Optimizing your blog posts for search engines is a bit different from optimizing your dropshipping site. Learn the basics of SEO for dropshipping sites that you can apply to your business.
The majority of online traffic starts with a string of text typed into a search box. Thus, SEO can be a huge deciding factor in the success or failure of your business.
However, when it comes to your dropshipping business, you’ll need to tweak the basic SEO tactics you use on your blog to move up the ranks in search engines.
In today’s article, you’ll learn the essentials of SEO for dropshipping sites that will help you improve your rankings and drive more traffic (and business) your way.
Take note that I’ll focus on optimizing product detail pages and not on product category pages, which entails a slightly different process.
Effective SEO starts with keyword research.
Keyword research involves researching and selecting words and phrases that users will most likely input into search engines when looking for a product.
When doing keyword research for your dropshipping site, you want to discover the products that your target audience is looking for and, more importantly, learn the exact terminology they use when they search for that product.
The goal is to get to know your target audience thoroughly so that you know exactly which words will draw their attention to your product.
If a product keyword gets searched too many times, that probably means you’ll have too many competitors selling that product and vying for the attention of the same audience as you are. It’s going to be tough to push past them to get your product noticed by your target audience.
Conversely, if no one is searching for your product, then it’s probably not worth having on your site.
Thus, your ideal keyword is a balance between search volume (i.e., how many times that keyword is searched) and your competition (i.e., how many other online stores carry your product).
Here’s a simple process you can follow so you can start.
How do you think your target customers would search for the products you sell on your site? What words will they be likely to use? Write down these words and phrases.
Aim to have at least 5 long-tail keywords (that is, a search phrase containing 3 or more words) per product. Long-tail keywords are the most popular type of keywords searched and most likely to drive high-quality traffic to your dropshipping site.
If you can’t seem to go up to 5 keywords, you can try to expand your list using some keyword tools, such as Ubersuggest or Keyword Tool. What these tools do is to help you discover plenty of new long-tail keywords related to the keywords you input.
This next step is all about finding out how many times people used your keywords to search for products within the past month. You can get this information using tools such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends
For example, if we were to check how often the keyword “toe socks for women,” on Google Keyword Planner, we’ll get something like this:
As we can see, the keyword “toe socks for women” has been searched 1,000 to 10,000 times monthly on average within the past 12 months. Unfortunately, Google Keyword Planner only gives us a range, not an exact number, but it’s a free tool, so we’ll take what we can get. Note that this is worldwide data, but you can narrow down your focus to a particular country, and in some cases even a particular city.
Switching to Google Trends, we can get an idea of how much the popularity of a keyword spikes within a certain period to give you an idea if the demand is seasonal (e.g., only during the holidays, or only during summer) or year-round.
Following our example, if we check “toe socks for women” on Google Trends, we’ll get something like this:
We can only see the relative popularity on a scale of 0 to 100 (100 = peak popularity, no matter the search volume) here, but we can observe that it peaks the week before Christmas, with a lower peak in October. Again, this is worldwide data, but you can narrow it down to a certain region.
Even if you know the search volume and popularity of your candidate keywords, you’ll want to assess your competition and see if you have an actual chance of competing with them.
Note that the “Competition” column in the results in Google Keyword Planner represent paid ads competition; that is, how many other advertisers are competing to display their ads when a particular keyword is searched. This doesn’t always equal to organic search competition.
There are automated tools to help you gather this information, both free and paid, but the simplest way to go about doing this is to check the results page when you search on Google or other search engines.
Knowing which websites are already ranking for your keyword lets you know who your competitors are and whether you can take them on in terms of search results. If the first page of the results is filled to the brim with big brands, you may not stand a chance.
The ideal keyword for a product is one that has a high search volume (i.e., several people searching for it) and has low competition (i.e., not a lot of stores are trying to rank for it).
Problem is, high search volume keywords tend to attract dropshippers, increasing competition. On the other hand, low-competition keywords and products tend to not have such a high demand.
You’ll need to find a compromise between these two ideal characteristics to pare down your keyword list to those you can work with.
At this point, you should have around 1 or 2 keywords left for your product. In case it comes down to two keywords and you’re stuck, choose the longer one.
Now, it’s time to do the process again for each and every one of the products on your dropshipping site.
