How to Leverage E-Commerce SEO to Grow Your Business

E-commerce is big business in the United States with the online retail sales of physical goods amounting to $343.15 billion in 2019 alone, an increase of 16.4% from the previous year. Furthermore, this is set to rise to a whopping $476.5 billion by 2024.

Great news for e-commerce businesses?

Yes and no.

Of course, growth in any industry is a good thing as it shows that there is a demand for the product or service. Nobody wants to be working in a sector that is on the way out. That being said, there is a downside to trading in a thriving industry, and that is the vast amount of competition that you have to contend with.

Currently, in the United States, there are more than 1.3 million e-commerce companies, and this figure is only set to get higher as more and more consumers start favoring online shopping over making purchases in a physical store. Plus, with Amazon currently having an estimated 50% of all e-commerce trade, you not only have to compete with smaller businesses within your niche but the big guys too.

Amazon

Fortunately, there is a foolproof way to ensure that your business stands out from the crowd and is able to grow in 2020 and beyond: E-commerce SEO.

E-commerce SEO, or e-commerce search engine optimization, is a crucial digital marketing strategy for any e-commerce business, helping your site to become more visible to potential customers.

Not exactly sure what e-commerce SEO is?

Don’t worry.

Within this guide, you will discover:

  • What is e-commerce SEO
  • Why is e-commerce SEO important
  • How e-commerce SEO can help grow your business
  • Best e-commerce SEO practices

Ready to get started?

What is e-commerce SEO?

If you are not familiar with the term SEO, then you soon will be! E-commerce SEO is the process involved in optimizing your e-commerce website within the guidelines of Google and other popular search engines so that your site appears more frequently and ranks higher in search results.

Although this may sound a bit complicated, once you understand the fundamental principles of SEO and how you can apply them to your website, you will soon find that e-commerce SEO is not as difficult as it first appears. In fact, you may already be optimizing your e-commerce website without even realizing it.

For example, have you made your website mobile friendly? As in, can users view your site on their phones in the same way that they can on a desktop computer? If yes, then you have already started optimizing your site for search engines.

Of course, there is a lot more to e-commerce SEO than just having a responsive website, but it’s as good a place to start as any.

Now, let’s take a look at why e-commerce SEO is so important and how it can help your business to grow.

Why is e-commerce SEO important?

As mentioned above, competition in the e-commerce industry is fierce, and its only set to get more so in the next few years as shoppers shun the shopping malls in favor of shopping from the comfort of their own home.

Therefore, you need to ensure that your business is as visible as possible, and e-commerce is a crucial tool for helping your customers to find you online. In fact, if you log on to Google Analytics right now, it is almost certain that it will show that the majority of your traffic, conversions, and sales come from organic traffic. Most of which will be driven by Google.

Why is this the case?

It all comes down to the way in which consumers purchase goods. Search is now a key factor in the decision-making process, with a massive 89% of consumers using search engines to help them with their purchasing decisions.

What does this mean for your business?

In a nutshell, if you are not utilizing a wide range of e-commerce SEO techniques as a part of your digital marketing strategy, you will not be ranked high on Google or any other popular search engine, and you will not be a part of that purchasing decision.

Low ranking = Low sales

Furthermore, e-commerce SEO is much more cost-effective than other sales and marketing strategies such as PPC advertising, which can become incredibly expensive in highly competitive industries such as retail. In fact, SEO currently has the highest ROI of any e-commerce marketing campaign.

Finally, it is worth noting that e-commerce SEO should be seen as a long-term marketing strategy that provides lasting results. Unlike paid advertising that stops working the moment you stop injecting cash or social media marketing that requires constant effort, a well-thought-out SEO campaign will keep working hard for you year on year out. Plus, you will never have to start from scratch once you have started to implement SEO techniques. Instead, you can simply add more layers to your campaign to increase its effectiveness and overall performance.

Excited to get started?

Before you do, keep this in mind. A half-hearted SEO strategy will not yield optimum results. If you want to rise in the ranks of Google and see your e-commerce business soar above your competitors, you need to be all in. You need to be 100% committed.

Now, are you ready to learn how to get free, high-converting traffic time and time again?

5 Foolproof E-commerce SEO Techniques

The best e-commerce SEO strategy takes into consideration each individual pillar of SEO: technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. If you are not 100% sure what each of these is, don’t worry, you will soon find out.

Some of the below you may already be doing naturally, whereas others will be new to you. Either way, you’ve got this!

1. Keyword Research for E-Commerce Sites

Keywords are crucial when it comes to e-commerce SEO as you want to ensure that you are making your product information pages as friendly and searchable as possible, both for search engines and for your customers.

Therefore, the first step of your e-commerce SEO campaign should always be carrying out keyword research. You need to do this for both your product pages and your category pages.

