Why SEO is important for ecommerce success

Ecommerce businesses live and die by their ability to drive traffic to their online stores. Without visibility, you have no sales. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. Let’s discuss why SEO is important for ecommerce.

Key takeaways

  • Search engines drive the majority of traffic and sales for ecommerce sites. Ranking high organically is critical.
  • Higher SEO rankings lead to more clicks, visitors, conversions and revenue.
  • Page 1 spots get dramatically more clicks.
  • SEO delivers results more cost-effectively than paid search ads over the long term.
  • Local SEO helps drive foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores from mobile searches.
  • Voice search usage is rising fast. SEO strategies should optimize for conversational spoken keywords.
  • Product schema markup enhances visibility and click-through rate for product listings.
  • Faster page speed directly correlates with higher conversion and revenue.
  • SEO builds authority, trust, and brand visibility – not just traffic and sales.
  • Creating high-quality content and SEO go hand in hand to drive growth.
  • Consistent SEO helps defend against competitors and maintain market share.

Implementing an effective ecommerce SEO strategy is perhaps the most impactful thing an online store can do to increase visibility, acquire new customers, and grow revenue. Here’s why SEO needs to be a core focus:

1. Most web traffic comes from search engines

Search engines are the gateway to any business website. The vast majority of website traffic originates from Google, Bing, and other search engines.

  • 53% of trackable website traffic is driven by organic search (BrightEdge, 2019).
  • 46% of retail customer journeys start with a search engine (ecommerceDB, 2023).

Clearly, if people use search engines to find and research products online, your ecommerce site needs to appear in those search results. Ranking high organically is critical for visibility and traffic.

2. Ranking high drives more clicks and conversions

Higher rankings lead directly to more clicks and visitors to your site. And with more high-intent traffic, you see increased conversions and sales.

  • Only 0.63% of searchers click on a result from the second page (Backlinko, 2023). So if you’re not in those top spots, you’re missing out on clicks.
  • The top three positions on Google get 54.4% of all clicks (Backlinko, 2023).
  • 49% of respondents think that organic search is the digital marketing channel that provides the highest ROI (Search Engine Journal, 2018).

SEO has a direct, measurable impact on leads and sales. Clicks, traffic, and conversions all decline rapidly if you don’t rank high.

3. SEO costs less than PPC advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) search ads like Google Ads can help drive traffic, but it comes at a cost. SEO provides better returns without ongoing advertising expenses.

  • The average Google AdWords cost-per-click across industries is $4.22 (WordStream, 2023). That adds up quickly.
  • SEO has a higher organic CTR.
  • PPC requires ongoing payments to maintain rankings.
  • SEO also establishes domain authority and improves brand visibility in the long run.

Using both SEO and PPC together is an effective strategy. But focusing first on organic rankings will get you traffic in a more cost-efficient way.

4. Local SEO drives foot traffic to physical stores

Customers increasingly search for local businesses online. Local SEO is crucial for multi-channel retailers with physical stores.

  • 30% of all mobile searches are local (Think With Google, 2016).
  • 76% of customers who search for local businesses on their phone visit within one day (Think With Google, 2016).
  • For retailers with a physical presence, local SEO is necessary to drive foot traffic by ranking for geographic and “near me” searches.

Optimizing for local search makes you visible to customers searching in your area. This bridges the gap between online and offline sales.

5. Voice search is growing rapidly

Voice-activated search is booming. Smart speakers and voice assistants like Alexa make it easy to search hands-free.

  • 58% of consumers aged 25-34 use voice search daily (UpCity, 2022).
  • 27% of the global population uses voice search on mobile (Think With Google, 2018).

Voice search changes query patterns. Queries tend to be longer, more conversational phrases. SEO strategies should optimize for spoken keywords that users say out loud.

6. Product schema markup improves visibility

Schema markup enables Google to better understand your products and show them in rich results. This can improve click-through rates.

  • Product schema provides key details – price, availability, images, etc. – directly in the search results.
  • Rich results have an above-average CTR of 58% (Search Engine Journal, 2020).
  • Schema helps search bots crawl and index your product pages more efficiently.

By implementing schema.org product markup, ecommerce sites make full use of rich result opportunities in the SERPs.

7. Site speed directly impacts revenue

Site speed is a ranking factor. Faster loading sites improve user experience and conversions.

