You might say “Why to worry about SEO for the online store if I can run ads on Google, Instagram, Facebook and get sales?” But you should know that paid ads usually are super expensive. Besides, you need to invest in them consistently to get regular and tangible results.
As opposed to it, organic traffic is technically free. The more you work on optimizing your online store for search engines, the more quality visitors you’ll welcome. And like bloggers strategically choose keywords for their articles, you should pick ones for your online store.
Maybe you know that Google has around 200 website ranking factors. In today’s post, we’re going to focus on the most crucial ones and help you get acquainted with top eCommerce SEO strategies. There are 4 SEO-focused sections waiting for you:
Plus, we have a bonus section featuring online store marketers who have first-hand eCommerce search engine optimization tips to share with you.
On-page SEO for eCommerce
1. Everything starts with keyword research
Knowing what you sell is not enough. You need to know what words users type in Google to find similar products like yours.
For example, you may be selling toys for babies and toddlers. But when parents are searching for toys, they use more specific words like “plush toy baby Yoda”, “durable sensory teether” and more long-tail keywords.
So you should focus on terms that:
- contain 3-5 words,
- have low ranking difficulty,
- are relevant to what you sell,
- have at least 20 monthly searches.
Both free and paid SEO tools can provide you with the necessary data. Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest may become your first assistants to answer your questions regarding keyword search volume, difficulty, etc.
You can also use Amazon and Google autocomplete suggestions to see which keywords users are searching for.
2. Focus on positive user experience
You should pursue 2 main goals: make your visitors land on multiple pages on your online store and stay longer on your website. It’s a signal for Google that your website is of high-quality and visitors enjoy their time on it.
3. Enrich your online store with reviews
When buyer reviews contain your target keywords, they start supporting your ranking efforts.
Publish them the way you receive them without making even small changes. Authentic, unedited reviews are goldmines for all business owners regardless of industry.
4. Add modifier keywords to your title tags
When your title tags just say “headphones”, it just tells the visitor what you sell. But when you add magnet words like “cheap”, “best”, “low price”, “budget”, you increase chances of being found by the right users who look exactly for a similar product.
One searching for headphones may be trying to find a headphone image. But one who searches for “budget headphones” is highly possible to have buying intent.
5. Get ready for holidays in advance
What do holidays have in common with SEO? Believe, a lot. Imagine that your online store is getting ready for New Year sales. If you start using holiday terms only on December 25, you won’t have time to rank for your desired keywords. Holidays will end and you will still be waiting for appearing on search results.
Seasonal keywords like “new year sales”, “new year’s eve sales”, “new year deals” should be targeted in advance, preferably 1-2 months before the holidays.
6. Blog is a top tactic among eCommerce SEO strategies
Not all online stores run blogs. But that’s a perfect way to rank for thousands of keywords and bring quality traffic to your online store. For example, Gearbest is selling electronics. See below which topics they write about that may interest their visitors:
Remember that each of your pages should target 1, max 2 focus keywords. Keywords that you target on your blog posts shouldn’t be the same as the keywords on your product pages.
7. Leverage linking opportunities
Both internal and external linking matters. If you write a blog post, you should link to your other articles so Google understands that your pages are interrelated. You should also link to other websites that write on the same topic and have high domain authority.
8. Benefit from FAQ sections
No matter what you sell, buyers always have questions. But FAQ sections are useful not only because they answer visitor’s questions and increase your reputation. They are a great way to use your target keywords naturally on that particular product page.
Well, not all of your product pages need to have a questions-answers section. You can analyze which of your pages are the most important and focus on them. Try to exceed the 1000 word limit but don’t do it for the sake of doing. Don’t harm the quality.
Off-page SEO for eCommerce
1. Acquire backlinks from credible websites
Link building is second to none among SEO strategies for eCommerce websites.
No one would like to link to your product page, moreover for free. But without backlinks, your chances of ranking high reduce. So what to do?
Blog posts are those resources that can help you with building links. If you publish well-researched, original, and interesting posts, more bloggers will be willing to link to them. The more relevant links, the more authority.