If your site has a lot of pages (most e-commerce sites do), you should look to optimizing your most important pages first. You can find out what your most important pages are using Google Analytics, a free online tool that allows you to track and monitor your website traffic.

Google Analytic

Once you have a list of your prioritized pages, you can now start the process of finding the primary keyword for each page, plus a selection of long-tail keywords. These refer keywords that are longer in length, normally three to four words, and are lower in competition, so usually result in higher conversion rates.

When it comes to keyword research for e-commerce sites, you need to focus less on informational keywords and more on commercial keywords that show buyer intent. These refer to the search queries that users make when they are in the final stages of the buying process. For example:

“Where to buy x product near me?”

Why should you focus on these keywords?

It’s simple. They are most likely to result in conversions. The user in question is ready to make a purchase, so they simply need to be presented with your product.

During this stage, it can be a good idea to see what keywords you are already ranking for. You can do this by using Google Search Console and clicking on “Search Traffic >>Search Analytics”.

You should also check what types of pages are currently ranking, such as your product pages, category pages, or blog posts.

Another place to look for keyword ideas is in the “Searches related to . . . “section at the bottom of the page of a Google search. This can be particularly helpful if you already have a few basic keywords in mind but need help branching out a bit.

Don’t forget that you can also check your competitors’ sites to see what keywords they are using. Amazon is always a great place to start as when you search on their site. You will be given a product-focused suggestion each and every time, unlike with Google, which will also bring up information keywords.

Factors to remember when choosing keywords for your e-commerce site

  • Volume: The higher the search volume, the more potential traffic to your website. However, high volume keywords also mean more competition. It’s all about getting the right balance.
  • Competition: The less competition there is for a keyword, the more likely you are to rank for it. Therefore, ideally, you want high volume, low competition keywords.
  • Relevancy: You need to choose keywords that are specifically relevant to your business, not just ones that you think will make you rank better. Google is not stupid and will not provide you as a solution to a query knowing you cannot deliver.
  • Commercial intent: Always target keywords that show commercial intent. This separates the browsers from the purchasers.

2. On-Page SEO for E-Commerce sites

Now that you have found your perfect keywords, it is time to start optimizing your pages to increase your visibility online and enjoy high quality, targeted organic traffic.

Tiles, Descriptions and Headers

When you created your e-commerce website, did you write all your meta titles and descriptions individually, or did you use a template?

If it’s the latter, don’t feel bad. Launching a new business is hard work, and it is an incredibly time-consuming process writing the tags for the hundreds of product pages that your website contains. That being said, using a template approach for meta titles and descriptions makes the process of optimizing each page much more difficult. Therefore, if possible, it is a good idea to take a more hands-on approach to writing the tags for your pages, even if it is just your most important ones.

Descriptions and Headers

Top tips for writing optimized meta titles, descriptions and headlines:

  • Include your primary keyword
  • Add long-tail keywords where appropriate
  • Include call to action words such as “buy” and “click”
  • Offer added value such as free shipping or free returns

URLs

When optimizing your site’s URLs, you want to make sure they are as clear and concise as possible. Other tops tips include:

  • Include your primary keyword
  • Keep the hierarchy and context of each page clear
  • Avoid URL parameters
  • Keep them short and sweet – below 60 characters
  • Keep them easy to read
  • Avoid overstuffing of keywords

Product Descriptions and Category Descriptions

Your two highest value pages, making sure you optimize both your product and category descriptions is crucial if you want to increase your visibility online and grow your business.

Top tips for optimizing these pages include:

  • Include your primary keyword
  • Add long-tail keywords where appropriate
  • Write unique content for each product and category
  • Provide relevant information and product details

If in doubt about how much you should write, bear in mind that Google will always favor a long, in-depth product description over thin content that offers little in the way of information or context about your products and your business.

Schema Markup

Schema markup is a great way to help your website stand out from its SEO competitors, providing your site with an enhanced description that appears on search results. Providing enhanced visibility, Schema markup has been shown to help increase click-through rates and, in turn, conversion rates. Plus, it helps Google to better understand your site, resulting in a higher ranking.

You can add Schema markup to both your product and category pages with common elements you may want to include being:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Review ratings
Schema Markup

3. Technical SEO for E-Commerce Sites

Ensuring that the technical aspects of your site are working in the right way and that they are free from errors is crucial for e-commerce SEO. Shoppers want a site that is fast, efficient, and easy to navigate; otherwise, they will go elsewhere and probably never come back.

If you are after a quick SEO fix, this is not the best place for you to start. However, once you have optimized your e-commerce site in terms of technical SEO, you will not need to do it again. Apart from your quarterly technical SEO audit, which is highly advisable.

