The Ultimate Guide To E-Commerce SEO
Do you want to drive more traffic to your store without buying ads?
This guide has everything you need to know!
Introduction To E-Commerce SEO
E-commerece SEO is one of the best ways to drive targeted traffic to your online store.
But with the fast-evolving search engine algorithms, strategies that worked just a year or two ago may already be obsolete today.
Not to mention that SEO for e-commerce comes with its own set of challenges that most content-based sites in a B2B industry don’t face.
To stay relevant and keep up with the competition, you can no longer just throw a few keywords together and hope for the best.
In this guide, we’ll go through all the best practices AND common pitfalls of how to rank you e-commerce store and get loads of killer organic traffic!
Let’s get into it!
Keyword Research For E-Commerce SEO
Whether you already have your product pages up or you’re looking to reoptimize them, keyword research is an important part of the process.
There are a few ways to go about keyword research, but before we get into it, let’s talk about search intent:
One important shift that has happened over the last few years is that Google has changed the “search intent” of many product-based keywords.
Whereas in the past, you might have been able to rank your products for the keywords that would come naturally, Google is now often preferring long form articles, or blog type content for these keywords.
For example, lets say you have a category or product page for organic dog food, you might think that would be a great target keyword?
Check out what’s ranking #1 for “organic dog food” right now:
It’s not a product page… it’s an article!
So if you want to rank for that specifically, you may be better off crafting a piece of content that is similar and putting it on your blog.
Then, you can link internally in that article to your product page.
It’s important to verify what type of content Google is actually ranking for your keywords before you start targeting them with link building.
Easy Wins Keyword Research
One of my favorite places to start with keyword research (if you have a site that’s already getting some traffic) is called “Easy Wins” keyword research.
The concept here is to go find out all the terms that your website is ranking for, but is not at the top of the search results, and re-optimize that page!
You can use our free tool here to find out all the keywords your website ranks for.
After you export this list, you can build links to these pages, re-optimize them, and build quick wins in your traffic!
Competitive Gap Keyword Research
Another easy way to do keyword research is called Competitive Gap keyword research.
The concept is that you go out and take your top compeititors and see what THEY are ranking for that you are not yet.
In with e-commerce SEO specifically, you can find lots of great ideas for optimizing your product pages, category pages, or ideas for blog content.
You might even find some ideas for highly searched products that you don’t carry yet.
We wrote a whole guide on the keyword gap analysis here.
Category Page Keyword Research
Another huge opportunity for e-commerce SEO is ranking category pages.
You can use the same research method above to find killer keywords for category pages that you want to optimize.
One thing to pay attention to here though is making sure you have enough content on the page. (We’ll get to that in a little bit!)
On-Page SEO For E-Commerce
After you have determined the keywords you want each page to rank for, it’s time to do On-Page SEO.
You need to tell search engines what each page is about, whether that be a product page or a category page.
Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
First, make sure you have the basics covered by including your keywords in the title tag & meta descriptions.
It helps visitors determine if they want to click through to view the content by giving them a brief preview/overview of the content on your page.
You can also add phrases such as “Free Shipping” or “Price Match Guarantee” to maximize the click-through rate (CTR.)
Higher CTR signals relevance to search engines and helps indirectly to increase organic rankings.
Use your meta description to compel users to click, and back that click up with a landing page that keeps them on-site.
Add Content To Category Pages
You’ll want to make sure to include additional text based content on your category pages. These are often neglected with just a list of the products.
But by adding text to describe the category, you can give more contextual relevance and signals to Google on what the page is about.
Create Unique Product Descriptions
A common problem that e-commerce stores often have is not having unique product descriptions.
Many times product descriptions are copied from the manufacturer, so every e-commerce store that sells that product is using the same content. (Not good for SEO!)
You’ll want to make sure that you create unique product descriptions over time to avoid duplicate content on all product and category pages.
It’s a good idea to search for the term you want to rank for and check out what’s ranking in terms of content length and optimization.
If you’d like some help creating unique product descriptions and adding content – Check out our e-commerce product descriptions service.