You may find the process tedious and repetitive, but you need to go through it because you want all of your product pages to be individually optimized.
With practice, you’ll be able to gauge which keywords will get more potential customers to your site.
When you’ve selected the keywords you’re going to use, you can now start optimizing your product detail pages. Here’s how to help search engines (especially Google) understand your dropshipping site and learn what products you’re offering.
The title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. You should already be optimizing title tags for your blog posts, and you should definitely optimize title tags for your product detail pages as well.
Here’s how it looks like as HTML code:
Search engines use the title tag to understand what that page is supposed to contain.
The text inside the tag is displayed in three significant places: search results, browser tabs, and in your browser history and bookmarks. Of course, the most important of these is the search results.
When potential customers search for your keyword, your title tag is the first thing they see in the search results page. In that split second when they’re looking at the page title, they’ll decide whether or not that page is relevant to their search. Thus, choosing a short, descriptive, and relevant page title is crucial to convince searchers to click on your page title.
Here are some tips to optimize your page title:
Ideal length: 50 to 70 characters. Any shorter and it’s not likely to be descriptive enough; any longer and the whole thing is not going to be displayed.
Append your site/store name. Showing your store name associates the product with your brand and makes you look professional.
Plus, it’s basically free advertising! Even if searchers don’t end up clicking the page title, those who’ve seen the search results page would have seen your store name, and you didn’t even have to take out an ad.
Include your keyword. Don’t forget your keyword that you worked hard to optimize! It’s much better to use it at the start of the page title, or at least close to it.
Right below your title tag is the URL to the page. Google doesn’t give much importance to the URL in terms of rankings. However, you still want to include your keyword in the URL for the page. When someone searches using the keyword you’re trying to rank for, Google will display the words in that keyword in boldface.
Focusing your URL on your keyword minimizes the chance that you’ll have to change it in the future. As much as possible, you don’t want to change the URL because it can cause problems with broken links that have been shared on social media or on other blogs.
Include dashes between the words instead of one long string of letters so that people (and search engines) can read it more easily.
The third element seen by potential customers in search engine results is the meta description.
The meta description, technically the “description” meta tag, is the summary of the contents of a page. Google might (i.e., not always) display them as snippets of your product detail page. If they do, then the meta description is displayed in the search results page below the URL.
Your page title can only hold so much information. If your page title catches a potential customer’s eye, their gaze naturally drifts down to the text below the URL for confirmation that this page does in fact have what they’re looking for.
Here are some tips to create an optimized meta description that will make Google display it and make searchers who see it want to click on that link to your page.
Ideal length: 160 to 320 characters. Google displays up to 320 characters, so try not to exceed that or else it’s not going to display properly.
Don’t make it too short, either. Internet users tend to view longer content as more valuable, and even your meta description is no exception.
Be descriptive. Don’t forget that aside from writing for search engines, you’re writing for potential customers. Tell them what they can expect to see when they visit your page.
Be compelling. Give searchers a reason to click your link and check out your product page. Include information like free shipping, great prices, big discounts, or unique product properties to make your potential customers want to see what you have to offer.
Don’t mislead. Your meta description should match the details on the product page. Google doesn’t like it when you trick users into clicking, only to present them with something different.
Include your keyword. Focusing your meta description on the keyword you want to rank for makes it likely to be displayed by Google. Plus, like your page title, keywords in your meta description get displayed in boldface.
There’s sometimes confusion about whether title tags are the same as H1 heading tags.
They’re actually different tags.
Heading tags are HTML elements that help define the structure of a page by allowing you to specify a hierarchy of headings and subheadings. The heading tags go from H1 (written as <h1>) to H6 (written as <h6>), from the most important to the least important.
When a user clicks on your title tag on their search results page, they’re taken to the product detail page, where the H1 tag is the product name or title.
Here are some tips when optimizing your H1 tags.
Include your keyword. Google’s search bots also read H1 headings to know what your page is all about. Insert the keyword you’re trying to rank for within the H1 tag to help search bots “understand” what your page is about.
Ensure that you only have one H1 tag on your page. As I’ve mentioned, heading tags establish hierarchy on the page. Being the most important one means there should only be one of this tag in your page.
