If you manage an e-commerce site, you understand how important it is to rank at the top of search engines. It improves your visibility and gives you a competitive advantage over your competitors.
While paid search can get you to the top of the SERPs, the long-term expense of staying there may be prohibitive. You need to be at the top of the search results, and eCommerce SEO can help you get there.
We’ll explain all you need to know about e-commerce SEO strategy and provide suggestions and techniques to help you optimise your site efficiently in this step-by-step e-commerce SEO tutorial. The following are the primary themes we shall discuss.
Why SEO Is Important for Your eCommerce Site
For e-commerce websites, SEO is an absolute must. Your products must rank higher than those of your competitors, and they must be displayed correctly so that potential buyers can identify the things they require in the SERPs and click on your site.
E-commerce optimization tactics, when done correctly, can help you rank higher and deliver the greatest solutions to a user’s search intent. Optimizing eCommerce sites can provide you with a steady stream of free, high-converting organic traffic.
This means that internet businesses will have to spend less money on advertising, which is a good thing.
In a 2017 study conducted by SEMrush on how e-commerce companies drive traffic to their sites, the results show 38% of retailer traffic comes from organic search. SEO will help increase your organic search traffic, and help your e-commerce site rank higher in search engines. With so many users using Google to research purchasing decisions, both at home and on the go, they need an optimized website and product pages.
Keyword Research for e-commerce Websites
Keyword research is at the heart of any successful eCommerce SEO optimization approach. It’s critical to make sure you’re targeting the proper keywords when it comes to SEO. Choosing the wrong target term can hurt your impressions and drive low-converting traffic to your website.
The Initial Steps of Keyword Research
The first step in an e-commerce SEO plan is to create a list of your category and product pages, then determine and map the keywords to target on a page-by-page basis.
For e-commerce keyword research, prioritise product-focused keywords, taking into account your homepage, product categories, and blog content — this also means ensuring you’re targeting keywords with medium to high search volumes, are highly relevant to your brand, and aren’t too difficult to rank for.
Sandeep Mallya broke down search intent in a recent SEMrush piece, saying that you should prioritise transactional terms over informational keywords. What is the reason for this? Because your primary goal is to rank for keywords that lead to conversions, and transactional keywords often have high conversion rates.
How do you find them?
Take into account the buyer’s intent. Buyer intent refers to a consumer’s search intent that extends beyond their keywords and represents where they are in the purchase cycle.
For example, someone searching for a wide keyword (also known as a “head” term) like “men’s shoes” is likely to be at the top of the funnel (the research stage), indicating they are still weighing their alternatives and not ready to buy.
Due to the particular, thorough nature of their search, someone looking for ‘black men’s running shoes, size 42′ clearly implies they are ready to buy (and would be considered a long-tail keyword). This is what we call commercial or transactional intent, and it’s what you should focus on in your e-commerce SEO keyword research.
Keyword Research Tools for eCommerce SEO
When it comes to optimising e-commerce sites, keyword research tools may greatly ease the process of finding keyword ideas. Let’s look at some of the most popular in the SEO community.
SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool
The SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool gives you access to a global keyword database with over 17 billion keywords, which you may use to uncover semantically similar long-tail keywords.
These are crucial to target because they represent keywords with less competition than larger terms and, because of the intent behind them, they may have a greater click-through rate.
You can also gradually develop authority and begin ranking for a desirable main keyword with significant search traffic, but competition is moderate due to e-commerce giants dominating the SERPs for it, by leveraging long-tail keywords.
Simply pick the Connected option in the Keyword Magic Tool to uncover keywords that are related to your main seed keyword.
You can see the search traffic, trends, keyword difficulty to rank, CPC, and more for the term “coffee table” in the sample below. You can also use phrase match, exact match, and related keywords to limit down terms that are relevant to purpose.
SEMrush Keyword Overview
SEMrush Keyword Overview is a tool that analyses the value of a keyword as well as its search volume (national and global). It also provides similar keyword inquiries and variations, as well as the number of results, probable SERP elements, and competition level.
