23 Effective E-Commerce SEO Tips to Boost Search Traffic
How to Help Online Consumers Find Your Store
Our team at PixoLabo builds a lot of e-commerce sites. And each online store is different. But every store owner I have talked with has the same primary objective. They want to sell as many products as possible. And that always leads to the same question: “How can I generate online traffic to my store?”
When you first launch your online store, only you know about it. OK, maybe some of your friends and associates heard about it from you. But that is not enough to sustain your e-commerce site. What you need are effective e-commerce SEO strategies to drive traffic to your store.
Social Media and Paid Marketing
Yes, I can hear you say, “But I am on social media!” Good for you! But that alone is not enough. Most, if not all, of your competitors, are using the same social channels.
“How about paid search marketing?” That is certainly another option to drive traffic to your e-commerce site. But especially in competitive markets, this e-commerce SEO strategy will quickly become very expensive.
The most effective and sustainable way to generate leads and increase sales is e-commerce SEO. You need to rely less on social media and paid marketing channels by developing organic search traffic to your product and category pages.
Let’s dive into 23 e-commerce SEO tips and best practices and tips that will help you grow your traffic and sales heading into 2022.
But first, let me explain what e-commerce SEO is and how it benefits your online store.
What is E-Commerce SEO?
E-commerce SEO is the process of increasing your website’s visibility on search engine ranking pages (SERPS) by targeting keywords related to your product and improving site structure and speed. The goal of e-commerce SEO is to get your e-commerce store to rank as highly as possible to drive more traffic to your e-commerce website.
Before You Begin
I developed this report based on our team’s strategic opinions of the market, guided by current developments, best practices, and data. Of course, what works for the industry might not work for your site. I cannot promise you’ll see positive gains, even if you implement every strategy I outline.
You should make any changes you make to your website carefully. This way, you can see what works for you — and what doesn’t — and be able to adapt your e-commerce SEO strategy before any changes become permanent.
23 E-Commerce SEO Tips
E-commerce SEO might seem intimidating to get right at first, but it’s not that difficult once you know where to focus your efforts. This post will cover and explain 23 e-commerce SEO tips and strategies to level up your e-commerce SEO game.
1. Create a Detailed Keyword Plan
Google has a tough job; it serves over 80,000 users with relevant search results every second. So it will hurt their business if they provide lousy search results.
For each search result, Google has to pick the best pages that meet the user’s intent, which they can determine based on the user’s search query. In the SEO world, we call the user’s search queries “keywords.”
Types of Keywords
For decades, SEO practitioners have categorized keywords into three broad groups, depending on the user’s intent:
Commercial keywords: keywords that indicate a desire to purchase a product — e.g., “buy a digital camera,” “digital camera discount,” “digital camera prices.”
Informational keywords: keywords that indicate a need to learn about a specific issue — e.g., “digital camera guide,” “how to use a digital camera,” “digital photography tips,” “digital photography tutorial.”
Navigational keywords: keywords related to a specific product, brand, or location — e.g., “Nikon DSLR,” “B&H store.”
One study showed that over 80% of the total searches are informational, while 10% are navigational and 10% are transactional.
Helping Google show the best results to their users’ search queries is guaranteed to get promoted in their search results. For that reason, you want to show the most relevant pages for each keyword your customers make. And for that, you need to plan your keyword strategy carefully.
Start by adding your e-commerce store to a keyword research tool like RankMath, SE Ranking, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz. Then, export the keywords and repeat the process for at least three of your top competitors.
Using the Data
With this data, you want to:
- Categorize each keyword. Create a column in your spreadsheet and write whether the keyword is commercial, informational, or navigational.
- Identify your competitors’ keywords. You will find that your competitors rank for keywords your store doesn’t; create a separate tab with those keywords so you can eventually target them.
- Organize them by volume and CPC. You want to target keywords with a mix of high volume and high CPC — the former will guarantee increased traffic (once you rank for them), and the latter will help you increase sales.
- Prioritize your opportunities. There will be keywords that look appetizing but won’t be easy — or realistic — to rank for. You can use several keyword prioritization models; some focus on volume, others on conversions, and so on. Pick one that best fits your interests and start optimizing your pages based on the results you get.
2. Optimize for Intent
When you start optimizing your pages, you want to pay close attention to your keyword’s intent. Google considers a page’s relevance critical to properly serving its users. But what is “intent”?