Keep the product title as close to the title tag as possible. You want prospective customers to know that they’re in the right place. Don’t confuse them by having a product title that’s too different from the title they clicked on.
You’ll probably never have to use these heading tags in a product detail page, but if you ever do, one thing to remember is to never skip levels.
For example, don’t go from H1 to H3; go through H2 first before H3, and so on. A logical structure ensures that search bots comprehend your page’s structure exactly as you meant it to be.
Product descriptions aim to educate visitors about the product and provide information that’s not apparent in the product images.
Following our toe socks example, photos of it may reveal the color and pattern, but it’s not obvious that it’s made of wool or what shoe sizes it fits. These are product characteristics that you indicate in the product description.
Product descriptions are also your opportunity to speak to your potential customers. Well-written product descriptions with plenty of personality can help increase your sales or at the very least make their shopping experience memorable even if they don’t end up buying anything.
Shoppers don’t want to only know about the features of your product; they want to know its benefits, too. They don’t just want to know that the toe socks you’re offering are seamless; they want to know that they’re comfortable and reduces the risk of toe blisters.
When your visitors know enough about a product, it helps them decide if your product is the right fit for them or not. Having complete information in the product detail page also minimizes the number of inquiries you have to reply to.
To sum it up, product descriptions are meant to help customers make a purchase decision.
Because of how crucial product descriptions are to the purchase process, and because even casual tend to linger and read them thoroughly, search engines treat product descriptions as important and scan them accordingly to find out what your page is about.
Here are some pointers when working on your product descriptions.
Double-check the copy for typos and grammatical errors. Accurate product descriptions should also have error-free copy. Aside from giving the impression of being a professional business owner to your customers, you want search bots to think of your product description as highly valuable content.
If you’re not confident about your language skills, you can hire an editor to go over the copy.
Never use the product descriptions from your supplier as is. It can be tempting to just copy and paste the product descriptions that you were provided and call it a day.
Redo the whole thing. Aside from not wanting to be like all the other dropshippers that carry a particular product, Google will see your rehashed product description as duplicate content and will penalize your page. Worse, you can find yourself on the receiving end of an intellectual property lawsuit.
Include your keyword. You probably noticed that this is a recurring theme, but you need to include your keyword in your product description.
If you’re doing this right such that it looks natural, you may find yourself only able to add your keyword only once or twice in the description, especially if your keyword is a long one.
Google’s algorithm has gotten to the point that it also takes the words around the keywords and relate them to your keyword.
For example, if you’re describing toe socks, you’ll probably use terms like “ankle,” “heel,” “soft,” “pattern,” “comfortable.” When Google search bots see these words, they’ll understand that you’re indeed talking about socks.
Every product page in your online store should have at least one link to another one of the product pages in your site. You can achieve this by presenting product recommendations further down the page, either upsells or cross-sells.
Following our toe socks example, you can upsell a similar pair but of a different, more luxurious cloth. You can also recommend other related products, such as a shoe horn or foot deodorizing spray.
Other places you can place internal links to your product pages are from your blog posts, such as from a product review post.
Linking your product pages to each other will help Google search bots understand the structure of your website better.
Side note on external links: While including internal links on your product page is a good thing, SEO-wise, placing external links (i.e., links to other websites) on your product page isn’t advisable.
External links can distract visitors and those that are “just browsing.” Don’t give potential customers a reason to stop shopping on your website and possibly buying something.
Anchor text is the clickable word or phrase pointing to another page within or outside your website. For example, if you’re linking to the StoppingScams homepage, the anchor text is “StoppingScams homepage.”
Always use anchor text when linking to another page. Search engines also look at the anchor text in your links to determine what the page it’s linking to is all about. So, when building your internal links, it’s good practice to include the keyword that page is trying to rank for right in the anchor text.
If including the keyword in your anchor text doesn’t make sense, use words around it that are as related to your keyword as possible.
It’s extremely difficult to convince people to buy something that they haven’t seen.
When shopping online, product images are the only guide your customers have to what your product looks like.
Thus, next to the product description, product images are the most important aspect that can affect your customers’ purchase decisions.
Images that you post to your site have attributes, such as a title, a filename, and an alt attribute (also called an “alt text”). These attributes are read by search engine bots to determine what the image—and the page it’s posted in—is about.
