The eCommerce SEO guide that won't cause your head to spin
This post was last updated on August 26, 2022.
It's hard to overstate the importance of search engine optimization (SEO). After all, you can't make sales if you don't get any traffic to your site. And, well, traffic doesn't exactly fall from the sky.
Needless to say, SEO is a crucial part of any eCommerce marketing strategy. It’s 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?
Ecommerce SEO is the process of optimizing each page of your online store so that it gets discovered, indexed, and ranked by search engines like Google. Billions of new pages and sites are published every day, so it’s in your best interest to make your pages easier to find and rank by following SEO best practices.
Why is eCommerce SEO important?
More than three-quarters of consumers (78%) say that they’ve spent more time researching products or brands online than in stores. Search engines are largely to thank for this, with more than 8.8 billion searches occurring in a given day, according to Internet Live Stats.
This means that there’s a lot of potential money to be made. Your buyers could be googling anything from “how to treat damaged hair” to “car replacement parts.” By optimizing each page of your site—from your homepage to your product pages—for SEO, you give yourself a higher chance of ranking for these terms.
Did you know: the first five organic results account for 67.6% of all clicks on the first page (source: Zero Limit Web)
If that’s not convincing enough, consider this: while SEO is a long-term play (read: you won’t see results overnight), it doesn’t require money to see ongoing results. Unlike ads, it’s free to start, and it’s essentially the gift that keeps on giving.
Top benefits of eCommerce SEO:
Naturally attract buyers to your online store
Receive ongoing traffic from a free, “always on” channel
Reach people at various stages of the buyer journey
Build your brand authority around key topics
Educate and/or build trust with potential customers through content
SEO 101 glossary: key terms that you should know
Before we jump in further, there are a few basic SEO terms that you’ll need to know.
A crash course on how search engines work
So, what counts as a search engine and how does it work?
Google, Bing, and Yahoo! are some of the biggest search engines in the world. However, Google reigns supreme with just under 92% market share (as of June 2022). Bing, the next closest contender, isn’t even in the ballpark, with just around 3.2% of search market share.
This is why when people mention SEO, they’re mostly referring to Google. Google—like all other search engines—has its own unique ranking algorithm.
Today, it crunches hundreds of data points to decide when, where, and how to rank your web pages. Its ever-evolving algorithm is sophisticated enough to know that when a user searches for "men's jean jacket," he or she is probably looking to make a purchase. Whereas if the user searches for "wash jeans,” he or she is more likely looking for instructions on how to wash jeans properly.
Note how in the example above, the first result is from Tide’s website (this organic placement is also technically called a featured snippet, which shows an excerpt of the page directly on Google).
Upon clicking on the result, the user is sent to a page that gives step-by-step instructions on how to properly wash jeans—and from there, has the option to explore more tips or shop Tide’s products.
Though the user may not have initially been seeking out Tide, he or she is now engaged with the brand, and may be more likely to purchase from them now or in the future.
Top ranking factors
As mentioned earlier, search engines crawl hundreds of ranking factors, each with its own level of importance and purpose. Some factors are used to gauge relevance, while others are used to determine the trustworthiness of your content. Among the many factors that search engines may use, here are several worth noting:
A user's browsing history
A user’s Location
Page load speed
Grammar and spelling
While it’s impossible to control all of these factors, there are some within your reach. This is where your handiwork comes in. Between fine-tuning the technical components of your site to optimizing the elements of each page, below are steps you can take to increase your chances of ranking.
The 5 core ingredients of a strong eCommerce SEO strategy
01. Keyword research
Keywords are the literal terms or phrases that people enter into a search bar to find the content that they’re looking for online. Practically speaking, they’re the words that you’ll want to weave into your content to help people and search bots understand what your page is about.
The biggest mistake sellers make at this stage is neglecting to do proper, thorough keyword research or making assumptions about search intent.
Let’s take the keyword “books” as an example. This is a rather broad term that could attract anyone from a person looking to buy a book, to someone looking to publish his or her own book. Keyword research also tells us that, though “books” gets over 300 thousand searches in a month, it's highly competitive and has 17.2 billion results.
So, if you're a merchant who sells books, you’ll want to target a more specific keyword—one that attracts people with a clear intent to buy (aka commercial intent). Think: "cookbook for beginners" or "best vegan 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.
As you perform keyword research, here are several things to keep in mind:
Search volume - While broad keywords typically have higher search volumes (e.g., “shoes”), long-tail keywords (e.g., “blue suede shoes for women”) tend to signify higher commercial intent. Weigh the pros and cons of both when crafting your keyword list.
Competition - Be mindful of keywords with high competition. A high-volume word like "cookbook" may be very difficult to rank for, especially if you're just getting started with SEO. It's usually not realistic to shoot for hyper-competitive keywords like these.
Relevance - Check that the keywords you’re planning to target are terms that your buyers actually use. A good initial step to take is to scan the first page of results for your keyword and see how closely those results match your content. Do they touch on similar topics or products as your page? Do you see a lot of your competitors on the SERP? Or, are many results irrelevant to your business?
