As an ecommerce business owner, getting more traffic is always top of mind. So, learning how to improve your ecommerce SEO is something you’ve probably thought of before.
Paid search marketing can get expensive but with SEO you can build towards getting consistent, high-quality traffic for free.
So, what is ecommerce SEO? Simply, it’s a way of making your online store more visible in organic searches. When someone searches for products you and others sell, you want to rank as highly as possible to get that traffic.
Like any SEO strategy, ecommerce SEO involves optimizing all aspects of your website. This includes product pages and descriptions, meta data, internal link structure and navigational structure for search and user experience.
Ecommerce SEO is all about making sure your product pages appear among those ten organic search results.
Why is Ecommerce SEO Important?
We briefly introduced why ecommerce SEO is so important to your ecommerce website.
Mainly because of the fact it helps make sure your site is visible in organic search. The more you’re visible on search engines, the more chances you have of people finding you.
Also, compared to paid search, an SEO strategy can save you a lot of money.
Help Customers Find You
There’s no denying the way technology has changed the way consumers purchase products. Search is an important role in the decision-making process of buying a product.
Ecommerce SEO is all about making sure your product pages are visible on the top organic rankings. Not taking SEO seriously means you’re risking not being visible during your customers’ buying journey. When you aren’t visible on search results, fewer people know about your business, slowing down your growth.
SEO is also a cost-effective way to grow your business. A lot of the time when thinking of growing your business, you’ll consider whether a paid strategy works best.
Paid search or PPC strategies are great options but can get expensive over the long run. Also, once you stop paying for the ads, you’ll immediately lose all visibility of your business.
It’s important to consider that SEO provides a strong, evergreen foundation for your site. You can attract quality organic traffic in large volumes without paying for it directly. Plus, all the ads in the world can’t improve the functionality of your ecommerce site and how customers use it.
Ecommerce SEO Keyword Research
It’s no secret that in SEO, the first step usually starts with keyword research. That’s no different from ecommerce. It’s a great place to start when you can identify high-value search terms that your potential customers might be using.
But, keyword research for ecommerce SEO is a bit different than most keyword research. Most sites care about informational keywords like this:
As an ecommerce business, you’re looking to rank for keywords like this:
The difference between the two is in the search intent. One is informational while the other, you probably care about much more, is commercial.
As an ecommerce business, you want to find and rank for keywords showing buying intent.
So where do you begin your keyword research?
We just wrote an article about keywords in SEO.
If you want a quick read on what keywords are before continuing we invite you to do so.
So let’s get into it!
There’s a big difference between short tail keywords and long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords tend to show more commercial intent than short-term words. Most short term words tend to come from informational searches where people are looking to find information rather than make a purchase.
If we look at the example of “shoes” as a short-tail keyword, there’s a lot of generality with that search. Who knows what that person is looking to find with that search. But if you look at “women’s athletic shoes” we see a much more narrowed search.
We know, for one, that this person is looking for a certain type of shoe. Second, we know that this person is a little further down the customer journey. They may not be ready to make a purchase but they may be looking to compare different brands.
If we look even more into long-tail keywords like “buy women’s running shoes” or “where to buy women’s shoes”, we can now tell that there is an intent to purchase.
How to Find a Keyword
Yes, there are a few tools out there that are quite effective in finding a keyword. We talk a lot about Google Planner and we recommend using it. But there are other resources available that you may not think of. It’s just as simple as what you use as a consumer yourself.
Google Keyword Planner
One of our favourites is Google Keyword Planner because it’s such a versatile tool. Remember when we mentioned earlier about seed words of your products or services? Well, Keyword Planner is the perfect tool to find keywords you can use for your product descriptions or blog.
So, let’s say our seed word is “leather boots.
When we add that into Keyword Planner to find keyword ideas, we are given some great options.
Just from the first few keyword ideas, we can see a change in people’s search intent. Words like “men’s dress boots” and “leather boots for women” are the type of keywords that you may want to optimize for.
With so many keyword ideas, we can even take a look at keywords that may be useful in other ways.
Beyond looking for keywords for your product description. Keyword Planner is also a great resource for finding keywords for blogs.
Looking at these two key phrases, “best waterproof boots for women” and “best leather boots for men”, they provide a great opportunity for a couple of blog articles.
Blog articles are a great way to improve your organic ranking by offering informational content to your audience.
Related Content: A Guide to Using Google Keyword Planner
Amazon is one of the biggest ecommerce competitors out there. It’s also the largest making it a great resource for product keywords.
To start, head over to Amazon and start a search with a keyword from your product. When you do, Amazon will give you suggestions for the keyword.
