Everything you ever needed to know about SEO for E-Commerce

Everything you ever needed to know about SEO for E-Commerce

After you’ve created your amazing E-commerce site (don’t be modest, it’s awesome), comes the hard part: getting people to come to your site.

The essential step in launching your own E-commerce is making sure that your future customers can find your site when they’re searching for your type of product. It comes down to three little letters: SEO.

SEO (or search engine optimization) is what allows search engines (namely Google) to find your site and show it in search results when customers are searching for the types of products you sell. So it happens naturally right? If someone’s looking for your products, they’ll find it as soon as you launch the site, right?


Natural search engine referencing takes time. Search engine crawlers need to find your site via the content that you put on your site (content= words, which also include words in alternate text, and various other types of media- but we’ll get to that). This usually takes a few months if your referencing is absolutely perfect- if it’s not, it could take even longer.

SEO strategy should be at the top of your list of marketing strategies. Your site isn’t going to pop up in front of your customers on its own (well, it could, but that’s a whole other subject). So what’s the first step? Choosing your keywords.

Keyword choice for effective referencing: the heart of SEO strategy

Showing up in relevant searches is not an option for E-commerce, its necessary to its survival. An optimized presence on search engines is still the best way to meet the demand with your offer.

Referencing allows for the optimization of a site in order to improve search engine rankings. Without a doubt, an E-commerce in the top spot on any Google search has an enormous advantage. But how do you get to the front page, much less the top spot?

One of the best ways to get your SEO ball rolling is to create relevant content for your site. It’s a simple concept: more content=more ways for search engines to find you. But in order to create relevant content for your site, you need to understand the process that a buyer goes through when shopping online. Second, you need to choose which keywords are going to bring the right people in front of your products. From there, you need to flood your content with your best keywords to get your site as findable as possible.

The Purchase Decision Process

The decision to purchase an item (non-spontaneously) goes through 5 critical steps:

  • The Idea: the consumer realizes there’s a need for a product.
  • The Search: the consumer starts looking around online for a product that matches up the best with their original idea.
  • The Comparison: there are several offers for the consumer’s demand, so they will compare several products based on price, quality, site trust, and ease of shopping experience.
  • The Decision: the consumer chooses their product, and purchases it.
  • The Service: the phase when a consumer would need to contact customer service, review an item, or anything concerning the purchase after it’s been paid for.

Each of these steps is an opportunity to make your consumer turn to you over a competitor. Once you understand the process that someone goes through to purchase, it’s time to choose your keywords.

Choosing the best keywords

Break out your thesaurus, it’s time to get wordy.

Start by choosing the basic words that concern your products. Let’s say you sell different types of sneakers and running shoes. You need to look at your business of selling sneakers from all angles.

Start with your basics:

  • Sneakers
  • Running Shoes
  • Tennis shoes
  • Foot gear
  • Shoes
  • Cleats
  • Basketball shoes
  • Gym shoes
  • Hightops
  • Rubber-soled shoes

You might think that this is a fine set of keywords, and you’re done. Unfortunately, these are the keywords all of your competitors have already thought of and are using as well.

From here you start going for indirect keywords. Don’t stay focused on your own business, but widen your lens to accommodate for all sectors in your domain.  If your sneakers are more on the sporty side, you can try using words like “basketball sneakers” and even better with specific phrases like “Best basketball sneakers.”

From here, you can put your list of keywords through Google’s keyword planner. You have to create a Google Adwords account, but you don’t have to launch a campaign to use the tool. You just click at the top of tools and go to keyword planner. Then it’s a simple story of copy and paste. Google will help you by suggesting variations of your keywords that you can implement into your content.

From this point, you’ll be able to find the best keywords for your site. A good keyword is relevant, brings in a good amount of traffic, and is specific enough to not be used by everyone and their brother.

A good keyword is relevant, brings in a good amount of traffic, and is specific enough to not be used by everyone.

If you choose good keywords, you’ll be able to generate a flux of traffic to your E-commerce site. If you don’t want your site to be nudged out of the first page, forget the popular keywords and concentrate on the specific ones for a long-term strategy.

Evaluate the Keyword Strategy

A keyword is useful if it brings in visitors who are interested in your product and end up purchasing from your site. If you have a Google Analytics account (and you really should. No seriously, go make one now), you can get an idea of how effective your keywords are by looking at the sources of your traffic (in organic if you’ve gone ahead with an Adwords campaign).

Evaluate the relevance

There are three main ways to see if your keywords are relevant to you:

  • Objectives: If you have defined conversion objectives, this can be the best indicator of keyword relevance.
  • Average time spent on the site: A keyword that keeps visitors on your site longer has a better chance of conversion.
  • The number of page views: it’s the amount of traffic coming into your site.

Evaluate the Volume

Evaluating the volume of keywords is essentially analyzing the amount of potential traffic a keyword can bring you. Google’s keyword planner indicates the number of monthly estimated searches for each word. They’re usually even listed in order from the most popular.

Evaluate the Competition

There are two ways you can do this the hard/free way, or the easy/paid way. You can search for all your own keywords to see which of your competitors have used them, which can take a bit of time to do. Or, you can use a great tool (that I’ve personally used for previous Ad campaigns) called Moz which evaluates the keywords any given competitor triggers.

Everything you ever needed to know about SEO for E-Commerce - Moz Tools
Some of Moz’s free tools to get you started

Plug in your Best Keywords

Once you’ve chosen your best possible keywords, it’s time for content creation. There are several different ways and tools you can use to create relevant content for your E-commerce, and here are a few tips on how to do that.

