SEO Digital Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to E-Commerce SEO

Author: Kate Parish
16 minutes of reading
19. 3. 2024
Table of contents

Competition in eCommerce is heating up. Every day, it’s getting more challenging for online stores to climb to the top of search results. A PPC (pay-per-click) strategy cuts the path toward higher rankings in Google. The only catch is that it’s a short-term game. As soon as you stop paying, the website loses its position in search and drives much less traffic.

If you’re in eCommerce for the long haul, it’s essential to develop a robust SEO (search engine optimization) strategy and revise and improve it occasionally. SEO combines numerous methods of driving organic traffic to the website without paying for these visitors. When implemented correctly, an SEO strategy yields incredible results. 

Read this guide to learn about the specifics of SEO for eCommerce sites and what makes it so valuable for the online retail sector. Also, uncover some useful eCommerce SEO tips for outranking competitors and promoting your brand in search.

Defining SEO for E-Commerce Businesses

E-commerce SEO involves optimizing an online store to make it visible in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Most of the time, it applies organic marketing tactics that are common for regular websites. The peculiarity is that eCommerce sites have stacks of product and category pages to promote, meaning store teams have more SEO homework, which is:

  • Optimizing countless titles, meta descriptions, and images;
  • Generating keyword-rich quality content for hundreds and thousands of product pages; 
  • Enhancing a website structure to help potential customers effortlessly find what they’re searching for;
  • Ensuring a flawless UX to reduce bounce rates and increase conversions.

Considering these nuances, it’s safe to say that an SEO strategy for eCommerce websites requires a tailored approach and hard work. But ultimately, it’s worth every effort because of the great advantages SEO tactics produce.

Reasons for Adopting an E-Commerce SEO Strategy

Even though SEO doesn’t bring immediate results, online retailers shouldn’t overlook this marketing strategy. Here are the key benefits of well-planned SEO for an eCommerce website.

  1. Enhance user experience. SEO extends beyond optimizing content with the right keywords. It also deals with making eCommerce websites more user-friendly. Streamlined navigation, fast load time, and responsive design add up to an immaculate UX, resulting in higher rankings, more organic traffic, and eventually increased conversions.
  2. Increase Visibility. Given that the first organic search result is 10 times more likely to receive a click than a page occupying the tenth position, it’s clear that online retailers should strive to rank higher in the SERPs. An SEO optimized eCommerce website tends to appear on the leading spots in the SERPs and generate more clicks.
  3. Attract Relevant Visitors. By targeting keywords that match user’s search intent, eCommerce businesses can drive more qualified leads to their websites and ultimately increase revenue. 
  4. Provide Sustainable Growth. SEO is an ongoing process. By consistently optimizing their websites, eCommerce retailers can build a solid online presence and attract more organic traffic.
  5. Build Trust and Authority. Potential customers often consider top-ranking websites as reliable and trustworthy sources. When online stores generate unique content, add social proof, and set up a rich backlink profile, they have a higher chance of appearing on the first page of Google search results.   

Outlining E-Commerce SEO Best Practices

Search engine optimization is a multi-faceted process. It comprises a set of reliable tactics, such as optimizing on-site elements, performing keyword research, resolving technical issues, building backlinks, and more. Whether you’re thinking of launching an online store or already have one, use this SEO checklist to drive your business to new heights in search.

Conduct a Technical SEO Check-Up

Technical SEO remains a crucial piece in cracking the rankings puzzle. It involves finding ways how to increase website speed, streamline site structure, ensure security, and so on, to get higher positions in the SERPs.

Technically sound websites are accessible for search engines to crawl and index and provide a seamless user experience. Let’s highlight the key aspects store teams should pay attention to ensuring their websites’ technical health.

1. XML Sitemap and Robots.txt File

These two elements are essential for an eCommerce site. XML sitemaps contain links to important web pages and assist crawlers and Google bots in finding relevant content quickly. After creating an XML sitemap, don’t forget to submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

A robots.txt file, in turn, instructs search engines which parts of your site to scan and which to ignore. This eliminates the risk of spending crawl budget unwisely, for instance, on pages with personal user details, checkout, or a shopping cart.

2. Structured Data

Structured data is a crucial point in your technical SEO to-do list. Also known as schema markup, this data is basically a set of special codes providing search engines with complete information about product names, ratings, pricing, and supply status. These extra details may be shown in rich snippets and ensure your web pages appear in the relevant SERPs. 

