As an experienced SEO practitioner who has worked with numerous eCommerce brands, I can confidently say that a rock-solid SEO strategy is imperative for online retail success.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll equip you with all the knowledge, tactics and best practices you need to crush your eCommerce SEO and ascend to the top of the SERPs.
Let’s dive in!
- SEO delivers exponential growth by increasing organic visibility. It provides access to high-converting traffic at a low cost.
- Keyword research underpins the entire strategy. You must precisely identify and target keywords users search for.
- Technical site optimizations like page speed, site architecture and eliminating crawl errors lay the SEO groundwork.
- Compelling on-page elements boost rankings and click-through for individual pages. Optimize titles, descriptions, content, media etc.
- Link building and securing backlinks from trusted sites is tremendously impactful for search authority.
- Track rankings, traffic, click-through rate and ROI religiously to refine efforts and maximize impact.
Why eCommerce SEO is non-negotiable
In today’s hypercompetitive online retail space, SEO is no longer optional – it’s an absolute necessity.
Here are three key reasons why SEO is crucial for eCommerce brands of all sizes:
1. Increased visibility for massive growth potential
High organic rankings unlock incredible visibility. Studies show sites ranking #1 for a keyword can expect to receive over 30% of overall clicks for that term. By claiming those coveted top spots for your most valuable keywords, you gain direct access to massive growth potential from high-converting organic traffic.
2. Cost-effective method to acquire customers
Paid ads can be prohibitively expensive, especially for newer brands with limited budgets.
SEO allows you to attract targeted visitors without spending a dime. The only costs are the investments you make in optimizing your presence – and those pay for themselves over time in the form of free organic traffic.
3. Higher trust and credibility
Many consumers inherently trust organic results more than paid ads. Ranking highly builds authority and gravitas for your brand in your niche.
Clearly, SEO delivers significant bottom-line impact. Let’s now break down exactly how to implement an effective eCommerce SEO strategy.
Step 1: Master keyword research
Thorough keyword research is the absolute foundation of SEO success. Without targeting keywords users are actually searching for, you’re essentially throwing darts blindfolded.
Here is a step-by-step process for nailing your keyword research:
1. Find seed keywords
Start by brainstorming a list of basic seed keywords directly related to your brand, products and industry.
These may include:
- Your brand name
- Product names
- Product features/benefits
- Industry terms and buyer keywords
Catalog existing keywords you rank for as a starting point too.
2. Expand keyword ideas
Next, use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs and Semrush to find additional keyword ideas and variations.
Analyze keywords your site already ranks for and find similar terms. Look at what competitors target as well.
Keywords generally branch out into four categories:
- Navigational keywords – Navigating to a specific website
- Informational keywords – Searching for more information on a topic
- Commercial keywords – Searching for information about a products or services, but not yet ready to purchase
- Transactional keywords – Actively looking to buy a specific product
Aim for a comprehensive list of keyword ideas spanning these categories.
3. Analyze search volume and competition
Now dig into search volume and competition levels for your keywords using tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs or Google Keyword Planner.
Identify terms that have sufficient search volume and low competition. Don’t ignore obscure long-tail keywords with tiny search volumes, these can be great to build out topic clusters – groups of articles around a specific topic.
Use the data to narrow your keyword list down to a priority subset of high-potential targets.
4. Organize into tiers
Group your refined keyword list into tiers based on priority:
- Tier 1 – Your “money” keywords – These have high search volumes and the perfect blend of relevance + competitiveness for your brand. Go all out to target these
- Tier 2 – Your secondary keywords with decent potential. Still worth pursuing but not as aggressively as Tier 1’s
- Tier 3 – Your “maintenance” keywords that you’ll optimize for on an ongoing basis but not necessarily actively target or track progress for
This tiered structure helps inform your optimization prioritization moving forward.
5. Set up tracking
Finally, set up tracking in Google Analytics to monitor your organic keyword traffic and conversions.
You can track rankings manually or in a much better way using automated tools like SEMrush, Moz or Search Console as well.
With the above research process, you’ll have a laser-targeted list of keyword opportunities to guide your SEO efforts.
Now let’s discuss important optimization strategies for ranking well.
