If you are reading this guide you are already familiar with WordPress CMS. If you own a regular WordPress website, WordPress SEO involves optimising your posts, pages and categories of the site. WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that adds eCommerce capabilities to your WordPress site. A WooCommerce site can product pages, product categories, product tags and other features to enable eCommerce capabilities for a WordPress site. So, with WooCommerce SEO, you have more elements and things to consider than regular WordPress SEO. The same key factors such as Technical SEO, Content & links apply to WooCommerce SEO as well. Check out the step-by-step WooCommerce SEO guide below.
How to Improve SEO for your WooCommerce Site?
- Keyword Research
- Site Structure & Hierarchy
- WooCommerce SEO-Friendly URLs
- Internal Linking
- Duplicate Content Handling
- On-Page Content Optimisation
- Page Titles & Meta Descriptions
- Product Descriptions
- Product Category Descriptions
- Blog & FAQ Pages
- Technical SEO
- XML Sitemaps
- Mobile-First Indexing & Responsive
- Page Speed Optimisation
- Schema, Structured Data, and Rich Snippets
Keyword research is the heart of SEO. The aim of this step is to create a seed list of keywords and rank those by search volumes and relevance. You have to know what customers are searching for, so you know how to map out your site structure. As a part of the keyword research process, you can follow these steps;
- Research products, manufacturers and competitors of your site.
- Create a seed list of keywords for products, categories and topics you want to include on your site.
- Pull search volumes for the seed list and rank them for relevance.
- Remove low search volume and irrelevant keywords.
There are tons of tools you can use to perform keyword research for a WooCommerce site. These are the most commonly used tools;
- Google Search console
- Ahrefs / SEMRush
- Answer The Public
- Also Asked
- Google related searches
If a site owner skips thorough keyword research, you might end up targeting very broad keywords that are difficult to rank or might end up targeting keywords that are not relevant to your potential customers.
Site Structure & Hierarchy
So, once we have the target keywords that we want to rank for, we have to relate that back to the pages of our website. Site structure is critical for WooCommerce-based websites for both usability and improving findability. Lack of a proper site structure can result in your own pages competing against each other due to the crossover of products, categories, tags and content for your target keywords. As a best practice for your WooCommerce site structure;
- Keep the overall structure simple. All key pages of your site should be accessible within 3 clicks from the homepage.
- Use categories to organise your products. Enable product filtering via facetted navigation for users. Index the filters if they are worth indexing based on your keyword research. Use these product categories to target your head terms (target keywords), not products.
- Optimise your internal links between page types. Examples of good internal linking on WooCommerce sites;
- Products linking back to the Category pages via breadcrumb links.
- Your buying guides, FAQ pages or blog posts link to your categories and products. They are strong indicators to the search engines on what pages are important.
- Setup an HTML sitemap (usually linked from the footer) containing links to your pages, posts and product categories.
- Use noindex for tags, date archives, author listings, etc.
WooCommerce SEO-Friendly URLs
Using SEO-friendly URLs for your WooCommerce pages helps search engines understand the site architecture and the structure of the content. They also help users quickly find products that they are looking for. As a best practice for your WooCommerce URL structure;
- Use short and human-readable URLs. Don’t forget to set your permalinks.
- Remove the default /product-category and /product/ URL part that gets added to your product category and product page URLs.
- Include relevant keywords within the URL.
- Avoid extremely long URLs with multiple layers. Set limit at three levels deep. The recommended length for your URL – Up to 75 characters.
If you change URLs, make sure that you use 301 redirects. That 301 redirect will transfer all of your SEO value and traffic to your new updated URL.
Breadcrumbs are internal links that are useful to both users and search engines by helping them understand the site hierarchy and where things are located resulting in reduced bounce rates. As a best practice for your WooCommerce site breadcrumbs;
- Implement breadcrumbs on category and product pages.
- Style them so they are easy to read and use. Check mobile devices to make sure they are usable.
- Implement breadcrumb schema markup so search engines better understand them and display them on SERP listings.
You could use the Yoast SEO plugin to enable breadcrumb links (with schema markup) if your theme does not support them.
WooCommerce Internal Linking
Internal linking is important because it tells search engines which content is most important. As a best practice for your WooCommerce internal links;
- Use internal linking wisely to support SEO for your priority categories and products.
- Pay attention to the anchor text of your internal links. Try to use your target keyword phrase in your anchor text as it influences search engines to rank the destination link for that keyword. It also helps users and search engines understand what the destination link is about.
- Use website crawlers like Screaming Frog, Botify, Deepcrawl, etc to regularly crawl your site to find and fix orphan links and broken internal links.
Duplicate Content Handling
When you deal with eCommerce sites, duplication of content is a common issue. The most common duplication issue is when the same products are merchandised across multiple categories under different URLs. Example: Christmas Jumpers under /knitwear/jumpers/christmas-jumpers versus Christmas Jumpers under /christmas/christmas-jumpers. They are essentially the same product categories under different URL paths.
Another common issue on eCommerce sites causing duplication is due to non-canonical URLs caused by session IDs, filter parameters, URL tracking parameters, www vs non-www URLs, etc. It’s a good practice to avoid query string parameters and instead use clean URLs that self-canonicalise. You can do some quick checks for duplication using https://www.siteliner.com/.
As a best practice to handle duplication for your WooCommerce site;
- Avoid Plagiarism.
- Set your duplicate pages to no index.
- Canonicalise your duplicate pages to the primary page that you want to rank in search.
On-Page Content Optimisation
Page Titles & Meta Descriptions
The page title is an important on-page SEO element that tells search engines what the page is about. It’s not just for SEO, it’s also for click-through rates on the SERPs. This is the first thing people see about your site before they ever decide to click through.
