BigCommerce has several SEO features right out of the box. These include:
Optimized URLs — BigCommerce auto-populates SEO-friendly URLs for product, category, and other pages. We also give you the option to change your URL settings.
Unique URLs — We ensure that every unique page has only one URL, so you don't get punished for duplicate content.
Microdata — We've built microdata, or “rich snippets,” into your product pages to enhance your search result listings with information like ratings, pricing, brand, and stock levels.
301 redirects and URL rewrites — If you rename a product, the auto-populated URL will adjust to reflect the name change, and the old URL will be redirected to the new URL. Automatic redirects and rewrites help search engines understand when you've made changes or moved pages on your site.
CDN — Although there are many things you can do to increase your site speed, our special content delivery network is always working in the background to make sure your site loads quickly for both shoppers and search engines (after all, site speed impacts search rankings).
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of implementing strategies and techniques (both on-site and off-site) to achieve a higher rank in search engine results. Typically, the higher a site ranks in the search results, the more visitors it receives.
Understanding search engine algorithms and optimizing for them are instrumental in boosting traffic to your online business. After all, most online shoppers start the buying process by using a search engine. If you have a well-optimized site, you’ll rank higher in search results and increase the chance of a potential shopper finding and shopping with you. It’s a great tool to have in your arsenal, especially if your business has lots of online competition.
To learn SEO strategies, you'll first need to understand how search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo! work.
Search engines use bots, called crawlers or spiders, to “crawl” the web and index the pages they come across. This indexed content is analyzed so the search engines can "understand" the content of each page. This information is used to determine which content is most relevant for each user’s search query, which the search engine then provides in a ranked format.
The algorithms used for this process -- the search engine determining which content is most relevant -- are different for each search engine, which is why each search engine typically provides different results for the same query. They’re also constantly updated, so you need to make sure any strategies or guides you’re using are current That said, certain criteria remain constant: keyword relevance, dwell time, click-through rate, and site speed, to name a few. These are the attributes that you’ll focus on for improving your SEO techniques.
Content is one of the building blocks of SEO. It's what search engines use to determine the usefulness of a page. Search engines use bots to crawl content across the internet, which is then indexed and referenced when someone enters a search query.
When your content is relevant to someone's search, your page will be shown alongside other related content. These results show a summary about a page's subject matter, so users know what a page is about before they click on it. This summary consists of page titles and meta descriptions.
PAGE TAGS AND META DESCRIPTIONS
No matter what your page is being used for (i.e. products, blog posts), each page should have a Page Title and Meta Description. Your page title, which uses an element called a title tag, appears in search results and when a page is shared on social media. Every page should have a unique page title, be less than 60 characters, and should target a short- and long- tail keyword. Note: In BigCommerce, your page titles are automatically included within a title tag.
Make sure to write your page title for the user, not for search engines. Your page title is your chance for your brand to make an excellent first impression. It should entice the searcher to click through to your page and provide a sense of what your page is about.
Example of a search result from a search engine
Meta descriptions are short descriptions; usually, a couple of sentences, found under the title tag in search engine results. Even though descriptions packed with keywords don't pack as much punch as they once did, they remain a strong influencer in click-through rates. Each description should be unique, around 160-165 characters, and should draw potential shoppers to your page.
Note that Google may change your meta description and title tag to better match search queries.
Use meta descriptions to describe what sets you apart from your competitors. If you're selling products, explain the advantages and features including any special promotions you might be having (e.g. free shipping, warranty, money back guarantee). Note that Google may create a dynamic description based on the content of the page being presented to better match search queries.
These SEO fields can be found in the following locations in BigCommerce:
Homepage: Store Setup › Store Settings › Search Engine Optimization
Blog Posts: Storefront › Blog › Edit › SEO (The title of your post will serve as your title tag.)
Category Pages: Products › Product Categories › Edit › Search Engine Optimization
Product Pages: Products › Edit › Other Details Tab › Search Engine Optimization
You can also export your products into a CSV and complete these fields from a spreadsheet.
With the basics out of the way, creating a content strategy is your next step. As we mentioned earlier, featuring the right keywords in the right places is key to optimizing your store. You'll want to start with your most important pages first. In most cases, your category pages, product pages, and homepage are your most visited pages. If you're actively blogging, they should be included in your start list. Once you've optimized these pages, you can then branch out and start optimizing every page of your store. We'll get into specifics shortly.
When creating keyword-rich content, you'll want to avoid keyword stuffing and duplicating content. Keyword stuffing is the practice of loading a page with keywords in an attempt to manipulate your ranking in search results to the point that the content is hard to read or unnatural. Search engines like Google will penalize you for this, which in some cases can lead to having your listings removed from search results altogether. Therefore this tactic should be avoided.
Duplicate content is usually defined as blocks of content that mostly or completely match other content found on the internet or within the same site. Having duplicate content won't impact your ranking as severely as keyword stuffing, but it's best to avoid it if you can. A typical example of this is copying and pasting the manufacturer's description for product pages. If you're copying content from other sources, that content will most likely rank higher than yours since it's been active longer.
