Head of Marketing & Growth
If you have an e-commerce website, you want to make sales. To do this, you need to rank higher on Google.
I have been doing SEO for many years and have worked on all types of websites, so I can assure you that there are differences when it comes to positioning e-commerce compared to any other kind of website.
In recent years and due to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19, many brick and mortar establishments have made the jump to the online space so the number of e-commerce businesses has gone up.
This can affect you in two ways:
For all of these reasons I have written this guide in which I analyze every aspect that you need to consider when you are working on e-commerce SEO.
Table of Contents
I’m sure that the first thing you are thinking is how can SEO for e-commerce be that different from SEO for any other website because, in the end, an online shop is still just another webpage.
Well, the main difference is the objective of an e-commerce business, which is to make sales, which makes certain configurations and aspects more relevant than others when it comes to getting more traffic and attracting the right users.
With SEO for e-commerce you don’t have to just attract traffic: you need to attract customers, that is, users who buy.
For that reason, your priority is going to be to determine the intention of a search and make it easier for the customer to access the product that they are searching for.
This is relevant when thinking about how to do SEO for e-commerce, since the approach is different.
For every SEO strategy, it’s ideal to tackle both of its components:
So let’s see now how to implement these strategies. 😉
Both SEO and SEM have the same objective, but with SEO it is achieved organically and with SEM through paid advertising.
On this basis, it is difficult to tell which is more important although businesses are opting to promote SEO, that is, organic positioning.
When SEO works well, you can get incredible results without having to invest in advertising although most of the time they won’t be as quick as with SEM.
My advice is to work thoroughly on SEO and, at specific times and if you consider it necessary, to run SEM campaigns to achieve specific sales peaks.
I also recommend you to have an SEM specialist who knows how to create profitable campaigns, that is, one that gets maximum benefits with minimal investment.
Before getting to work, it is best to analyze your own business in order to know where you are going.
One of the first things that you need to do is decide which products in your e-commerce store are going to have preference.
You won’t be able to promote every product equally so the best thing to do is make a selection of the most interesting ones to focus your strategy on them.
This doesn’t mean that the rest of the products won’t sell, of course, don’t worry about that.
Once you have decided, you can start with the On-page SEO for e-commerce action items.
Keyword research will help you know how your potential customers search for products. Knowing this, you can adjust your online store so that they can find it.
The first thing you need to do is analyze the SERPs, meaning the results of a Google search. This will help you learn the user’s search intent, what they really want to find when they type a query into Google’s search box.
Then, you have to carry out your keyword research in an SEO tool that has the option to find the related keywords that will help you rank.
A tip: try to find long tail keywords, meaning those that are more than two words long, as they are the easiest to rank and will help you climb positions from the start.
If you search for “small washing machines” the major brands of household appliances will appear in the first positions. In this case you will need to use much more specific keywords such as “small washing machines 10 lbs.”
Once you have a list of keywords you will also have a list of content that you need to generate in your e-commerce store to start attracting traffic.
One last tip: try to avoid keyword cannibalization, that is, that two pages of content or URLs are trying to rank with the same keyword because this will make them compete with each other and, therefore, they will not climb positions in the SERPs.
This happens very frequently in e-commerce stores since there are usually several product pages with the same product but in a different color, size, dimensions, etc. The solution in this case is to mark the main URL as canonical and indicate that the rest are dependents.
Now that you have a list of content that you are going to create in your e-commerce, you can start to design the website architecture, that is, how the content is going to relate to each other.
This step needs special attention because the structure of your website has to make sense to the user, meaning it must help them navigate easily through your web store. This will enhance an optimal user experience.
But a good website architecture doesn’t only help the user but also Google, which will better understand how your online store is structured and, therefore will be able to index it in the best possible way to show it in the SERPs to your potential customers.
Ideally, the home page of your e-commerce website should show the categorizes that you have divided your products into, or at least the most important ones, so that they gain more authority by just being one click away from the home page.
From each category, related products would branch out, forming a tree-shaped architecture that the user can easily navigate through.