Amazon might be a great place to look for long-tail keyword ideas. Simply type in a keyword connected to your website, and Amazon will return a list of relevant choices.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner can be used to determine a keyword’s business intent and search traffic.
You want to target medium to high competitiveness keywords for e-commerce sites. This may be seen on Google Planner by looking at the keyword competition rating, which indicates how competitive bids for that keyword are in Google Ads.
To evaluate a keyword’s commercial intent, look at the Top of Page Bid, which displays how much advertisers are willing to pay for a single click on paid advertising. The greater the bid, the more serious the business intent.
In the search engine, type in your chosen term and use the autocomplete suggestions to identify highly related keywords to your brand. As you can see in the sample below, when I type in ‘mens shoes uk,’ it suggests long-tail phrases linked to my keyword based on what users have been looking for.
Additional relevant searches depending on what others have looked for in relation to your original term can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the SERPs.
How to Map the Right Keywords to Your Pages
The next step in e-commerce SEO best practises is to use your study to determine which keywords to employ to assist you outrank your competition.
You should stay away from keywords that are really difficult to rank for. This is crucial to remember when it comes to SEO for new e-commerce sites. To get your brand noticed in the SERPs, focus on ranking for less competitive keywords on specific product and category pages.
It is advised, but time-consuming, to identify keywords on a page-by-page basis. As a result, it’s recommended that you start with your most critical pages on your site, aided by Google Analytics data or the SEMrush Organic Research tool.
Where to Start
Start by looking at the keywords you already rank for to find the core term you want to optimise for, which you can do with the Organic Research tool. The tool also displays which URLs are ranking, as well as traffic, search volume, and traffic percentages, all of which are important factors to consider when selecting keywords.
You can also export keywords to examine how each domain ranks for competing keywords.
Next, check the SERPs to see if your term is ranking for product and category pages. If this isn’t the case, you’ll need to choose a new head keyword.
Keyword Gaps Between Competitors
By comparing terms from up to five rivals, the SEMrush Keyword Gap tool can help you figure out where to map keywords. The programme also identifies complete keyword overlap, popular terms, and unique keywords that you are ranking but that your competitors aren’t.
You can use on-page SEO to optimise your final list of keywords for individual categories and product pages. We’ll show you how to accomplish it step by step later in this article.
Long Tail Keywords for e-commerce Sites
Long-tail keywords have previously been highlighted a few times, but why are they so important?
Long-tail keyword research should be regarded as just as important as head keyword research. While they are less competitive due to smaller search volumes, they usually offer higher conversions and a higher chance of bringing tailored traffic to your site.
To demonstrate the distinction between the two, consider the following examples of both types of keywords:
Head keyword: buy chocolate
Long-tail keyword: buy organic fruit and nut dark chocolate
Long-tail keyword research also provides your e-commerce site with an additional ranking potential. You can employ lucrative long-tail keywords discovered during the research stage in your content marketing efforts if they don’t fit well into an existing product or category page.
Later in this article, we’ll go over excellent eCommerce content tactics.
Site Architecture for e-commerce Websites
For both usability and crawlability, optimising your site design by simplifying its structure is an essential aspect of any effective SEO strategy. For eCommerce sites, this entails making your site’s navigation both user and search engine friendly.
But how do you do it? Organize your website so that users may access any product from the homepage in a restricted number of clicks (three or fewer is a good rule of thumb).
You will improve the user experience and aid to reduce bounce rates, which can be caused by tedious website navigation.
You’ll also make it easy for search engines to index your site (which is vital for ranking) and maintain link authority. The further a product page is from your homepage, which is often the most authoritative for e-commerce sites, the less authoritative it becomes — and concentrated authority is one of the ways you can help your e-commerce pages rank.
Instead, here’s what you should be doing: a scalable, flat site architecture with links to the main category pages that is both easy to browse for users and crawl for search engines.
Optimize Your URLs
You must optimise your URLs to make them both user and SEO friendly in order to rank higher in the SERPs. These should be concise, relevant, and, if possible, include your target keywords.
Long URLs are difficult for Google’s crawlers to read, so you should avoid them.
