In 2022, revenue from U.S. eCommerce sites came to around $905 billion—a figure that’s expected to rise to more than $1.7 trillion by 2027. Needless to say, selling your products or services online is more competitive than ever before, and it’s just going to keep getting tougher.
In this eCommerce SEO guide, we’ll look at several techniques you can use to cut through the noise and increase your visibility in search results.
Why Does SEO Matter for eCommerce?
In the U.S. alone, the number of online buyers is expected to rise from 268 million in 2022 to 285 million by 2025. Put another way, that’s basically everybody who’s finished middle school!
Search engine optimization (SEO) for your eCommerce site matters because it’s the way your customers will find you—53% of shoppers do research before buying a product and 28.5% of consumers will click on the first organic result.
But it goes deeper than that. Many marketers report that eCommerce SEO optimization drives more sales than any other form of marketing or advertising, including PPC ads. To ignore SEO in favor of throwing time and resources at whatever new platform is trending this week is to miss out on an opportunity to drive real, trackable sales in a tried and true way.
How Is eCommerce SEO Different from Normal SEO?
Both eCommerce SEO and “normal SEO” follow the same basic guidelines and best practices. The goal for your eCommerce SEO strategy should be the same as any online business strategy: get seen by the right people.
What differentiates SEO for eCommerce sites is that eCommerce SEO requires a heavier focus on:
- Product reviews
- Well-placed and well-optimized CTAs
- Detailed, keyword-focused product descriptions
- Quality product photos (no stock photos!)
- Product schema markup
Let’s look at several of these items in greater detail.
How to Do SEO for eCommerce Websites: A Step-by-Step Guide
In this detailed guide, we highlight several SEO tactics you can take to improve your site’s visibility on search engines.
Step 1: Keyword Research
Most marketers and business owners understand the importance of keyword research—Keywords remain as important today for how to do SEO for your eCommerce website as ever. But what many may not realize is that there are three distinct types of keywords that all serve different purposes.
Understand the Three Kinds of Keywords
If we said “you’ve got a long tail, a fat head, and a chunky middle,” there’s a good chance you wouldn’t be calling us back. Please, let us explain!
These are three types of keywords, and despite doubling as unique insults, we really are talking about SEO.
1. Fat-head Keywords
A fat-head keyword (also called a short-tail keyword) is more specific than a single, widely searched word—usually containing two or three highly competitive words. They’re a bit too general to be the best way to attract your ideal audience.
For example, if your keyword is “glasses”, you’re basically competing against everyone who sells eyewear and kitchenware. But, if you sell Ray-Ban sunglasses, that keyword will target a more specific and valuable audience—at the cost of high competition.
2. Long-tail Keywords
A long-tail keyword can be as long as a full sentence. Well-researched, long-tail keywords are great for attracting people looking for exactly what you offer—but they’re also a double-edged sword. They attract the right crowd: just a smaller crowd.
An example of this is “Light pink flower glasses for 10-year-old girls.”
3. The Chunky Middle
What’s good for Goldilocks works for keywords as well. In this case, the porridge is the chunky middle—keywords that strike a balance between competition and specificity.
The chunky middle is “just right”, bringing traffic that’s worth competing for—like “Pink flower glasses.”
Keyword Research Isn’t Static
Don’t just assume the SEO you used six years ago is still perfect today. Fresh keyword research can uncover specific descriptions people are using that have changed over time. It’s equally possible the competition has increased with some keywords that used to be easier to rank for.
Focus on Keyword Intent
Keyword intent is important for two main reasons:
- As Google’s predictive technology improves, it cares more about the context and logic behind the SEO for your eCommerce Site.
- If people click on your site to get a question answered and your article doesn’t deliver—three unfavorable things may happen:
- They’ll leave
- They won’t share your page
- Google will decrease the page’s ranking
With eCommerce, keyword intent attracts the right buyers, and then delivers on the purpose behind their search.
Step 2: Use Product Schema on All of Your Products
Schema markup is a light programming language used to feed important product data to Google.
Product schema adds specific details about your products (like price, materials, or reviews) to your search result listing. This may seem like a lot of extra work at the beginning, but in the grand schema-things, it’s a great way to maximize your website’s full potential.
By giving potential customers all the important information in one easy-to-find place, you increase the chances of potential leads converting into customers.
Google offers advice on how to implement product schema, and for more handy insights, you can read Big Leap’s article on schema markup. There are also tools that can help generate product schema markup, so you can add the proper formatting without complicated coding.
A Few Words About Rich Snippets
Rich Snippets might sound like the name of an amateur comedian who’s opening for the main act, but it actually represents one of the major benefits of using schema markup. Rich snippets appear in SERPs when your product schema is coded properly.
