SEO For Ecommerce Websites – The Step By Step Beginner’s Guide

Everything You Need To Know About SEO For Ecommerce Website

If you own an e-commerce business, you absolutely should have SEO as one of your traffic-driving strategies for your website. SEO for an eCommerce site is one of the most affordable marketing tactics you can add to your arsenal of traffic driving techniques for your website.

If your site is getting traffic and sales, and you are not currently either paying for SEO or doing SEO yourself, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much this can add to your bottom line! This is low-hanging fruit for you!

If your site isn’t generating traffic or sales just yet, this is one of the most affordable ways to do so!

*note – this article may contain affiliate links to products that we have used and love!

What Is SEO and What Makes it So Good For Your Ecommerce Site?

What Is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of getting a website to show up on search engines when someone searches a term relevant to your business. The more the site is optimized for search engines, the higher the website will become on search results.

When the site is higher on search results, it is more likely to get clicks/traffic from that search term.

Well, this is all great, but how will this help your Ecommerce site? 

If your site ranks for the proper keywords, you’ll be more likely to get leads or people purchasing your products on your website.

But there is a catch…

The key here is to make sure your site ranks for the right keywords – the ones that drive prospective buyers to your site, not just traffic.

If you rank for the right keywords, you can get amazing conversion rates because you are driving people who are actively searching for your specific product to your website!

Keep on reading, and you’ll learn how to do this!

How Do You Start SEO on Your Ecommerce Site?

Back when search engines were just starting out, you could easily rank by just stuffing keywords throughout your website. Now, search engines take a lot into consideration when ranking a website.

These items range to include on-page and off-page factors. On-page means things that you can change direction on your site, and off-page refers to other sites that would link to your eCommerce site, which drives up your site relevance, thus helping you rank higher on Google/search engines.

Let’s focus on the on-page factors first:

Start With the Basics  – User Experience

The ultimate goal of search engines is to have people find exactly what they are looking for without needing to click through to multiple sites.

Let’s say a lot of people are searching for vitamins on Google. The first website that shows up on Google has a large variety of vitamins on their website, but the site loads slow, or the buy now buttons are not working. People will likely leave the site quickly and go on to the next website that shows up below that site on Google.

Google will see that there is a high volume of people quickly leaving the 1st ranking site in favor of the 2nd ranking site.

Because Google wants to give the most useful website first, it may demote the slow, broken site and move up the 2nd ranking site and see if the dwell time on the 2nd ranking site is higher.

Google will constantly do this to find the best result for the searchers.

Of course, there are a lot more factors than just dwell time on a site (or bounce rate if you look into google analytics), but the user experience is something you can work on without too much SEO knowledge – so let’s start with that!

Here are some things you can do to improve your user experience on your website:

 

Site Navigation

If someone visiting your site cannot find what they are looking for quickly, they are likely to leave your site altogether. Don’t let this be the reason you have a high bounce rate! A great eCommerce site navigation has:

  1. An easy way to go back to the home page
  2. An easy way to contact you
  3. An easy way to access your cart
  4. A simple way to view product categories (parent and subcategories)
  5. A button to log into your account and view your past purchases/orders
  6. A search bar to find specific product/product numbers
  7. A “new arrivals” and “Sales” area

Tip: Make sure it’s easy for a user to get to your highest volume products quickly and efficiently. A great way to test this is to have a few people of various ages test your site. Ask them to find X product, and see how long it takes them to find it. Sometimes what makes sense to you may not make sense to the users navigating your website.

User Experience On Page

User experience on-page not only can have an effect on SEO, but also conversion rates in general. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure your site, in general, has an easy user experience:

Generally, throughout the site:

  1. Does your site load quickly?
  2. Is your site clean, and easy to navigate?
  3. Does your site have breadcrumbs (both useful for users and search engines)
  4. Is your site easy to use on mobile?
  5. Is there a strong call to action?
  6. Can users get to your bestsellers easily?
  7. Is there an easy way to get ahold of you?
  8. Do you have a FAQ if your products need explaining?
  9. Can people easily find you on social media?
  10. Can people easily access their cart?
  11. How easy is the checkout process? Is there a way to make it faster/fewer fields for people to fill out?
  12. Do you/can you integrate a payment system such as PayPal that people trust/can pay without needing to get their credit card?
  13. Optional – do you have an online chat or an AI chatbot to help people find the right products?

