Use These 5 Ecommerce SEO Strategies to Grow Your Store
Organic search traffic is ridiculously valuable for your ecommerce business.
Don’t believe us? We have stats (from Backlinko) to prove it:
- 44% of online shoppers start with a google search.
- 37.5% of all ecommerce traffic comes from search engines.
- 23.6% of online orders are directly tied to search traffic.
If you want to take advantage of these juicy numbers, read on. You’re about to learn 5 strategies that will help your ecommerce business win more traffic and sales.
Table of Contents:
- Fix Technical SEO Issues
- Effective Keyword Research
- Optimize Your On-Page SEO
- Write Blog Content That Ranks and Sells
- Build Valuable Links
Let’s get to it.
1. Fix Technical SEO Issues
There are a couple of reasons technical SEO is especially important for ecommerce businesses. This quote from Brian Dean explains them both:
Technical SEO is one of those things that’s important for ALL sites… but doubly so for ecommerce. That’s because ecommerce sites tend to have LOTS of pages. And all of those pages increase the chances that technical SEO issues will crop up.
Not only that, but most ecommerce pages don’t have that many backlinks pointing to them. Which means that technical SEO is often the “tiebreaker” on Google’s first page. (emphasis added)
To avoid annoying issues and reach Google’s #1 spot, you will need to run SEO audits on your site on a consistent basis.
Running an SEO Audit
There are a few tools you can use to run an SEO audit:
Raven Tools might be your best option given that it’s relatively easy to use and comes with a 14-day free trial. Check out Brian Dean’s walkthrough for using Raven Tools here.
Ahrefs is the tool of choice for many SEO professionals. The paid plans are not cheap, but the people at Ahrefs do offer a 7-day free trial, which is more than enough time to run this audit.
Running an SEO Audit with Ahrefs
First, sign up for your free trial on Ahrefs.com
Once you’re on the main dashboard, click Site Audit and then New Project.
From there, enter your website URL and click Continue. We will use commercial juicer company Goodnature.com throughout this example.
You will then find yourself on the ownership verification page, where you are given a few options for verifying that you own the site. Completing one of these verification options will speed up the audit process considerably, but it’s not mandatory. (You can even audit a competing site.)
The next page will allow you to schedule regular site audits and begin the first one. You can feel free to schedule site audits on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, but we recommend starting with just the initial audit (pictured below). You can always come back and setup scheduled audits later.
The next two pages (Add Keywords to Track and Competitors) will prompt you to input more information. You can complete these pages or skip them by clicking the orange button (your site audit won’t be impacted either way).
Now, Ahrefs will begin crawling your site. Step away or work on something else for a bit, as this will take some time.
Once the audit’s status shows as complete, click the green Completed bar…
…and then Internal pages. Here, you will see a list of all on-page technical issues found during the crawl.
Start by fixing any Errors (red), then move on to Warnings (yellow) and Notices (blue). You can filter the list by importance to make this easier.
If you’re unsure of how to fix a particular issue, search for it in the Ahrefs Help Center to find instructions.
2. Research Keywords Effectively
Now that your site is technically sound, it’s time to research keywords.
We recommend using this “simple” two step process from Ahrefs:
- List all the pages on your site;
- Find and map appropriate keywords to each page.
This process helps ensure that each page on your site will target a unique, valuable keyword.
For ecommerce sites, you should focus your optimization efforts on product pages (example) and category pages (example). Optimizing other types of pages (like blog posts) is important too, but product and category pages take priority as they lead directly to sales.
Now, let’s research keywords with Ahrefs’ step-by-step process using industrial battery site Battery Boss as an example.
Note: the steps below can be done for your own site or for a competitor if your site is new or hasn’t launched yet.
Step 1: Take Stock of All Pages
Start by going to yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
You should then see a list of all of the pages on your site. In Battery Boss’ case, the result is a list of sitemaps, each of which contain a group of pages:
If we click into the product and product category sitemaps (orange arrows), we can now see a list of pages like this:
Copy and paste the pages onto a Google Sheet or use the Scraper plugin for Chrome. Also add columns for “head keyword” and “long-tail keywords” like this:
Step 2: Identify Highest Priority Pages
Doing keyword research on a page-by-page basis is very time consuming, especially if you have a big site with lots of pages.
