Ecommerce SEO: A Quick and Dirty Beginner’s Guide
Even if you’re not an SEO expert, you probably know that search engine optimization can be the difference between a website being invisible and being an absolute beast.
The concept of SEO is a major backbone of the internet – an incredible information highway that we use every single day, often dozens of times a day. And for some businesses, ecommerce SEO is a major determinant of how much success they have.
This article could last for miles if we dove into every single nook and cranny of ecommerce SEO. That’s why this guide is something of an introduction instead of a comprehensive explainer.
We’ll answer the question, “What is ecommerce SEO?” We’ll also look at six core concepts that you can start applying to your store today, like keyword research, how to write better content, and how to optimize the backend of your site.
To be honest, you can keep learning about SEO for the rest of your life. And you should. That’s why we’ll provide plenty of links for you to continue your quest in conquering the internet.
Let’s do this.
- What Is Ecommerce SEO?
- 6 Ecommerce SEO Tips
- Mastering SEO Tips for Ecommerce Websites
- Want to Learn More?
What Is Ecommerce SEO?
Ecommerce SEO, or search engine optimization, is the art, science, and mystery of getting various pages of your website to rank high in a search via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
The key here is that SEO rankings are organic, which means you’re not paying for them through Google Ads or any other advertising platform.
The fun part of SEO (and the reason we call it a mystery) is that search engine companies don’t tell us exactly what algorithms, formulas, and criteria they use to decide who gets what ranking. So while there’s a lot that we know about SEO, there’s still a whole lot we don’t know.
One thing’s for sure: You definitely want to be on the first page of a search result for items that you sell in your store. One study shows that a whopping 92 percent of traffic goes to websites that show up on the first page of a Google search.
But this will take time and lots of hard work. And to be completely honest, you might not ever get there. But that’s not the most critical thing we’re working toward.
At its core, good SEO means having an awesome website with a smooth, simple, and engaging experience for all of your visitors. It’s no coincidence that when you improve this experience, your SEO rankings will improve.
So, instead of digging into theories and debates about what will land you on the first page, we’re going to cover the core ecommerce SEO best practices that everyone agrees are key to success.
6 Ecommerce SEO Tips
1. Do some good old-fashioned keyword research.
Even beginners have heard of this one. The purpose of keyword research for ecommerce sites is to make sure that your website includes the terms that shoppers type in when they’re ready to buy what you have to offer.
A big part of keywords is intent. You need to make sure that your keywords align with what the shopper truly wants, even if that’s not super obvious from the words they type. (Mind-reading is a tall order, we know.)
Then, when you know the right terms, you can include them all over your site, like in your product names and descriptions, and in the metadata of your pages. We’ll get into that soon.
Here are a few options to do some quick, free ecommerce keyword research:
- Google Trends
- Google Search Suggestions
- Ahrefs Keyword Generator
- Answer the Public
- Keyword Sheeter
Type in what you’re selling, and these tools will spit out related terms that other people search for. Many tools will also tell you how many people search those terms, and how easy it might be for you to rank if you include them in your ecommerce SEO strategy (called “keyword difficulty”).
2. Give your page titles, meta descriptions, and images some love.
This is another agreed-upon principle of SEO for product pages. In addition to carefully sprinkling in words that your customers see in descriptions, you should also pay attention to three key areas of the “backend” of your site.
Page titles: The top blue line that shows up in each Google search result. This line should have an intuitive name for your potential customers, while also fitting in a keyword or two where you can. It’s recommended that your title is around 70 characters long.
Meta descriptions: The text underneath the page title in the Google search result. For a product page, consider this a preview of what they’ll see when they click. Again, add your keywords in a natural way. Keep this to 320 characters long.
In Shopify, you can edit your page titles and meta description quite easily. Scroll to the bottom of your product page editor. In the “Search engine listing preview” section, click “Edit website SEO.” This is what you’ll see:
Images: Believe it or not, what you name your images before you upload them to your site makes a difference. Search engines “crawl” this information, which means they basically look through it constantly and use the data for ranking, archiving, and to deliver results on image search pages. Name your images with keywords when possible, and include descriptive details like styles and colors.