Product Pages:

  1. Are your product images high quality/clear?
  2. Is pricing easy to understand?
  3. Is there a comprehensive and compelling description of each product?
  4. Does the description overcome any objections people would have or have an FAQ?
  5. Is there a product review section? Are there plenty of reviews in those sections?
  6. Is there a way to share the product on social media?
  7. Are you able to use the scarcity principle to urge people to buy? (for example, an area that says “only 2 left” or something to get people to buy now)

Unique Content

Although it’s tempting to copy and paste descriptions from the manufacturer to get your products up quickly, this will ultimately hurt you SEO-wise.  Not only are other companies probably doing this, which creates duplicate content that is unlikely to rank, but manufacturer descriptions are typically pretty dry and don’t typically make the user absolutely need to buy this product.

Take as little as 20 minutes to re-write the descriptions – you’ll be glad you did! Just making your content unique can help SEO quite a bit!

Don’t have time to write content? If so, it would be well worth the expense of getting a content writer involved. This will pay off in the long run – especially if they perform keyword research and SEO while they are doing this!

Site speed

Site speed is the time it takes for a site to load once a user opens the site. The faster the better – especially for eCommerce!

If we think back to the ultimate goal of search engines, it makes sense that site speed plays a part in ranking. Consumers are less likely to hang out on a website if it loads slowly, so they will bounce off of the slow site and on to the next option on search engines.

There are quite a few things that can cause a slow website ranging from the host you are using to picture size and how many scripts your site uses.

Here are a few tools that can help you determine if your site speed is good or not:

  1. GTmetrix – do a scan and check out the waterfall to see what scripts are taking a long time to load
  2. Google pagespeed insights – this gives you an idea of your page speed on desktop and mobile devices.

Some common elements that you can easily do to help increase your page speed:

  1. Make sure your website uses a caching tool. We recommend WP Rocket for WordPress and WooCommerce sites. Always perform a backup before adding any kind of plugin/software to your eCommerce site
  2. Reduce the size of images displayed on your site. You can do this manually or use software to do this. We recommend shortpixel for WordPress or WooCommerce
  3. Delete unused plugins on your site – these can take up a lot of resources on your website.
  4. Compress files (gzip compression) if possible
  5. Evaluate your server – typically, we recommend getting off a shared server – especially if you have an eCommerce website

 

Start Tracking Traffic To Your Site & See How It is Performing On Search Engines

So you improved your user experience on your website. What’s next?

Well, you can’t tell how you are doing without some analytics! Traffic analytic programs help you understand what users are doing when they enter your website. They can answer the following questions:

  1. What pages are your most popular?
  2. How long does the average user spend on your website?
  3. What source brings in the most traffic (direct traffic, google searches, social media..etc)
  4. What are your conversion rates per page?
  5. What does the user flow look like?
  6. Do people leave after visiting a certain page?
  7. How many pages does the average user go to per visit?
  8. What states/cities do people who visit your site come from?
  9. And more!

There is so much information you can gather from analytics! If you don’t have this setup, you’re missing out on a lot of good, decision-making data!

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most common analytical program used for SEO. We recommend that if you are to use any program, this be the one! Depending on the kind of eCommerce platform that you have, the setup may differ, but here are the most common platforms and how to set up the program:

 

Create an analytics account

For all programs, you’ll need to have or create an account with analytics. To do so, go here. You can use a current email address, or create one by clicking “create a new Gmail address instead”

To hook up Analytics with WooCommerce

  1. Download the WooCommerce google analytics plugin. If you want more analytics, you can purchase the paid one here. 
  2. Back-Up your website
  3. Log into your WooCommerce site, go to Plugins>Add New>and upload the downloaded zip file
  4. Click “install now” and activate
  5. Click the “Connect WooCommerce to Google Analytics” link and then continue with the prompts to set up the plugin.
  6. To set up with Google analytics 4 (this will be the most common installation for new users), configure the plugin by going to
    1. WooCommerce>Settings>Integrations and you’ll see “google analytics” listed as an option. Click this to see the settings
    2. Google Analytics Tracking ID – this can be found by signing into your google analytics, and selecting  “admin” on the left-hand corner”
    3. In the property column, (second column) click Data streams
    4. Select the property that corresponds to your website
    5. from there, you’ll see your measurement ID beginning with G- This is what you want to use as your tracking ID.
    6. Enter that ID into the settings on the google analytics options on your website. Make sure you include the G-

Learn more about this plugin here: https://woocommerce.com/document/google-analytics-integration/

 

To hook up Analytics with Shopify

As of March 2022, Shopify doesn’t support google analytics 4, which is likely the platform you’ll have created if you just signed up for a google analytics account, so you will need to create an older version of google analytics, called Universal Analytics. This sounds complicated, but it is not – don’t worry!

