An ecommerce business can only benefit from a strong SEO strategy.
According to Internet Live Stats, every second, there are over 78,000 searches on Google. These are from prospects actively looking for your product pages online. To reach those potential customers, an SEO strategy is a must for your ecommerce website.
Image via Internet Live Stats
Not only that, SEO for ecommerce continues to grow in popularity. According to HubSpot’s 2018 State of Inbound report, 61% of marketers mentioned that their number one priority is improving their SEO and growing their organic presence.
What this means is that, if you fail to implement SEO as a strategy for your ecommerce website, you’re leaving room for your competition to outrank you.
Image via HubSpot
In this comprehensive guide to SEO for ecommerce website, you’ll learn a step-by-step process to implement SEO for your business.
Let’s dive in.
Why is SEO Important for Your Ecommerce Website?
SEO can be extremely beneficial for your ecommerce business. This is because most people who purchase online start with a Google search.
Recent research by SEMrush showed that search engines account for 37.5% of traffic to ecommerce websites.
Image via SEMrush
If your ecommerce website can appear on the first-page search results, more people will find your website and be more likely to buy from you.
Here are some benefits of doing SEO for ecommerce websites:
1. Increased Visibility Throughout the Consumer Buying Journey
If you want your target customers to find you whenever they want to make a purchase, then writing quality content and doing SEO is important. Without properly optimized, high-quality content, people may not be able to find your website.
This ultimately leads to fewer sales and a lack of growth for your ecommerce business. It also opens the door for your competitors to grow stronger and make more money.
2. You Get Better Results While Spending Less
SEO is comparatively cheaper than PPC ads. With paid traffic, you spend money for each click. With SEO, this is not the case.
This is because the traffic you get in this case is free. You don’t need to spend any money on clicks, conversions, or impressions.
With a small budget, you can implement an SEO strategy for your ecommerce website and compete with others who invest heavily in paid traffic.
3. Get Targeted Traffic on Autopilot
Using SEO, you can optimize the product pages on your ecommerce website now and continue getting targeted traffic months and years later. All you need to do is set everything up correctly and you’ll continue getting results that last for much longer than other traffic acquisition methods (such and PPC).
How to Do SEO for Ecommerce Website: A Step-by-Step Guide
If you’re just getting started with SEO for your ecommerce website, the steps you should follow to get great results include:
- Conduct Competitor and Keyword Research
- Optimize Your Site Architecture
- Optimize Your On-Page and Technical SEO
- Use Content Marketing
- Build Backlinks
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these steps entail and how to add them to your SEO strategy.
1. Conduct Competitor and Keyword Research
The foundation of every successful SEO campaign is competitor and keyword research. Knowing your competitors and target keywords will affect all SEO-related tasks going forward.
For instance, if you want to optimize your product pages for SEO, you need to know which keywords to target. Also, comprehensive competitor research helps you understand your competitors’ SEO strategy.
Here’s exactly how you can perform competitor and keyword research for your ecommerce website.
Use Google Search
The first method of performing competitor and keyword research is through Google search. All you need to do is search for the root keyword of your website on Google.
For instance, if your root keyword is: “video editing hardware,” you should start by entering it into Google.
Image via Google
The results from this search will show you all the websites that are currently ranking for this keyword on Google. In most cases, these are your competitors, so you should watch out for them.
Another strategy you can use for competitor and keyword research is that of using tools such as SpyFu. For competitor research, it’ll show you all the ranking keywords of your competitors so that you can figure out what they’re doing right.
You’ll be able to see the number of organic keywords the domain ranks for, as well as the number of estimated monthly clicks, ranking history, and more.
Image via SpyFu
Not only that, but you can also find out the top organic and paid competitors of a website. This gives you a better idea of the other competitors you have.
Image via SpyFu
Other important data you can get using this tool includes the top keywords that your competitor is ranking for.
Image via SpyFu
Similarly, you can conduct keyword research by searching for your target keywords. This will show you all the statistics of your target keyword and also highlight other relevant keywords.
Use Amazon Suggest
As an ecommerce website, Amazon is most likely your competitor. However, not utilizing it as a keyword research tool for your website can hurt your SEO strategy.
This is because Amazon is the biggest site when it comes to ecommerce. Some reports show that with nearly 2 million active sellers and growing, Amazon accounts for 37.8% of the US ecommerce market share with Walmart (6.3%) its closest competitor.
Amazon is thus a goldmine when you’re researching keywords for your ecommerce website.
