Tackling eCommerce SEO: A Guide for Beginners on the Basics
Any online business owner wants to get as much high-quality (and free) traffic to their website and eCommerce shop as possible. Why? The more traffic there is the higher the likelihood of greater transactions and more user engagement. With higher sales margins comes the ability to invest in more advertising, better products, and tools that will support scalability. However, getting more high-quality traffic to your online business requires you to use on-site search engine optimization, which for many, can be confusing with its technical jargon, constant updates, and ever-changing tactics. This beginners guide will prime you on the basics of getting started, taking you through the major areas of on-site search engine optimization which are keyword research, site structure, and on-page SEO.
First Off, What Is SEO & Why Is It Important for eCommerce Businesses?
Search engine optimization is the process of generating free, natural, and organic traffic from search engine websites like Bing, Google, and Yahoo by making your website or eCommerce store more visible within the search engine results pages (SERPs). When people search for products or services through Google, Yahoo, and Bing, the results that pop up on the first page are the ones you want to be ranking at. In order to get yourself on the front page of these search engines, you have to engage in search engine optimization, which involves optimizing your product descriptions, headlines, internal link structure, user experience, meta-data, and navigation structure. This also includes optimizing your static pages like your homepage, about page, help centre, blog articles, FAQ section, and contact page. To optimize your static pages, you want to use long-tail keywords and semantic keywords.
Why Is SEO Important for eCommerce Exactly?
When a consumer needs a product or service, unless they already know exactly where they are going to buy it from, the chances are that they are going to perform a search engine search. The reason for this is that they are looking for information to help them make an informed decision on what service or product to buy, which includes looking for comparisons, tips, and the best options that are out there. When your website doesn’t appear in their search engine results, you lose critical access to potential eCommerce customers because your services or products aren’t “findable” or rather, not on the first three pages of results. SEO provides you with a way to reach your targeted audience, by helping you rank higher on the Google search results with the search terms your potential customers are using.
Understanding Keyword Research as Step One of the SEO Journey
The first step to understanding how search engine optimization works, is in knowing the value that high-quality keywords offer you. The first step to this is figuring out what search terms your potential customers are using, which is done through keyword research. As an eCommerce business, you are going to want to rank for commercial keywords that show buying intent (transactional searches) rather than informational keywords which are used on content-heavy websites like blogs. There are two categories of commercial intent keywords, which are “Buy Now” and “Product” related. Examples include the following:
- Buy Now: Buy, discounts, deals, coupons, free shipping. Generally, these keywords are going to be the first word in the phrase that is being used. They are a strong signal that the individual wants to make a transaction immediately.
- Product-Related: Branded searches, specific product searches, affordable, cheapest, best, comparison, review, top, product categories like beach accessories or dog collars. All of these tend to lead to specific product searches.
How to Go About Keyword Research?
There are a few ways and tools that you can use to find keywords that match your eCommerce business.
1. Use Google & Amazon Suggest Tool: If you already have a few keywords in mind, you can use Google or Amazon’s related searches to find additional keywords.
1.1 To do this, head on over to Google, type in a keyword that is associated with your eCommerce business-like “Dog Collars” or “rouge lipstick” and hit enter. Down at the bottom of the page, you will see search terms that are related to your search query. These can give you some fantastic keyword ideas that you may not have thought of.
1.2 On Amazon, type in a keyword that is associated with your eCommerce business in the search bar (make sure it is set to ALL) and do not hit enter. Take a look at the drop-down menu that pops up when you type your keyword in. These search terms are going to be product-focused (since you are on Amazon) and are going to be long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are good because they are more specific which means they have less competition and higher conversion rates.
1.3 A second way you can find keywords on Amazon is by going to the product category that you sell and taking a look at all of the ways that they sort a particular product. For instance, books can be sorted by theme, characters, format, and genre. You can mix and match these filter categories to get new keyword ideas.
2. Use a Keyword Research Tool: A keyword research tool will allow you to either input in a competitor’s website and show you which keywords they are ranking for or allow you to put in keyword ideas and give you similar results. When you use these types of tools, make sure you find unique keywords and pay attention to the keyword volume, keyword competition, and keyword traffic.
Once you have a list of potential keywords figured out, you have to choose which ones to use. Here is how to choose the right keywords for your eCommerce business.
- Always look for keywords that have higher search volumes. These have higher organic traffic, which means they are being searched a lot.
- Take a look at the competition percentage. The lower the competition, the more likely it is that you will be able to rank for it. A higher competition percentage means that more people are trying to rank for that particular keyword. You want high volume keywords with low competition.
- Make sure you choose keywords that are relevant to your products.
- Always pick keywords that have commercial intent. For instance, someone searching for size small dog collar blue is better than dog collar trends as the first one shows buying intent and the second one shows informational intent.
Organizing Your Website Structure for Ecommerce is Step Two in the Journey.
How your eCommerce website is structured will have an impact on your search engine rank. This is because it impacts your user experience and dictates whether someone can actually find what they are searching for within your site. With eCommerce websites, the more products & categories that you add and remove, the more complex the structure gets. You want to go for simplicity. Visitors need to be able to get to what they want within a few clicks without having to make multiple passes through your navigation system. So, there are two rules to follow.
- Make your site structure simple and scalable.
- Every page is a few clicks away from the homepage as possible.
Why? Your homepage has the most link authority. To figure out which pages should be indexed in which order, use the supply and demand principle. If your audience is using search terms or queries that directly relate to the faceted page, index it. If the search volume for specific queries is enough to compensate for the indexation effort, then index it. If there is enough relevant products, services, and offerings on the page for a targeted keyword, description, or query, then index it. The rest don’t bother indexing them.
Using On-Page SEO to Optimize for Keywords is the Third Step in the Journey.
Now that your site is structured properly and you have done your keyword research and selection, you now need to optimize the pages so that they are grabbed and seen by search engines. To do this, you need to do on-page SEO which will encourage people to click on your search engine result through to your website. What does this involve?
- You need to edit all of the title tags and meta descriptions to include your keywords.
- You will need to edit the alt text for your images to include your keywords.
- You will need to edit the file names (of all uploads) to include your keywords.
- The URLs for your blog posts, products, collections, and pages need to include keywords.
You can do all of this editing in the back end of your eCommerce website. A few things to keep in mind include, matching your URL to the page title as closely as possible, removing the use of stop words, as well as, using short URLs over long ones (below 50-60 characters). Do not keyword stuff your content as this will make your website look spammy and people will not click through as a result.
On pages that have little to no written content, use long and in-depth product descriptions to fill the space and make sure to include keywords within those descriptions. Finally, don’t forget to include secondary keywords that describe your products. For instance, if you are selling glass jars, make sure to include how many ounces it is! These are strong, short, and easily searchable identifying keywords that are common elements of search queries and must be included.
If you really want to hire professional SEO Experts for your eCommerce shopping Websites, or want to know more about tackling e-Commerce, then feel free to contact email@example.com