To enable Universal Analytics in Google Analytics:

  1. Sign into Analytics
  2. Click Admin in the bottom left-hand corner
  3. Select the correct account (the website you want to track)
  4. In the property column, click “create property”
  5. Enter a name of the property
  6. Click “Show Advanced Options”
  7. Click the toggle on the right-hand side next to “create Universal Analytics Property”
  8. Select “create a Universal Analytics Property Only”
  9. Click “next”
  10. Select the appropriate settings
  11. Click “create”
  12. Copy the Tracking ID

Add this ID to Shopify:

  1. Log into Shopify
  2. Go to Online Store > Preferences
  3. In the Google Analytics section, paste the Univeral Analytics ID in that field.

Next, to track purchases on google analytics, we need to enable eCommerce tracking:

Enable Ecommerce Tracking in Analytics

  1. Log into google analytics
  2. Go to Admin
  3. Make sure you are in the same account and property from the steps you used when setting up Universal Analytics
  4. Under the View column, select “Ecommerce Settings”
  5. Enable Ecommerce by changing to toggle from Off to On
  6. You can also enable the enhanced ecommerce reporting as well.
  7. And that’s it!

 

 

To hook up Analytics with Bigcommerce

Bigcommerce requires a little more customization to work with google analytics. You will need to make sure you have Universal Analytics -so view the steps on Shopify above to create this if you only have a google analytics 4 account.

Follow the steps here to enable eCommerce tracking with BigCommerce: https://support.bigcommerce.com/s/article/Setting-Up-Google-Analytics?language=en_US

 

Google Search Console

Google search console shows you the overall picture of how your e-commerce site is doing on google searches with real data. This tool will show you how often your site shows up for certain searches, and the average rank your site is for those searches. This is incredibly important to track visibility over time and to make sure your site is showing up for the correct keywords. This also gives important diagnostic data for why a page or product isn’t showing up on google. For example, if your products stop ranking on google, there may be an issue with duplicate content or indexing. This tool will give you some good starting points on how to get those pages ranking again.

There are a few ways to get google search console set up – we will show you the simplest way assuming you don’t have too much knowledge of DNS or adding code to your website.

Set up Google Search Console on Your Ecommerce Site (using google analytics):

  1. Get google analytics set up on your site
    1. You’ll need to make sure you followed the steps in the previous section
  2. Go to Google Search Console
  3. Click “start now”
  4. Under the “Welcome to Google Search Console” choose the URL prefix option and enter your url exactly how it is when you visit your site (for example, https://www.oneclickwi.com or https://oneclickwi.com – make sure that it matches exactly)
  5. Click “continue”
  6. The account should auto verify because you are logged in with the same account that you use for google analytics

And that’s it! We will be creating more articles on how to use this amazing tool!

 

Let’s Get Started On the On-Page SEO For Your Ecommerce Site!

Now that you have your site set up for success and tracking data, let’s get started on the fun stuff – the optimization!

This part is a little more intensive, but it will become intuitive the more you do it.

On-Page SEO involves quite a few elements:

  • Keyword Research
  • Content Modification
  • Site Audit/fixes
  • Site Navigation Analysis

The core of this is finding the right keywords for your website to show up for, so we will do this first.

 

Find the Best Keywords to Focus On

What are keywords

Keywords are a string of words that people search on search engines. The search engines will read those keywords, or what we call “search queries” in the SEO world, and match them with what they believe is the best site that answers that query. Search engines such as Google will not only show websites but can show products & videos that match these queries as well. At the moment, we will focus on your eCommerce site and getting that ranking.

Focus on Keywords that can drive conversions

What we want to focus on are keywords that will not only drive traffic but will drive conversions. For example, let’s say you sell flower bouquets on your eCommerce website. We want to make sure we are driving people who are actually looking to buy flowers bouquets.

Tools to find keywords – Do this for every page you want to rank on google

There are so many tools you can use to find the right keywords. I suggest using a few of them and using a variation of keywords or competitors to find out what keywords to use. Pick your top products, and find the best keywords for them. Sometimes it’s really simple – if the product name itself is highly searched, use that, but if it’s not, or people don’t know the product well, you’ll want to do more extensive keyword research to find the best keywords for them.

Google Keyword Planner – This will require a google ads account, however, you do not need to set up or pay for ads.

Spyfu – Spyfu allows you to type in a keyword and find related keywords and their search volumes. You can also type in a competitor’s website to see who they show up for. If you want a more in-depth analysis, you can sign up for an account with them.

SEMrush – SEMrush is another great tool to not only evaluate keywords and competitors but can also track rankings and get a lot of in-depth information on your site visibility.

