How to use SEO for e-commerce

August 30, 2019


John Thomas

Did you know that nearly half of all online shopping traffic is generated from search engines? If you're not using SEO to drive traffic to your e-commerce site, you may be leaving money on the table. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about optimizing your commerce website for search engines. We'll cover the basics of SEO, and how to apply SEO to your e-commerce business.

Why SEO matters for e-commerce websites

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving the ranking of a website on search engines. It is done by optimizing your website for certain keywords and improving the site’s overall quality. SEO is vital for small-to-medium businesses and startups because it helps bring more targeted traffic to their sites.

With so much competition online, it’s more important than ever to make sure your e-commerce site is optimized for search engines. By following the best practices for SEO in e-commerce, you can ensure that your site is visible to potential customers who are searching for the products or services you offer.

Related content: The ultimate SEO playbook

The difference between “standard” SEO and SEO for e-commerce

SEO for e-commerce is different from your average SEO strategy. You’re not just trying to rank for one or two keywords with e-commerce SEO. You’re trying to rank for hundreds or even thousands of product types and pages.

That means that you can’t just stuff a bunch of keywords into your online shop and call it a day. You need to take a more strategic approach to keyword research and selection. We’ll go into more detail on that later. 

In addition, e-commerce sites need to be well-structured and easy to navigate. That’s because search engines use things like site structure and crawlability to determine where your site should rank in the search results.

Finally, e-commerce sites need to be fast. Search engines like Google constantly tweak their algorithms to reward sites that provide a good user experience. Part of that algorithmic calculation includes website speed. If your site has thousands of large image files, your site may suffer in the search results.

Benefits of an e-commerce SEO strategy

Improved Brand Awareness

A well-optimized website can go a long way in helping you build brand awareness for your business. When potential customers see your site ranking high in search results, they’ll be more likely to remember your brand and consider you when they’re ready to purchase.

Improve Your Content

A strong SEO strategy involves researching and writing about the topics your audiences care about most. By investing in an SEO strategy, you’re likely to organically provide even more of the content and education that your customers and prospects care about, improving your brand’s authority and even engagement. 

Save Money on Paid Advertising

While there are a lot of benefits to using paid advertising to promote your e-commerce business, it can be expensive. If you’re not careful, you can easily blow through your entire marketing budget on paid ads with little to show.

By ranking high in search results, you can get organic traffic to your site without having to pay for it, ultimately driving down your customer acquisition cost (CAC). This can free up your budget for other marketing initiatives, such as social media marketing or email marketing too.

How to develop an SEO strategy for e-commerce

Planning is the first and most important campaign step, which is why many companies rely on SEO analysts to help them. Here are some of the best practices for SEO in e-commerce to keep in mind when developing an SEO strategy.

Find keywords for your e-commerce pages

Start by finding the right keywords to target. These are the words and phrases that potential customers use to search for the products or services you offer. To find the right keywords, you’ll need to do some research.

You can use a tool like Google Keyword Planner to get started. With this tool, you can enter a seed keyword and get a list of related keywords. You can then use these keywords to create your e-commerce pages. 

Another way to find keywords is to look at your competitors. See what keywords they are targeting and try to rank for those same keywords. For example, you might find the following keywords if your e-commerce site sells women’s clothing:

  • young women’s clothes

  • summer dresses for women

  • women’s fashion

  • women’s clothing store near me

You can also use a tool like Ahrefs to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Just enter their URL, and you’ll get a list of the keywords they are ranking for and their estimated monthly traffic.

Remember that more popular keywords are more difficult to rank for. So, you’ll need to strike a balance between finding keywords with high search volume and keywords you have a chance of ranking for.

Once you’ve found the right keywords, you can start creating pages on your e-commerce website to target those keywords. You should optimize each page for one primary keyword and a few secondary keywords.

Optimize product pages for SEO

Your product pages are any page on your store that contains information about a specific product or service. These pages are essential for SEO because they help potential customers find what they are looking for.

To optimize your product pages for SEO, start by adding the target keyword to the page title and meta description. The title and meta description will appear in search results, so it’s important to include the most common variation of your relevant keywords here.