Not only do you need unique product descriptions, you’ll also want to make sure they are compelling and increase conversions. Make sure to avoid these top 7 Common Product Descriptions Mistakes.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Another way to add unique content to your pages is by allowing user generated content.
Reviews are a great way to start. When customers leave reviews, they often include keywords that can help the page rank.
Plus, highly-rated reviews help with social proof and increase conversions!
According to a recent study, 85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Customer reviews and ratings are a top-tier form of UGC that helps improve SEO in several ways.
It provides search engines with fresh, trustworthy content, it increases the time visitors spend interacting with your product pages, and it adds relevant keywords to the content.
Check out our guide on getting more reviews here!
E-Commerce presents lots of opportunities for making your site more useable.
Let’s talk about some common problems and solutions:
Improve User Experience With Content
The challenge with having a lot of content is that too much text on a page can reduce usability and divert the attention of visitors away from the call-to-action (i.e., hitting the “add to cart” button.)
You can organize content with tabs or accordions to reduce clutter:
You also want to leverage visual hierarchy and formatting elements to make the content more scannable and user-friendly.
In this example below, Rapha presents a good amount of content without sacrificing usability by laying out the copy in an easy-to-read format.
They also use tabs to make it easy for shoppers to find the information they need, such as sizing info and reviews.
Using accordion-style tabs, they can pack tons of text and product information on the page without overwhelming visitors or distracting from the main goal: Sales.
Using Visual Content
Using visual content, especially high-quality photos, is a great way to showcase your products.
Leveraging technologies like zoom and 360-degree view can help increase shoppers’ engagement with the content:
Be sure to optimize your images such that they don’t impact load time (or page speed), and include keywords in the alt text to signal relevance to search engines.
Taking Advantage Of Video
Using video content is arguably one of the best ways to improve your users’ experience on your site.
In addition to the many SEO benefits of implementing video content, it can even boost your sales by increasing conversion rates.
For consumers, one of the biggest risks of shopping online is the possibility of receiving a product that does not accurately resemble the product description and images shown on the website.
Product videos completely eliminate this problem by giving an in-depth look at your product. These videos provide a 360° view of your product while also highlighting all of the features that make it unique.
By presenting your products in a video format, your potential customers will be much more confident in purchasing your product and your brand. In fact, consumers are nearly twice as likely to purchase after viewing a product video!
If you’re not convinced yet, here are some other reasons to consider adding product videos to your e-commerce website:
- Customers will spend approximately 88% more time on a website with video content. More time on your website equates to higher Google rankings and an increased likelihood of making sales.
- Your customers are asking for it! According to a study from Animoto, 84% of consumers want to see MORE product videos on Amazon and other e-commerce platforms!
There are many forms of video content that can benefit your business, but product videos are definitely the most beneficial for anyone in the e-commerce industry. You can learn more about these specialized videos in our product video blog post.
Optimizing For Mobile
As more people are shopping on their mobile devices, a good mobile user experience is important if you want to entice visitors to stay on your site and engage with your content.
Currently, the majority of traffic worldwide is mobile:
With this shift in browsing behavior, Google is already penalizing websites that aren’t mobile-friendly and is already rolling out a mobile-first index that prioritizes sites that are optimized for mobile user experiences.
A mobile-optimized website means more than just squeezing a desktop experience into a smaller screen, too.
Here are some mobile optimization best practices that will improve customer experience and boost your organic store rankings:
A longer page load time is associated with a higher bounce rate, which negatively impacts SEO.
According to a Google report, just a few seconds can account for massive swings in your bounce rate.
In fact, 47% of consumers expect your site to load in just two seconds or less, and 40% of people abandon a site that takes more than just three seconds to fully load.
Speed can effectively turn high-quality traffic into no sales and a massive bounce rate.
In July of 2018, Google will dampen rankings for slower mobile sites in an effort to improve the user experience for mobile users.
If you want to keep customers around, site speed needs to be a big priority.