That’s why it’s smart to optimize your most important pages first. You can identify your most important pages in Google Analytics by going to Behavior -> Site Content -> Landing Pages and sorting by revenue (high to low). You can also try sorting by traffic (sessions).
If you don’t have ecommerce tracking setup in Google Analytics, you can simply start with your top trafficked pages.
Step 3: Find and Map Keywords to Each Page
You’ve identified your highest priority pages, so now you can start finding keywords to target with each of them.
The best place to start is to see which keywords your page is already ranking for. If your site is new, you can see which keywords your competitor’s pages are ranking for instead.
Battery Boss is a relatively new site that isn’t ranking for a ton of keywords yet, so we’ll use one of their competitor’s category pages for our research:
We can see that “ups battery” stands out as a good primary keyword for this page. Before we settle on it though, we should double check the searcher intent of this keyword. To do that, you can simply search for the term in a private window or lookup the top results in Ahrefs:
We can see that most of the results are product category pages, so this is a good keyword to target with our own category page. If this front page was mostly blog posts, for example, we would instead target this keyword with a blog post, not a category page.
Since we’re happy with this keyword, we can add it to our spreadsheet:
We can use the same and similar processes to find long-tail and related keywords to target with the page. After doing so for our UPS Battery category page, our spreadsheet might look like this:
Now, do the same for the other pages on your site from highest to lowest priority.
3. Optimize Your On-Page SEO
On-page optimization refers to all of the elements on your site that you can change to help your site rank better. Improving your on-page SEO is also one of the easiest ways to attain better rankings, especially for new sites (which often have many on-page mistakes to correct).
According to Neil Patel, these are the key on-page targets you need to focus on:
- Keyword Optimization
- Site Structure and Internal Linking
- Mobile Version of Website
- Customer Reviews
- Rich Snippets
- Social Media Integration
A. Keyword Optimization
Note: this part will be a lot easier if you’ve completed the keyword mapping in strategy #2.
You need to optimize each of your pages for one target keyword. This involves including the keyword in a number of strategic locations:
- The page title
- Headings and subheadings
- The main text on the pages
- Product descriptions
- Image file names and alt tags
- Meta titles and descriptions
Be sure to keep the user experience in mind as you’re placing your keywords on each element of the page. Avoid keyword stuffing and make everything look natural.
B. Site Structure
The structure of your site greatly impacts the user experience, rankings, and conversions.
Not only does a bad site structure make it difficult for your potential buyers to find what they’re looking for, it also prevents Google’s AI from doing its job. Here’s an explanation from our guide to blog content:
Google likes to rank sites with easily crawlable link structures that make sense because it makes their A.I.’s job easier. This infographic from Moz does a good job summing it up (and makes us laugh):
The Google spider has crawled page “A” and is able to follow internal links to crawl “B” and “E” as well. But pages “D” and “C” aren’t anywhere to found via internal links. These uncrawled pages basically don’t exist in the eyes of Google.
For ecommerce sites, you should focus on making it take as few clicks as possible to get from the home page to a product page. Here’s what a good site structure looks like:
You can come up with effective site structures by leveraging keyword research. For example, if you found out there is significant search volume for the keyword “12 volt battery,” you should be sure to target that keyword with a category, sub-category, or product page — whichever makes the most sense based on searcher intent.
You need to make sure your site is easy to use, fast, and helpful. Here’s some words of wisdom on what that means for ecommerce sites (from Neil Patel):
Part of your usability testing should include making sure there are as few steps as possible in the checkout process, ensuring the checkout process works seamlessly, giving your visitor quick ways to contact you, making it simple for visitors to navigate to other important information, and guaranteeing your site loads quickly.
D. Mobile Optimization
In late 2016, mobile devices passed desktops in worldwide internet usage for the first time. Since then, mobile has extended its lead:
This underscores the importance of ensuring your site is mobile-friendly.
Here are a few things to look at regarding your site’s mobile optimization (credit to OptinMonster for this list):
- Whether you have a responsive site that automatically resizes to fit the device.
- Whether you’re using large fonts for easy readability on small screens.
- Accessibility and navigability, including making it easy to tap menus.
- Ensuring that essential content isn’t hidden by interstitial ads.
For more on mobile SEO, read Backlinko’s behemoth guide to mobile SEO.
