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Last updated Thu May 04 2023

Ecommerce SEO: The Beginner's Guide [2023]

tomasz niezgodaBy Tomasz Niezgoda

For an ecommerce business, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential to online success.

Every day, millions of people shop online and search for the perfect product through Google. As it turns out, 33% of overall traffic on ecommerce websites comes from organic search. 

If you’re an ecommerce business, it would be a shame to miss such an opportunity. However, with millions of online stores vying for attention, you need a strong e-commerce SEO strategy. 

In this article, you’ll learn the aspects of e-commerce SEO you should focus on to optimize your online store for search engines.

But first:

What Is E-commerce SEO?

E-commerce SEO is the process of making your online store visible on search engine results pages. This is important because the higher your ranking is, the more traffic–and therefore potential sales—you can get. According to a study, the number one result in Google’s organic search results is ten times more likely to receive a click compared to a page in tenth place.

To improve your e-commerce SEO, here are some aspects to consider: 

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the first step to building an SEO strategy. It's the process of identifying the keywords and phrases your potential customers are searching for. Once you know these, you can use them in essential places and rank higher in SERPs (search engine results pages).

The first step in ecommerce keyword research is finding your niche. This is usually the category of the products you sell. It's important to describe your niche precisely. Otherwise, your products won't display for the queries you want. 

So, for example, if you sell dresses, Dresses would be the name of your niche. Then the different types of dresses would be your product categories.

keywords on an ecommerce store

But if you sell wedding dresses specifically, Wedding Dresses should be the name of your niche.

The name of your niche is your seed keyword. Seed keywords or head keywords are the starting point for the keyword research process. They are short phrases that are usually very competitive. You can generate other keyword ideas by describing the seed keyword in more detail or by finding a similar phrase. These are your subcategory keywords. 

It's important to create categories aligning with the relevant keywords people really look for. This is one way you can rank higher in SERPs. To find the keywords people look for, use Google auto suggest or Related Searches. This is how Related Searches look like for the query “dresses:”

people also ask - additional keywords for ecommerce seo

Alternatively, you can use dedicated SEO tools.

If you sell products with great brand recognition, such as Nike shoes or Apple products, include them in the keyword you rank for. But if you're selling unbranded products or products from unknown names, you may want to target more descriptive terms that people search for. For example, if you sell ebooks, you can target the keyword “ebooks about personal development with exercises” if that’s what your product is about.

The last important thing to remember when doing keyword research is search intent. It's the reason someone is searching for a particular query. You want to ensure that you're matching each keyword's search intent with the right pages on your site.

For example, a keyword like "buy dog food" has a strong transactional search intent. Anyone who searches this on Google is more likely already ready to make a purchase. So you'd want to optimize your product and category pages around that type of product-focused term.

That’s why when you type in, “buy dog food” in Google, you’ll mostly see e-commerce websites.

ecommerce google results

The phrase, "how much food to feed my dog," meanwhile, is more informational. It would be great to create a blog post around it.

Bottom line, you can find the best keywords for SEO that would fit your website pages if you consider search intent.

On-Page Optimization

On-page SEO includes actions you take on your website that boost your ranking in Google. They include creating SEO-optimized content, using keywords in URLs, and more.

The first aspect of on-page SEO you should focus on is optimizing content. True, e-commerce stores don't have a lot of content on their product and category pages. That isn't necessarily bad. Note, though, that adding unique product descriptions can help Google and visitors better understand the page. That can be a plus when it comes to SEO.

Product descriptions should be short, but descriptive and helpful. To create unique descriptions, mention long tail keywords and synonyms. Beware of keyword stuffing because it can make your message confusing.

Here’s a great product description example displayed in the SERPs:

paid ad example

It's important to create original product descriptions. Use keyword variations, too.

As part of on-page SEO, you need to optimize the following metadata as well:

Title tags are metadata that should include your category or product name. The tags, which can be found in SERPs, should be less than 60 characters long. They should also be highly descriptive. You can also add a compelling benefit for potential customers such as free shipping or discount codes.

Meta descriptions are also important in optimization as they can significantly increase click-through rates. A meta description is a short summary of what your page is about that also appears in search results. Remember to keep them under 120 characters and use the target keyword.

One more thing: Keep URLs clean. They should be as simple as possible and include target keywords. For a category page, use a simple pattern: domain.com/category. You can see this pattern used in the example below. Notice that after the domain name comes the product name:

seo optimized descriptions

However, the general rule is that product page URLs shouldn't include the category subfolder. Products may end up falling into several categories, and this can lead to duplicate content issues.