To conduct keyword research effectively, you should enter keywords relevant to your ecommerce products in the search bar on Amazon. This will bring up different suggestions related to the keyword.
For example, let’s say the keyword you’re targeting is “video editing.” Once you input this keyword into the search bar, you’ll get different keyword suggestions such as the ones in the screenshot below.
Image via Amazon
One good thing about these keywords that Amazon suggests is that they are often long-tail keywords, which are highly-targeted. These keywords typically convert better and may have lower competition too.
In some cases, Amazon suggests the categories for these keywords. You can use these to create categories for your ecommerce website.
Wikipedia is another great place to find keywords that you can use for your ecommerce website.
Image via Wikipedia
To get started, you need to input your target keyword in the search box.
For example, let’s assume that the root keyword for your ecommerce website is “hiking.”
Image via Wikipedia
From the results of this search, you can find related words and phrases that you can incorporate into your ecommerce SEO strategy.
Also, you should consider taking a look at the contents box. This might help you get some suggestions for categories on your website.
Image via Wikipedia
Use the Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is one of the best free keyword research tools that you can use to find keywords relevant to your business.
You can enter a base keyword in the search box and the tool will come up with a list of relevant keywords that you can use.
Let’s use the keyword “backpack,” for example.
Image via Google Keyword Planner
Once you do this, you’ll get a list of keyword ideas that you can use for your ecommerce website.
Image via Google Keyword Planner
Also, you’ll get an idea of the average monthly searches, competition, and the bid price for paid ads.
2. Optimize Your Site Architecture
Site architecture is simply how the pages of your ecommerce website are organized and arranged. And you need to optimize it when implementing SEO for ecommerce strategy on your website.
You need to make it easy for your visitors to find products on your website. At the same time, an optimized site layout ensures that the search engine spiders can discover new pages with ease.
What to Keep in Mind When Optimizing Your Ecommerce Site Architecture
When setting up your ecommerce site architecture, there are two golden rules you must follow:
1. Make everything simple and scalable.
2. Ensure that it doesn’t take more than three clicks to get to any page on your website from the homepage.
Here’s an example of poor ecommerce website architecture:
Image via Moz
The first thing you probably noticed about the site architecture above is that it’s not simple. It takes 6 clicks to reach the deepest level and that would make it difficult for a website visitor to navigate through it.
Also, it’s not scalable. If you want to create a new category on the website, you’ll have to reorganize your existing categories and subcategories. Likewise, you may have to create a new layer, and this, in turn, will increase the number of clicks to the deepest level.
This type of site architecture can hurt your ecommerce website’s rankings.
When your website’s pages are linked together internally, they pass your authority from one page to another. But with a site architecture such as the one above, the authority will become insignificant by the time it gets to the product and category pages.
Now, let’s look at an example of good ecommerce website architecture.
Example of Good Ecommerce Site Architecture
Image via Backlinko
The first thing you will observe from the site architecture above is that there is more concentration of link authority in the product and category pages. With this structure, it’s easy for Google to find and index every page. Not only that, these pages will be able to rank well too.
Say, you sell shoes and want to optimize the site structure for your ecommerce website. Here’s what a good website structure may look like:
Image via Backlinko
You can see that this structure makes it easy for your users to navigate your website and find the products they want to buy. Also, this type of structure can help improve your SEO.
A real-life example of an ecommerce website with a good site architecture is Chewy.
Image via Chewy
Let’s say you want to buy dental care cat treats.
You’d head to the homepage and click on “Cat.”
Image via Chewy
In the menu that opens, you can see “Dental Care.”
Image via Chewy
When you click on it, you’ll get a list of all of the relevant products in that subcategory.
Image via Chewy
As you can see, within three clicks, you’ve already found the product you were looking for. This type of site structure makes it easy for Google to rank all the pages on the website too.
3. Optimize Your On-Page and Technical SEO
As soon as you have your site structure set up, the next step is to perform on-page and technical SEO for your category and product pages.
These pages are the most important when implementing an SEO strategy on your ecommerce website.
On-page SEO is the deal-breaker between prospects who eventually make a purchase and those who don’t. It helps improve the browsing experience for your visitors.
Technical SEO is critical for an ecommerce website too.
This is because ecommerce websites typically have a lot of pages and this can give rise to loads of technical issues such as slow-loading pages. This can hamper the browsing experience. That’s why you should conduct a technical SEO audit regularly to improve your SEO.
Here’s how you can optimize your website for technical and on-page factors:
Add Modifiers to Your Pages’ Title Tags
Your pages’ title tags are what come up when consumers search for your products on Google. If you can add modifiers to your title tags, your pages will be more likely to show up for long-tail searches.