Step 2: Optimize your website’s architecture
Your site architecture forms the backbone of your entire optimization strategy. Before diving into page-level tactics, it’s imperative your overall site structure facilitates discoverability and navigation.
Follow these best practices:
Use a logical, hierarchical category structure
Some eCommerce sites suffer from disorganised category structure that makes it difficult for shoppers to find the right products.
Instead, employ a multi-level category structure – have clear parent categories, then drill down into logical subcategories and buckets.
Reflect the buyer journey and how users find products. Make it effortless to filter and explore.
Ensure seamlessly intuitive navigation
Navigation and menus are like road signs guiding users through your site. The easier it is for visitors to find pages relevant to their intent, the better.
Keep navigation labels clear, descriptive and mirror natural search queries. Avoid using generic terms.
Include secondary navigation like category links and related product CTA’s within page content as well.
Implement breadcrumb navigation
Breadcrumbs provide contextual page hierarchy cues within page content. This further eases discoverability for visitors.
Having breadcrumb structured data also helps search bots crawl your site architecture.
Structure pages around keywords
Name your category, subcategory and product pages based on the keywords you’re targeting for those respective pages.
For example, for a “best cycling shoes” keyword, have the page titled “Best Cycling Shoes of 2022”.
Interlink related pages
Link out contextually from blog posts and product pages to related content. This creates a graph of semantic relevance signals.
For example, link from relevant buying guides to product pages so search engines associate your expertise with those keywords.
Optimize page speed
Site speed significantly impacts organic rankings, traffic, conversions and overall user experience.
Aim for sub-2 second page load speeds on mobile and desktop by optimizing images, minimizing HTTP requests, enabling compression/caching and more.
Slow sites bleed traffic, sales and SEO authority. Prioritize speed at all costs.
Embrace a mobile-first indexation approach
Over 50% of eCommerce traffic comes from smartphones. With mobile-first indexing becoming the norm, sites not optimized for mobile will plummet in rankings.
Ensure your site adopts responsive design, uses legible fonts optimized for small screens, minimized pinch/zooming and more.
With a search-friendly site architecture and seamless user experience, you lay the groundwork for SEO success.
Now let’s move on to specific on-page optimization best practices.
Step 3: On-page SEO – Craft compelling pages
On-page SEO is about optimizing individual pages to better appeal to search engines and users.
Well-optimized pages act as magnets, pulling in exponentially more organic traffic.
Here are proven on-page best practices:
1. Optimize title tags
Your title tag is one of the most important on-page elements for SEO and click-through-rate optimization.
Follow these title tag best practices:
- Incorporate your target keyword near the beginning of the title
- Include your brand name in the title, particularly if you have a strong brand
- Craft compelling, benefit-driven titles that entice clicks
- Keep titles under 60 characters to avoid truncation in SERPs
2. Write strong meta descriptions
Meta descriptions summarize page content in SERPs. Well-written ones boost click-through rates.
Tips for creating high-converting meta descriptions:
- Incorporate keywords naturally within 155-160 character length
- Emphasize benefits – don’t just describe. Tell users why they should click
- Use conversational language and avoid over-marketing
- Add urgency or social proof for additional motivation
3. Optimize content for audience and search intent
The content on each page is critical for engaging visitors and search engines.
For product pages, include detailed information about features, specifications, usage instructions, buying factors and comparisons. Aim for 1000+ words where possible.
For blogs and category pages, ensure content directly answers search intent – what the user wants to know or do.
Incorporate related keywords throughout the content naturally. Produce truly helpful, insightful content.
4. Leverage LSI keywords
LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords are relevant words and phrases semantically related to your core keywords.
Incorporating LSI keywords provides context and enriches your content for search engines and users. For example, for “cycling shoes”, LSI terms could include pedal, clipless, gears, terrain, uphill etc.
Google has stated that they don’t use anything called ‘LSI keywords’, however, it is likely that using semantically related words would increase the relevance of a piece of content for a particular topic.
5. Optimize image file names, alt text and size
Images boost engagement but also provide additional keyword targeting opportunities.