LSI Graph – This helps you find longer-tailed keywords (or what they call Latent semantic indexing) that relate to your keyword that google uses to further understand shorter-tailed keywords. Make sure you use these in your product and main pages to help Google understand your main keywords.

Finish with a Google search – Once you have a list of keywords you’d like to use on your site, do a simple google search of the topic you think your website should show up for. Take a look at the results. Are they your competitors? If so, you are likely using a keyword others use to find that same product. If you’re not seeing competitors, re-evaluate what keyword you think you should be using. Perhaps use the above tools by evaluating a competitor and see what keyword they use to show up.

Tools to find topics

A great product page will answer questions people have about that product. There are a few ways to discover what people would like to know about your product:

  1. What questions do you typically get on your products? Do you notice the same questions coming up every time? If so, make sure you address that question somewhere on your product page
  2.  Use a service such as https://answerthepublic.com/ to discover what questions people are asking.  You’d be surprised how many questions there are!
  3. Do a google search of your products. What do your competitor’s product pages say? Are there any points you can use?
  4. Use Reddit to see what questions people are asking about your product. While you’re at it, feel free to answer questions there and direct them to your site!
How to implement these keywords

 Choose a “focus keyword” for each page – or the main topic for each page. With Ecommerce, it’s pretty easy – each product page basically has the keyword already figured out, but for category pages and even your home page, make sure you choose an all-encompassing keyword for that page and then use more specific keywords for your product pages. Make sure you also use your LSI keywords on those pages to help google further understand the intent behind those keywords. Use these keywords throughout your content – make sure they are prominent in title tags (h1, h2..etc) but make sense when you are reading through the content.

Title Tag & Meta description – The title tag and meta description of each page is typically what shows up in the search results, although Google can change those if they think a better combination would work for the search query. Make sure you optimize your title tag and meta descriptions with the keyword you chose from that page. Make sure the title tag and meta description are engaging and encourage people to click on your link.

Keyword in url – make sure your url is an easily readable url with your focus keyword in the url. Some sites may default to a page ID or a string of numbers – that isn’t SEO friendly and may discourage people from clicking on your link when they see it in search results. If you do change the URL, make sure you redirect the old one to the new one.

Optimize Images – Google also reads through images as well and can have your images show up in Google searches as well so we don’t want to neglect them. Make sure you use keywords describing that image in the alt tags of the image.

Schema – Schema helps google further understand what a page is about, or what the elements on a page are describing. This is especially helpful with products as google can use that to pull data such as ratings and pricing into search engine results.

Woocommerce has plenty of plugins to automate this however, you can manually add the code as well if you are not using Woocommerce or you’d rather have fine control over this – just make sure you update the code if you change pricing. You can use this tool to generate schema markup: https://technicalseo.com/tools/schema-markup-generator/ simply just choose “product” as the markup you want to create and fill in all the prompts – just make sure you add some keywords into the product description.

SEO Friendly URL’s & URL Structure (Site Architecture)

There are 2 things that go into a good url structure that can help with SEO.

  1. Make your url structure easy to follow
  2. Make sure you have descriptive keywords in your urls

In terms of making your URL structure easy to follow. Typically, with e-commerce sites, you will have a category and then products underneath that category.

For example, an e-commerce website that sells clothes may have a structure like this: clothing.com/mens/tshirts. This structure tells you exactly what you should be looking at – Men’s t-shirts. Not only does this help with users searching on your site, but this can help Google make sense of your site. So not only is this URL user-friendly, it helps with your rankings!

Generate or find your sitemap

An easy way to visualize your site structure is to generate or find your sitemap. Many e-commerce sites will have sitemaps already generated, you just need to find them. Here is how to find them on your most common platforms:

Bigcommerce: Just add /xmlsitemap.php to your domain. For example, if my domain is clothing.com, my sitemap would be at clothing.com/xmlsitemap.php

Shopify: Just add /sitemap.xml to your domain. For example, if my domain is clothing.com, my sitemap would be at clothing.com/sitemap.xml

Woocommerce: You will want to install a plugin for this such as Yoast SEO. Once this is installed, go into the Yoast SEO plugin>General. From there, toggle the button from Off to On in the XML sitemaps options, and select “save changes”. From there, you can see your XML sitemap by going to your domain/sitemap.xml.

Submit sitemap to Google Search Console

Submit your sitemap to the google search console by going to “sitemaps” and then submitting that url you found to google. This will allow Google to go through your site easier.

 

 

Perform An Audit to Catch Quick Fixes & Areas Of Improvement

A site audit is a program that scans your eCommerce website for various issues that can hurt your SEO performance, or that can prevent search engines from looking (crawling) through your site to allow certain pages to rank. This is an extremely important step to help make sure all of your products are able to be found on google.

