Ecommerce SEO Guide: A Step by Step Approach Sheet (with examples)

Ecommerce SEO Guide: A Step by Step Approach Sheet (with examples)

Do you want your ecommerce store to rank on top of Google search results?

Obviously, you would.

Organic search traffic accounts for ~40% of global ecommerce traffic, as per an e-commerce research report form WolfGang Digital.

Traffic split for ecommerce websites

Clearly, organic search (and specifically Google) is the key contributor of traffic (and revenue) to most of the e-commerce websites today.

And that’s a reason good enough to start exploring Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a consistent source of traffic for your online store.

Why SEO for an e-commerce store?

If you notice closely, 60% of ecommerce traffic is still generated via channels other than SEO, primarily social media and paid search.

Both these channels need consistent effort and marketing dollars.

No doubt these channels provide quick results, they incur a significant cost as well.

On the other hand, SEO provides a great ROI where you make sales in auto mode once you are able to rank on the top.

While it’s not that easy to rank on top of Google results, it’s important to at least put efforts in that direction.

Especially when most of your competitors are focussing on paid channels and completely ignoring SEO.

It’s super easy to displace those competitors and make your way to the top.

All that is required is consistent and pointed effort.

This guide is an attempt to help you get started with your e-commerce store SEO strategy and get it executed.

What is e-commerce SEO?

While I can give you hours of knowledge on the technicalities of SEO, let me put the definition of SEO in very simple terms:-

Anything and everything that helps improve user experience is part of SEO.

So whether it’s improving page load time or writing detailed content or helping users with product reviews, everything comes under SEO.

Ecommerce SEO also follows the larger SEO principles, except that now the aim is to improve the buying experience of the user.

And that’s what you will learn today in this detailed ecommerce SEO checklist.

Part 1: Keyword Research for e-commerce websites

#1.1. Start with basic ecommerce keyword research

There’s no point in optimizing your e-commerce store if you don’t know the SEO keywords you are shooting for.

Keywords refer to those words for which you want to rank on the top. For e.g. Best Laptops.

Keyword research_ecommerce SEO

While keyword research is an ongoing and never-ending exercise, you should have at least an initial list of ecommerce SEO keywords before you begin with your campaigns.

You can use UberSuggest, a free SEO tool, for your research. (Here’s my list of other free and best onpage SEO tools)

Choose keywords that have decent volume and lower search difficulty score and you should be good to start with.

Pro Tip

There is no right or wrong number when it comes to keyword volume.

Think about your niche and then decide the search volume you want to target.

For e.g., if your e-commerce store sells custom made premium shirts, maybe a keyword with a search volume of 100 per month is good for you to start with.

#1.2. Get your keywords right

It’s not enough to find high volume keywords.

Segregate your keywords based on their buying intent i.e. how close the search visitor is to making a buying decision.

And then focus on keywords that have high buying/commercial intent.

After all, traffic doesn’t matter. Traffic that buys from your store matters.

For e.g., Consider the keyword “Lenovo ideapad 330 best deal”. The user with this search query knows the brand name and model number of the laptop and is now looking for the price.

This means he is closer to buying a laptop, and this should be the keyword you should focus on (obviously given the organic difficulty score and the strength of your domain).

Compare this against the earlier search query “Best Laptops” where the user may still be in the research phase and is not even ready to buy, even though the search volume is higher for this keyword.

Pro Tip

Go for long-tail keywords i.e. keywords that are more than 3-4 words long.

Even though the search volume is lower for such keywords, buying intent is very clear.

You can write very focussed content for such long-tail keywords.

Part 2: Content strategy for e-commerce websites

#2.1. Commit to writing helpful content

Most of the new e-commerce entrants forget this simple rule:

For Google, Content is the King.

So don’t just write a one-liner product description and assume that you will rank on the top.

Most of the e-commerce CMS platforms allow you the option to enter a one-liner title, a list of features and a detailed product description.

Use this to your advantage to write unique and exhaustive content. Don’t copy-paste from another website as Google may see that as a duplicate content.

This is one small exercise that will provide immense benefits to your e-commerce SEO.

The primary reason is that most of the small-time e-commerce players are too lazy to put in an effort to write original and meaningful content.

Pro Tip

If you have 1000 products on your store, it’s not practical to write content for all 1000 products.

Focus on the top 10 or 20 keywords that have the max search volume, and write extensive content for them.

#2.2. Use LSI keywords when writing content

LSI keywords refer to string of words that convey similar ideas.

For e.g. if the focus keyword is “Best price for Lenovo Ideapad 330 in India”, the LSI keywords will include strings like “review”, “specifications”, “battery life”, “i3/i5 “,” RAM” etc.

This is a no brainer since the inclusion of all these LSI keywords indicate to Google that an article talks in-depth about Lenovo Ideapad 330 and it’s pricing, based on different specifications.

Pro Tip

Once your page is indexed by Google, do visit the Search Console report and hunt for non-focus keywords that a page is ranking for. Most of these will be your LSI keywords.

Then extend your content to include these keywords, if not already done.