What does a URL that has been optimised look like? Choose a brief, to-the-point URL with a structure similar to the one shown below:
Avoid using too many numbers in your URL because it will be difficult to read and will not improve the user experience because the numbers will be meaningless to the consumer.
Here’s an example of what you shouldn’t do:
On-Page SEO for eCommerce Websites
Optimize Your Title Tags
Because title tags (also known as page titles) have such a large impact on a page’s CTR and inform visitors and search engines about what the page is about, they offer a lot of SEO potential. You may have noticed them in the SERPs as the blue clickable titles.
A good title tag should be 55-60 characters lengthy, descriptive, and include the desired keywords. It’s not necessary to put your store’s name first; keep in mind the search purpose.
Optimize Your Meta Descriptions
The material that displays just after the title tag in the SERPs is known as the meta description, and it plays an important influence in click through rates. But how do you make them better?
What Are Meta Descriptions and How to Write Them is a comprehensive book, however here are some quick pointers.
- The meta description should be around 150 characters long.
- Each description should be tailored to the specific page.
- Be as specific as possible.
- Explain why a shopper should visit your website. One of the strategies to catch a visitor’s interest is to offer incentives (free shipping, X% off, buy-one-get-one).
Optimize Your Images
Google has highlighted page speed as a ranking indication, and huge picture sizes for product pages are a major cause of sluggish loading pages for e-commerce sites. Bounce rates are also affected by slow page speeds.
You can remedy this by using platforms like TinyPNG to compress images (ideally in PNG or WebP formats) to minimise their file size. Aim for photos that are between 1 and 2MB in size.
The process of image optimization does not end there. For SEO purposes, you should also consider changing the filename. It’s easier for search bots to grasp what the image is if the file name is more descriptive.
Instead of using IMG125403.png as an image on your product page, use the product name and (if possible) a related keyword, such as sweater-red-polka-dot.png.
Alt-text is another aspect of image optimization. This is a line of code that tells the browser what’s in the image, and it’s read by SEO crawlers. As a result, it’s a good idea to add your keyword in your alt-text for search results when it’s relevant. Avoid keyword stuffing and keep your sentences short.
Add Unique Content to Each Page
If your website has thousands of products, creating unique content will take a long time, but there is no way around it. Given the fierce competition, you want and need an optimised e-commerce business. Content is vital for SEO because search engines need it to interpret it and rank it appropriately.
We recommend that you start with your most crucial pages. You should aim to write at least 250-500 words for each category and product page, and each one should be distinct.
Aside from the product description and keywords, you can go into great length about any characteristics the product has, as well as any awards it has received, comparisons to other items, and FAQ sections.
Optimize Your Content for Head Terms and Long-Tail Keywords
This is the time to use both sorts of keywords for a good e-commerce search engine optimization plan, using the chosen keywords you compiled in the research stage, when generating high-quality content for your items and categories. Remember that a long-tail keyword has a 4.15 percent better conversion rate than a short-tail term (source: Search Engine Journal).
Add Schema.org Markup
Putting it into action Schema markup aids Google’s understanding of your content as well as the navigation of possible visitors to your site. It can also result in a 30 percent increase in click-through rate (Search Engine Land), resulting in more purchases.
The following are some of the most popular schema properties:
- Reviews and rating schema
- Product schema
- Breadcrumb markup
- Business details including contact
- Product availability schema
Focus on Internal Linking
Internal linking entails directing visitors to other pages on your website. It can help you rank for your selected term by allowing you to choose your own anchor text, as well as improve the user experience by suggesting similar pages to browsers.
Make sure you’re only linking to relevant pages, and change up the anchor text.
Internal Linking is a report in the SEMrush Site Audit tool that can help you uncover potential issues with your internal link structure.
Optimize CTAs on the Page
Engaging CTAs that provide value to your users will encourage visitors to take action on your site. The On-Page SEO Checker from SEMrush can help you achieve just that by generating on-page SEO suggestions based on the top 10 real-time rivals for your keywords.
How to Identify Technical Issues on Your Website
Fixing technical SEO site difficulties is critical for e-commerce sites, as it can sometimes be the difference between you and a very comparable rival in terms of ranking.
