Your ecommerce website’s optimization for search engines begins from the moment you decide to begin your journey as an online store business owner. As such, you need to be equipped with the right SEO tools and have knowledge of SEO best practices before you can reach a high ranking in search engines results pages (SERP).

In this blog post, we take a look at the top ecommerce SEO tips that can supercharge your online visibility and conversions. Whether you’re a seasoned seller or you’re just dipping your toes in the industry, you will find actionable insights that you can implement at any point in your path of search engine optimization.

The principles we will go over here cover a wide ground, beginning from keyword research and product descriptions, going through site structure, rich snippets and backlinks before finishing with site speed, product reviews and continuous improvement through monitoring and analysis. 

As always, at the very end, you will also see what questions users interested in the same topic are likely to seek answers to.

If you have read our post on SEO article writing, you will find many similarities in the principles outlined here, and then some.

Well then, let us begin.

Conduct keyword research and optimize your product pages

The foundation of an effective ecommerce SEO strategy is comprehensive keyword research. 

Before you can optimize your product and category pages, product images and other content, you need to identify relevant keywords that potential customers are using in their online shopping journey.

Use tools to identify relevant keywords for your products

The identification of keywords that are relevant to your website is a process that maps out phrases and questions users input into the search engine.

There are paid tools that can help you do that, such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and others, which come equipped with many useful functions. However, you can also use Google’s free tools, such as Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends, to get ideas for new keywords and see their search volume over time.

Alongside general industry-specific terms, you will also find long-tail keywords. These are more specific and often less competitive, making them easier to rank for.

What’s more, long-tail keywords usually have a higher conversion rate because users who input them know precisely what they are looking for. By targeting them, you’re appealing to that all-important buyer intent, which is meant to indicate what users actually look for.

For instance, someone searching for “men’s black running shoes size 10” has a higher chance of getting what they want as quickly as possible, compared to someone performing a search, using a broader term like “men’s running shoes”.

Include target keywords in your product page titles, meta descriptions, and product descriptions

Based on keyword intent, you craft the target keywords and other related keywords. To optimize product pages, you have to incorporate the chosen keywords into the page’s title, meta description and product description. 

Through them, search engine crawlers understand the content of the page, which can improve your visibility in SERP, as long as it’s done right. 

Incorporating the primary keyword in the page title signals its relevance. The title tag appears as the title of your page in search results and it should always be concise, quickly telling your users why they should click on your page.

Meta descriptions, although not a direct ranking factor, also influence the click-through rate of your page. Engaging and informative meta descriptions that include your target keyword are more enticing to users because they are more likely to be closer to what users are looking for.

Product descriptions should not be underestimated either. They go beyond mere keyword placement.

The more detailed they are, the more value they provide to the potential customer, selling them on the benefits of the product and giving them a better idea of what to expect. Even if a product is not the right fit, its description can leave the user feeling informed and hence, more likely to browse through other category pages.

Optimize your product images with alt tags and descriptive file names

Product images by themselves help convince customers to buy, and even more so if they are high-quality and diversified. 

But beside that, they also offer additional opportunities for SEO through what’s called an alt tag. Alternative text descriptions allow search engines to understand what an image is about and are very useful for visually impaired users who rely on voice navigation.

Similarly, the file name is read out by screen readers that enhance accessibility; it is also an indicator that gets scanned by crawlers and can affect how optimized your page is perceived as. 

Thus, instead of using a generic or default name like IMG1234.jpg, it is recommended that you take the time and write out a descriptive file name that includes your target keyword, such as mens_black_running_shoes.jpg.

Create unique and compelling product descriptions

We mentioned how important it is to write informative product descriptions, and in this section, we elaborate on what exactly to aim for.

Avoid using duplicate content from other sources or manufacturers

The easy way is to get generic or manufacturer-supplied descriptions. However, even if they are informative, when they overlap with those of other vendors’, they are considered duplicate content.

Alas, this is a common mistake you can see in many retail stores that simply keep an inventory of units with basic descriptions on their website. 