As a final tip, make sure you create SEO-friendly popups on your site. They can help increase conversions while ensuring your SEO efforts aren’t undermined.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves tweaking specific aspects of a website (usually unseen by the website visitor) to ensure overall website performance. These aspects, such as site speed or friendly site structure, are important SEO ranking factors.

For your technical SEO, here are some of the things you should do:

  • Secure your website with HTTPS. It's a protocol that prevents hackers from obtaining sensitive information. Besides, it’s also an SEO ranking factor. It's best to choose an e-commerce platform that provides the HTTPS protocol out of the box.

  • Improve page speed. To check it, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights. The tool provides you with recommendations for improvement.

In general, if you want to improve your website loading time, compress all images. Then, enable website caching so the user's browser can temporarily store webpage data. Also, use a Content Delivery Network, or interconnected servers distributed across different locations, to deliver the contents of your website faster. There are certainly more ways to improve page speed, but the ones presented are the most straightforward.

  • Have the right site structure: The site structure can affect how efficiently search engines crawl your website. Every page should have one subcategory and category. All the pages should be less than three clicks away from the home page. Here's an example of a well-designed site structure:

site architecture

Great site architecture helps users find what they're looking for in just a few clicks. Google can also follow internal links from page to page.

Link-Building

Link-building is part of off-site SEO practices, meaning that it doesn't happen on your website. Link-building is critical to SEO. Google sees a backlink as a vote of confidence for your site. As a result, you can rank higher in SERPs.

Acquiring links from other websites can be challenging, but a couple of tried and tested ways exist:

  • Check for unlinked mentions of the brand on blogs. Sometimes bloggers show the products they use and feature them on their sites. But there are times when they don't link to the product. You can use that as an opportunity to reach out and ask them to add the link to the product they already mentioned on their page. 

  • Obtain links from review sites. You can find lists of the best products that don't mention yours by searching Google for "best [product category] -brand name." Then reach out to the author to include your product in the overview. 

  • Guest-post. This is also a great way to get links to your website. It’s a tried-and-tested SEO technique recommended if you want to grow your blog or website. Remember to always create useful and engaging content so you can establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is another off-page SEO technique that can be especially beneficial for an e-commerce website. Businesses use content marketing (check out these ethical marketing examples, too) to spread brand awareness, educate the target audience about their products, and encourage customers to buy from them.

Content marketing strategies include creating materials that make people like the brand. The content may come in the form of blog posts, videos, images, podcasts, ebooks, and more. These types of content are usually distributed on different marketing channels and can link to each other and drive traffic to your website.

But what topics should your content tackle? These should depend on the products you sell. For instance, if you sell cosmetics, a blog post on the “best lipstick shade to wear for different skin types” is a good topic. The people who read the post are likely interested in what you have to sell.     

Williams Sonoma, for instance, sells cookware. So, its blog posts revolve around recipes and kitchen tips:

content marketing examples
  • As I mentioned earlier, make sure your content is optimized around keywords your target audience searches for when they're not searching for a specific product. Your content should provide value, too.

Williams Sonoma also uses SMS popups to convert visitors. Get more info:

💡 SMS popup examples (incl. Williams Sonoma)

Analytics and Monitoring

Analytics and monitoring are essential components of any e-commerce SEO campaign. By tracking your website's performance, you can identify areas for improvement and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Google Search Console is a free tool that can help you track your website's performance. You can use the tool to identify which pages are performing well and which pages need to be optimized further. You can also use the tool to give you an overview of your average ranking and the impressions and clicks you get given specific top queries:

Google search console

Google Search Console can help you clean and redirect your dead pages and monitor duplicate content issues as well. Run regular site audits to check for any problems, such as broken links or redirect issues.

Conclusion

Using SEO practices can significantly help ecommerce sites reach a broader audience without using paid ads. Optimizing your website can increase your visibility, drive more organic traffic to your ecommerce site, and ultimately increase sales and revenue.

To optimize your e-commerce website for search engines, focus on conducting keyword research, optimizing product pages, building quality backlinks, and monitoring your performance.

By following these tips and tricks, you can create a robust e-commerce SEO strategy that will help you stand out in a crowded online marketplace and drive success for your business.

tomasz niezgoda

Tomasz Niezgoda

Tomasz is the Head Of Marketing at Surfer, a platform that merges content strategy, creation, and optimization into one smooth process. With almost a decade of experience in the industry, he is responsible for incorporating and executing marketing strategies. Currently, he manages a team of 5 wonderful experts.

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