For example, if you sell shoes in your e-commerce website, one branch of the tree might look like this: Home – Athletic shoes – Running shoes
It doesn’t matter how many categories, subcategories, or products there are in your online store though you need to remember that the more clicks from the home page to another URL, the less link juice or authority will reach it.
Usually not much importance is given to the categories of a webpage but they are very important to e-commerce because they are the backbone of most of the website architecture, as I just explained.
For this reason, once you have created the categories, you should create a page for each one in which you include content with related keywords so that they also rank.
This content should explain to the user what kind of products they will find there and, of course, include links to them forming a small cluster. There are many themes which allow you to create a category page in just a few minutes.
Lastly, customize the title and the meta description for each category to get more users to click on the URL when it appears in the Google search results.
Everything I have just explained also applies to subcategories but remember that the further they are from the home page, the more difficult it will be for a search engine to crawl them and thus to index them.
When you create product pages, it is tempting to copy and paste the description and features that the manufacturer provides but here we are talking about SEO for product pages and sales, so you can’t just stick to the easy stuff.
You must write specific content for each product using keywords to rank while also using copywriting techniques to persuade the user to buy, which is in the end is the goal of an online store.
It is very important that you apply schema markup to your product pages so that Google can identify them as products for sale, beyond a normal URL. You can do this through a WordPress plugin or in the Structured Data Markup Helper in the Google Search Console.
You can link related product pages to incentivize the client to buy. For example, on the page for a baby bottle you can link to a bottle brush or replacement nipple.
Be very careful when removing a product from your page! If you just delete it you will be creating a 404 error that will affect your position so I recommend one of these options:
Once you have completed all of the steps above, it’s time to think about external linking. Do nut rush to get to this step because if you start link building before your online store is finished, you are going to have the opposite effect: that the users that come will never return.
Also, try not to get too many external links at the same time, as it is not natural and Google could have its eye on your e-commerce store because of it, something that is not in your interest.
It is better that you get a few links but that they come from high-quality websites, that is, websites whose theme is related to yours and are not saturated with outgoing links, as this would be detrimental to your SEO. If they are also reference websites and have authority on the sector, even better.
To get backlinks you can use the usual link-buying platforms but you can also participate in a blog or website as a guest author, exchange links with another website in your sector, etc.
First order of business here is being in control at home.
So let’s learn how to apply on-page SEO, starting with the basic concepts and building up our strategy step by step.
Let’s get to it.
We first need to clarify what a keyword is because that will be the basis of our strategy.
Keywords are terms typed by users on Google (or any other search engine) to access information.
For example, “tennis racquet”, “how to choose tennis racquet” or “Chicago weather today” are keywords.
Of course, positioning any keyword only to attract traffic is just not enough. If, for example, you own a hat shop, you wouldn’t be interested in having visitors looking for a tennis racquet, would you?
You’d like visitors looking for a hat, right?
In other words, you’d prefer having qualified traffic (visitors with higher chances of becoming customers in the future).
So, how do you do this?
The first thing is to determine the keywords you’d like to show up on Google for.
We recommend you brainstorm what your ideal customer might be looking for on Google. You can brainstorm names of your products but also:
Once your list is ready, it will be your job to verify whether users actually search such terms on Google.
Consider that if nobody searches “skincare advice”, then maybe you’re not as interested in positioning that keyword because it won’t attract any visitors.
There are many tools to obtain keyword search volume.
We have selected a few of them and have divided them into paid and free ones. We recommend the latter because they provide more precise results.
Recommended free tools are:
On the other hand, amongst paid tools, we have selected:
In addition, you can also use apps such as Google Trends, which allows you to discover search trends for a given keyword in time.
So, if you see there’s a growing interest in natural cosmetics, you can create content related to that topic so you can attract more traffic from Google.
Once you’ve obtained your list of keywords and their searches, it’s best to divide them in two kinds according to their search intent (what the user hopes to find when making a search) as follows:
In order to know a user’s search intent, you only need to type the specific word on Google and check the results you get.
If you get blogs or YouTube content, then it means that users who search that word are looking for information. Instead, if you get product cards or category pages, then it’s transactional.