Let’s assume that your target keyword is “video editing software.”
Instead of just making your title tag something like “Video Editing Software to Use,” you can add a word or two that prospects are likely to use when searching for it.
When people search for products Google, some of the common modifiers they use include “best,” “cheap,” “deals,” “review,” “online,” and “free shipping.” You should consider adding these to your target keyword in your title tags.
Here is an example:
Image via Google
Use Catchy Words in Your Title Tags
Boosting your organic click-through rate (CTR) is an important component of on-page SEO for ecommerce websites. Organic CTR is considered as a ranking factor by Google.
Not only that, a higher CTR results in more clicks, and consequently, sales for your ecommerce business.
To increase your CTR in search engines, you can use some catchy words in your titles and meta tags. When you do this, more people will click on your links, and ultimately, makes purchases.
Some examples of the words you can use for your category and product pages include guarantee, under $X, free shipping, X% off, lowest price, and so on.
Here is a real-life example:
Image via Google
Optimize Page Speed
The page loading speed of your website is yet another important parameter that you need to take into account for your on-page SEO. Everyone is pressed for time in today’s fast-paced world. If your website takes too long to load, people may navigate away from it.
This would be especially true for those visitors who are accessing your website from mobile devices. If their network isn’t too strong, your website may take even longer to load. This could mean losing a potential customer.
Page loading speeds can affect your conversion rates as well. A 100-millisecond delay in your website loading time can cut down your conversion rates by nearly 7%.
At the same time, Google takes page speed into account while ranking websites too. This is because a slow website can hamper the browsing experience.
To check your page loading speed, you can use Google PageSpeed Insights. This tool gives you a score out of 100 for both mobiles and desktops. It also suggests a variety of changes that you can make to your website to improve your speed.
To check your page loading speed specifically for mobiles, you can use the Mobile Speed Test Tool.
Smartphones account for nearly 51% of all web traffic. If your website isn’t designed for mobile devices, it won’t render well on those screens and this can result in poor browsing experience. Additionally, Google takes mobile-friendliness into account for ranking websites as well.
If your website isn’t optimized for mobiles, you’ll most likely lose out on a lot of potential customers and may not rank well on Google too.
That’s why it’s essential to design a responsive website that can fit all screen sizes. A great way of achieving this is by designing for the smallest screen size first and then going up from there.
To check if your website is mobile-friendly, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
Include Your Primary Keyword in Strategic Places
Another strategy you should implement when doing on-page SEO is to include your primary keyword in strategic places.
Your primary keyword should appear in your URLs. One of the best practices when including the primary keyword in your URL is to make it short, friendly, and readable. This helps improve your search rankings and gives you an edge over your competitors.
2. Title Tags (H1)
Your primary keyword should also appear in your title tags. Another best practice is to make sure that it’s closer to the beginning of the title.
When creating product pages for your ecommerce website, you should include your primary keyword at least once in the first few paragraphs. At the same time, it should be distributed naturally throughout the body of the page. This helps search engines understand the context of the page.
4. Meta Descriptions
Including your primary keywords in your meta descriptions is another on-page SEO strategy to implement for your ecommerce website. Although this doesn’t affect your rankings, it can have an impact on your CTR.
This is because Google displays the primary keyword in bold if it’s included in the meta description.
4. Use Descriptive Alt Tags for Images
Alt tags are the "alternative text" for an image. They are used mostly to describe the image in a blog post or product page and appear when the image fails to load. Another purpose of the alt tags is to help visually-impaired users figure out what the photo is all about.
Alt tags can help with your SEO because search engines find it difficult to crawl images and can’t interpret what’s in them. So, using alt tags for your images makes it easier for search engines to interpret and understand what they’re about.
You should describe your images as accurately as you can in your alt tags. If the alt text isn’t specific enough, it’ll be difficult for search engines to understand it.
Also, make sure that you keep the alt tag short. It’s recommended that you keep the alt text character length to about 125 or less.
Finally, ensure that you use the keywords you’re targeting in your alt text. When doing this, avoid keyword stuffing and only use the keywords when it makes sense.
If it isn’t possible to use the keywords for all of your images, you should try to use them in at least one of the alt tags on your page.
5. Have a Good Internal Link Structure
Internal links are those links that point from one page on a domain to another page on the same domain. If you want to improve your ecommerce website SEO, then you should have a solid internal link structure.
This is because internal links make it easier for users to navigate through your ecommerce website. Secondly, they help you spread link equity on your website and establish an information hierarchy.
