Ecommerce SEO: The Definitive Guide
This is the most comprehensive guide to Ecommerce SEO online.
In this expert-written guide you’ll learn everything you need to know about optimizing your ecommerce site, from keyword research to technical SEO to link building.
So if you’re looking to get more targeted traffic (and customers) from search, you’ll love this guide.
Let’s dive right in.
No worries. Let me send you a copy so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):
Why SEO Matters for Ecommerce Websites
Let’s quickly look at some interesting stats…
44% of people start their online shopping journey with a Google search (nChannel).
37.5% of all traffic to ecommerce sites comes from search engines (SEMrush).
23.6% of ecommerce orders are directly tied to organic traffic (Business Insider).
With that, let’s dive into the actionable strategies in today’s guide.
Chapter 1:Ecommerce Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation of every ecommerce SEO campaign.
Because keyword research informs every other SEO-related task you do on your website.
(For example, without keywords, it’s impossible to optimize your product and category pages).
As you can see, keyword research is a VERY big deal for your ecommerce site.
And here’s exactly how to find untapped terms that your customers search for… and how to choose the best keywords for your site.
How To Find Keywords For Ecommerce Product and Category Pages
Most keyword research tutorials focus on “informational keywords”.
These are keywords that people type into search engines to discover helpful “how-to” content.
(Like “How to make pour over coffee”)
While informational keywords have their place in ecommerce, the majority of your site’s keywords will be tailored around product searches.
(Like “Chemex coffee filters”)
That means that you need to tackle keyword research with product-focused keywords in mind.
Here’s exactly how to do it:
Yes, Amazon is probably your competitor. But it’s also the biggest ecommerce site online… which makes it a product keyword goldmine.
Here’s how to tap into Amazon for keyword research:
First, head over to Amazon and enter a keyword that describes one of your products.
When you do, Amazon will list suggestions around that keyword.
The keywords Amazon suggests tend to be very targeted (also known as long tail keywords). Not only do long tail keywords tend to convert better than shorter terms, but they’re usually less competitive too.
Rinse and repeat for the most important products on your site.
Keyword Tool Dominator
To use it, just enter a seed keyword into the tool:
And it will spit out dozens of keyword suggestions.
Yup, this tool makes finding long tail keywords from Amazon Suggest significantly faster. But in my experience it gives you more keyword ideas too.
For example, when I used the keyword “organic dog food”, Amazon suggest gave me 8 keyword ideas. The tool spit out 49.
To keep things organized, you can save the best keywords to a list.
Before we leave Amazon, it’s time to use one more feature on the site that’s a goldmine for category page keywords.
Amazon (and Competitor) Categories
As someone that’s consulted for dozens of ecommerce businesses, I can tell you firsthand that lots of ecommerce site owners optimize their category pages around random keywords.
Sure, they’ll put some thought into what their customers might use to find products in that category. But the keywords they use tend to be, let’s just say…less than ideal.
This is a HUGE mistake. While category pages may not convert as well as product pages, they still generate sales. So it makes sense to spend time finding keywords for your category pages.
And the best way to do that?
Look at the categories your competitors already use.
If you’re competing against Amazon, hover over the “Departments” button at the top of the homepage. This will list out Amazon’s main categories.
These are probably too broad for your site. So click on any that make sense so you can see that department’s subcategories:
Now we’re talking.
You can also hit up Amazon’s list of departments.
This will show you all of Amazon’s departments (and subcategories) on a single page.
Now it’s time to dig deep through the list and find category-focused keywords that match what your site sells.
For example, let’s say your site sells healthy dog food.
You’d go to the “Pet supplies” category:
Then click on “dogs”.
Then choose “food” from the list:
And Amazon will show you keywords they use to describe their dog food-related categories in the sidebar:
These are all GREAT keywords to consider using for your dog food ecommerce category pages.
Amazon is a great resource for finding category page keywords. But it’s far from the only place you can find category page keywords that your customers search for every day.
That’s why I also recommend taking a look at the keywords that your industry competitors use to describe their categories.
So if your ecommerce site sells high-end headphones, you’d want to head to Headphone.com.
And just like you did with Amazon, look at the terms they optimize their category pages around.
And add those keywords to your list.
Wikipedia is one of the BEST places to find keyword for product and category pages.
Just like with category pages on your ecommerce competitor sites, Wikipedia organizes things by keywords and categories. In other words: they’ve done the hard work for you!