There are plenty of tools out there to perform SEO audits with. Most of them include free trials so you can do your first few audits for free. Some of our favorites are:

  • SEMrush
  • Raven Tools
  • Screaming Frog
  • SerpStat
  • Ubersuggest

Common Errors that can be Easily Fixed

Title tag and Meta Data fixes: The most common items you will see will be title tags and metadata that are either missing or is too long. Those would be the easiest to fix. Go page by page (or product by product) and make modifications as needed.

Secure your site with https: This is a MUST HAVE for eCommerce sites. If you do not have this, call your web host to see how they can set up an SSL certificate on your website. You may need some help from a website designer to implement this into your site and force the site to load in https.

No-Index on your website: If you see this error, your site may be blocked from being crawled on google. We have seen this happen when a testing site is uploaded to the live environment and the developer forgets to change the status from no-index to index. Make sure this status is updated when your site becomes live.

Broken Links: This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you have broken links, make sure you update them. This can happen if you update a url on a product or change the category url or shop url on your site.

Compress images: This can help speed up your site. There are plenty of plugins out there to do this for all platforms.

Site speed issues: This is a little more complicated, but sometimes can be fixed by uploading and compressing smaller images and eliminating scripts that you don’t use on the site (delete unused plugins)

 

 

Track Rankings

Why should you track rankings?

Rankings are an important part of SEO. This can help you determine the overall health of your site. If you see your website decreasing in rankings across the board, you likely have a whole site issue. In that case, an audit will help determine if there are any obvious whole-site issues. If you see rankings drop for a particular page, take a look at that page, compare it to your competitors, and determine what changed.

What tools should you use to track rankings?

Here are some tools we recommend you use to see where your site is currently ranking and gives you ideas on what to add to your keyword list:

Serpstat

SE Ranking

SEMrush

Google Search Console

 

Ongoing Ecommerce SEO Strategy – SEO is not One-and-Done

SEO is an ever-evolving, continuous process. Regardless if you are number 1000 or 1 on google searches, you need to keep on top of the current trends and stay on top of your competitors! That’s why we suggest you are constantly tracking your online presence and rankings on search engines. Here are some monthly tasks you can do to make sure your site is going in the right direction with rakings.

Analyze traffic

Use google analytics to analyze your traffic. Do you see an increase in traffic to a certain page? Are your organic searches going up or down? Any noticeable trends both upwards and downwards traffic-wise? Take that data and make tweaks to your site to help bolster your rankings.

Audit site

It’s a good idea to run a monthly audit on your website just to make sure no significant changes happened to your site. With WordPress especially since it is constantly updating, things can change on your site backend without affecting your front end, so it is important to run an audit to make sure it hasn’t affected any SEO factors.

Keep tracking and finding more keywords

As your site builds momentum, you may discover people finding your site for other keywords. Make sure you add those keywords to your tracking and keep building that list as you move up the rankings. Run a keyword analysis to see if you can build on your current list as well.

Keep Finding more back opportunities

Some ideas for this:

As you sell your products, keep an eye on any brand mentions to your site and ask for backlinks.

Find any websites that list companies that sell similar products like yours – see if you can get listed on those.

Ask customers who are active on social media to do a video review of your product. Make sure they link to your site

Here are some more ways to build backlinks on e-commerce sites: https://jumpseller.com/learn/importance-of-links-to-your-store/

Stay Active on Social Media

Social media is important to stay active as an e-commerce site. People are leary of companies that look like they do not have much of an online presence – it may signal that their customer support is not very responsive. Make sure you are active on as many social media profiles as you can be, and that you answer any questions/feedback as quickly as possible.

Ask for Reviews Often

One reason why sites like Amazon are so effective is that their products have hundreds or even thousands of reviews. It makes people feel more confident in the product they are buying – even if they aren’t 5-star products, they know that people have purchased and enjoyed the products. Ask your customers to leave a review on your site often to make sure that the people you worked so hard to get to your site are comfortable buying your product.

Raise Brand Awareness

One of the best ways to increase your authority online (which, in turn, increases your rankings) is to raise brand awareness. You can do this through other marketing avenues such as paid ads, having an effective youtube channel, being outspoken in your community, or writing amazing blog articles – basically anything that can get your brand name out there! Take an hour or so each month to brainstorm how to do this – you won’t regret it!

 

I hope you walk away with a few ideas on how to optimize your eCommerce site from this article. Remember – SEO is not a one-and-done solution. Each action you take builds upon each other to form an effective, converting, high-ranking site that you can be proud of!