Site Structure

The structure of your e-commerce site is very important when it comes to search engine optimization, as search bots need to be easily able to crawl and index your site before they can rank it.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the average e-commerce site, which often involves regularly removing and adding products, the structure of your site can get complicated pretty quickly.

That being said, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your site is both user and search engine-friendly:

  • Make your site structure is simple and easy to scale
  • Ensure all important pages such as your product pages are never more than 3 clicks away from your homepage
  • Avoid content duplication by using canonical tags

Plus, remember that not every page of your site needs to be indexed and optimized

Orphan Pages

You want users to be able to navigate to your product and category pages with ease; therefore, you do not want any orphan pages. These refer to pages that are hidden deep within your website as they do not contain any internal links pointing to them. Basically, they are invisible to search bots and shoppers. You can see how many orphan pages you have through Sitemaps.

Top tip: All your pages should have at least one internal link, preferably more. If you have a lot of orphan pages, focus on fixing your most important ones first.

Site Speed

Do you know how fast your site’s page loading time is? If not, you could be losing valuable organic traffic.

When it comes to e-commerce sites, 47% of customers expect a website to load in two seconds or less. Furthermore, a web page load delay of only 2 seconds, results in an increase in bounce rate of a colossal 103%.

Plus, it is not just your customers that are put off by slow site speed; Google also takes page loading time into consideration when ranking your site.

You can check your e-commerce site’s speed manually, or you can utilize Google PageSpeed Insights, a free online tool that is super easy to use.

Mobile-friendliness

Currently, mobile search accounts for 65% of all e-commerce traffic, with fashion retailers converting 89.3% of mobile traffic into sales. This means that you need to have a mobile-friendly e-commerce site if you want to be able to keep up with your competitors, attract more customers, and grow your business.

Firstly, you need to ensure that you have a responsive e-commerce website, meaning one that can be displayed on different screen sizes without compromising the quality or usability of the pages.

Other ways in which you can optimize your website to make it more mobile-friendly include:

  • Provide personalization such as personalized mobile coupons and localized information
  • Ensure faster loading speeds
  • Avoid pop-ups and sidebars
  • Make your CTR bold and specific
  • Always offer a guest checkout option
loading speeds

4. Content Marketing for E-Commerce Sites

For e-commerce businesses, and in particular retail ones, content marketing is one of the most effective ways to put yourself in the online marketplace. Statistically, 74% of companies are generating leads from content marketing strategies, with 82% of consumers feeling more positive about a brand after reading their content.

So, now that you know it’s important let’s take a look at the different content marketing techniques that you can implement for your e-commerce business.

Blogging

Does your e-commerce site have a blog section? If not, this should go straight to the top of your to-do list. Having engaging and visually optimized content that is focused around your product pages is a great way to impress both your users and search engines. Focus on providing a combination of informational blogs and buyers guides that relate to your product pages for maximum effect.

How to effectively blog for e-commerce SEO:

  • Use the right keywords – long-tail keywords are the best for blogs
  • Blog consistently to give Google more pages to index and to offer reliability to your users
  • Focus on trending topics which are more likely to attract high-quality backlinks
  • Be original
  • Provide practical advice
  • Share content on your social media platforms
  • Optimize your blog images with keywords
  • Compress images to avoid slow page loading

Social Media

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool for e-commerce sites, allowing you to enhance your site authority through high-quality backlinks and increase your overall brand awareness.

Be sure to publish consistent and compelling content that is suited to each particular platform and always enable social media share buttons for your product pages as this will help improve your ranking on SERPs.

Influencers

Influencers

Building a relationship with influencers and brand ambassadors within your niche is a great way to boost sales and increase your site’s organic traffic. Plus, in terms of e-commerce SEO, influencers are highly effective in delivering valuable backlinks.

Your initial focus should be on getting your chosen influencer or blogger to link your product from their site. This can be achieved through:

  • Sharing and commenting on their posts
  • Sending them freebies
  • Sending them a blogger/influencer outreach email

Video Content

If you are not posting video content, both on your website and on your social media platforms, then you are missing a crucial trick. A recent report shows that 90% of consumers say that video content helps them to make a purchasing decision, plus, consumers are likely to spend more money when they view your products in video content rather than using just an image or words.

Ways in which you can effectively use video content include:

  • Tell your brand story: Show users how you are different from your competitors and create a connection with potential customers.
  • Video placement: Place video content directly below the main product photo to increase conversion rate.
  • Educate and demonstrate to increase engagement: “How to videos” are always effective, as our “Size Guides”.
  • Add user-generated videos: In an increasingly cynical world, videos that show real customers will connect with shoppers more than overly polished ones.
  • Optimize for mobile: It goes without saying that users need to be able to view your video content quickly and to the same standard that they can when viewing on a desktop computer.

