SEO for Ecommerce: A Complete Guide
SEO for Ecommerce has always been an enigma of sorts. There is a truck load of advice on SEO in general online but few resources touch on SEO for Ecommerce specifically. Ecommerce entrepreneurs have always had few resources to refer to. It is for this reason that we have decided to dissect this topic and discuss all there is to know about SEO for Ecommerce.
- 1 What is SEO for Ecommerce?
- 2 Why is SEO for Ecommerce Important?
- 3 Importance of a Good user experience
- 4 The Static Pages
- 5 The Dynamic Product Pages
- 6 Keyword Research
- 7 Website Architecture
- 8 Pagination And Infinite Scrolling
- 9 Performance
- 10 Internal links are important
- 11 You need a Sitemap
- 12 Make sure you are optimized for Mobile
- 13 Conclusion
What is SEO for Ecommerce?
SEO for Ecommerce is the process and methodology of making your online store an enticing prospect for Google or any other search engine. It is all about making your amazing store, clearly visible to Google and the rest of the search engines. When people search for the products that you stock on you online store, you want to rank very well. This is so that, you get more traffic.
Why is SEO for Ecommerce Important?
What do you do when you need a new product? Like many people, you start of by performing a Google search. Your potential customers use the same process too. They are looking for information that will help them make informed purchases. This means things like the various product options, tips and other product alternative comparisons.
If you are not on Google’s search engine result page, you are essentially not visible to your potential customers.
A good SEO for Ecommerce strategy will help your website rank. This results in increased organic traffic and thus a boost in sales. The best part is that organic traffic is free. Your customer acquisition costs are going to be really low. So SEO for Ecommerce boosts both your top line and bottom line.
Needless to say, crafting a working SEO for Ecommerce strategy should be your priority as a business owner.
Importance of a Good user experience
A good user experience often goes hand in hand with good SEO performance. You could say that good ranking especially for ecommerce are often impossible without a good user experience.
But a good user experience often starts with knowing a user’s intent, then designing a simple journey with the intent as destination. It forms the basis of what people feel about your ecommerce store. Do they feel happy or the F word (frustrated)?
If visitors to your website use the F word (frustrated) often, it is a good time to do some reflection.
So in this article we will also be looking at ways to improve the user experience for your web visitors.
So what is required? Let us handle the easy stuff first.
The Static Pages
First, you have to deal with the static pages. We will get to optimizing the main store in a bit. By static pages, I mean the following;
- About page
- F.A.Q. page
- Contact page
Let us discuss each page and its importance
This forms the “main entrance” to your website. It is the face of your website. So what makes a good home page?
A Good home page has the following characteristics.
A well thought out navigation bar forms the basis of a good customer experience. It is this navigation capability that allows a user to know what the website is about and find what he/she is looking for easily.
A prominent search bar
This forms a staple for good homepages. Often times, people are impatient. Very few will click around your website to find what they want, rather, they want to type into a search bar and get what they are looking for. A good search bar is fast, responsive and robust. It needs to be able to search for an item, even if someone makes a spelling error.
A good search bar should have;
- A dropdown of search suggestions that appear as soon as one starts typing
- A mechanism for storing search items (legally of course)
- A mechanism for suggesting other items that are related or fall into the same category as the item being searched for.
Here are a few good examples of well implemented search bars;
Alibaba has a really good search bar. You don’t even need the menu. You can easily get what you want from the search bar alone.
As you can tell, the search bar is almost always front and center.
Prominent Call To Action Sections
Call to action sections or (CTAs) are sections of your homepage with offers and or other enticing stuff that may interest your web visitor. Often times, you need more than one section.
Let us look at the example below;
This is Alibaba’s call to action section. In the image, they are guiding your attention to something they feel would interest you.
These call to action sections are important because they entice you visitor to take the plunge and do something. They can be used for;
- New product releases
- News communication
Featured product items
First of all, no, you cannot have all your products listed on the home page. It is overwhelming and will slow down your website. However, you could have a couple of best sellers feature prominently on your homepage.
This page is self descriptive. You need a dedicated page on your website to tell people who you are and what your values are.
A good about page is simple and to the point. Use your image or a group photo of your staff. In case its a services business, staff members can get a card that tells the user about them and their qualifications.
For example, take a look at the image below;
A section like this will help humanize you and show that you are a collection of real people rather than a cold corporate.
This is the central place where your website visitors can find answers to frequently asked questions. There are countless reasons why your website needs an FAQ page.
Reduce website visitor frustrations
A good FAQ page will generally reduce your website visitors’ frustrations. They are able to quickly find a solution to a problem they have.
It reduces your customer service cost
Without a good FAQ section, you may have to do a lot of answering emails and phone calls. This takes a lot of time. Take into consideration that you may be answering the same questions over and over. With a good FAQ section, you get to save time and money, which could be used on your actual core business.
Again, this is a very basic page you need on your website. It allows people to reach you should the need arise.
