Search engine optimization (SEO) gives you the chance to enter the minds of your customers, exploring their interests and desires in order to best serve them through your content, products or services. It’s just as much of an art form as it is a science, but businesses sometimes get so caught up on the creative that they forget the technical part of SEO is equally important. So, just what is technical SEO and how does it impact your eCommerce SEO strategy?
Intro to eCommerce SEO
SEO is the process of taking steps to bring a higher quantity of qualified traffic to your site. In general, your goal for SEO is to “rank” on the list of search engine results in order to maximize the number of visitors to your site.
eCommerce SEO efforts affect organic search rankings on a site, so investing in SEO efforts upfront can have a strong, positive impact in the long-term.
There are three types of eCommerce SEO that work together to help optimize your site:
- On-page SEO: On-page (or on-site) SEO pertains to the content that appears on your site. It includes the copy you write, the images you choose and the keywords you want to rank for. By tailoring your content and overall website experience to support your target customer’s wants and needs, you can help search engines learn which circumstances your site would be most relevant to your audience.
- Off-page SEO: Off-page (or off-site) SEO involves building and fostering relationships between your site and other relevant sites in order to demonstrate its level of trustworthiness. This is done through link building–that is, growing the number of links that go to your site, from your site and throughout your site. Generally, the higher the number of backlinks your site has from authoritative sites, the more legitimate your website appears to both Google and site visitors.
- Technical SEO: Technical SEO includes several elements that may not always be top-of-mind. It involves the back-end elements of your site functionality, making sure that everything works properly and can be easily found by the search engines.
Some people dive right into on-page and off-page SEO because it feels like the more “fun” stuff, but failing to dedicate time to your technical SEO efforts can have a negative impact on your ranking and overall business.
In fact, without technical SEO strategies in place, it’s possible that potential visitors may never be delivered all of the fantastic, creative content you’re publishing on your site. That would be such a shame.
How Does Technical SEO Work?
The basic measurement of technical SEO’s success is essentially how well the elements of your site can be cohesively understood by a search engine. Read on to understand the processes by which Google learns about your site in order to determine how it ranks.
A Web crawler, also called a bot, spider or crawler, is an application that moves through public links on the web to discover different pages with the purpose of bringing any information it learns back to its servers for indexing.
The process of crawling involves moving through various sites and picking up pieces of data. If your site isn’t crawlable, the crawlers won’t be able to collect data about it, meaning it won’t be able to be used to help search engines like Google evaluate its relevance.
A robots.txt file allows you to control how Google’s website crawlers will move through your site, and whether they are allowed to at all. This is important because it helps you ensure the crawlers are finding the information that you feel is most important to your visitors.
The Google Search index is like the index in a book and, according to Google, it’s over 100,000,000 gigabytes! When a page gets indexed, it goes into Google’s robust aggregate of site information, matching search terms to site copy.
It will stay there until Google needs to find it. You can tell if your site is in Google’s index by doing a site: search for its homepage URL. If there are results when you search site: yourspecificwebsiteurl.com, then it’s indexed.
Once your site and its content are indexed, the information is available to be retrieved. Retrieval is the process of collecting relevant information and delivering it as a result of a user’s search.
Term frequency and inverse document frequency help determine the frequency and rarity of a certain term and are often used in information retrieval for search engines.
Google employs advanced and complex algorithms to help it determine what will be delivered as a result of your query. This is how it always seems to “know” just what you’re trying to find.
Ah, the elusive and treasured ranking. It’s what most eCommerce SEO strategists are working for–the position Google places your content when someone searches for a given word or phrase. There are many factors that affect your ranking, but a key element that influences a site’s ranking is a site’s crawlability.
If Google’s bots aren’t able to easily collect relevant information from your site, they won’t be able to accurately index it; therefore, they won’t be able to retrieve it when someone is looking for it.
Elements of Technical SEO
When evaluating how well-optimized your site is from a technical perspective, there are other key factors worth auditing aside from crawlability and indexing. ● Site speed: how quickly your pages load
- Site architecture: the way users can navigate through your site, its “framework”
- Mobile-friendliness: whether your site is optimized for mobile
- Security: the level of protection your site has to ensure confidential web transactions
- Structured data: additional information about a site’s page that helps crawlers understand it
Technical SEO Audit
Technical SEO is complex and, well, quite technical. With so many different elements to tackle, it can be tempting to just dive right in, but trying to take care of everything all at once is a recipe for confusion.
Instead, break out elements into tangible chunks and audit them one at a time, or follow a premade checklist to help provide direction. While you don’t need to be a developer in order to complete an SEO audit, sometimes working with a technical SEO expert can help you to better understand how to move through the process.
No matter how you choose to learn about and improve eCommerce SEO strategies, it should be an essential element of your overall web efforts.