Schema, or structured data, is also a big part of product pages. Schema is code that you can add to your website to help search engines understand the content on your pages. You’ll often see it as rich snippets in search results. For product pages, you can use schema to add information like price, reviews, and availability.

Next, add the keyword to the product page URL. Those keywords will help search engines understand the page and index it accordingly. Indexing is the process of adding a page to a search engine’s database. In Google’s case, that can be done via the Google Search Console. 

Once you’ve added the keyword to the title, meta description, and URL, it’s time to add it to the page content. When writing product descriptions, you’ll have to add the keywords sparingly and do the same for any other relevant area. 

Don’t go overboard with the keywords. Google has cracked down on keyword stuffing, and it can hurt your ranking if you place too many keywords onto a page. 

Finally, add images and videos to your product pages. People are visual creatures and tend to engage more with pages that have images or videos. Of course, you’ll need to optimize those images and videos for SEO as well. You can do this by including keywords in the file name and alt text.

Implement an e-commerce content marketing strategy

The single most effective way to improve your SEO is to create quality content. This is true for any online store, but it’s especially important for e-commerce sites. The reason is that e-commerce sites still tend to be very product-focused.

While it’s a must to have product pages, you also need to create other types of content that will help potential customers learn more about your products and what you have to offer. The goal is to attract potential customers to your site and convert them into paying customers.

Too many e-commerce sites think that they can just rely on product pages to draw in traffic. However, product pages are really only designed to do one thing: sell a product. They will undoubtedly help when properly optimized in large numbers, but they are no match for the weight of a well-crafted blog post.

It’s a simple matter of math. If you have 20 product pages that each mention your keyword once or twice, you’re competing with other sites that have 20 articles with the keyword mentioned dozens or even hundreds of times. 

Not only that, but blogs give you an opportunity to show your authority on a given subject. By writing quality blog posts, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field. This will make people more likely to buy from you when they’re ready to purchase.

Outsource to SEO content writing services

As important as content marketing is, it’s not always easy to produce quality content on a regular basis. This is where outsourcing can be a lifesaver.

There are several ways to outsource your content marketing. One option is to hire a content creation platform like Draft. With Draft, you simply tell us what kind of content you need, and we will match you with a writer who can produce it.

Our writers are SEO-proficient, punctual, and pay attention to detail. We’re so confident in their abilities that we offer free revisions on all of our orders. Our Idea generator and Saved Idea tools are also great ways to come up with topics for your blog. 

Internal links and backlinks for e-commerce

When it comes to internal links, you want to ensure that you’re linking to your product pages from your blog posts and other content. This bridge will help search engines understand your pages, business, and brand and index them accordingly. It will also help users navigate your site more easily.

Internally linking to your product pages also has the added benefit of helping those pages rank higher. Google looks at many factors when determining where to rank a page, and one of those factors is how many other pages link to it.

Although internal linking doesn’t weigh as heavily as backlinks, it has perks. When users bounce around from one page of your website to another, they stay on your site for longer. This behavior tells Google that your online store provides a good user experience, which will help improve your ranking over time.

As for backlinks, the goal is to get other websites to link to your product pages. The more backlinks you have, the higher your ranking will be. Of course, not all backlinks are created equal. Links from high-quality domains will carry more weight than links from low-quality websites.

One way to get high-quality backlinks is to guest post on other blogs. This is where you write a blog post for another site in exchange for a link back to your site. It’s a great way to get exposure for your site while also building links. Once again, you can outsource the creation of this piece to our professional content writers.

Infographics are also a great way to capture backlinks. If your product has many moving parts or is particularly complex, an infographic can be a helpful way to explain it. People are more likely to link to an informative and well-designed infographic.

Related content: The content and SEO glossary

The bottom line

In the e-commerce space, it is more important than ever to have a solid SEO strategy. By following the tips in this guide, you can start to improve your ranking and draw more traffic to your site at little to no additional cost. And if you need help with the content creation part of the equation, be sure to check out Draft. Get started today.

Drive ROI for your content efforts.
Hire a vetted writer on Draft

Get Started