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Getting more traffic is paramount for every business owner, so the thought of mastering SEO ecommerce may have occurred to you once or twice.
Consistent, high quality traffic rather do you have to pay? Apply.
But between updating search engine algorithms and industry-wide jargon, it can be quite difficult to master all this SEO work.
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This beginner’s guide will translate you from novice to novice as quickly and easily as possible. We started with keyword research, website structure and organization, and SEO pages.
What Is SEO E-Commerce And Why Is It Important?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of generating organic (i.e., free, natural) traffic from sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo.
For example, if you search for something on Google, you will be taken to a search engine results page (SERP):
There you will find organic results, such as these (red):
In addition to paid ads (orange) and sponsored Google Shopping results (purple):
Ecommerce SEO is used to create pages with your products that appear among these ten organic search results. Of course, there are many more pages to explore:
But the higher the page you rank, the less traffic it generates.
A few years ago, a survey found that only 4.8% of search engines got to the second page of search results. Page 3? Only 1.1%. I think the reasoning is why they say the best place to hide a dead body is on another Google page.
Your rank on the first page is also important. The same study found that the highest score averages 32.5% of traffic. The second result is only 17.6%. By score six? You start with an average of less than 5% of traffic.
The name of the game will then be ranked high on the first page of Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. as you can for search terms that your potential customers can use.
Step 1: Keyword research
It should be surprising that the first step is to identify high-value search terms that your potential customers can use. You can achieve this by researching keywords, which can be implemented in many different ways.
First, keep in mind that keyword research on ecommerce is different than most keyword research that is read online. Why? Most sites take care of keywords like this:
On the other hand, you want to qualify as commercial keywords like this:
Can you spot the difference? Keyword searchers with information are looking for, well, information. Blogs and high-content websites take care of those keywords. Ecommerce sites are taken care of by the commercial keywords that are displayed intent to buy.
Amazon and Google Suggest
Note: Because Google is the most popular search engine in the world, it uses this in screenshots and examples. You can repeat similar processes with most other search engines.
You have no doubt noticed the (often comical) Google autocomplete feature. When you start typing a search query, Google suggests relevant queries:
Find some additional related search queries at the bottom of the page:
These can be a gold mine for keyword ideas, especially when you already have a few basic keywords in mind (like “cat raincoat”).
On Amazon, you can complete a similar process, possibly from your competitor. The great thing about Amazon suggestions is that they are product-focused, unlike Google, which may contain some keyword ideas.
The process on Amazon is the same. Find a keyword that’s relevant to one of your products:
This gives you some insight into potential product category names:
Like some other potential keywords:
Keep an eye out for long-tail keywords, which are usually three to four words long. The longer the keyword, the more specific it is. This means less competition and often higher conversion rates by nature.
You can use tools to automate this process. For example, KTD automates the process for both Google and Amazon. This will save you a ton of manual labor, especially if you have a large product catalog.
You can dig even more on Amazon or, indeed, in any major e-commerce store you are competing with. First, check out their respective product subcategories for keyword ideas and categories in your store:
Then zoom in on the “Full Store Directory” in the lower left corner:
Jackpot! Instead, say you sell books. Find a category and select the most relevant subcategory. You can now see all the different ways Amazon presents and organizes its books:
Mix and match for new ideas for keywords and product categories. You may also find research subcategories that will give you even more ideas:
Repeat this process for any other major competitor.
Keyword Research Tool (SEMRush)
So far, we’ve been researching keywords on the cheap. If you have $ 100 to spend on a one-month subscription to SEMRush, I highly recommend it. The keyword list starts with a good one.
He said you are competing with BustedTees.com, a geeky e-commerce store with T-shirts. All you have to do is enter a domain into a keyword research tool like SEMRush and select “Organic Research” from the left menu:
Scroll down and look at all the BustedTees.com keywords:
Boom! (In the screenshot above, you also notice metrics like “Volume” and “KD”, which we will arrive in a minute.)