SEMrush’s Site Audit Tool is a website crawler that can assist e-commerce owners in identifying technical faults with their website, which eCommerce sites are especially vulnerable to due to their large number of product pages.
Our Site Audit Tool for e-commerce sites will help you find:
- Duplicate title tags and meta descriptions should be replaced so that users and search engines have distinct and relevant tags and descriptions.
- Duplicate content can hurt your ranking and link equity, as well as cause traffic loss.
- Bounce rates can be affected by slow page load times.
- Internal links that are broken are terrible for usability and can give search engines the impression that a website is low-quality.
- Internal images that are broken: this degrades the user experience.
- 4xx codes are often returned as a result of broken links, which have an impact on SEO due to crawlability difficulties.
- Low word count: This may not meet the user’s search purpose, resulting in a drop in SERP ranking.
- Links from HTTPS pages to HTTP pages may have a detrimental impact on page ranking.
- Pages that lack Schema.org markup have a higher possibility of appearing in search engine results pages (SERPS).
How to Fix Common Technical SEO Issues on e-commerce Websites
This problem can be identified in the Site Audit tool’s Crawlability reports. Duplicate content is one of the most prevalent SEO difficulties for major e-commerce sites, as many contain thousands of products, resulting in a high number of site pages. However, it can result in crawl waste, reducing your website’s crawlability.
When at all possible, duplicate content should be avoided. Here’s what you can do if you find them or if having them is unavoidable:
- To tell Google which product page is the primary page, use canonical tags.
- Use indexing or robots.txt for pages that don’t generate search traffic, while carefully avoiding objectionable criteria.
- Keep an up-to-date Content Map on hand to spot duplicate content.
- Embedding the clone within the original is a good idea.
Due to the difficulty of generating unique material for a large number of comparable products, e-commerce sites usually have thin content. If this happens on your own, the Site Audit tool can notify you (under ‘Warnings’) by identifying pages with a low text to HTML ratio.
Create descriptive product descriptions to make your products stand out to both people and search engines, and strive for content that is at least 500 words long.
Deep pages in your site architecture are those that are more than three clicks away from the homepage and should be avoided. This is due to the fact that a simple flat structure increases site crawlability and user experience.
SEMrush Site Audit has a filter for this (under ‘Crawled Pages’> Filter: Crawl Depth’ is ‘4+ clicks’).
There are several solutions, including adding feature-based navigation (for example, featured products) to your homepage.
Page Load Speed
Page speed issues can be identified in the SEMrush tool under Site Performance or under Site Audit > Issues.
Site speed issues can be caused by a multitude of factors, including big picture file sizes, slow hosting, and bloated code on e-commerce platforms.
Page load speed can be fixed by:
- Compression sites like TinyPNG can help you optimise your photographs.
- Using a CDN will improve your site’s loading speed while also making it more secure.
Missing / Broken Canonical Links
Crawlability can be harmed by missing canonical links or incorrectly implemented canonical links. This is because a rel=”canonical” element on a website can tell search engines which version of a page you want to see in SERPs, but an erroneous or broken one can cause crawlers to become confused.
There are a range of checks related to canonical tags when running the Site Audit Report on your site, including reporting pages with broken links and AMP pages without a canonical tag.
Wrong Pages Ranking
This is known as keyword cannibalization, and it occurs when you optimise two product pages for the same term. A category page, for example, may rank higher than a product page, while a blog post may rank higher than a product page.
Due to the confusion this generates for search engine crawlers, the wrong page may rank, or worse, neither page may rank at all.
Review material beforehand and determine which pages are the most effective (based on metrics like as visibility and traffic), then devise a separate optimization plan for the remaining pages — or eliminate the others (using 301 redirects to their URLs) to leave only one.
If removing is not an option, use rel=”noindex” tags or canonicalization instead.
The Site Audit’s HTTPS analysis reveals security vulnerabilities such links on HTTPS pages that lead to HTTP pages. The application also warns users about HTTP-related website architecture issues.
eCommerce sites that have changed their domains to HTTPS may have HTTP difficulties. Because HTTPS is a significant ranking indication, resolving HTTP issues is crucial for SEO.