Part 3: Extensive on-page SEO tips for e-commerce websites

Once you know the keywords you want to target and have created the pages, you now need to optimize your content, HTML, and website for better SEO.

I am mentioning below the most important onpage SEO elements that you must optimize without fail.

During this process, you should also look at how the top-ranking URLs have structured their elements and you should run an attempt to outdo them.

OnPage Champ’s SERP Audit functionality helps you get the on-page SEO structure of the top 10 search results for super quick competitor analysis.

SERP Audit_onpage champ

Here’s a quick list of most important on-page SEO elements for any e-commerce store:-

#3.1. Use Schema Tags

When it comes to e-commerce SEO, Schema tags play an important role.

Schema tags, or structured data, is nothing but data about your important data.

Schema results are eye-catching and generate a high click-through rate. That means more traffic and more sales.

Adding Schema markup becomes critically important for your product pages so that Google can fetch the right price, stock availability, images, reviews, ratings, etc. for that product, just like in the example below.

schema tags_onpagechamp

Pro Tip

If you are using standard e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce or Shopify, Schema tags are pre included.

But if you have a custom system, you need to request your developer to incorporate these tags.

#3.2: Use lots of images

Use multiple images as part of the product page.

Think from the user perspective. The presence of multiple images on a product page helps you make up your mind quickly.

Images generate trust, thereby improving the overall buying experience.

In addition to this, images are also indexed and ranked by Google.

In many cases, it may be difficult to rank in normal search results but easier to rank in image searches, thereby getting at least some organic traffic.

Here’s a perfect example where a site name GizBot ranks 3rd for image results, whereas it doesn’t appear in the top 30 results for normal Google search.

Importance of image alt text for ecommerce websites

Pro Tip

Don’t forget to write the appropriate image alt text and image title for every image.

These attributes should describe the context of the image.

Google can’t read images but can read Image alt text, so make sure you include an LSI keyword or a focus keyword. But don’t overstuff and be natural.

#3.3: Use your target keyword in SEO title, page title, and meta desc

Make sure you include your focus keyword in the page title.

Use it as close to the beginning as possible.

Also, no more than one H1 should be there.

Pro Tip

Write your title both from the perspective of the end-user and the search engine bot.

#3.4: Incorporate breadcrumbs

Use breadcrumbs across your e-commerce portal.

This helps both Google and your user understand the overall structure of your website and placement of a particular page, as well as improves the browsing experience.

Here’s how breadcrumbs show in Google search results.

Breadcrumbs example

#3.5: Optimize the URLs

Creating SEO optimized URLs is extremely important for an e-commerce store.

There are few rules of thumb:-

  • Use clean and readable URLs
  • Include your focus keyword
  • Avoid repetition of keywords
  • Indicate the hierarchy clearly
  • Avoid system-generated parameters (especially for product pages)

For our Lenovo Laptop example, here’s an example of a good URL:-

domainname.com/laptops/lenovo/330-modelnumber

A bad URL will be

domainname.com/laptops/lenovo-laptops/lenovo-laptop-330-model number

#3.6. Focus on user-generated reviews

As an e-commerce website owner, you understand the importance of reviews in converting a sale.

Reviews also play an important role towards your SEO. After all, reviews contribute to the content on your product page.

More reviews means more engagement on the page, and more content. And hence, stronger SEO.

Part 4: Bonus tips

#4.1. Blog actively

You won’t find many e-commerce stores blogging actively.

That’s a reason good enough for you to start blogging right away.

For example, if you sell laptops, then you should write articles such as

  • Top Lenovo (or any other brand) laptops under $500/$1000 etc.
  • Top gaming laptops for pro gamers
  • Top business laptops under $1000

Writing such blogs serve 3 purposes:-

  1. Ability to get ranked for high buying intent keywords
  2. Improving the topical relevance of your website (i.e. sending a strong signal to Google what your website’s topic is) thus pushing up search rankings for that topic
  3. Generating internal links for your e-commerce pages

#4.2. Add dynamic elements to your homepage

There is a reason why websites add the “latest blog” or “trending products” section to their web pages.

It’s because these are dynamic elements that change every few days. As a result, the page on which these elements appear also appears as an updated page to Google.

This improves the crawlability of the entire website.

Your homepage gets crawled again and the newer pages get discovered by Google more quickly.

Idea is that you should keep updating such sections every then and now and then see the SEO benefits of it.

Measuring SEO success of e-commerce websites

SEO is not a one day game.

You need to keep learning SEO and improving your web pages.

Important is to keep a track of what changes you make and how they impact your overall ranking. And then replicating those changes to your other pages.

You can use the “Track URL” functionality of OnPage Champ to keep a record of changes done on a page, amd their impact on search ranking.

Incorporating the above-mentioned changes won’t result in the #1 position in a week, but you should see a gradual improvement in your rankings.

That’s when you know that things are working for you.

Final thoughts

If you think logically, e-commerce SEO is not any different from SEO of a normal website.

The fundamentals remain the same: incorporate elements that improve the user experience.

Unfortunately, not many e-commerce stores follow these fundamentals.

Just follow the steps mentioned above and I am sure you will do better than the majority of your competitors.

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