Search intent is the reason behind a user’s search. It explains the purpose and motives they have when they type a search query. Therefore, the better your website serves Google’s users, the higher your reward (i.e., the more traffic you will get).
Analyzing Search Intent
To uncover search intent, you have two options:
Analyze their nature. As explained before, keywords often indicate their purpose in their name. E.g., keywords that feature words like “buy” or “coupon” are commercial, while those with words like “how to” or “tutorial” are informational.
Look at CPC. Google determines a keyword’s cost-per-click (CPC) by their demand; the higher the demand (i.e., the higher the number of advertisers bidding for it), the more it costs. A keyword’s profitability generally determines demand. Thus, keywords with high CPC tend to convert better, which are often commercial keywords.
Enter your e-commerce store in an SEO tool like Nightwatch and check the keywords you are ranking for already. Take notes of the CPC and the words they show.
Then, when you optimize your pages, you want to add your selected keywords in their:
- Page title. It’s one of the most important on-site factors.
- Copy. Add the keyword several times on your page. Use a tool like TextOptimizer to find the proper keyword density (i.e., the number of times you mention a keyword on a page).
- URL. URL is another critical factor in on-site optimization. If you have already published a page, consider creating a 301 redirect.
- Alt-Tag. Add your keyword in your image’s alt-tag as it allows Google to understand what an image depicts.
- Internal Links. Link to your pages within your site using your keywords as anchor text.
Website Structure is Key
Having a properly structured website can differentiate between your ranking on the SERPs (search engine results pages) and increase the chance of a purchase. There are a lot of opportunities to improve your website structure, but let’s start with breadcrumb navigation and clean URLs.
There are two parts to an e-commerce website structure that can immediately impact your e-commerce store—the first is breadcrumb navigation. Breadcrumb navigation is a form of site navigation that shows users where they are within a site’s hierarchy without having to check the URL.
Breadcrumb navigation helps with site mapping and the organization of your site structure, as well as on-site click-through rates for shoppers visiting your store.
Second, website structure optimization is writing SEO-friendly URLs. What is an SEO-friendly URL? Simply put, it’s a readable URL slug for visitors. Clean URLs are intended for your visitors and Google to improve usability and accessibility by being intuitive and meaningful.
Here is what a messy URL looks like:
Here is what a clean URL looks like:
3. Research E-Commerce Keywords
Now your technical website structuring is complete. Congrats! Let’s dive into another less “technical” process that is equally important—in-depth keyword research.
Starting with a strong keyword foundation can make or break your SEO efforts and could save you a lot of time if done correctly from the start. This phase of your e-commerce SEO is critical because it will impact all optimizations moving forward. So with that, let’s take a breath and move into it.
A tool like Google Keyword Planner will allow you to find your base keyword information. You can collect average monthly search volume, average CPCs, and the competition of that keyword in the world of SEM. Google Keyword Planner is a great tool to kickstart your keyword research efforts.
Now let’s discuss what to look for. We want keywords with a high volume of searches per month but are also high intent keywords, which can lead to customers. When checking through keywords, be sure to Google them. See if you have an opportunity to rank for them.
If you are competing against big-name companies, it is worth looking for longer-tail keywords that can provide you with an advantage. Paid tools like Ahrefs, SEO PowerSuite, or SE Ranking will let you dig deeper into keyword difficulties and competition to help you prioritize opportunities.
4. Add a Sitemap.xml to Your Search Console
Even though many popular e-commerce platforms automatically generate your sitemap.xml, it’s still important to add your sitemap.xml to Google Search Console. Why do you need to do this? Your sitemap.xml is a list of all the essential pages of your e-commerce site, making sure Google can find and crawl them all.
5. Utilize Dynamic Sitemaps
One of the most significant opportunities in e-commerce SEO is in long-tail keywords. These search queries typically have four or more words and do not have a large search volume. They make up for what they lack in search volume in revenue, as these terms typically have a higher conversion rate because customers using them are generally closer to making a purchase.
Properly targeting long-tail keywords often requires content creation deep within your site structure. While these pages might have the exact answers your customers are looking for, Google must find them and crawl them to assign value in the search results.
One way to take advantage of long-tail search terms is with dynamic sitemaps. Dynamic sitemaps are auto-generated XML files that outline all URLs on your website in a format that makes it easy for Google.
Essentially, you give search engines hints into how your pages are stored and classified to make their job easier when crawling.
