eCommerce SEO: Optimizing your eCommerce Website for SEO

Having a well planned eCommerce SEO strategy can really add to your bottom line. Small changes in site structure, keyword targeting, or link building can have multiplying effects on traffic and revenue.

If you are just starting an online eCommerce store you are in a much better position to get things right from the start as it is much more difficult (but not impossible) to change site structure after your store has been running for a while.

Keyword Research for eCommerce Stores

There is usually a lot more time that goes into the keyword research for an eCommerce store than there is a local business targeting a specific industry. It’s not hard to find high volume keywords surrounding most of the popular products, however, it’s more difficult to find the best converting keywords that have the right balance of search volume and organic competition.

The two main types of keywords that eCommerce stores would target are informational keywords and transactional keywords. I talk about these in the keyword research post but we can review them below.

Informational Keywords

There are a lot of horror stories of eCommerce SEO gone wrong because the store owners tried to only target these high volume informational keywords. Informational keywords are those that people search for when simply gathering information rather than looking to purchase something.

For example, if you run an online baby store and have a beautiful cloth diaper line. You would likely want to target the keyword “cloth diapers” and rightfully so, there are over 60,000 searches a month for that. However, it’s important to note that these may include a lot of people simply doing some research on cloth diapers and not necessarily looking for a place to buy them and that means there will be more competition in the search results and ultimately less conversion for those types of keywords.

These are great if your goal is to educate the clients on your products and industry and there is certainly a place for them within your strategy (likely within the blog) but it is much better if you are able to target the keywords that people are searching when they are closer to making the purchase.

Transactional Keywords

On the flip side of this, transactional keywords are those where the visitor is closer to making a buying decision. These types of keywords usually include “buy”, “purchase”, “best”, “reviews”, etc. within them. Here are a few examples:

buy cloth diapers – 260 monthly searches
buy cloth diapers online – 90 monthly searches
buying cloth diapers – 50 monthly searches

While these keywords have significantly less search volume, they are more relevant for an eCommerce store (you can actually buy things here) and they are much more likely to convert into sales than the more general keyword.

Understanding and properly targeting the right types of keywords can really amplify your SEO efforts for your eCommerce store.

eCommerce Website Structure for SEO

Another major area of eCommerce SEO is optimizing the website structure. This usually starts with an audit of the structure. Does the structure result in duplicate or thin content? What pages are currently ranking for what terms now? Are your tag pages ranking? Category pages? Homepage?

Understanding how the website is currently structured and what is being indexed by Google will let you optimize the structure best.

Categories, Tags, and More

Structure for an eCommerce website is usually done with categories and product pages. The “buy cloth diapers” keywords would likely be mapped to a cloth diaper category page and then each product page would have product-specific or brand-specific keywords mapped to them.

I have seen many eCommerce stores structure with both tags and categories – which can be okay for user navigation but when both sets of taxonomies are indexed by Google, it can make for a mass confusion on which page should be returned for the keywords you are targeting. Getting specific and having a well-outlined keyword mapping document will help your team understand where the key landing pages are.

Blogging On Your eCommerce Website

Blogs are a great source of content for otherwise static eCommerce websites. The number one question we get surround a blog for this type of website (or any corporate blog for that matter) is what to write about. Here are a few ideas:

Tell your story. Tell the story of your company, its staff, how you’re different, how you help, etc. Use real life examples and client feedback to help shape the posts you write about.

Your opinions and positions on current happenings and events. Did something happen in your industry? Take a stance and a side and explain your reasoning.

How To Posts. Before you state that how-to posts have been over published and that they don’t work anymore, stop. They are great. Educate your audience on what it is you do. Teach them or show them how to get the most out of your products, give examples, explain it. Help them.

There’s a lot more you can write about but this should give you a good starting point.

Internal Links From Your Blog

One thing to note if you are blogging on your eCommerce website is to make sure you’re using this great content to link back to your products and category pages.

I’m not saying you should make a sales pitch in every post because that can be a little over the top, but if you’re talking about why cloth diapers are so amazing for swimming, why not link to your cloth diaper category page. Likewise if you’re referencing a news article on car seat safety, link over to your car seat category.

This will help both reasons and search engines associate the relevance of those category pages to what you’re trying to rank them for.

The Importance of Optimizing For Conversions

If you’re going to be driving additional organic traffic to your website, you may always want to look internally at how the website performs with respect to converting those visitors into dollars and sales on your eCommerce website.

CRO, or conversion rate optimization is important for eCommerce stores as they sell directly on their website. They don’t try to convert visitors into email leads (although this is also possible) or downloading free PDFs – they funnel that traffic to buy their products.

Increasing conversions will have an immediate and possibly significant impact on your sales and fortunately for the eCommerce model, the feedback on these changes is much faster (did we make more money this week than last week?) than on other types of businesses.

There are a lot of tools out there that you can use for gathering data. Hotjar and/or CrazyEgg are great tools for gathering data while Convert.com and Optimizely are great tools for running the tests.

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