eCommerce SEO: The Full Guide to Optimizing Your Online Store
Gaining relevant traffic to your online store is the first step on your way to making sales – which is why eCommerce SEO should be one of your business' most important marketing strategies.
Whether you’re an SEO manager in a large company, or a small business owner looking to drive traffic to your online store, this eCommerce SEO guide is for you.
Why is eCommerce SEO important?
The number one way to get people into your store is through search engines like Google. In fact, organic searches are responsible for over half of all online traffic.
Organic traffic is gained through organic search queries on search engines. When you look for something on Google, you’ll often receive a list of paid ads on the top of the results, and then a larger list of organic results on the bottom of the SERP (search engine results page). Google’s algorithms scan the internet to find pages with the content you’re most likely looking for and present them to you here.
So, what is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the technique of increasing your visibility on search engines, by ranking higher for popular search words. The higher you rank among the organic results, the more likely your page will be clicked. In fact, around 30% of all traffic for each query goes to the top organic result.
Despite being the main way for people to reach your online store, SEO has another advantage over other marketing methods: SEO is free. Of course, it takes time and know-how to optimize your eCommerce website, but once you get the ball rolling, the overall expenses for SEO are much lower than other methods.
Want to start optimizing your online store to be found on Google? The following eCommerce SEO guide covers everything you need:
01. Keyword Research for eCommerce
What are keywords?
Keywords are words or phrases that you can incorporate into your website’s pages to help them appear on search engines. They should reflect search queries relevant to your website, in order to target potential customers.
Make sure you use the right keywords.
Making a huge list of keywords is just the start. Not all of them are worthwhile, and it’s important to determine which keywords you should use and which to set aside.
There are a few different parameters to consider – search volume, level of competition (also referred to as keyword difficulty) and relevance.
High search volume keywords are usually shorter and more general. So they tend to have much higher competition.
Keywords with lower search volumes, such as long-tail keywords, are usually easier to rank high for.
Some SEO tools provide a keyword difficulty rating, or KD, that helps sum up the value of a certain keyword.
Ideally, you should target keywords with high search volumes and low competition. But realistically, this may be impossible, so try to use a mixture of both.
But search volumes and competition are just part of the picture. The keywords you use need to be relevant. If shoppers don’t find what they’re looking for in your store, they’ll quickly leave. Google evaluates this and will lower your rankings if visitors bounce soon after entering your website.
Ideally, your bank of keywords will include a mixture of high-traffic general keywords, as well as more specific phrases relating to your products, such as “men’s sneakers”, which receives around 12,000 searches per month, and “blue Nike sneakers men”, which receives 100 searches per month.
Targeting different types of keywords brings in shoppers with different buying intent.
Buying intent refers to a potential customer’s stage in the shopping process.
For example, a shopper researching which product to buy, has different buying intent than one looking for a place to buy a specific product. The first may search for something along the lines of “best men’s running sneakers”, while the other would search for “blue Nike sneakers size 11”.
It’s important to provide different funnels for each of these shoppers. Target the former with an informative blog post using those relevant keywords comparing sneakers, while the latter should be targeted by a relevant product page.
More general keywords tend to attract shoppers who are still browsing. Though these phrases may lead to less conversions, they can bring in a lot of traffic and are great for exposure and brand building.
Shoppers searching for long-tail keywords are likely beyond their initial research phase and are closer to making a purchase. In this case, you want your website to be ranked as high up on Google, to increase the chances of them buying from your store.
Keep in mind, long-tail keywords with lower search volumes will bring much less visitors to your online store but they can also lead to higher conversions.
How to find keywords
There are a few main ways to find keywords and do keyword research:
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”. Write these keywords down in a spreadsheet so you can do further research into them later.
You should repeat this process with every product and category in your store. Having a large bank of keywords will help you with optimizing individual product pages later on.
Keywords you’ll find on Amazon are specific to eCommerce and have huge value for online stores. The same thing can be done on other eCommerce platforms, of course. But you can also do it with Google, or other search engines.