Creating a dynamic sitemap is easy, but maintaining it is not. As a result, it’s easy for e-commerce sitemaps to become outdated, have broken URLs, or even miss URLs when shared with search crawlers.
Consider investing in a tool that auto-generates dynamic sitemaps. This way, you can feel confident that Google’s crawlers get the information they need daily, and the URLs are up-to-date and accurate.
6. Optimize Product Pages
Simply copying and pasting product descriptions from competitors or manufacturers isn’t enough. Instead, you must write product descriptions that sell. Take advantage of and optimize every area, including H1-H6 title tags, Meta Titles, and Meta Descriptions.
Make your product descriptions stand out creatively and uniquely by:
- Sticking to your branding
- Minimizing the use of jargon and keeping your description easy to read/scan
- Utilizing bullet points to distinguish particular features/benefits
- Speaking to the buyer persona throughout your copy
7. Embed Your Products within Your Content Strategy
Your e-commerce marketing strategy and your content strategy are the same. Your content should promote your store without pushing your products indiscriminately.
Since 80% of users’ searches are informational, your content will most likely target informational keywords that focus on the solution to the user’s problem and not your product.
You want to write with SEO in mind, but not exclusively for it. Google wants its users to be happy. Therefore, your content needs to be about them. Making money from your e-commerce content is within your reach only if you prioritize your customers’ needs first over yours.
8. Optimize Category Pages
Category pages are equally as crucial as product pages and follow many of the same principles—unique and creative content focused around on-site SEO best practices. Here are a few quick wins that you can take away for your category pages:
- First, optimize category titles from your keyword research.
- Optimize your category meta descriptions. Try to summarize your product and offerings while being unique, creative, and encouraging users to click.
- Add your category H1 Tag. Ensure there is only one per page and follow best practices just like any other page or piece of content.
- Include a description of your category page right below your H1 tag. Then, break up your content by including a short-form piece of content at the top below your H1 title tag. Add more specific text content at the bottom of your category page if you desire.
- Include Internal links within the description.
- Include images. Visuals in e-commerce are vital, and a category page is no different. Therefore, incorporate visuals of your products throughout the category page. You can even include a custom graphic at the header of your category page to further differentiate.
9. Add Pagination Elements to Category Pages
Imagine you have category pages with thousands of products. The last thing you want is to force users to load everything at once and then scroll through listings until they find something they like. Most e-commerce websites solve this by breaking up the category into easily digestible pages with just a portion of the listings, typically 25-50 items per page.
While this is great for customer experience, it can hurt your e-commerce SEO. Google isn’t sure which category page to display for users in search results. Adding SEO pagination elements with “rel=next” and “rel=prev” tags tells Google and other search engines how pages are related to one another.
Smart web developers will also give users the option to view all the listings on one page. You may decide to add the option to your e-commerce pages. If you do, make sure you follow the canonical rules outlined by Google to prevent confusion and penalties by the search crawlers.
10. Create Content that Answers Your User’s Queries
Google’s mission is to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Help Google fulfill its mission by creating content that answers your user’s search queries! When you brainstorm content ideas, think about the user’s goal—this refers to their intent and specific desires and needs.
For example, if a user searches for one of your product’s names and you serve them with the page of the corresponding product, you will fulfill their desire. Therefore, we can assume that visitors want to learn more about your product or buy it.
You should build your content marketing strategy around three main ideas:
- Create content with clear conclusions. Offer your users solutions that they didn’t know. Whether your product is a part of that solution is irrelevant; focus on helping the reader before making a sale.
- Focusing on quality over quantity. You may see your competitors and feel pressured to create high volumes of content, but that’s a mistake. Instead, create the best content possible for each targeted keyword, analyze your competitors, and provide content that’s 10x better than theirs.
- Writing for people instead of algorithms. Google wants content built for people, not to satisfy or manipulate their algorithm.
11. Promote Your Content
Retailers often overlook traditional outreach strategies. Still, they serve as powerful traffic drivers and link-building tactics that can improve your e-commerce SEO. For example, suppose a blog, website, or influencer that your customers trust appreciates your content. In that case, they share it with their audience, driving traffic to your page, increasing your overall reach, and building a valuable backlink to your pages.
In today’s SEO environment, link quality trumps quantity. A link from a trusted website counts for more than any number of unnatural links placed in comment sections, forums, or related low-quality sites.
To build natural, authoritative links, you need to make something worth linking to. Whether this is an infographic, an interactive page, or original research, it must be something that engages your readers.