Check out these rich snippet examples or learn more by visiting schema.org.
Step 3. Optimize Everything
Quality content is about more than keywords and text. Make sure you create informative, keyword-rich product descriptions and add a compelling call to action (CTA) to each page.
Use your own high-quality photos of your products (not stock images) and add descriptive alt text.
Step 4. Get Honest Reviews
Much of Google’s SEO focus comes from what others have to say about you. This is a huge plus if you get a lot of customer reviews (especially when they’re positive!). Star ratings, shares on social media, and reviews are all signals for Google to consider you for a higher ranking.
Step 5. Be Consistently Competitive
If you’re selling your products on Amazon, keep in mind that price alignment matters. Price your items competitively on Amazon and make sure you match the prices on your own website and other online marketplaces.
If you can offer free shipping, do so, along with other incentives, like customer rewards or discounts.
Step 6. Optimize Your Site’s Architecture for Sales
Organizational choices may seem elementary, but there’s an art to designing your site from your customer’s perspective. The following are three great rules to keep your site’s navigation on point.
1. Use Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are a great way to help users follow your website’s logic. They offer text-based navigation near your site’s main menu, pointing to your site’s hierarchy, site path, or details tied directly to your metadata.
2. Use Canonical Tags
A canonical tag indicates which webpage is the main or “master copy” version so that search engines know which page to index.
This is crucial for SEO because duplicate content can hurt rankings. Without canonical tags, Google doesn’t know which version of a page to index, and as a result, it’s likely the page won’t get indexed at all.
Canonical tags are especially crucial for online retail sites because shopping websites often have hundreds or thousands of similar pages. For example, you may have a product page for a blue dress, as well as three identical pages for that same dress in different sizes.
A canonical tag will indicate to search engines that you only want the main product page to show up in search results and not the three size-specific pages. Your customer will still be able to access those pages, but they won’t be displayed in SERPs.
3. Use the 3-Click Rule
Few things are as frustrating as searching for a product you know is there…somewhere. If you follow the 3-click rule—it means your products are never more than three clicks away from their top menu link.
Step 7. Avoid Company-Specific Product Names and Acronyms
Your product inventory needs clear, logical organization, using terms people will enter in the search bar.
Online retailers selling their own line of products or highly specialized items often make the mistake of titling the products using names or acronyms that aren’t commonly known.
Something like a humorous sticker that says “DBA – Dumb But Adorable” might be exactly what someone’s looking for, but if you get a lot of traffic from people searching the legalities of registering their business with a DBA, don’t expect them to be pleased.
Always include words people are likely to enter in a Google search. Don’t let company-specific terms get in the way of good SEO.
Use Keyword-Friendly Product Descriptions
Follow this same logic in your product descriptions. You can really benefit from long-tail and chunky-middle keywords in your production descriptions, so don’t get lost in the details—research your products with their keyword context to draw the right visitors.
Step 8. Employ Technical SEO Best Practices
It’s easy to accidentally leave broken links on large eCommerce sites. Proper eCommerce SEO optimization includes helping Google index your pages quickly. Use these three tips for a well-organized eCommerce site.
1. Keep the URL Structure Simple
Even if your site is intricate, you want to give the impression it’s easy to navigate. This means using logic in how pages are named that follows your site’s categories and item specifics. You want only the crucial information in the URL.
For example, a logical URL looks more like “Companyname-clothes-shirts-red-long-sleeve-shirt” instead of “Companyname-red-scarlet-crimson-long-sleeve-shirt-blouse-13245542”.
Sometimes it helps just to get an extra set of eyes on the challenge—with a professional site audit from our friendly Big Leap SEO experts, of course! (Shameless…we know.)
2. Be the Fastest-Loading Page in Results
SEO is about doing anything you can to keep a visitor’s attention. If your site takes more than three seconds to load, 53% of your mobile users are going to bolt. Optimizing your pages can include dropping any unnecessary code, using a better content management system (CMS), or even changing to faster servers. Every little bit helps.
3. Make a Sitemap
A sitemap helps Google avoid getting lost when indexing a large website. A sitemap is essentially an outline of your website’s most important pages, so Google understands what it sees when crawling your site.
Get the SEO Help You Deserve
We could say so much more about optimizing SEO for your eCommerce website. After all, it is what we do. As this case study shows, our eCommerce SEO helped one of our clients see a 644% increase in traffic and 289% more in sales.
If you want to boost your eCommerce site’s online presence, we’d love to help.
See how Big Leap can help grow your business today!