- Use target keywords in image file names and alt text – e.g. “best-cycling-shoes.jpg”
- Keep alt text concise yet descriptive
- Compress images for faster loading – use tools like TinyPNG
6. Enhance pages with structured data markup
Structured data markup enables search engines to better interpret and represent your pages in SERPs.
Important schemas include:
- Product schema – Help search showcase critical product info like price, rating, availability etc.
- Breadcrumbs – As discussed earlier.
- FAQ schema – Highlight key questions and answers for featured snippets opportunities.
- Review schema – Star ratings and review counts build social proof.
There are many more applicable schemas – leverage these enhancements.
With well-optimized titles, descriptions, content, media, structure and schema markup, your pages become magnets for search engines and visitors.
Now let’s talk technical optimizations and fixes.
Step 4: Perfect technical SEO implementations
Behind the scenes, there are several critical technical elements that need to be correctly implemented for smooth SEO operations.
Here are the key technical optimizations required:
1. Eliminate 404 errors
404 errors from broken links, invalid redirects or missing pages hamper crawling and indexation. Eliminate every single 404 error – leave no broken link behind!
2. Consolidate duplicated content
Duplicate content spreads your equity too thin and risks dilution penalties. Consolidate any redundant or republished content through 301 redirects or canonical tags.
3. Speed up site performance
As highlighted earlier, site speed is hugely influential for SEO.
Beyond obvious optimizations like image compression, also leverage browser caching, CDNs, deferred JS loading and more.
4. Set up proper sitemaps
Sitemaps communicate your site structure and content inventory to search engines for better crawling.
Submit XML sitemaps for the largest impact. Include image sitemaps as well.
5. Optimize robots.txt file
Your robots.txt file controls crawler access permissions. Make sure it’s not blocking legitimate content.
If you want content to be crawled, but not indexed, use noindex tags instead of blocking search engines with robots.txt.
6. Use HTTPS
With encrypted HTTPS as the norm, migrating from HTTP is essential. Acquire an SSL certificate and switch your site to HTTPS.
Make sure that you stay on top of technical SEO fundamentals and minimize crawl obstacles for search engines by following these tips.
Now let’s explore how to build authority and trust through content and links.
Step 5: Content marketing for organic growth
Quality content builds brand authority, captures traffic from search and social and nurtures leads down the funnel.
Here are proven content marketing strategies for eCommerce SEO growth:
1. Publish in-depth, keyword-driven blog content
Build a pillar content around your core product and industry topics and keywords. Publish long-form, pillar content that ranks for those terms and extensively covers subtopics related to your niche.
2. Develop different content formats
Expand beyond just blog articles. Create videos, visual guides, podcasts, webinars and more. Different formats allow you to target a breadth of keywords and user preferences.
3. Promote content across social channels
Share your content across your social media channels. Post natively on the platform and also embed social sharing buttons on your site.
Over 50% of organic traffic originates from social referrals, so maximizing discoverability is crucial.
4. Leverage influencers and industry experts
Produce co-created content with relevant influencers and thought leaders through guest posts, interviews, quotes, Q&As etc. This helps expand your reach and provides credibility signals.
5. Repurpose evergreen assets
Take evergreen performing assets and refresh them into new formats, locations and pieces of content to extend their shelf life. For example, turn an effective blog post into a video or podcast episode as well.
6. Promote content via email marketing
Email subscribers are a qualified audience you have direct access to. Promote new content directly through email marketing campaigns and newsletters. This guarantees a base level of engagement and conversions.
With remarkable content that resonates, you’ll gain devoted organic followers over the long term.
Now let’s discuss the art and science of acquiring high-quality backlinks at scale.
Step 6: Link building strategies
Backlinks remain one of the strongest ranking signals. Earning links from trusted domains boosts authority and lifts organic visibility.
Here are effective white hat link building tactics to incorporate:
1. Identify link-worthy site content
Audit your site to classify pages that naturally lend themselves to links building – think roundups, studies, reports, tools etc.
Strengthen these pages and proactively pitch them for links.
2. Create resources to pitch guest posts
Develop resources like guides and frameworks and pitch them to publications accepting contributor content. Getting featured on reputable sites nets powerful links.