Structured data in SERP

3. Fast Load Time

Website speed optimization is another crucial factor store teams should consider when approaching technical SEO. As a rule, people don’t have the patience to wait too long. So, if it takes your site more than 3 seconds to load, visitors will most probably leave. A slow page speed leads to high bounce rates and negatively impacts conversion rates and search performance.

Therefore, online brands should give due attention to improving their website load time. There are a few tactics they can adopt here:

  • Minify your code by removing extra characters and whitespace from HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files;
  • Compress images without sacrificing quality using special tools like Shortpixel;
  • Leverage content delivery network (CDN);
  • Employ a lazy loading technique that defers displaying non-critical resources after a page load request;
  • Enable server-side and browser caching (also known as client-side caching);
  • Host videos on external platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Sprout Video, and others. You simply embed a video on your website. Meanwhile, the platform handles all technical work and issues that might occur. 
  • Redirect broken links to live, relevant pages.

Online store owners can assess their site’s load time using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights. Besides performing speed analysis both for desktop and mobile devices, the service gives useful tips for improving website performance.

PageSpeed insights screenshot

4. Security

Online stores remain one of the most lucrative targets for fraudsters because of all the sensitive user information they hold, such as passwords and credit card details. E-commerce businesses should do their utmost to prevent this data from being compromised. Installing an SSL certificate is a crucial step in improving website security.

This certificate encrypts customer information and ensures it’s not exposed to malicious third parties. Apart from that, SSL is one of Google's many ranking signals. So, implementing it is a must if online retailers want to win clients’ trust and increase their SEO visibility.

5. Mobile Optimization

Does your website work well on mobile devices? If not, then it’s time to fill the gap. According to Statista, mobile generates more than half of website traffic worldwide. People are used to shopping on the go and browsing different e-stores from their smartphones.

Another argument in favor of optimizing for mobile is Google. The internet giant prioritizes mobile versions of web pages when indexing and ranking content. There are many things to pay attention to when creating a mobile-friendly website. Let’s go through some of them:  

  • use responsive design;
  • place buttons and important links in thumb-reachable areas;
  • opt for font sizes to be readable on smaller screens;
  • avoid cluttering the layout with unnecessary visual elements;
  • add enough whitespace between sections and buttons;
  • leverage sticky navigation;
  • implement common mobile gestures like pinches, swipes, and taps;
  • consider transforming your website into a PWA (progressive web application) for a more engaging mobile experience.

6. Broken Links

Dead links, 404 error pages, whatever you want to call them, lead to a negative user experience. Frustrated visitors immediately leave the website and go to the competitors instead. This is the worst-case scenario for any online retailer. 

As for Google bots, they also can’t figure out how to crawl and index such pages. The conclusion suggests that store teams should take the time to find and fix broken links using tools like Google Search Console, Semrush, Ahrefs, Sitechecker, Marketing Miner, or W3C link checker. 

It’s preferable to check broken links regularly and fix them in due time. Let’s see how Marketing Miner assists with this task. To get started, you want to log into the service. At the right top corner, find the “Create report” button and click on it.

ECommerce SEO create report in Marketing Miner

In the tab “Data Type”, select the URL option. Scroll down a bit, select the “Broken Link Checker” miner, and press the “Next Step” on the right side of the dashboard.

Select URL option ecommerce seoecommerce SEO broken link checkerThe following step is to enter a link to your sitemap. There are a few options for uploading this data: add all links manually, import from file, URL, or external tools. Scan the sitemap to be certain that no link is missing. Name the report and press the “Import Data” button.

ecommerce seo - enter URLs

After the links are successfully imported, press “Analyze Data” and wait for the report to be generated. Once it’s finalized, you’ll be directed to the Marketing Miner report dashboard.

It’s best to download the data in .xlsx format by clicking on the “Export” tab and choosing the “Merge and download as Excel” alternative.

Ecommerce SEO - export report in Excel

The file automatically opens in Excel. Filter out all links with status codes except 400, 404, 418, and 503. Now that you have all the information, it’s time to fix the situation. 

