Ecommerce SEO: the full guide to optimizing your online store
It's hard to overstate the importance of SEO.
After all, you can't make sales if you don't get any traffic to your site. And traffic—well, it doesn't exactly fall from the sky.
Needless to say, SEO is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase visibility around your brand. Crack open this guide for tips on how to master eCommerce SEO and drive traffic to your online store.
Fun fact: all Wix sites are backed by a solid infrastructure that's built with SEO in mind. Get started with Wix eCommerce today.
What is eCommerce SEO, exactly?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of optimizing your site pages to increase your visibility on search engines like Google. The higher you rank among the organic results, the more likely it is for your page to be clicked. In fact, the first five organic results account for 67.6% of all clicks that happen within the first page.
Why is eCommerce SEO important?
Organic searches are responsible for over half (53%) of all online traffic. And unlike ads—which require you to continue paying up to see results—SEO is essentially free. It's also the gift that keeps on giving.
For example, let's say you own a beauty supplies store online. To market your business, you could pump money into online ads. But a much cheaper, sustainable way to drive traffic is by investing in SEO.
Imagine that whenever someone googles "best shampoo for colored hair," your product page comes up. Or, when someone searches "how to treat damaged hair," a blog that you wrote appears. In another instance, if you have a brick-and-mortar store, SEO is what helps you to rank for a query like "beauty supply store near LA."
SEO is what helps you to engage shoppers who are using search engines to research your product or have a clear need for your brand. That said, SEO requires time and deliberate strategy. You won't see results overnight—but, SEO can:
Regularly attract free traffic to your site
Help you reach people at various stages of the buyer journey
Build your brand authority around key topics
Serve as a channel to educate and/or build trust with potential customers
How do search engines work?
Google, Bing, and—yes—Amazon are some of the top search engines in the world.
Each of these has its own algorithm and index of web pages, which control what appears at the top of its search engine results pages (SERPs). Google's search engine is probably the most studied, having set the standards for how search engines measure user intent and content quality.
Google, for instance, is sophisticated enough to know that when someone searches "men's jean jacket" he or she is likely looking to make a purchase. So, the SERP will be dominated by product pages and eCommerce sites that sell men's jean jackets.
By comparison, if someone were to search "wash jeans," Google would fill in the holes and likely serve up articles on how to wash jeans properly.
Search engines take into account tons of different factors—ranging from a user's browsing history, location, and other available data—to deliver the most relevant results.
They will simultaneously use a combination of on-page, off-page, and technical SEO factors to evaluate your content. This is where your handiwork comes in. While ranking algorithms are changing all the time, there are steps you can take to give your content the best chances of ranking.
Building your eCommerce SEO strategy
So, what do you need to do to get started with SEO? Below are several immediate steps that you can take.
01. Identify your target keywords
Keywords are usually the first things that come to mind when someone thinks of SEO. Keywords are—practically speaking—the words and/or phrases that you can incorporate into your website’s pages to help them appear on search engines. They should reflect the words that your consumers actually enter into the search bar when researching a product like yours.
Note that eCommerce keyword research is unique in that you want to keep an eye out for buying (aka commercial) intent. In other words, rather than targeting a general keyword like "books" from your product page, you'll want to hone in ones where the searcher has a clear intent to buy. Something like "cookbook for beginners" or "best vegan cookbooks." Even better: "where to buy chef amelia's cookbooks."
The exact keywords you target will depend on the type of page that you're optimizing (e.g., are you optimizing a product page, category page, or blog?) and your target audience.
Here are several characteristics to keep in mind as you weigh various keywords:
Search volume - The shorter and broader your keyword, the more monthly searches it likely attracts. That said, there's power in targeting long-tail keywords that have lower volume but higher commercial intent. Rather than competing on high-volume keywords that cast a wide net, you can get in front of more specific types of audiences.
Competition - Many keyword research platforms provide a metric like "keyword difficulty" to help you gauge how hard it is to rank for a particular term or phrase. A high-volume word like "cookbook" may be very difficult to rank for, given that many sites (including industry giants that have a lot of influence on SERPs and consumers) want to rank for it. If you're an SMB or just getting started with SEO, it's usually not realistic (or a good investment of time) to shoot for hyper-competitive keywords like these.
