How is SEO for ecommerce different from service-based websites?

E-commerce websites and service-based websites are built relatively the same, but they are not optimised in the same way. It is always important to remember your overall goal or target, as this is what you will focus any optimisation towards for example, online sales for e-commerce vs leads, calls and form submissions for service based website.

One of the most important factors for a service-based website is local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). When someone is searching for a business who offers a particular service, they are often looking for something/someone local, or where the service provider is able to do the job quickly meaning local providers are often preferred. Whereas for product-based websites or businesses which sell online, customers don’t have to worry about distance and might find better quality options from abroad or other regions. Content keywords are also the key to the e-commerce SERP (Search Engine Result Page). A loyal customer for a service-based business is most likely going to be local, whereas a loyal customer to an e-commerce business could be anywhere in the world. As such, e-commerce SEO is slightly more complex. 

Do your keyword research

For both e-commerce and service-based businesses, there will be competitors in the same niche, maybe even in the same area. By using tools like Semrush or Moz you can discover what keywords have high volume searches. Once you have identified these keywords, you can use them effectively throughout your site to optimise your SEO, for example in your title tags, meta descriptions or distributing them sparingly throughout your content. 

 

Homepage SEO optimisation

In order to generate quality leads, it is very important that your website has a clean and simple structure, enabling people to quickly get to the places they want. This is why sometime you do not want to drive traffic to the homepage, but for other search queries you do.

Homepage Title Tag

Title tags are one of the most important elements of on-site SEO as this is a feature that Google can’t miss when assessing the value and ranking of your website. Your title tag is the main line that people read when your website previews on the search page. These should include relevant keywords such as your business name, or any other main word that applies to your business, for example, the type of service you offer or the range of products you supply. This doesn’t need to be extremely descriptive, just a few words that clarifies what your business has to offer. The more short and clear your title tags are, the more appealing your website will be to search visitors on Google. This can be highly effective for both e-commerce and service based websites.

Homepage Meta Description

A meta description is the short blurb that appears on the google search engine below your title tag, therefore these should also be short and sweet. While this is not the first thing people see when your site is previewed, it is still relatively important. A title tag is what will catch someone’s eye, but it will be the meta description that encourages them to click into your website. This is an opportunity for you to insert a few keywords here, but be careful not to go overboard. If Google senses that you have overwhelmed this description with a whole bunch of similar keywords, there’s a chance that it will be recognised as spam. With both e-commerce and service-based websites, this is also an opportunity to summarise what makes your service or product special/unique.

Homepage Content

The content on your homepage is by far the most important content throughout your whole website. This will be the first interaction a potential customer will have with your business and therefore it is crucial to impress them. Use imagery, graphics and text to further explain what your business offers. This is also where viewers will get a sense of the ‘attitude’ and ‘tone’ of your business so be sure to express this through your content. Be mindful when providing information on the homepage as viewers don’t want to be overwhelmed and bombarded with every detail of your business, think about spreading your information out, featuring your most popular products or services only, have clear functionality and buttons so people can search further if they want to, and lastly make sure to include spaces and relevant pictures to break up your content. 

There's not just cluttering of content to worry about, cluttering of keywords is just detrimental. Similar to the meta description, there is also such a thing as too many keywords over your entire side. They call this keyword cannibalisation, and this could also be unattractive to a site viewer. Keep your homepage content relevant and appealing, not overwhelming and over informative.

Landing Pages and Product/Service Descriptions

As an e-commerce business, it requires more work to stand out from the crowd, which is why the sale of a product relies heavily on in-depth descriptions and customer reviews. It is important that each product has its own page, this not only allows more room for more detailed information but it also provides space for more product-specific keywords, and in turn the particular landing page can appear in a more specific item search. For example, you might own a costume shop and a customer is looking for an astronaut costume in particular. When Google searching for ‘astronaut costume’, there is a slimmer chance of your website showing up if there is no individual page for this item. Let’s say your site did show up, but it links to your homepage. This creates more work for the customer to navigate through your website to find the astronaut costume they were originally looking for, this also means there is more of a chance that the customer will click off your site due to unnecessary time spent searching. Whereas if you had an individual page for this item, there is more of a chance that the particular landing page would show up if you use the relevant keywords effectively (‘astronaut costume’ title tag). This also makes the user experience timely and efficient. 

It is also important for service-based websites to have individual pages for what they offer but this is primarily so the potential customer knows exactly what they are paying for. When searching for a service, the keywords are more vague. For example, if you are needing someone to come and fix a broken pipe you would just search for a ‘plumber’ for home maintenance rather than a ‘pipe fixer’.

Online Reviews

Although your item might be what the customer is looking for, a product review is what will encourage them to add it to their cart. If the review shows the demographic (age, gender, country) of the customer this makes the potential customer more likely to trust the authenticity of the review. Reviews are just as important in service based websites however those can be focused more towards the quality of the service provider than the service itself. 

In terms of driving SEO results, it’s important to encourage people to review your business on your Google My Business (GMB) page as keywords in this will help optimise search queries to your GMB listing. 

SEO Image Optimization

Imagines are essential for all online businesses, whether it's an image of a product, or an image of a service being undertaken/the result of a service. Would you consider buying from a website that had zero pictures and just pages and pages of words? I didn’t think so.

Before uploading your images, ensure your file names consist of relevant keywords. Yes, this is important. Believe it or not, these minor features do impact your search engine optimisation. If it’s a picture of a product, use the product name and main keywords, if it’s a picture of someone working, use the name of the service and again, a main keyword. 

 

SEO focussed blogs

Blogs are becoming increasingly popular for all types of websites, more so for SEO purposes. They provide an opportunity for inbound and outbound links, and impact your websites linking profile. Guest blogs are just as effective for e-commerce and service-based websites as the owner of either business can revert people back to their own site from another. It is evident however that blogs are more prominent on service-based websites than e-commerce. As mentioned previously, when searching for a service, customers may be more concerned with the character and profile of the business brand itself and the quality of their services rather than the range of what they can actually offer. One way to represent your brand is by publishing blogs relating to the niche of your business, anything from meet the team blogs to How-To tutorials. How-to guides are also great for gaining new clients/customers if your free tutorial worked for them. For example, you run a real estate business. A blog idea could be a ‘How to’ or ‘Tips’ for arranging your kitchen for an open-home. If the client believes your advice helps them sell their property, they may use your agency services in future.

There are multiple differences between SEO for e-commerce and service-based websites, however many of the same tools can be used to optimise both. The aim of SEO is to rank higher in the search engine and be one step ahead of your competitors. By using the strategies more specific to your industry, e-commerce or service-based, you’ll have the advantage of refining your target market and watch your ranking results improve in all the right places.