SEO for Ecommerce Site: The Complete Guide

SEO for Ecommerce Site The Complete Guide

Ecommerce websites tend to concentrate on paid search while neglecting SEO.

A grave mistake if you ask.

While this is still an excellent tactic, considering performance is almost instant, let’s not forget that it faces stiff competition. It’s also costly — and its impact ends immediately the ads stop running. 

What you need is a long-term SEO strategy for ecommerce. 

It’s less costly. But not only that — it’s also more profitable and more geared towards the long-term success of your business

We’ve prepared this guide to help you figure out the best way to get the ecommerce SEO ball rolling. 

But first,

What’s Ecommerce SEO? 

Ecommerce SEO is the term used to describe the process of making your online store visible in the search engine result pages.

When people search for your products or services, you want your site or product links to be among the results displayed.

You can get the same traffic through paid search. But SEO is a little bit more permanent and tends to costs much less. Then there’s the issue of ad blindness and ad blockers, which render paid searches a little ineffective. 

Why Ecommerce SEO?

What’s the first thing consumers do when they need to purchase a product or service online?

They Google it.

They check out search engines for options, comparisons, tips, and any other information that might help them make a more informed decision. 

That means, if your website isn’t among the results that show up, you’re risking losing qualified and interested customers. Your product might be somewhere on the internet, but is it findable? 

Ecommerce SEO serves to make your products easy to find. It’s an alternative way to reach potential customers without necessarily paying for ads. Once these customers get to your e-commerce store or blog, you can amaze them with an intriguing copy, motivating call to action, and high-quality products.

Key Ecommerce Stats in Singapore

Let’s take a quick look at some exciting Ecommerce SEO facts in 2020:

44% of online shoppers begin their journey by searching on Google (nChannel). 

About 37.5% of ecommerce traffic comes from search engines (SEMrush). 

Traffic sources distribution for ecommerce sites:

  • 49.3% of the traffic is direct
  • 37.5% of the traffic comes from search engines
  • 8.0% of the traffic is through referrals
  • 3.3% of the traffic is from social media
  • 1.9% of the traffic is from paid search

23.6% of orders that ecommerce sites get are a direct result of organic traffic (Business Insider).

With that out of the way, let’s dive into actionable ecommerce SEO strategies that you can apply today. 

Ecommerce SEO Guide

Ecommerce Keyword Research 

Keyword research is the backbone of every SEO strategy. 

Why?

Because it informs every other SEO activity on your site.

You need keywords to optimise your products and category pages. 

And unknown to many, your keyword list also influences your technical SEO. That’s because your URLs and site architecture also need to factor in keywords. 

As you can see, keyword research is a big part of your ecommerce site, and here’s how you choose the right keywords to optimise your ecommerce site for:

How to Find the Right Keywords for Your Ecommerce Products and Category Pages

There are so many articles written about finding “informational Keywords” for your ecommerce site or blog. You know, the type of keywords that users query into search engines when digging for information. 

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This article takes a different turn by focusing on ecommerce keywords or product searches. There’s no denying that informational keywords play a critical role in your ecommerce strategy. But the general rule of thumb is that most of your site’s keywords must be fashioned around product searches.

Let’s say you’re selling “Casio Watches” on your website.

That means you have to optimise your ecommerce website for the term “Casio Watch.” 

That means your keyword research must be conducted with your products in mind.

So how do you go about it:

Amazon Suggest

Amazon is your competitor. But don’t forget that they’re one of the biggest ecommerce stores in Singapore — and a critical ecommerce tool when you come to think about it.

Here’s how you use Amazon as a keyword research tool:

Head over to amazon.sg, and type a keyword describing one of your products.

Don’t hit enter or the search icon; instead, type in the keywords and wait for Amazon to suggest more keywords for you.

For example, try searching for “best smartwatch,” and Amazon will come up with a list of targeted keywords you may use, including:

  • Best smartwatches for men
  • Best smartwatches for women
  • Best smartwatches for android phones for women
  • Best smartwatches under 50 dollars

And so on

These aren’t some randomly generated keywords. But some of the product phrases being keyed into their search bar. 

Amazon’s suggestions are very targeted. Otherwise referred to as long-tail keywords, these keywords tend to convert better than short-tail ones. They’re also less competitive, which makes them easy to rank for. 

It’s a rinse-and-repeat for every single one of the products on your site.

