Do you own an eCommerce store?
Have you already set up an awesome eCommerce website for your business which is working perfectly fine?
If the answer is yes, then what next?
If you really think that your work is now complete, then think twice!
To stand ahead of the competitor, you need a comprehensive and all-inclusive eCommerce digital marketing strategy that nobody can compete with. A proper eCommerce marketing strategy is something that can bring visibility to your e-business among your potential customers in order to make a sale, get high ranking across leading search engines and establish brand value. And such a strategy is quite different than that of brick and mortar stores.
So, which sections should you actually focus on when it comes to marketing your eCommerce store? Actually, the options are many. From content marketing to link building, SEO, paid advertisement to sponsored marketing – everything you can implement using proper marketing strategies. To help you out in this, we have accumulated a useful eCommerce marketing checklist that covers all.
In this comprehensive eCommerce marketing strategy, I will cover:
- Technical eCommerce SEO
- Content marketing for eCommerce store
- Natural link acquisition / Link building strategy
- PPC advertisement and
- Lot more
So, If you want your eCommerce store to start generating business from the very first day, your will definitely love this guide. Without further ado, let’s start the discussion with technical eCommerce SEO checklist.
Technical eCommerce SEO Checklist
Technical SEO is the crucial part and a foundation for any eCommerce marketing strategy and if done rightly, it can ease your job in driving organic traffic in early stage of the business.
# Buying Domain / Choose the Right Name for the eCommerce Store
Buying perfect domain name for any eCommerce business is very important. Remember you are not just choosing the domain name but also choosing the company / brand name. Your eCommerce domain name will be your identity online. Here are few important tips to buy the right domain name:
- Make domain name short and easy to remember
- Use right set of keywords in Domain name (Not necessary but preferred)
- Avoid numbers and hyphens in domain name
- Make domain name meaningful and memorable
- Use appropriate domain name extension (.co, .com, .org, .co.in, .net, .biz) – Very important
- Research about various eCommerce portal domain names and check for the legal / copyright violation
- Use trusted platform to buy domain name
- Buy domain name for long period (To save cost)
- If you are planning to launch your store in multiple countries, make sure you book country specific domain extensions as well.
Remember, having right domain name is very much important for eCommerce SEO so, make sure you have some good and easy to remember terms in your name. Finding right domain is all about good research so, make sure you choose best domain.
Once you finalize your domain name then choose trusted platform to buy domain. There are many domain registrar available online where one can register the name. Some of the most trusted domain registration sites are as below
- Google Domains etc
# Buying an Expired Domain Name
Buying recently expired domain to launch your new website can give you multiple benefits only when it has a clear history. Here are few things to check before you buy an expired domain:
- Avoid domain names with previous google penalty
- SEO metrics
- The type of content that was hosted on that domain
- Backlinks quality etc.
- Domain name includes your preferred word / key phrases
- Domain name matches your expectations in terms of branding
If you are having expertise to do the complete expired domain analysis, you can opt for buying an expired domain for your new website. Else just go for a new and fresh domain name. If you already having store and looking to rebrand with new domain, you can do complete redirection to divert all previous traffic to this new one. Here is one more example of buying authority website to gain the benefits of existing traffic.
#Choose the Right Hosting Platform
This is the first component of your eComemrce website that you choose carefully. And do not opt for cheap ones. Moreover, here are a few things that you must consider before buying a web hosting provider for your eCommerce store:
Tips to Choose the right Web Hosting Company
- Choose the cloud server if your plan is to expand the traffic in near future
- Choose the eCommerce friendly web hosting provider
- 24×7 Customer Support
- Read detailed review on trusted blogs
- Check Uptime reliability
- Site speed
- Check security features
- Compare plan with other Hosting platform
A proper research is needed before choosing the right hosting for your eCommerce website as downtime may cost you business loss. Spend some time in web hosting forums until you find a few options worth trying.
For example, Amazon AWS and Google cloud are giving great offers for the startup to launch your first eCommerce application with very good online support:
# Install an SSL Certificate [Must + HIGH PRIORITY]
Gone are the days when people used to be unaware of online fraudulent activities and the importance of personal data security. Now they do not trust an eCommerce business site if it is not encrypted with SSL certificate. They expect all the details such as bank detail, credit or debit card number etc. given on the internet to be secure. And an SSL certificate gives that security. And when visitors can trust your website, you get loyal customers. Importance of SSL certificate for an eCommerce website is impossible to ignore because it helps you provide information security and build trust among your customers.