It might seem intimidating to come up with unique content for every page, but with practice, proper research, and awareness, it won't be an issue.
The homepage is one of the most important pages to focus your SEO efforts. It is typically the most visited page along with product, category, and blog pages. As well as the title and meta description fields mentioned above, you'll want to optimize the rest of the content such as images, text, and promotions.
Big beautiful images are a great way to showcase your business and products to visitors, but not so great for search engines because they can't "see" the image. Therefore, all of your homepage images (e.g. Carousel, Banners) should have "alt text" that describes their content and purpose so search engines can "see" and analyze them. Don't overcomplicate them; just include what‘s in the image and use keywords as appropriate. Additionally, if you plan on using text in your imagery, try to style the text using code instead of including it in the image so that it can be crawled.
Last but not least, exhibit your best products and content (e.g. blog posts, testimonials) by using product panels and banners. This will help build internal links, which will boost your SEO and help visitors discover additional content that they might find useful.
Encouraging visitors to explore your store can increase the amount of time they spend on your site, which is a factor in ranking well. However, avoid cluttering up your homepage with too much content. Doing so will only confuse both users and search engines. Best practice is to be clear and concise in how you display your products and present your business.
We focused on the SEO elements in this section, but the homepage can also be used to build your brand and improve customer engagement.
More often than not, your category pages show up in search results rather than your homepage. Much like the homepage, category pages are landing pages that help visitors navigate deeper into your store. Category titles should include the keywords that you're targeting. For example, if you sell motorcycle equipment, you might have categories labeled Helmets › Full Face Motorcycle Helmets
Parent and subcategory pages can help you target a broader range of keywords allowing you to save your specific keywords for individual product pages. When creating your product categories, use the Description box to add images and copy. Remember that your text should read and sound natural while still incorporating your keywords. When drafting your copy, place yourself in your shopper's shoes and try to answer questions they might have when landing on this page.
Consider adding high-quality, relevant imagery to engage potential customers better. If this is a parent category, have links to any subcategories directly on the page instead of in a navigation menu.
It should go without saying that product pages are the lifeblood of your eCommerce business. Yet many store owners neglect them by just copying and pasting the manufacturer's descriptions or writing a few lines of copy. Every product description should be unique, and if you've done your market/keyword research, you'll have a pretty good idea of what your target audience is looking for.
Coming up with unique descriptions for all your products might seem daunting, but you don't have to do them all at once. Start with your best selling or highest converting products first and work from there. Be sure to include your main keyword and a handful of medium and long-tail keywords, but don't go overboard. All of your copy should sound natural.
Your research should also have given you a sense of the questions your target shoppers are asking when searching for your product or service. Provide the answers and the information they're hoping to see in your descriptions, but keep them clear and concise. It's okay to have a long description, but be sure to break up the wall of text with bullet points or imagery that highlight the product's benefits where appropriate.
In short, your product descriptions should paint a clear picture of what makes your product unique and why they need to have it with a compelling call to action.
Other elements to consider are:
Images: These can be product images or infographics. They should be high quality and display the features of the product. The product name and main keyword should be used in the file name and meta descriptions.
Video: Try to include a video whenever you can to make your product pages more engaging. They're a great way to showcase your product but only keep them as long as necessary.
Social Proof: Customer reviews and testimonials are another great way to boost SEO. They provide a multitude of benefits, like additional content, answers to common questions or concerns, and more!
Product Suggestions: Upselling and cross-selling can improve your average order value and help build internal links to products your shoppers may not have been aware of.
FAQs: An FAQ section can provide an outlet for you to address questions or concerns that you were not able to include in your product description. They give you another means to incorporate your keywords and can also help boost your conversion rate. This can be achieved through apps or theme customization.
Blogging is a great way to get your feet wet and start regularly developing new, unique content for your online store. Your content should always be relevant to your business and cover topics your audience would find interesting and valuable—this is where your market research comes in. Blog content can be used to educate or drive social engagement and gives you the freedom to rank for keywords that you otherwise couldn't base only on your category or product pages.
Aim for quality over quantity. Try to create content that focuses on a single purpose or that covers a topic in-depth while ultimately leading back to your product or services. We've mentioned it numerous times, but it can't be stressed enough: your copy should flow and read naturally. If you're having a tough time making your content flow naturally while incorporating your keywords, try taking a step back. Switch your focus to writing the content first without thinking about keywords then add them after you've made your finishing touches.
Typically a blog post should be around 700 words or more—some SEO groups recommend around 2000 words. As with product and category pages, don't be afraid to include images and videos in your blog posts. If your topics include statistical data, consider creating infographics to make the information more accessible to readers. Your blog can consist of guides, how-tos, top 10 lists, news about your industry, or even interviews. There is quite a bit that you can create, but if you're still not sure where to start, check out your competitors and see what they've cooked up.
If creating all this content seems overwhelming, consider outsourcing your content creation. There are freelancers and agencies out there that can help:
Publishing fantastic content opens the door to outreach techniques and link-building strategies, but it all starts with doing your homework. In other words, don't slouch in your market/keyword research, and most importantly, create your own unique content.