A Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce SEO Strategy

ecommerce seo strategy
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Over the past few years, eCommerce has been evolving and growing dramatically. So, if you run an eCommerce website, you need to ponder over the ways to leverage your site’s SEO for generating more organic traffic.

And, if you do not take considerable efforts to optimize your website for search engines, then building a successful business across the Internet will remain a pipe dream.

In this post, you will walk through the most important SEO techniques that give a strong boost to your website’s search engine rankings.

Search Engine Optimization — What is it? Why is it Important for eCommerce?

If you’re a newbie in eCommerce, let me help you understand what is meant by “Search Engine Optimization” in simple words.

Describing eCommerce SEO in Brief

If you have a well-designed eCommerce website with good functionality and aesthetics, you can’t say that you will get quality traffic to your website unless you have optimized it for search engines.

Simply put, search engine optimization is the method of optimizing your website in order to help search engines easily crawl and index it. This is how search engines bring your web pages to the notice of your target audiences when they make searches containing the terms (keywords) that are relevant to your website.

Now, what’s unsettling your mind? If you are confused about what ‘optimization’ exactly means, then keep reading!

Optimization can be interpreted differently from different perspectives. But when it comes to websites and search engines, ‘optimization’ is a process that incorporates a range of activities performed inside and outside of a site for improving search rankings.

Some of the major eCommerce SEO activities are listed below.

  • Improving the URL structure of the product and non-product pages; 
  • Making page titles readable and understandable;
  • Creating compelling meta descriptions;
  • Crafting unique and attractive product descriptions;
  • Adjusting the size, quality, captions, alternative texts, etc. of images;
  • Incorporating target keywords in the titles, metadata, product descriptions, image alt texts, and so on.

The Necessity of SEO for eCommerce

SEO is the most powerful weapon that helps you win the cutthroat competition among eCommerce websites to get to the top of search results.

Generally speaking, eCommerce SEO deals with optimizing the product/category titles and descriptions, metadata, tags, images, videos, internal linking structure, UX design, and so forth.

Take a quick glimpse at the top benefits of SEO for eCommerce.

  • Drives more targeted, organic traffic to your website.
  • Attracts new prospective customers.
  • Helps in building your brand.
  • Lets you stay ahead of your competitors.
  • Yields high Return on Investment (ROI).

Now, let us move on to the most important section of this article.

7 Actionable SEO Techniques for Your eCommerce Website

Here are 7 effective techniques to drive more organic traffic to your eCommerce store. Let’s dive right in!

1. Do Keyword Research

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What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the first and most crucial step in creating a winning SEO strategy for your website. 

It can be defined as the process to discover the most widely used words or phrases (relevant to your business) that people use in search engines when making search queries.

Why Keyword Research?

Keyword research can be seen as the cornerstone of your SEO strategy, as it has implications on all other SEO activities. By doing thorough keyword research, you’d be able to get a detailed picture of the nature and requirements of your target audience.

And, including the keywords that you have gathered during your keyword research in your product and non-product page elements (like URLs, titles, descriptions, image alt attributes, etc.) will improve your SERP rankings for the searches containing these keywords.

How to Pick the Right Keywords?

If your keyword research is done right, you’d be able to come up with the right keywords. Here’re some tips that would probably help you choose the most appropriate keywords for your eCommerce website.

# Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

When choosing your first set of target keywords, put yourself in your target customer’s shoes. This will help you determine the various possible intents of searchers when making purchase-related search queries.

To give you an idea: Imagine that you are a customer actively looking to purchase a product (let’s say “Apple AirPods”) online. So, what could be the first thing you do? You’d enter your search query in a search engine like Google.

In the example given below, the search query is “buy apple airpods pro online”.

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And, suppose if I run a gadget eCommerce store, the search terms that you use are vitally important to me.

Optimizing my web pages for these kinds of buyer intent search terms would extremely help me to capture the attention of more potential customers to my business.

Now, coming back to you..

For your better understanding, take a look at how Best Buy has optimized their content (product title and meta description) for buyer intent keywords.

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When generating search results, Google highlights the searcher’s search terms in bold text. In the above example, you can see that the term ‘shop’ is also highlighted. This is because, at times, Google also highlights the related words or synonyms of the terms included in a search query.