E. Customer Reviews
It’s possible to increase your ecommerce conversion rate by up to 76% by including product reviews, according to Internet Retailer. This means you are leaving a lot of money on the table if you’re not including reviews on your product pages.
Reviews also help with SEO because more reviews means more content on the page, which is typically rewarded by Google. Additionally, it can improve your click-thru rates by making your page stand out in the SERPs, like this:
F. Rich Snippets
Rich snippets can have a huge impact on a website’s rankings. The orange arrows below point to a few examples of rich snippets:
These rich snippets are added via HTML, and they tell search engines what searchers should know about your page before clicking to see it.
Unsurprisingly, pages with rich snippets are more likely to be clicked than pages without them.
Addinh rich snippets takes some technical know-how, so you may want to work with a developer to add them. If you want to try adding rich snippets on your own, read this guide from Backlinko.
G. Social Media Integration
Social signals (such as shares and comments) tell Google that people like your website, which can improve your rankings. The most obvious way to grow your social signals is by adding social share buttons and links to your social media pages to your website.
Some SEO experts believe that social signals will one day surpass links as the most valuable ranking factor. Whether that’s true or not, you do not want to neglect social media when it comes to your ecommerce website.
4. Write Blog Content That Ranks and Sells
Publishing blog content on a regular basis will help your ecommerce business grow in two major ways.
First, your blog posts will bring more search traffic to your website by ranking for keywords related to your business. Since search traffic is highly targeted, the visitors are relatively likely to convert to leads or sales.
Second, getting blog posts to rank makes your website more powerful in the eyes of Google. When your website becomes more powerful, rankings become easier to attain for all of your pages (including your products and categories). To quote our Director of Content and Strategy, Mike Brady:
If your product and category pages were ships docked at a bay, think of your blog posts as the rising tide. The more blog posts you publish, the higher the tide rises.
So, how do you publish blog content that actually ranks and brings your business value? Follow this six-step process:
- Choose target keyword(s). Start by finding a keyword with good traffic potential and business value.
- Research your topic/post. Search for your target keyword on Google and scope out the top results to figure out why people are searching for that keyword. If many of the top results are blog posts, leverage them to come up with your own superior topic, ideally with a unique angle.
- Outline your post. Your goal in this step is to come up with an outline and write a post that will be significantly better than all of the current results on the front page.
- Write your post. Fill in your outline and be sure to write an effective intro. Remember to trim and refine your post in the editing process!
- Build inbound links. Link to your new post from every page on your website that makes sense to do so.
- Reevaluate your post in three to six months. See how it is ranking for your target keyword and consider if anything is worth revising.
For more details on this six-step process and ranking blog posts in general, read How to Write Blog Content That Actually Ranks.
5. Build Valuable Links
The number and quality of referring domains and backlinks pointing to your website are one of Google’s eight most consequential ranking factors.
Before we get into specific link building strategies, you should know the difference between a backlink and a referring domain (definitions from Ahrefs):
What is a backlink? Backlinks are hyperlinks that point from one website to another. You can have multiple backlinks from a website or web page.
What is a referring domain? Referring domains are websites from which the target website or web page has one or more backlinks.
For example, if a web page has a backlink from the New York Times, then it has one referring domain. If it has a link from the New York Times and Forbes, that it has two referring domains. If it has two backlinks from the New York Times, then it still has one referring domain.
There are a number of popular link building strategies you can try on your own if you have the right tools (and patience).
Step 1: Find sites that accept guest posts.
Step 2: Write a high-quality article.
Step 3: Pitch your article to other sites.
Learn more about guest blogging here.
The Moving Man Method
Step 1: Find sites in your industry that have changed names, moved to a URL, or shut down.
Step 2: Find sites linking to the outdated URL.
Step 3: Reach out to the sites with dead links to give them a heads-up (and gently suggest they replace it with your link).
Learn more about the Moving Man Method here.
Become a Source for Reporters and Bloggers
Step 1: Sign up for helpareporter.com.
Step 2: Keep an eye out for requests to which you are qualified to contribute.
Step 3: Send the journalist a brief and valuable pitch.
Learn more about becoming a source here.
As you may have deduced, all of these ecommerce strategies are time consuming and (sometimes) tedious.
At RankFire, we do all the work when it comes to identifying technical issues, researching keywords/topics, and building links to our clients’ websites.
Schedule a free consultation today to find out how we can improve your SEO and help your business grow.