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SEO For WooCommerce

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The New Rules of SEO for May 2024
Kasra Dash SEO

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Kasra Dash • Co-Founder • @Kasra_Dash

WooCommerce serves as a great platform for a range of ecommerce businesses, providing open-source access to a highly adaptable platform. For many store owners, WooCommerce is the perfect place to build their own ecommerce website, customised to suit their exact needs.

However, if you want to see success in a crowded market or niche, then understanding WooCommerce SEO can be important – whether your business is brand new or multiple years old.

While you might have worked with advertising tools like Google Ads before, SEO is a very different beast. Not only does it push your business to a wider audience, but it can be a huge factor in how well you compete with other companies across the internet – especially those in the exact same market as you.

Good SEO can be vital for ecommerce stores across any industry and market, but being able to apply SEO features correctly takes time, effort, experience, and planning. While it can be intimidating to learn how search engine optimization works, it can also be a core part of running your online business.

WooCommerce makes it relatively easy to manage your site’s SEO as you please, with a lot of plugin options and other tools to make the process simple. However, with so many different factors to consider, it can take a while to learn the specifics of what to do first.

What is WooCommerce?

WooCommerce is a WordPress-based ecommerce platform that allows users to quickly and easily set up an online store, adapting it to suit their needs.

Offering a range of useful selling features, WooCommerce is mostly geared towards building a user-friendly ecommerce store, with a range of options and features to let site owners refine their site structure and design over time.

Naturally, this also makes WooCommerce SEO very important. Like any online store platform, being able to tackle ecommerce SEO directly makes a big difference to your position in search engine rankings – which impacts your business’s overall success and performance in your target markets.

If you are not familiar with SEO as a whole, WooCommerce SEO is streamlined using a range of WooCommerce SEO plugins and software options. This allows you to manage your WooCommerce store SEO without having to manually learn and implement each SEO change yourself.

Is WooCommerce SEO Friendly?

The variety of WooCommerce SEO plugins on offer show that the platform is definitely friendly to SEO – something that can be improved even further by using the right WordPress plugins at a site level.

SEO can cover a lot of particular kinds of work. There is not a single perfect strategy that would work with every single ecommerce SEO task. Every store requires different kinds of work to suit its target audience, product list and overall website structure as a whole.

In general, a lot of steps have been taken to keep WooCommerce SEO-friendly. 

If you own (or are planning to create) a WooCommerce site, then the amount of SEO options and popular SEO plugins available means that you can handle a wide range of optimization work, from minor changes to major site overhauls.

Basic Search Engine Optimization for a WooCommerce Online Store

WooCommerce SEO can involve a lot of varied tasks, some of which are much smaller-scale than others. 

Approaching ecommerce SEO correctly means using a mixture of tactics and strategies, all to gradually improve your site in ways that make sense for your store.

Some of the ecommerce SEO strategies below are quite basic but form the backbone of the rest of your search optimization work. 

Without a solid foundation, most ecommerce SEO techniques will simply fall apart.

Write Product SEO Titles

Titles and meta descriptions are a major part of ecommerce SEO. The titles and descriptions of pages directly influence what search terms they appear for and how high search engines will rank them for those search results.

A good product page title is vital because that can have a huge amount of sway over where the page appears.

Descriptive, page-accurate titles are the best choice. These boost your ranking on search engines by being relevant while also helping product pages appear for users who are searching for that product (or at least terms related to it).

Add Product SEO Descriptions

Meta descriptions are just as important as the title. A good meta description can make search engines more favourable to that page while also giving users a quick snippet of description text in the search results that could draw them to that page instead of to competitors.

By default, most search engines will pull text from the page to make meta descriptions, but this can lead to a meta description that does not actually fit with the page.

Creating meta descriptions yourself gives you a lot more control over the contents of the meta description for each page, allowing you to insert calls-to-action into the search results that potential customers see.

Optimize Product Slug

A product slug is the part of a URL that identifies a page – for example, in an address like www.genericsite.com/newpage, the newpage part is the slug.

Most pages (including blog posts) will auto-generate a URL based on the page title. However, you can always change URLs yourself – and simplifying them can be surprisingly important in certain cases.

While not always that important as a ranking factor, a good slug related to a target keyword can still boost SEO and push more users into visiting your page.

Simpler slugs and URLs tend to make using the site a little bit easier and can also make your site look more streamlined on a search results page full of competing stores.

Enable Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumb navigation makes a site a lot easier to navigate, showing users where they are in the site hierarchy and giving them easy links to move back up the store’s page structure.

This can be a good way to nudge users into exploring the rest of your site if their search results take them directly to a product page.