Finally, when you use internal links, it will help Google understand the relevance between different pages of your ecommerce website.
To create a solid internal link structure, you need to understand how all the pages on your website are related to each other. This includes all of your blog posts and product pages.
Once you’ve got a good website structure in place, the next step is to determine the most important content on your website. This should be the core content that you want users to find when searching for your product online. For this, you can create cornerstone or pillar content on your website.
What you do in this case is to point links from other content on your website to this pillar content. That way, Google will know that it’s the most important page on your website and rank it higher.
Apart from this, other internal linking spots you can use on your ecommerce website include:
- Contextual links: These are links you add to sentences or phrases on a particular page that relate to the topic you’re linking to.
- Related posts/products section: You can manually add links at the end of each page or in the middle of a page to other related pages on your website.
- Navigational links: These are the links you add from the homepage to your cornerstone content.
- Links to taxonomies: These are links you add to category pages. This makes it easy for Google to understand your site’s structure.
6. Write Long-Form Content
Industry research has shown that longer content performs better on Google. Nearly 33% of respondents to the survey said that content length between 1000 and 2000 words tends to rank higher in search results.
Google wants to understand what your page is about so they can provide the most relevant content in search results.
If you can provide more content, it’ll be easier for Google to do this. Also, when you provide in-depth content for your product pages, you help your customers fully understand the product.
Although you might find it difficult to do this on all pages of your ecommerce website, you should try to do it for most of them.
For example, this product page on How to Pack the Perfect Hospital Bag by Mom Smart Not Hard is nearly 7000 words long. This has helped it reach the first page of search results.
Image via Mom Smart Not Hard
7. Crawl Your Website
To perform technical SEO for your ecommerce website, you should first crawl the site. This will help you find technical issues that can affect your SEO. These include broken links, thin or duplicate content, missing alt text or metadata, and so on.
We've said it before. We're big fans of Screaming Frog to crawl your site to find any technical issues.
If you have the means and aren't limited by budget, use the paid tools from Screaming Frog for thorough results.
Though it has a free version, the features it supports are limited. That's why we recommend the premium version. Once you download the tool, it identifies your website’s common technical SEO issues. It also helps you analyze results in real-time.
If premium tools are outside of your budget, you can use free tools such as Beam Us Up.
Image via Beam Us Up
To get started with it, you should download the Windows or Mac version of the tool. Once you do, it automatically crawls your website and identifies the common technical SEO issues it’s facing.
8. Use Only the HTTPS Version of Your Website
There are multiple ways in which people can browse your website. These include:
You should make sure that your visitors are only directed to the HTTPS versions of your website. HTTPS versions of your website are secured by a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). That makes the browsing experience of your visitors safer. Additionally, Google considers it as a ranking signal and this can positively impact your SEO.
As an ecommerce website, you will be expected to have that layer of security. Without it, your non-secure domain could make people skeptical of buying from you.
9. Optimize Your Homepage
Your homepage is probably the most important page on your website. You need to optimize it for search to improve the visibility of your site in search results and help more people find your ecommerce website.
When optimizing your homepage, make sure that it has a well-crafted and clickable title. Also, it should have a catchy meta description that can help attract people to your website.
You should also try to incorporate your primary keyword into your homepage’s H1 tag. Apart from that, you should use the H2 and H3 subheadings properly throughout your homepage.
4. Content Marketing
Content marketing is another strategy you can use to improve the SEO of your ecommerce website.
Without quality content, it can be difficult to rank for your target keywords. You must thus invest in high-quality content and distribute it as well.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can use content marketing to its maximum potential.
1. Find Out Where Your Target Customers Hang Out Online
When you understand your customers’ thoughts, desires, fears, and dreams, you can come up with content that can resonate with them. For this, you need to define your target audience based on their locations, demographics, and psychographics.
This can help you find out where they are likely to hang out online. Doing this can help you find out where to distribute your content so that it reaches your target audience.
For example, if your prospects are made up of PS4 enthusiasts, then you might consider checking out Reddit’s PS4 community.
Image via Reddit
2. Know Their Language
The content that you create needs to resonate with them. For this, it's essential to write content in the tone that they prefer. It should also have familiar words and phrases in it so that it seems like it’s written for them.
For instance, a formal tone may not work when your target audience consists of millennials. On the other hand, it could be the right tone one for brands dealing with businesspersons and entrepreneurs.
3. Create Remarkable Content
The final step in content marketing is that of creating content that’s better than what’s been previously published on the internet.