# Get keywords from the Related Searches section of search engines

You could pick the right keywords from the related terms and phrases that appear at the bottom of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). 

Take a look at how search engines like Google and Bing show up the search terms related to a particular search query.

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Related searches displayed in Google SERP

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Related searches displayed in Bing SERP

# Use long-tail keywords — helps rank better than short-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are search phrases that are relatively long (more than 3 words) and more specific. Whereas short-tail keywords are words or phrases, short in length, and typically consisting of one or two words.

For example:- “buy non contact infrared thermometer” is a long-tail keyword; and 

“buy thermometer” or ‘thermometer’ falls under the category of short-tail keywords or seed keywords.

The long-tail keywords typically have quite low search volumes and competition levels. When it comes to online searchers who really want to buy an item, the possibility is higher that they use long search phrases to get the most relevant results.

In essence, using long-tail keywords for your SEO strategy is an amazing way to generate more organic search traffic that drives more conversions. 

Making use of the best-in-class keyword research tools and the Related Searches section of search engines are some easy methods to find long-tail keywords for your business.

# Figure out the keywords used by your competitors

You’d already have some idea about who your major competitors are and what they do. If not, research and identify them. And, discover their targeted terms and phrases. 

This way, you could identify the keywords that helped your competitors to generate more traffic to their sites. Analyzing your competitor keywords also helps you to develop new keyword ideas and also lets you determine if you have missed anything important.

# Take advantage of keyword research tools

Keyword research tools will drastically help you to find and analyze the search terms for your website’s SEO strategy.

They provide insights on keyword search volumes and similar keywords, thus helping you to discover the high-quality keywords for increasing your website’s visibility on search engines.

There are lots of free and paid keyword research tools. Some of the best tools worth mentioning are:

# Soovle

Soovle is a free keyword research tool that provides keyword suggestions based on searches from the top web services providers like Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Bing, YouTube, Answers.com, and Wikipedia

# Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner helps you identify the keywords relevant to your business. It lets you find out the search volumes, trends data, and historical data for different search terms and phrases. You could also get the click and cost performance forecasts like discovering the bid estimates for keywords.

With GKP, you could choose the best keywords based on specific geographic regions, different languages, and date ranges. And, you could filter keywords by your average monthly searches, competition level, organic average position, ad impressions, and more.

# Moz Keyword Explorer 

Moz Keyword Explorer lets you discover the top-ranking keywords and sort them by their search volumes, keyword difficulty scores, and expected organic CTRs (click-through rates).

Moz lets you identify the long-tail keywords relevant to your business and find out what keywords are being used by your competitors. 

It also helps you to create an international SEO strategy by showing keyword suggestions and ranking keywords based on different countries. This will help increase your organic search visibility internationally.

# SEMrush

SEMrush Keyword Research tool is one of the most popular SEO tools. It gives a wide range of keyword recommendations, backlink ideas, and competitor keywords and helps you choose the right keywords for your SEO strategy. 

The tool also lets you audit your on-page SEO and helps improve your pages for better search visibility.

# Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer provides thousands of keyword suggestions, shows the popularity of keywords in 170+ countries, reveals keyword difficulty scores, displays keyword search volumes for 10 different search engines, and offers a lot more attractive features like estimating the number of clicks for your keywords.To learn more about the above-mentioned tools and discover more keyword research tools, check out the article on 15 best keyword research tools for SEO.

2. Optimize Your Website for On-Site SEO

On-site SEO (aka. on-page SEO) pertains to optimizing your website elements for winning higher ranks in SERPs. In general, an on-site SEO strategy covers activities like optimizing a web page’s URLs, title tags, meta tags, content, internal links, etc.

When optimizing your web pages for on-site SEO, keep in mind that the final outcome must help searchers to instantly figure out what your site or page deals with. Simply put, they should be able to determine whether or not your page would turn out to be click-worthy.

If your page is relevant to a searcher’s query, they’ll stay on your page and convert. Therefore, if done right, your on-site SEO strategy will bring in more organic traffic to your website.

So now, let’s see how you can successfully optimize your eCommerce website pages for on-site SEO.