Avoid your Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V

Don’t copy and paste from other sites. Outside of the moral ambiguity and the potential legal copyright issues, Google will consider your site referenced weaker if it thinks you’re a duplicate of another site. You can get subsequently penalized by the search engine which could kill your ranking. Also, make sure your own pages are each different with new, fresh content.

We know this is long, difficult work, but it’s worth it for great SEO performance.

Creating a blog is the first great step to having a performant SEO strategy. This allows you to create content on a more fluid basis and will give you the opportunity to create traffic to your site via backlinks. At best, you should publish at least an article per week and start backlinking to your home page. These are also particularly useful in terms of social media marketing, as you will be able to share your articles and engage your customers easily.

Using backlinks to invite search engines to your crawlable site, as well as indexing your site, it’s important to get your articles featured on blogs in the same theme as yours. These first links show Google that you exist.

So, how do you do it?

Listing your blog

You can start by listing your site in blog directories and blog search engines. You simply need to sign up with the name of your blog, its URL and a short description. Go for quality, not quantity. These sites will reference each article that you publish on your site.

Submit a press release

There are press release sites dedicated to search engine referencing. In order to use this, you write a summary of your blog activities and strategically incorporate URLs back to your site.

Social Media Posting

As soon as a new article is published, share it on social media. What’s more, you can target certain groups, like on LinkedIn. Members of relevant groups on LinkedIn might be interested in your articles.

Leave comments on other blogs

At first, target blogs that talk about the same or similar things that you do. This can offer you the opportunity to plug your blog in the comments section of other blogs with a relevant comment about how the article applies to the blog post in question (but do this sparingly, it can be looked down upon if you’re spammy).

Playing the Long Game

The best kind of SEO strategy to have is one that takes the long-term into account. The better the content you put on your site from the beginning, the better things will be when your natural referencing takes off. By publishing quality content regularly, you are setting yourself up for an easier time later on.

Keywords are in high demand, and fiercely competitive. They only generate 20% of the traffic. However, the other 80% of search traffic comes from longer, more specific expressions that are less often searched but will allow a better conversion rate. There are a few ways to figure out which keywords will serve you better in the long term:

Google AdWords

We already mentioned the Keyword Planner, but launching an AdWords campaign, in the beginning, can help boost you in the time it takes for your natural referencing to pick up. Using AdWords can also help you find great long-term keywords. It’s really a fantastic tool with built-in optimization tips at every turn. Google will even call you and walk you through the process if you need it.

Google search suggestions

Another technique is to start typing the Google search bar and see what comes up. If it shows up, there’s a high demand for that keyword. If it doesn’t show up immediately, it might be specific enough to use for your long-term campaign.

Analyze your Competition

What are your competitors using in their long-term strategy? What keeps showing up in their RSS feeds? You can even use free word cloud sites to take content from your competitor’s site and show which words pop up the most.

Optimize Reference Strategy

Reference your site, not only with fresh content but with different types of content. You have to attack by every angle.

Enrich your content with images

There is no referencing without content. While content is, for the most part, text, you can also use video and pictures. The photos of your products play an important part in referencing, and you can give them a boost by making sure each image on your site has alternate text (what shows up when the image doesn’t load).

Let’s get Technical

In the old days, you could reference with description tags that were hidden from view, but crawlable for search engines. Today, these tags aren’t too useful. Search engines almost never really read them. There are other elements that take priority with search engines: the domain name, URL, page type, and then the tags. The technical structure of your site can determine if tags are more or less counted by search engines.

A good way to test this is to try sites that analyze your SEO like https://www.site-analyzer.com. If you have a WordPress for your blog, I highly suggest installing SEO by Yoast, which gives you really cool tips right on the article page as to what you can do to improve the SEO of your post.

Optimize your URLs

Each URL should be explicit so your reader will know exactly what page they’re looking at. The shorter a URL is, the easier it is to memorize.

Internal links are a great way to reference your site with other similar (but different) types of content. You should create detailed and varied descriptions of your products to give yourself more content per page.

Create detailed meta descriptions

A meta description shows a bit of information beneath your product (or page) in search results (as well as rich snippets). In 160 characters, you should integrate your keywords (not all of them, obviously) while grabbing the attention of a potential customer.

Everything you ever needed to know about SEO for E-Commerce - Meta Description

Integrate rich snippets

Google is the ultimate go-to for research, this much is clear. However, site links aren’t the only type of content that we see in Google searches: a typical Google search includes videos, reviews, images, and news articles. We’ve talked about rich snippets before, and they’re not only useful for mobile search. Offering a variety of content will give you more space on the search page, allowing your visitor even more information (and a better chance at finding the information they’re looking for).

These tools are the absolute most basic way to understand the evolution of your audience and the effectiveness of keyword optimization.

Create your presence on social media: the Fastlane to Referencing

You don’t need me to tell you how important it is to be present on social media. Social media is ingrained in our daily lives- and you should think of this when getting your business present on these platforms. Not every network is great for every business, so it’s important to think about how your customers use this platform, and if there is a way that you can use it for your E-commerce. These sites are already referenced, and having a significant presence on them will amplify your own referencing.

What you really need to think about in terms of social media is not necessarily the visibility aspect, but the human interaction aspect. By interacting on a more personal level with your customers, you amplify your visibility and the trust that customers have in your brand.

Whether you’re a new startup E-commerce, or a long-time veteran, a great SEO strategy can make a huge difference on sales and customer engagement. After all, how can customers buy your products if they can’t find them? Following these tips will boost your E-commerce traffic with visitors who will turn into customers.

Image credit : Berin Catic