One of the best strategies you can use to do this is the skyscraper technique. You must also ensure that all of your content is completely original.
Try incorporating your target keywords naturally in your content as many times as possible.
To come up with a post that’s better than what has been published on the topic, here’s what you need to do.
Step #1: Identify the Current Ranking Pages
First, you need to identify the top-ranking pages on Google’s SERPs for your target keywords.
You can find real-time results with a Google search, and you can also find more results when you look back at ranking trends and ranking history.
For example, if you want to create content around the keyword “best VPN for Mac,” enter this keyword into SpyFu's search and check out all of the top-ranking pages. This gives you a more expanded look at who's ranking beyond what you will find in real time on Google.
Step #2: Find out What Makes Each Website Stand Out
Go through each of the top results for this keyword in Google’s SERPs. Your aim here is to find out exactly what each piece of content covers and what it doesn’t. Identify the pros and cons of each and note them down.
Step #3: Create an Outline for Your Content
After analyzing the top results in Google’s SERPs you can create an outline for your content. It should include all the areas you want to cover in your content. Not only that, but it should also detail how your content will be different from what has been previously published.
Step #4: Create the Content
You should aim to create content that is well-researched and more detailed than what is already available out there.
For instance, if the average number of words for the product pages ranking for the keyword is 1500, you should aim for 2000 words and above.
Also, if you find that the pages currently ranking for this keyword do not have enough visuals, make sure that you have enough on your page.
However, publishing quality content isn’t enough. You need to do so consistently to ensure that your brand remains right at the top of the SERPs and in the minds of your target customers.
To have a consistent publishing schedule on your ecommerce website, you should consider creating a content calendar. This should clearly outline the types of content you want to publish on your website and when you want to do so.
For instance, your content calendar could be something like this:
- Publish 2-3 blog posts per week.
- Create content for social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram once per day.
- Repurpose content into video and infographics once every two weeks.
- Publish a monthly roundup.
With a content calendar such as this, you’ll take your content marketing campaigns to the next level.
5. Build Backlinks
Backlink building is a strategy you must implement in the overall SEO plan for your ecommerce website.
This involves getting other websites to link to yours. Each link counts as a vote for the authenticity of your website. However, you must ensure that all the links are from websites with high domain authority (DA). Remember, the quality of the links is more important than the quantity.
Here are some of the best ways to build backlinks for your ecommerce website.
1. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is one of the best ways of implementing an off-page SEO strategy for your ecommerce website. For this, you need to find other authoritative websites in your niche and write for them. When you do so, add a link to your website in the content.
To do this effectively, you can start with a Google search.
Let’s assume that your ecommerce website is in the pet niche.
You can search Google for, “pet blog + write for us.”
Image via Google
When you do this, you’ll get a list of pet blogs that accept guest posts.
You should then reach out to the webmasters of these websites and pitch your guest post idea to them.
2. Influencer Outreach
Influencers are online personalities who have a large following in your niche. These people can influence the decisions of their followers and you can use this influence to your advantage.
To find influencers in your niche, you can use tools such as BuzzSumo.
Image via BuzzSumo
After identifying the influencers you want to work with, you should focus on building relationships with them. Some of the ways to do this include sharing and commenting on their posts, helping them, and giving them some of your products for free.
Once you’ve established a rapport with them, you can reach out to them for link building opportunities.
3. Broken Link Building
Broken link building is another effective strategy that can help you get high-quality backlinks.
All you need to do is to look for websites in your niche that have broken links. These could be on their blog posts or resource pages. Then, you can approach the webmasters and notify them about the broken links and offer your link as a replacement.
To get started with identifying these broken links, you can use free tools such as Check My Links.
Image via Chrome Web Store
This helps you identify broken links on any website that you visit and highlights them in red.
After identifying these broken links, you can follow this template to reach out to the webmasters.
I was checking your website today and it looks like there is a broken link on this page:
From what I can see, the broken link is pointing to this page:
Just wanted to give you a heads up! :)
By the way, I have a great blog post on [topic] that I believe your readers would find helpful! It might make a great addition to your page:
You should keep in mind that it takes time before you can get results with broken link building. So, you should be ready to send lots of emails in that regard.
If you want to get highly-targeted traffic on your ecommerce website, then you need to implement SEO for ecommerce effectively.
Create high-quality content, conduct competitor and keyword research, and optimize your site’s architecture. You must also take care of on-page, off-page, and technical parameters to ensure that your SEO is top-notch.
With the strategies and tools shared in this post, you should find it easy to implement this strategy on your ecommerce website.