SEO for eCommerce

If you Google “seo techniques” you’ll see over one hundred million results. There are lots of choices, but by wading through the results, there is a lot of consistency from one link to the next. While no one knows exactly what it takes to get to number one in the search results, the SEO experts seem to agree on the techniques that should be employed. But search engine optimization is not a one-size-fits-all world and optimizing eCommerce sites requires a very different approach.

Most of the top SEO strategies can be summarized as “optimize for keywords that can drive the most traffic,” but that’s not the best eCommerce search optimization strategy. eCommerce sites think organic traffic is nice, but eCommerce sites consistently care about one thing much more than organic traffic and that’s incremental organic orders and sales.

In this article we’ll discuss both why and how to optimize eCommerce sites for organic searches.

Google Shopping Change

Everything changed for eCommerce sites in April 2020 when Google changed the product listing ads strategy to include both paid and organic results. This had the impact of creating 40 brand new page-one organic listings for hundreds of millions of shopping searches every day.

This has created a new competition at the product detail page (PDP) level. Today most PDPs are populated with content coming directly or indirectly from the manufacturer. This content when duplicated across the web offers little if any benefit to eCommerce sites trying to raise the visibility of its products. Search engines reward unique content and there is relatively little of it today at the PDP level. This has thus created an enormous new opportunity to drive SEO for eCommerce.

This change to Google Shopping will ultimately create the world’s largest product database. It will certainly be larger than any one marketplace and over time it is likely to change the way people navigate their buying journey. SEO for eCommerce increasingly needs to emphasize product and category level content in order to take advantage of this new search opportunity.

SEO for eCommerce Objectives

By definition SEO for eCommerce sites is the approach that optimizes for sales over just traffic. In fact, if an eCommerce site can’t convert a visitor into a customer, the effort to acquire that visitor has no payback. When eCommerce sites optimize for sales and it’s really about optimizing the site for four unique objectives:

 

  • Find the right people. Most eCommerce sites would rather bring a small handful of real buyers to the site than a ton of traffic that consumes the content but will never result in a sale.
  • At the right time. Most purchases are not single search events. Instead, customers typically undertake a series of searches over the course of each buying journey. It’s a mistake to think that a visitor that has landed once will automatically come back as they ready their purchase. Once a searcher always a searcher and that tool tends to discount any loyalty to any one site.
  • With the right relevance. As people progress down a sales funnel and continue on a buying journey, the keyword searches change as well. Buyers typically start with broad search phrases in an effort to acquire information and then they use this information to narrow their search queries. Anticipating the specifics of this final search query is key to optimizing for SEO at the PDP level.
  • And offer the best value. While most search optimization focuses on delivering the most volume, eCommerce sites will want to optimize for high value keywords.

SEO for eCommerce: Volume vs. Value

Here’s an exercise to help understand the difference in optimizing for search volume vs. search value.

1, From the keyword data in the paid product listing ads, identify the highest value keywords. Use the cost-per-click (CPC) metric as the measure of value. This is a competitively bid number that characterizes what a click is worth.

2, Next use an SEO research tool to collect the keywords relevant to your site with the highest average monthly search volume (AMS). Rank tracking software services provide these total volume estimates.

3, Compare the top 50 paid terms that your team has spent money on with the top 50 keyword terms that have the potential to bring the most traffic to your site.

In most cases these two approaches produce very different results. Paid listings are optimized for profitability (just like eCommerce sites). No eCommerce site would knowingly spend more on a click than it was worth in terms of its conversion value. Companies use measures like return on ad spend (ROAS) to measure just how profitable a given keyword might be.

Now go look at the organic keywords with the most search volume and determine the level of overlap. See if these volume-optimized terms are also terms that convert. Focus on the conversion rate (Conversion Rate = Orders / Traffic). If they have a high search volume AND they convert then these are great organic candidates. Are these conversion rates above or below the average for the site? High search volume terms are not typically the same as those that convert the best and ultimately drive eCommerce sales.

SEO Value Strategies

eZdia has the data to prove the importance of using “value” measures to optimize organic traffic. In 2019 the company conducted a test that randomly split client pages into three segments. 1) Those that were optimized for keywords with the highest search volume. 2) Those that were optimized for keywords with the highest search value (CPC) and 3) Those that used a blended approach of both high volume and high value.

After a year of measuring traffic patterns, the results were stunning. The product pages that employed a blend of both high-volume and high-value keywords ultimately generated more revenue than either of the other two strategies. There may be numerous reasons why this strategy won, but it makes sense that by combining both volume and value strategies can bring visitors early and late in their purchase process.

SEO for eCommerce Sales Funnels

The SEO Sales Funnel is the concept that when a buyer first searches for a purchase they begin with broad searches (top-of-funnel) and as they gather information they increasingly narrow those search phrases (mid-funnel) before they are finally ready to buy (bottom-of-funnel).

In eCommerce, the most common broad to top-of-funnel searches go to product buyer’s guides. These are designed to teach people what’s important to make the best purchase possible, but doesn’t necessarily have product-specific information. These broad searches then narrow as the buyer reaches the mid-funnel and can be targeted with category-level pages. Finally the buyer narrows even more to a specific product as things like price and availability increase in importance for a conversion.