Single domain SSL will be sufficient but we recommend you to install EV (extended validation) SSL certificate as it will not only secure your domain but also will showcase the name of your business in browser (Green Bar). There are many trusted SSL certificate providers so, review plan and get SSL certificate for your eCommerce store accordingly.
# Website should be Malware Free
Detecting constant malware in a particular website by Google can result in blocking that website, possibly freezing traffic until the issue gets resolved.
Thus to avoid such unpleasant scenarios, always protect your site from malware. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Choose the secure eCommerce platform and hire experienced developers
- Keep updating your site plugins and themes
- Choose trusted website security scanning software to scan your site and check for any existing malware and other harmful code that doesn’t belong to your site
- Opt for Web Application Firewall to strengthen your website’s security
- Create a strong password for your site back-end
- Frequently scan and do security check of your website using Sucuri Sitecheck
# Remove 4XX/5XX Pages
4xx and 5xx pages indicate a page is missing and a page with server code error respectively. Make sure that your site is not linked to any such page. If found, remove or replace the page. If you opt for a suitable replacement, don’t forget to set up a redirect from the 4xx page to the replacement.
How to check 4XX/5XX pages on eCommerce website
- Once your website is ready, submit it to Google search console and keep checking all broken pages and errors provided by them.
- Use Broken Link Checker plugin to check pages
- Use Screaming Frog tool to filter all broken pages
Once you have a list of all broken pages of the site, make sure you redirect those pages to working relevant pages. If any visitor lands on 404 page page then he/she won’t visit other page on the site but rather quit the website and this way you can loose your potential customer as well.
You can always create custom and user friendly 404 page to guide users to find the page / category they are looking for.
# Internal Linking Structure
According to Moz, the internal linking structure in a website is useful for 3 major reasons:
- It allows users to navigate a website
- It helps in creating information hierarchy for the given website
- It spreads link equity (ranking power) around a website
Moz explains the optimal internal linking structure of a website using the below image:
If you keep your website navigation user-friendly and follow this linking structure, it will increase the ranking potential of your web pages and pass link juice accordingly.
# Accurate Canonical Tag
To eliminate low-quality content from search engine results, Google algorithm penalizes websites that has duplicate content. Adding a canonical tag to a website can be a rescuer in such a situation.
For example, if your eCommerce website is abc.com and there are two URLs for different variations of a same product:
- Or the same product is listed under different URL in multiple categories
Then you should add canonical tags to such pages to avoid any issue related to content duplication.
# Check No Index Tag
Being an eCommerce site owner you’re aware that there are some pages in your site for serving specific purposes but not responsible for increasing ranking or getting traffic for your site. But these pages are important for your site. You can add no index tag to such pages to prevent crawling these pages by search engine crawlers. Here are some pages that should include no-index tag:
- Thank you page
- Cart page
- Admin page etc.
Note – On 1st July 2019, Google Announced that use of “NoIndex” in Robots.txt is no longer supported by Google so, make sure you add noindex tag within the particular page only.
By adding a robots.txt file to your eCommerce website, you can tell search engines cralwer which pages they should crawl and not crawl. There should be at least two URLs that an eCommerce site should include in its robots.txt file – cart URL and Search URL.
For example, here is a partial view of Flipkart’s robots.txt file. Flipkart has mentioned cart page, review page and store page in its robot.txt.
If you are not sure about the syntax, better you ask your developers to create the Robots.txt file as per your requirement.
# Prepare XML Sitemap
A sitemap indicates the location of every page in a website. Other than showing the hierarchy of a website it also helps Search console to understand the structure of the site and search engines crawling the site. According to the search console, sitemaps are useful for –
- Large websites
- Websites having lots of content that are not well-linked
- New websites
- Websites with rich media content
Thus you can understand how important adding and submitting a sitemap is important for your eCommerce website. For small sites sitemap could be small but eCommerce has millions of pages and hundreds of new pages added each day so, for that make sure you create dynamic sitemap.
