You want as many authoritative, trusted websites to link back to you as possible. But it’s not just a numbers game. Google also looks at the quality of the websites linking to you and their relevance. If you sell clothes, for instance, a link from a fashion blog is much more relevant than a car blog.
Google wants to provide its users with the best possible experience. Given most consumers are now searching on smartphones, that means making sure every site it ranks is optimised for mobile.
To do this, Google uses a mobile-first index and will primarily use the mobile version of your site for ranking purposes. If your store isn’t mobile responsive or doesn’t have a separate mobile version, you won’t rank as highly as you should.
Consumers don’t just want websites to look good on mobiles; they want sites to load fast, too. Google knows this, which is why site speed has been a Google ranking factor since 2010. More recently, Google has been checking mobile site speed, in particular.
If you want to rank high in Google, you need your site to be as quick as possible. All other things being equal, a faster website ranks higher. You can check your site speed using the PageSpeed tool, which will also provide recommendations to optimise your site.
Google favours different types of content for other queries. For example, someone searching for “best football boots” is looking for information so that Google will serve up review and comparison pages. Someone searching for “buy football boots” is looking to purchase so that Google will serve up eCommerce stores.
To rank well, you need to make sure you have the right type of content for every keyword you want to rank for. This means optimising your category pages alone might not be enough. You may have to write blog articles for specific keywords, too.
Meta tags used to be a massive ranking factor. While their importance has diminished slightly as Google’s algorithm has become more nuanced, they still play an essential role in helping search engines to understand what your page is about.
There are three key meta tags you need to optimise:
- Title tags – these tell Google what your page is about and provide the title for your link in the search results page.
- Meta descriptions – these are descriptions of your pages, which Google also uses on its results page.
- Image alt tags – these are descriptions which help Google understand what your images show.
Store owners should optimise each of these, but image alt tags are particularly important. Your store probably has a lot of product images and adding alt tags to these is a great way to boost your rankings.
Google can only rank your website if it’s able to crawl it. That’s why it’s essential to make sure your site architecture is clear and well structured.
Organise your website into subdirectories (like /blog, /products, etc.) so it’s easy for Google to understand what topics you want to rank for. Good site architecture will also mean you have clean URLs containing keywords — another factor search engines use to rank your site.
There’s no denying the importance of content when it comes to SEO. But this ranking factor is particularly important for eCommerce stores, where there is a risk of thin and duplicate content.
Because Google pays attention to the relevancy, length and quality of your content, there are several things you’ll want to do:
- Make sure every page has a suitable amount of content.
- Use Copyscape check for duplicate content.
- Establish a blog to make sure there is plenty of fresh, relevant content for Google to crawl.
The more content you create, the more opportunities you have to rank in Google, too.
Schema markup (also known as structured data) helps search engines to understand better and rank your content. Information is added to the HTML of your page, which tells Google’s crawl bot how to interpret specific pieces of content on the page (like products and business information), as well as the page as a whole.
There are thousands of tags you can use to help search engines better understand your content. That’s why it’s best to use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to get started.
We’ve spoken a lot in this article about how Google wants to provide the best experience for its searchers, so it’s no surprise it takes the user experience offered by your pages into account when ranking websites.
here are several signals Google looks at, in particular. These include:
- Your site’s bounce rate. This is the number of people that leave your site immediately after landing on it. A high bounce rate suggests your page is irrelevant.
- The dwell time. This is the length of time users spend on each page. High dwell times suggest your site is high-quality, engaging and worth ranking.
- The CTR of your result. This is the percentage of people who click on your link in Google, divided by the total amount of people who see it. It’s also used to determine how relevant your site is for specific searches.
Google wants to keep its consumers safe. To that end, it gives a small bump to sites that have HTTPS encryption as default. As an eCommerce store, there’s simply no excuse not to have one. If you don’t want to suffer a rankings drop at the hands of your competitors, then you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate for your site.
So there you have it, the most important Google ranking factors for eCommerce stores. Now there’s no excuse not to optimise your store and start ranking in Google.
Ed Currington is a freelance copywriter and content marketer for B2B tech, eCommerce and marketing companies. He specialises in long-form content.