No Schema markup
The tool also tests for markups and tells you how much of your website is Schema-based (microdata only).
For e-commerce sites, failing to integrate rich results means losing out on a valuable opportunity to stand out in the SERPs from your online competitors. According to HubSpot’s research, it can boost click-through rates by up to 30%.
Using Schema.org to include relevant structured data can enhance an e-commerce site’s exposure, and it’s simple to do.
Content Marketing for eCommerce Sites
Create Content Your Audience Wants to Share and Link To
Using informational long-tail keywords from your keyword research and developing high-quality content based on them and current product pages is a great way to supplement your e-commerce site with a blog.
Have you run out of ideas? SEMrush’s Subject Research tool can also help you come up with new article and topic ideas by identifying themes and questions that have a lot of SEO potential.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
This will likely have a beneficial influence on your product and category pages in the SERPs if you post interesting content frequently and distribute it across social media (as well as enable social media ‘share’ buttons for product pages).
This is because establishing a social media presence aids in the development of site authority. Growing customer recognition, as well as amassing backlinks from other sites, signals to search engines that your site is authoritative.
Partner Up with Influencers and Brand Ambassadors
Influencers and brand ambassadors are people in your sector (who aren’t direct competitors) who have a high domain authority from their website or a huge social media following, typically on Instagram, YouTube, or Twitter.
Working with people who are trusted by others is beneficial to e-commerce companies in terms of increasing sales and traffic. Brands get a $6.50 return on investment for every $1 invested on influencer marketing (source: Tomoson). Influencer campaigns come in a variety of shapes and sizes, such as the one shown below.
Influencers can also help with SEO by providing quality backlinks. The main goal is to get them to link to your product from their site, which you may do by cultivating a relationship with them. You can do this in a variety of ways, including sharing and commenting on their articles, sending them complimentary things, or directly contacting them.
Make sure any links you use have the rel”sponsored” attribute, because Google considers things given to influencers or brand ambassadors to be compensated. The link would be in violation of Google’s webmaster standards if it didn’t have this attribute.
Using Video Content
It is imperative that you include videos in your content marketing plan. 90 percent of consumers think video content influences their shopping decisions, and the graph below shows that order values rise as the number of products viewed increases.
Furthermore, because these can be recycled across numerous channels, they are a sound investment.
Link Building for e-commerce Sites
Links are still one of Google’s top three ranking factors, which is why having a great SEO plan for an online business is vital.
Find Broken Links to Your Pages
You may use the SEMrush Backlink Audit Tool to find backlinks to your site from other authoritative websites, as well as identify any broken links and reclaim them.
Find Sites Linking to Your Competitors But Not Your Pages
The SEMrush Backlink Gap tool may evaluate up to five competitors’ websites and list the referring domains that are driving links to them. This programme also identifies gaps in your competitors’ link-building strategy, giving you an opportunity to reach out and build more links.
Research Groups and Events on Social Media
When it comes to establishing backlinks, unique referring domains are crucial, but where else can you look for them except the Backlink Gap tool?
One option is to look for groups or events connected to your niche on Facebook. You can pitch your items and ask whether they may be highlighted inside the group or in coverage of an upcoming event, similar to how influencers are used.
However, keep in mind that you should focus on attracting high-quality inbound links, as Google may punish you if you have a lot of low-quality ones relating to your site.
Get Links from Your Suppliers or Distributors
This is a simple method of obtaining an authoritative backlink. If you’re a reseller or a retail eCommerce seller, contact the supplier or distributor who compiles listings of where customers can buy things and request that yours be included as well. This is the type of list you want your site to be on, as seen by Tabitha Simmons’ vendors:
Organize a Creative Campaign to Promote a Product
If done right, product PR can have a significant impact on SEO. Take a look at Rise at Seven PR’s case study on Missguided. The PR saw an opportunity to build a compelling storey about the ecommerce site’s dog jumpers (which had a low product URL ranking at the time), so she identified a comparable women’s jumper on the site and matched them.
It was a huge hit right away. It had over 30k engagement in just under an hour after being live on social media, before expanding into a full-fledged campaign with over 60 links from US, UK, and EU outlets.