How to Implement On-Site SEO for eCommerce Websites?

When implementing on-site SEO for your eCommerce website, make sure you optimize the elements on the product pages as well as on the non-product pages.

To make your eCommerce pages (Landing pages, Product pages, Category pages, Login page, About page, Thank you pages, etc.) attain higher visibility in search results, it’s important to optimize the following elements on it.

# URL

Keep all your page URLs readable, descriptive, and understandable. Enure the URLs consist of the major keywords that you’re targeting. Also, ensure the URL structure remains short and consistent throughout the site.

Here’s an example of how I-Blason has optimized its product URL.

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And, this is how Warby Parker did.

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The above URLs are short and descriptive so that the users can clearly understand the category and other required details of these products at a single glance.

# Title tags

Making the title tags of your web pages short, accurate, and descriptive will help you to get more organic clicks to your website. 

Include your target keywords and brand names to make your title search-engine friendly. But make sure you don’t overuse keywords because stuffing irrelevant keywords into your titles, meta tags or descriptions can ruin your SEO.

Keep your product page titles unique and short (~55-60 characters). Also, make it interesting and engaging. This can help searchers understand the relevance of your page based on their search query.

The below example shows an optimized meta title by Overstock.

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# Meta description

A meta description is essential for your web pages as it gives searchers a brief context about what your page contains. Therefore, a meta description is an important part of SEO as it helps drive organic traffic to your website.

Your meta tags such as the meta description, title, etc. need to be placed in the <head> section of your web page. But in practical terms, the way you place your meta tags differs depending on the platform that you have used to build your eCommerce website.

If you use the WordPress platform, things are much simpler. In WordPress, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to add meta description tags to your web pages dynamically. You can also add meta tags manually to your WordPress site’s header.php file.

When creating meta descriptions for your pages, be sure to keep its length between 155-160 characters.

Here’s how you can add meta tags dynamically in WordPress using the Yoast SEO plugin.

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# Schema markup

Adding schema markup (aka. structured data) to your website will improve its visibility on search engines. When you add schema markup to your web page, your page will get featured in a rich snippet on SERPs.

Rich snippets (aka. rich result) include some additional data along with the other details in a normal search snippet. A rich snippet grabs more attention from the audience than that of a normal search result snippet. Therefore, these kinds of search results will also have higher click-through rates.

Here’s how a rich snippet looks like.

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Read the beginner’s guide to structured data and get to know how to use schema markups to optimize your website for SEO.

# Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumb is an important element that improves your site’s ranking. If your website has a wide variety of categories and pages, you can use breadcrumbs to make your site easy to navigate.

Here’s an example of how ASOS has made their site intuitive using breadcrumb navigation.

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# Header tags

Header tags (H1-H6) help search engines to recognize headings and subheadings from the normal body text within your web page content. The H1 header tag has the highest priority whereas the H6 tag has the least. Adding these HTML elements will make your content look more organized and readable.

When it comes to the best practices for using header tags, most importantly, ensure that you don’t use multiple H1 tags on a single page. But the rest of the tags can be used multiple times. However, avoid overpopulating your pages with these tags.

When placing header tags on your pages, the H1 tag (main heading) should come first and the subheading tags (H2, H3, H4, etc.) can be placed subsequently in a hierarchical order. 

Also, ensure that you add your targeted keywords to the header tags, so it can easily appear in search results.

This is how Stethoscope’s product page has structured its headings.

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# Product descriptions

Before creating product descriptions, you need to identify your target audience, their requirements. Then, write product descriptions in such a way to help your audience be convinced about how your product helps them meet their needs.

You could use header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to break down your description into more organized and readable sections.

Also, include your target keywords in your product descriptions to make it SEO-friendly. Be sure you don’t overuse keywords that exceed an optimal keyword density.

Use plain language and consistent tone throughout the content to make it easily understandable for everyone. And, it is important to note that the uniqueness of content is essential for improved SEO performance. 

So, always strictly make sure your website does not contain any duplicate content from other sites. Furthermore, ensure your website does not have multiple pages with extensively identical content.

Take a look at how Bellroy has optimized its product page with organized, rich, and compelling content.