2. Disavow low-quality, spammy links
Acquiring links is not always exciting. When spammy websites link to your pages, it doesn’t bring any value but also hurts your reputation. Once you notice that toxic websites are linking to you, ask Google not to count them. All major SEO tools provide you with data on spammy links and warn which ones are worth getting rid of.
How to disavow low-quality links? Visit Google Disavow Links Tool and upload a txt file with spammy URLs that have linked to your site.
3. Do guest blogging
Guest blogging is the practice of publishing articles on other blogs and websites. You highly benefit from it because in your articles you can add links to your online store. That’s a top link building strategy for many marketers in all niches.
4. Answer HARO requests
HARO is a free platform where bloggers submit queries on different topics. And sources like you can answer those queries and get backlinks. When you register in HARO, every day you get emails with tens of queries.
You should filter which questions you can answer, prepare your pitch, and include info about you. If the journalists love your answers, they will use them and link back to your website. In the example below, Sendle is looking for sources. If you have a perfect answer to this question, it’s your chance to send a pitch and get a link.
Multilingual SEO for eCommerce
1. Analyze your traffic by countries
You won’t target random markets and translate your website to random languages
First, go to Google Search Console → Performance → Country. See which countries you consistently get traffic from. If you receive only a few hundred clicks per month from X country, it’s not worth targeting that country’s population. But if you are getting tens of thousands of visitors from X country every month, that would be a relevant market to start targeting.
2. Determine your target markets
Receiving a high amount of traffic from X country isn’t the only incentive to translate your website. Maybe your eCommerce store is new and you know - your products are in high demand in France. You should translate your website into French beforehand before people visit your online store.
Which countries you target depends on where your products will sell easily. It’s your task to do market research and see whether it’s worth targeting users in X country, even before they know about your store.
3. Do new keyword research for eCommerce
A keyword that has 500 monthly searches in English, may have only 40 searches, for example, in German or whatever language you decide to target.
So don’t just translate your English keyword in X language and hope to please your foreign visitors. Research and discover how users search for that same keyword in their own language.
4. Use localized domains
You should use subdomains or top-level domains for each language you target. For example, example.com/de, de.example.com or example.de for German. Thus, you help Google understand which language your website is in, so Google shows it to the right visitors.
5. Edit your meta tags
Meta descriptions, meta titles, and page titles are essential parts of your SEO for an eCommerce store. So you should care about them after making your site multilingual and include your target keywords in those fields.
6. Translate your URLs
You already know that the URL structure can highly affect your ranking. If your URL contains your target keywords in your target language and is concise, you have big chances to reach high spots.
7. Focus on translation quality
You know that even one wrong word can change the meaning of the whole sentence and communicate the wrong message.
You can hire a native translator or an agency and request a high-quality translation. GTranslate, a Shopify translation app, helps translate your website copy using Google’s neural translation engine.
You can also order a professional translation from GTranslate, so a native speaker provides you with even more accurate translation in your preferred language.
Besides, GTranslate’s paid plans will allow you to edit your URLs, meta keywords, meta descriptions and help your translated website get indexed by Google. You can try any of our existing plans for free for 15 days!
8. Use hreflang annotations
When you use hreflang, it’s a signal for Google that you have multiple versions of one page but in different languages. Based on it, Google understands which version of your website to show to visitors, considering which country they come from and what language they prefer.
Technical SEO for eCommerce
1. Rely on simple website architecture
There’s an interesting rule for eCommerce sites, 3-clicks-rule. It means your visitors should click through 3 buttons to reach your product page.
Plus, you should keep your collection and product pages organized. You don’t have to create a new category for each new product you start selling. Having around 5-10 products in each category will not confuse Google and will help the system crawl your pages easier.
2. Use short URLs
Let’s say your blog post’s title is “How to choose the right daily face cream for my skin.” It contains 11 words, a pretty good word count for an article title. But that’s a bit long to be perfect for your URL. Instead, you can edit your URL and make it example.com/blog/choose-daily-face-cream.
3. Install an SSL certificate
Google officially says that a website’s security is a ranking factor. And to make your website secure, you need to make it SSL compliant and enable padlock on your address bar. Your domain and URLs should begin with https, not http.