# Follow Google Webmaster Guidelines
While doing SEO activities of an eCommerce store make sure you follow all the Google Guidelines. Otherwise, your site would be penalized and eventually your business will face a great loss. Make sure your webmaster don’t do any black hat SEO practice else your site and business will be in big trouble.
# Review Outbound Links
Outbound links has big importance in an eCommerce sites as it’s not a blog structure site and mainly dependent on internal linking structure. Outbound links are the one links which pointing out to other sites from your site. It means you are giving the back-link to other site. For an eCommerce site make sure you don’t give add much outbound links until and unless it’s relevant. Make sure you try to add social media links only which is also considered as outbound links.
# Set Structured Data
Using structured data for your eCommerce business website can enhance your products in search results with rich snippets and provide a real SEO boost. And when your site has a rich snippet, your brand stands out in the search results and the CTR gets increased. You can check how your site is performing after the inclusion of structured data in the Google structured data testing tool:
Structured data is very much important for any E commerce site because when you plan to create shopping feed to run product listing ads on Google then Google will recognize the feed structure from structured data only.
# Responsive Site (Mobile Friendly)
This is one of the most important point as Google has announced mobile first indexing in which they will only use the mobile version of your website for indexing and ranking the page. Here you need to make sure that the important content of the page must be visible on mobile version of your website. Apart from just indexing, mobile friendly website can also help you in acquiring more business as well. According to a recent report by Smart Insights, mobile users consume more than 2x minutes as compared to desktop users.
Thus make sure your eCommerce website has a responsive design so that it can be easily accessible on desktop, mobile, tablet and other smart devices. A responsive design attracts a broad group of audience, drives traffic and boost sales.
# Website Speed Performance
According to a news published in January 2018, a new ranking algorithm, designed by Google, is aimed to specifically downgrade the search rankings of really slow mobile pages. Google claimed that page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.” John Mueller, the Webmaster Trend Analyst at Google said that: “the faster you can make your pages the more we can take that into account and it can help improve your rankings a little bit”. Make sure you keep checking the website speed test on regular bases and improve it.
Best Website Page Speed test Tools
- PageSpeed Insights by Google
- Pingdom tools
# Schema Markup
By adding Schema Markup Code on your website you can help search engines return more informative results for users through rich snippets. Eventually, your site gets a prominent visibility in SERP and great CTR.
This is one such example of search result :
As the discussion on SEO checklist is over, let’s have a look at the content checklist that you should keep in mind while doing eCommerce marketing for your e-business online.
eCommerce Content Marketing Checklist
# Proper Keyword Research
Perform proper keyword analysis for your home page, category pages and product pages. Opt for long tail keywords that have high search volumes instead of generic terms. According to Moz, 70% of the search demand curve has been occupied by long tail keywords.
Only the right keywords can help you move forward with the content marketing for your eCommerce site. Thus you cannot just ignore this stepping stone.
Tips for better Keyword Research
- Use right keyword research tool – “Keyword Planner”
- Check competitor’s keywords
- Check LSI keywords on Google
- Don’t avoid Google Suggestions
- Pick keywords from FAQ section
# Prepare Meta Tags
Once you are sorted with the keywords, prepare meta tags for all the important pages of the eCommerce site. Add targeted keywords to the meta titles and meta descriptions. Make sure both the title and description stay in the desired character limit. If you have thousands of product pages, set dynamic meta tags for all those pages with targeted keywords. Make sure you choose right keywords in Dynamic meta tags thus it don’t extend the length.
# Prepare Content for Pages
Add content to your home page, category pages, and all the product pages. Place your targeted keywords in all the pages’ content strategically. Do not stuff keywords unnecessarily in the content. Also, avoid making content duplication. Especially each product page of your site should have unique, informative and catchy content in short and simple format. Just have a look how Myntra has displayed this short and informative content for one of its product, i.e. a carpet.
# H1 (Heading) Tags
# Allow User Reviews
A staple for any eCommerce website is user reviews for its every product. 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and you can increase your eCommerce conversion rate around 14-76% by adding reviews. Let your customers add reviews to your site by providing them an option to add it. Also, you can send emails a few days after you know your customers have received products asking if they need any service, and, if not, would they please leave a review.