By making your content educational and not promotional, partner publishers will be more open to presenting your content to their audiences. But, of course, you must start with great content before other people want to link to it.
12. Avoid Content Cannibalization
When running an e-commerce store, it can be difficult not to duplicate content. In addition, it can become increasingly challenging to differentiate product descriptions and variations for tens, hundreds, or thousands of products. As a result, this can potentially be detrimental to your search rankings.
So what can you do? First, to minimize this content hurting ranking, add a canonical tag or a 301 redirect for pages to ensure search engines understand which pages have identical or similar content.
13. Publish Content Frequently
Every e-commerce store should start creating content. Whether that is written, video, or, audio—content is king. But, of course, the frequency of publishing fresh content is up to you.
14. Make Your Content Easy to Read
No one enjoys text walls. Only 16% of people read web pages word for word. Most visitors scan a page and bounce if they don’t immediately see what they expect to find.
While the jury is still out on whether or not bounce rate is valid as a Google ranking factor, the bottom line is that if your page is hard to read, people won’t read it.
Try and keep your paragraphs crisp with breaks in between. Use bullet points for additional breaks in your content.
Pro tip: Run website copy through a Flesch-Kincaid readability scoring tool to quickly gauge if your page is easy to scan and understand. Here are some free options:
15. Optimize for Voice Search
Voice search with the help of personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa is on the rise. 50% of all searches came from voice search in 2020. Roughly 13% of all houses had a speaker in 2017, increasing to 55% by 2022. So now is the time to start targeting voice search queries.
Consider developing an answer section of your site, like a FAQ page, to address questions. You can also use Schema markup to list answers directly on your product pages.
To understand what questions to answer, look at the historical data gathered by your on-site search or online queries on Google’s Search Console. Notice the questions that users are already asking and give them away to find the information they need.
Be sure to make each question a unique page and answer the question as detailed as possible to appeal to crawlers and voice search users.
16. Invest in Local SEO
Do you have physical stores as well as an e-commerce presence? Then, creating local pages can drive substantial e-commerce SEO improvements to both branded local and non-branded local traffic.
Local results appear when a user geographically near your store searches for products or services that you offer. Potential customers can learn your hours of operation, directions to your location, and your current and future offers or events.
If you want to maximize your local SEO benefits, your local site should appear in the root URL (ex.Mysite.com/stores/Seattle). Not only will this make your locations easier to discover for users. It will also allow Google to assign some of your e-commerce store’s equity to your physical location. As a result, search engines are more likely to show your business location when local customers search for your products.
17. Secure Your Store with HTTPS
It’s shocking to see stores without HTTPS as we’re heading into 2022. However, it isn’t too late to get your store secure. Here’s why it is essential.
As a store owner, you are collecting personal details from customers. Therefore, it’s best practice to ensure that all information collected is encrypted.
If you needed another reason to do this, Google declared HTTPS as a ranking factor for sites. So Google will reward you as well.
Luckily, most e-commerce platforms offer SSL as a standard option or make it readily available to purchase.
18. Fix Usability Issues
E-commerce giants like Amazon and Rakuten made it incredibly easy to buy online, leading to an increase in consumers’ expectations to receive a flawless shopping experience. But, sadly, many e-commerce stores continue to offer a bad user experience (UX), with confusing elements, complex shopping processes, and more.
A study done by the Norman Nielsen Group found that a mere 56% of consumers succeeded at making a purchase online. But what about organic traffic?
Google has made the user experience a ranking factor, so you will increase your traffic and conversions by fixing any usability issues. Talk about a win-win situation.
To fix your UX, you can track your visitor’s behavior with the help of:
- Session recording tools. These will record a random number of visitors and show everything they do in your store.
- Quantitative analytics tools. Check your highest exit pages—the pages where your visitors leave most often.
- Qualitative analytics tools. You can ask your visitors about their experience using online feedback forms.
19. Fix Broken Links
This tip may seem like an easy one, but it’s essential. We have all experienced the dreaded “Page 404 Not Found.”
It’s a bad user experience for everyone, including Google. As you grow, checking your site for 404’s and fixing broken links should become routine maintenance.
There are numerous tools available to find broken links on your site quickly. Some of the better options out there (both free and paid) include:
- W3C Link Checker
- Online Broken Link Checker
- Dead Link Checker
- Dr. Link Check.com
- Xenu’s Link Sleuth
- Integrity Link Checker (MAC only)
- Google Webmaster
- Screaming Frog
- Ahrefs Broken Link Checker
Remember, if an internal page is 404, you can always 301 redirect the original URL to the new page. So the bottom line, fix 404’s, and everyone wins.