As you may have noticed, these are pages which are not going to change frequently. So what is there to do about these pages? Lots
- Prioritize the keywords you want to rank for – Since these pages also have the capacity to rank for SEO, it is good to pick and choose keywords that are relevant to you.
- Performance – All your pages should load quickly, ideally below a second load times.
- Information Architecture – The goal of a website is to display information. Make sure the layout of your page is simple and easily understood. Avoid complex layouts, they just overwhelm the visitor.
Now that you have the basic static pages in good order, let us move over to the next, a bit more complicated section.
The Dynamic Product Pages
This is what makes your store an actual store. Let us discuss ways you can optimize your product pages for both great user experience and SEO for Ecommerce success.
First of all, you need to think of your product pages as normal pages. Think about it. A web page displays information, product data is information.
A couple of tips to keep in mind;
The more the information, the better
This is a random search I did on Amazon for photography equipment. I clicked on a random product and this is what I got.
As you can see, it is generously filled out with content.
Avoid one worded descriptions for your products. Expound on your product. If you want, you could even write an essay or article on how best your amazing product can be used.
Use lots of Images but optimize them
Images are crucial. Pretend you are the customer for a bit. Definitely you are more likely to buy from a website with clear images of the product from multiple angles as opposed to a website with a few or no images.
One would say, in ecommerce, images are everything. They are important not just for your visitors but also for SEO purposes. To optimize your images well, start with the file names for your images. 898798798.jpg is not a good name for your images. The default name your camera saves your images is not optimal. Use the a combination of the product name and the main keyword. For example hardy-earbud-chargers.png would work really well.
Also include keywords that people would use on search.
As you can see, people also use image search to find or research the items they are interested in. A well optimized image will rank well on search and help customers find you. Also a well optimized image will help your product page rank well.
Lets talk about the product name
This is a crucial part of your SEO for Ecommerce efforts. The product name is used for the URL and the SEO title of your product page. For this reason, it is very important to add common search terms to the title of your products.
For example if your are selling earphones, also include earphone in the product name. This way, the all important keyword appears in the SEO title of your amazing product.
Create Product Videos for your amazing products
There is a reason why platforms like TikTok and Vimeo are huge. Videos are in. They present you with an opportunity to quickly view a product. A video gives a viewer the capability to sort of “walk around” the product. They get to see its various angles, as if they are actually there.
This will give them more confidence about their purchase.
There are so many types of videos for example;
- You could do a walk around as mentioned above
- Also you could do a how to video on how to operate or use your product
- Or it could be a testimonial from people
However, don’t post the actual video on your website. Upload it on YouTube and embed the YouTube link.
Another great benefit is that, a platform like YouTube will increase your reach and lead to MORE traffic. It is the best of both worlds essentially.
You could do educational DIY videos for example that showcase your amazing product. This may lead to increased sales because as people get into the idea of working on the project, they are more likely to buy from you . There is an additional possibility that the video may also get traction and lead to more organic traffic on your website, thus even more sales.
This also tends to work wonders for SEO. Because videos are a really good way to showcase your product, it leads to increased user experience and thus increased on page time. Once Google notices that people are spending a lot of time on your website, the algorithm will rightly assume that you are doing something right. As a result, Google will send you more traffic.
Customer reviews on your product page are a must
Reviews work wonders for your consumer’s confidence. Social proof is a real thing.
What is social proof?
This is a phenomenon where people mirror the actions of others in an attempt to show that their actions are correct based on the current situation. I know, really confusing definition. You can read more here.
Basically social proof is monkey see, monkey do.
Reviews also boost SEO because they feed the content machine. Most search engines have their ways and methodologies of indexing and showing content. But the common line between all of them is that fresh and original content is prized.
In addition to that, good customer reviews boost your the visibility of your Google My Business Page.
All that plus they make you look genuine and trustworthy, because you are, otherwise you wouldn’t have the good reviews.
Now that we have the easy parts covered lets dive into the more technical parts of SEO for Ecommerce;
Every single minute, millions upon millions of Google Searches are performed. What is even more bonkers is that the average consumer processes over one hundred thousand words a day. That is every day. By processing of course we don’t mean necessarily reading but rather they scan the one hundred thousand words.
Most of these words are from the internet. In the form of blogs, articles, advertising etc.
So with all that information out there, how do your potential website visitors and customers find you?
The first step is a targeted list of keywords relevant to your potential website visitors. To develop a robust SEO for ecommerce strategy you need targeted, intent based keywords. There are two types of keywords in general, they are short tail keywords and long tail keywords.
The difference between the two is that the long tail keywords are as they sound, longer. Around 20 – 60 characters. A short tail keyword could be something like “earphones” while and long tail keyword could be something like “low bass earphones”.
Longer tail keywords generally have lower search volumes but in my experience they tend to have a higher CTR rate.
So how do you find the keywords?
The first step generally is to first figure out your category. This should be simple enough. My example category in this case is “earphones”.