# Add Q&A Section
Adding a Q&A section or an FAQ page to your eCommerce website can serve several functions, ranging from –
- Alleviation of buying anxiety that your product page copy doesn’t directly address
- Less burden on customer support by publicly giving answers to some common questions, either added by yourself or asked by your customers
- Improvement in site navigation
- Trust establishment
- Customer satisfaction
For example, here is the preview of the Q&A section of one of the products offered in Amazon.in:
# Related Items Comparison (To Increase Pages/Session)
At the end of the product page add related items comparison table and compare with other items to improve customers engagement and boost sales.
For example, if you search for teacups in Amazon.in and land on a particular teacup page, you can see related item section there as below:
Moreover, Amazon includes another section almost like the earlier section, titled as “Customers who viewed this item also viewed”.
Both these sections help customers compare products and they may buy more than they thought of before visiting an eCommerce site.
# Visual Content (Images should be High Quality)
The most crucial element of an eCommerce product page design is your feature image. It should be of high-resolution and perfectly centered. Furthermore, you should have at least 5-6 images of that same price from different angles in the product gallery. Such images can perfectly describe what your product is and how that can serve your customers’ purposes.
Take a look at the images of men’s running shoes in Flipkart below. They are clear and large, shot from different angles of the same shoes.
# Video Content
Adding a product demo video to your product page not only gives your customers that additional personal touch they require but also serves as a great traffic booster when you post the same video on various video sharing websites, like YouTube.
# Add Blog Section (Must for eCommerce Content Marketing)
Maintain a separate blog page on your website. Add high-quality and reader-friendly blog posts frequently. Make sure those posts are related to your business and can help your customers in some way. For example, if you own an eCommerce jewelry store, write posts on how to select the perfect ring for a wedding, how to finance the cost for the desired jewelry etc. Use targeted keywords in your blogs as well.
Now, let’s have a look at another important aspect of eCommerce marketing – link building. Below are some proven strategies to implement link building best practices and get great ROI.
eCommerce Link Building Checklist
# Guest Editorials
By posting guest posts on the guest blogging websites, relevant to your niche, you can reach a wide audience, create an impactful relationship with others in your industry, place yourself as an expert in your field and get quality backlinks for your site that helps Google to decide your site’s search engine ranking. Share something worthwhile. Use visual aids and add actionable information in your post.
# Existing Content
Keep an eye on what your competitors are publishing. Research properly to check if there is any site that publishes product reviews related to your site. Then contact those sites and find out whether they like your product. If they do, then approach them to link back to your website. This is one of the effective ways to earn backlinks to product specific pages on targeted keywords.
# Find Broken Links & Build Quality Backlinks
Finding broken links in popular posts, related to your niche and published online, and replacing those content with your content and your link is an effective way to build links. For example, One of Brian dean’s students, named Richard, was rewarded with a handful of high-quality backlinks for his post by implementing broken link building technique.
How to find Broken links on other sites
- Install Screaming Frog tool to your computer
- Download Sitemap.xml file of the site
- Now add all pages to crawl in Screaming Frog tool
- Export all Outlinks from Screaming Frog tool
- Now filter all links in Excel file
- Check page status again in Screaming frog tool
- Filter 404 links and find original source
- Now mail to site owner to replace link with yours
Well the process is bit lengthy to find accurate broken link but it’s worth. Once you get to know about the process then you will easily scrap all broken links within minutes.
# Host Contests
Giving away your products as prizes is a great way to engage customers and earn backlinks. Conduct contests and mention those on your blog with a good amount of joining time. Notify those sites that list such kinds of contests and earn backlinks from them.
Here’s an example of a contest, conducted by ToolsToday, where the prizes have given away
# Business Profile Links
Create your company profile across leading business profile listing sites and get great visibility. ‘This is an effective way to earn quality backlinks for your eCommerce business. Some of the business profile sites are Crunchbase, Angel.co, About.me and many more. Don’ forget to create profiles on social media sites as well including Facebook Page, LinkedIn Page, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
# Image Credit
Many a time it has been noticed that there are multiple sites post content or product reviews in their own sites and use images from the eCommerce sites that are actually offering those products. But often they do not mention the source credit. Browse online and search for such places where your products’ images have been used but there are no mentions of your site as a hyperlink. Contact those sites and ask them to give image credit by linking back to your site.