Let’s look at an example of how you can use Wikipedia for ecommerce keyword research.
First, enter a keyword that describes a product or category your site sells:
Then scan the Wikipedia entry for words and phrases that make sense for the products you have on your site:
Make sure to take a look at the contents box. These can sometimes reveal excellent category page keywords.
Once you’ve exhausted Wikipedia’s keyword suggestions, it’s time to move onto one of my favorite keyword research tools: SEMrush.
The strategies I outlined so far should have helped you get a hefty list of keyword ideas.
But SEMRush is a little bit different. SEMrush doesn’t generate new keyword ideas based on seed keywords. Instead, it shows you keywords that your competition already ranks for.
Let’s take a look at how you can use this tool to find keywords for your ecommerce site.
First, enter a competitor into SEMrush’s search field:
Then click “organic research” in the sidebar:
This will show you all of the keywords that your competitor ranks for:
If you want to squeeze every keyword out of SEMrush, check out the “competitors” report:
SEMrush will show you sites that are similar to the one you’re looking at.
Repeat this process with the competitors you just found.
This should give you enough keywords to last you until 2037.
Google Keyword Planner
Last but not least we have the good ol’ Google Keyword Planner.
Even though the GKP is a halfway decent keyword tool, it’s not very good at generating unique keyword ideas.
For example, if you enter a category page keyword like “organic dog food” into the GKP, it spits out super-close variations of that term:
That said, if you do some digging, you can find some gems that aren’t straight-up variations of the keyword you just typed in.
Because the Google Keyword Planner doesn’t generate a lot of unique keywords, I recommend using it to check search volume and commercial intent.
Which leads us to our next step…
How to Choose Keywords for Ecommerce Product and Category Pages
Now that you have a list of potential keywords in-hand, you’re probably wondering:
Which keywords should I choose?
The answer? Use this 4-step checklist to identify the best keywords for your ecommerce site.
#1 Search Volume
This is (by far) the most important metric when evaluating a search term.
If no one searches for that keyword, it doesn’t really matter how well it converts or how competitive Google’s first page happens to be.
That said, there’s no way for me to give you specific search volume recommendations. In some industries, 100 searches per month is A LOT. In others, 10k monthly searches is nothing.
Over time you’ll get an idea of what a “high volume” and “low volume” keyword is for your industry.
To find the search volume for a given keyword, just pop it into the GKP. You’ll find the number of searches in the “Avg. monthly searches” column.
Why? Who knows. But it’s an important thing to note as these fluctuations can directly impact your bottom line.
To quickly see how search volume changes throughout the year, type your keyword into KWFinder. And it’ll show you a nifty chart with month-to-month search volume info.
#2 Keyword-Product Fit
This is a big one. Let’s say you find a keyword that gets tons of searches. It must be a winner right?
That’s because the keyword may not be a perfect fit well with what your site sells.
If the keyword you pick is even a little bit of a stretch compared to what you have for sale on your ecommerce site, people that search for that term aren’t going to convert.
So before you move onto the next two stages in this process, double-check that the keyword you’re considering fits your site like a glove.
For example, let’s say your site sells Japanese green tea bags. And you come across a keyword like “matcha green tea powder”.
Even though you don’t sell green tea powder (only tea bags), you might be able to create a category page around this term… and convert those searchers to what your site actually sells.
But it’s tricky to pull off. That’s why I recommend stretching into other product categories AFTER you exhaust keywords that your target customers search for.
Even though the keyword may get fewer searches, I recommend choosing a keyword that’s much more targeted to your business, like “green tea online”.
Now that you’ve got a list of keywords that people search for (and fit well with your site’s products) it’s time to see if these searchers are ready to whip out their credit card and make a purchase.
#3: Commercial Intent
Ranking #1 for a high-volume keyword? Awesome.
Ranking #1 for a high-volume keyword that tire-kickers search for? Less awesome.
So before you decide on a keyword, take a second to see if people using that keyword are ballers …or broke browsers.
Fortunately, this is super-easy to do using the Google Keyword Planner.
First, check out the keyword’s “Competition” rating.
“Competition” reflects how many people bid on that keyword in Google Ads. In general, if a lot of people are bidding on a keyword, there’s money to be made. That’s why, when it comes to SEO for ecommerce websites, I recommend sticking with “medium” and “high” competition keywords.