Using Google’s suggestions will likely offer up some different search queries. For example, typing in “denim jacket” can prompt suggestions like “denim jacket under $500”. While your results may vary due to search history and location, it’s still a good way to find new keywords.
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. Note that not all keywords are always relevant to your store, so you may need to pick and choose which ones you incorporate into your SEO strategy.
Competitor keyword research
Another method to finding quality keywords is researching your competition. If you have direct competitors, they’ve already done the SEO research you’re doing right now.
This is especially useful for new stores. But established businesses should always check what competitors are doing as well. SEO is dynamic and ever-changing so it’s important to stay updated.
If you’re unsure who your competitors are, just Google a product you sell and see what stores come up first.
Browse the top ranked stores and write down any phrases you find that may make for good keywords. Make sure to notice product categories, descriptions, specs, features, etc. Every piece of text counts.
SEO keyword research tools
If you want to take your keyword research to the next level, there are lots of tools to simplify the process. Paid services like SEMrush or Ahrefs help you find, compile and evaluate relevant keywords.
You can use one of these tools to quickly get an understanding of what keywords your competitors are ranking for and see which of their pages are attracting the most organic traffic. You can then use this information to create similar pages and target similar keywords. You can also use these tools to find their best performing pages, to create similar ones for your site.
You can also identify gaps in your site’s keyword strategy by comparing your online store to the competition.
02. 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:
Every page should be as few clicks away from any other relevant page
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. If each product fits neatly into a category, no product page should be more than 2-3 clicks away from your homepage.
Check out how Ruby Love's robust catalog of products is neatly broken down into category pages that you can access directly from the store's home page. This helps both Google and customers understand your store, what you're selling and how to find specific items.
Online stores with too many sub categories and no clear hierarchy are difficult to navigate, leaving shoppers confused and unsatisfied with their experience.
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 interlinked with authoritative pages receive a higher authority rating as well. So use this power to link to your next steps along the sales funnel, like your product catalog or category pages.
The URL of a page also reflects its hierarchy. Pages with more subdirectories have lower authority. So your URLs should “showcase” your site’s hierarchy.
By setting up your store this way from the outset, you’ll make it really easy to add more product pages and more categories, without cluttering up the website.
A good way to keep your shoppers informed as to where they are located within your site structure is by showing breadcrumbs.
What are breadcrumbs?
Breadcrumbs are a site navigation tool that appears at the top of each page (aside from your homepage). It shows the page you’re currently on, the category you’re in and the homepage, making it easy for shoppers to understand where they are and how to find what they’re looking for. If you shop online – you’ve seen them before.
For example, when you visit Ruby Love’s store and visit specific product pages, you can easily keep track of where you are located within the website. In this case, you moved from the homepage to the swimwear category, and then opened the product page for the Period Swimwear Tank Set | Black Sea.
Adding breadcrumb navigation doesn’t just help users navigate your store. It also 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. Search engines prefer breadcrumbs, giving them higher priority on their SERPs.
To sum things up – you should keep your store’s structure simple and clear, and use internal linking with page authority in mind.
03. Implement On-Page eCommerce SEO
After setting up your store’s structure, it’s time to dive in and implement your SEO strategy on every single page – products and categories. This is what on-page SEO is all about.
A huge part of eCommerce on-page SEO is adding as many relevant keywords, wherever possible. Just don’t overdo it, of course. While you want your pages to include all the necessary keywords, you also want your site to read normally.
This is where your keyword research really pays off. For each page, decide on one main target keyword that has a high search volume and captures the intent of the page. The target keyword will appear the most, to ensure search engines understand what your page is about.
Besides your target keyword, decide on another 3-5 keywords that relate to the page. Try to incorporate a long-tail keyword or two as well, to take advantage of lower search volume phrases.
There are 7 steps to ensuring your keywords and SEO strategy are maximizing results:
1. Create URLs with SEO in mind
URLs are the first line of SEO. They can really tell search engines exactly what the page is, if done correctly.
For each product and category page, use your primary keyword in the URL itself.