Once you know every word’s search intent, you’ll be able to target them in the corresponding websites.
On we go. 😉
Now it’s the time to build your SEO strategy from the vey core of your shop.
Are you ready to set the foundations?
Open your eyes because this is one of the keys for Google to position your shop.
The first step to make Google love you is making sure it understands you. Just like with any given couple, there is no love without understanding. 😉
In order to do this, you need to organize all your website information in a clear way. The structure that we recommend is called a “silo structure”.
A clear example is a clothes shop.
Have a look at the picture; from the Home page, you could find categories in the next level like “pants”, “shirts”, or “shoes”.
The URL for the pants category would be:
Within each of the categories there are products hanging from it, or perhaps subcategories.
Imagine that the mentioned shop had a subcategory for pants:
The final URL, with the category, subcategory, and the product, would be something like:
If, for example, the final product were a pair of Levi’s 404 jeans, the URL would be:
What we achieve with this is that the information is organized and makes it much easier for Google’s robot scrape.
Keep this idea in mind:
The SEO essence of a good architecture for an eCommerce is that each URL hits only one keyword.
Let’s explain this a bit.
The pants categories, if it includes text, should include content that’s semantically related to pants. It should also be linked below it (remember the picture) to the “jeans” subcategory.
Each subcategory, if you choose to use them, will also have content about the concept—jeans in this case.
Under those subcategories we will have the products that we really want to position and we will also have to write a unique product card with related words.
What these URL levels are telling searchers is that each level up is more important in the eCommerce information hierarchy.
If you think about it, as we go down the different silos, the keywords become less and less difficult to rank.
Related post: How to write your eCommerce categories.
If your eCommerce structure is not well defined and Google doesn’t know which keywords correspond to each URL it has to position, you run the risk of keyword cannibalization.
This means that several URLs are positioned for the same search, diminishing the strength of each of them.
The most frequent strategy is trying to position the categories since their content is always the same. The products, on the other hand, are always changing; they can either be sold out or no longer in fashion.
In order to do so, it is also common not to index the product cards, focusing all your strength on the categories’ ranking instead.
An exception would be the case of those products with very precise searches. If a large amount of people search for “Levi’s 404 jeans”, then we should index the URL and try to position it.
Do you follow?
Now let’s talk about some of the other most common doubts.
The answer is easy, though the explanation is not. But once you understand the concept of cannibalization, it becomes easier.
Well, for SEO dummies, let’s review the difference between categories and tags.
In our imaginary shop we previously defined some categories like shoes, shirts, and trousers. Tags would be the different characteristics that the several products may share, such as the color.
The tag “red” groups all the red products together and creates a URL such as yourdomain.com/red.
What normally happens is that this page only shows the products and their descriptions. This may have too negative consequences:
If you don’t know how to use them properly, the best tip for your SEO is not to use or index them.
Categories, as we have already said, are the ones we have to focus all of our eCommerce SEO effort on.
One of the things Google values the most when it comes to positioning is a website that offers good user experience. To measure it, Google uses metrics such as:
If user experience is good, these metrics should be positive (therefore strengthening SEO). But, how do we achieve this?
Let’s see it.
Your website must be fast because most of your customers won’t wait more than 3 seconds for it to load.
And this will make your eCommerce’s bounce rate be higher (users will enter but will immediately go back to Google’s result page, making zero clicks on your web). So that’s “one point taken away” by Google.
Also, Google penalizes by default any web that takes more than 4 or 5 seconds to load.
Of course, there’s a way around it:
In order to learn more about load speed and how to improve it, we recommend you have a look at this post.
Let’s see the second factor that influences user experience.
Usability means how easy it is for a person to “use” your web. The better usability, the more chances of keeping a customer browsing your shop.
These are some of the factors that affect web usability:
Here’s some info about web usability for you to know how to improve it to its full potential.
A good internal search engine is also important.
Keep in mind that between 15% and 30% of users go straight to the search bar to find a product instead of browsing shop categories.