5. Local SEO for E-Commerce Sites

Local SEO is the process involved in optimizing the presence of your e-commerce website in search engines to attract business from relevant local searches. This type of SEO is crucial for e-commerce businesses, as most users tend to enter their location when searching online, particularly when using a mobile device. Therefore, if your e-commerce business cannot be found through a local search, you are potentially missing out on a lot of organic traffic and sales. Plus, local SEO has excellent ROI, so you can see great results with minimal effort and no expense.

Don’t have a physical store? That doesn’t mean that your e-commerce site doesn’t need to optimize with local SEO. Even when looking for a purely online service, studies show that customers prefer to purchase a product or service that comes from a business local to them.

There are several tactics that you can utilize in order to rank locally:

Set up & optimize Google My Business

optimize Google My Business

Google my Business is a free online business listing that is a core element of local SEO, allowing you to increase your business’s visibility during Google searches and on Google maps when users search for keywords or for your business directly.

Although many businesses create a Google business listing, also known as a business profile, in order to try and increase their visibility online, you may not know that without Google My Business you do not have control over this listing.

What does this mean for your business?

In a nutshell, with Google My Business, you can access, customize, and enhance your business profile, but without it, you have zero ability to manage the information it displays or the reviews it collects.

Now you know the importance of Google My Business, let’s take a look at how you can use this tool for local SEO:

  • Engage with your customers: Google My Business allows you to engage with your customers via your profile. You can respond to reviews, answer questions, and enable direct messaging.
  • Enhance your business listing: With this free tool, you can add so much more information about your business to your listing, including your opening hours, your products and pricing, and a direct link to your website.
  • Gain insights: Using the Google My Business dashboard, you can gain insights into both your customers and your local search performance. You can find out how your customers found your listing (through Google Maps or Google search), show how your images are performing, and so much more. You can even track clicks from your business profile via Google Analytics.
  • Add keywords: Using the dashboard, you can incorporate keywords into your business profile. Be sure to use them in your descriptions, your responses to reviews and your answers to any questions asked by users. Although, try to be as natural as possible when using keywords.
  • Build trust: You can build trust both with your customers and with Google by consistently responding to reviews, uploading photos, and publishing posts to your business profile via Google My Business.

Use geo-targeted content & keywords

Using geo-targeted keywords is one of the most effective ways to attract a local audience to your website. Make sure you use geo-specific keywords where possible in all aspects of your content, including on your website, on your landing pages, in your social media posts, and in any paid advertising that you use.

Examples of geo-specific keywords include:

  • Country
  • State
  • City
  • Zip code
  • “Near me”
  • “Local”
content & keywords

As you can see, this then expands even further.

keywords include

Bear in mind that these are just the most basic geo-specific keywords and that you can explore local keyword optimization in more detail using Google Trends. One of the simplest ways to drive organic traffic to your site is by finding a worldwide trending keyword or phrase and then customizing it with a specific region or city.

Generate reviews

A whopping 92% of consumers read online reviews when searching for a business online. Therefore, you need to ensure that your e-commerce site has plenty of up to date reviews if you want to attract users to your site.

Local search engines love local reviews, providing you with a simple yet effective way to build trust, increase brand awareness, and improve your local search ranking.

How can you generate more reviews for your e-commerce site?

  • Offer incentives to your existing customers: Promotional codes or money-off future orders work well.
  • Send out emails: Send out emails that clearly show your customers how to leave a review online. The easier you make the process, the more likely they are to do it.
  • Add a call to action button: Sometimes all your customers need is a gentle reminder to leave a review.
  • Post on social media: Send out a request on social media asking your followers to support their favorite brand and leave a review.

It is also a good idea to link to sites that have your business’s reviews on your e-commerce site as the more positive reviews you can cultivate, the more trust local customers will have in your brand.

Conclusion

If you are still unsure about whether or not you should leverage the power of SEO to grow your e-commerce business, you should ask yourself the below questions:

Do you want your e-commerce site to stand out from its competitors?

Do you want to see an increase in high-quality traffic to your e-commerce site?

Do you want to improve your conversion rate and encourage repeat business?

And ultimately, do you want more sales?

If yes, then you need to be optimizing your e-commerce site for search engines and for your overall user experience.

Now, SEO is not a quick or simple process. It takes time and dedication. Google are a crafty company that updates its algorithm several times a day. This means that you need to be on the ball when it comes to your SEO efforts.

That being said, there is no doubt that e-commerce SEO is worth the effort.

Need a little help with your site’s SEO strategy?

Why not enlist the services of an SEO agency that can provide you with unlimited advice, support, and all the tools you need to carry out an effective SEO campaign for your e-commerce site