First of all, it’s detrimental to your SEO efforts. Search engines prefer unique content and might penalize sites with too much duplicate information. 

Second of all, by choosing the threaded path, you are missing out on the opportunity to differentiate your brand and products from the rest. If you have a vast array of products, you might need a person to take care of all the descriptions, but otherwise, there is no clear reason not to try it out.

Write product descriptions that are unique, engaging, and relevant to the product and target audience

Perhaps you have also come upon websites that offer the same thing at the same price, with the same delivery conditions, and what-not. But one of them might have had a bit more different of a description, creating an image in your mind, pushing you towards making the purchase with that specific vendor.

That’s precisely why your ecommerce website should include one-of-a-kind descriptions that capture what it is to have and use the product, making it irresistible to not choose it when it meets the customers’ needs.

When we talked about the differences between copywriting and content writing, we mentioned that it is possible to use a soft sales approach in blog posts and product pages, as you would in content marketing emails and social media posts. This approach is as valid as it can be when it comes to crafting unique descriptions.

Your products’ descriptions are the way you convince users why they should make a purchase. When you emphasize on the features and benefits, using your own brand voice, you stand out from the competition.

On one side, this brings more organic traffic through search engines because you have unique content. On the other, with catchy descriptions in your own site’s style, you are more likely to seize visitors’ attention and have them browse your other goods because they find your approach just that good.

Optimize your site structure and navigation

A well-organized site structure is one that makes crawlers put your website higher in SERP, raking in more traffic, and keeps users orientated even amidst a plethora of ecommerce category pages.

Create a clear and organized site structure that makes it easy for users and search engines to navigate

Planning how to organize the structure of your content requires you to clearly define every category page and its subsequent subcategories. 

If you are selling a variety of products, you will definitely be relying on a hierarchical structure, starting with broader categories (e.g. clothing, shoes, accessories) and going down from there into subcategories as needed (e.g. men’s, women’s, kids’).

Search engines revel whenever a website follows a solid URL structure, in addition to a categorical structure. Rather than naming your pages addresses using random strings of numbers, it is in your interest to use words that fit the category, subcategory, product, blog page, and so on.

Use internal linking to improve site structure and user experience

Proper use of internal linking makes for a powerful way to further enhance the user experience and SEO. Internal links connect one page of your website to another, helping establish an information hierarchy and spread link equity.

For instance, when you link a high-authority page on your site, such as your homepage, to a lower-authority page, such as a specific subcategory, you pass along some of that “link juice”, feeding the lower authority page the potential to rank higher in searches.

But why does it work the way it does? To illustrate the answer to this, imagine that a website is the root of a family tree and every page is a different member. 

The further down the tree roots you go, the less links each member has with the root. When you establish a connection between different family members, though, you make an internal link. 

You cannot make a link to every page in every page of your website, just as you cannot link every member to every other member of a family, but you do have many opportunities to establish a connection. Thus, when you have members that gain reputation and prominence, you get both smaller and larger entities’ attention.

The same way, search engines come upon more relevant pages and users consider one site more useful than another because of its usability. Incorporating internal links in all your pages, covering broken links where the web page might be displaying an error 404 or another message, also enables users to more readily navigate your website.

Use rich snippets and schema markup

To add structured data to your website’s front-end and bring the attention of search engines to your site, you utilize technical SEO elements like rich snippets and schema markup.

Use rich snippets and schema markup to provide additional information to search engines about your products and site

A schema markup is a form of microdata, a semantic vocabulary you add to your website’s HTML that provides explicit clues about the meaning of a page and the type of content it contains, including person, event, organization, and many more. 

It compiles your content into structured data that is then fed to crawlers. Think of this as a structured data markup that provides a detailed summary to search engines in order for them to understand your website’s content more easily.

On the other hand, rich snippets are like the visual manifestation of schema markup. They are the extra pieces of information that appear around your website’s link, such as ratings, images, prices, and so on – depending on your type of content. 