You also want to take a look at “Top of Page Bid”.
Top of Page Bid is how much people tend to spend on a single click in Google Ads. And when it comes to sizing up commercial intent, the higher the suggested bid, the better.
Obviously, keywords with high suggested bids are also more competitive to rank for in Google search. But we’ll cover that in the next section.
For now, check out the Top of Page Bid for the keywords on your list.
And note how certain words and phrases that suggest “I’m ready to buy!” impact the estimated bid.
As you can see in this example, the keyword “Japanese green tea” has a suggested bid of $2.20.
That’s because many people searching for that keyword probably aren’t ready to make a purchase. They might be looking up the definition. Or they might be curious about the health benefits of green tea.
On the other hand, a similar keyword like “buy green tea online” has a suggested bid that’s 2.4x higher.
Finally, it’s time to see how hard it’ll be to crack Google’s first page.
SEMrush’s “Keyword Difficulty”
This metric gives you an idea of how competitive a given keyword is to rank for.
You can find a keyword’s difficulty in SEMrush by entering a keyword into the search field…
…clicking on “Keyword Difficulty” in the sidebar…
And then looking at the “Difficulty %” column.
The higher that number, the harder it is to rank for that keyword in Google.
Keyword Targeting and Page Optimization
Here’s where you see if the sites ranking in the top 10 are optimized around that keyword.
Why is this important?
If the pages in the top 10 are only semi-related to that keyword, you can sometimes outrank them with a highly-targeted page.
If you search for “bamboo cutting board with handle”, you’ll notice that some of the results aren’t optimized around this specific term:
In other words: most people searching for this keyword are probably wondering: “Where da handle at?”.
So if you optimize one of your ecommerce category pages around the keyword “bamboo cutting board with handle”, you’ll have a good shot of cracking the top 10.
Now that you have a list of keywords that get searched for, have little competition, AND are likely to turn into buyers, it’s time to set up and optimize your ecommerce site architecture.
Chapter 2:Ecommerce Website Architecture
Site architecture — or how the pages on your site are organized and arranged — is an important SEO consideration for ANY site.
But it’s doubly important for ecommerce sites. That’s because your average ecommerce site tends to have significantly more pages than your average blog or local pizza shop website.
With that many pages, it’s critical that your site architecture makes it easy for users and search engines to find all of your pages.
The Two “Golden Rules” of ecommerce Site Architecture
There are two important rules to keep in mind when it comes to setting up your ecommerce site’s structure:
Golden Rule #1: Keep things simple and scalable
Golden Rule #2: Keep every page three (or fewer) clicks from your homepage
I’ll have more details on these two rules in a minute.
But first, let’s look at an example of how the wrong site architecture can hurt your SEO efforts…
Example of How NOT to Setup Your Ecommerce Site’s Architecture
Here’s an example of a site architecture that breaks the Two Golden rules:
What’s wrong with this picture?
First, it’s not simple. It’s hard to understand the logic of what goes where.
Second, it’s not scalable. Every time you want to add a new category, you need to create a new layer…. and reorganize your existing categories and subcategories.
But it’s also way too deep.
Most of the links that point to ecommerce sites point to their homepage.
And when you have a “deep” site architecture, that authority is diluted by the time it reaches your product and category pages.
In this example it takes six clicks to reach the first product page.
(You want all product pages to be three clicks or fewer from your homepage)
Example of an SEO and User-Friendly Ecommerce Site Architecture
Now that you’ve seen an example of how not to do things, it’s time to take a look at an example of a well-optimized ecommerce site architecture.
As you can see, link authority is concentrated in the site’s product and category pages.
This concentrated authority helps these pages rank in Google. It also makes it easy for Google to find and index every page.
And here’s an example of how this would look for an ecommerce site that sells shoes:
Not only is this great for SEO, but users will love it too. That’s because a simple, flat architecture makes it easy for browsers to find the products they want.
Let’s take a look at a real-life example of an ecommerce site with AWESOME architecture: PetSmart.com.
Let’s say you want to get a new dog food bowl for Fluffy.
You’d head to the homepage and click “Dog”.
Then “bowls and feeders”
And you get a list of products in that subcategory:
Within three clicks, you’ve found what you want.
And because Petsmart uses a flat site structure, Google will fully index all of their pages.