Open report in Excel

Here’s a breakdown of the best possible solutions:

  • Update the link. It’s possible that the URL of the page you’re linking to is misspelled. Check it for typos and fix them. Make sure the URL address includes the “https://” or “http://” part and has no extra letters, digits, or dashes.
  • Implement 301 redirects to live pages. Be mindful that a 301 should lead to a relevant page. If you don’t have the one that fits, avoid this option.
  • Remove the broken links if you no longer need them.
  • Generate new content, provided that the links are internal and there are not too many of them.

In case of a broken backlink, you should email the webmaster and ask them to update, remove it, or set up a redirect.

Leverage On-Page SEO

Another essential part of an SEO strategy is on-page or on-site optimization. It focuses on adjusting various website elements so search engines can effortlessly crawl and index your web pages. To achieve excellent results with on-site SEO, keep in mind the following points.

Comprehensive Analysis with the Right Tools

Conducting on-page SEO analysis is a painstaking job. It involves multiple activities, such as constantly monitoring the website’s performance, finding which keywords to target, analyzing competitors, and more. Sounds a bit overwhelming, doesn’t it? However, with the right tools on hand, things get much easier. Marketing Miner is a good option to consider. It boasts a user-friendly interface and over 40 features to simplify and streamline the workflow.

To kickstart an SEO strategy with the tool, you first need to create a Project. Projects enable store teams to monitor and manage different aspects of their websites’ online visibility, including:

  • Rank tracking gives a detailed overview of how the site performs in search results  for target keywords on a daily basis;

SEO rank tracking in Marketing Miner

  • The Competitors tab contains useful data about your rivals and their rankings. By the way, you can add up to 5 websites in one go;
  • Brand monitoring is an informative segment tracing all mentions of your brand to help you realize how it’s perceived in the digital realm and create new connections;
  • Backlinks monitoring allows you to find lost backlinks or identify any changes in them.

With Marketing Miner, store teams can process data in bulk pretty effortlessly. All they need is to create a report, upload the necessary data set, and wait for an email. The report, in turn, offers valuable insights on how to reinforce their SEO efforts.

Competitor research is part and parcel of a winning SEO strategy. Marketing Miner is an excellent tool for “spying” on your rivals. Thanks to its multiple features, like search visibility, competing pages, brand monitoring, alerts, and content gap (more on that in the section below), eCommerce staff members can make data-informed decisions on improving their SEO.

Keyword Research 

In-depth keyword research is the cornerstone of a winning eCommerce SEO strategy. The process entails digging for words and phrases people often enter when they shop online. Once equipped with the right keywords, store teams can optimize their product and category pages to drive more traffic and rank higher in Google.

There are plenty of ways how to generate keyword ideas. Analyze the terms your competitors target for. Head to Amazon for inspiration; it’s a treasure trove of product keywords. The list of its suggestions often includes long-tail phrases, which are great to take into account. They are more specific and tend to attract visitors with high purchase intent.

Amazon homepage screenshotE-commerce SEO tools make keyword research less daunting. Marketing Miner’s Keyword profiler is a compelling feature to help with this task. It provides store teams with useful data regarding search volume, difficulty, YoY search volume change, keyword suggestions, as well as questions people ask about a keyword.

Keyword profiler Marketing MinerKeyword suggestions in Marketing MinerQuestions Marketing Miner

Try keyword research feature in Marketing Miner now:

Marketing Miner’s Website profiler is an excellent feature for analyzing competitors’ keywords. The process is pretty straightforward. First, choose the Content gap section. Then, enter your domain along with the domains or URLs of your competitors and hit the View Keywords button.

Content gap analysis in Marketing Miner

The tool creates a chart containing the following information: 

  • Keyword (a phrase your competitors target for);
  • Total search volume (the total number of searches for the keyword within a month); 
  • Number of competitors;
  • Your domain (100+ in this column indicates that you don’t rank for the keyword in the first 100 positions in organic search);
  • Competitors’ domains.

SEO content gap analysis output

With this data at their fingertips, store teams can quickly identify the keywords they haven’t covered yet and incorporate them into their content strategy to drive more organic traffic.

Product and Category Page Optimization

For the majority of eCommerce websites, product and category pages attract the lion’s share of traffic. To make them high-converting, check out these valuable tips.

