eCommerce SEO: User-Friendly & Search Engine Friendly Site Search!
The need for optimization is important now
more than ever in today’s tough conditions. At Single Entry Point, we give marketing
managers the strategic advice they need to effectively implement digital marketing
campaigns. In this second segment of our five-part series, we propose an advanced
tactic to improve user experience in ecommerce websites at the site-search level.
"80% of visitors will abandon a site with poor search functionality." ~ Jupiter
Google Analytics Site Search Capabilities
Marketing Optimization for Top Search Terms
In our first part of the marketing optimization
series, we talked about the need for optimal landing pages. Today we’ll help transform
your site’s search functionality to improve user experience, as well as continuing
to have Google (and other major search engines) crawl and index the pages in your
site that focus on long-tail keyphrases.
If you are running an ecommerce website, it’s likely you have an ongoing quest to
find better ways to increase sales while managing a shrinking budget. You also know
the importance of site search capabilities—meaning the internal search engine of
a website that is responsible for indexing and querying its product catalogue.
According to Jupiter Media, "80% of your visitors will abandon a site with poor
search functionality, while 90% of companies report that search is the No.1 means
of navigation on their site." ~ Forrester Research.
Here are today’s ingredients for user-friendly site search and SEO for ecommerce:
- Site search web analytics package
- A list of top product searches
- Selection of targeted search terms
- Site search transformation to return optimized content
- Marketing optimization for top search terms
- Link architecture throughout your ecommerce website
Site Search Web Analytics Package to Determine Top Search Terms
Start by identifying the top keywords that prospects are using to find products
within your site. You can compile the list of top search terms by enabling tracking
of your internal search engine. If you haven’t already, we strongly recommend that
you implement a web analytics package capable of
extracting such keyword usage. Analyzing search terms will help you better understand
visitor intent. It will help you identify search patterns to make smarter product
decisions, and you can use site search data to improve your
To combat a shrinking budget, Google Analytics (GA) implemented
site search tracking from 2007. If you are already running GA, simply configure
and integrate it with your site search.
Google Analytics Site Search Terms and Chart
Collect search terms dating far enough back to give you workable insights into what
keywords to target in your SEO initiatives. Watch for terms that repeatedly appeared
at the top of list. Determining your collection period depends on your levels of
traffic. The lower the site’s traffic, the longer timeframe you’ll want to collect
useful data. Remember that the top search terms will fluctuate due to seasonal product
changes, major events, and varying promotions.
Improved User Experience
As humans, we are creatures of habit. We have an avid need for familiarity, so knowing
what others are searching for could very well work for us too. Labeling search terms
as “Top Searches” implies that the same popular keywords are often used to find
products. While your competition displays the common matrix layout of an ecommerce
product database – as seen below on the left wireframe – you can improve user experience
by presenting the optimized page – as seen below on the right wireframe.
Search results page for the top search term: portable barbeques, before optimization
Search results page for the top search term: portable barbeques, after optimization
Note: Click the images for a larger version. Or, view them on
Having control of your search results pages not only allows you to guide the user,
but also to display products in a more creatively, to educate the user, to push
inventory, and to create opportunities for laser-focused cross-selling and up-selling.
Tip: studying search terms, their landing pages and how customers navigate
will help you understand users’ needs so you can better align your promotions. It
is a highly-effective tool that will increase sales. You will also enable a friendly
ecommerce environment for search engines allowing them to more easily find and index
your product pages.
SEO for eCommerce
While your satisfied customers are discovering new highlights on your website, we
now turn our attention to SEO for Ecommerce.
How are these pages going to impact your search engine visibility?
First, search engine results pages (SERPs) are excellent sources of long-tail content.
Product descriptions, summaries, technical specifications, and user reviews all
use longer key-phrases (3, 4 and even 5 words). These are less generic search terms
but due to their specificity, they have been proven to convert better. Remember
that Google will not use the search box to discover your products. They will crawl
your catalogue structure following navigational links, but they may not dig deep
enough to uncover all your products. By exposing deep, quality content to search
engines using eCommerce SEO strategies, content that might otherwise never be indexed,
you increase your website visibility in the major search engines.
Second, by controlling results pages for highly targeted search terms, you can change
the default product description, which is most likely provided by the manufacturer.
Advantages in this case are two-fold: (1) you have the ability to use more persuasive
content and increase the likelihood of a purchase; (2) you display unique content,
giving you the edge against same products offered by your competitor.
Link architecture deploys permanent links on top-level pages, and those top-level
URLs are more likely to be crawled and indexed by Google and other engines. Since
all engines re-visit regularly to check for new content, they will likely follow
the links in your site and thus discover the coveted content.
Careful placement of these links will depend on your site architecture and content
organization, but here’s a short list that may prove useful to begin:
- Top Searches box, displayed along the site navigation
- Text “advertorials” displayed in related product categories
- In article link: "We were looking forward to testing this
good looking [link] portable barbecue
[/link]. Very sturdy, and an instant feel of quality. Excellent fold
down legs which could handle the back weight when you open the lid."
Additional Considerations When Establishing Links
Think also of page duration. As mentioned above, top searches are dynamically constructed
and will change based on seasons, events and your marketing promotions. New search
terms are going to become popular and thus worthy of your consideration for ecommerce
When control is at our fingertips, we easily forget about the purpose of such pages.
Top search terms are generated by users as they try to quickly fulfill a need. Optimized
pages for top search terms should remain true to their origin and not fall under
the dictatorial rule of the marketing department. They should quickly fulfill users’
expectation, provide them with the best answer, and harmoniously deliver your content.
Over the last 12 years, our consultants have architected and developed some of North
America’s largest ecommerce websites. We have worked on information architecture
projects, data back-ends, and personalized systems (imagine these optimized pages
reacting to user profiles!). At Single Entry Point, we’re continuously helping businesses
increase conversion rates with marketing optimization strategies and acceleration
programs. Take the next step toward your company’s growth by contacting us today to learn more about eCommerce SEO.
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Lascut is Principal of Single Entry Point®
Marketing, focusing on
the search, email and analytics practice and leading the development of the
Single Entry Point Email Marketing
next generation product. Mike's professional
career spans over twenty years, including twelve years of intelligent search and
email marketing and over a decade and half of software architecture and development.
When he's not pointing businesses in a smarter direction, Mike spends his time pointing
his lens at wildlife. Connect with Mike
, read his Nature Research Photography
blog, or reach him via email or phone