3. Network and connect at industry events
Attending and sponsoring live events opens up networking opportunities that can lead to link-earning connections. Build rapport with other attendees and influencers.
4. Connect via expert roundups and quotes
Become a thought leader by contributing quotes and expertise to roundup posts in your field. Reach out to roundup authors and ask if you can participate.
5. Produce link-worthy content assets
Create visual assets like interactive quizzes, assessments, calculators and infographics that publishers are eager to embed. These “link bait” assets attract high-quality referring domains.
6. Monitor and replicate competitor links
Study where top competitors earn links from. Reach out to those publishers and replicate their success. This competitive analysis shortcuts your own link building efforts.
Slowly but surely, you will earn high-authority backlinks through persistence, relationship building and contribution of value.
Now let’s move on to tracking SEO success.
Tracking progress and results
You must diligently track key metrics to assess your SEO health and progress.
Here are the core SEO KPIs to monitor:
1. Organic traffic growth
Total visitors from SEO represent the fruits of your optimization efforts. Is traffic increasing month-over-month? Dig into traffic by landing page and keyword as well.
2. Keyword rankings
How are you ranking for your target keywords? Are you moving up in position over time?
3. Click through rates
Are SERP listings and pages attracting clicks? CTR evaluates both on-page optimization and keyword-to-topic relevance.
4. Site authority scores
Domain authority scores like Moz and SEMrush reflect your overall SEO strength. Aim for consistent authority gains. Although, do remember that Google doesn’t actually use domain authority as a metric.
5. ROI on organic leads and customers
Ultimately SEO delivers business impact. Analyze the value driven from organic search – the holy grail metric.
Regularly assess and act upon the above KPIs to refine and maximize the performance of your SEO program.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take to see results from eCommerce SEO?
SEO is an ongoing process, but you can expect to see initial results in 3-6 months if you’re dedicating consistent effort. Rankings and traffic will continue improving over time as you build authority. Be patient and focus on long-term wins.
Q: How often should I create new blog content?
Aim to publish 1-2 authoritative, keyword-focused blog articles per week. This ensures you’re continuously adding fresh, indexable content and pages. Spread content across different categories and keywords.
Q: What are the most important on-page elements?
The title tag and first content paragraph are most critical for page rankings and click-through rates. Also, ensure proper header tag structure (H1, H2, H3) and optimized media.
Q: How do I find link building opportunities?
Start by identifying and reaching out to sites already linking to competitors – ask them to link to some of your content as well. You can also search for relevant guest posting sites and HARO requests.
Q: How much does eCommerce SEO cost?
With an agency, eCommerce SEO costs can vary a lot depending on how that agency prices its services. At Emiquent, our pricing is based on upon the number of pages we will be optimizing. This is fairest both for clients and ourselves.
Q: How can I track my SEO performance?
Regularly monitor rankings, organic traffic, click-through rates and conversions. Use Google Analytics, Search Console, and rank tracking software to assess progress.
Q: How important are backlinks?
Backlinks remain one of the most influential ranking factors. Links from quality sites signal trust and authority to Google. Prioritize outreach for guest posts, roundups, broken link building etc.
Q: What are some common SEO mistakes?
Insufficient keyword research, thin content, slow site speed, lack of mobile responsiveness, and failure to acquire backlinks are some frequent errors.
Q: Should I optimize for voice search?
Yes, voice search usage is rising exponentially. Optimize title tags and content for natural conversational long-tail keywords people use when speaking queries.
The road to SEO success
Well, there you have it – a comprehensive SEO guide covering everything you need for eCommerce search dominance.
As you can see, effective SEO requires an expansive, long-term strategy encompassing:
- In-depth keyword research
- Optimized website architecture
- Compelling on-page elements
- Flawless technical implementations
- Authority-building content creation
- Powerful link building
- Rigorous tracking of KPIs
With the insights provided throughout this guide, you have an actionable blueprint for eCommerce SEO success.
Now it’s up to you to meticulously execute and commit to you website’s continuous improvement.
I sincerely hope you found this guide valuable. Please reach out if you need any clarification or have additional questions about my eCommerce SEO services. I’m always happy to chat more about SEO strategy. You can contact me here.