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Bigcommerce is one of the most profitable e-commerce solutions online; you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option if you intend to have a hosted online shopping cart store. They power over 100 thousand online stores, with more than 5 billion dollars generated through sales by 2015, which makes them one of the industry’s leaders.
Just out of the gate, Bigcommerce puts at your disposal a wide variety of advanced features that bring a lot of credibility to your online business and add a lot of value to your customers. Things like Gift Cards, real-time shipping quotes, built-in ratings, and even partnership with Alibaba, are a few of the many appealing features any on-line store would want. That and the fact that Bigcommerce makes it simple to implement them.
However, as with any other website or online-shopping site, Bigcommerce stores are greatly dependent on SEO.
You can spend hours painstakingly selecting and tweaking your online store template, do a lot of math to choose the subscription plan that suits your store’s size best, and work on great copy and layout positioning for your site, but it will all make little difference if people aren’t finding it.
The way to prevent this and make sure people are continually finding your site and converting into actual sells is through SEO.
Search Engine Optimization is a blanket term used to describe a collection of techniques, strategies, and practices designed with one objective in mind: To increase your sells by driving more people to find your online store.
Every website depends on search engines to bring people to their sites. Unless a person knows your site’s address, they’d probably find you through Google, Bing or any other popular search engine out there when they look for terms related to what you sell; this is how it works:
Whenever you put content in your online store (be it a new product listing, a new contact page, or a blog post), it is read and cataloged by those search engines. The next time someone looks for terms related to your content, the search engine will include your store’s website amongst the results. How high you rank above the rest in the result’s page list, depends directly on how good your SEO is.
So, to help your online store grow and increase its profits, we’ve put together a simple how-to guide, that covers a few SEO for Bigcommerce strategies you can, and should, implement right now to get your site ranking higher in those search results and getting more people in contact with your merchandise.
We’ll touch on a couple of broad principles about SEO (such as Keyword Research) and then talk about the specific tools Bigcommerce puts on its customer’s hands to help them in this endeavor.
As with any other platform, the first SEO for Bigcommerce strategy we´ll need to cover is keyword research.
Proper keyword research is the essential foundation where you will build up the rest of your SEO strategy. As such, it is the one bound to have the most in-depth effect on how well your eCommerce store ranks.
The goal in Keyword Research is pretty straightforward: find the best words people interested in your products use on search engines to find your products.
However, several factors influence what constitutes the “best words” such as how much a word is searched for (volume), how much competition it has, and how closely it relates to your product.
You are looking for the most popular set of words with the lowest competition ratio that describes your product as accurately as possible.
You might wonder just how can you find all of this information to make the right choice? Enter Google Keyword planner.
You can sing up for Google AdWords for free (without actually investing in an ad campaign) and you’ll automatically be granted access to Google’s Keyword Planner for free. This powerful and easy to use tool helps you select the most efficient keywords for your SEO strategies, and it only takes two windows.
The first window is straightforward. First, you need to input your starting keywords (1), these will be very general words that by themselves are of little practical use because they are too broad or there’s too much competition for them.
To give you an example, if you sell watches, you might start with the keyword “Watch” and see what the planner suggests.
However, I’d recommend being a little more specific; it will save you some time. If you focus exclusively on a brand, try “Brand watch” or a specific type, such as “Women’s sports watch”
Always keep in mind that the secret to effective keyword research is to put yourself in your customer shoes, and figure out the words they’d use to find your product.
Once you input your starting keyword, you have a section to refine your search parameters (2) which I highly recommend doing. Focusing your search on a geographic zone you intend to service, or a specific language you want to cover will yield more accurate and usable results.
Once you are done refining your search, click the Get Ideas button and it will show you the second screen.
And it is here where Google’s Keyword Planner shines. Not only do you get a list of longtail keywords suggestions, complete with their relevance, CPC, etc. on the Keyword Suggestions section (1). You also get a lot of information about the specific words you entered in the Search Data section (2) such as gender projections and the types of devices they are using to look those keywords.
Use this tool to zero-in on the best keywords that match your product (or products) and create a list for each of them. These will be the words you’ll give priority when you are creating content for your online store or making new product listings.
Bigcommerce-specific SEO Tools
The guys at Bigcommerce understand how vital SEO is for their online stores to prosper. That´s why they’ve made sure to automate a lot of the more complex SEO elements websites strive to cover (such as 301 redirects, Canonical tags, proper page architecture, human-friendly URLs, etc.). However they’ve also incorporated into their dashboard a couple of potent SEO tools in a way that makes it extremely easy for you to set them up and take advantage of, and here we’ll show you how.
Page Titles & Meta Description Tools
This is a handy tool BigCommerce offers its users that allows you edit your page titles and meta descriptions.
Customizing this helps you not only to rank higher but also helps in your sells conversion. The first interaction most people will have with your product might be them searching a related keyword on google. You want that snippet that shows on their web search to be an optimized, well-written tool that highlights the benefits of your products to invite them to click through to your page.
To access this tool when you are adding a new product, go to the other details tab (1)
And scroll down until you are met by the dedicated SEO field (2)
This section is your playground. Highlight your product’s name, features, customer benefits and special offers you set your product apart from the competitions and other potential search results on your customer’s eyes
Remember, this isn’t something exclusive to your product pages! You can customize this in your home pages, categories, and even blog posts.
Another powerful SEO for Bigcommerce tool at your disposal when using the platform is the dynamic sitemap, but to fully grasp the advantage it provides you need to understand how Google and other search engines explore your website’s content.
Search engines employ search bots that go around the internet crawling through websites links and content, indexing and ranking what they find and recommend them to users who input queries with keywords related to them.
As you create more content in your site, post new product listings or new blog entries, these will have bots indexing and ranking them overtime, and finding new sections of your website through the links you provide to them.
Over time, they map out your entire online store. Even if you don’t do anything, this will eventually happen.
However, there’s a way to speed up the process and have your store indexed faster, and that’s by submitting your site’s map to search engines.
Normally you’ll go manually, putting together the sitemap file determining the most optimal way a search engine bot should crawl your website. Or you might employ a third-party tool to accomplish this.
With Bigcommerce neither is necessary since the platform generates a sitemap for you and makes it easy to submit it to Google.
First, though, you’ll need to verify your site with Google. It is a free and simple process that BigCommerce itself walks you through here.
Once that’s done, just go to Server Settings in your Bigcommerce dashboard and select Google XML Sitemap which will generate the link you’ll need to provide in your Google’s Webmaster Account.
Doing SEO for Bigcommerce’s platform is more accessible than doing so on other similar sites. This is due in no small part to the efforts of the site in automating most of the basics needs as far as search engine optimization strategies go.
However, it is a tradeoff.
More automation means you have less direct control, which can have you sitting out while other competing stores take advantage of the more advanced SEO for Bigcommerce.
Applying comprehensive SEO to your online store in Bigcommerce can be a daunting task though, especially if you don’t boast a solid background on the subject.
If you want to fully harness the power (and enjoy the benefits) of a robust SEO strategy that is tailor-made to your online store’s specific needs, it might be wise to contact an SEO expert. They can eliminate the guesswork and learning curve from the process and have you reaping the benefits of a more prosperous store in no time.
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What to do now?
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