How to Improve Search Engine Ranking of your WooCommerce Store

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Last updated - June 18, 2018

eCommerce industry is highly competitive. Being on the front page of search engine results is quite important for the success of an eCommerce venture. By optimizing your pages and content, you can improve the search engine ranking for your site. However, as per Google’s advice, you need to create content that is actually useful for users. Merely trying to optimize your site for search engines will not help you. As a result, you will find a list of best practices that you can adopt for your WooCommerce store. In this article, we will look into some of the strategies that will help you improve the search ranking of your WooCommerce store.

How to improve search engine ranking?

Improving search engine ranking is not a one-step process. You need to combine several things at once to gain the desired results. However, please keep in mind to not do over optimization, as any attempt to trick search engines would invite penalties.

Site Speed

eCommerce shoppers are an impatient bunch. The slightest delay to load your site would make them look elsewhere. Right from the time you create your site, you need to be conscious about the speed aspect of your site. For your WordPress site, choosing a good hosting service provider is a critical aspect. We have an article that will help you choose a good hosting service provider for your WordPress WoooCommerce site. If you need to understand more about the way hosting influences your site’s performance, you can read this one too.

Now, even after selecting a hosting service provider, you should watch out for any apparent issues with your site performance. Tools like Pingdom will help you understand the relative speed of your site. Pingdom also offers detailed reports that will offer advice on what you can do to improve your site’s performance aspects.

screenshot of Pingdom for search engine ranking article
Tools like Pingdom helps you stay updated on your site’s performance aspects.

A slow loading site might also contribute to an increase in the bounce rate on your site. And higher bounce rate would negatively impact search engine rankings. If you observe higher bounce rate, you might have to take actions to get the number down.

On-page optimization

You can employ a range of strategies on your site’s pages to optimize your content for users and search engines. Google’s bots are continuously evolving to be like actual users. So, you can actually think of how a user would see your content and accordingly optimize it.

Page titles

Your HTML title tag is one of the most important aspect that helps both users and search engines identify your page. A unique title that distinguishes a page from the other ones is an absolute necessity. Google also advises to make the title short as longer titles might get cut in the search results. You should take care to make the title descriptive and informative.

Meta descriptions

Your pages need to have a meta description too. This is in fact a summary of the page that would help users and search engines understand what your page is about. The description that you create should be unique and informative. There is a chance that Google would show it as a snippet for relevant searches. When you have thousands of pages on your WooCommerce store, writing a unique description for each is not a practically feasible option. You can use the help of a tool like Smart Crawl Pro that would automatically generate descriptions. Adding the same description on multiple pages for convenience is a strict no-no.

Structured data markup

This is another important aspect that you need to take care if you have an eCommerce site. Structured Data is a format where the contents of a web page is described so that search engines would classify it accordingly. When you have rich data on your pages, you can mark up these on your Search Console so that search engines understand them. This will help search engines display your content in a more relevant and attractive manner.

When you provide markup for a WooCommerce product page, it helps to easily display your products along with information like price, reviews, etc. Google sometimes uses structured data markup to display result in other format too. For example, displaying the opening hours of your store’s physical location would be something helpful for users searching for a location in their neighborhood. You can markup several different entities like this such as products, reviews, videos, location, open hours, events, logos, etc.

You can use the Structured Data Markup Helper and Data Highlighter tools to make sure that you add this in the right manner. Keeping track of your structured data markup would be a good idea as you will understand if they are effective for your site.

Avoid duplicate content

Duplicate content can be a problem for your search engine rankings. If Google finds out that you use duplicate content to trick search engines, your site’s ranking may suffer. However, in addition to manipulative duplication of content, there are chances that your site may feature duplicate content due to some technical issue. For example, stripped down version of pages for mobile devices can get treated as duplicate content.

Google advises several strategies to get rid of this problem of duplicate content. If you have multiple pages created on your site that feature same content, you can always mark one page as the original one. Using “rel=canonical” tag on the duplicate pages would simply do the trick. Using 301 redirects is another effective way to bypass the problem of duplicate content.

Google also advises against keeping similar content. For example, if you have two pages that have strikingly similar content, it is better to merge them. This way both users and search engines won’t be confused on your site. Correctly telling search engines about the domains that you want to be indexed is a good idea too. Yoast SEO Plugin can help you avoid the problem of duplicate content.