If the search is unsuccessful, purchase experience is immediately affected and you can even end up losing a potential customer. In order to avoid it, your internal search engine should offer:
In addition, all of this makes the user spend more time on your website, therefore increasing the time spent on site (one point for SEO).
Watch out, though. Not every search engine offers this.
You need an advanced search engine or, as we call it, a smart one. One like Doofinder.
Thanks to all these features, customers who use Doofinder have increased their sales between 10% and 20%.
Would you like to see for yourself?
>>Then click here, download Doofinder and try it out for free for 30 days.
In many online shops it is quite common to remove discontinued or old products on a regular basis.
But, what happens if you only remove the product and its page?
You create a 404 error and upset Google because it looks for a page that no longer exists. In fact, you may even have positioned this page well and be receiving traffic to a broken page.
To solve this problem, create 301 redirects to other products or categories.
For example, if somebody is looking for a model of trekking boots in your store and you have already removed it, redirect that link to the newest model.
You will maintain the positioning of that page, you will avoid upsetting Google and you won’t make the user waste any time clicking on a broken link in their search results.
Another important factor is optimizing product cards and category pages, making them “Google-proof”.
Write this down:
One more thing. You should keep duplicate content in mind. Let’s explore this in a new section.
By duplicate content we mean 2 or more sites having identical or very similar content.
As you might guess, this is something Google penalizes. But easy… just like everything else, this can be avoided if you take the following advice.
So how are you liking these tips?
Well, if you feel like you want to learn more, have a look at this post in which we tell you how to detect and correct duplicate content.
We have already mentioned plenty of reasons why your shop should have a blog, but today we are only going to focus on the SEO.
It will require patience and effort, but the reward will come.
The prize is called organic traffic and it is made up of people that searched something related to your sector and ended up at your eCommerce shop.
Getting organic traffic allows you to save money on ads and other paid forms of getting traffic (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, etc.). You will also save money on ad campaigns since you will be able to follow a remarketing strategy with those visitors whose first contact came as a result of SEO.
The silo structure that we mentioned can also be applied to content. If your blog talks about different topics, group them into categories and use them to classify your blog.
As always, remember that each URL, that is to say, each post, should only hit one keyword.
Feeding your blog with articles is just not enough.
If you want them to position higher, you must thoroughly know the art of SEO writing.
Here’s some advice:
But this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you want a broader picture of content marketing and SEO writing implications, we recommend you read these posts:
Videos have their own benefits too and you can use them both in product cards and blog posts.
These are some of the benefits videos can contribute to your eCommerce:
And if you’d like to learn more, take a look at these posts addressing the issue:
We have talked a lot about on-page SEO, but we mentioned since the beginning we would be addressing both components of SEO.
So now it’s our turn to brush up on off-page SEO.
In other words, actions taken to improve web positioning outside your website and whose goal is obtaining backlinks.
So how do we get these backlinks?
You’re about to learn how. 😉
These are the two techniques we will use to have other websites link to yours.
If you’d like to learn more, you can keep on reading our backlinks guide.
Note: link building is tricky and if Google spots anything suspicious, you are at high risk of being penalized. It’s best not to get one’s fingers burnt and leave this task to a SEO professional.
Following these 5 basic steps you will be able to see how your online shop improves its ranking on Google.
Despite the huge amount of competition, few know how to position their online store well and now you are amongst the few.
Let’s get to it! 😉
E-commerce websites are created with specialized CMS which is another reason why SEO is different with respect to other types of web pages.
There is no worse or best option: the choice will depend on the type of e-commerce business that you have and what CMS you like more or less depending on its features.
When working on SEO you will have to take into account the CMS on which your e-commerce website is installed because some of them have special features that you must take into account.
Here are some of the best CMS for SEO for e-commerce.
Without a doubt, WooCommerce is the most famous CMS for creating an online store and if you are going to work with client websites, you will see it most often.
One feature with respect to SEO that WooCommerce has is that it creates URLs that are not very intuitive by default so one of the first things you will have to do is change this option in the settings.