You are an online store and visitors share their payment information with you. The absence of a security label will hold your visitors back from providing their sensitive info. So you will lose not only ranking opportunities but also sales and money.
4. Do site audit
Sometimes it’s better to run a quick audit and identify all the errors on your website. You can use Google Search Console to check whether everything is ok with crawling, indexing, etc. You can also use a free tool, SEOptimer that will show errors and make relevant recommendations.
5. Test your website’s speed
Pages speed is a top factor too. Your site should load max in 3 seconds because visitors are impatient and don’t have time to wait longer.
6. Make your site mobile-friendly
Google considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor because over 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. Make sure your images and website copy are clearly visible on mobile devices and website navigation is super simple.
7. Use canonical tags when necessary
You may have multiple URLs for the same product because of size and color variations. Or you may have similar content that appears on several pages of your website. Canonical tags help you avoid duplicate content and consequently, penalties from Google.
Bonus section: Online store marketers share their best eCommerce SEO strategies!
#1 Abir Syed
Digital Marketing Specialist at Exo Protein, Cricket Protein Bars and Snacks
“I'll give you a few of the things that worked for us and hopefully will work for other eCommerce stores.
- We did a full review of our pages and their title tags to have each page target different keywords. The aim is to avoid having two pages competing for the same exact keyword. And it also gives you an opportunity to use pages to rank for long-tail keywords.
- We targeted more difficult keywords on our category pages. Whereas the products within the category would target longer tail variations of that more important keyword. That would make it easier for the category page to rank for the harder keyword.
- We used our blog to post content that was tangential to our target keywords. It helped us increase our traffic as well as the relevance for certain topics/keywords in Google's eyes.”
#2 Calloway Cook
President at Illuminate Labs, Herbal Extract Supplements
“Besides improving domain authority through white-hat SEO efforts, there are a few underutilized ways of helping your eCommerce store rank better.
One of them is to register for Google My Business. This is an option for any eCommerce retailer which also has a physical location. It is a signal to Google that the business is legitimate. Because Google mails a verification code to the address on file, and P.O. boxes are disallowed.
Another indirect way to improve Google rankings is to mark up every page on your eCommerce site with schema. This is a way to structure star ratings and reviews on your page so that Google displays them in search results.
There is preliminary evidence that Google favors sites with schema in the rankings. If Google can easily understand what the page is about, it helps the company serve relevant results to searchers.”
#3 Crystal Diaz
Digital Marketing Supervisor at Best Price Nutrition, Proteins, Vitamins
“One of the best eCommerce SEO strategies is to have a powerful product description with references, highlights, and easy-to-read.
If you have an informative description that can help others, you want to make sure it’s scannable. That will help outrank others. Another thing is to make sure your product page meta title and meta description are filled out properly. Once you fill in the description, Shopify takes whatever you have in it and fills that in into the meta description. So to improve clicks, improve the meta title and meta description.
Another tactic we use is to do keyword research! That’s the foundation of all SEO tips for Shopify store. You know how people are searching for products similar to yours. We do lots of keyword research using Google or paid tools.”
#4 Stuart Leung
VP of Marketing at Breazy, Vaping E-Liquid, E Juice, and Vape Mods
“Link building specifically is an off-page strategy that can help your rankings on Google. If your site is being linked to by another site, Google deems your site as worth visiting.
There are additional factors such as the relevancy of the link and domain authority of the site hosting your link.
However, if there are thousands of links pointing to your site, Google will reward it. Remember that Google does have guidelines and it’s important to follow them to avoid damaging your link profile.”
#5 John Frigo
Digital Marketing Lead at My Supplement Store, Supplements
“In terms of SEO, one of our strongest points is that we custom write all of our own descriptions. We don't just copy and paste in manufacturer descriptions like many stores do. This is probably our most powerful aspect of SEO.
Outside of that, we optimize all our photos as to not slow down the site. We try to keep apps to a minimum (although that's quite hard with a store as complicated as ours).
We also try to do a lot of content creation via social and blog posts.”
Did you find our post useful? What are your best eCommerce SEO tips?