It’s a mistake to think that people search just once. Just because they land on a site early in search, doesn’t mean they’ll demonstrate any loyalty to that same site. Once a searcher, always a searcher. It’s more common that as they narrow and repeat the search process.

Conclusions

Optimizing an eCommerce site for search engines is much more complex than simply driving more organic traffic. Successful sites will develop content strategies that are designed to maximize visibility and relevance to buyers. While organic traffic is always nice, most eCommerce teams benefit by building eCommerce strategies that include a focus on keyword convertibility and value in order to optimize an eCommerce site for organic results.

Need help building an SEO for eCommerce strategy? eZdia would be happy to start by generating a eCommerce Share of Commerce report or an Organic eCommerce competitive analysis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we need eCommerce SEO?
eCommerce SEO is not significantly different from search engine optimization for other sites, but since eCommerce is focused on product sales and improving the visibility of online stores in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and optimizing for search traffic that converts into orders.

Every eCommerce business would like to rank higher in the search results. The higher the result the more click throughs from searchers, the more visibility and ultimately the eCommerce transactions a site can expect.

What’s different about SEO for eCommerce websites?

The following are the steps to consider to improve the organic search visibility of an eCommerce website:

Keyword Targeting: Do a comprehensive keyword research and identify those keywords that can both drive search volume but also those words that tend to convert into sales. Inject the keywords into different parts of the website like Meta Title, Meta Description, H1, Body Content, Image Alt, Anchor Text etc.

Website’s Navigational Improvement:The breadcrumb navigation elements on eCommerce websites are critical to helping search engines understand how a given product fits into a site’s overall taxonomy. A user-friendly navigation can improve the user experience on the website and search engines have learned how to appreciate this structure.

Technical SEO Optimization: Technical SEO is about making sure the site is fully visibile to search engines. Technical SEO goes well beyond just optimizing the meta tags, robots and xml sitemap files. In addition sites should optimize the URL structure, internal linking, 4xx & 5xx errors, keyword placement and targeting, server issues, schema markup, canonicalization, cross linking, and site speed to name a few.

Onpage SEO Optimization: The core areas to focus on to optimize a specific eCommerce page are the meta title, meta description, product title, h1, body content, product images, product videos, breadcrumbs, and social sharing options.

What is revenue-based SEO?

Optimizing an eCommerce website to improve the conversion rate and increase the revenue is called revenue-based SEO. Revenue-based SEO is not just about keywords ranking and website traffic. The best revenue-based SEO focuses on attracting, engaging and ultimately converting visitors into customers.

What is the best approach to onpage SEO for eCommerce websites?

SEO is competitive. The best approach requires having a better result for a given search query. Creating the best content begins with understanding who the search engines are ranking on page one today and then building a content strategy that provides a better result.

Here’s a checklist of all the things to consider when designing an SEO for eCommerce strategy:

  • Keyword Research. SEO starts with connecting with the search intent of the shopper.
  • Content Optimization. Beyond writing interesting content it’s important to prioritize how the content is positioned on the page. Using elements like title, H1, body content, product features, and specifications are all important elements for eCommerce product detail pages (PDPs).
  • Meta Optimization. While the meta elements don’t help a site rank higher, they should help a site improve the click through rate.
  • Content Refresh. There’s nothing worse than incomplete or out of date content.
  • Reviews Optimization. Reviews are an important SEO ranking factor for eCommerce sites.
  • Product Image Optimization. Images help with conversion and tagging images with descriptive content is an important step to take.
  • Internal Linking Optimization. Interconnecting pages is an excellent way of helping search engines understand the relationship of products to other products and descriptive content.
What are the top 3 SEO strategies for eCommerce sites?

Although, there are manySEO strategies which are required for a successful eCommerce SEO campaign, a few of the most important strategies includes:

  • Unique & engaging product descriptions
  • Structured data for enhanced search results and improved click through rates (CTR). This is sometimes referred to as a schema and it helps the search engine understand the context of key content.
  • Increase site speed and decrease page load times
What is the best eCommerce platform for SEO?

Research indicates that most used and SEO-friendly eCommerce platforms are:

  • Magento
  • Shopify
  • Woocommerce
  • Bigcommerce
How to do technical SEO for eCommerce websites?

Technical SEO helps eCommerce websites to increase web traffic and generate more conversions. The following are the most important eCommerce SEO activities:

  • Site Structure Optimization including URL, Breadcrumb, Page Layout, Internal Linking etc.
  • XML/HTML Sitemap and Robots file implementation and optimization
  • 3xx, 4xx, 5xx errors optimization
  • Canonical tag implementation
  • Duplicate/Thin content optimization
  • Page speed optimization
  • Structured data implementation and optimization
  • Mobile/AMP usability optimization
  • Use of latest technologies

 

What is the best way to measure ROI with SEO?

A successful SEO campaign outcomes in more traffic, conversions and revenue. To measure the SEO ROI calculate the return on content spend (ROCS). 

  • Set up the eCommerce conversion tracking
  • Identify a control group that you don’t touch for comparison.Analyze organic revenue, orders and sessions.
  • Calculate SEO ROI using the ROCS formula: 

(Incremental Gain from Investment) / Cost of Investment

eZdia’s SEO for eCommerce strategies are featured in a new book that is available for free while supplies last.
Page Prioritization for Search