Chapter 3:On-Page SEO for Ecommerce Sites
Now that you have your site architecture all set up, it’s time to optimize your category and product pages. For most ecommerce sites these two types of pages generate the lion’s share of traffic and sales.
This makes sense if you think about it: someone searching for “red Nike running shoes size 10” is much closer to making a purchase than someone searching for “buy shoes online”.
With that, here’s how to keyword-optimize your product and category pages.
A “Perfectly Optimized” Ecommerce Page
Let’s look at an example of a “perfectly optimized” page from an ecommerce site.
Let’s break each of these elements down:
Title Tag: Add Modifiers Like “Buy”, “Cheap” and “Deals” to Get More Long Tail Traffic
You (obviously) want to use your target keyword in your page’s title tag.
But don’t stop there. Adding “modifiers” to your title tag can help you show up for more long tail searches.
For example, let’s say your target keyword is: “noise canceling headphones”.
Instead of making your title tag: “Noise Canceling Headphones at Headphones R’ Us”, you want to add a word or two that people might use when searching for “noise canceling headphones”
Here are some common terms people use when searching for products in Google:
- Free shipping
So your title tag could be something like this:
Title Tag: Use Click Magnet Words like “X% Off” and “Lowest Price” to Boost CTR
Google likely uses organic click-through-rate as a ranking signal. And even if they didn’t, it still makes sense to optimize your title tag for CTR.
That’s because: Higher CTR=more clicks=more sales.
Fortunately, there are a handful of words and phrases that magnetically move a person’s cursor to your result. I call them “Click Magnet Words”.
Here are some of the best Click Magnet Words for ecommerce product and category pages:
- X% off (“25% Off”)
- Lowest Price
- Free Shipping
- Overnight Shipping
Here’s an example of these words in action:
And when you include these in your title tags (and meta description tags), you’ll find yourself with more clicks (which can mean more customers).
Description Tag: Include Phrases Like “Great Selection”, “FREE Shipping” and “All Our Items are On Sale” To Maximize Your Page’s CTR
Your site’s description tag used to be an important part of on-page SEO.
Even though that’s not the case anymore, your description tag is VERY important for CTR.
And the title tag Click Magnet Words that I listed above also work for description tags.
The only difference is that, with a description tag, you have more room to include longer phrases.
Here are a few examples of phrases you can use in your description tag to get more clicks:
- Get the best prices on ____ today.
- Save X% off on ____.
- All of our ____ are on sale right now.
- Get FREE shipping on all ____ today.
- Click here to see all of our exclusive deals on _____.
- Great selection of ____ at the guaranteed lowest price.
Here’s an example of how a description tag optimized for clicks might look:
Product and Category Page Content: Include 1000+ Words of Content and Use Your Keyword 3-5x
Optimizing product and category pages is one of the hardest parts of ecommerce SEO. Yes, you want to write high-quality content. But unlike a blog post, you also need to keep conversion rate in mind.
Here are the three most important on-page SEO tactics that I recommend for ecommerce pages:
1. Write 1000+ Word Descriptions
Industry studies have found that longer content tends to rank best in Google.
(And yes, those findings apply to ecommerce stores).
The fact is this: Google wants to understand what your page is all about. And the more content you provide, the better Google can do its job. Plus, in-depth product page content helps customers understand what they’re about to buy. So there’s a user experience benefit too.
To be clear:
It might be impossible for you to write 1000 words for EVERY page on your site. If that’s the case, I recommend writing long, in-depth product descriptions for top 10-50 most important product and category pages.
For example, this Amazon product page for a KitchenAid mixer boasts 2,109 words…
…and that’s not even counting the reviews at the bottom of the page (which add another 500+ words).
2. Sprinkle Your Keywords (3-5x)
Once you’ve written your in-depth product description, it’s time to make sure that you’ve used your target keyword 3-5 times in your content.
This has nothing to do with keyword density or keyword stuffing. You’re just including your keyword a handful of times to help Google understand what your page is all about.
For example, if your target keyword was “6 quart crockpot” you’d want to make sure you have that exact phrase in your product description at least 3 times:
3. LSI Keywords
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are words and phrases that are closely tied to your main keyword.
For example, let’s say you were optimizing an ecommerce category page around the keyword “slow cookers”. Terms closely related to that keyword include:
- 6 quart, 4 quart etc.
- Pressure cooker
- Stainless steel
See how that works?