The suggestions Amazon gives are mostly long-tail words that tend to be more targeted. Remember, long-tail keywords usually have less competition and better conversion rates.
Beyond that, you can check out Amazon’s product categories and category ideas for your website.
You’ll want to click on “Full Store Directory”. This will give you every category Amazon uses for their products.
Let’s say you sell organic food. Clicking on the “Natural & Organic” category under “Grocery and Whole Foods” shows you all the subcategories.
Now you have a great selection for any keyword and product category ideas. You can do this for any product you sell on your site.
Every time you start a search in Google, you’ll be given suggestions based on your keyword. This is known as Google Search autocomplete feature.
Autocomplete uses suggestions from popular searches from users in real-time making it a valuable source of keyword data. These suggestions can be very helpful for keyword ideas, especially when you have a few head terms.
Google also provides suggested searches at the bottom of the page. Here you can find additional search queries related to your original search.
This is another feature from Google with the ability to discover long-tail phrases that are commonly searched for.
Autocomplete won’t do all your keyword research for you. But it’s a good place to start when developing organic search strategies and finding topics for educational blog posts.
Choosing a Keyword
Once you have a list of keywords, you’ll need to narrow down which keyword is best to rank for. Part of that process comes with more research. It’s important to understand how often people search for the keyword, how they’re using it, and how competitive it is.
So let’s take a look at how to figure this out with Google Keyword Planner.
This is probably the most important metric to look at when evaluating a keyword. Search volume tells you how much interest a keyword by how many searches it garners.
A high search volume tells you how popular the keyword is, which means more active searches. If you find no one searches for that keyword, nothing else really matters.
You can find search volume by adding it to Keyword Planner. You’ll find it in the “Avg. monthly searches” column.
Now that we’ve found a keyword with high search volume, we need to have a look at the commercial intent.
There are a lot of searches on Google each day but not all show someone’s intent to buy. Some searches are to find more information on a product, some are to find directions to a place. So before deciding on a keyword, you need to determine which keywords show commercial intent.
One thing you can look at is “Competition” on Keyword Planner. If there are a lot of people bidding on a keyword, it probably means that the keyword has commercial value.
Another way you can look for commercial intent is with “Top of Page Bid”. Top of Page Bid is another good metric because it shows how much people spend on a single click. The more advertisers are willing to spend, the more value that the keyword brings.
You can also look at certain keywords and phrases that imply commercial intent. Those with a lower estimated bid may have less commercial intent.
The example below shows you an example of a keyword that may have a lower buying intent.
From “organic coffee” I got this keyword suggestion: “level ground coffee costco”. Yes, the competition is high, but it’s unclear if someone is looking to buy this product or find more information.
If we look at another example we can see see the cost-per-click is much higher.
It also shows direct intent from a customer who is looking for a place to buy coffee.
We mentioned this earlier when talking about commercial intent but they are closely related. Competition, within Google Keyword Planner, tells you how many people bid on that keyword for search ads. Anything with “medium” or “high” competition is a good indication the keyword has value.
On-Page Ecommerce SEO
On-page SEO is everything you can control on your website to help it rank better. When it comes to on-page SEO, you want to focus on your meta title, meta description, URL, and copy. Here is where you can implement the keywords you found during your keyword research.
Meta titles are important for displaying what your page is about on search engines. They are used to tell search engines what your page is about but it’s also a great way to attract customers.
This meta title does a good job including the keyword “men’s running shoes” while adding an action word. The action word, in this case, is “best” and can help target more long-tail keywords.
You can include more action words like “Learn”, “Shop”, “Sale”, and “Buy Now” to attract more customers.
The meta description is a snippet which summarizes your page’s content. Your meta description may not improve your rankings on search. But, it gives you another opportunity to attract customers to your site.
You want to keep your meta description at about 155 characters. You also want to make sure that you’re specific to your target audience with your keywords.
In this example, the meta description includes the keyword “Levi’s Jeans”, which Google bolds. They also include words like “Big Savings”, “Shop Now”, and “In-Store Pick Up” creating more buzz.
If you have a WordPress site, Yoast SEO plug-in is perfect for helping write meta descriptions. It will tell you how long your meta description should be and if you’ve included your keyword.
When creating your URLs for category and product pages, you want it to be short, clean, and keyword-rich. This is important because as an ecommerce site, your URLs will be longer than other sites. That’s because they will include categories, subcategories, and products.
In this instance, the URL is longer because it includes two categories: men and running shoes. Overall, it does a good job in keeping the URL clean and simple. You can also probably figure out what the keyword would be for this page: men’s running shoes.