The second step is to enter the keyword into Google search and wait for the autosuggest.
Take a note of the auto generated keywords.
Then you are going to scroll to the bottom and have a look at the “people also ask” section.
Congratulations, you now have a list of keywords you can start with. Easy enough.
If you are optimizing your product descriptions, you are going to need to go even further so as to understand the full intent of the search keyword.
You are going to need to categorize your keywords based on informational keywords that tuned to the specific search intent. An added bonus of this is that you get to generate blog article ideas.
As you can see, the keyword “earphones” is combined with informational keywords “best” in order to ascertain user intent. For example in this case our user was looking for earphones with deep bass.
This is important because you are not going to rank for short tail keywords. Unless you have Jeff Bezos type of money and resources. But you can rank for these other longer tail specific intent keywords. Higher intent keywords generally lead to more conversions.
List of tools for keyword research
Below is a list of keywords that will come in handy as you do your keyword research. Google Autosuggest is not the only tool out there, although it is ok and very much free.
There are other tools such as
This is also simple to use, although, its not free. All you have to do is to type into the search bar and get insights on your keywords.
This is a great tool for coming up with informational keywords. It helps you generate high intent keywords that convert really well.
Of course its not free, you could get the PRO version, its really cool.
Now, keywords are important, hence we dealt with them first. But an equally important secret to success in SEO is your information architecture. Also if you are looking for an opportunity to revamp your website, this could be the golden opportunity.
Essentially you want your website visitor to easily find the pages they want and related pages. Your information should take a “tree like architecture”.
Here is a good infographic I stole off HubSpot.
As you can see, the tree type navigation allows people to find your products/services easily.
Have a look at what the pros are doing. Amazon or Zappos for example.
Another tip is to use bread crumbs to let your website visitor know where they are and show the search engine where this bit of content fits in the overall scheme of things.
Pagination And Infinite Scrolling
Pagination is separating your content into different pages. This is often a problem with custom built websites. They have sections on their websites that are pretty long, populated by automatically generated data like products. These take too long to load and hinder perfomance.
It also helps SEO because tags like “prev” and “next” help the search engines know which pages are in a series.
A load more button also comes in handy because you get to see more products when you actually want to.
Even Google itself has moved to infinite scrolling for its mobile platform. This is because, long pages that don’t end are simply annoying
Often overlooked, sometimes this is all it takes for an ecommerce store to rank. Speeding up your website should be a priority. Studies haves shown that shaving even one second off your loading speed can drastically improve your organic traffic and conversion rates.
This could be as simple as choosing a really good host. You are not going to build a really good ecommerce company off cheap shared hosting.
Often times, these are inadequate. Google algorithms will notice the high bounce rate as a result of the slow speed and will stop sending you traffic. If you are a newer website, you will stay on the Google sandbox longer.
If you are on WordPress, we recommend Kinsta. Very robust, but slightly more expensive.
Shopify works really well too.
If you are on WordPress your themes should be optimized for performance. Pick a light ecommerce theme that has been tried and tested. Make sure it performs well. You can test website loading speed on GTmetrix.com
We did a test on our website, you can see the results below. Aim for numbers like that. It will work wonders for your SEO
We are not kidding, internal links, that is links pointing to other parts of your website are important. But don’t over do it. All you need to do is guide the user and the search engines to other parts of your website.
This gives your visitors additional options and information. For example related pages.
In addition to that it drastically increases the chances that you will rank for certain keywords.
And as we keep on harping, it helps the Google bot crawl your website. All the Google bot does is essentially click the links on your web page.
You need a Sitemap
This is basically a tool for search engines to quickly know what your website is all about.
If you have never seen a sitemap, here is what it looks like;
Often times, a sitemap is in XML format. Creating is quite easy, but very often overlooked. If you are on WooCommerce there are so many plugins available to help.
Make sure you are optimized for Mobile
This is a ranking factor. I repeat, this is a major ranking factor. Ecommerce stores that are optimized for mobile rank way higher than websites that aren’t.
Think about it, how often do you Google on desktop vs mobile. Maybe you are in the small minority that is always on desktop. The rest of the world, me and your potential customers included, are on mobile.
Without a mobile first strategy in your web design, you are missing out on a lot of traffic.
Design for mobile
Don’t just design for desktop and then later try and squeeze it into mobile, start with mobile. This can be simple things like taking note of Z- index and taking not of absolute vs relative positioning.
In mobile some items may vanish off to the screen. You need to make sure all elements are visible and laid out very well.
Stick with small images to improve the loading speed.
SEO for ecommerce is a battle that can be won. If you have gotten nothing from this article remember
- The more the content the better
- Use great images
- Perfomance matters
- Optimize for mobile
A lot of so called SEO experts will complicate this and come up with all sorts of jargon. But always understand its all about the basics. Its all about giving your web visitor the best user experience. Understanding the keywords that lead them to your ecommerce website, understanding their customers journey and basically delighting them. SIMPLE.
We have another great SEO article here.