To get the most out of your URLs, you should keep them as short as possible. So avoid unnecessary subpages.
It’s also important to keep URLs understandable to humans, not only search engines, so don’t stuff keywords.
An example of a bad URL:
An example of a great URL for SEO:
2. Write strategic page titles
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 with the URL and the content.
Your page title can be longer than what’s expected of a URL. So you can use this opportunity to incorporate another keyword.
Men’s Denim Jacket - Black
In this case, you’re still targeting your main keyword – denim jacket. But also a couple long-tail keywords – “men’s denim jacket” and “denim jacket black”.
The same rules apply to your H2s and H3s, which are subheaders throughout your pages. Use them to showcase related keywords or other important information your customers may be looking for.
Accurate titles aren’t just good for SEO. They help customers understand what the product is, which is good for conversions too.
3. Write long SEO-focused product descriptions
The actual body of your product pages is where you can really go all-out with your keywords.
Many eCommerce sites suffer from having too little content on their product pages. This can lead to search engines simply not understanding what the page is about. Or at least not well enough to rank it higher than competing sites.
So make sure to take the time and really think of a good, long product description. You can use this real estate to add more specific long-tail keywords.
To make the page more informative, give shoppers (and search engines) all the information they could possibly need. Mention all of the features and specs, provide dimensions, colors and any other characteristic you can think of.
Product descriptions are where you’ll do the bulk of your keyword incorporating. But don’t go too wild. Google doesn’t take kindly to over-optimized pages.
Writing long, well-thought text is good practice for all pages, not just products. Your category pages, blog posts and other pages should all be optimized as well.
How do you know if you’ve over-optimized? Simple. If your content is understandable, informative and engaging for a human viewer – you’re doing fine.
4. Optimize meta titles and descriptions
A page’s metadata, which includes the meta title and meta description, is what appears on Google’s search results page (the SERP).
This is, in most cases, all of the information a potential customer will get about your page before clicking. So you need to sell it and make sure it’s as appealing as possible. As always, this is a good place to use some more keywords.
Utilize the meta title to add your main target keyword. Try to keep it in the beginning, or as early as possible. You want to be able to attract people with a single glance.
The meta description provides a little more freedom, but it’s best to keep it around 160 characters.
Optimizing your metadata is one of the ways to determine how people view you on SERPs, so make the best of it. You can use Serpism to preview your page’s URL, title and meta description on Google, before publishing.
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.
5. 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. You can view the average time on page using Google Analytics.
But beyond that, images are another place to sneak in some keywords for SEO.
Provide alt-text for every single image on your website. Take the target keyword of a page and incorporate it into the images. As always, don’t over do it. If there are multiple images, mix it up with a few different keywords.
You might be asking yourself right now:
What is alt-text?
Image alt-text was created for accessibility. It’s a description of the image, for users who can’t see them.
Google and other search engines can’t really see images, so they also rely on alt-text to understand what an image is. So when you use your keywords, you increase Google’s understanding of your page.
Just as importantly, images with alt-text are much more likely to show up on Google Images.
You should do the same with image file names. For example, an image of a denim jacket should be called denimjacket.jpg, rather than IMG_0810.jpg.
6. Create internal backlinks
Adding backlinks is a great way to raise the SEO ranking of a page.
Internal backlinking may sound more complicated than it is. Backlinks are simply links to a page, from other pages. Internal backlinks are links you create between pages throughout your website.
Generally, a page with more backlinks will rank higher. Of course, backlinks from authoritative sources are worth more, so a few backlinks from good sources can be better than many backlinks from low-level sources.
Backlinks are also a good opportunity to use optimized anchors. For example, if you want your denim jacket product page to rank for the term “denim jacket”, you can link to it from a different page, using the anchor text - “denim jacket”. This will increase the page’s ranking for the keyword, despite the phrase being on a different page.
Creating internal backlinks 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. Showcasing more products is likely to increase sales too, so it’s a win-win.
By adding links to products from your homepage and category pages, you can harness your site’s authoritative pages’ SEO juice, transferring some of it to the linked page. This is a great way to promote new items or sales.