Here are some tips to optimize your images for search engines:
Keep your image titles descriptive. The image titles should be indicative of what the image is supposed to show.
A good trick is to have the product name as the basis for all the names, and then include a word or phrase that describes the shot or even the angle.
For example, you can have the main image (i.e., the one that visitors first see) as “Product Name Main.” Then you can have the other images as “Product Name Back View,” “Product Name Zoomed In,” “Product Name [Color],” “Product Name Disassembled” and so on.
Set the image filenames to be the same as the image titles. Naming them a certain way avoids confusion for both you and the search bots. Make it even easier by placing hyphens between the words. Thus, “Product Name Main” can have “product-name-main.jpg” as their filename.
Insert your keyword in your images’ image title, filename, and alt attribute. If you have your keyword in your product name and followed my advice with the image titles and filenames above, then you should already have your keyword in the image title and filenames.
The only thing to do now is to include your keyword in the alt attributes of your images.
Alt attributes are read out by screen readers to help visually impaired people when browsing the internet. These are also checked by search bots to find the context of your image and the page it’s posted in.
It can’t hurt to place your keyword in your product images’ alt attributes, but given its purpose, don’t abuse it solely for your site’s SEO. Make sure it still does its primary job while still helping search bots understand your content.
Ensure your images are unique. When I said Google doesn’t like duplicate content, that goes for images as well. This is where learning how to take your own product pictures comes in handy. The extra work is worth your edge over your competition and avoiding search engine penalties.
In case you don’t have a way to get the product with you before you launch your online site, do your best to save high-quality product images from your supplier. You can also place watermarks on the images with your online store name or your store URL using Photoshop.
SEO can be a complicated process, but learning the basics can already help your dropshipping site immensely.
Here’s an example of a product detail page with all the elements I mentioned.
Disclaimer: We at StoppingScams.com are not in any way affiliated with the folks over at The Sock Drawer, although their products seem awesome.
Title tag: Bamboo Zebra Stamp | Fun Animal Bamboo Socks for Women
Meta description: “These awesome zebra socks in green are made from sustainable bamboo fibers to keep you cool and comfy.”
H1 header: Zebra Stamp Bamboo Socks
H2 header: Other Socks You’ll Love
Product description: “Aren’t zebras supposed to be black and white? Well ours ditch the white for green. Deal with it! You can’t go wrong with a new twist on the animal kingdom’s favorite stripe. These awesome zebra socks are made from sustainable bamboo fibers to keep you cool and comfy.”
Internal links: “Other Socks You’ll Love” recommendations for other socks.
Image alt text: Fun Novelty Bamboo Zebra Stamp Socks for Women
In case you were wondering where I got all that information, I inspected the underlying code for this product page (Ctrl + Shift + I if you’re using Google Chrome).
I hope that gave you a clearer idea of the page elements you need to optimize.
Let me also recap the tips to do SEO for your dropshipping site that we went over in this article.
Now, here are some final reminders before you go ahead and optimize your site.
Google doesn’t like duplicate content; not in your meta description, not in your product description, not in your product images, or any of the other page elements you’re trying to optimize.
For example, if you have the product description from the manufacturer or your dropshipping supplier, take the time to completely change it up while retaining the unique selling points of the product. Never just copy and paste the product description to your page.
Search for similar content in other websites, as well as your own website, to ensure that each one of your product detail pages has truly unique content.
Unlike setting up your website, keyword research and SEO aren’t one-time processes.
Your product offerings are going to change over time; you’re going to be adding and removing items from your store. Customer tastes, desires, and how they express these will evolve, and so will search engine algorithms.
Consequently, you’ll have to regularly review your keywords to make sure it’s holding up to the changing times.
As long as you have your dropshipping site, you’ll be working on optimizing it for search engines.
Yes, you want your product pages to be found by search engines so they can serve it to people who are looking for your product. But remember, you can only do so much.
Create product detail pages that are helpful for shoppers: excellent product images, informative product descriptions, and a seamless shopping and buying experience. Treat SEO then as an extra effort so that your products get shown to people who need them.
Remember: Search engines don’t buy from you; it’s the customers who do.
Did these pointers help you with your dropshipping business and optimizing your site? Which ones did you find most helpful? Talk to me in the comments!