Practical Ecommerce

SEO: Enabling Performance beyond Home Page and Brand

Ecommerce sites with the strongest natural search performance drive visits to every page, not just the home page and not just for searches for the brand.

A search engine optimization channel cannot thrive on a steady diet of queries for the company’s name that send consumers to its home page. But that’s what most sites subsist on.

Searchers who enter queries for site brands are using search engines to navigate to sites they already know they want to interact with. Many are repeat visitors. Typically those sites are household names or have millions to spend on marketing to build brand awareness.

A search engine optimization channel cannot thrive on a steady diet of queries for the company’s name that send consumers to its home page. But that’s what most sites subsist on.

But natural search can be effective for customer acquisition, too, and for driving awareness — as long as every page of the site is enabled to attract and convert visitors.

Take a moment to check your web analytics’ entry page report, and your Google Search Console top queries report — Search Console > Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Queries. Hopefully you see more than just your brand (for the keyword) and the home page (for the entry page). If most of your site’s natural search performance flows through your home page, it’s usually because something is holding back the rest of your site.

Beyond the Home Page

Every page on your site should be an entry page for searchers. For that to happen, every page must be crawlable and must possess enough authority to rank.

The first step is to ensure that search engines can crawl and index your entire site, to find all pages on it. If they can’t do that, they can’t rank those pages, and searchers won’t be able to find them. This is the most basic step in SEO, the foundation of everything else.

Google and Bing will tell you how many pages they have indexed in their respective webmaster tools. If the answer is one page — your home page — then fix this problem immediately. Nothing else you do for SEO will have any effect without indexation.

Internal authority is the second critical aspect of enabling your entire site to rank. Authority in SEO is a measure of collective value that other sites place in your content based on the quantity and quality of inbound links. Most of that authority puddles up in your home page, because most sites link to it by default. Internal navigation directs that authority deeper into your site by providing links from your home page to lower level pages.

If all pages are crawlable and indexed, check your navigation and other internal linking mechanisms to be sure that pages are linked together in such a way that it takes as few clicks as possible to reach lower level pages, while also providing an optimal visitor experience.

It doesn’t do any good to cram all the links you can into the navigation (in the name of better SEO) if it makes it harder for shoppers to navigate your site to purchase. Likewise, it doesn’t do any good to create a bare-bones navigation (for an ultra-clear visitor experience) if it restricts the flow of authority to just a few pages and therefore limits your SEO performance, preventing shoppers from finding your site to begin with.

Beyond the Brand

If your brand name drives most of the site’s natural search performance, it’s usually because the rest of the site has nothing new to add to the conversation.

Once they’re crawlable and possess a bit of their own authority, all pages must send textual signals that are contextually relevant to the things that real shoppers search for in a search engine. Each page must have its own unique story to tell.

If your brand name drives most of the site’s natural search performance, it’s usually because the rest of the site has nothing new to add to the conversation.

Relevance comes down to the words on the page and how they relate to the words on the other pages. In an ecommerce site, the base pages are typically category, faceted navigation, and products. The category and faceted pages are typically textually challenged. But they should, at the very least, have headings, title tags, and meta descriptions that are unique to each and every page. If they don’t, that’s problem number three. Even better, the template and content management system should allow for a bit of textual copy on every page.

At the higher category and subcategory levels, making the pages unique usually involves a two-pronged approach: working with developers to generate more relevant defaults and manually optimizing pages via the CMS.

At the filtered level, which can be an ecommerce site’s biggest opportunity, rely on the defaults worked out with developers to programmatically optimize pages. Some of the most valuable pages should still be optimized manually, but the sheer quantity of faceted pages will prevent most sites from manually optimizing most of them.

In short, the combination of indexation, authority, and relevance can boost a site from ranking only for its home page to driving the traffic and conversions to all pages, to grow revenue.

Jill Kocher Brown

Jill Kocher Brown

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  1. Brijesh Kumar November 28, 2017 Reply

    Thanks Jill for writing a wonderful article. Very information. I followed steps to find the searchable keywords from Analytics. Keep it up!