Here’s how to find (and use) LSI keywords specifically for ecommerce SEO.
Step #1: The Amazon Eyeball Test
First, head over to Amazon and search for your target keyword.
Then take a look at terms that appear multiple times on the category page…
…or product page for that keyword.
Step #2: Google Keyword Planner
Next, enter your target keyword into the Google Keyword Planner.
Then take a look at the keywords that Google suggests to you:
Step #3: Sprinkle These In Your Content
Finally, sprinkle the LSI keywords that make sense into your product or category page content.
URLs: Use Short, Keyword-Rich URLs
Our analysis of 1 million Google search results found a clear correlation between URL length and rankings.
Specifically, we found that short URLs tend to rank higher on Google’s first page than long URLs.
Because you run an ecommerce site, your URLs are probably going to be longer than other sites.
That’s because your URL will include category and subcategories in your URL. For example: https://example.com/category/subcategory/product.html
However, that doesn’t mean you want your URLs to stretch out to 50+ characters. That’s because long URLs confuse Google and dilute the impact of the keywords in your URL.
Here’s an example of an unnecessarily long ecommerce product page URL:
(Not only is this URL a mile long, but it contains unnecessary junk like, “productID.300190600”).
Speaking of using SEO-friendly terms in your URL, you also want to make your URLs keyword-rich.
For category pages, include a 1-2 word description of that category:
Follow the same process for subcategories. Only this time, the subcategory will come after the category in the URL:
Then, for product pages, include just your target keyword for that product, separated by dashes (“-”).
Internal Links: Liberally Link to High-Priority Pages
One of the nice things about ecommerce SEO is that internal linking is done almost automatically. That’s because your site’s navigation usually creates a lot of natural internal links:
That said, strategic internal linking is definitely an ecommerce SEO best practice. So you should spend some time on it.
Specifically, you want to internally link FROM authoritative pages TO high-priority product and category pages.
For example, let’s say you just published a blog post that’s generated a lot of backlinks.
And you also have a product page that ranks #5 in Google for “moleskin notebooks”.
You’d want to add a keyword-rich anchor text link from that post to your product page.
Implement Product Review Schema to Get Rich Snippets Displayed in Google
If you want an easy way to stand out on Google’s first page, look no further than rich snippets.
And ecommerce sites have the opportunity to get one of the most eye-catching rich snippets out there: reviews.
Here’s an example:
How do you get these awesome snippets? By implementing Schema markup on your ecommerce product pages. Schema is a special code that gives search engines (like Google and Bing) a deeper understanding of your page’s content.
Here are the types of markup specific to reviews.
While there’s no guarantee that Google will display rich snippets just because you ask them to, proper Schema markup boosts your odds.
You can manually set up Schema markup, but it’s not easy. That’s why I recommend that you use Google’s excellent Structured Data Markup Helper.
Here’s exactly how to use this helpful tool so you can quickly implement review Schema markup.
First, head over to the tool and choose “products”:
Next, find a product page on your site that has reviews and ratings on it. This can be a single reviewer, or as is the case with most ecommerce sites, user reviews.
Paste the URL of that product page in the URL field and click “Start Tagging”.
Then highlight the section of the page you want to tag. In this case we’re going to focus on product reviews and ratings.
If your product was reviewed by a single person, choose “Review”. Then highlight the name of the person that reviewed the product, the date of the review etc.
If customers reviewed the product, highlight the number or star rating and pick “Aggregate Rating”.
Make sure to provide as much info as you can. For example, don’t forget to highlight the number of reviews and choose the “count” tag.
When you’re done, choose “Create HTML”.
You can either copy and paste this new HTML into your page or add the new Schema markup to your existing code.
Chapter 4:Technical SEO for Ecommerce
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 changes 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. For example, if you and your competitor are neck-and-neck, a technical SEO issue can be the difference between the 4th spot and a coveted #1 ranking.
That’s why regular technical SEO site audits are key.
How to Run a Technical SEO Audit on an Ecommerce Website
In this example we’re going to use Raven Tools. In my opinion it has the most thorough and easy-to-understand site audit feature out there.
In addition to Raven Tools, here are other SEO tools you can use for ecommerce site audits:
To use Raven for your ecommerce SEO site audit, choose “Site Auditor” from the left-hand sidebar:
And Raven will analyze your site for potential errors.
Then scan the report for issues that crop up.