20. Prioritize the Mobile E-Commerce Experience
Adobe Analysts reported that in 2020 over half of all online sales originated from a mobile device. This fact proves that mobile-first isn’t just for Google and SEO.
Optimizing your site for mobile-first is a must now. As e-commerce store owners, we need to be looking at:
- Responsive mobile design is a must
- Page speed and load time optimization on mobile
- Easy to use mobile navigation and UX
- Simple mobile checkout
21. Improve Page Load Speed
Page speed is a hugely popular topic that can create an immediate impact on your e-commerce store and visitor experience.
There are a lot of good tools out there that can help you measure your page speed and uncover what could be slowing down your website. My favorite free ones are:
The best part about these tools is that they provide insightful action items that you can fix immediately. However, keep in mind, some issues will be more challenging to solve than others. I outlined these in more detail in my essential WordPress page speed optimization tips.
22. Use Internal Links to Drive Traffic to Underperforming Pages
Once you start to see visitors flowing into your store from an online search, consider linking pages with higher organic traffic to pages you want to rank higher.
This website structure drives link equity and topical relevance to newer pages, improving their ability to rank.
Overall, content can become your best friend in e-commerce, so treat it as such. However, even when developing the highest quality content, be sure to follow best practices for on-site SEO.
23. Run a “Branded” Link Building Strategy
So far, our e-commerce SEO tips have been focused on the on-site part of SEO: keywords, on-site optimization, and content. The second part of a successful SEO strategy is link building, allowing Google to understand the value and authority of a given domain and page. The higher the authority, the higher Google will likely rank a page.
For an e-commerce store in a competitive industry to succeed, it must stand out. As Simon Reynolds put it, you want to “zig when others zag.” That means your marketing strategy should focus on building a household name that can stand new competition, trends, or market downturns.
You can do so by running a link-building strategy aimed at building brand awareness. Start by using an SEO tool like the ones mentioned above, and analyze your top competitors, the links they have earned, and the type of links they are.
Your competition provides a target to reach while showing you potential link-building opportunities to take right away. The truth is, all successful brands build links naturally due to their popularity and industry presence.
Your link-building strategy should start by creating links that are natural to brands like yours. Three ways you can implement such a strategy include targeting:
- Brand Mentions. Look for opportunities where sites mention your brand without linking to your store. Likewise, check your competitors’ mentions and reach out to the same sites asking for a mention.
- Directory Sites. Search for directories around your industry or location that mention brands like yours.
- Resource Pages. Find pages that link to brands like yours and reach out, asking for a link.
E-Commerce SEO Optimization Takeaways
If you feel like you’re hitting a wall for the types of effective e-commerce SEO you can create, then we’re here to help. Follow this guide of 23 tips to help you increase your site’s ranking potential. These strategies will give you a baseline to review your site and identify where you should focus your efforts this year and beyond.
After you have developed your SEO strategy, start to implement it right away. SEO takes time, so the sooner you start, the better it will be for your store.
One thing to keep in mind when thinking about SEO is that it takes time. Unlike PPC campaigns, SEO may take months before you see any results. Be patient. PPC and SEO will be a constant balance for your business as you move forward.
E-Commerce SEO is Always Evolving
The SEO world is constantly changing. Your e-commerce store will have to adapt to these swings so you can continue to grow over time. However, all these tactics are well-known best practices that have shown to be resilient to Google’s algorithm changes.
These e-commerce SEO tips will take time to take effect. So make sure to develop an e-commerce SEO strategy to sustain these algorithmic changes and ensure your business’ growth.
Organic traffic has never been easy. And it is especially difficult for e-commerce. Does that mean it’s impossible? No.
Are you ready to boost your traffic? We are here to help!
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of e-commerce website optimization, consulting, and WordPress web design services, including website design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, and WordPress optimization.
And if you are still not sure how to optimize your e-commerce site for SEO, let’s talk! We will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best e-commerce SEO solutions for your company or product brand!
Did You Optimize Your E-Commerce Site for Search?
What did you do to help consumers find your online store? What results did you achieve? Do you have any other e-commerce SEO tips or recommendations? Feel free to add your comments below so our audience can benefit and grab our feed, so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!
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