As a result, Missguided has risen from 30th place in the SERPs for dog jumpers to first place in just a few months.
Guest posting may also be part of an e-commerce site’s SEO strategy. Guest blogging remained the most popular approach in a recent survey of 850 SEO specialists on the most effective link building tactics, with almost 53 percent of those polled recommending it.
The benefit of guest posting is that you may boost the visibility of your site while also linking back to them, making it a win-win situation for both parties. However, be certain that the guest posting is related to your sector or area.
Looking for more pointers on how to develop links? To learn more about SEO tactics for e-commerce websites, check out our link building for SEO guide.
Local SEO for eCommerce Websites
Local SEO refers to optimising your items and business for location-specific search queries on an e-commerce website. As a result, local SEO is only useful for businesses that have actual locations. However, with 46% of all Google searches looking for local content (source: HubSpot), having a great local SEO plan in place is critical for those who do.
Here’s how to make your business more likely to show up in a local search result.
Create a Google My Business Listing
If you don’t have a Google My Business page, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to get your business noticed in a local search result. Claim your company and make sure to fill up all of the Google My Business categories.
You can see all of the business information Google has uncovered in the example below, including product information, but the firm has not been declared. They are squandering an opportunity to include a great deal of information.
Build Local Citations
Prominence in the local area, which you may establish through local citations, is one of the primary Google My Business ranking factors (online mentions of your company and location). It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for niche-specific directories in your area; you want to get your site mentioned in the most authoritative company listings.
eCommerce SEO: Some Final Best Practice Tips
Ensure Your Site is Secure
For eCommerce stores, ensuring that your site uses HTTPS rather than HTTP is crucial. It not only ensures that your site is encrypted, keeping users’ personal information safe, but it also counts as a ranking factor.
Optimize for Mobile First
Mobile traffic currently leads eCommerce internationally, according to our analysis on e-commerce growth.
Google announced the switch to ‘mobile-first’ indexing in 2020, making it more important than ever for e-commerce stores to make sure their sites are mobile-friendly.
This entails giving mobile consumers a completely responsive site and paying attention to site speed. You might lose sales if you don’t.
Pagination on e-commerce sites usually takes the shape of ‘load more’ buttons or a list of product pages at the bottom of the page.
For eCommerce sites, especially those with a large number of products, optimising pagination to make it as search-friendly as possible is essential. These can have complex site architectures that hinder crawlability and should be avoided.
Do you want to learn how to improve pagination? Take a look at our SEO-Friendly Pagination Strategies for eCommerce for more information.
Optimize Your Checkout Process
Providing a positive user experience is critical for SEO and customer retention. Making the checkout experience as simple and painless as possible is one of the best methods to do this.
Encourage Your Customers to Review Your Products and Services
Management of one’s online reputation is crucial. For eCommerce companies, this implies that online evaluations are more important than ever before: 85 percent of customers believe them as much as a personal recommendation. They also serve as a ranking criterion.
Send a follow-up email requesting a review after a customer receives your product, or design a simple pop-up on your site that invites visitors to post a review with minimal effort (such as a signing-up).
The Brand Monitoring tool from SEMrush can also assist you in keeping an eye on your internet reputation.
Deal with Out of Stock and Discontinued Products
If an item is out of stock, you want it to be noted on the page, along with a suggestion for related items. You could also add a “contact me when it’s ready” option. When a product is out of stock, never take a page down!
If an item is no longer available but the page still has a high ranking, you have two options:
1.) Remove the page and replace it with a comparative page or a history page with product information that consumers may require in the future. On your website, provide options for similar things.
2.) Redirect the user to a different page.
Users and search engines are sent to a new URL when a 301 redirect is used. If you delete a page and don’t redirect it, or if you utilise them wrongly, it can have an impact on your SEO because of indexing errors, which impacts both traffic and the overall user experience.
SEO strategy for eCommerce websites can be complicated and time-consuming to implement, but it is well worth the effort if you follow the recommendations in this eCommerce tutorial. You may get considerably higher click-through rates and sales from extensive and properly performed optimization than you can through sponsored search.
Source: The Definitive Guide to eCommerce SEO for 2020