If you’re thinking of starting an online business, one of the most important things you will have to consider above all else is your ecommerce SEO.
Whether you’re selling colorful ceramics, or one-off custom shaggy rugs, taking the time to think about your ecommerce SEO strategy will help turn your budding business into a major brand in your chosen space.
Here are some initial steps you need to take to get started on your ecommerce SEO strategy. Keep reading to the end for a handy keyword checklist you can use for all of your product pages to set yourself apart from your competitors.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Ecommerce SEO?
Ecommerce SEO is the search engine optimization of your website. What this means in layman's terms is a bit of tinkering needs to be done behind the scenes so people can actually find your online store. To start off, you need to target important keywords in your content so Google can crawl your site, learn more about what it’s like, and how it will be useful to people who are searching for certain topics.
Here’s a case of someone who isn’t up to date with the power of ecommerce SEO. Let’s call him Carl.
Carl wants to start a business selling colorful ceramics. He gets a lot of positive feedback from friends and family and decides to start his own online store. He decides to call his business Carl’s ceramics and sets up his website quickly, excited to increase his sales.
But instead of getting orders, his site traffic is nil and he can’t figure out why. People love Carl’s ceramics and regularly compliment him on his high-quality offerings.
But Carl’s business is not well known on the internet. There is no one actively searching for ‘Carl’s ceramics’ (not a popular keyword, unfortunately) so, instead of relying on his reputation, he’ll have to work on figuring out what his undiscovered audience is typing into Google search that will lead them to his online store.
Expecting customers to find your site without building out an ecommerce search engine optimization strategy is a recipe for disappointment.
It’s not any different from opening up a brick-and-mortar store without any signage or flyers announcing what your business is about. The online space is incredibly competitive but, if you can find the right mix of keywords to attract your target audience at every stage of the sales funnel, you will be able to break through the noise and reach new customers.
Carl went back to the drawing board to think about what customers could be typing into Google search that would help his ecommerce SEO strategy and lead searchers to find his online store.
Perhaps customers would search by color (e.g. pink ceramics), or by size (e.g. super large ceramics) or price (e.g. affordable ceramics). Or maybe they’re at a point where they don’t know exactly what items they are looking for?
Doing keyword research is crucial when building out your e-commerce strategy. Try to get into the head of your customer to figure out what their needs are first. How old are they? What problems are they facing on a daily basis? What benefit would they find the most attractive?
These are all important questions to ask yourself during a keyword brainstorm. You can come up with this list yourself or ask those around you: what would you be typing into Google if you were looking for my product?
What keywords are out there?
Keywords can be separated into two broad categories: general or long tail keywords.
General keywords are broad e.g. “ceramics”, while long tail keywords are a more granular phrase or a sentence like (e.g. pink ceramics with white flowers). Long-tail are more niche and therefore demonstrate that the searcher knows exactly what they are looking for and their search intent is high.
Keywords serve as indicators of what your site is about. Use them strategically and it will be easier for Google to categorize you within your niche and display your site links when there’s a good match between what you are selling and what someone is searching for in the search engine.
When building out an e-commerce SEO strategy, you will want a mix of general and long-tail keywords to attract those buyers who aren’t sure what they are looking for and those who are ready to pounce and convert since they have found exactly what they are looking for.
In Carl’s scenario, someone who knows exactly what they are looking for may use a long tail keyword like ‘purple ceramic vase 25cm’ demonstrating that the searcher is set on the color and size they want. While others searching for ‘cool ceramics’ are casually browsing for inspiration but aren't set yet on what they want. You’ll want to cater to everyone to capture the maximum amount of search traffic.
(Full disclosure: We may have gone down a ‘cool ceramics’ rabbit hole when writing this article.)
Why Is Ecommerce Search Engine Optimization Important?
Ecommerce SEO is so important for organic search visibility. Sure, you can always pay to be on the first page by running Google ads but you will burn out of cash fast, especially if you are a small business.
Nothing beats creating consistent high-quality content that will bring in traffic over time. Taking the time to fill out your product pages, and other key areas of your site, allows Google to crawl your site and make informed decisions about what your online store is all about.
Not only is this creating sustainable passive traffic, but it frees up more time for you to work on other aspects of your business like your product packaging or figuring out how to express ship to Siberia.
Once your organic search traffic starts to grow, that will be another signal to Google that people like your site and find it useful or interesting, allowing your search ranking to soar.