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# Images and videos

As you know, the use of multimedia or interactive content such as images, videos, or GIFs on your product page will keep your audience interested and more engaged. So, you’d certainly be using images/videos on your product pages, category pages, blogs, cart pages, and so forth. 

These images and videos on your eCommerce pages also need to be optimized for SEO. When optimizing them, keep these points in mind.

  • Give unique, descriptive file names to your image and video files for improved SEO.
  • Choose the right image format — JPEG is ideal for large images and you could use PNG if you need to preserve background transparency for your images.
  • Optimize image sizes for faster page loading speeds — reduce the size of your image files because large size images will significantly slow down your web page loading times, thus leading to increased bounce rates.
  • Add alternative texts to each of your images — alt attributes help users understand what the image is about, in case if it fails to display.

Create image and video sitemaps for your website images — to make search engines crawl and index all the images and videos on your eCommerce website.

3. Optimize Your Website for Off-Site SEO

Off-site SEO deals with the activities performed outside of a website. It includes link building, guest blogging, social media marketing, and much more. Building backlinks is an effective way to improve the authority of your website and thus rank higher on search engines.

How to Implement Off-Site SEO for eCommerce Websites?

Off-site SEO (aka. off-page SEO) is an essential strategy to improve your search engine rankings and drive quality organic traffic to your website. Here’re some simple, actionable off-site SEO techniques.

# Guest posting

Creating and publishing high-quality, engaging content with links back to your website is a great way to win more organic clicks to your site. Guest posting also helps increase your brand awareness. 

When writing content for posting on a high-authority website, ensure your content helps people grasp the benefits of your products or services. Also, help them understand how your eCommerce store lets them make confident purchase decisions.

And, always make it a point to identify and remove spammy backlinks from your website, or otherwise it can hurt your SEO rankings.

# Social media engagement

Social media marketing is an important off-site SEO strategy to rank your eCommerce website higher on search engines. 

Besides that, growing your social media presence will also improve your brand’s online visibility, and thus promotes faster growth for your business.

You could make use of popular social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. to identify and engage your audience with valuable content including blog posts, photos, videos, and GIFs. 

And, you could utilize these platforms to make social mentions and create strategic hashtags. All these social media activities would help improve your search engine rankings significantly.

# Third-party review sites

Asking customers to leave reviews on popular and trusted third-party review sites is another powerful technique to get higher visibility on search engines like Google.

Having high-quality and genuine reviews for your eCommerce store or products will also attract new potential customers to your business.

Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Yellowpages, Manta, Angie’s List, etc. are some of the credible and authoritative review sites where you can claim your business listings and get reviews from your customers.

# Q&A sites and niche forums

Engaging your target audience in the popular Q&A sites or your niche forums is an effective way to get to the top of the SERPs.

Google Questions and Answers, Yahoo Answers, Quora, Askville, Reddit, etc. are some of the most popular Q&A sites and community forums where you can better engage with your audience. 

Using these platforms, you could post your answers or comments when people raise eCommerce related queries or doubts. This, in turn, increases the presence of your website or products on search engines.

# Email newsletters

Implementing email marketing is an easy, inexpensive way to boost your eCommerce website’s search engine visibility. 

Sending newsletters to your potential customers or subscribers allows you to keep your audience engaged. This way, you could also promote your new products or services effectively. 

The newsletter strategy will also help you to get more social shares and drive quality traffic to your website.

4. Optimize Your Site for Local SEO

Local SEO is a strategy that helps increase your search engine visibility for local searches. The local search queries usually include words or phrases like “nearby”, “near me”, etc.

How to Optimize Your eCommerce Site for Local SEO?

If you have a brick-and-mortar business (a store with physical locations), local SEO is something that helps increase the foot traffic to your store tremendously. 

Even if you just have a web-only business, implementing local SEO can help build your online presence and attract new prospects towards your website.

So, take a quick look at the ways that help you to optimize your site for local SEO.

# Use “Google My Business”

To become eligible for creating a GMB listing, your business either needs to have a physical address or must be able to travel where your customer lives.

# Build local citations

List your business on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. or local search engines like Bing Places, Yahoo Business Listings, Yelp, Foursquare, and YellowPages.