# Conduct Survey & Publish Report
Sharing original research data is a reliable way to earn links. So long as you will research a topic that your niche audience care about, and you deliver information that they have not been aware of yet, you will stand a good chance of getting links and acknowledgement from other sources in your industry. Conduct surveys to capitalize on this option.
In the fourteenth point under the SEO checklist section in this post, we have mentioned a report by SmartInsights to show proven data that supported our statement there. Similarly if you conduct surveys and publish reports, other sites may use your reports, use in their blogs by mentioning “according to report” and link back to your site.
# HARO (HELP A REPORTER OUT)
Haro or Help a Reporter Out allows bloggers or publishers to ask a question regarding their next blog and other members can give answers with backlink as a resource. HARO has many quality platforms. Just sign up, read your daily emails and keep giving useful and share-worthy answers with your credentials.
If you consistently share helpful tips, there’s a possibility to be hooked up by anybody with a link.
For example, Brian Dean received a link from Entrepreneur.com by replying to a HARO request:
# Promotions / Coupon Codes
There are multiple websites where you can list your upcoming discounts, offers, promo codes etc. and get backlinks. Just have a look at how Amazon has listed its ongoing offers in oneindia site.
# Participate in Interviews
Participating in an online interviews or sharing expert interviews across your site and social platforms can help you receive backlinks easily. Search sites that run interviews related to your business expertise. Contact them and express your wish to participate in such interviews and what knowledge you would like to share. Also, you can find people worth interviewing in your niche, invite them for an interview, create an initial buzz across social media and generate links.
# Video Sites
If you have product videos attached to product landing pages then you should upload those on video sharing platforms. For example, Allocacoc has shared its product video on YouTube and mentioned its site link in the description box.
# Review Posts
According to an advertising survey by Nielsen, 92 percent of people trust recommendations from other people over brand advertisements. The consumers trust the influencers they follow on social media. In fact, a study by Annalect and Twitter found that users have as much trust in influencers as they do in their friends. Thus try to reach out to renowned influencers, such as bloggers, vloggers, and product reviewers who can review your products and share across their own platforms. This works believe me 🙂
# Competitor Research
A proper competitor research helps you review websites relevant to your industry, assess your competitors’ websites performance, find out a number of backlinks and check online authority. You’ll understand what helps others in your field rank well and how to emulate a competitor’s strategy to earn backlinks too.
If you have implemented all the above-mentioned strategies and now want to spruce up your eCommerce PPC management, here are some useful eCommerce paid marketing tips that can meet your needs perfectly.
eCommerce Paid Marketing Checklist (PPC Ads)
# Choose Paid Marketing Platform
When it comes to sponsored advertising for an eCommerce business, there are plenty of platforms that you can choose from. Be it Google Ads, Facebook ad, Pinterest ad or Bing Ad, you can try anything that suits your requirement. Also, Amazon advertising is quite popular too. According to eMarketer, here are US net ad revenues at Amazon during the period of 2016 to 2020.
Each and every PPC platform has it’s own advantage, benefits, competition, targeted audience and set up process. On Google Ads, Bing Ads, Pinterest Ads, Facebook Ads and Instagram ads you can advertise products from your online eCommerce store and all platforms are based on Pay-Per-Click model.
On Amazon Ads & eBay ads you can’t advertise products from your online store but can only advertise those products which are on your Amazon and eBay store. Amazon Ads is based on Pay-Per-Click model where as eBay Ads has Cost per Sale model.
If you are still confused about which platform to choose then don’t worry you can contact OLBUZ PPC team on firstname.lastname@example.org any time.
# Set Up Proper eCommerce Tracking in Analytics
To track the revenue being generated via the paid campaign you are running, you must set up Google Analytics code. There is an eCommerce tracking feature also available in Google Analytics account that you can take advantage of. Using eCommerce tracking feature eCommerce business owners easily see the product performance data directly in Analytics. Also, you can set up a goal in Analytics to measure your visitors’ particular actions on your site. It will help you track micro conversions as well.