Search intent - Think about the purpose of the page you’re trying to rank. Product pages should target keywords that appeal to users with a higher intent to purchase (e.g., "blue Nike sneakers"). 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 that don’t contain your brand name), it's important to track branded terms that you rank for as well, especially as your business grows. Some customers may be searching things like "[Your brand] support" or "[Your brand] vs. [your competitor]."
When it comes to discovering new terms, here are some tools and strategies that can help:
Amazon - Naturally, the best place to start is where many people actually search for products. Simply typing in a product category in Amazon’s search bar will immediately give you dozens of keyword ideas. For example, typing in “jean jacket” brings up keywords like “jean jacket with hoodie” or “jean jacket for women." Jot these terms down in a spreadsheet so you can do further research into them later.
Google search - Google SERPs can expand far beyond eCommerce queries, but typing product terms like “denim jacket” produces some great suggestions (e.g., “denim jacket under $500"). Scanning the “People Also Ask” and “Popular Products” sections can inspire additional ideas.
Google Trends - This free tool lets you compare keyword popularity over a specific time and geographic location. Easily see if a keyword is gaining or losing interest over time, and discover related queries.
Google Keyword Planner - Another free tool by Google, Keyword Planner shows monthly search volume around key terms and phrases. Note: this tool is intended for folks looking to advertise on Google, so some metrics won’t be as relevant to your research. Still, Keyword Planner is good for getting the ideas flowing.
Competitor sites - Your competitors may have already done the eCommerce SEO research you’re looking to do right now. Click into their product pages and see what words they consistently use throughout the title, URL, and description. Right click on those pages and hit "View Page Source" (or use a browser extension like MozBar) to view title tags and meta descriptions.
SEO keyword research tools - Paid services like Semrush and Ahrefs can help you get even more granular in your research. Built specifically to help marketers improve their SEO, these platforms provide metrics like monthly volume, keyword difficulty, and more. You can additionally perform competitive research and track which keywords you already rank for, and how your rankings fluctuate over time.
02. On-page SEO
As you publish or optimize pages according to your target keywords, you’ll want to be mindful of on-page SEO practices. On-page SEO involves tweaking various elements of your webpage to help it rank higher on search engines.
Note that every page on your site needs to be individually optimized. While this may sound daunting, remember that SEO is an ongoing process that can (and should) be tackled over time.
Start by optimizing your most important or highest converting pages. As you do so, make sure to heed these tips:
Create URLs with SEO in mind - Include your primary keyword in the URL itself. To get the most out of your URLs, you should keep them as clean and succinct as possible. Avoid unnecessary subpages and filler words like "and" or "of.” Don’t cram multiple keywords into your URL either.
An example of a bad URL:
An example of a great URL:
Optimize your page titles - Include your target keyword in your page’s main title (H1). Google sometimes displays your H1 content as the title of your search listing, so you’ll want to keep it compelling for human readers. For product and category pages, it’s generally helpful to follow a specific formula for your titles to ensure consistency. For example, you could use a formula like this: Brand + Model Name + Model Number + Top Differentiator + Product Type.
An example of a strong H1 for a product page:
Men’s Any-Weather Waterproof Denim Jacket
Create rich, relevant product descriptions - High-quality product descriptions help to convert buyers, reduce returns, and—from an SEO perspective—give Google the information it needs to rank your pages. Avoid skimping out on your descriptions or copying-and-pasting ones from another page. Google also balks at duplicate or “thin” content.
Optimize title tags and meta descriptions - The metadata of your page helps to inform what appears on SERPs. The title tag, for example, may appear as the blue heading that users see when they’re browsing a Google results page. The meta description, in turn, may inform the copy underneath the heading. Here’s an example of how the title tag and meta description appear on an organic listing for Wix eCommerce.
Make sure to include your main keyword in the title tag, ideally near the front. Your title tag should be 50-65 characters long to avoid getting cropped, while meta descriptions should be 155 characters or less.
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.
Use high-quality images - It goes without saying that beautiful, high-quality product photos can keep guests on your site longer and increase the chances of making a sale. Google also assesses your visitors’ time on page—the longer they stay, the higher your page will likely rank.
Optimize alt text and image file names - Search engines rely on alt text and image file names to properly “read” your images. Towards that end, make sure that your file name describes your photos in a few words. Similarly, your alt text should provide more context around your images. Alt tags are an important accessibility tool for visually-impaired users who rely on screen readers, so avoid needlessly stuffing your tags with keywords. Focus on providing clear descriptions about your images.
Example of a bad image name:
Example of a good image name:
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 that point from one page on your website to another page on your website. They help people and search engines easily find other content that’s related to the page that they’re on. Adding a “related products” section to your product pages is a good place to start. You'll also want to link to important product and category pages from your site menu. If you have 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 (e.g., use the anchor text "denim jacket" instead of "shop now.")
Add schema markup to your product pages - Schema markup refers to a piece of HTML code that you can add to a page to inform how Google displays certain information on its SERP. For instance, it can help you to display prices, product reviews, and more directly from the SERP. If you created your site with Wix eCommerce, Wix simplifies this step by automatically adding schema markup to your store pages. If you aren’t using Wix, you can add schema markups with Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.
03. Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO includes steps you take outside of your website to improve your rankings. The most common off-page SEO tactic is link building, which is when you get other sites to link back to your site. Google sees backlinks as “votes” for your website, or evidence that other people find your content valuable.
With that said, not all links are created equal. Search engines will give more weight to links from high-quality, authoritative sources. Meanwhile, “toxic” backlinks—those that come from low-quality sites or were acquired through black hat tactics—may harm your rankings.
To earn links the proper way, focus on creating high-quality, sharable content. The best links are natural ones that are earned through honest work. To widen the reach of your content, focus on PR efforts, marketing collabs, and influencer campaigns that naturally generate links to your site.
Social media is another powerful channel for multiple reasons. Search engines include some social media posts within SERPs, and social media can help build attention around your store. Though social media does not have a direct impact on SEO, several studies show a correlation between social shares and ranking.
On your website, make sure to add social media buttons on all of your product pages and encourage people to share your store, products, and/or blog posts.
04. Optimize site architecture
Having a clearly structured site isn’t just essential for a good shopping experience. It’s also essential for SEO. There are three important things to keep in mind when planning your eCommerce site architecture:
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 that you can more easily add and organize 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 clear site hierarchy and linking strategy so that Google knows which pages on your site are the most important. Pages higher up in the hierarchy (like your homepage) will usually hold more authority in Google, and things like URLs and breadcrumbs help to communicate the hierarchy of your pages.
Example of a breadcrumb: Men's apparel > pants > joggers
It’s worth noting that Google may even integrate your breadcrumbs into your listings on mobile search results, making it easier for shoppers to understand what your page offers.
05. Fix technical issues
Google’s algorithm penalizes websites with a poor user experience. Think: pages with slow load times, broken links, and other technical issues that frustrate visitors.
No matter how much effort you pour into on-page or off-page SEO, you won’t get satisfying results if your online store has technical problems. So, take the time to take these steps:
Perform technical SEO audits - Evaluate your site’s performance using tools like Google Page Speed Insights. You can use tools like Screaming Frog and Deep Crawl to perform even deeper technical SEO audits, or the Wix Site Speed Dashboard to understand site performance based on real user data. Taking care of your online store’s technical performance needs to be done routinely, so you'll want to revisit this step time and time again.
Fix broken links - Broken links are links that no longer lead to their intended destination. Search engines will lower a page’s rank if it contains broken links. Instead of removing dead pages, we recommend creating 301 redirects. This lets Google know that people who land on an old URL should be sent to a different page. For example, in eCommerce it’s common to retire product pages after items have run their course. In this case, you’ll want to redirect the defunct product page to a similar product or category page.
Remove excess pages - Having lots of excess pages can slow a website down, which is a common problem among eCommerce sites. Make sure that you don’t have any duplicate pages, or pages that aren’t actually used or linked from anywhere. Another common issue is having multiple URLs for the same product, due to variations like size or color. This causes search engines to split traffic between multiple URLs for the same product, which, in turn, can reduce the ranking of each page.
Instead of having multiple pages for the same product, include product options so that customers can choose color, size, material or other variants without leaving the page. Alternatively you can use noindex HTML code to tell Google to ignore (i.e., not index) variation pages.
Compress images - Large pictures can take an extremely long time to load, particularly on mobile devices. Ecommerce sites have hundreds, if not thousands, of images, so it’s important to compress images when possible. Some image-editing software provides a “save for web” option to optimize images. You can also reduce an image’s file size manually by shrinking the physical dimensions or decreasing the resolution. However, if you use Wix eCommerce, you can skip a lot of this work—Wix will automatically resize your media and convert it to modern image formats, like WebP.
Change web host or upgrade bandwidth - One of the biggest factors affecting your store’s speed is the bandwidth that your web host provides. While every host is different, some offer bandwidth upgrades. If you feel like your site is too slow it might be time to 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 our eCommerce packages.
Bonus: advanced eCommerce SEO tips and resources
There’s a lot more you can do to improve your SEO rankings. Here are a few pro tips for supercharging your eCommerce SEO.
Write a blog - From a pure SEO standpoint, creating a blog may be one of the best things you can do for your eCommerce site. Blogs are an effective way to add fresh, engaging content to your website. Blogs let you go above and beyond the limited content on your product pages, allowing you to explore and rank for topics that are important to your customers.
Add product reviews - Aside from being a powerful tool for increasing conversions and trust, product reviews can help to beef up your product pages for SEO. By adding customer-written reviews to your pages, you can increase the 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 tools and guides to maximize your eCommerce SEO strategy - Building and maintaining a good eCommerce SEO strategy isn’t a simple task, especially as SEO continues to evolve. Consult the Wix SEO Learning Hub for the latest tips. Wix merchants can also take advantage of Wix SEO tools to implement on-page SEO, improve site performance, and more.
Ready to start your eCommerce journey? Create an online store today.
Editor, Wix eCommerce
Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.
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.