- Ecommerce has grown massively during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Shopify, WordPress and Wix are popular ecommerce platforms
- Shopify is easy, simple and popular for website owners
- WordPress is best for SEO, creating real scalable
- Wix is presentable and easy-to-use but comes with ranking issues
- To make SEO work in ecommerce, consider the competition and search terms you target.
Ecommerce has really exploded in the last year. As an SEO agency, we have never had more enquiries from ecommerce websites over the last 12 months who are looking to boost their rankings and positions in Google’s search results.
From selling blankets, scented candles, meal kits and subscriptions, a number of ecommerce businesses have emerged or thrived under lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions and they are starting to come round to SEO during the pandemic and how it can be used to build their brand and generate more sales.
But understanding the right platform for SEO early on is very important. Many clients and people we speak to will invest huge sums into design and the manual formatting of their products, only to find that the platform is not good for SEO. Then the cost of transferring to another platform becomes significant and most businesses are unlikely to adopt a new platform after so long.
With this in mind, we review the best ecommerce platforms for SEO including Shopify, WordPress and Wix.
Content created in partnership with Tudor Lodge Digital.
Shopify is pretty much the ecommerce platform dream for anyone starting to sell online. The ability to add page templates, upload products, pricing and categories is very straightforward – and you get a clear summary of sales, exit rates, returns and reporting.
From an SEO perspective, Shopify is strong. We have clients who have successfully secured position one placements through Shopify, highlighting that Google likes the code and format and it can help achieve your sales goals.
There are a lot of clever plugins you can add like pop-ups, how many left in stock, discounts, price reductions and everything you need to run a fully-scaled online store.
The downsides from an SEO perspective are just on the admin site of things. It is not as quick to change meta-titles and descriptions compared to something like WordPress which is very much built for SEO. It can be a little fiddly changing things like image alt-text and headings – and overall it takes a little longer to navigate around the CMS.
The XML sitemap is not ideal, since it only shows URLs at a category level, when I would prefer the XML sitemap to show a long list of all indexed URLs with their indexing and priorities clearly visible. But this does not stop a Shopify site from still ranking well and securing top positions.
WordPress (Woo Commerce)
Using Woo Commerce on WordPress is my preferred method for an ecommerce site that is driven by SEO.
You have all the usual features included with an ecommerce CMS like product listings, pricing, discounts, coupon codes and reporting.
The main advantage is the scalability of SEO on WordPress, which makes it very easy to change meta-data (using Yoast), change headings, internal links, broken links, redirects, Schema, reviews and everything else you expect with WordPress.
The only downside with WordPress is that you may need to keep adding plugins to grow a significant ecommerce site and this can slowly start to require a lot of updates, broken plugins, hacking attempts and majorly reduce site speed.
Overall, Woo Commerce is my preferred option because SEO is our first point of call, but having a good developer to stay on top of your plugins, maintenance and site speed will be key for success here.
Wix looks great and is very affordable, ranging from £13 to £22 ($18 to $30 per month). The ability to drag and drop tabs means that you get a lot of design freedom and can more or less build whatever you want.
The product pages look sharp and clear and can be well optimized for SEO.
The cons are that you need to go and optimize every single page, one-by-one, which makes it a little longer to navigate compared to the WordPress back-end.
When it comes to results, we find that a Wix website does rank, but not to its maximum ability. You can be successful in ranking for your brand name and some long tail searches, but the use of page builders is a stumbling block for Google and like Squarespace, the rankings can sometimes come up short.
Identifying SEO opportunities in ecommerce
Ecommerce is a slightly different animal when trying to get some visibility on Google – when compared to other services or products.
When looking to get exposure for a popular product, you have to consider that there is likely to be Google Ads and Google Shopping, so in theory, the average Google customer is likely to see between 5-10 different ads before seeing an organic search result (SEO).
Then you have to consider that some industries are very competitive and there are a lot of people selling dresses, jewelry and candles – and you will require a lot of effort to rank above them. And unless you are in the top 5 organic results, you are probably not going to get the sales you need to grow.
Our advice is simple. If your product is quite niche and competition is relatively low, then you have a real business case for using and driving SEO on an ecommerce site.
If the competition is high, consider using an array of paid advertising on Google, Facebook and Instagram and try to target SEO phrases that are very specific, long-tail and less competitive. You will have a much better chance to rank well for these and you may secure some better quality customers too.
Daniel Tannenbaum is the founder of Tudor Lodge Digital, working with Groupon, Savills Property and he works also as a consultant for Lord Alan Sugar.