Thankfully, Google offers free tools like Test My Site where you can analyze your current mobile site. Then, it will list the specific ways you can improve it.
Try running your site through the tool and implementing the suggestions to improve site speed.
Since January of 2016, Google has been lowering the ranking of sites that use intrusive popups that prevent mobile users from accessing the site content.
To avoid being penalized by Google, avoid using popups that detract from positive user experiences.
Try using timed popups that trigger based on how many pages a person visits. Or, you can use exit intent to capture users that are looking to leave.
Studies show an average of 10% conversion increases using exit intent.
Plus, you don’t have to worry about negatively impacting the user experience for a few extra sales.
Content Strategy For E-Commerce SEO
Without content, you can’t appear for diverse keywords on the search results.
And without links, you can’t build trust, credibility, and referral traffic.
Content should be the foundation of your e-commerce SEO strategy.
According to HubSpot, the more blog posts (content) you publish each month, the more traffic you’ll drive from organic search:
This data applies to both B2C and B2B companies.
More content not only drives more traffic, but it also drives more leads and sales:
If you are conducting SEO for e-commerce, you can’t skip on producing quality content.
It’s a great way to rank for a variety of long-tail keywords and signal your website’s relevance to search engines.
Most e-commerce platforms allow you to set up a blog under the same domain name so the online store can fully benefit from the “SEO juice” generated by the content.
Here are some ways to improve e-commerce SEO with content publishing:
Build A Blog To Connect With Buyers At All Stages
Modern-day buyers follow a complex series of actions before making any concrete decisions.
This system is generally known as the buyer’s journey.
No longer are the days of consumers making instant purchasing decisions in stores.
People don’t buy immediately because they don’t have to anymore.
They can fully research their decisions before coming to a purchase.
To capitalize on this for SEO, you need to segment content to appeal to all stages of the buyer’s journey:
Awareness, consideration, and decision.
For the awareness stage, focus on content that helps answer fundamental questions of someone looking to buy a product in your space:
For example, a user who doesn’t yet know the difference between tennis shoes, sneakers, and trainers isn’t going to buy from you.
Rather, they want you to educate them first.
As they move down the funnel, you can start to produce content focused on specific shoe types within those niches, closing the deal with a call-to-action offer in the decision stage.
The idea here is to bring in new inbound traffic that wants to learn about your industry and product niche, slowly moving them from awareness to purchase decision.
Featured Answers/Answer Boxes on Google
Using existing Google search result boxes, you can actually see content that users are actively searching for:
Search for topics within your e-commerce niche and see which questions are frequently asked.
Link Building For E-Commerce
According to Google, links and content are a the top two ranking factors (in no particular order).
Links are critical to ranking. Backlinko found a direct correlation between total links and organic rankings:
Here are a few ways you’ll want to get links to your e-commerce site:
Create Linkable Content
And creating content is one of easiest ways to build high quality links.
It’s much harder to get direct links to your products than it is to drive links and referral traffic to a blog post or video.
As you develop your blog, you can start to campaign for links by reaching out to other popular blogs and guest posting. This is a great way to get your content linked from relevant sources.
Send Products To Review Blogs
Try reaching out to review blogs and sending them free products:
It’s an excellent way to spend a few bucks with a high chance of generating links.
Conduct a basic search on Google and look for reviewers in your ecommerce niche. Contact them and send them free products without asking for a review.
This will likely land you a few great reviews and subsequent links that can help you drive relevant referral traffic.
Get Links From Product Manufacturers
If you’re selling branded products, you can sometimes get a link from the manufacuter under an “authorized retailers” type page.
Check out the websites of your manufacturers and try to get a link there.
Don’t Forget Internal Links
The honest truth is that it’s difficult to get people to link to your product pages, so internal linking in e-commerce is really important.
Build linkable assets, then internally link from them to your product pages.
Organic search is one of the best ways to get in front of your ideal customers in a cost-effective way over the long-run.
By following this guide, you’ll be way ahead of your competition!
Any questions or additional suggestions? Let us know in the comments!