You can also switch to “Competitors”:
This will give you a great list of sites that are similar to BustedTees.com (or any site you enter):
You can now repeat the same process for all these pages. You can also use Gap analysis to see by which keywords all of these competing sites are ranked, but your site remains:
Be sure to select the Unique Keywords selected:
And voila! You have competently found a list of keywords by which your competitor is ranked, but not yet:
Choosing the right keywords for your store
Probably your keyword list pretty much currently large. So, how do you narrow it down and focus on the most important keywords? Start with a few key factors.
1. Volume: The higher the search volume, the more potential traffic to your site. SEMRush will provide you with volume data, but will download tools like Google Keyword Planner for free.
High-strength keywords often mean a lot of competition.
2. Competition: The lower the competition, the more likely you are to rank for a keyword. Again, SEMRush will give you trouble / competition with keywords (“KD”), but you can use a free tool like MozBar to evaluate your competition. For example:
Page authority (PA) and domain authority (DA) give you insight into how difficult it would be to rank higher than these organic results. The higher the numbers, the harder it will be to (generally) nullify the result.
All in all, I’m looking tall volume, low keyword competitions.
3. Relevance: How many pages are relevant to your search term for your product or category category? This is a big ranking factor that is often overlooked. Stick to the keywords your products would have truly to satisfy. You didn’t cheat Google.
4. Intention: Again, you want to target keywords that show commercial intent. You can usually evaluate your intent by simply looking at the keyword. For example:
size 12 women red dress vs. 2017 dress trends
Which has more commercial intent? Which of these search engines is more likely to buy something on your site? The former, of course.
Step 2: Structure of Ecommerce Pages
How organized and structured pages on your site affect your search engine rankings. It also affects your user experience (UX). Basically, you want to make it easier for real visitors and search engines to find things in your store.
It’s easier said than done.
As you add and remove products and categories, the structure of your pages quickly becomes more complex. If you can get it right from the start, save a ton of time down the road. So:
- Make sure your website structure is simple but easy to share as your store grows.
- Each page of your website can get as few clicks as possible from your homepage.
Simplicity is underrated. You want your visitors to rely on the back button to visit your site, running in circles trying to find what you are looking for. You also want to reorganize and rearrange your site structure each time you add a new product category, for example.
Most liaison authorities are on your homepage, right? So, it makes sense that the more pages a product receives from your homepage, the less authority it has.
These are the basics. If you want to make some headway, Orainti’s Aleyda Solis shared with me her top ecommerce SEO tip, all related to site structure:
“Use the supply and demand principle to identify the level of website structure (from categories to attributes, brands, or list page filters) that are appropriate for indexing and optimization because they meet the actual demand of the audience.”
For those who ask you, “index” is another database name used by the search engine. So, to “index” a page means to add it to that database. In other words, Google has discovered your site.
“This is because one of the most common problems for ecommerce sites is thin content as well as content duplication issues. Many thin content and duplicate content scenarios occur because there are many internal levels of web page structure, such as filters and attribute-focused pages that have very few products and are also included in other pages. “
Thin content is an idea that contains not much actual text on an ecommerce site relative to, say, a blog or software site. Imagine bad and attractive content pages created by random product attributes and product filter pages. Some of these pages may list only one or two products.
Duplicating content is as simple as it sounds.
“The easiest and most common way to deal with this situation is simply noindex or canonizing (to others) these types of pages, because it is easier than creating specific and useful content for them to be different, relevant and competitive. While this may be the most cost-effective way to solve this problem, it is not best to take advantage of existing search capabilities and effectively address the search behavior of users with your content (and product) offerings. “
Channeling a page is the way to tell Google that this URL is the “main version” you use to display search results. This is useful in duplicate site situations, as Google certainly collects them. Without canonical tags, Google could:
- Miss out on unique content that goes through too much duplicate content.
- Dilute your ranking ability.
- Select the wrong “main version” for you.
Please note that if used with Shopify, automatically generated canonical tags are automatically added to the pages to prevent duplicate content from appearing in search results.