For example, a visitor can jump straight back to product category pages rather than having to awkwardly navigate through drop-down menus or figure out how to view the entire category of products that they are interested in.

Properly Using Product Categories and Tags

Product pages are often sorted under category pages, and using these correctly can give you a huge range of new opportunities for ecommerce store SEO projects.

Building the structure of your site up around specific categories and tags can help you not only space pages out but can give you more pages to use as a core part of your Woocommerce SEO.

For example, adding a category for seating with a subcategory for things like sofas, deck chairs, etc., allows you to use all of them as “SEO fodder”. 

Each one can be geared towards users looking for that specific kind of thing rather than relying on just the overall seating or furniture product lists. The more specific you can get, the easier it becomes to capture a range of audiences with particular interests.

Add Alt Text for Product Images

Search engines do not understand images. While they can see that they are on a page, they can’t actually interpret anything on the image beyond its file name and any metadata associated with the image itself.

This makes alt text an invaluable part of any WooCommerce SEO guide, providing a way for a search platform to “understand” an image in a way that can benefit your SEO and provide some advantages to your users.

Alt text is effectively the alternate text form of an image, the same meta descriptions used by screen readers and other interpretation software. Image alt text helps search engines understand what an image is through both content and context.

For example, online stores often have a lot of product images. Giving each one some image alt text allows Google to understand those product images as actual pieces of data, which is often used as a ranking factor to help sites appear higher in search results.

Not only does this lead to better search engine visibility during an image search, but it gives you another place to add relevant keywords. Like page titles and meta descriptions, alt text can be used on every page with no real downsides.

Add SEO Title and Descriptions for Product Categories

Always remember to tweak the titles and descriptions of a category page. While a product title might be more immediately useful from both an SEO perspective and a practical standpoint, these category pages are a huge part of your site’s general structure.

Categories are often going to be where customers land after their searches. If they are not looking up a specific product or page, then they will often gravitate to the main page or to a category of products, and that makes these category pages incredibly important.

By performing the same SEO tweaks on these pages, you can influence your position in Google search results even further. 

Focusing on these generalised category pages allows you to direct new traffic towards a list of products rather than just one, which can also facilitate more sales and on-site conversions by letting them explore a range of products.

Track WooCommerce Customers in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the perfect tool for seeing how your customers act – where they come from, where they go, and how they are spending their time on your site. This data, even in its most basic form, can be extremely useful and very versatile.

For example, you might be able to track Google search visitors to your WooCommerce store, watching to see which pages they tend to visit the most. You can find product pages that tend to get the most attention or see which subset of users is most likely to bounce (leave immediately).

This not only allows you to properly measure success, but you can also get an idea of where you might be falling short. If used correctly, tools like Google Analytics can measure the following:

User Behaviour

Tracking user behaviour can help you refine your WooCommerce SEO step by step, giving you an easy way to trace the paths that your visitors take. This also shows you the points where they are most likely to focus or leave the site without purchasing.

Having even a basic understanding of your users’ movements and habits can make it much easier to focus on the areas with the most potential. If a lot of users are gravitating towards one particular page or set of products, you can see that and use the data to your advantage.

This also gives you a way to pick out problem areas or even identify SEO attempts that might have failed. While other tools can also help with this, having direct access to so much important user behaviour data can make a big impact on how you tackle your future SEO work.

User Sources

Analytics can also sometimes tell you where users came from, giving you a simple but useful understanding of your major SEO opportunities. 

Knowing the sources of your site traffic allows you to build new SEO tactics around that information rather than making general guesses.

Page Popularity

While some pages are obviously going to be more popular than others, seeing the hard data behind the most-visited pages can tell you which parts of your SEO have been most effective.

It also allows you to get an idea of where most of your traffic is focused, compared to product niches that see far less traffic – giving you a new set of goals to work towards.

Bounce Rates

Understanding the most frequent sources of users “bouncing off” your site can help you fix the issue, securing a little more traffic and removing potential sources of irrelevant traffic.

While bounce rates never go away completely, seeing them represented as hard data can sometimes help you understand which pages are causing users to immediately leave – either because they are attracting irrelevant traffic or because the page itself is pushing them away.

Unwanted Page Visits

Tracking down sources of irrelevant or unwanted traffic makes it easier to focus on the traffic that actually matters.

SEO does not always just target the audience that you want; other sources of traffic can get roped in too. This can make it harder to sift through the useful data or make it seem like your SEO is failing due to traffic that would not be interested in your site either way.

Cutting out unwanted SEO connections or misplaced keywords is easiest when you have data to guide you, something that analytical tools can be perfect for.