They are called rich because they offer “richer” descriptions than standard snippets, which just show the page’s meta title and description, as well as the URL.

Rich snippets are like fancy business cards that give people more information about your website before they even click on it when they see it in SERP. That could be star ratings for a product review or specific industry details, such as the cooking time for a recipe.

And so, when you implement both, you optimize your website with detailed, correct structured data that is read with ease by SE bots and becomes like a zip line to your website for users relying on more visual data.

Build quality backlinks

A backlink is a link pointing to your website from another, external website. For proper link building, you need a high-quality backlink profile and for that, the best way is to build relationships with other site owners.

Build backlinks from high-quality, relevant websites

Getting as many links that redirect users from other sites to yours is practice of link building, indeed, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind. 

There are quality backlinks coming from reputable, SERP-relevant websites, and there are those coming from websites that seem fishy in their overall approach to business. As you can guess, one type is high quality, and the other – low quality. 

Your goal in building a solid backlink profile is to have as many high-quality backlinks as possible, because those act as a trust signal to search engines, providing more visibility for your pages in search results.

Conversely, having many low-quality backlinks can negatively impact your performance. There are tools like Google Disavow, with the help of which you can tell Google and other search engines not to consider certain websites when it ranks your website.

However, beware that if you are not certain whether a site is really hurting your backlink profile, you might be the one to hurt it inadvertently instead, preventing the flow of more traffic to your website than otherwise.

We recommend reaching to the site owners and asking them to remove their backlinks first, so you don’t have to use a disavow tool. Should push come shove, though, make sure that you have done your research before taking action.

Use guest blogging and outreach to build relationships with other sites in your industry

In a similar fashion, to get more access to high-quality backlinks, you can reach out to already established players in the same game – high-authority websites in the same industry, asking them for a sort of collaboration in the form of guest blogging.

For that, you will have to be able to produce high-quality content around meaningful content ideas, as otherwise, the value you would be offering in exchange might not be nearly enough. Hence, any articles you write for other sites would have to adhere to the same standards you set for your own blog.

Guest blogging relies on linking one another’s articles in your own websites – a potent way to earn backlinks while building relationships with other sites. That’s how outreach works – you give; you take.

But you can also get in touch with bloggers and influencers who have a following they can direct to your site, as long as the industry is relevant. Pitching a collaborative project, such as a product review or sponsored post, is not uncommon nowadays.

Just remember that link building should always be ethical and transparent. Trying to manipulate rankings with pair or low-quality links can lead to what would be considered penalties from search engines.

Optimize your site speed

How quickly your website’s pages load is an aspect of SEO that can be overlooked if not careful. You need to consider your site speed on all kinds of devices, using various tools to take care of anything that could hinder your efforts.

Optimize your site speed for both desktop and mobile devices

Your site speed is a crucial ranking factor in SERP. Slow-loading websites can frustrate users and are therefore associated with higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. 

Many users leave a page that doesn’t load in the first couple of seconds. If your page speed is not up to par with most websites, it isn’t an exaggeration to say you are losing some traffic.

With the rise and incessant expansion of mobile commerce, your site has to be able to load quickly on any device, be it a desktop or a mobile one. Slow mobile speeds in particular drive away users who are used to getting an immediate response from pages.

Use tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights to identify and fix speed issues

Tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse serve to assess your site speed, giving you recommendations on how to make improvements. Some common issues that can lead to a slowdown are unoptimized images, bloated code and slow server response times.

One of the things that can often be seen are too large images that cause the page to stagger while they are loading. By compressing them, you can quickly reduce the file size without visibly sacrificing quality and improve your load times. Nowadays, there are plenty of free options online that can help you with the compression process.

On the programming side, CSS and JavaScript files are considered heavy when it comes to loading speed. With Google PageSpeed Insights, you can identify which ones need to be minified – a process that removes unnecessary characters, such as whitespace, from the code, resulting in smaller file size and faster loading times.

Use product reviews

Word of mouth has been the way to promote stuff since ancient times, and in the ecommerce space, that applies just as much.

