If you want organic traffic from search engines for your WooCommerce store, then you need to start SEOing your site.
This sounds great but for many WooCommerce store owners, SEO is something they either don’t understand or have tried to learn about and implement without much success.
This is why we created this guide to help you improve your site’s SEO, so that it ranks higher in search engines, which should lead to more sales!
- Understanding SEO
- 1. Set Up Product Permalinks
- 2. Install an SEO Plugin
- 3. Make Your Site Load Faster
- 4. Create a Site Structure
- 5. Keyword Research
- 6. Optimize Your Product Title
- 7. Write an Original Product Description
- 8. Adding Product Reviews
- 9. Add a Description to Your Category Pages
- 10. Optimize Your Images
- 11. Create SEO Friendly URLs
- 12. Use Your Blog!
- 13. Link Internally
- 14. Backlinks
Before we get into the steps, it is helpful to understand a bit more about ecommerce SEO and how it works.
Firstly SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of optimizing your site so that it appears higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for your chosen keywords, ideally on page 1.
But there are a couple of other things you need to understand about SEO:
- SEO takes time to see results, depending on the competitiveness of your niche it could take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years to start seeing any return on your investment
- SEO is an ongoing process, in some cases with a lot of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t for your site, also search engine algorithms are constantly evolving and what worked before might not work now
It is for these reasons that patience and a willingness to keep learning and trying new things for your store can potentially yield better results in the long run and SEO is a long-term marketing strategy.
1. Set Up Product Permalinks
One of the first things to do is set up your product permalinks properly so that you are using a URL structure that is beneficial to your site’s SEO.
When it comes to setting up permalinks, a WooCommerce store has two sets of options:
- Permalinks for your posts and pages
- Permalinks for your product pages
You want to configure your permalinks for both, which can be found by going to Settings → Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard and scrolling down to the bottom will show the options for your product pages.
Now it is up to you which one you choose but it can be helpful to set up your URLs with your site’s structure in mind (we’ll cover this more later in the post) and that is why the Shop base with category is our preferred structure.
2. Install an SEO Plugin
You don’t need an SEO plugin in order to be able to SEO your WooCommerce store but they can be helpful as they can give you more control over some aspects of your sites SEO, such as:
- Being able to set custom meta information
- General site SEO information
- Schema options
- Webmaster integration
Now there are quite a few WordPress SEO plugins and while most of them offer basic tools for WooCommerce, if you want access to all of the tools, you will need to upgrade to paid plan to access all of the Woo-specific features but some of the best plugins include Yoast, All-in-one SEO and the SEO Framework.
When you install one of these plugins, go through the basic setup process and you should see some additional SEO options available for your store.
3. Make Your Site Load Faster
In its base form, WordPress and WooCommerce aren’t bad in terms of page speed but when you start adding different themes, plugins and adding content to your site, you can soon find that your site isn’t loading very quickly.
And as load speed is becoming a more important ranking factor due to it impacting user experience, you want to make sure that your site loads quickly but how can you start optimizing your site’s load time?
Well, the first thing you need to do is see how quickly your current setup is performing and our two favorite tools for this are Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Uptrends Speed Tool as they check both mobile and desktop performance.
Once you have a benchmark, you can then begin improving your sites speed and steps can include:
- Upgrading to better quality hosting
- Using a CDN
- Using a lightweight, fast-loading theme
- Installing an optimization plugin such as LiteSpeed Cache or WP Rocket
- Keeping the number of plugins to a minimum
There are many different ways to speed up a WooCommerce Store but when you start optimizing your store, do one thing at a time and see if it works or doesn’t, then move on to another step and rinse and repeat until your store starts to lead quicker.
But also make sure that the front end still works properly as some optimization settings can break the front end of your store.
4. Create a Site Structure
This very much ties in with the first point in this list but you want to create a structure for your WooCommerce store as this can have not only SEO benefits but also improve the experience for your customer.
Now when it comes to site structure, there are a few different options to choose from but a popular and also effective one for ecommerce stores is the hierarchy structure, which looks similar to the image below:
So your homepage is at the top of your hierarchy, with your main category pages and blog home as the second level. The third level can go directly to products or posts as in the image above or you can have a level of sub-categories and blog categories.