Optimize Website Speed and Performance

Technical SEO matters a lot. Improving site performance and page speed is not just for convenience but plays an actual role in your SEO as a whole. The better a site is, the higher search platforms will be willing to rank it.

This makes a lot of sense: search platforms do not want poorly-constructed sites to appear at the top of major searches. A site that takes a full ten seconds to load will do incredibly poorly in terms of SEO, even if the rest of the website is fine.

Technical SEO is all about the technical side of managing a site. Whether you are optimizing images to load pages faster or streamlining the overall structure of your website, better performance at a technical level means greater SEO results.

Avoid Slow Loading Times

Remember that site speed can be influenced by a lot of factors. Image sizes, messy code, excessive redirections or poorly-embedded content (like autoplay videos that will play without the user actually clicking on them) can slow down a site’s load time.

In extreme cases, it may take several full seconds for the main page to even load. A lot of users will simply give up on a site after the first few seconds of loading, and those who do not may become frustrated if it takes them multiple seconds to load a new page.

A slow site is often considered a bad site, and it can be hard to compensate for the penalties of a slow loading time. In many cases, you simply have to improve the loading speed – even if you secure more traffic, a large portion may leave as soon as the loading time inconveniences them.

Improve WooCommerce Security

In terms of website security, search engines really care about sites being safe. Not only will Google warn visitors of malware or scam risks and penalise your site, but poor security might make your site completely unusable even if there is no actual risk.

For example, some browsers or antivirus programs will almost completely block pages that are suspected of containing malware. Even just using the original HTTP protocol instead of HTTPS can sometimes be enough to trigger this.

WooCommerce SEO Settings

Adjusting your WooCommerce SEO settings can make a difference. Site owners have a huge amount of options when it comes to their WooCommerce SEO efforts, but actually managing them properly can seem like a daunting task at first.

Your settings will influence a lot about your WooCommerce store, especially as you add more SEO plugin options. For example, the Yoast SEO plugin comes with a range of Yoast SEO settings, and each one will change how Yoast SEO functions slightly as an SEO plugin.

Even beyond tools like the Yoast SEO plugin or a similar WooCommerce SEO plugin, your WooCommerce store has its own specific settings to consider. 

Remove Base

URLs are effectively an extra part of product descriptions, so keeping them clear and concise can really help.

While WordPress likes to add prefixes automatically, these can often interfere with your web search SEO, such as making a category page name far too long or messing up your SEO titles.

Removing these prefixes can lead to a better user experience. While not necessarily one of the most useful SEO tips out there, it can still influence SEO slightly, and the added benefit of providing advantages to your users too.

Remove Category Base

WooCommerce adds a “/product-category/” prefix to all categories, which tends to get in the way of your WordPress SEO efforts. Again, removing this makes it look a lot nicer and reduces the number of steps in the breadcrumb navigation trail.

Since the prefix has no actual purpose on your store and does not provide any function, removing it can be a small part of an overall streamlining process that helps your site look and feel a lot nicer.

Remove Parent Slugs

Dealing with parent slugs is important if your store does not use categories. This slug often creates categories and tags that do not actually exist, which is an equally annoying problem for your WordPress SEO.

In general, removing any unnecessary text from URLs can really help. This is a small but useful form of on-page SEO, helping to cut down bloated URLs or navigational systems so that users can have a better experience overall.

Remove WooCommerce Generator Tag

WooCommerce also automatically includes a tag in your website’s header (which can often be the source of the SEO title). This tag displays the version of the platform that you are using, which is completely unnecessary in almost all cases.

While it will not make much of a difference in general, removing this code can provide a tiny boost to your load times, as well as removing a piece of information that frankly is not relevant to anything on your site.

Getting rid of unneeded tags has a marginal impact on loading speed, which can actually really matter if you are cleaning up bloated code.

Remove Schema Markup on Shop Page

The Schema Markup data within WooCommerce can often get in the way of Google’s official recommendations. Even if you do not know anything about Schema as a whole, this option can still help and is recommended for site owners.

If you are working with a developer and do not know much about this yourself, be sure to talk with them before choosing this setting, just in case. It is important to understand whether or not it will have a positive impact on your site, but in most cases, it will.

Remove Schema Data From Categories

Removing Schema data from your categories is also important under Google guidelines. In general, ecommerce sites will want to stick to these guidelines as closely as possible to see the best results.

This is done via the Remove Snippet Data option, so be sure to look for that when exploring your additional SEO controls.

WordPress SEO Settings

WordPress SEO settings can also provide some additional customisation options, giving the site owner more control over how they approach SEO.

