guide to seo

The Definitive Guide to SEO for Headless Ecommerce Sites

The ecommerce domain is rife with competition. Moreover, the soaring customer acquisition cost (CAC) is a sign that our marketing strategies are no longer getting us the desired results. Mary Meeker, a well-known venture capitalist and internet trends analyst, pointed out in her 2019 Internet Trends Report that the rising customer acquisition costs are ‘unsustainable.’ Depending on the industry domain, the CAC is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more than the cost of retaining a customer. Check this Guide to SEO for ecommerce!

All these factors make it pertinent for marketers to adopt strategies that reduce CAC, yet deliver winning results. One sure-shot way to do that is by creating exceptional online experiences like offering valuable, engaging, and easy-to-find content and ensuring a frictionless digital journey. 

Digital experience is the cornerstone of ecommerce success. Hence, several ecommerce firms are switching to a headless CMS that allows them to blend content and commerce and provide great experiences coupled with backend ecommerce functionality. Going headless gives marketers the freedom to step up their online experiences without being stuck with a connected front and back end. 

However, SEO for headless content can be puzzling. In fact, if you fail to take the necessary precautions, taking the headless route can harm your store’s SEO. This post offers valuable information on everything you need to know about SEO for headless ecommerce sites.

Headless Ecommerce Explained

All ecommerce sites have two components, namely the front end and back end. 

Front end

Everything that users see and interact with, like the site content, product listing, and other client-facing technologies.

Back end

The business layer of the store where you manage inventory, orders, payment transactions, and shipping.

Headless ecommerce means that the front end (the head) of the ecommerce store is decoupled from the back end. These layers communicate through the application programming interface (API). In other words, they stand independently, allowing developers to use different technologies and frameworks for the front end layer (GatsbyJS, NextJS, VueJS, or ReactJS) and then pull data from the API. 

This helps developers customize websites with ease as the two components no longer rely heavily on each other through code. Both content and experience-led ecommerce firms benefit from headless ecommerce because it – 

  • Ensures effortless site customization.
  • Is built for the IoT age as it allows brands to deliver content to any device or touchpoint.
  • Offers flexibility and freedom to developers. They can create their front end application and link it to the headless CMS platform through the API.
  • Ensures marketing effectiveness without impacting the backend processes
  • Improves speed to market for varied geographies and channels
  • Boosts site conversions and reduces CAC.

Here’s an example of Clare, a paint shopping store that uses Shopify Plus and Contentful, thus offering a flexible and seamless digital experience to their target audience.

 

Guide to SEO
Source: https://www.clare.com/

 

Similarly, Seedlip, the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit maker, uses Shopify and VueJS to offer exceptional online customer experience. 

 

SEO guide
Source: https://seedlipdrinks.com/uk/

 

However, going headless may not be a suitable option for you if – 

  • You do not have experience with or aren’t equipped with a team that has worked with headless CMS. In such cases, consider hiring an expert.
  • You aren’t technically savvy. Headless ecommerce poses several technical challenges in comparison to the traditional ones.
  • You have limited knowledge of technical SEO. Headless ecommerce sites need a tailored SEO strategy. Consider approaching an adept SEO agency that specializes in developing a technically-perfect website.

 

Why Headless Ecommerce Platforms Should Prioritize SEO

A major drawback of using headless CMS is its ability to hurt your site’s SEO. So, if you fail to follow the SEO best practices for headless ecommerce sites, you could end up wasting a lot of resources. 

Legacy CMS produces HTML pages. These work well for SEO as search engine bots can crawl and index HTML pages and rank them. They also have built-in or downloadable SEO plugins and tools that are great for improving a site’s searchability. Also, since a legacy CMS is tied to the domain, it dictates how content is rendered and allows users to add metadata, such as page titles and descriptions.

Purely headless ecommerce sites come as a backend-only solution. Though they enjoy cross-platform flexibility, the CMS does not control the way content is rendered. Take headless ecommerce sites offering multilingual content, for instance. Here, your team will need to take care of the translations. Similarly, you need to manage the meta tags on your headless ecommerce site. 

