How to improve the search position of an online store in Google?

Anna Meller

raffic from search engines, and especially from Google, is a key factor in the success of any e-commerce implementation. The more potential customers that come to your shop from free search results, the greater the chance of better financial results. So what should you look out for to optimise your e-commerce search results?  

E-commerce and Google's algorithm

Google's algorithms, which are a major factor in the effectiveness and popularity of this search engine, are a closely guarded secret. However, certain guidelines reach the market and it is these rules that pave the way for worldwide SEO trends. By following them, we have a real impact on how our e-commerce implementation will be positioned, and how our actions will translate to the bottom line. That is what this article is about. 

According to the latest statistics from April 2023, 92.61% of all search engine queries were typed into Google over the past year (Statcounter Global Stats). Compared to the previous year, Google's search engine improved its score by 1%, leaving other search engines with a marginal market share even further behind: Bing 2.79%, Yandex 1.65%, Yahoo! 1.1%, DuckDuckGo 0.52% and Baidu 0.44%. According to Statista, in March 2023 Google had an 85.53% market share, while Bing reached 8.23% and Yahoo 2.44% of global searches (Statista, 2023). 

Although the data presented vary in timeframe and is clearly different, it clearly shows that Google is the unrivalled leader in the search engine market. For e-commerce, this means that effective SEO resulting in high positions in Google is the ticket to good financial results in the industry because even the best-designed shop that is not visible online will not make a profit. The better the SEO and the higher the search engine position, as a rule, the higher the number of impressions, the more clicks, i.e. more traffic to the shop and higher sales with relatively less advertising expenditure. The first result on Google gets an average click-through rate (CTR) of 34.36% (Hubspot, 2022). According to other data, it is 27.6%, and the CTR of the first position compared to the tenth position is 10 times higher. (Backlinko, 2022). 

Online shop positioning and keywords

The key to high search engine ranking is knowing the needs of customers in a given market, which are reflected in the form of key phrases searched on Google. Keywords, i.e. words and shorter phrases, and key phrases, i.e. longer search terms typed into the search engine, are the primary link between Google and the online shop, which is used to redirect to a particular shop subpage. 

In order to be able to position a shop effectively, it is important to know the keywords and phrases that customers type in when looking for products offered by a given e-commerce site. By researching these, it is possible to understand consumer demand for a given product range and the way they think about products, as well as to find out what product features are important to consumers. This knowledge makes it possible to optimally exploit the market potential of an online shop.

Positioning of the online shop by category and URL

Google always directs to a specific URL that it deems to be optimally relevant to the query. The use of keywords is therefore of twofold importance to Google. On the one hand, it is important to have adequate keyword exposure in the text. On the other hand, it is even more important to add keywords to the URLs of sub-pages that contain products described by keywords. The words in the URL are also important for consumers. A URL that contains keywords or words similar to them has a 45% higher click-through rate (CTR, click-through rate) compared to URLs that do not contain keywords (Backlinko, 2022).

To refine the URL system, careful planning of the categories in the shop is needed. The basis for this division is the level of relevance of the feature/category to consumers. The simplest path is product/name-product (each member of the name separated by a dash). More elaborate pathways also include other attributes that customers are looking for. Products can be categorised and subcategorised, e.g. by manufacturer, size, colour, type and other attributes important to the user. 

Shop positioning through subpage optimisation

Redirecting the buyer directly to a product subpage with the parameters he or she is looking for, rather than to a general product page, increases conversions and significantly impacts SEO. As many as 14.6% of organic leads from Google search result in customer acquisition (Statista, 2022). In comparison, in the e-commerce industry, 1.84% represents a low level of conversion, 3.71% an average level and the highest level is 6.25% (Adoric, 2020). A customer who goes straight to a landing page stays on the page longer, consuming information of interest and is more likely to engage in completing the entire purchase path, which for Google bots is a signal of high attractiveness of the page. In this way, Google gets signals of confidence from users in the page and in the keywords for which the page is positioned, which increases its visibility online. 

Therefore, it is good if the sub-pages have addresses using categories and filters (size, colour) to minimise the number of clicks needed to reach the landing page, and their content contains the key phrases searched for by customers. That is, if a customer wants red heels, he is to be taken straight to a page with such products. Redirecting him to a page with women's shoes, heeled shoes or red shoes of various kinds does not fully meet his expectations. Every additional click he has to make lowers the conversion rate. 

Shop positioning - making it easy for the bots

Bots perform several tasks on websites. They crawl, index and select results, following guidelines from Google's algorithm. Crawling is the search of content on the internet, such as web pages, images, videos or PDF documents. Its purpose is to find new or updated content. Indexing is the storage in an index, or database, of content judged by the algorithm to be good enough. The effect of the first two activities is to process the data in order to select the most relevant answer to the search engine's question. 

On the one hand, a shop with a large number of landing pages fully meets the needs of today's e-commerce users, for whom streamlining, time and ease of product acquisition are important. On the other hand, a dozen or so shoe categories with various filters in place serves millions of URL combinations to bots, which makes it difficult for crawlers to assess the importance of each URL. Therefore, careful keyword analysis allows optimisation to be carried out and unnecessary addresses to be blocked from search engine bots. It is worth blocking both indexing and crawling of pages that you do not want to position, because then Google bots do not waste time searching irrelevant pages, but focus on the right ones, which are strategic for the business. 

What else is important in shop positioning?

The language of SEO is keywords. Therefore, the basis for successful SEO of an online shop is the appropriate use of phrases and keywords in titles, texts, page descriptions, URLs, as well as categories and filters. 

The search engine algorithm is constantly changing in line with changing trends in online content consumption (for more on trends 2023, see our article: "What consumers expect from an online shop in 2023") In recent years, page loading speed and mobile-friendly pages, among other things, have become a priority for Google. Pages that meet these criteria can count on better search engine rankings. Another important trend is the promotion of pages with optimised graphics that do not change layout either during or after loading. 

Google appreciates enhancing the experience of content users when interacting with websites and e-commerce. Investing in both shop positioning and a high-quality user experience contributes to increased brand recognition, greater customer trust and gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This results in a long-term increase in website traffic, conversions and profits. 

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