As before, looking into these settings is important. They can have a major impact on your overall SEO performance, as well as change how parts of the WordPress platform actually work.

Choose A Suitable Site Title & Tagline

Always give your site a good tagline and title, one that covers the entire site. This usually means a brand name and brand slogan or a quick description of what you offer.

These appear in rich snippets in search results, so getting them right can be important for standing out on search engine results pages. The SEO benefits of even a basic title and tagline combination can be incredibly important, especially for a small business.

Ensure Your Site is Indexable

It is important to make sure that the Search Engine Visibility checkbox is not ticked. Ticking this box prevents search engines from indexing the site, meaning that no site pages (including product pages) can appear in search results.

This feature is mostly used in situations where you want to take down and rework the entire site. Ticking this box will destroy your core web vitals and make all SEO work irrelevant until you turn the visibility back on.

Ensure You Have A Valid SSL Certificate Installed

Update your SSL certificate, and replace an invalid certificate if you currently have one. Regardless of your SEO strategy, having an SSL certificate is required if you want the majority of visitors to be able to access and use your site.

Many search providers, browsers and antivirus tools actively avoid or block sites without a valid security certificate. Even if your search results and rich snippets appear as normal, they may come with an extra warning letting users know about the invalid certificate.

An outdated or missing SSL certificate usually means that you will get barely any traffic, you will not be crawled and ranked as favourably, and you may not even appear on certain platforms. Be sure that you understand how to get and install this, especially if you are managing this yourself.

You can check whether or not you have a valid certificate in a range of ways, and certain platforms or tools will warn you if your site’s certificate has expired. Be sure to investigate this if you have not checked the certificate status in a long time.

Make Proper Use of Canonicalization

Canonical tags form the basis of a lot of SEO strategy ideas. These tell search engines that two near-identical pages are not duplicate pages but are actually a parent page and a child page.

This can be important for things like alternative product pages or pages or categories and subcategories since they may share a lot of content. While you can write meta descriptions for each one, too much code and content may be shared for this to really matter.

Canonical tags ensure that you do not have matching product descriptions tagged as duplicate content. Duplicate content can cause a lot of damage to your SEO, and duplicate content in things like SEO titles or product descriptions can often happen by accident.

Using canonical tags properly lets you avoid the duplicate content penalties for legitimate cases of shared information and structured data. For example, if one product can be found across three different pages, canonical tags help cement them as a single page that is copied across multiple URLs.

In general, you always want to use canonical tags if a page is partially or entirely copied for any reason. This is very common with product pages that get duplicates in specific Sale or Under (Price Limit) categories since these are often entirely copied pages.

Choose A Simple Permalink Structure

Simple URLs are better URLs. The simpler a permalink is, the more information it gives users, and the easier it becomes for visitors to use it themselves. A relevant link can tell customers what the link goes to before they even click it, which can help push them towards a product.

For example, if you see a search result with structured data mentioning armchairs, which would you rather click on: site.com/categories/products/chairs/armchairs/green-brandname-armchair, or site.com/chairs/green-brandname-armchair?

Of course, if your site is already performing well with its current structured data and URL setup, do not change this. You should never risk breaking a core part of your successful SEO structure.

Other Settings for Search Engines

WordPress has a lot of settings to play with, many of which can lead to different SEO opportunities or change how a part of your site functions.

It is important to look at your settings and adjust them as needed. Even the smallest change to one particular element of your site might provide you with a new way to target a specific audience.

Conclusion

Whether you are planning to use Google Search Console and Yoast SEO plugins to generate highly precise data, or just want to tackle SEO by yourself with common sense and good luck, it is important to understand how SEO works on WooCommerce.

There is no perfect way to handle things like keyword research and structured data, and the nature of SEO changes so often that it can be hard to rely on any one particular strategy. 

Like the internet itself, SEO is always shifting, and sometimes you need to focus on a new area or employ a new tool to succeed.

Regardless of whether you are targeting constant growth or just trying to maintain moderate success, you never know where the next SEO goal will point. Maybe you will end up targeting Google image search results, or doing in-depth keyword research on niche products that were underperforming at first.

How you tackle your SEO is entirely up to you, but remember that WooCommerce is not a rock-solid SEO platform, either. Things can always change, and SEO tools and plugins may adapt to suit different situations. 

No matter what kind of goals you have in mind, it can be hard to know where to start, let alone how to secure the success that you want.

What matters most is that you slow down, explore your options, and avoid rushing into anything too quickly. A large part of SEO is about patience and reacting to the choices you make, so it can be useful to give each tweak some time to show its potential.

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