Keyword Tool Dominator

This keyword research tool scrapes Amazon’s keyword suggestions to recommend a list of fine-combed keywords. 

It’s one of the most straightforward ecommerce keyword research tools you’ll ever come across online. All you have to do is enter the seed keyword and watch as the tool works its magic to spit out more keywords for you.

This tool is recommended because it’s faster and has a little more keywords ideas than manual scaping.

For example, when we keyed in “best smartwatches,” Amazon suggests only had eight keyword suggestions for us, but when we keyed the same keyword into this tool, it spits out 48 keyword ideas. 

It even allows you to save the keyword ideas or download them for later use. 

 Wikipedia

You probably wouldn’t have thought of this. But one of the best places to find relevant keywords for your products or ecommerce site is Wikipedia.

That’s because Wikipedia organises things by categories and keywords. In other words, they have already done all the hard work for you. 

Just visit Wikipedia.org and enter a keyword that best describes your products and services.

In our case, enter the word “smartwatch” and scan through the Wikipedia page that opens up for all the relevant keywords. 

Be sure to check the content box, especially if you’re looking for product category keywords. 

SEMrush

After you’ve exhausted Wikipedia, your next stop should be SEMrush. 

However, SEMrush works a little bit differently from all the other keyword research tools we’ve mentioned. 

Instead of generating keywords based on a seed keyword, SEMrush lets you see what keywords your competition already ranks for. 

All you have to do is enter a competitor’s website, and they will present you with a list of keywords that your site ranks for. They’ll even come up with a list of similar websites. 

Just repeat the same procedure for the rest of the sites for more keyword suggestions. 

Google Keyword Planner

This list isn’t complete without the good old Google keyword planner, the mother of all keyword research tools. 

Although Google Keyword Planner is a decent keyword research tool, it’s not that great in generating unique keyword ideas.

For example, when you enter the “best smartwatch” as the seed keyword, the tool will only generate random variations of the keywords.

It’s, however, one of the best tools for checking commercial intent and search volume. 

How to Choose the Right Keywords for Your Ecommerce Products and Category Pages

Not every keyword you stumble across deserves your time and effort. Before doing anything, you want to make sure you’re working with the right choices of keywords, or the keywords with the greatest potential.

Here’s a 4-step checklist to help you determine if a keyword is right for your ecommerce website: 

Search Volume

Search volume is the term used to describe the average number of times a particular search term is queued on search engines per month.

It’s simple logic: you want to make sure the keyword you use choose enjoys a decent number of searches per month; otherwise, there’s no point in optimising your website for it in the first place. 

So, what’s the right search volume?

There’s no such thing as the right search volume. It all depends on your industry. While 100 searches could be a lot for some industries, for some, this is nothing.

Meaning, you have to give it some time, and eventually, you’ll get an idea of what’s “low ” and “high” search volume for you. 

What Tool Should You Use to Check Search Volume?

Google Keyword Planner is your friend in this. Just pop the keyword on Google Keyword Planner, and you’ll be shown the corresponding number of searches the keyword is getting per month. 

Keep in mind that some of the keywords are seasonal. Such keywords tend to have high search volumes at a particular time of the year and very low at other times. 

Examples include sweaters in winter and summer. 

The easiest way to find out how a particular keyword changes over the year is to run it into KWFinder. You’ll be presented with a nifty chart comparing its month-to-month search volume.

Keyword Product Fit

Your keyword research assignment doesn’t end with you finding a list of keywords with high search volumes — far from it.

Search volume doesn’t mean anything if the keywords aren’t directly connected to your products. 

You’re not just looking to direct people to your ecommerce site. What’s even more important is if these people converted. 

You have to double-check each keyword and make sure that they all fit like a glove. 

Commercial Intent

Ranking for a high-volume search term is still not enough. You want to make sure your visitors are willing spenders, ready to put their money on your products or services. 

Google Keyword Planner is still your friend in this.

All you have to do is run each keyword and check the corresponding “competition” rating.

Competition is the term used to refer to the number of people that bid for that particular keyword on Google Ads per month.

It’s simple: if too many people are bidding on a particular keyword, then that shows that there’s a lot of money to be made on that keyword. 

For this, you want to prioritise keywords with “medium” and “high” competition. 

Your next stop is the “top of page bid.” 

Top of Page bid refers to the amount of money people are willing to spend for a single click on the keyword. 

The higher the bid, the better the keyword choice. 