Such challenges require a skilled developer or SEO professional who can tailor a search strategy based on the type of ecommerce platform your site uses. For instance, a Shopify headless ecommerce storefront would demand a search strategy that fixes Shopify SEO issues and aids in on-page and off-page improvements. 

 

SEO Best Practices for Headless Ecommerce Sites

The ultimate objective of a well-planned SEO strategy is to make a business easily discoverable and attract quality leads that contribute to your bottom line. Even if you aren’t able to drive conversions, SEO can help your target audience find your products and offer them enough information to make a purchase decision in the future. Here are a few good SEO practices to consider when developing a headless-driven ecommerce website. 

1. Use Google-Friendly URLs

Google’s crawlers use links to locate and evaluate the content on your ecommerce site. Therefore, the URL structure you use should be user and bot-friendly. Include actual words in the URL slug of the webpages. Also, keep URLs short yet keyword-rich. 

Here’s how a poor and good URL would look. 

Search engine non-friendly URL

MyEcommerceSite.com/blog/11/08/2019/r7r78-87K8

Search engine-friendly URL

MyEcommerceSite.com/blog/mens-apparel

For nesting categories, the category URL structure can be concatenated with the product name and type. You can also create a category hierarchy that reflects your site’s structure, thus making it easy for crawlers to find your content.

Check out this SEO-friendly URL structure that organizes products into categories.

 

seo categories

 

2.  Pay Attention to Your Site’s Metadata

Besides URL, search engine bots follow the metadata (title tags, headers, image captions, and meta descriptions) to understand the context of the content and work out the relationship between various pages. Hence, the clearer this information, the higher you will rank in Google’s SERPs. 

Your headless CMS will allow you to add this information with ease. So, optimize the metadata for your ecommerce site to aid search engines in determining what your content is about. Here are the recommended text lengths for the meta tags. 

  • The title tag should be about 70 characters.
  • The meta description offers a short description of the content. Its ideal length is 160 characters.
  • The meta keywords are the keywords relevant to a specific page. You should have about 5-10 keywords.

 

3. Optimize for Voice Search

No business can afford to ignore the penetration of voice as a search interface. An Adobe survey revealed that nearly 48 percent of consumers are using voice for ‘general web searches.’

Thus, ecommerce site owners need to create content that translates to voice devices like smart speakers, smartphones, and other voice assistants. Headless CMS allows you to create content that can be used simultaneously across multiple devices, namely desktops, smartphones, and voice assistants. All you need to ensure is that this content is optimized for voice search. 

How can you do that? 

Prioritize Natural Language, Long-tail Keywords, and Question-Based Keywords

Think in terms of conversations. How would you explain an issue to a friend? You wouldn’t speak in terms of keywords. You would explain the problem in simple terms and offer context. Use this approach when creating content for your headless ecommerce site. 

When you share content that’s natural and easy to understand, Google’s NLP algorithm (BERT) will process the content with ease and reward you with a higher ranking.

Optimize Content for Position Zero aka Featured Snippets

Keyword research is indispensable when creating awesome content. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, MarketMuse, or SEMrush Keyword Research Tool to identify the terms your visitors are using to search for your products or services. These tools inform content decisions by offering relevant short and long-tail keywords. 

Here’s an interesting post from SEMRush that offers valuable tips to optimize your content for voice search. 

Summing Up 

The ecommerce domain is highly competitive with each brand coming up with innovative online experiences to wow their target audience. To stay competitive and improve their site conversions, ecommerce brands should tread the headless commerce path. A headless CMS can help them deliver omnichannel experiences across devices and channels and engage their audience effectively. 

However, when it comes to improving their searchability, headless ecommerce sites need special attention. Since the front-end and back-end components of these sites are decoupled, SEO for headless websites can be puzzling. The SEO best practices shared in this post to improve the visibility of your online store and attract qualified leads. 

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get started!

 

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