The meta description that displays right below the page title on the SERPs is used to provide a brief summary of the page. It’s your opportunity to write a good description to entice users to click on your listing and bring them in. Follow these best practice recommendations for your Page titles & meta descriptions.
You can install a plugin such as Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin to create page titles and meta descriptions for your products, category pages, etc.
WooCommerce Product SEO
High-quality & unique product descriptions are critical to the performance of your WooCommerce store product rankings. Large WooCommerce stores often struggle to keep up with the growing number of products on the site. Common problems include product pages with no descriptions or duplicating the manufacturer descriptions. Some stores also struggle with thin content product pages with just a bullet list of 3 or 4 sentences. As a best practice for your WooCommerce site product descriptions;
- Create unique, keyword-rich descriptions.
- Utilize manufacturer’s descriptions, but add additional value.
- Review competitor websites to take inspiration from to write better content.
WooCommerce Category SEO
Category pages need a heading and description to rank for your primary keywords. Having just a list of products and images is not enough to tell search engines (and users) what the category is actually selling. Ensure all your product category descriptions are unique and target the relevant terms.
Blog & FAQ Pages
Create topical seasonal content that answers user intent. Let’s say you were selling football boots. Instead of a customer searching ‘football boots’ on Google, they are much more likely to search for ‘best football boots for 3G pitch’ or similar queries. Target these keywords on your blog content.
Your WooCommerce site will benefit from buying guides, FAQ pages, promotional content, product reviews and comparisons content. They not only benefit the customer by aiding them to make an informed purchase but also drive traffic to your site by targeting long-tail keywords or question-based ‘people also ask’ queries. You need to invest time in creating good content and regularly update it.
WooCommerce SEO Tip: Consumers search for manufacturer part numbers when looking to purchase specific spares/parts. Including these manufacturer part numbers in key sections of your pages will potentially improve the ranking for manufacturer part number searches. As a best practice for your WooCommerce site, including manufacturer part numbers in your product & category descriptions, product name & category page headings, URLs, page title & meta descriptions, image filenames and alt text, etc will help SEO for part number searches.
WooCommerce Technical SEO
WooCommerce XML Sitemaps
An XML sitemap is a file containing the list of all your site URLs. It provides an alternate way for search engines to access your site content. As a best practice for your WooCommerce sitemap implementation;
- Your XML map should be updated automatically as changes are made to the site.
- Include products, product categories, blog posts, blog post categories and static pages.
- Your XML sitemap must only contain 200 status codes, indexable and self-canonicalised URLs.
- Submit your sitemap to Google and Bing via search console/webmaster tools. Use the search console or webmaster tools to monitor errors in your XML sitemap.
There are several plugins available to choose from to create an XML sitemap for your WooCommerce store. I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Mobile-First Indexing & Responsive
So, what has changed over the years? Mobile commerce is making up for a much larger proportion of traffic and revenue today than ever before. Not only are more users visiting your site using a mobile device compared to a desktop, but they are also converting to mobile devices. If your website has a poor mobile experience, you need to take this seriously and think mobile-first as Google indexation is based on the mobile version of your website. As a best practice for your WooCommerce site to be mobile-friendly;
- Ensure you use a responsive WooCommerce theme that will adapt to mobile devices.
- Ensure you don’t have unexpected redirects between the mobile and desktop versions of your site.
- Ensure you have the same content across devices. A common problem in most eCommerce sites is hidden/lesser content on mobile compared to desktop. This is a no-no because of Google’s mobile-first index.
- Pay attention to page speed. It’s important your website loads fast on mobile devices, especially on slower connections as a large percentage of users are still on 3G/4G. A common problem area with WooCommerce sites is webmasters using large images that impact performance.
- Not only is a fast website important, but you also need to optimise the checkout process for mobile to improve conversion rates.
There are a number of tools available to test your site for mobile friendliness. These are the most common tools I use to do some quick checks when a new site is launched or after a re-design.
- GSC Mobile-friendly tool to test if your site is mobile-friendly.
- https://crossbrowsertesting.com/ to test your website on multiple browsers and mobile devices.
- http://ami.responsivedesign.is/ to check if your site is responsive.
- Use the Search Console to see what Google presents as issues on your site under the Coverage section and Mobile usability sections.
WooCommerce Page Speed Optimisation
Why is the speed and performance of the site important? Not only is page speed a ranking factor in the mobile-first index, but your site conversions are also directly influenced by how fast your site loads. According to a study, 53 % of users abandon your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Even a 1-second delay in page load can cost you a 7% decrease in the conversation rate. As a best practice for your WooCommerce page speed optimisation;
- Avoid using large images that slow down your page speed.
- Use reliable high-quality hosting preferably a VPS/dedicated host. There are hosting companies that also offer special WooCommerce hosting packages.
- Implement Caching.
- Avoid landing page redirects.
- Enable compression.
- Improve server response time.
- Leverage browser caching.
- Optimise images.
- Optimise CSS Delivery.
- Use a CDN.
- Prioritize visible content/above the fold content.
There are a number of tools available online to test your site speed. These are the most common tools I use to run my site to test the page speed as they not only provide scores but also provide you with a very detailed report of what is potentially wrong and impacting your page speed on both mobile and desktop. You also get a bunch of tips to consider for optimising your site for performance.
Schema, Structured Data, and Rich Snippets
Structured data helps search engines understand the site content, which can be used to display rich snippets in SERPs. These rich snippets help with click-through rates. As a best practice for your WooCommerce site schema implementation;
- Implement product schema to display product review rating stores, price, stock information, etc on SERPs.
- Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to test your schema implementation.
There are several plugins available to choose from to add schema markup to WordPress and WooCommerce Sites. My personal favourites are the Yoast WooCommerce SEO and Schema WooCommerce Plugin by Schema App.