Further, if you don’t want to leak any conversion then make sure you set up click event tracking on website as well. Yes, few eCommerce site takes order via calls only so, in that case track data of how many customers clicked on phone number from website itself.
# Set Up Conversion & Remarketing Codes
Once you set up account in PPC Platform them create conversion code from platform itself. Well, each platform has their own code name so, please follow below details.
Now generate conversion code on each platform and add conversion code on the successful checkout page of your eCommerce site to track when a customer completes an action, such as buying something, signing up for a newsletter, adding a product in cart etc. via your website or app. Moreover, by adding a remarketing global site tag, UET tag and Pixel Code, you can show your products ads to the people who have already visited your website. This can trigger more sales for your business. As mentioned earlier you can set conversion code on click event as well.
Adding conversion code on eCommerce site is very much important, because without it you won’t be able to track right orders and revenue.
# Keep Your Shopping Feed Up To Date
To run product listing ads on paid platforms you must create product shopping feed with all required data including product id, product name, product description, product image, product price, MPIN, GTIN and other important attribute.
To make your products attractive enough to the people so that they tend to buy those from your store, it is important to keep your shopping feed up to date with fresh, accurate and comprehensive data. If you really want to help your customers have a smooth shopping experience every time, make sure your users see the same information about the products in shopping ads that they will see on your website. Check out the shopping feed update by Google Merchant Center to keep your data feed up to date. Watch the below video to know how to upload your data feed in your shopping ads.
# Prepare Shopping Campaign
Creating a shopping campaign is a must if you want to start investing in paid eCommerce marketing. To do this, first, understand the product feed and category very carefully and structure your shopping campaigns accordingly. It should be prepared based on your product categories, prices, custom labels, quantity and gender-specific. Once these sections are specified, allocate budget to each and every campaign according to bidding methods and location targeting. Here is a comprehensive video where within just 5 minutes you can have a profound knowledge about creating shopping campaigns.
Remember, The process of creating a shopping campaign in both Google and Bing is quite similar. But if you want to create your campaign on Facebook, the ads should be based on audience and interests.
Here is one such example of product listing ad on Google.
# Optimize The Shopping Campaign
Here are a few ways to optimize your shopping campaign and ads:
- Depending on the items you are selling, break your campaigns in categories based on product type, brand name, profit margin, performance etc. You can also run A/B testing and figure out the best possible way to generate maximum revenue.
- Add negative keywords often after analyzing the search terms
- Place extensions such as product prices, site link, location extension etc. to improve your ad presence and increase search impression share.
- Schedule your ads based on your target location and audience
- Adjust your bids. (Location + Device bids)
- Segment the data and remove Search partners if it has high spend
- Start smart shopping campaign (Highly recommend)
Optimizing shopping campaigns correctly can give you great ROI over the period of time.
# Brand Search Campaign
To check if any of your competitor’s ad is visible online on the same keywords that you are also targeting, test Google search result by entering your brand name on a daily basis. Invest in a brand search campaign to get the most bang for your spent buck. The price of your branded keywords bid may fall due to their high quality score and CTR. And thus you can get super cheap bids on those keywords. And moreover, when you bid on your own brand name, you can surely keep your competitors out of the picture.
# Remarketing Ads
We have already mentioned the benefits of adding remarketing code (Global Site Tag) to your site in an earlier point. You can create dynamic product ads or custom image ads to cater to your visitors who didn’t initially convert on your website. Especially product image ads are highly useful because they display the latest items the visitors viewed, aiding you to keep your products and brand top of mind.
We recently searched for a few products on Amazon but did not buy. Since then we have been seeing Amazon’s remarketing ads whenever we visit any other place in Google.
Just have a look when we were reading an article on Google, how those remarketing ads were visible there –
You can create dynamic remarketing ads for audience like
- All Visitors
- Added product in cart but not purchased
- Initiate Checkout but not purchase
- Visit particular product category but not purchased
- Viewed product but not added to cart
- Many such combinations
Hope you find this checklist useful. Following these guidelines, your eCommerce sales will surely explode. You can implement all the strategies or just pick a few that suit best for your business. Is there any other strategy you want to add? Feel free to tell us about it and share your success story. We’d love to know.