Also, if you want to create custom category pages, you must use a WordPress template that is compatible with WooCommerce in this regard or else you won’t be able to do it.
Prestashop is another favorite of e-commerce business although you have to pay attention to the theme that you use because not all of them are compatible with all of the features of this CMS.
Just as with WooCommerce, one of the first things I recommend you do is take a look at the configuration options for the URL so you can simplify and make them more friendly to ranking.
Although there is something that you will not be able to avoid and that is that Prestashop creates IDs with numbers for products that cannot be deleted. It is best to place them at the end of the URL using the URL settings that I mentioned before to affect as little as possible.
Shopify is the CMS that is chosen by those who have little experience working with online stores, and particularly, for e-commerce shops that are simple and not too big. It is easy to manage although it might not be the most appropriate for SEO.
The problem with Shopify is that it tends to create duplicate content as it replicates product URLs (which is also very SEO unfriendly).
This duplicated content, if you don’t keep it under control, can make you lose positions on Google. So if you use Shopify, you can’t afford to be careless in this regard.
Another drawback is that is only allows you to create a very limited sitemap and what is not included may not be indexed by Google and therefore would not appear in search results.
On the contrary to what I said about Shopify, Magento is an e-commerce CMS geared towards people who already have a level of technical knowledge. If this is you, you’re in luck, because Magento has great SEO optimization for e-commerce.
You have a lot of options looking at positioning: custom URLs, canonical tags, optimization of CSS and Java archives, sitemap settings…
Magento also has a function that supports internal linking between products, which will save you a lot of time when you are creating your online store.
BigCommerce is not as well known but it is nevertheless very well equipped when it comes to configuring SEO for e-commerce.
Among these SEO-focused features (title customization, meta descriptions, alt tags…) there is a very interesting one–schema markup, which allows for creation of rich snippets in Google search results.
In addition, there is also a CDN system that accelerates the speed of loading pages, which is an amazing improvement to the user experience, one of the main positioning factors of Google.
Finally, I want to give you some parting tips that will help you with your SEO strategy for e-commerce.
Make checklist with all of these SEO techniques for e-commerce to make improvements little by little. In other words, you don’t have to get overwhelmed but go step by step to check how the positioning of your e-commerce evolves.
The first tip that I must give you is that you have to have your e-commerce website optimized for mobile devices because today nearly 70% of people are making their online purchases with their phone.
If your online store does not work well on mobile you will be losing a lot of customers. Think about how you act when you get to a page that does not work correctly and you can’t navigate comfortably.
The easiest way to is use a responsive theme because it will already be set up to be viewed perfectly on a desktop, mobile, or tablet.
Although I already mentioned this above, you must create simple URLs that will help Google understand what is in them and that will be easy for the user to memorize.
This URLhttps://tiendaonline.com/zapatillas-32-hombre/jfusdsd-isjd98.html is not the same as this URL https://tiendaonline.com/zapatillas-hombre/running. Remember that a URL full of numbers and letters can create mistrust.
Pay attention to the web design. Appearance matters and in the case of an e-commerce website, you have to make sure that it has a clean, neat and pleasant appearance that does not produce rejection in the user.
This part also has a lot to do with SEO because, as I mentioned above, a good user experience is a major positioning factor for Google.
Another recommendation that I have to give you is that you create a blog for your online store. It is not mandatory and nothing will happen if you do not include it, but the blog will allow you to show users that you have know-how within your industry, which generates authority.
Additionally, blog articles are perfect for bringing traffic through keywords and then referring the user to the products in your store that are related to the content.
Write content that is light and easy to read, with an attractive layout, quality images, comparative tables and any resource at your disposal to catch the user and guide them to the product.
If you sell baking tools, write a post with an original recipe for an anniversary cake and include links for the items that the reader would need to make it, for example.
Finally, do not neglect technical SEO for e-commerce because if these processes fail, none of the above will do much good.
Now that you have reached the end, you just need to monitor the results of your e-commerce website to check if everything is going well or if you need to make any further adjustments.
Do not hesitate to take the necessary actions to improve the positioning of your online store and outperform your competitors in the SERPs.