Like problems with your title and/or description tags:
Duplicate and thin content:
And broken links:
Now that you’ve seen how to find SEO errors, it’s time for me to show you how to solve them.
How to Fix Common Technical SEO Issues On Ecommerce Sites
Problem: Too Many Pages
Having thousands of pages on your site can be a technical SEO nightmare. It makes writing unique content for each page a monumental task. Also, the more pages you have, the more likely you’ll struggle with duplicate content issues.
Why It Happens
Some ecommerce sites just have lots and lots of products for sale. Because each of these products require their own page, the site accumulates lots of pages. Also, sometimes each slight variation in the same product (for example 15 different shoe sizes) has its own unique URL, which can bloat your ecommerce site’s total page count.
How to Fix it
First, identify pages that you can delete or noindex… without affecting your bottom line.
In my experience, 80% of an ecommerce site’s sales come from 20% of its products (the ol’ 80/20 principle at work). And around 25% of an ecommerce product pages haven’t generated ANY sales over the last year.
Rather than working to improve these pages, you’re better off simply deleting them, noindexing them, or combining them into a “super page”.
Most ecommerce CMSs (like Shopify) make it easy to find products that haven’t generated any revenue lately. If they haven’t, you can put them into a “maybe delete” list.
But before you actually delete anything, check Google Analytics to make sure these pages aren’t bringing in any traffic.
If a page isn’t bringing visitors to your site or putting cash in your pocket, you should ask yourself: “what’s the point of this page?”.
In some cases these “deadweight” pages will make up 5-10% of your site. For others, it can be as many as 50%.
Once you’ve removed excess pages that might be causing problems, it’s time to fix and improve the pages that are left.
Problem: Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is one of the most common ecommerce SEO issues on the planet. And it’s one that can sink your site in Google’s search results (thanks to Google Panda).
Fortunately, with a commitment to unique content on every page of your ecommerce site (and using advanced SEO techniques like canonical tags), you can make duplicate content issues a thing of the past.
Why It Happens
There are a lot of reasons that duplicate content crop up on ecommerce sites.
Here are the three most common reasons.
First, the site creates unique URLs for every version of a product or category page.
For example, if you have a category menu like this…
…it might create a unique URL for every selection the person makes.
If those URLs gets indexed by Google, it’s going to create A LOT of duplicate content.
This can also happen if slight variations of the same product (for example, different shoe sizes or colors) create unique product page URLs.
Second, we have boilerplate content. This is where you have a snippet of text that appears on multiple pages.
Here’s an example:
Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use some of the same content on every page (for example, “At Brian’s Organic Supplements, we use the best ingredients at the best price.”).
But if your boilerplate content gets to be 100+ words it can be seen as duplicate content in the eyes of Google.
Finally, we have copied descriptions. This happens anytime you have the same (or very similar) content on multiple product or category pages.
For example, here’s an example of duplicate content on two different ecommerce product pages…
Product Page #1:
Product Page #2:
As you can see, the content on these two pages is almost identical. Not good.
How to Fix it
Your first option is to noindex pages that don’t bring in search engine traffic but are causing duplicate content issues.
For example, if your category filters generate unique URLs, you can noindex those URLs. Problem solved.
Once you’ve noindexed all of the URLs that need to go, it’s time to tap into the canonical tag (“rel=canonical”).
A canonical tag simply tells search engines that certain pages are exact copies or slight variations of the same page. When a search engine sees a canonical tag on a page, they know that they shouldn’t treat it as a unique page.
(Not only does canonicalization solve duplicate content issues, but it helps makes your backlinks more valuable. That’s because links that point to several different URLs reroute to a single URL, making those links more powerful).
Finally, it’s time to write unique content for all of the pages that you haven’t noindexed or set up with canonical URLs.
Yes, this is hard work (especially for an ecommerce site with thousands of pages). But it’s an absolute must if you want to compete against the ecommerce giants (like Amazon) that tend to dominate Google’s first page.
To make the process easier, I recommend creating templates for product and category page descriptions (I’ll have an example template for you in the next section).
Problem: Thin Content
Thin content is another common technical SEO issue that ecommerce sites have to deal with. So even after you solve your duplicate content issues, you might have pages with thin content.
And make no mistake: thin content can derail entire ecommerce SEO campaigns. In fact, eBay lost upwards of 33% of its organic traffic due to a thin content-related Panda penalty.