Here are some tips to help optimize your URLs:
- Use only lowercase characters
- Use hyphens rather than spaces and underscores as word separators
- Remove all special characters like exclamation points and apostrophes
- Delete all encoding that includes structures like %30, %5B
- For category pages, include 1-2 words to name the category
You’ve probably heard the saying “Content is King” in SEO. That’s no different when it comes to ecommerce SEO. Search engines love long-form content and it also ranks better.
The more content you have, the more Google can understand what your website does and how to rank it.
So how do you go about creating long-form content? In your product pages, of course! This may seem like an impossible task but there are ways to write great content.
1. Write a 50-100 word product description that includes your keyword
2. Include additional information like features of the product
3. Highlight technical specs of the product that includes brand, model, colour, size and more.
4. Take advantage of product reviews and frequently asked questions.
In this example, after all aspects included, it added up to over 700 words. With more reviews and questions, it will keep growing. So what may look like a daunting task to complete for every product page, can actually be a lot easier.
Just remember that after you write your product description, you should take a few minutes to review your copy. Make sure that you include your keywords and phrases evenly throughout.
Site Structure for Ecommerce SEO
How you organize the pages on your site can affect your organic rankings. It can also affect the user experience of your customers. With an ecommerce site, site structure can get complicated.
That’s because your average ecommerce site tends to have more pages than a blog. You want to make your site easy to navigate for your customers and for search engines to crawl your site.
Here are two important rules to remember:
- Make sure your site structure is as simple as possible and easy to scale as it grows.
- Three-click rule. People should be able to reach any part of your site within three clicks.
Here is an example of good site structure:
This example shows a simple and flat architecture making it easy for customers to find what they want.
A flat architecture also helps link authority flow throughout your site. Since most ecommerce links point to the homepage, the link authority can flow down to the category and product pages. Link authority helps other pages rank in Google. It also makes it easy for Google to index every page.
Let’s take a look at an actual ecommerce site, Eddie Bauer, that uses great architecture:
Let’s say you’re planning a hike on a local trail and looking for new hiking boots.
Then you click on “Hiking” under “Footwear”.
Then you’re given a list of products you’ve reached within three clicks.
You can actually see how you got there by looking at the site breadcrumbs.
This shows customers their journey while on your site.
Creating a simple site architecture can go a long way in improving your SEO.
Technical Ecommerce SEO
Another important aspect to any site, technical SEO is even more important for ecommerce. With more pages than traditional websites, you may find an increase in technical issues. But, here are some tips to help improve the technical side of your ecommerce site.
Product Schema Markup
Adding product schema to your product pages is an advantage because it helps Google provide detailed information about your product. Users can see price, availability, and review ratings right on search results.
Using markup enables rich product results and helps to attract potential customers while they’re searching for products. Product schema helps maintain the accuracy of your product information, so customers find the relevant, current items they’re looking for.
HTTP to HTTPS
Site security is a must when you have an ecommerce site. If people are going to be inputting sensitive information, you need to make sure you have a secure site.
Customers also have to feel a sense of trust when shopping online. People will be sharing their credit card numbers, emails or addresses, so you can’t afford information being stolen.
HTTPS is a more secure version of HTTP and adds an extra layer of security by using SSL. This helps to avoid any problems with third parties like hackers.
Once your site is secure, you’ll see a little lock symbol beside your URL.
On top of the security HTTPS brings, it’s also a ranking factor for Google.
Optimize for Mobile
Many people are making purchases on their phones, so it is absolutely necessary to have a mobile-friendly site.
It’s also important for your organic ranking to have a mobile site. With mobile-first indexing, Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
- Make sure that your mobile and desktop sites have the same structured data.
- Make sure that your mobile site contains the same content as your desktop site.
- Use the same meta robots tags on the mobile and desktop sites.
You can check to see if your site is mobile optimized by trying Google’s mobile-friendly test.
This is another important factor of your website. The ability to search for anything and get results in a matter of seconds means your site has to live up to those expectations.
You can get an idea of what you can do to improve your site’s speed by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
Google will rate your mobile and desktop speed out of 100, and give tips on how to speed things up.
One quick way to improve your speed is to optimize your images. Of course, you’ll probably have tons of images for all the products you sell but compressing them can help. Image file sizes can get big and slow your site down, so this is one thing you can do right away.
An SEO campaign can improve your organic rankings helping increase extra leads and sales. When you create a strong SEO strategy, you’ll start to see an increase in quality traffic and returning visitors.
Before you start, you should understand that SEO is a long process that requires a lot of time and attention. It should be repeated at least once a year. Google and other search engines are always changing their algorithms to show the best results to people. You’ll need to stay on top of all the updates and review your SEO strategy.