Use a dash between each word, like “mens-brown-leather-moto-jacket.jpg”. When you upload the image, fill in the alt text with the same description. Alt text stands for “alternative text,” which is designed to show if the user’s device fails to load the image for some reason.
3. Organize your website in a simple, logical way.
The way you organize all the pages of your store is called the “architecture.” This is a really important tip to improve ecommerce SEO while also improving the user experience of your potential customers.
How many times have you been to a site where the organization makes no sense, and you find yourself more confused with every click? We’ve all been there. And nobody likes it.
An ideal website architecture has a clear, logical structure for how everything is organized.
Consider a store that sells shoes. They might break the shoes up into three categories: sneakers, formal, and sandals. From there, they have subcategories. And then the products.
This is a clean site architecture because it’s predictable, balanced, and easy to follow.
An added benefit to this doubles as another one of our ecommerce SEO best practices: keeping your page URLs tight and clean.
As you build your architecture and name your pages from category down to product, only include a few descriptive terms (and leave out unimportant words like “the, a, of” and other types of words that aren’t included in keywords. Search engines crawl URLs too, so make them count.
4. Have a mobile-friendly site.
This should already be a no-brainer because people love shopping on their phone. According to Business Insider Intelligence, m-commerce, or mobile commerce, is projected to be nearly half of all ecommerce sales. And right now, m-commerce is almost one-third.
This ecommerce SEO tip is specifically aimed at improving your shoppers’ experience on your website.
It’s a good idea to carefully scroll through every one of your web pages on your own phone (and a tablet, if you have access to one) to make sure that your site is fully responsive. This means that it automatically adjusts to the user’s device so that the experience can stay smooth and seamless no matter what tool they’re using to shop in your store.
In your Shopify store, you can toggle across devices under Themes, then Customize.
To make sure you’re catching all the little things, run your URL through Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. Since it comes straight from the horse’s mouth, you’ll know what Google might be penalizing you for when it comes to your online store SEO.
To up your game, sign your website up for Google Search Console, where you’ll be able to get comprehensive insights about your store’s SEO performance and learn how to keep climbing to the first page.
Backlinks are a well-known ecommerce SEO strategy. Backlinks are when one website includes a link to another site on one of its pages. They’re also known as incoming links or inbound links.
Generally speaking, the more times your site is linked by other sites, the better it will be for your SEO rankings.
But there’s a huge caveat: It’s critical to make sure that you’re building quality links from other credible, high-ranking websites. The almighty Google is one smart cookie, and it will know if you’re running a shady backlink operation (and punish you accordingly).
Here are some ideas for your new link-building strategy:
- Write guest blogs on other websites in related niches, where your audiences can cross-mingle.
- Start an influencer marketing campaign where you get shoutouts and reviews from bloggers.
- Email related websites and ask them to link to a specific page on your site in exchange for a link to theirs.
- Register your website on various types of directories and listing websites.
6. Run an SEO audit to see where you’re at now.
If your site is already up and running, there are plenty of free and paid online tools you can use to run a quick ecommerce SEO audit.
Even with the free versions, you’ll be able to learn a lot about how your website is performing. And you’ll walk away with a good idea of the most important things you can fix.
One of our favorite free ecommerce SEO audit tools is Ubersuggest’s SEO Analyzer.
It shows you scores for different SEO elements, plus a rating scale to show you how good that score is.
As you scroll down, you’ll see a site health checker that shows you critical errors, warnings, and recommendations.
And below that, you’ll see how fast your pages are loading and the top SEO issues you should fix. Conveniently, it shows you a rating of how tough or time-consuming it might be for you to fix them, as well as how high of an impact that issue has on your rankings.
Mastering SEO Tips for Ecommerce Websites
It’s a hard truth, but SEO for ecommerce sites isn’t something you can master in a day. If you really want to be a rank rockstar, you’ll need to regularly set aside some time to keep building your knowledge base.
And since there are so many opinions out there, you should diversify your information sources to make sure you’re seeing different viewpoints and research.
Or, of course, you could just hire an SEO specialist to do the dirty work for you and save you a whole lotta time.
Either way: When you implement core ecommerce SEO tips, you’re not just working on boosting your visibility in search engines. You’re also making your website and your customers’ user experience better.
We guarantee you this will translate into more sales and happier customers – so don’t skimp on these strategies!