  • Create engaging meta descriptions for every page. This summary of a web page shows up right under the web page's title and URL in the SERPs. It should include the most crucial information, such as a product name, brand, model, and outstanding features. Keep meta descriptions between 150–160 characters total, insert targeted keywords in them, and clear calls to action (CTAs); 
  • Avoid writing similar product descriptions. To make the most of your SEO efforts, ensure that every item is paired with a unique and compelling copy, outlining all the benefits and encouraging browsers to click the ‘add to cart’ button. You may want to include keywords as well to get higher positions in search;
  • Pick easy readable URLs, preferably with a keyword inside them. Steer away from including stop words like “the,” “and,” “of,” and “a” since they contribute to lower rankings;
  • Include testimonials and reviews. They are a perfect source of new content that Google and other search engines value so much. Besides, genuine feedback speaks volumes to hesitant potential customers and can be the final push in their decision-making process;
  • Use canonical tags to eliminate instances of duplicate product pages. In eCommerce websites, one and the same item often appears in different categories or URLs. Canonical tags inform search engines which page is the main, hence eligible for crawling and indexing;
  • Prioritize high-quality visuals showcasing products from every possible angle and creating a feeling of physical presence. Optimize images for SEO by providing captions with alt tags and compressing them to ensure high page load time;

As for category pages, stick to a logical structure and consistent layout. Use clear headlines, provide helpful filtering and sorting options, add relevant data (for example, sizes, colors, etc.), and take care of fast loading as well.

Logical Website Architecture

A straightforward site architecture is something every store team should aim for. Once your product and category pages are logically organized and interlinked, search engines and customers will have no difficulty finding them.  

It’s a good practice to arrange web pages just a few clicks away from the homepage. Ideally, as in the following example:

Logical website SEO structure

Online stores with a huge amount of content should consider adding breadcrumb navigation. This extra feature boosts the UX and helps visitors identify their location on a website.

Ilia homepage

Another point to consider is internal linking. The strategy involves connecting pages with relevant content so customers can easily browse and find the necessary information. When placed strategically, internal links also help search engines better understand website structure and hierarchy.

Invest Time in Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is essential for eCommerce websites. It involves all the efforts store teams take to outrank competitors, promote in search, and earn credibility. Mainly, brands achieve this through social media marketing, link building, and influencer marketing. Let’s analyze each of these points in detail.

Social Media

Even though social media doesn’t directly influence Google rankings, they are a great tool for reaching a wider audience and increasing brand awareness. Follow these recommendations to make the most of your social media marketing:

  • Hone your social media profile by adding all the necessary information, including relevant keywords and a colorful description of your eCommerce site;
  • Generate and share unique and engaging content that connects with your target audience. This can be videos, infographics, product updates, or blog posts;
  • Incorporate social sharing buttons on the website and blog posts;
  • Carve out time to respond to messages, comments, and mentions to nurture relationships with your followers; 
  • Personalize messaging depending on the platform and target audience.

Link Building

Consider backlinks as votes of confidence. Whenever trustworthy sites link to yours, Google sees it as a positive signal. The key point here is to focus on the quality of backlinks, not quantity. Online store owners can leverage a few good strategies to strengthen their backlink profiles:

  • Reach out to authoritative websites functioning within your niche and offer to write guest posts for them;
  • Concentrate on generating quality content that will naturally attract backlinks. Take the time to attach a blog to the site. Publish consistently well-crafted pieces containing keywords relevant to the products/services you sell;

Generating high quality content

  • Search for broken links on reputable websites in your niche and suggest replacing them with alternative links to your relevant content.

Influencer Marketing

This strategy is gaining more popularity among eCommerce brands. It involves cooperating with influential individuals on social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok) to increase brand exposure. Online stores should choose influencers who are on the same page with their target audience and align with their mission and values. Otherwise, the campaign will be ineffective.

Famous beauty brand Kylie Cosmetics takes full advantage of collaborating with influencers. The company’s Instagram feed is carefully interspersed with video tutorials of digital creators, bloggers, and influencers applying makeup products in real time. This is a powerful strategy to earn the trust of current and potential customers and attract a larger audience.

Kylie Cosmetics Instagram
Screenshot taken from Kylie Cosmetics official Instagram account

Wrapping Up

SEO is a tried and tested method for eCommerce websites to show up on the top spots in Google. Higher rankings drive more organic traffic, give a competitive advantage, and lead to increased conversions. 

Follow the checklist of reliable tactics to build a strong SEO foundation for your online store. And always remember: search engine optimization is a never-ending process. Keep an eye on the constantly evolving Google algorithms to make timely changes and improve your online visibility.

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