Relevance - It's not uncommon for site owners to think that a keyword is perfect for their page, only to realize that the people who search this term are not at all who they expected them to be. A good initial step to take is to scan the first page of results for your keyword (open an incognito window and google your term). Check how closely those headlines and sites match yours.
Search intent - As mentioned earlier, if you're optimizing a product page, you'll want to target keywords with a high transactional intent (e.g., "blue Nike sneakers size 11"). Alternatively, if you're optimizing a blog, you'll probably want to target keywords with an informational intent (e.g., "best sneakers for running").
Unbranded vs. branded - While you'll want to rank for unbranded terms (search terms in which your brand name doesn't appear), it's important to track branded terms, especially as your business grows. Some customers may be searching things like "YourBrand support" or "YourBrand vs. competitor"—terms that you'll want to rank for in order to control the narrative and best serve your customers.
When it comes to actual keyword research tools, here are some good places to start.
Amazon and Google
Naturally, the best place to start, is where people actually search for products. Simply typing in a product or product category in the Amazon search bar will immediately give you dozens of keyword ideas. For example, typing in “jean jacket” brings up a bunch of potentially-relevant keywords, like “jean jacket with hoodie” or “jean jacket for women." Jot these keywords down in a spreadsheet so you can do further research into them later.
Keywords you’ll find on Amazon are specific to eCommerce, whereas Google's SERPs will be more of a mixed bag. However, by typing “denim jacket” into Google's search bar, you can see that it prompt suggestions like “denim jacket under $500." There are more keywords to be found everywhere on Google, like the “People also ask” section, or the knowledge graph Google displays for certain search queries. These keywords are not always relevant to your store, so you may need to pick and choose which ones you incorporate into your SEO strategy.
Another method to finding quality keywords is researching your competition. Your direct competitors may have already done the SEO research you’re doing right now.
So, by peaking at their product pages and category pages, you could glean some useful clues as to how they're targeting their pages. Check out their product titles, URLs, and descriptions for recurring or related terms.
Right click on those pages and hit "View Page Source" or use an extension like Moz's MozBar to view their title tags and meta descriptions. These are the page titles and descriptions that are specifically optimized for search engines. While site owners may not always customize these elements, it's generally best practice to.
SEO keyword research tools
If you want to take your keyword research to the next level, there are lots of tools that simplify the process. Paid services like SEMrush or Ahrefs help you to find, compile, and evaluate relevant keywords.
Among the many capabilities they provide, these platforms can automatically generate a list of keywords for you. They'll provide metrics like monthly volume, keyword difficulty, CPC (related to paid ads), and more.
You can also perform organic research on specific URLs, including your own or a competitor's. Discover how much authority your competitors have online and which keywords they already rank for. Is there an opportunity for you to outrank competitors on certain terms? Are there any keyword gaps in your site's strategy? What can you learn from looking at your competitors' top-ranking pages?
02. Implement on-page eCommerce SEO
Now that you have your list of keywords, it's time to put them to use. Keywords are just one part of on-page eCommerce SEO—which refers to all the elements on your webpage that are within your control, plus impact your rankings.
Every single page on your site needs to be optimized. (The exception being pages, like landing pages built for temporary ad campaigns, that aren't intended for organic ranking.)
Before you panic, note that you can tackle SEO over time. For example, start with your most important or highest converting pages, whether that's your category page or a product page.
For these, you'll want to heed the following advice.
Create URLs with SEO in mind
URLs are the first line of SEO. They can really tell search engines exactly what your page is about, if done correctly.
For each page, use your primary keyword in the URL itself. To get the most out of your URLs, you should keep them as clean and short as possible. Avoid unnecessary subpages and filler words like "and" or "of."
An example of a bad URL:
An example of a great URL for SEO:
Make sure your URLs are easy for humans to understand too, not only search engines. Your URL should accurately describe the content that people will see when clicking on your link—and as tempting as it might be, avoid stuffing it with multiple keywords. This is a surefire way to get on Google's naughty list.
