In part 1 of this series, titled ‘How to find the right SEO keywords for your online store’, we showed you a simple method for finding the best keywords for your online store. Now that you have your keywords, we are going to look at one of my favorite subjects: how to structure a website for optimal SEO.
Website structure for ecommerce sites centers on category organization, but you need to also consider the user experience.
To create and improve your website structure, I recommend using these tools:
• A spreadsheet, such as an Excel document, where you can play around with your keywords.
• An Open Source mind mapping tool called FreeMind that is free and compatible with all operating systems.
In this article, I'm using the example of keywords related to T-shirts.
I have identified almost 50 keywords–a mix of British and American English–and collected data on search volumes using Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
How many keywords should I have?
There is no hard and fast rule for this; it depends on you and your online store. A simple website with a limited number of pages will have only a few keywords, while a larger one will have more, and so on and so forth.
What is search volume?
According to Google, search volume corresponds to the average monthly number of searches made for a particular keyword (entered into Google only) over the past 12 months, for the given language and location.
Let's take a closer look at keywords
The first thing we notice is that all keywords are not created equal in terms of search volume. Generally speaking, the higher the keyword search volume, the more competition there will be, making it more difficult for you to appear on the first page of Google search results.
Here's an example of the long tail for keywords related to 'T-Shirt'
Different ways of saying the same thing
When it comes to organic searches, we often say that the user is always right. It is clear that users searching for the same thing may do so in a number of different ways. For example:
However, this does not mean you should create a product category for each spelling variant of a search. Rather, you should group together the keywords, based on the searches carried out by users, to produce categories based on its variants:
Similar keywords are combined to form category groups for my online store.
Let's structure this for an SEO-FRIENDLY ecommerce website
Once you have grouped your keywords and created categories for your store, launch your FreeMind mind mapping tool:
Suggested category organization Version 1.0
When SEO and ergonomics are combined
For optimal category organization, I created two new categories that have nothing to do with SEO but will help organize the store and make it more user friendly:
Testing your structure
Once you have created your mind map, consider how each path (listed below) will affect the user navigation as well as the filters available on your website. Use this checklist to test your structure:
From the homepage, I reach the category pages to find any T-shirt I may be interested in.
I can start browsing through any category and will be able to work my way back up the trail in a way that seems logical. (The 'Breadcrumb trail' is generally used to achieve this.)
Do I have enough categories to satisfy my shoppers' needs? Could I, for example, combine the [style] and [gender] filters?
Looking back at my first mind map, I realized that users cannot access pages like 'Geek T-shirts for Men' or 'Cool T-shirts for Women'.
With this in mind, I updated my mind map to include new categories, to benefits both users and SEO.
Suggested category organization Version 2.0
For clarity, I showed only the combination of [style] and [gender] categories here, but of course you can combine [brands] or [colors], etc., to create even more pages.
Imagine that a visitor arrives on your website through Google after searching for 'Cool T-shirts', and wants to filter the results by [gender]. Situations like this highlights the importance of having a navigational structure that guides users toward similar pages or other pages of interest. In the diagram above, arrows are used to represent lateral navigation.
Don't forget to prioritize users over SEO
Remember that Google isn’t the one buying products from your store, but rather the shoppers searching for your products. So, always prioritize users over search engine optimization. The idea is to find a compromise between being SEO-friendly and user-friendly.
Integrating categories into your PrestaShop store
When you think you have the right structure, get to work integrating these categories into your PrestaShop store!
If you need help, check out this category creation tutorial from Level Up Tuts.