  • 47% of customers expect a webpage to load in less than 2 seconds (Akamai, 2009).
  • For every second delay in mobile page load, conversions can fall by up to 20%. (SOASTA, The State of Online Retail Performance, 2017).
  • Page speed impacts bounce rate, pages per session, and other engagement metrics.
  • Slow sites see lower engagement and sales. Improving speed with SEO best practices directly lifts revenue.

Making site speed optimizations needs to be an ongoing priority. Every millisecond of delay costs ecommerce sites real money.

8. SEO boosts brand visibility and authority

SEO is not just about increasing traffic and sales. It also elevates brand visibility, reputation, and authority over the long term.

  • Ranking well establishes domain authority and trust signals in customers’ eyes.
  • Higher authority improves your presence and click share across the entire SERP.

Being found for your brand names and keywords reinforces your ecommerce site as a leader people can trust. SEO builds immense value as an asset.

9. Content and SEO work hand-in-hand

Content marketing and SEO go together. Optimized content boosts organic visibility, while visibility helps spread your content further.

  • Unique, useful content provides value to attract links and social shares.
  • Blog posts and guides target keywords and serve as landing pages to convert traffic.
  • Content builds authority and metrics that improve your SERP rankings over time.
  • Higher rankings then get your content in front of more engaged readers.

For ecommerce brands, content marketing and SEO are mutually beneficial. Use both to build an audience and drive business growth.

10. SEO keeps up with competitors

SEO is necessary to keep pace with competitors ranking for your keywords. Lagging behind directly costs you clicks, traffic share, and sales.

  • Shoppers can click a competing product listing if yours is missing from the SERPs.
  • Slow organic growth and slipping rankings are extremely difficult to regain.
  • Large brands optimize heavily for SEO and will overtake you if you don’t keep up.

Think of SEO as an investment in defending your keywords, rankings, and market share against rivals over the long haul.

Frequently asked questions

Why is SEO more important than social media for ecommerce sites?

While social media is important for brand awareness, SEO is far more critical for driving direct sales. Most traffic comes from search, not social. SEO also converts traffic into paying customers at a much higher rate.

How long does it take to see results from SEO?

It depends on your starting point, but expect 6-12 months for significant organic growth. SEO is an ongoing process, but you should see incremental progress within weeks or months by optimizing new site content.

What are some easy SEO tips to implement right away?

Start with the basics: optimize page titles and meta descriptions, improve site speed, add image alt text, create keyword-focused content, and include schema markup. Getting these fundamentals right will set you up for long-term wins.

How often should I publish new blog content?

Aim for at least 2-3 weekly blog posts covering topics relevant to your ecommerce niche. More frequent content will help build authority and keywords faster. Make sure to promote new content through social media.

Is SEO a good investment compared to PPC ads?

SEO provides a much higher return compared to ads in the long run. But a balanced approach using both organic and paid search is best. Use PPC ads to test keywords and messages while SEO builds over time.

How do I track my SEO results?

Use Google Analytics to monitor organic traffic and revenue. Check rankings using tools like SEMRush and Moz. Measure keyword traffic, backlinks over time, and site authority metrics to gauge progress. Set realistic SEO KPIs and monitor them.

Should I hire an SEO agency or handle it internally?

It depends on your resources and needs. Many brands utilize a mix of in-house SEO staff plus agency support and expertise as needed.

The bottom line

We have discussed why SEO is important for ecommerce. At the end of the day, SEO should be a core piece of any ecommerce marketing strategy.

With more sales happening online, organic search visibility is absolutely critical for reaching customers, driving traffic, boosting conversions, and growing revenue. SEO provides a substantial competitive advantage at a relatively low cost.

Consistent optimization using best practices pays off exponentially. The longer you do SEO, the greater the compounding gains over months and years. For any business with an online presence, SEO delivers the highest ROI of any channel.

If you’re not achieving the results you need, contact me for help with your ecommerce SEO.

About the author

Daniel Lee

With over a decade's worth of experience, I am an accomplished digital marketer who thrives on creating bespoke SEO and content marketing strategies for a diverse range of clients, from innovative start-ups to established billion-dollar enterprises. Drawing from my Master's degree in International Marketing from the University of Law, and business coaching training from the renowned Møller Institute at Cambridge University, I'm committed to delivering results that drive substantial growth and competitive success for my clients. I look forward to being part of your success story.

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