In order to survive and thrive your store needs a steady stream of customers. Without customers you have no revenue. If you host on BigCommerce SEO is one of several ways you can drive targeted traffic.
What Is E-Commerce SEO?
Unlike paid advertising like Google Shopping campaigns and social media ads, SEO costs far less to implement and maintain.
An optimized store also continues to generate traffic compared to paid campaigns that stop performing when the budget runs out and campaigns shut down.
In this article we’ll look at some of the easiest SEO tactics you can use to build visibility and drive targeted traffic to your BigCommerce store.
BigCommerce SEO starts with keyword research
The root of successful SEO with a BigCommerce store is keyword research. The research you perform will help you understand the words and phrases your audience will use to find the products you’re selling.
Gaining visibility in search is important because 44% of online shoppers begin their journey with a search engine. While the terms they use can vary based on intent, the end of the journey is the same – the purchase of a product.
Ideally, you want them to purchase that product from your BigCommerce store.
Optimizing your store for the search terms your customers will use improves the odds customers will find you over the competition.
Start by creating a targeted keyword list.
This list will contain head terms as well as long-tail phrases that relate to your products, categories, and business.
Head terms are short, simple keywords that drive a lot of traffic because they’re heavily searched. An example of a head term would be “running shoes”.
Long-tail searches are longer phrases. An example of a long-tail search would be “best men’s running shoes for marathon”.
While these see less traffic, they’re more specific and are far more likely to convert because the customer intent changes. Most customers use more-specific long-tail keywords when searching for products. In fact, one study found that over 90% of keywords search were long-tail keywords.
You’ll want to create a list of head and long-tail terms for each of your products. Use a keyword research tool like Google’s Keyword Planner, KWFinder, or SEMrush to discover the search volume of the keywords you choose. You can also use these tools to get suggestions for other long-tail search terms you hadn’t considered.
Keyword research isn’t difficult, it’s just a little time consuming. Once you’ve finished, BigCommerce makes the rest of your search optimized much easier.
Optimize the meta data for every page
BigCommerce SEO is made simple with some built in features and fields, so you never have to enter or adjust the actual code of your online store.
Rather than directly manipulate the meta tags of your pages, BigCommerce gives you specific fields for adjusting the title, meta keywords, and meta descriptions of your home page and the individual product and landing pages
Be sure to create a unique title and meta description for each product page using the best keywords you uncovered for each product.
The best BigCommerce SEO strategy will also include optimization of meta data for each of your category, product, landing pages, and even your blog pages.
In addition to contributing some to your organic search rank, the title and description are the first things customers see when they encounter your site in search. It’s the first opportunity for conversion, and the keywords you used are bolded.
Smart optimizing and compelling copy can win the click over competitor sites, even if you’re not the top result.
Use a mobile-friendly Bigcommerce theme
Roughly eight-in-ten Americans are now online shoppers: 79% have made an online purchase of any type, up from only 22% back in 2002. Alongside eCommerce growth is the growth of the mobile user. More consumers are using mobile devices like phones and tablets to shop online, either to complete purchases or perform initial research before making a purchase on a desktop device.
Mobile use continues to surge, and online shopping along with it.
To ensure you capture that mobile traffic you want to optimize your store for the mobile user. That optimization isn’t just to ensure a smooth shopping experience though.
In 2017, Google adjusted its algorithm to include mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. Sites not considered “mobile-friendly” would struggle to rank in mobile search.
Thankfully, BigCommerce makes this easy. Virtually every theme you can pick from in the BigCommerce marketplace is designed to be responsive and mobile friendly.
The Stencil Theme is a great example of a responsive design and is also a great choice for BigCommerce SEO.
If you’re having a custom front end designed for your store, make sure the design is optimized for the mobile user including fast load times and an intuitive layout.
Optimize site speed for your BigCommerce store
You already gain the benefit of a cleaner, faster eCommerce experience by using a reliable platform like BigCommerce. Virtually all the prebuilt themes and templates are designed to offer a smooth shopping experience.
Still, if you’re not careful about the media and apps you use you can slow down the performance of your store.
In 2018, Google announced that page speed would be one of the more important ranking factors in search results. Especially for mobile search. How fast your store loads will be vital not only to search visibility but also conversions.
According to research from MachMetrics, most sites have a load time of around 8 to 11 seconds. Unfortunately, research from Google that same year showed 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to fully load.
You can also use free tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test for factors impacting your load speed.
Once you run it on your site, Google can make optimization recommendations.
Because BigCommerce uses shared hosting there’s not much you can do to improve load speed in that regard. However, some other areas you can optimize including:
- Shrinking decorative and product images to load faster
- Use Cache plugins so pages aren’t loaded dynamically on every visit
- Simplify redirects that may be forcing slow loading times
- Try to consolidate apps and plugins that may be slowing down store performance
The Shogun page builder app can help you in many of these SEO areas. By default, it compresses images and uses lazy loading (if an image is below the fold, it doesn't load until the visitor scrolls down and is able to see it).
