A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding SEO for Ecommerce

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So you’ve started an ecommerce business and are excited to start selling! You’ve made social media accounts, shared by word of mouth, and maybe even paid for ads, but you’re still not getting the traffic and sales you’re looking for. There may be a large piece of the puzzle you haven’t factored in: SEO.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the process of improving your website to rank well on search engine result pages (SERPs). When you implement best practices according to SEO experts, your website will rise in rankings.

So where exactly do you want to try to see your website on SERPs? The experts say within the top 10 organic search results because less than 5% of searchers go past the first page.

You should note that SEO is not a quick-fix. It takes hard work, dedication, and time to see results from this type of optimization. So you may be wondering, is it even worth it?

Absolutely! Ensuring your website follows SEO best practices provides you with free organic traffic, meaning you don’t have to pay to send people to your site. This practice can also generate more sales, reach a new target audience, and even increase foot traffic to your physical location!

person searching on google on their computer

Types of SEO for Ecommerce

SEO is a multifaceted concept in the digital world. There’s not just one type of SEO, and all of them factor into your website rankings. Here’s a breakdown of the subcategories of ecommerce SEO you need to know:

Technical SEO. Performance-related parts of a website, like ensuring your site speed is quick, making it mobile friendly, and creating an SEO and user friendly site structure.

Content SEO. Any content created and published on your website. It needs to be written for people first and search engines second. All of your content should include relevant keywords and be unique.

Local SEO. Use local-specific keywords to ensure your website shows up in local searches (example: coffee shops near me). You’ll also want to create a Google Business Profile and keep business information consistent across platforms.

On-page SEO. These are elements of your website that search engines crawl through to determine where to place you in rankings against organic competitors. It includes site structure, meta descriptions, image alt text, and heading tags.

Off-page SEO. Any practice taken off your website to position your business as an authority, which impacts rankings. It includes gaining backlinks from reputable websites and promoting engagement and shares on social media.

google business profile for coffee shops in downtown knoxville

Ecommerce SEO Best Practices

Since you have a better understanding of SEO for ecommerce, it’s time to get into the actual work behind optimization. We’re going to share some of the proven practices you should follow to improve your website rankings and get more traffic and increase sales!

Keyword Research

The key to all things ecommerce SEO is keyword research.

A keyword is the word or phrase a user types into a search box.You want to use keywords that are relevant to what you’re selling on your website so consumers can find your products in search engines.

There are a few ways you can determine what keywords you should be targeting and using on your website. You can type in phrases you think shoppers would be looking for into a search engine and seeing how they complete the search. This is a good way to get started, but the downside to this type of keyword research is you have no idea how many people are searching for these keywords.

free keyword tool called wordstream results for seo for ecommerce

A better way to find keywords to target is to use a tool. There are free tools that provide you with basic information that’s important: search volume and competition. Ideally, you want to use keywords that have high search volume with low competition. A great free resource is Wordstream.

Of course, if you want more in-depth information, you can always use a paid keyword tool. SEMrush and Ahrefs are popular ones, and they come with so much more than just keyword tools that would be beneficial for your ecommerce SEO journey.

Incorporate Keywords

So you have a list of keywords you want to target, but what do you do with them? You start incorporating them across your website! 

A word of caution: you don’t want to use one keyword too many times on a single page. This is known as keyword stuffing and will actually get your page ranked lower in SERPs.

Here are some of the places you should use target keywords on your website:

  • Product descriptions
  • Blogs
  • Page titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Category content
  • URLs
  • Image alt text
  • Image file names

Write Unique, Keyword-Rich Content

If you want to greatly improve your website SEO for ecommerce, then you need to add keyword-rich content to your site. We aren’t talking just adding keywords to the places we mentioned above. We mean detailed and informative content in the form of category content, product descriptions, and blog posts.

Search engines reward websites that consistently post new content that’s unique. Duplicate content is a huge problem in the world of SEO. Attracting organic traffic isn’t the only benefit of content though; you will also become an authority in your niche, help you gain customers’ trust (which leads to sales), and improve your overall rankings!

woman writing in a notepad in front of her laptop

A huge factor in ecommerce SEO is internal linking. An internal link is any link on your website that leads to another page on your website. The purpose of these links is to connect your content and help search engines understand the structure of your website.

When creating internal links, your anchor text (the words used as a hyperlink) should include a keyword and be relevant to the page you’re linking to so users and search engines understand it.

Simplify Site Architecture

An aspect of SEO for ecommerce you will want to prioritize is website architecture. The page setup is important for search engines because they rank websites designed for users first higher.

Your overall goal should be to make your website as easy to navigate as possible. When you start adding and removing products and categories, it can get complicated. So starting out, you’ll want to:

  • Keep the structure simple but easy to scale as your business grows
  • Ensure every page is a few clicks away from the homepage
web designer creating a mockup of a website on paper

Optimize Site Speed

Site speed affects SEO for ecommerce by a huge margin. If you’ve ever clicked on a website and it took forever to load, you probably clicked off and never went back. You definitely don’t want that to happen with your business!

Here are some of the top ways to optimize the speed of your website

  • Use fewer images on the page
  • Compress files
  • Use fewer social media widgets
  • Limit redirects

Prioritize User Experience

Search engines rank websites that prioritize user experience (UX) rank higher in SERPs. To make your website more user friendly, you want it to be designed well, have great structure, and be aesthetically pleasing.

A good way to measure how your website is performing when it comes to UX is with Core Web Vitals. This is Google’s software that grades how your website performs for users. After it runs the audit, you’ll receive a performance status to show where your website needs improvement.

Some of the most common things you may need to do to make your site user friendly include: 

  • Implement a caching solution
  • Defer javascript from loading
  • Size and optimize images by adding width and height attributes
  • Optimize web fonts by reducing use of third party web fonts
  • Preload your fonts
website maintenance and designers looking at code

Authority is a major factor of ecommerce SEO. The more authoritative your website is, the higher it will rank in SERPs. So how does your website become known as an authority?

The same way academic papers are given authority: citations.

Except instead of citations, you’ll need backlinks. A backlink is when one website links to another website. By having that link on their site, they see you as an authority, and so will search engines. The more backlinks you can gain, the more authoritative you website will appear to search engines.

Some of the best ways to gain backlinks are:

  • Guest post on other websites
  • Ask partners/distributors/suppliers
  • Search your business and ask other websites to link to you
  • Hire a PR team

Maintain a Social Media Presence

If you haven’t already, you should create social media profiles for your ecommerce business. These profiles indirectly affect your SEO by increasing your brand exposure and helping customers become familiar with your business.

These platforms also help with business information consistency, which is a huge factor in local SEO.

person on their phone liking a photo on instagram

Make a Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile is a free business listing from Google. It is a great tool for increasing online visibility because it shows up in Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping. It is especially beneficial for local SEO since it helps people find your business when they’re searching in their local area.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of what SEO is and how it can truly impact your business. While it takes time and effort, the payoff is worth it in the end. If you want to implement SEO for ecommerce but you don’t have the ability to take it on yourself, you don’t have to. Learn more about our ecommerce SEO services, and reach out to us with any questions!

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