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Business is booming in the world of ecommerce and just about anyone can set up an online store, even on the slimmest of shoestring budgets. Success depends on making sure potential customers can find your store and receive the best possible shopping experience. Paid publicity can help, but there are a number of things you can do to optimize your store for maximum visibility. The best part is, you can do all of these on your website without spending much money.

Here’s a look at five things you can do to increase traffic to your website and boost customer engagement.

Paid advertising and other kinds of marketing strategies can play an important part in promoting your new online shop. However, it’s also essential to make a plan to rank high in organic searches by practicing search engine optimization (SEO for short).

Using search engines is the natural way for people to search for information or products online. By having visibility in the search results, you’re putting your website and business in front of more people. That means more people will visit your site and potentially buy from you. And it’s not just that. You may also save costs on other marketing activities if you could drive a good amount of traffic and revenue from organic search.

Ranking high on the first page of search results is the goal of just about every online business. That’s because 99% of searchers never click to the second page of their search results. Additionally, backlinko found in their research that:

  • The #1 result in Google search results page has an average CTR of 27.6%
  • The #1 result is 10 times more likely to receive a click compared to a page in the #10 spot.

Here are some of the most basic things you should do for your store’s SEO. And it might be good to check out our SEO fundamentals post where we explained some basic SEO knowledge every site owner should know.

Write quality content – everywhere

If you visited a brick-and-mortar store and found empty shelves, a vacant front window and no one available to serve you, you would probably turn around and leave. The same is true for your online store.

Content is king when it comes to organic search, regardless of your site’s purpose. Much like a normal store, people come to your site because of your products, services, and content. They land on your site because they search for something and your awesome content shows up. If you want more people to get to your website, your content and offers need to be the best answer to their questions or problems.

One great way to have more quality content on your site is to create a blog and start writing. Make sure to keep it updated with a mix of topical and evergreen content that is relevant to your customer’s interests and needs. And whatever you do, don’t just write content for the sake of having content. Google and other search engine don’t reward sites with content that has nothing to do with the product or niche it’s in.

Since search engine crawlers regularly search sites for new, relevant content, having an active, interactive site that is updated on a regular basis shows visitors and search engines that your store is thriving. And you might just get a ranking boost from that.

Use keywords where it counts

People search for your products or website by putting in queries that include keywords. For instance, if your store sell trenchcoat, you would want your website to show up for the queries “trenchcoat store near me”

Although Google penalizes poor quality and keyword-stuffed sites, it rewards sites that use keywords smartly. Try to target and incorporate keywords, especially “long-tail” keywords of four or more words, into key areas of your site if that makes sense. That’s because “long-tail” keywords are specific and have less competition. For instance, “where to buy pet supply in Amsterdam” is considered a long-tail keyword.

Make sure that your product pages include “keyword-rich” descriptions of your products and are organized in intuitive ways. Besides the product description, that also includes your page and post titles, headers, and subheaders. Don’t forget to also use them in your blog posts and add them to image alt text and site metadata.

However, whatever you do, do not stuff keywords into your content. Long-tail keywords aren’t the only criteria for ranking high or improving your store’s SEO. Google and other search engines’ algorithm also factors in many other features of a website when assigning rankings. That’s why Google’s recent algorithm changes heavily penalized spammy, keyword-stuffed sites with low value to visitors.

Include a site map

Make sure to submit a site map to Google. A site map includes links to all the important pages on your site. It helps to ensure that all the pages on your site will be crawled for indexing. If you change or update content on the site, be sure to update your site map too. We’ve written a post about getting your website indexed by Google, check it out

Don’t forget about reviews and ratings

Having some form of social proof is a must for any online business. Online shopping is a blessing thanks to its conveniences, but it can also be a burden as there are too many options to choose from. Hence, people need guidance and reassurance before splashing their money.

They look for ratings, reviews, testimonies, and product review videos to help them make decisions. The more valuable the purchase is, the more important reviews and ratings become. This makes perfect sense because everyone wants to get the best value for their money. No one wants to buy a bad product or service!

Be sure to ask your customers for reviews, ratings, or testimonies and include those on your product pages. Depending on your products or services, it’s also a good idea to include customer testimonies or reviews on the homepage of your site. This is a good way to give your visitors a confidence boost when they arrive on your site. They’ll instantly get a sense that your business is trustworthy, which will motivate them to consider and even buy from you.

Make your store interactive

Search engines also consider factors such as “dwell time,” – the amount of time a visitor spends on your site and what they do there – in search rankings. Making sure your site is attractive and easy to navigate can encourage visitors to stick around. But you can also engage visitors by encouraging them to interact with your store and your brand. Adding features such as comments and live chat can encourage them to ask questions and express opinions. Consider showcasing customer content, such as sharing product photos, or running contests for things like naming new products. Beyond selling products, these kinds of strategies can build brand awareness and create a loyal tribe of supporters willing to share your content with others.

Make your site mobile friendly

More than half of all online shopping now takes place from mobile devices, rather than desktops. For that reason, Google and other search engines now consider mobile-friendliness a key factor in higher search rankings. Consider installing a mobile-responsive theme for your WordPress site, or add a plugin to make an existing theme more mobile-friendly. To improve the mobile experience even more, eliminate intrusive “interstitial,” content such as large popups or overlays that block a user’s view of your pages.

Optimize your images

Having a fast website that provides a good user experience is essential if you want to compete in the ecommerce space nowadays. There are a lot of options for people to choose from, so they won’t sit around waiting for your website to load while there are other alternatives. Among the various causes of a slow online store, heavy images are the most common.

We understand that an online store needs a lot of amazing images to attract and persuade visitors to buy. However, you don’t need razor-sharp images that are a few megabytes in size. Especially when more than half of your customers shop on mobile devices. By optimizing your images, your online store will load much faster, thus providing a smoother user experience for your visitors. Your visitors are more likely to buy from you if they don’t feel frustrated at your website (of course you need good offers in the first place).

Optimizing images is the low-hanging fruit that every store owner should work on. Start by creating and uploading images that don’t have huge dimensions. High-resolution and large image dimensions are great for print, but they aren’t suitable for websites. Then make sure to install a plugin that helps with media optimization, as it can compress and resize your images after you upload them on your site. If you have prominent international audiences who often visit your store, consider using a content delivery network (CDN) to improve your website’s loading speed for those audiences. And check out this elaborated guide on optimizing images on your website, there’s a lot of great information there!

Final thoughts

It’s never been easier to open your own online store, thanks to an array of free and paid tools for building your dream website. You can optimize your new storefront for maximum search visibility and user-friendliness from within your website using resources you already have – all for free. No development experience or digital marketing budget is required! And by optimizing your website for SEO and for enhancing user experience, you not only work on improving your rankings in search engines but also establish your site as an authority in your niche and enhance your brand’s visibility. There are a lot of benefits to reap here, so don’t miss out and start optimizing your online store!

Ready to build a website? Learn more about our web hosting options from our customer support experts at Bluehost today.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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