Write page titles strategically
When you’re writing the content for your store’s pages, be especially conscious of the text in your headers. Each page’s main title (H1) is another important place to use your target keyword. Google knows this is the title of the page, so the intent should match the URL and the content.
Moreover, even though you have an opportunity to customize your title tag for SERPs, Google may opt to display your H1 instead. So make sure your H1 is intentional, highly relevant, and still compelling to your buyers.
An example of a strong H1 for a product page:
Men’s Any-Weather Waterproof Denim Jacket
In general, it helps to have a specific formula for your product page titles to ensure consistency and completeness. For example, you could craft titles based on a formula like this: Brand + Model Name + Model Number + Top Differentiator + Product Type.
At the same time, you'll want to make sure your titles are easy to read and lend to a good experience on your website.
Give your product descriptions TLC
It goes without saying that your product descriptions are important for a number of reasons. They help to convert buyers, reduce returns, and—on the SEO front—provide enough information for Google to confidently rank your pages.
Google does not like thin content. This is one of the most common SEO mistakes that eCommerce sites make.
In addition to this, Google balks at duplicate content.
So, while you may be looking to get your product pages up as fast as possible, it's worthwhile to think of a longer, more detailed description per each product page. Use this real estate to more fully describe your products and strike an emotional chord with your buyers.
Help them to envision themselves using your product and achieving something meaningful with it. Speak their language. Appeal to their values.
As you do so, you should naturally weave in secondary keywords and latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. LSI keywords are simply words that often used in conjunction with your main keyword. For example, if you're talking about cereal, it's natural to mention milk.
All of these signal to Google that your product page is "legit" and meets the needs of users who search for your product.
Optimize title tags and meta descriptions
A page’s metadata, which includes the title tag and meta description, refers to what usually (but not always) appears on SERPs. The title tag informs the blue headline of a Google search result, while the meta description informs the copy below.
In most cases, these are the only pieces of text and information that a person will see about your page before deciding whether or not to click. Needless to say, these need to be as appealing and accurate as possible.
As a general rule of thumb, add your main keyword to your title tag. Try to keep it at the beginning of your title tag so that it doesn't get lost behind other words. Keep your titles to 50-65 characters long to avoid your titles getting cropped.
As for your meta descriptions, keep these to 155 characters of less. Try to include your main keyword but don't get too hung up on the exact wording it if there's a better, more natural way to describe your page.
Wix eCommerce users can take advantage of the SEO Patterns tool that simplifies the process of optimizing metadata for a large number of product pages. Instead of editing them one by one, use variables to automate the metadata and keep each page optimized.
Add quality images and optimize image alt text
One of the first things people will notice when they land on one of your pages is the imagery. Beautiful, high-quality photos of your products will keep guests on your site longer and increase the chances of making a sale. Google also evaluates your visitors’ dwell time, so the longer they stay, the higher your page will rank.
But beyond this, search engines rely on file names and alt text to understand what your images are showing, since they can't really see your images. For this reason, you'll want to make sure that your image file names are clean and easy to read.
Example of a bad image name: IMG12490137.jpg
Example of a good image name:
You should additionally customize your alt text for every image. This is text that's also intended for accessibility, i.e., visually impaired readers may use a screen-reading tool, which will describe the image using your alt text. Images with alt-text are much more likely to show up on Google Images as well.
Use alt text to describe your images at greater depth without going overboard. Make sure your text is legible and accurate—do not try to keyword stuff.
Example of bad alt text: men's jean denim jacket bomber blazer coat
Example of good alt text:
Male model wearing YourBrand's denim jacket
Establish good internal links
Internal links are links to a page from another page on your site. They help both search engines easily find (and rank) other related content on your website.
If one of your pages like your homepage has a lot of links (internal and external), it indicates that it's an important page. As a secondary benefit: by making it easy for people to discover more content from your pages, you can boost engagement rates and conversions—which Google views favorably.
Creating internal links is especially useful and simple to pull off on eCommerce websites.
A good place to start is by adding a “related products” section for every product page. You'll also want to link to important product and category pages from your site menu, and if you own a blog, link to your product pages from your articles (and vice versa).
Be particularly selective of the anchor text that you use when linking. For example, use the anchor text "denim jacket" instead of "shop now."
