eCommerce SEO: A Stupid Simple Guide for 2020
Fancy selling products online and generating millions of dollars in revenue?
Most entrepreneurs want immediate results. They start their stores online in the lure of driving instant traffic through paid advertising, and it works well.
However, a fair share of search queries on Google is around products. Indeed, in their 2018 annual e-commerce trends, SEMRush found that search traffic leads the chief traffic source for e-commerce websites.
To give you an idea, you can potentially drive a million visitors to your eCommerce store in a couple of years by focusing on SEO.
If you want to achieve similar results, then today I’ve got the basics chalked out. Let’s get started with eCommerce SEO and set you on the right path.
Lay a strong foundation with keyword research
All great businesses start with market research. In the context of search engines, it’s equivalent to keyword research. Here are the specific aspects you can consider for filtering your keywords (we’ll cover them one by one).
- Search Intent
- Keyword Competition
- Keyword Volume
What good are a thousand visitors to your website if they still haven’t made up their minds to buy?
As a store owner, you want the right kind of people on your website. They have performed research, then compared products, and now intend to ‘buy’ a product from your store.
Luckily for you, there’s a way to peek into the minds of customers:
You merely need to look at the keywords they use. Rather than scouting high-traffic keywords used by most consumers, you need to find the ones that have high commercial intent.
Here’s an example: Suppose you sell Blu ray DVDs on your website. You might get tempted to optimize your site for “avengers infinity war blu ray free download” over “avengers infinity war blu ray buy.” The keyword with the suffix “free download” is searched (potentially )10 times that of the suffix “buy” (as per the stats of from Google Keyword Planner).
However, people using keywords like “free download” will not take out their wallets. Instead of spending time and effort trying to “convince” the prospects that have a propensity to resist, how about targeting customers that are already willing to buy?
The above graph lays down product adoption. For keywords, let’s explore the levels of intent using the example of ford truck parts.
Now that you have a hang of intent let’s find relevant keywords for your product and category pages.
For that, let’s turn towards your biggest eCommerce competitor – Amazon.
It lists over 500 million products in almost every possible category.
Now, you might get overambitious and try to rank for keywords with a high-commercial intent and that are searched heavily.
You want to appear in the top 3 results for your target keyword to get any traffic.
Hence, you need to choose keywords that are low competition (and they tend to be long-tail). Start with scraping the Amazon search suggestion results from a tool like Keyword Tool Dominator. Suppose you want to sell “shoes for men.”
I found 301 potential keyword ideas that I could use on my product page on the basis of their relevance to my product. For example, if I don’t have shoes for men with composite toes, then I won’t use the second keyword from the list below.
On the other hand, if any of the below features are present in your shoes, then you should snag a few of these keywords in your list.
While chasing low-competition keywords, you also want to ensure that the keywords you target have a decent of volume. To have both the metrics handy, you can plug your keywords inside Ahrefs. Here’s a detailed guide on keyword difficulty you could refer.
5 simple on-page SEO tactics for eCommerce websites
Once you have chosen the keywords that you want to target, you can begin the actual process of optimizing your product and category pages around these keywords. Here are the five tactics you can execute.
1. Try to use your keyword in the title and make the headline enticing by using modifiers like “cheap”, “buy”, and “% Off.” Here’s how Shopclues shows off its discounts for briefcases in the title.
2. The meta description can use phrases like “FREE Shipping” and the primary benefits of your product to increase your CTR. In their meta description below, Happy Socks highlight “unique colors” and “great variety” to bait their prospects.
3. Your product page should ideally contain a decent amount of text (1000+ words) and use your primary keyword 3-5 times naturally. Take a call basis the complexity and the price point of your product. Here’s a more detailed analysis of the length of product description by Content26.
4. You also need to upload multiple product images and add your keyword as the alt text in them.
5. Solicit customer reviews as they increase the amount of text on the page and increase your conversions. You can also consider adding structured schema markup to your product pages by using the schema.org product markup. Rich snippets are visually appealing and can increase your CTR by 30%.
Next, let’s move to off-page SEO.
eCommerce Content Marketing: Generate backlinks, traffic, and sales!
Content marketing is the good old strategy of creating a media brand around your core business. For eCommerce websites, it equates to publishing link worthy content and outreaching to prospects to snag backlinks.
Why worry about backlinks?
In its 200 ranking factors, Backlinko found that backlinks play a major role and help in ramping up your domain authority.
To get started, you need to find out the interests of your target audience. That might mean sneaking into niche communities on Reddit. Else, browsing through questions on Quora and getting a sense of the language the audience uses.
Suppose you sell pottery products, Then, you can use the following Reddit pottery thread to pick keywords and phrases related your audience uses to describe their problems and needs. The top comment with 261 points says, “I’d love to get into making pottery. Looks so calming.” And there you’ve your first blog post idea with a proven demand by your target market.
eCommerce shaving company, Harry’s, has a magazine style blog at Five O’Clock on their website.
They have various sections on their website that cater not just about grooming; they even publish articles on other audience interests like BBQ.
Here’s a look at the backlinks that the content on their website has generated.
Once you’ve built links to content pages, you can funnel the authority of the page to relevant product and category pages on your store.
Besides generating traffic and backlinks, you can also use your blog to advertise your store products occasionally. For example, the article on post shave below promotes Harry’s Post-Shave Balm and their face lotion.
Now, let’s look at ways of link building without content.
eCommerce link building without content: 2 simple strategies
What if you don’t have the opportunity to create content? Then, here are a couple of strategies to build backlinks to your store.
1. Perform a competitor analysis using Ahrefs – Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, plus a competitor inside Ahrefs and glean on what’s working for your competitors. Suppose you’re a coffee store owner. Then, you could reverse engineer the backlinks of Blue Bottle Coffee. Here’s their backlinks report.
I see a couple of mentions inside content created by The Minimalists and Helpscout. You could send free coffee to the owners of these businesses. It’s likely that they will review your coffee and link to your website.
When I scroll down, I find a few other backlinks that I could replicate from Crunchbase, The Wire Cutter, and even likely Wikihow (by creating a preparation guide). You need to analyze every opportunity on a case by case basis looking at the value they will add to your business.
2. Get local citations – Local SEO can help you drive local traffic and improve your domain authority. Start with claiming your business profile on Google. Then, claim your free listing on Yellow pages. Next, try to find local news outlets, magazines, and local sites that can mention you.
You can scale building local citations using ROBO FORM. Here’s a citation guide at Moz that breaks down the process.
The final aspect is technical SEO.
Technical SEO for eCommerce websites
If you’re a beginner, then start with the basic technical SEO audit tutorial by Ahrefs below.
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I will cover the top 3 aspects to ensure an overall healthy website.
1. Ensure that only one version of your website is browsable and every page is encrypted. SEMRush lists the following 10 HTTPS implementation mistakes you should avoid.
2. The optimal structure of a website looks like a pyramid below (with the top dot representing the homepage). It allows the link juice to flow throughout the entire site and increase the chances of ranking of every page.
For an eCommerce website, the first node from the homepage can equate to a category page, the next node a sub-category page, and finally, they link to specific product pages.
The idea is that all the product pages must be three clicks or less from the homepage. It helps in better indexation and makes it easy for the user to find relevant products.
3. Ahrefs in its study of 2M keywords found that site speed is correlated with higher rankings.
SEO for e-commerce websites is similar to regular sites. I broke down the process into five simple strategies that you could begin with.
Is there any other tactic, tool, and tip that you have used in optimizing your e-commerce store for search engines? Let me know in the comments.