A Recipe for Success: The Foolproof Formula to Great Grocery eCommerce SEO

April 11, 2017 Stefanie Neyland


So, you’re with some friends and there’s a disagreement on when your team last won the championship. To prove you’re right, you pull out your phone, search Google, and show your friends the answer. Thanks to search engine optimization (SEO) and the power of the Internet, the whole process takes about 45 seconds. 


We all take the convenience of digital technology for granted these days. It’s sometimes hard to believe that we didn’t always carry powerful computers in our pockets, and that there was once a time when it would sometimes take days, or even weeks, to figure out which one of your friends was right. In fact, you’d likely only find out if someone had the desire, time, and energy to look the answer up in an encyclopedia—and you can forget it if that meant they’d have to get themselves to the local library.


It really wasn’t that long ago, yet it seems like a lifetime ago. The growth of the Internet and technology has truly been explosive. In just 25 years or so, the world has changed completely. What once took hours—even days—of library research is now available on our phone in seconds. Anytime. Anywhere.


Helping Your Customers Find You

The technology explosion has changed more than just how we access information; it’s also changed how consumers shop, and how we market to them. Almost everyone’s shopping online—they’re searching for the everyday products they need on the web, and it’s your job to get yourself in front of them so they will purchase those items from you. 


But the question is, how do you get your brand in front of the customers you want to reach? The answer is simple: you need strong, solid eCommerce SEO.


[Image credit: pixabay.com]

More Clicks = More Sales

Today, there's fierce competition for top Internet search positions in every niche. In fact, there's an entire field of experts that analyze consumer search terms, examine algorithms, and implement changes so your eCommerce site is reaching those top positions.


According to expert David McSweeney of Ahrefs, most companies are failing at eCommerce SEO. To improve their efforts, McSweeney suggests that the key to successful eCommerce SEO is to focus on four key areas: keyword research, on-page SEO, technical SEO and link building. 


1. Keyword research 

The starting point for any SEO campaign should be keyword research, and eCommerce SEO is no different. Without proper keyword research you’ll be flying blind, and relying on ‘gut feeling’ to drive your campaigns. Useful tools for keyword research include Google’s Keyword Planner and Moz.


2. On-page SEO 

According to SEO software giant Moz, on-page SEO is best described as “the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.” On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO, which refers to links and other external signals.


3. Technical SEO 

Technical SEO refers to just about any SEO work that is done besides the content. Essentially, it's laying a strong foundation to give your content the best chance it can have to rank for relevant keywords and phrases. This, according to digital marketing expert Neil Patel, includes considerations such as how well search engine spiders can crawl your site and index your content.


4. Link building 

Link building refers to the process of getting external pages to link to a page on your website. It’s one of the many tactics used in SEO, and it's a major factor in how Google ranks web pages. However, not all links are created equal. For example, a link from a highly authoritative website, such as The New York Times, will make a greater impact on a company’s search engine ranking than a newly-built website.


eCommerce SEO: What Not to Do

SEO methods are constantly evolving, which can make it challenging for retailers to stay on top of the most successful optimization techniques. Falling behind the latest eCommerce SEO best practices can put a dent in a marketer's SEO efforts, and instead of seeing a spike in traffic and increasing conversion rates, the results could be quite the opposite.


Analytics, marketing, and testing blog, Kissmetrics, believes that there are several common SEO mistakes that eCommerce retailers make, and they can be broken down into seven critical faux pas:


  1. Lack of product descriptions
  2. Using manufacturers’ product descriptions
  3. Lack of product reviews
  4. Not optimizing product pages based on the search demand
  5. Non-unique titles
  6. Lack of “speaking” URLs (also known as "keyword-friendly" URLs)
  7. Duplicate content


SEO in the Realm of Grocery eCommerce 

The grocery industry has such large and diverse inventories, which makes SEO even trickier. So, with this in mind, how do grocery eCommerce sites ensure they’re landing at the top of a customer’s search? 


In its “Ultimate Ecommerce Guide for Stores in the Food Industry, Volusion suggests that for the best SEO results, grocery eCommerce sites should be focusing their efforts on targeting specific niches where possible, and creating unique and informational content with detailed product descriptions.


“Be sure to include size, quantity, taste and texture in your product descriptions. Since your online customers can’t actually do a taste-test of your products, you’ll want to deliver that experience the best you can with your copy.”


It also recommends that retailers create either a blog or knowledge center for their products.


“That way, you can share recipes, spotlight new products, list unique ways to use your food, showcase a couple video reviews, and display other content that will catch your customers’ eyes.”


In taking these steps, you’ll be not only improving your SEO, but also giving potential customers an idea of what it’s like to use and consume your products.


Case Study: Price Chopper Follows All the Rules

When grocery chain Price Chopper embarked on a new digital strategy a few years ago, one of its main driving motivators was its desire to better connect with its shoppers so it could deliver exactly what they were looking for. Price Chopper wanted to move from being a value-driven grocer to an experience-driven one, so it took a multi-pronged approach to achieving that goal—and great eCommerce SEO was one of the keys to its success.


A look around pricechopper.com unearths many of the best SEO tactics, including the three Volusion identifies as top priorities.


Targeted niches

Price Chopper is focused and effective with the way it targets specific niches. At pricechopper.com, customers can visit easy-to-navigate, informative pages that cover topics such as gluten-free living, understanding diabetes, family mealtime, weight loss, healthy living, food allergies, and health and wellness. The website also provides a library of healthy recipes and a direct connection to a registered dietician. 



Unique, informational content

SEO experts all agree that providing unique, informational content can gain you the coveted top search position. It’s important to offer relevant information and knowledge so your customers consider you to be a trusted source, and Price Chopper does this beautifully with its many targeted niche categories, including a recipes section and a pharmacy section.




Blogger outreach

When blogger outreach works, it’s like the ultimate word-of-mouth marketing. When a blogger writes about your company, your brand is by extension reaching their audience. And, if you’ve connected with the right blogger, his or her audience is likely full of people you want shopping on your grocery eCommerce website.


Price Chopper partners with popular food blogger, Jodie Fitz—a perfect fit for its target market. Jodie’s blog has 17,000 visitors a month, and she also has more than 100,000 followers on social media.




The Bottom Line

A good eCommerce SEO strategy takes a lot of time and effort, but the results are really worth it. Land in that top search spot and you will increase clicks, gain more customers and, ultimately, make more sales.


For more information on the power of SEO in grocery eCommerce, check out our eBook, "Digital Marketing: Are Grocers Leveraging the Power of SEO and Data Analytics Tools?" by clicking the button below. 





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