Add schema markup on product pages
Adding schema markup (sometimes called rich snippets) to your product pages is a real SEO pro tip.
Schema markup is a semantic vocabulary containing tags that help search engines index your page and display it on SERPs.
In simple terms, schema is a piece of HTML code that you can add to a page, to help Google understand and display it. This can increase a page’s SEO ranking and get it displayed higher on search results pages.
You’ve probably seen Google display this data for you before. It can include prices, ratings, event dates, etc.
If you created your site with Wix, you can skip this step. Wix automatically adds schema markups to your page to increase your ability to rank higher and showcase your store on Google.
If you aren’t using Wix, you can add schema markups with Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. Here’s how to to add schema markups to your site:
Select the type of data you want to add and the URL of the page you want to add it to.
Once your page is loaded, you’ll notice various tagging options to the right. For each one, simply highlight the relevant text and add the tag.
When you’re done tagging, hit create HTML, in the top right corner. This will generate your schema code. Make sure to use the Microdata option. The new code includes your new schema data.
Now just go to your page’s source code in your website editor and paste the new HTML code.
Your page should now have a schema markup that Google can display on its SERPs.
03. Optimize your eCommerce site architecture
Your website's structure is extremely important. Building a site that’s simple to understand and navigate helps users find their way around. This has a lot of benefits, especially when it comes to eCommerce.
But having a clearly structured site isn’t just for the shopping experience, it’s good for SEO too. There are three important things to keep in mind when building your eCommerce website:
No product page should be more than two to three clicks away from your homepage
You should have a clear hierarchy between pages
Keep your structure simple, so you can easily add more pages in the future
For eCommerce, in order to simplify your site, you should categorize pages as either products or product categories. If you have a large store with lots of products, consider adding one tier of sub categories as well.
Create a simple site hierarchy and linking strategy so that Google knows which pages on your site are the most important. Pages higher up in the hierarchy will usually hold more authority in Google. Search engines use authority to rank different pages within the same site.
The page with the highest authority on your site is usually the homepage. Pages that are linked to authoritative pages receive a higher authority rating as well.
The URL of a page—much like breadcrumbs—also reflects its hierarchy. Pages with more subdirectories have lower authority.
Meanwhile, breadcrumbs allow shoppers to easily understand where they are on your site.
Example of a breadcrumb
Men's apparel > pants > joggers
Adding breadcrumb navigation doesn’t just help users navigate your store—it sets a clear site structure, which helps search engines crawl and index your website. Google may even integrate your breadcrumbs into your listings on mobile search results, making it easier for shoppers to understand what your page offers.
04. Fix technical SEO problems
Besides going over your site’s content and structure, search engines also evaluate your website’s technical performance.
The Google algorithm knows that slow loading times and broken links lead to unhappy visitors, so it tries to avoid displaying problematic sites in the first place.
So while your on-page optimization may be the bulk of your SEO work, you won’t get satisfying results if your online store has technical problems.There are several steps you can take to make sure your website’s at peak performance:
Perform technical SEO audits
First of all, you may want to get an overall idea of how your site’s performing. There are some free tools you can use for this, like Google Page Speed Insights, which evaluates the web performance of a single page.
Taking care of your online store’s technical performance isn’t something you should just do once. It needs to be done routinely, so you'll likely be revisiting this step from time to time.
Fix broken links
Broken links are common on large sites. They refer to links that no longer lead to their intended destination.
Search engines will not only lower a page’s rank if it contains broken links, but will reduce your site’s overall rating too. This is because Google won’t want to show users pages that send readers to dead ends instead of to more useful or relevant pages.
If you have to kill a certain page on your website because a product sold out or because it’s no longer relevant, you can create a 301 redirect. This tells Google to send people who visit this URL to a different page.
If you’re redirecting from a dead product page, send your customers to a similar product or to the product gallery. If you don’t have any relevant product pages to send them to, redirect them to your homepage. Just make sure to remove or reroute any broken links.
Remove excess pages
Having lots of pages can slow a website down, which is a common problem with eCommerce sites.
First, you should make sure you don’t have any duplicate pages, or pages that are unreachable (not linked anywhere). The excess pages will weigh your site’s performance down.