Again, this information can be found on Google Keyword Planner. 

Competition

How easy is it for you to rank for that particular keyword?

This is where SEMrush comes in.

Just enter a keyword on SEMrush and click on keyword difficulty (on the sidebar). 

Look at the “difficultly column” (in %). 

The high the percentage, the harder it will be for you to rank for that particular keyword. 

Ecommerce Website Architecture

Ecommerce site architecture is the term used to describe how your website’s pages are arranged and organised. 

Your ecommerce site has a significantly higher number of pages than your standard website or blog, which is why you’re advised to pay attention to your site architecture. 

With so many pages, site architecture is what makes it easy for search engines and users to find your pages. 

The Two Golden Rules for Your Ecommerce Site Architecture

Here are the two golden rules to observe when working on your site architecture:

Rule 1: Err on the Side of Simplicity and Scalability

A simple website can be easily understood by both the user and search engines. It’s easy to get the logic of what redirects where.
An ecommerce site is considered scalable when it’s easy to expand and add more products or category pages. 

Rule 2: Every Page Must be Three or Fewer Clicks Away from the Homepage

Your ecommerce site shouldn’t be too deep. Too deep in the sense that one has to make more than three clicks to get to any particular page on the website. 

One reason for this is that when a site is too deep, its authority will be diluted when you make all the clicks. 

How Your Site Architecture Should Be

There should be a homepage with links or menu leading up to your product categories.

The categories can then be grouped into various subcategories, and that’s that. Don’t go any deeper than that. 

Remember you’re not just doing this for SEO but also for your site users. 

Here’s a Real-life Example of an Ecommerce Website with the Perfect Architecture: Bio beauty

It’s amazing how the site has managed to fit all their product categories on the home page. 

And they’re not just listing their products. Plus, all the clicks are limited to a maximum of two. 

It gets even better when you look at how they have managed to weave content into their product pages. 

It’s a flat structure that’s been diligently designed, which makes it safe to say Google will fully index every single page of this site.

On-page SEO for Your Ecommerce Website

After working on your site architecture and ensuring everything is all set and working according with the two golden rules, it’s time to optimise your product pages and categories. 

These two pages will be generating the biggest slice of the traffic that you attract.

Here’s something to think about: when optimising your product or category pages for search engines, you want to be very specific with the search terms you optimise your site for. 

For instance, someone searching for “a blue Louis Vuitton bag” is more likely to buy than someone searching for “a bag to buy.” 

6 Steps for Optimal On-page SEO for Your Ecommerce Website

Let’s break down each of these processes and what is expected when optimising your ecommerce website for On-page SEO:

Optimise Your Title Tags:

Add Modifiers (use words like Cheap, Deals, Buy, etc.) to Attract Long-tail Traffic

Modifiers help you narrow down to specific items that an online user might be interested in. They’re suitable for driving targeted traffic. 

Instead of talking about noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones for android phones, why not add a modifying word that users are likely to throw in when searching for these headphones. 

If a user is tight on budget, then they’ll definitely throw in the word cheap. Meaning, you have a better chance of netting this user by adding the word cheap to this search term, such that it reads:

“cheap noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones for android phones. 

More modifying words that people are likely to use when searching for your products or services online:

  • Cheap
  • Best
  • Online
  • Free shipping
  • Deals 
  • Review

Use Click Magnet Words to Increase Your CTR

It’s not been confirmed, but we suspect Google uses CTR as one of its ranking signals. But that’s not the only reason you may want to increase your CTR.

Higher CTR translates to more link clicks, which means more sales for you. 

You want online users to be enticed enough so they can move their cursor to your search engine results. 

It’s simple: there are words that work this magic. We call them “click magnets,” and they include words like:

  • X% off
  • Lowest Price
  • Free shipping
  • Guarantee
  • Sales
  • Same day shipping 

And so on

Here’s an example of a product title tag with a click magnet word.

“20% off and Free Shipping on Every Order.”

All you have to do is include something along these lines n your title tag and watch as your click-through rate surges. 

Optimise Your Description Tag

Again, Include Catchy Phrases like “Free Shipping,” “Great Selection,” “Great Pricing” to Increase Your CTR

You want to capture your users’ attention in the best way possible. 

The description tag you use matters a great deal in this. Speaking of which, some of the click magnets we mentioned above can still work with description tags. The only major difference is that a description tag allows you to use longer click magnets. 