But you want to try and avoid having too many levels of sub-categories as this can make the user experience worse for your customers as they need to go through too many pages to find the one that they want.
When it comes to the SEO benefit of this, it helps search engines understand how your products and pages are connected and what is related to what, which makes it easier for them to crawl and this is where the permalink structure can come into play.
Choosing the shop/product-category/product option lets search engines know which category the product belongs to and that it is related to other products in that category.
5. Keyword Research
The first 4 points are very much related to technical SEO but the next few points are more related to on-page SEO and this all starts with keyword research, which is finding the keywords or phrases that you want your site to rank for.
When finding these keywords, you want to find:
- What people are searching for
- How many people are searching for it (these are only estimates)
- Who your competition is
- Related keywords that you could also rank for
You want to do this for all of the main pages that you want to rank on your sites such as product pages, category pages and blog posts but the keyword research does differ slightly between different types of pages as you are trying to rank them for different things.
And this is a very important point as you want to make sure that your pages match the search intent of the person who made that search.
When it comes to doing keyword research, there are many different tools out there ranging from free ones like Google Keyword Planner to paid options such as Ahrefs or Semrush and none of them are perfect but when you learn how to use them properly, they can be very effective tools.
6. Optimize Your Product Title
Now you want to put these keywords to use and this starts with the product title as this is the most important heading on the page and you want to include your primary keyword here.
It is also good practice to have your primary keyword near or at the start of your product title as this helps to let search engines know that this word is important.
But you don’t want to write your product title just for search engines because it is human users who ultimately make the decision whether to click on a SERP result or not, so make it read organically and if possible craft it in a way that makes people want to click on it but don’t use clickbait!
7. Write an Original Product Description
Your product description is the largest piece of content on the product page and you want to make the most of it!
And one of the best ways to do this is to write an original product description that includes the primary and secondary keywords that you want the page to rank for but once again, don’t just go stuffing keywords everywhere.
Instead, craft a description that reads easily and organically and remember, this is part of your sales pitch and part of the job of your description is to make people want to click that buy button and become a paying customers, so spend some time learning how to write persuasive product descriptions.
With WooCommerce, you also have an advantage over most other ecommerce platforms as it is one of the few that has two product descriptions:
- Short Description – this sits next to the product image on desktop or just below the image on mobile
- Long Description – this sits below the product image and below the short description and buy button on mobile
And you want to make use of both of these as the short description is great for a short, punchy sales pitch that includes all of the important information and the long description is great for adding more in-depth information about the product, including answering common questions to help remove obstacles for people who are interested in buying.
You may also have the option of adding tabs to your long product description, meaning you can have one tab for your long description, one for all of the product specifications and one for product reviews or Q&As.
8. Adding Product Reviews
This deserves its own section as product reviews can be incredibly helpful to your store’s SEO but they do need to be schema-enabled product reviews and also be generated by genuine customers.
If this is done, then there is a chance that these reviews can appear in SERPs and if they do, there is a good chance that your product pages will appear higher in search as they are a signal to search engines that your product is good, just like in the image below:
Now, we aren’t endorsing this particular plugin but it does prove our point as it appeared in position 3 in the SERP.
So product reviews can help your product rank higher in search results but they can also increase click-through rate and conversion rate due to social proof, as 98% of online shoppers say reviews are an essential part of their buying decision, they are very important!
So it is worthwhile encouraging people to leave reviews on your products and also embrace all reviews as negatives can also be seen as positives.
9. Add a Description to Your Category Pages
An often overlooked element of ecommerce SEO is your category pages and many WooCommerce store owners don’t even bother doing anything to them and this can be a great opportunity for you!
This is because category pages can rank for broader search terms than product pages, such as ‘boys mountain bike’ or ‘ladies clutch bag’, which isn’t overly product specific and are likely being searched for by people who want to see what products are out there.
WooCommerce includes these features as standard as there is a description box in the category creation/edit page and this will usually be displayed above your products on the front end of your site but with some modification to your themes code, you should be able to move it below your products so that it doesn’t impact on user experience.