Once you find yourself on the 1st page of Google it becomes infinitely easier to capture more sales and find more new customers.
How To Improve SEO Of Your Ecommerce Website?
Every ecommerce site will look a bit different but nearly all of them will have these key components: your homepage, product pages, and an 'About Us' page that tells us more about your mission and values plus a 'Contact Us' page.
The goal is to lead anyone who comes into your site to your product pages and get them to add to their cart.
Filling out your product pages to the best of your ability will be key, so take advantage of this space to tell customers why your product is special, its benefits, and other noteworthy features.
Tools for Keyword Research
To find keywords with a high search traffic, try using the Google Trends API, which provides valuable insights into search trends and popularity over time. You can also leverage Google search autocomplete to discover relevant keywords and phrases that are currently trending.
These tools also allow you to see search trends over time. This will save you a lot of time and prevent you from guessing what keywords are worth going after and which ones are duds.
Another way to improve your search engine optimization is through link building. You will want to acquire backlinks from external sites back to your site to help with your SEO ranking.
These could be blogs or other websites that find your product interesting or even press links. Every time you get a press mention that’s good news for your business, but also for your backlinks!
The more “authoritative” the site is (think The New York Times or Vogue), the more positive impact it will have on your ecommerce site. It’s almost like these sites are vouching for you and demonstrates to Google that you're legit.
Bonus tip: you can always create a press page to show off all these accolades in one designated spot.
Updating a blog is another great way to bring in more traffic. As a lot of businesses don’t have new launches every week to promote, blogs are a great way to create educational resources about your product and talk to your customer in a different way that is less 'salesy' and more informative.
Publishing keyword-optimized blog posts regularly can also signal to Google that your site is well maintained and also add in more diverse but related keywords that haven’t been touched upon in your product pages.
Along with making sure your site content is keyword-rich, performing technical SEO is also vital. Technical SEO ensures everything on your site’s backend is running smoothly so you can provide a great user experience and further boost your ranking.
Since most visitors arrive from mobile over desktop, making sure your site is mobile-friendly is key. You can use a tool like Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to see how your site appears across different devices (just because your site looks great on your Apple iPhone, doesn’t mean it does on a Samsung S10!)
To check your site speed make use of Google Page Speed Insights Checker to see if you are falling within their recommendations and make tweaks when necessary. Large images or clunky videos can slow your site down and long loading times can result in bouncebacks which can hurt your search rankings. Staying on top of your site speed can make adding to cart that much easier.
Checking for duplicate content is also important. Google prioritizes content that is not only well sourced, educational but also original. Using a tool like Siteliner to craft good copy is a great start. Also, watch out for competing duplicate content on your site.
If you have two different About Us pages live with similar content it’s best to consolidate them into one page and delete the lesser-performing page toc avoid confusion and upsetting the search ranking gods.
Product Page Checklist For Your Online Store
Here’s a little handy checklist to get you started when creating your product pages
Make sure you have your target keyword in these areas on your product page:
- Url: Mention your target keyword in the URL
- Title: Use the title as an opportunity to describe your product using keywords
- Heading tags: Headings are a great way to include long-tail keywords which can include commonly asked queries by potential customers
- Image alt text: This is easily missed but you don’t want to leave this blank as images can rank too on Google search! Add a short description that accurately describes the image in the picture to start ranking in Google Images
- Paragraph copy: Make sure to add your keywords in your body copy as well so that info is captured when Google is crawling the page.
- Meta titles and descriptions: Don’t forget to fill out your meta titles and descriptions! This is the first thing a searcher sees before deciding to click on your site. Make sure your titles are catchy and your descriptions urge them to read more and highlights what sets you apart whether it’s free shipping or easy returns
Bonus Tip: In your product pages, to improve the user navigation experience, link to other areas of your site as well. These can be other products you think customers would like, or to a blog post that offers more information about creative ways to showcase or use your products. Ask yourself: Does this content add value?
There’s Always More To Learn About Ecommerce SEO
The ecommerce landscape is always changing, but knowing the foundations of ecommerce SEO can help set you apart from your competitors and give your products the love and exposure they deserve.
Want to learn more about ecommerce search engine optimization? If you’re eager to take your online store to the next level, consider doing an ecommerce SEO audit.
Our team of SEO experts can help you evaluate what’s working and not working, provide you with a comprehensive list of impactful keywords, and position your online store for long-term success.
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