7. 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 will add 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.
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 unsatisfied 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, or you can use tools like Screaming Frog and Deep Crawl. You can also track your keyword rankings, gain traffic insights and more with Google Search Console.
This step is helpful to find problems, but not crucial. You can always go through your pages, finding problems yourself and optimizing as you go.
Fix broken links
A common problem is broken links, meaning 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 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 pages to send them to, redirect them to your homepage. Just make sure to remove or reroute any broken links.
Reduce the number of pages on your website
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.
Add missing metadata
Taking care of your online store’s technical performance isn’t something you should just do once. It needs to be done routinely, to ensure it’s always up to par.
While doing your checkup, it’s a good idea to update your on-page SEO data too.
For every page you visit, make sure you have relevant meta titles, descriptions, and image alt-texts.
Most SEO audit tools will let you know which pages have missing metadata, so you won’t have to go page-by-page.
While adding missing metadata isn’t related to technical SEO per se, it’s a good place to stress that SEO is a constant battle. Updating regularly is the key to a successful eCommerce SEO strategy.
05. Extra Tips for Your eCommerce SEO Strategy
There’s a lot more you can do to improve your SEO rankings. These are some expert tips for eCommerce SEO:
Write a blog
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 use of SEO keywords.
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.
Long-form content is also a great place to incorporate LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords. These are terms that are conceptually similar to your target keyword.
For example, an LSI for “denim jacket” could be “jean jacket”.
The two are practically synonyms, but without incorporating both in your text, search engines will have a hard time picking up on it. So if you only use one and not the other, you may miss out on a huge pool of potential customers.
If you’ve done your keyword research, you probably have a list of keywords for each product that includes latent semantic indexing keywords.
If not, you can find some by using SEO keyword research tools, or hop on Google or Amazon and start looking around.
A blog also means you can constantly add new pages, without increasing your product line. Search engines love new content. New blog posts are considered more relevant and get higher rankings on SERPs. So constantly adding well-crafted pages to your site is a plus. You should also update existing blog posts, adding “last updated on…” at the top. This helps boost older pages, without necessarily creating new content.
Your blog posts are likely to bring in a lot of new guests to your site. A good blogging strategy should convert guests into customers. 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.
Adding a blog has huge advantages, not just for SEO. Blog posts can affect shoppers’ purchasing decisions. When you’re the blog writer, you can influence your customers’ decision making, increasing both your brand’s authority and your sales.
Add product reviews
Another way to add content is by incorporating product reviews. Writing long and thoughtful reviews for your products has several advantages.
If your store includes curated products from different brands, you can write reviews yourself to build trust with your shoppers. Giving as much detailed information on a product is important in helping customers with their purchasing decisions.
Second, writing reviews is another outlet for engaging, SEO-driven content. More content means more keywords and more precise search engine indexing. Utilize reviews to add long-tail and LSI keywords that wouldn’t fit naturally in a product description.
Add customer-written reviews to your product pages as well. Not only do they make shoppers more confident to buy, they may also surprise you by featuring unique 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 handpick the ones you want to showcase.
Use social media
Social media is an extremely important marketing tool. If you use it wisely, it can be one of your biggest sources of traffic. But you probably already know this by now.
The part that isn’t as obvious is that your domain’s presence on social media actually influences your search engine rankings.
Search engines try to provide the most relevant, high quality results for search queries. They do so, partly, by evaluating how frequently a URL is used. One of the metrics that affect this, is social signals.
Social signals are the shares and mentions a URL or domain gets on social media. More social signals means higher page relevance, so links that appear more frequently on social media, will likely get higher SEO rankings. This is true both for specific pages and for your site’s domain authority.
You can use this to your advantage, by increasing your social media engagement, which will lead to more shares and engagement with your links.
Increase your social media presence by maintaining active accounts, writing witty posts, posting beautiful photos or even sharing funny memes. There are endless ways to increase your social activity.
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.
Rom is a writer and content creator, who specializes in eCommerce, sustainability and agriculture.