Aleyda suggests they go beyond noindex or canonization when they are ready:
“Then it’s important to first evaluate whether there are enough search queries around the characteristics, types or brands of products you offer at each level of your ecommerce content (to determine whether or not it’s worth indexing). And if so, if there is enough content on a particular page and it is aligned with the way the user is looking for it, or if you need to make extra efforts to expand and optimize it to make it relevant and competitive.
If it goes away and it’s also not optimized and you need to do extra work then you know it will pay off because you’ve already confirmed that there is demand, with enough search. “
Lots of information, especially for someone new to ecommerce SEO. Fortunately, Aleyda left us this handy chart to help visualize the process she is going through:
Big departure? Not every level of your site’s structure is worth crawling and optimizing, so be strategic and look at the graph above.
Step 3: SEO ecommerce website
Now that you have done the keyword research and the structure of your site is ready to move, talking about how you can optimize your two most valuable pages:
- Product Category Pages.
- Product pages.
Not surprisingly, it starts with the basics.
If you are already using Shopify, you probably know that there are some built-in SEO features that you can take advantage of. Some are automagic:
- The canonical labels we mentioned earlier.
- Your site’s sitemap.xml and robots.txt files are generated.
- Topics generate title tags that include the name of your store.
- Topics need to have connectivity and sharing options on social networks.
However, some features require your optimization skills:
- You can edit the title tags and meta descriptions to include your keywords.
- You can edit the alt text for images to include your keywords.
- You can ensure that filenames contain your keywords.
- You can choose URLs for blog posts, websites, products and collections.
When optimizing title tags and descriptions, keep in mind that this information is Google. So the first step is to rank on the first page. The second step is a compelling search engine to actually click on your site.
Modifiers like “Offers”, “X% Discount”, “Free Shipping”, “Wide Choice”, etc. can give you a boost. Why? Because Google is suspected of using clickthrough rate (CTR) as a ranking factor. So, it is not enough to satisfy the superior search engines, you must also be interested in search engines.
These modifiers can also help you attack long tail keywords.
1. Select the correct URLs.
According to Rand Fishkin and Moz’s team, there are a few URL guidelines to follow for optimal ranking:
- Your URL should be easy to read and interpret by real, live people because accessibility is important to Google.
- The use of keywords in URLs is still recommended as they appear in search results.
- Short URLs are better than long URLs. Try to keep it below 50-60 characters.
- Match the URL and page title as closely as possible.
- Accompanied by stop words like “i”, “from”, “the” and “a”.
- Keyword stuffing and pointless repetition constantly drive Google crazy and make your store look unwanted.
Keep these guidelines in mind when selecting your product page and category page URLs.
2. Reduce thin content pages with long product descriptions.
Google and other search engines use the content on your page to decide which keywords will rank the page and how high your page should rank for each keyword.
So, if your product page has a short description and not much else, Google still has plenty to go on.
Why see product pages with longer descriptions, reviews, etc.
Write long, detailed descriptions of your products to help Google work its magic more effectively. If your catalog is huge, focus on your premium products or products at the bottom of the first page or top of the second page.
The more you write, the more accurate Google can rank on your page. And, the more opportunities for using keywords.
Plus, they face it, as long as you have a high-level description for the highly motivated, or customers hate additional product information.
3. Use latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords.
LSI keywords are closely related to your main keyword.
You can find them through a quick search of Amazon (or some other big competitor) or through the old old Google Keyword Planner we mentioned above.
On Amazon, search for your primary keyword and look for secondary keywords that are constantly appearing. For example, try selling a blender:
“Speed 14”, “450W” and “48oz glassware” appear repeatedly, indicating strong sales factors and probably common elements of search terms.
You can also try running a keyword through Google Keyword Planner, which I mentioned earlier, to get some LSI keyword ideas:
If you are interested in the main keyword, try sliding to the first page and the related secondary keywords. So, use these LSI keywords whenever they make sense.
Getting Started with SEO Ecommerce
There is so much more that goes into SEO ecommerce. When it comes to technical SEO, link building, content marketing for ecommerce – the list goes on.
But these first three fundamental steps will, for now, set you on the right track (and will probably get you there).