But let’s not focus on the negative. Our data from analyzing 1 million Google search results found that longer content tended to rank above thin content.
Why It Happens
One of the main reasons that ecommerce sites suffer from thin content is that it’s challenging to write lots of unique content about similar products. After all, once you’ve written a description about one running shoe what can you write about 25 others?
While this is a legit concern, it shouldn’t stop you from writing at least 500 words (and preferably 1000+ words) for all of your important category and product pages.
How To Fix It
First, you want to identify pages on your site that have thin content.
You can go through each page on your site one-by-one or use a tool like Raven Tools to find pages that are a bit on the thin side (Raven considers pages with fewer than 250 words as having a “low word count”):
Once you’ve identified thin content pages it’s time to bulk them up with high-quality, unique content. Templates make this process go significantly faster.
Here’s an example template for a product page description:
Problem: Site Speed
Site speed is one of the few signals that Google has publicly stated they use as part of their algorithm.
But site speed isn’t just important for ecommerce SEO: it also directly impacts your bottom line. Research by Radware found that slow load times can increase shopping cart abandonment by 29.8%.
Why It Happens
Here are the three most common reasons that ecommerce site pages load slowly:
- Bloated Ecommerce Platforms: Certain ecommerce platforms are inherently slow due to bloated code. And unlike a blogging CMS like WordPress, you can’t just install a plugin and watch your speed improve.
- Large Image File Sizes: High-res product images are awesome for your customers, but can make your page load like molasses.
- Slow Hosting and Servers: When it comes to web hosting, you get what you pay for. A slow hosting plan can put the brakes on your site’s max speed.
Fortunately, all three of these site speed issues can be solved somewhat easily.
How to Fix it
- Upgrade Your Hosting: I can’t recommend specific hosting providers because your decision depends on your preferences and needs (for example, the level of support, pricing, security etc.). But what I can say is that you should spend at least $50/month on your host. If you spend less, your loading speed is likely to suffer.
- Invest In a CDN: A CDN is one of the fastest (and cheapest) ways to significantly crank up your site’s loading speed. Bonus: a CDN also makes your site more secure from attacks and hacks.
- Optimize Image File Size with Compression: This is a biggie for ecommerce product pages. Make sure to export images so they’re optimized for the web.
Chapter 5:Content Marketing for
Content marketing can help you get LOTS of targeted traffic… and sales.
The question is:
How do you use content to get higher rankings and more traffic to your ecommerce website?
Here’s a step-by-step guide…
Step #1: Find Where Your Target Customers Hang Out Online
Hanging out with your customers gives you incredible insight into their thoughts, dreams, fears, and desires. Because it’s not always possible to hang out with customers in real life, I recommend going to places that they tend to hang out online.
For example, if your target audience is made up of coffee snobs, you’d want to check out places like Reddit’s coffee community…
…and even old school forums about coffee.
Step #2: Learn What Words and Phrases Customers Use
Now that you’ve found your target audience, it’s time to stalk them. Don’t worry, this isn’t as creepy as it sounds 🙂
You just want to keep an eye out for words and phrases that they use to describe their problems and issues:
These phrases represent keywords that your audience uses when they’re NOT shopping for products. These make great keywords for you to create blog content around.
Step #3: Create An Outstanding Piece of Content Around That Keyword
Next, it’s time to create a piece of content that’s the bar-none absolute best on the planet.
The easiest way to do that?
The Skyscraper Technique.
This video will walk you through the entire step-by-step process:
And when you’ve finished step #3, start back at the top and execute this entire SEO strategy again.
When you consistency publish content on your e commerce site, you’ll find that all of these links, traffic and social media shares actually help your product and category pages rank better.
For example, the popular cookware ecommerce site Williams-Sonoma.com has an outstanding blog that features recipes, cooking tips, interviews with chefs, and more.
Which is one of the main reasons that so many sites link to them.
Case Study #1: How Chris Got Backlinks From Popular Tech Blogs
So Chris decided to try The Moving Man Method.
After implementing this strategy, the number of links pointing to his client’s website shot up like a rocket:
Sure, it was great that Chris built so many backlinks…
But the TYPES of links that he was able to get (contextual links from highly-relevant sites in the electronics niche ) is the real story here.
