The biggest issue with e-commerce, whether it’s a drop shipping system or a more typical stock holding venture, is SEO.
Search Engine Optimization is the power house behind getting traffic from sites like Google and Bing, and there are people and businesses out there making money from using it properly.
And then you have e-commerce sites, most of which do SEO badly, wrong or just plain don’t bother!
SEO for e-commerce sites isn’t impossible, far from it, but it takes more care and attention that a typical blog or authority site.
Getting the Foundations Right
The key to getting the SEO right is to lay a solid foundation, and this is comprised of various parts. Each part on its own will help propel a site’s rankings, but getting every part right and working well with the others can mean the difference between pulling in thousands of extra visitors against just a handful.
The web for all its advancements is still powered by words, and finding the right words that people search for makes a marked difference when it comes to ranking your products in the search engines.
How then do you go about finding the keywords that potential customers are using?
Luckily it’s quite easy to get started because there is already a huge amount of information and tools available.
Amazon & Competitors
One of the first places you can look is other e-commerce websites. Sites like Amazon might be your direct competitor but it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from them!
For example, if you type something into Amazon’s search bar, a list of potential products appear.
As well as that you can examine the navigation structure as you begin to drill down to products as it gives a lot of different terms.
Keyword Tool Dominator
This premium tool (with a limited free option) directly queries Amazon to help you find long tail keywords (see below) that you can use on your own site.
Used by SEO professionals, internet marketers and anyone interested in finding the best keywords, SEMrush has a lot of features.
The tool allows you to research keywords to find appropriate phrases. It also can check your own site and competitors sites to see what keywords are being used, which is great as it allows you to analyze your weak points and your competitor’s strengths.
Google Keyword Planner
While geared more towards people wanting to advertise with Google Adwords, the Google Keyword Planner can still be used to find popular keywords. Plus it’s free!
Not all keywords are created equal, and choosing to focus on the wrong one can be a waste of time, energy and money.
The first thing to understand is the different types of keywords:
- Broad – one, maybe two word keywords that have a wide search. E.g. Dogs
- Informational – a more detailed keyword with 2 or 3 words that people use to research. E.g. Dog baskets
- Long Tail – very specific phrases that people use to find targeted products/data. E.g. Dog baskets for puppies
From an e-commerce standpoint long tail keywords and to a degree informational keywords are the main priority as these keywords often denote someone is actively looking for a product rather than simply researching something.
As well as those, there are other sub categories of keywords:
- Buying – E.g. buy dog baskets
- Problem – best dog basket for puppies
Both of these types of keywords are ideal, but used in different ways.
Each keyword tools uses different metrics to ranks and prioritize a keyword, and not all of the metrics you need to examine a keyword against are available.
This is a common metric that gives the average number of searches per month. This is important because if a keyword doesn’t have a decent volume it’s a waste of time to pour energy into ranking for it as you won’t get any visitors in return.
Sometimes referred to as Keyword Difficulty, competition denotes how hard it would be to get high on page one in the search engines for the term.
A keyword with high competition can still be used, but generally it shouldn’t be the focus of your efforts due to the high level of effort it would take to rank and keep ranked for.
This isn’t something that you will see in any tool, but something you should still be aware of.
It’s common to find a perfect looking keyword, with the right volume and competition and then realize that it’s just not relevant to your site.
You could try and shoehorn it in, but really this sort of keyword should be added to another list and worked over in your blog.
E.g. If your site just sells inline skates and you find an amazing keyword for roller skates, it’s a better option to use that in a blog post rather than on the store page.
Keywords contain certain words that indicate a person is looking for a product to buy, rather than just researching.
These sorts of keywords are like gold for your site!
Keywords containing the following are all considered buying keywords:
- Good price
- Low cost
- On sale
- Where can I buy
- Where to buy
- Where to find
Even keywords such as “how to”, “tips”, “guide” and other more informative keywords are considered buying, but again are of more use in your blog than on the store.
Where to Use Keywords
We’ve touched on using keywords in certain places above, but let’s dive into it in a bit more detail.
Depending on your home page set up, you may or may not be able to specifically include keywords here. If possible, using broader informational style keywords is good.
The most important pages are the product pages and this is where using long tail buying keywords works the best, because you want people actively interested in purchasing what your selling to find these pages.
Blog articles can be a mix of broad, informational and long tail keywords that can be used to bring in traffic.
A lot of e-commerce sites avoid using a blog which is crazy! Writing articles based off of broader keywords and keywords that cannot be directly used in your product pages allows you to then direct visitors to your product pages!
An Important Note
Avoid targeting the same keyword on multiple pages, either product or blog if you can help it. The reason is that you will in effect be competing with yourself in the search engines as the search engines don’t always know which page to rank for a specific keyword if there are multiple.
I mentioned earlier that some keyword research tools allow you to effectively spy on your competition and you should take advantage of this.
You can enter in a specific URL in a service like SEMRush and it will give you the keywords the page ranks for, where it ranks and what other sites are linking to the page.
This can help you find keywords to use on your own pages, and help you find keywords that your competition isn’t ranking for which you can then attempt to improve your ranking for.
E-commerce websites often have a lot of products on them, which in turn can make the site structure become a nightmare!
Structuring the site in an easy to use manner might not seem SEO related, but an organized structure can help both bots and humans navigate the site easily.
Ideally, product pages should never be more than 2 or 3 clicks way from wherever the user lands, enabling them to get to the products and buy as quickly and efficiently as possible.
One solid structure would look like this:
Here you can see that after landing on the home page, the user is only 3 clicks away from getting to a product.
Using other navigational elements such as breadcrumbs can also have a beneficial effect on SEO, keeping the bots bouncing around the site indexing everything, while helping customers know exactly where they are in the site.
This is additionally helpful if a visitor lands on a product page but needs to find another product or product type.
Part 2 Continues Next Week
Today’s article was intended to give you an overview of the major points of SEO for your e-commerce website. Part 2 continues next week and will dive into more finer details.