Encourage customers to leave product reviews on your site

No-sweat sales are made when you have your customers sell your products for you. But for that, your offering has to be valuable and balanced in its price-to-performance ratio.

Reviews add a fresh and unique touch to your site content, because every person will say something is good or bad in their own way. And search engines just love that, because that’s social proof, wielding the power to influence any potential buyer’s decision. 

Encouraging your customers to leave a review is as simple as asking them directly. You can send a follow-up email after a purchase, offering a discount or other incentive for leaving a review. You can also have a prompt on the product page itself, asking customers to share their thoughts.

Use schema markup to display reviews in search engine results

As discussed in the section about schema markup and rich snippets, you can have these elements that consist of structure data bring more color to how your pages look in SERP.

One of the ways many websites use it is to display their product reviews and star ratings. In doing so, they bring the user’s attention to what they know will create a good impression really fast – numbers and widely-recognized signs.

That being the case, though, you should keep in mind that if your products do have low ratings, this might be displayed as well. Any reviews that critique what you offer on your website can tarnish your reputation quite feasibly too.

Monitor and analyze your traffic and rankings

Last but not least, let’s not forget the importance of keeping up-to date. After all, your site traffic and SERP ranking depend on your ability to adapt to the ever-changing ecommerce landscape.

Use tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console to monitor your traffic and rankings

There are 2 free yet powerful tools that can give you the insight you need to understand how well you are ranking when you utilize appropriate keywords and other SEO practices.

The first one is Google Analytics – it shows you where your traffic is coming from, what pages are performing well and what content isn’t engaging your audience. 

The second one is Google Search Console – it shows you how your website is performing in search results by displaying what queries are driving the traffic to your site, which pages have the most impressions and how well your site is performing in terms of organic search.

Both of these serve to monitor your overall site optimization level, but they work best in tandem and with additional tools like Google Ads for further insights. And of course, when you have the data, it is up to you to make the most out of it.

Use this data to identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions

An SEO strategy is as good as the team in charge of it. Generally, specialists base their decisions on the data available to them by conducting a technical SEO audit.

During an SEO audit, you evaluate several elements that show you where you need to focus your optimization efforts. 

Those include:

  • website speed 
  • URL structure 
  • internal linking 
  • broken links 
  • mobile responsiveness 
  • XML sitemap 
  • duplicate content 
  • meta tags 
  • structured data markup and more

Conducting a technical SEO happens by way of tools like Google Search Console, which you can combine with other, paid tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider, Moz Pro, Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc.

Stay up-to-date with SEO trends and best practices

SEO requirements are dynamic and what worked yesterday might not work today. Competitive businesses stay informed about the latest SEO trends and best practices.

In your case, that might mean looking for and subscribing to high-authority SEO blogs and newsletters, attending webinars and conferences, engaging with SEO professionals on social media and more. Knowledge is never in excess, especially since algorithms and ranking factors bear strongly nuanced natures.

The ultimate goal of SEO is to improve your site’s visibility in search results and drive more traffic to your site. By staying informed and regularly adjusting your strategy, in addition to everything else mentioned thus far, you can climb the rankings and continue driving organic traffic to your site.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I know if my ecommerce site has broken links?

Free tools like Google Search Console and other paid tools can help you identify broken links, which you will then have to fix or redirect from to avoid negatively impacting user experience and SEO.

How frequently should I conduct a technical SEO audit?

Roughly every six months or whenever you make major changes to your website.

I am using Google Ads already, so why do I still need to optimize for organic search?

Google Ads drives traffic through paid ads, while organic SEO attracts more traffic without the cost of advertising and users often trust organic search results more. Plus, once optimized, your pages are likely to benefit for a long time, without having to go through significant changes.

Can I use the same target keywords on multiple product pages?

Reusing the same target keywords multiple times across different product pages of your website can lead to keyword cannibalization, hurting your site’s SEO. Instead, use variations of target keywords and related keywords for a more positive effect.