10. Optimize Your Images
Images are an integral part of any WooCommerce store but you can optimize them for SEO purposes in two ways:
- Name the Image Properly
- Add an Alt Tag
The naming of the image is done before you even upload it to your WooCommerce store and for important images such as the main product image, it should include the primary keyword for that page and good practice is to have the image name be similar to that of the page.
Adding an alt tag is done once the image has been uploaded to your store and the alt tag is used to describe what the image is about as this helps search engines understand what the image is (it is also used to describe the image to visually impaired visitors).
Ideally, you want to SEO optimize all of the images on your site, from your logo to your product and blog images because it helps search engines understand your pages better and the better it understands, the more likely it is to add your page to SERPs.
11. Create SEO-Friendly URLs
Once you have set up your permalinks, WooCommerce (and WordPress in general) does a pretty good job of creating SEO-friendly URLs and these are usually based on your page’s title.
But there are circumstances where you want to manually edit the URL so that it becomes more SEO friendly, for example, the URL of this page is ecommerce-gold.com/woocommerce-seo but doesn’t include the number of tips in the URL like it does in the title.
The reason for this is that I may come back in and add additional tips at a later date, which would make the URL outdated and incorrect, but by manually creating the URL, it basically future proofs the post and prevents me from having to change the URL.
And this is what you want to do with your own store’s pages, you also want to include the primary keyword in the URL (like I have with this post) as it aids in the page continuity, which once again helps search engines understand the page (are you seeing a pattern yet?).
12. Use Your Blog!
By using WooCommerce for your ecommerce store, you have access to one of the best blogging platforms in the world, which is WordPress and if you are serious about ecommerce SEO, then you want to make the most of it!
And there are a host of benefits to adding a blog to your ecommerce store, such as:
- Being able to reach a larger audience
- Growing your site’s authority
- Generate more sales
- Create additional revenue streams
So having a blog can be incredibly useful but you want to spend time learning how to blog and also what to blog about in order to be able to get the most out of your blog.
13. Link Internally
One of the simplest but very effective ways to SEO your WooCommerce store is to internally link your pages and if you have a good blog on your site, this can be a very powerful tactic.
This is because internal linking has a couple of SEO benefits:
- It makes it easier for search engines to crawl your site
- It passes ‘link juice’ from one page to another
But what do I mean by ‘link juice’? Well, each page on your site has so my authority and when you link to another page on your site, you are telling search engines that this page that I am linking to is an important and relevant resource.
And within a WooCommerce store, there are multiple different pages that you can link to such as Product, Category and Blog pages but when doing internal linking, try and ensure that the links are relevant, for example:
Say you write a Hiking Guide for beginners, it would be logical to link to other posts relating to hiking but also hiking-related categories and products, whereas linking to other content relating to surfing or skiing, not so much.
Just look at this post as an example, all of the internal links go to posts relating to SEO as they are relevant to this post and this is where creating content hubs can be very useful.
While everything we have looked at so far will help to improve your site’s SEO, the one thing that will have the biggest impact is getting high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites.
This is because high-quality backlinks show search engines that your site is trustworthy and contains good content, which is why sites with a strong backlink profile will generally rank higher than those without.
But generating these types of backlinks can be challenging (with some niches being more difficult than others) but there are some things you can do, such as:
- Guest posting
- Being a source for journalists
- Being interviewed
- Appearing on podcasts
There are many different ways to get backlinks for your WooCommerce store but you want to get relevant and contextual from sites with high domain authority (you can check a site’s authority by using Moz or Ahrefs domain checker tools) and it is always better to go with quality over quantity when it comes to backlinks.
So there they are, 14 tips to help improve your WooCommerce stores SEO and by implementing some or all of these tips, you should see your store’s rankings start to improve (not guaranteed though as you can never really predict what search engines will show!).
One of the good things about WooCommerce is that WordPress is one of the better platforms for SEO and the combination does offer more tools and flexibility than many other platforms that are out there.
But when it comes to SEO, two of the most important aspects are great content and backlinks from high authority sites and will have the biggest impact on your site’s rankings but the other smaller things can also play a role and sometimes it can be these that can be the difference between position 1 & 2 in SERPs.
So take some time, develop an SEO strategy that you can implement on your store and start making changes but make sure to pay attention to your results to see what works and what doesn’t.