E-commerce and SEO: how to stand out in 2021?

SEO has become an essential practice among e-merchants, we asked ourselves what cutting-edge but accessible techniques could be implemented to ensure a head start. We offer 3 approaches that, implemented partially or jointly, will constitute a definite advantage over your competitors.

If there is one online business sector for which natural referencing is a key element of the business development strategy, it is e-commerce. For e-merchants operating in B2C, being visible in the top three in Google’s results pages (or SERP for  Search Engine Results Page ) on targeted queries is a guarantee of success with the general public.

Achieving such a result is not, however, easy; a finding that turns into euphemism for the most competitive sectors of activity. As a direct consequence, natural referencing has become essential. Whether managed by internal resources or entrusted to a web agency, it is now part of the daily life of tens of thousands of online merchants.

In this context of maturity where “the basics” like BACKLINKING are firmly anchored in practices, we asked ourselves what SEO levers could still make a difference. What techniques, technologies and tools can be implemented to ensure those who deploy them a significant advance over their competitors who still ignore them? We have highlighted three areas of work.

1 – Take into account the new “Essential Web Signals”

We have known for years that Google has a clear interest in web performance in the broad sense. If its place at the heart of the ranking algorithm has long been negligible compared to pure SEO criteria, this will change from the first quarter of 2021 with the integration in the calculation formulas of a coefficient directly correlated to the new “Core Web Vitals “, or” essential web signals “for French speakers.

These new metrics, which Google has gradually integrated into the heart of its tools for webmasters such as Search Console , Page Speed ​​Insights and Lighthouse, are intended to be more representative than ever of the real user experience. Each reflects a specific handicap that can occur during the loading of a web page:

  • LCP, for “Largest Contentful Paint”, corresponds to the overall loading time of the main part of a page, generally the content you want to consult;
  • FID, for “First Input Delay”, reflects the time during which it is impossible for a user to interact with the visited page: cursor impossible to move, form fields inaccessible;
  • CLS, for “Cumulative Layout Shift”, measures the successive vertical content shifts, which disturb the reading during the first seconds;

To ensure the relevance of their calculation, the American giant has also introduced a new method of reading that could not be more pragmatic: it uses (with their implicit consent) the data of users of the Google Chrome browser that it consolidates in within a tool called “Chrome UX Report”. It thus benefits from a global database that it can update in near real time.

It is thanks to this powerful tool that it is able to communicate with a reactivity of the order of the day performance reports in Search Console. And to send, in the event of significant change, alert emails summoning site managers to implement measures to improve the performance of their pages deemed to be “slow”.

What has changed is Google’s ability to estimate which pages are too slow, which others are fast, and which need improvement. For Eroan Boyer, freelance developer specializing in web performance optimization, this is a new turning point in the democratization of load time and speed criteria. He explains as follows: “Until recently, I only sold my web performance services to a restricted clientele, very technical and aware of user experience issues in the broad sense. Since Google’s implementation of essential Web Signals Within Search Console, I am contacted daily by site editors with very varied profiles.

By complying with Google’s new web performance requirements, a site will have a better chance of being visible in the SERPs against a competitor with an equivalent SEO profile. But the interest of the approach does not stop there because by rebound effect, visitors will be more inclined to navigate on a fast and responsive site, especially on mobile where conditions remain more restrictive, including in 4G or 5G .

2 – Respond to (real) questions from internet users

To be visible in a search engine on a given query, it is imperative to center the content around previously defined keywords. Expanding the semantic universe by addressing the topic more broadly enables the general quality of this content to be improved. As long as it is exhaustive (difficult in less than 500 words), natural and punctuated by paragraphs, titles and other emphases in bold, it will be likely to appear prominently in Google.

In 2020, this is unfortunately not enough to climb to the top of the results table in the most competitive sectors. The democratization of writing support tools such as 1.fr or SEOQuantum makes achieving these objectives easier and requires less effort than before. With minimal budget and time, or even outsourcing to external editors, posting relevant content is accessible to everyone.

To stand out, each page must now be designed like a landing page, that is to say, answer a specific question from the Internet user. The key to success is knowing your visitors’ intentions to guide them to your most relevant product or service. A work of reflection and anticipation is, therefore, necessary in order to write not only your content but also to think about your interfaces and to imagine how they will be able to meet the needs of your perhaps future customers.

The process of anticipating intention can be integrated into the very heart of a site’s architecture. This is what the “semantic cocoon” offers in particular, a concept carried by the French referencer Laurent Bourrelly. By associating a silo structure with a specific mesh and a semantic analysis of needs, this approach offers particularly effective results in terms of SEO.

The ease of implementation of a semantic cocoon is however inversely proportional to its punching power. To successfully implement it, each element of the interface must be carefully integrated, from the main navigation menu to the breadcrumb trail through the recommendation blocks (complementary products, customers have also bought … ) and the links present in the texts themselves.

The objective is to precisely control the way in which the pages of the site interconnect in order to limit the relations between the mother, sister and daughter pages to create “clusters” based on semantic proximity. By visualizing the tree structure using a specific crawl tool such as cocon.se, it must appear in an exploded form with, in its center, the most general cocoons and at the ends, their ramifications.

3 – Work on your thematic authority

Netlinking is an indisputable pillar of natural referencing. It is this which, associated with quality content, makes it possible to position itself at the top of the SERPs. If link exchanges have long proven to be ineffective, it is easy to get links on quality sites (with a high trust index) for money on platforms like Rocketlinks or Getfluence. But here again, a thoughtful approach should be adopted, especially in terms of the subject.

If the Google algorithm constitutes one of the best kept secrets of the 21st century, several patents belonging to Alphabet Inc. (the parent company of Google) suggest that it incorporates a notion of thematic authority. It would also be difficult to imagine that this is not the case as it makes sense. The main SEO analysis tools such as Majestic, SEMrush or Ahrefs each offer their own implementation of this flow, the “Topical Trust Flow” of Majestic (registered trademark) often being considered the most trustworthy.

As part of a link building strategy, it is therefore advisable to take this notion into account to target relevant supports in the topic that interests you. An online store selling kitchen utensils should, for example, favor supports in the “Recreation / Food”, “Home / Cooking” and “Shopping / Home and Garden” themes. And, conversely, refuse all those who move away from it, even if it means turning your back on supports whose confidence index is nevertheless high.

The thematic confidence indices being cumulative, the cookware site mentioned below should ideally present a balanced distribution between the two or three categories that it targets. In any case, it is important that part of this authority is associated with the Shopping theme, which optimally reflects its online activity. This will also be true for any e-commerce site, whatever the products it sells.

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