Examples of click magnet words to use in your description tags:

  • Save X% off___
  • Free shipping on____ today
  • Great selection on _____ at the lowest price
  • Our exclusive deal on ___

Here’s an example of a well-optimised description tag, laced with the right amount of click magnets:

Get an Exclusive Deal on Apple Smartwatch. All Orders Made Today Come with Free Shipping. The Lowest Price You Can Find. 

Optimise Your Product and Category Pages

This is (by far) the most challenging part of optimising your ecommerce website. Essentially, your category and product pages need high-quality content. But unlike writing a blog post, your content must be simple enough to be understood by a 9th grader, written as a conversation, as if you’re talking to your customers directly.

Here are the 3 Golden Rule of Optimising Your Ecommerce Website for Search Engines

Use Content of More than 1000 Words

Don’t skimp on words.

Nothing has changed about search engines. They’re still drawn to longer content.

Ideally, you have a better chance of ranking high when your page content is more than 2000 words. 

It’s more than word count. Google wants to understand your page. And as it turns out, the more words you write, the easier it is for Google to understand the page. 

Plus, more in-depth coverage of any product will help customers understand your product better to make a more informed decision. 

So, how do you write 1000 words content for your blog post?

Where this seems like something impossible, try writing a lengthy description for 10 to 50 of your products. You can also include a review section at the bottom of the page. 

Sprinkle Your Keywords 3 to 5 Times

After writing your product or category page content, it helps to go through it and make sure you have used the right keywords 3 to 5 times. 

This has got nothing to do with keyword stuffing and density. You are naturally trying to include a few of your keywords to help Google understand your pages better. 

For example, if your target keyword is “Apple Smartwatch,” you want to make sure you have included the keyword 3 to 5 times in your product description (one at the top, one in the middle, and one in the last paragraph). 

LSI Keywords

Latent Semantic Indexing keywords are closely tied to your main keywords. 

For example, when optimising your page content for “Apple Smartwatch,” you might also want to optimise it for terms that directly connect to it. These are terms such as:

  • Apple smartwatch series 3
  • Apple smartwatch for women
  • iOs smartwatch

So how do you find LSI Keywords for Your Ecommerce Site?

  • Again, log into Amazon and enter your target keywords. Now watch for all the keywords that Amazon suggests to you.
  • Alternatively, just enter the keyword on Google Keyword Planner, and Google will suggest more keywords for you. 

Next, go ahead and sprinkle all these LSI keywords throughout your content. Make sure they naturally blend with the rest of the content.

How to Optimise Your Product Page URLs

Use Short, Keyword-rich URLs

After analysing more than 1 million Google results, it was established your URL length has a direct correlation to your ranking. 

First, short URLs were found to rank so much better than longer ones.

Keep in mind that ecommerce sites generally tend to have longer URLs than regular websites. 

For example https://www.abdcef.com/category/subcategory/product.html

However, that’s not to say that your URL should stretch out up to 50 characters. 

Longer URLs confuse Google. They also tend to dilute the impact of keywords. 

Other than that, you also want to make sure your URL is keyword-rich. 

For category pages, a better approach would be to use words that describe that particular category.

For example:

https://www.abcdef.com/smartwatches

The same applies to your subcategories, only that it will come after category in the URL structure.

https://www.abcdef.com/smartwatches/androidsmartwatches

https://www.abcdef.com/smartwatches/applesmartwatches

A better approach would be to use your target keywords for the URL for product pages, with each word separated by a dash. 

https://www.abcdef.com/smartwatches/androidsmartwatches/samsung-galaxy-watch-3

Some people choose to ignore categories and subcategories in their URLs. 

So, their URL becomes something like this:

https://www.abcedfg.com/samsung-galaxy-watch-3

This will make your URL even shorter and dense. And while we don’t recommend it, it’s still not going to affect your ranking. 

Internal Linking for Your Ecommerce Site

With ecommerce, internal linking occurs almost automatically. That’s because your site navigation will be naturally creating a lot of internal links.

Internal linking is a strategic part of the SEO process.

First, the links from authoritative sites should link to high-priority products or categories on your website. 

Rich Snippets for Your Product Reviews

If you’re looking for the easiest way to stand out from Google’s search results, then a rich snippet is the way to go.

Use product reviews to get an eye-catching rich snippet on Google. 

So, how do you get a Rich Snippet on Google?