And in terms of BigCommerce SEO plugin consolidation, there's nothing better than Shogun. In just one app, it gives you a page editor (which includes custom forms, slider menus, countdown clocks, and other elements that often come as standalone plugins), an analytics tool (review total sessions, sales conversions, bounce rate, etc.) an AB testing tool, and more.
Optimize category pages
Category pages aren’t just a gallery of related products. With BigCommerce SEO, strategic navigation is important for optimization of the user experience as well as establishing relevance between products and categories.
When designing your store, make sure the architecture is developed in silos.
This represents a natural flow from home page, to category, possible sub-categories, and finally the product pages. When you use bread crumb links, these product pages will point back up to the leading category page and help search engines identify the importance and relevance of these category pages.
Each category page should be further optimized where possible. This includes:
- Optimized page titles and meta descriptions
- Optimized title and alt tags for any images used on the category pages
- Relevant, high value content on page optimized for search as well as the user experience
That last bullet point is important.
Optimize category page content to boost BigCommerce SEO efforts
Your product pages aren’t the only places for an optimized write up and description. Each category page you create should also have descriptive content optimized for the customer as well as search.
The content doesn’t have to interrupt the category experience. Put your grid or list product layout first so it shows above the fold. Give it a clear H1 tag with a brief description that’s just a few sentences. The rest of the optimized content can follow your category selections at the bottom of the page.
This placement won’t steal the attention of the customer but even with lower placement on the page will contribute SEO value to each category page.
You can even link product-specific keywords to individual product pages or sub-category pages to support your internal link strategy.
Here’s an example of a BigCommerce client placing optimized content at the bottom of a category page.
Just be sure to include valuable content your customers can benefit from rather than stuffing in keywords and junk content for the sake of optimization.
BigCommerce SEO Upkeep: Monitor page permalink changes
Over time you’re likely to have products as well as custom landing pages created for campaigns move or get deleted. Unfortunately, external links (and even internal links) could still be pointing to those pages. A customer landing on an error 404 page is more likely to search elsewhere online for the product rather than dig through your site for the right page.
Fortunately, BigCommerce automatically sets up 301 redirects if you make changes to a page like changing the product name. Not only will BigCommerce adjust the current URL to reflect your changes it creates an automatic redirect so any traffic pointing to the old URL won’t get lost.
This only applies to changes you make to live pages. If you delete landing pages or products you’ll need to setup the redirect on your own.
BigCommerce provides a simple interface for setting up 301 redirects in your dashboard.
Do this for every page you delete.
Set the redirect to a relevant category or product page. If you don’t have something relevant, then there’s always the home page.
Just keep in mind that you don’t want to confuse your customer. If they’re expecting information on a promotion or a specific product, being sent to another page could result in them leaving to find it elsewhere. To avoid this, consider updating the page or creating a custom landing page that informs them the information they’re looking for is expired, discontinued, etc.
Use that custom landing page to make suggestion for similar products, promotions, or categories that could keep them engages and shopping.
Rich snippets - a built-in BigCommerce SEO benefit
BigCommerce supports the use of additional markup language to make rich snippets appear in search engines. Typically, Google displays the title and meta description of pages in the search results. With this additional markup you can tell search engines how to display additional data about your store and products.
Using rich snippets you can establish relevancy for products and provide customers with quick access to information that can encourage them to click through to your product. This includes data like:
- Product price
- Product images
With BigCommerce supporting rich snippets you should take advantage not only for the SEO benefit but also for garnering the extra traffic from search engines. Companies who use rich snippets see a 20-30% rise in click through rates.
You can see the difference in basic search results and those with variable amounts of product data featured based on rich snippets:
BigCommerce themes featured in the marketplace include structured data for all product pages as a native feature. That means you don’t have to do anything extra in order to benefit from rich snippets. Microdata used in rich snippets is pulled directly from the information you provide, so be sure to fill out all the details of your products when creating product pages.
Next Step – Taking Control of BigCommerce SEO
SEO is more important than ever with the growing competition in eCommerce. Without proper optimization you’ll spend more time and more of your budget on paid advertising to acquire new customers.
The right approach to organic SEO will ensure your BigCommerce store gains better search visibility and a higher volume of organic targeted traffic. In summary:
- Develop or use a theme that’s optimized for mobile users
- Optimize media elements to improve site loading time
- Perform keyword research to identify the words and phrases customers use to find you
- Optimize the title and meta content for every page on your site
- Create unique, optimized content on every product and category page
- Populate all product data to maximize the benefits of rich snippets
- Monitor and manage permalink changes and 301 redirects
- Use clear, optimized URL structures throughout your store