This is one of the most popular SEO options for a WordPress site.

Back links

Getting quality back links is another important aspect that will get you better search ranking. Basically getting back links from a reputed site would have the effect of a recommendation. For example, if one of your products or pages is mentioned in a high profile site in your domain, that can really boost your rankings. Though building back links can be one of the most effective strategies to improve search ranking, it is quite tough. When your site is still new, getting recommended by other sites can be really an arduous task.

Experts suggest several ways to get back links for your site from reputed sites. Focusing on broken links on other sites is one strategy that you can use. You can analyze sites to find broken links. Then report these broken links to the respective webmasters and suggest to replace them with yours. As broken links are a problem for those sites, there are chances that they will accept your request. In this strategy, you need to approach sites that has content that is relevant to your domain or industry. To be precise, those sites need to have users who would want to know about your store and products.

Image optimization

Optimizing images on your site is another strategy you can work on to get a good ranking for your site. Use a descriptive filename and ‘alt’ attribute for all the images you display on your site. In case your user is accessing your site using a screen reader, the text added under the alt attribute will be describing the image to them. This really improves the accessibility of your site and Google would loves it. Also, if by chance an image is not visible for a user due to some technical reasons, the description will still help them. Another scenario where alt attribute comes in to the picture is when you use images as links. Google treats alt text in such a case similar to the anchor text that you use for other links.

Every time you add an image on your WordPress site, you can add the title and alt text. Make sure they are descriptive and short. Giving generic titles and stuffing alt text with keywords are two things that Google doesn’t recommend. Keep them in a most user friendly way so that it will help users find what they are looking for.

Product Reviews

Product reviews play a major role to help users make a purchase decision. The opinion of other users is highly valued in an eCommerce purchase. In addition to being a user friendly feature on your site, it also helps you improve search ranking. As discussed before, structured data mark up helps search engine to identify rich text on your product pages. You can add mark ups for product reviews for search engines to identify them. So, when a users find one of your page in the search results, they will immediately get an idea of how many reviews you have got.

Now getting reviews consistently for your products might be a challenge. However, you may find some creative tools to help you get product reviews on your site.

WooCommerce Product Reviews Pro

This plugin helps to enhance the existing product reviews capability of WooCommerce. You can allow customers to add photos and videos along with their text review. Naturally, it will really boost the sales opportunity of your products. You can also accept product related queries from customers. By default, WooCommerce allows multiple reviews on the same product by the same customer. In such a situation, this extension creates a dialogue box that suggests the customer to update the existing review.

You can combine this with WooCommerce Social login to make it easier for customers to log in and leave a review. It also allows customers to sort reviews according to different parameters. In addition to the structured data added by WooCommerce, this plugin helps o add more review entities to help with your search engine optimization.

Mobile friendliness

Your site needs to be mobile friendly as a lot of eCommerce customers access the internet using their smartphones. According to studies, the new generation shoppers are leaning more towards a mobile shopping experience. Responsive site design is the answer when you want to make your site experience uniform over all devices and screen sizes. In fact, most of the WordPress themes you come across assures a responsive design to help you with this. Here is an article that will help you find some of the best responsive WordPress themes.

Once you have set up your site, you can test it using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This would give you an idea if there are any gaps in your design that you need to fix.

Scrrenshot with an example of Google Mobile-Friendly Test
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will give you a solid idea on where your store stands in terms of mobile friendliness. It also helps you identify potential issues that you can fix.

Conclusion

Search engine ranking is a determining factor for the success of your online store. In fact being able to be on the top of Google search results page decides the fate of your eCommerce success. However, with a patient and genuinely user-friendly approach, you can build up your search engine ranking. Blending some of the best practices and expert suggestions, you can manage to get your site and product pages on top of relevant searches.

Search engine optimization strategies at the moment is a collective effort involving multiple aspects of your site. On page optimization strategies, like adding meta descriptions, are equally important as some site wide strategies like avoiding duplicate content. Hopefully this article has given you a list of options that you can try out to optimize your WooCommerce store for better search engine ranking. Share with us some of the strategies that you found effective for your site’s SEO.

Further reading