First, you have to implement a schema mark-up on your product pages. 

While this comes with no guarantee, having a schema mark-up increases your chances. 

A schema mark-up can be set manually, even though it’s not easy.

Google Structure mark-up helper can help you out with this. Just follow the link.

Just head over to this tool and select “product.”

Next, find a product on your page, preferably one with a rating and reviews on it. Paste the page’s URL and click on “Start Tagging.” 

You’ll be asked to highlight which part of the page do you wish to tag. We suggest you highlight your “reviews” and “rating” sections. 

For a single review, choose reviews. But if several customers reviewed the product, then you want to select their aggregate rating.

You want to provide as much information as possible. For instance, you can highlight the “count” and the “number of reviews” tag. 

After you’re done with everything, you can go ahead and select “create HTML.” You’ll be provided with an HTML code that you can directly add to your product page or existing code. 

Be sure to use Google Console to double-check everything and make sure that your schema mark-up is implemented correctly.

Technical SEO for Your Ecommerce Website

Technical SEO is a critical segment of SEO.

It’s essential for all types of websites, and doubly so for an ecommerce website. 

The reason being ecommerce websites tend to have so many pages. And as it stands, more pages put you at greater risk of encountering more technical issues. 

And since ecommerce websites don’t rely on backlinks, that means technical SEO is the ultimate tiebreaker.

You have to start by running a technical SEO audit

How to Run a Technical SEO Audit for an Ecommerce Site

Top on the list of tools we recommend for your ecommerce site audit is Raven Tool. That’s because it’s the simplest and most thorough of all the SEO auditing tools out there. 

Here are the other tools you may use to audit your ecommerce site for technical SEO:

  • SEMrush
  • Site Condor
  • Deep Crawl
  • Screaming frog
  • Ahrefs

Raven is one of the most straightforward SEO auditing tools you’ll ever come across anywhere. 

After signing up, all you have to do is log into the site and click on “SEO Audit” at the left sidebar. 

Raven will proceed to audit your site for all the technical SEO errors.

You’ll then be presented with a report detailing all the errors that your site has. 

Common Technical SEO Issues and How to Fix them

Too Many Pages

Ecommerce sites tend to have so many pages. But are all the pages necessary?

First, having so many pages means you’ll have to develop unique content for all the pages. It also puts you at risk of duplicate content.

Why this Happens

You’re likely to encounter this error when you have so many products to sell on your website. Remember that with every new product you add, you automatically create a separate page for it.

The problems might also occur when the products only have a slight variation. For example, when dealing with the issue of shoe size. 

How to Fix This Issue?

You have to Identify all the duplicate pages and delete them. There’s no shortcut around this. For those that you can’t delete, you’re better off no-indexing them. Alternatively, you can combine them into a super-page. 

Look around for deadweight pages or any page that isn’t driving any traffic to your site and ask yourself, “what’s the point of keeping this page.” If there’s none, then you’re better off deleting it. 

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content will sink your website in the result pages. You want to make sure every page on your website has unique content. 

Why this Issue Arises?

Your site will create a new URL for each variation or version of your product.

If the website creates a unique URL for every single one of your product variations, then that means it will also be duplicating some of the content on your site. 

Duplicate content can also come as a result of boilerplate content. There are instances when it’s necessary to post the same text snippets on multiple pages. And if this text exceeds more than 100 words, Google might be tempted to pass it up as duplicate content.

Lastly is when you copy and paste your product descriptions. 

How to Fix this Issue?

If you can’t rewrite or delete the pages with duplicate content, no-index those pages. 

Noindex all the pages that aren’t driving any traffic to your site but are the cause of duplicate content. 

After that, you want to rewrite all the content in these pages and index them back. 

Site Speed

Site speed interferes with user experience. 

It’s also been established that it’s one of the things that Google considers when ranking your website.

Slow load times have also been found to increase shopping cart abandonment by 28%. 

Why does this happen?

Bloated ecommerce website: Your site might be inherently slow due to bloated code.

Large image size: high-resolution images are clear and more professional, but they might also be the reason your site loads slow.

Slow Hosting: You must be keen on who you choose to host your website. Look at the resources you’re allocated and make sure they’re powerful enough to handle your site without slowing it down.

How to Fix this Issue:

    • Upgrade your hosting
    • Invest in Cloud Delivery Network (CDN)

 

  • Compress your image files

 

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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