Large stores with many products will inevitably have a lot of pages, making them difficult to organize. A common issue is having multiple URLs for the same product, due to variations like size or color. This is a mishap, as it causes search engines to split traffic between multiple URLs for the same product. This can reduce the ranking of each, instead of having one strong link.
Luckily there’s a work-around for this problem. Include product options for each product page so customers can choose color, size, material or other variants without needing to go to another URL. You can also add a noindex HTML code to your page, you can tell Google not to index that page. That way, you can ensure there’s only one URL for each product, and you don’t have multiple links fighting for the same SERP real estate.
One of the most common problems slowing down websites is large images.
While you want your website to be appealing, with beautiful large pictures, they can take an extremely long time to load.
Ecommerce sites have hundreds, if not thousands of images. So it’s important to compress and optimize them for the web.
Some image-editing software provides a save for web option to optimize images, compressing them and reducing their quality very slightly in order to reduce their size.
You can also reduce your images’ file size manually by shrinking the physical dimensions or decreasing the resolution, while keeping an eye on the quality, of course.
Another way to save image space is by using the right format. In most cases, you’ll want to save your images as JPEGs. This format generally allows greater compression with less degradation.
Change web host or upgrade bandwidth
One of the biggest factors affecting your store’s speed is the bandwidth your web host provides. While every host is different, some offer bandwidth upgrades.
If you feel like your site is too slow, despite optimizing as much as possible, perhaps you should invest in higher bandwidth.
If you built your store with Wix, you won’t have to worry about this because Wix offers unlimited bandwidth with all their eCommerce packages.
05. Go the extra mile with these additional tactics
There’s a lot more you can do to improve your SEO rankings. These are some expert tips for eCommerce SEO.
Write a blog
From a pure SEO standpoint, writing a blog may be one of the best things you can do for your eCommerce site.
Let’s face it, online stores aren’t exactly full of fresh engaging content. Most of the pages on the site are product pages, which can limit your creativity, your brand building capabilities, and your keyword targeting.
This is where a blog comes in handy. On your blog, you can write long, interesting pieces of content about topics that relate to your products. This lets you incorporate and target more keywords, increasing the organic traffic to your site.
Your blog posts are likely to bring in a lot of new guests to your site. A good blogging strategy should help to attract people who have a need—either now or later—for your product. Write your posts with products in mind, and use the new content to create backlinks to relevant products pages.
All of these things add up and increase your overall domain authority, giving the entire website a boost in SEO rankings.
Add product reviews
Aside from being powerful tools for increasing conversions and trust, product reviews can help to beef up your product pages.
By adding customer-written reviews to your pages, you can increase the sheer amount of text on your page and potentially feature more LSI keywords.
If you’d rather be in full control over the content on your product pages, you can always collect reviews privately through post-sale emails and hand pick the ones you want to showcase.
Use social media
The exact impact of social media on SEO is hotly debated, but a few things remain true:
Social media can drive more traffic to your pages
Social media can help you to earn backlinks to your content
Search engines include social media profiles and posts within SERPs
Social media can help to build search demand
Several studies have even shown that there's a correlation between social shares and ranking. So, even if social media doesn't have a direct impact on SEO, there's plenty of evidence to show that it has a powerful indirect impact on it.
Leverage your social accounts to promote your products, articles, and other content in a tasteful way. Use tools at your disposal—like Wix's built-in Facebook Ads feature and marketing tools—to boost visibility.
On your website, make sure to add social media buttons on all of your pages and encourage people to share your store, products, or blog posts.
Use tools and guides to maximize your eCommerce SEO strategy
Building and maintaining a good eCommerce SEO strategy is no simple task, which is why most marketing experts use various SEO tools.
Consult the Wix SEO Guide to make sure you don’t miss any steps.
Wix merchants can also take advantage of our advanced SEO tools to research keywords, implement on-page SEO, optimize your website’s performance and more.
Ready to start your eCommerce journey? Create an online store today.
Managing Editor, Wix eCommerce
Daniel is the Managing Editor at Wix eCommerce, where he uses his experience as a merchant, journalist and marketer to create content that helps online businesses grow.