Specifically, Chris got links from…
A popular consumer electronics product site:
A popular Danish news website:
And an editorial link from an online electronics magazine:
Even better, several of these links point directly to product and category pages, like this one:
Here’s the exact step-by-step process that Chris used.
Step 1: Find Outdated, Moved or Expired Resources
Step #1 is finding resources that are out-of-date, expired or not working.
Because Chris was working with an ecommerce site, he zeroed in on companies that had recently gone out of business.
But no matter what you sell, there are businesses in your industry that have gone under…and have THOUSANDS of links pointing to their old site.
In many cases, the domain name actually expires. When that happens the entire site gets replaced with parked pages, like this:
Because pages on out of business websites are still technically working (they’re not 404s), broken link checkers can’t find them.
Although parked domains are harder to find than broken links, the advantage of using them is this:
They hook you up with link building opportunities that your competition doesn’t know about.
So: how can you find these outdated resources?
Here’s one strategy that works really well:
These sites have picked up domains that had something going for them (either traffic, backlinks or both). And they organize them in one place to make them easy to sift through.
Chris noticed a parked domain in the same niche as his client (iPhone cases): edge-design.com.
Edge Design used to sell customized iPhone cases…before they closed.
And it’s a product that his ecommerce client sells.
Chris thought to himself:
“If we’re linking to Edge Design’s website, I bet other sites are too.”
And he was right.
Which brings us to step #2…
Step 2: Grab a List of Pages Pointing to the Outdated Resource
Once you’ve identified a popular-but-outdated resource, it’s time to find sites that link to it.
First, grab the URL of the dead resource.
If it’s an individual page on a site (for example, a tool that’s not working anymore or a service that a company no longer offers), enter the URL of that specific page.
If the entire site is down, you can use the homepage URL:
Glance at the number of referring domains. The more referring domains, the more link opportunities there are for you.
Finally, hit “backlinks” to see all of the pages linking to the outdated resource that you found:
And this leads us to the last step.
Step 3: Send Emails, Get Links
Now it’s time to let people know about their outdated link.
Here’s a word-for-word script you can use (this is an actual outreach email that Chris sent out):
As you can see, Chris didn’t just tap the person on the shoulder and let them know about the outdated link. He also gave them a replacement.
It just so happens that the replacement is a page on his client’s site 🙂
And when you send out brief outreach emails and improve other people’s sites email outreach tends to convert REALLY well:
That’s all there is to it.
Case Study #2: How Mike Built Links to His Wedding Ecommerce Sites
Mike Bonadio recently launched an ecommerce website in the wedding space.
And considering how competitive the wedding industry is, Mike knew that he needed to build links fast.
Here’s the strategy that Mike used to get a HUGE influx of links.
One day Mike was poking around various wedding-related Facebook groups.
And he noticed groups put on events… events that featured products from wedding vendors.
Mike realized that he could use these events to build links his groomsmen gift shop, Groomsday.
And Mike was right! This simple strategy led to a bunch of great links.
Let’s break down the strategy step-by-step:
Step 1: Find Groups in Your Industry That Put On Events
Join a few Facebook groups in your industry. Then check the “events” tab inside the group.
Step 2: Look For Events That Need Stuff
Look for upcoming events where your products might be a good fit.
Some events even say that they’re looking for vendors.
Step 3: Reach Out to Event Organizers
Reach out to the people hosting the event. Ask if they would like to feature some of your products at the event.
You can ask up front if products that you send will get featured in the group or in press coverage. Otherwise, just send them free stuff and hope for the best.
Step 4: Ship Your Products
You can ask for unused items to be sent back. But it’s easier to not have to deal with return shipping.
Step 5: Stay In The Loop
Keep in touch with the event organizer about the event. Specifically, when they’re writing a post about the event. Keep track of everything and watch out for your event or photoshoot to be featured. And make sure you’re credited with a link when it goes live.
Some events get published on super high DA sites with tons of authority. Here’s one on a DA77 site:
Step 6: Thank the Organizer
And offer to work together again on a future event.
The links from this campaign helped boost Mike’s traffic during the wedding season by 2272% compared to the previous year:
Now It's Time to Hear From You
I hope you got a ton of value from Ecommerce SEO: The Definitive guide.
And now I’d like to hear from you:
Which strategy from today’s guide are you going to try first?
Are you going to use Title Tag Modifiers?
Or maybe you want to try The Moving Man Method.
Either way let me know by leaving a quick comment right now.