# Optimize your site’s pages for local SEO

Follow the on-site optimization techniques that we’ve already discussed in this article. Apart from that, make sure your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number) data is consistent throughout all the pages.

# Utilize local SEO tools

Moz Local, BrightLocal, SEMrush Listing Management, and Whitespark are some best local SEO tools that you could use to analyze and improve your local SEO efforts.
To learn more, check out the guide on optimizing your eCommerce website for local searches.

5. Optimize the Mobile Version of Your Website

Mobile eCommerce has been dramatically growing in recent times. In this increasingly mobile era, most people prefer to use mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) over desktop PCs for making purchases. This implies that it is extremely important to optimize your eCommerce site for mobile searches.

How to Optimize Your eCommerce Site for Mobile SEO?

If you’re still confused about whether it is essential to optimize your website for mobile searches, you need to get acquainted with Google’s mobile-first indexing. Google has officially announced that from September 2020, all websites will be primarily indexed and ranked based on their mobile versions.

Perhaps you might have now understood how important it is to optimize the mobile version of your website for SEO.

So, let’s look at the major steps for optimizing your eCommerce site for mobile SEO.

# Increase your page load speed

Just like that of your desktop site, the page loading speed of your mobile website also matters a lot in improving your search engine rankings. Making your mobile site to load faster will significantly reduce your bounce rate and increase your conversion rate.

# Improve the responsiveness of your mobile website

Choosing a responsive design for your mobile site will give users a better browsing experience. 

Check out the article on the top 35 mobile-friendly website templates. It lists out some powerful and responsive mobile website templates such as Star Admin Pro, Azia, PolluxUI, AllurUI, HiliteUI, etc.

# Optimize your web page titles and meta descriptions

Be sure to keep your page titles and meta descriptions short and descriptive and in such a way that it’s best configured for mobile searchers. And, make sure you keep the title and metadata the same across your mobile and desktop sites.

# Keep the content and structured data on your mobile same as that on your desktop

For improved mobile SEO, the primary content on your mobile website must be the same as that on your desktop site. Also, keep your website’s structured data such as the breadcrumb menus the same on your mobile and desktop versions.

# Optimize the images and videos on your mobile site

Optimizing the images and videos on your website is yet another important factor that helps boost the ranking of your site for mobile searches.
Also, follow Google’s mobile-first indexing best practices for having your site best optimized for mobile searches.

6. Secure Your Site with HTTPS

Securing your eCommerce website with HTTPS is an essential strategy to improve your search rankings. A couple of years back, Google, the most popular search engine, has already announced that its search algorithm uses SSL/HTTPS as a ranking signal.

Aside from this, switching to HTTPS is a vital requirement to prevent your site from hackers and to reduce your bounce rates. This will also build trust and confidence with your website users and thus give a boost to your conversion rates.

7. Submit Your XML Sitemap to Search Engines

An XML sitemap consists of all URLs on your website and it helps search engines easily crawl your web pages and understand the entire structure of your site. Hence, creating your sitemap and submitting it to the search engines will improve your SEO strategy.

The CMS platforms like WooCommerce and Magento provide options for exporting your XML sitemaps. But all platforms do not automatically generate XML sitemaps. In such an instance, you could employ a suitable sitemap generator tool to create an XML sitemap for your site. 

Now, check out how to submit your sitemap to different search engines including Google, Bing, and Yandex.

Final Recap

A newly launched website will in no way be able to drive traffic or generate conversions unless it’s optimized for search engines. When it comes to creating an SEO strategy for your eCommerce store, you got no way out.

Optimizing your eCommerce website for SEO is crucial to make searchers take notice of your store and attract potential customers to purchase your products. 

But bear in mind that optimizing your website is not a one-time process. Also, note that if your website or pages get to the top SERP positions once, it doesn’t mean that it’ll stay there forever. 

This is because your site’s SEO rankings are determined by a wide variety of factors — ranging from the ever-increasing changes in search engine algorithms to the emerging trends in your business niche.

Therefore, keep optimizing your eCommerce website! This will help you consistently maintain high rankings and better conversion rates.

I hope this article helps you to learn more about eCommerce SEO for boost up your online store. If you still have any confusion, let me know in the comment box bellow. I would love to cooperate with you in the best way possible.


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