SEO for Ecommerce: What You Need to Know from #SMX East

SEOs working on ecommerce sites face particular challenges and require specialized know-how. At SMX East, speaker Adam Audette (@audette), the SVP of organic search at Merkle, reached out to these SEO-savvy ecommerce-minded marketers in this short but fact-packed session on SEO for ecommerce sites.

SEO Touches Everything

As SEO marketers today, we need to be familiar with everything. However, there are two major pillars of SEO: the technical side and the audience side. Here are some of the main issues.

Adam Audette speaking at SMX East
Adam Audette at SMX East

Technical Considerations

  • Crawl space
  • Duplication
  • Dynamic content
  • Site migrations
  • Mobile serving
  • International sites

Audience Considerations

  • Search behavior
  • Work flow
  • Content topics
  • Keyword research
  • Engagement
  • Conversion paths

Content Considerations

In ecommerce environments, “native” content is limited to category pages, product pages, buyers’ guides, reviews and blog content. At the end of the day, though, the inventory is the content. The more you leverage that, the better. Levi’s is a best-in-class ecommerce site. Consider their faceted navigation — it’s very useful, and allows you to immediately drill down and even conduct Boolean searches within the navigation.

Amazon is great when it comes to review data — it’s very valuable and they surface it in useful ways. There are callouts, aggregated reviews, star ratings. It’s easy and designed to provide information quickly.

Content strategy begins on the SERP — what comes up when people search? There’s a race toward structured data for a reason. What happens when video thumbnails appear for a product? The click-through rate (CTR) for results with a video thumbnail was 2%. CTR without a video thumbnail was 17%. When looking for a product, people didn’t want videos. Think about what the user wants.

Out of Stock Products
You have three options for handling product pages for items that are out of stock:

  • 301
  • 404
  • Continue serving the page with messaging and good recommendations (winner!)

Technical SEO for Ecommerce Websites

“A technical SEO is the plumber of the internet.”

As unsexy as technical SEO may be, it’s very dependable. There’s often low-hanging fruit that is low-cost, as compared to a television commercial, for example. Technical SEO moves the needle on an e-commerce site and can be easily justified as an expense.

When you get all your signals lined up (navigational and internal links, external back links, canonical tags, XML files all pointing to the same definitive URLs), it’s incredibly powerful.


Ecommerce sites commonly have duplicate content issues at the product level. Use forensics to delve into the issue (just a few tools, keep it simple). Normally, what’s indexed is what matters (if it’s a dupe but isn’t crawled, deprioritize). Always crawl the site yourself. Keep it actionable! Don’t get caught in a maze.

Audette’s favorite site searches to find dupe content:

  • and variations
    • Exclude subdomains with:
    • Find duplicate domains with – intitle:exact title tag
  • Inurl:prodID=121212
    • Use with
    • Experiment with using categories or folders, too, like: inurl:/category/
    • Knock off successive folders
    • Use with intitle, such as: site:mydomaincom inurl:prodID=121212 title:”we’ve got all the stuff here : brand”

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (5)
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5 Replies to “SEO for Ecommerce: What You Need to Know from #SMX East”

Hi Kristi,

thank you for the great overview of this session! Enjoyed this post so much.
But I’d say that every page single page needs “schema”. Let’s make it clear, “schema” definition here you probably limit to rich snippets only, don’t you? If so, this limitation wouldn’t be accurate, but in other hand, you would be probably right – blog posts really don’t have many rich snippets options at this point. I believe that structured data opens wide opportunities in blog posts as well as in any other landing page, if used/applied correctly. And as you may know, these oppurtunities are tend to grow as structured data will become a ranking factor (Google confirmed that it will at some point).

Hi Justin! Thanks for reading — glad you enjoyed the article. Actually, I wouldn’t say it’s a hard and fast rule that all pages should have schema markup on them. It really depends on the page and what you’re trying to mark up. If there’s a reason to use schema, however, then you are right — use it! It can add a lot of value when it makes sense :)


hi Kristi

thanks for the quick reply

canonical – hm, thats new for me that google starts to ‘dislike’ it. Maybe its the topic of an other post, but can you give me a hint where to start to look for the solution? Any idea how can i handle this?
schema – got it, thanks :)


hey Kristi
thanks for the post. Few questions :)

1, am i right when i say that using canonical can solve some of the duplication problems? (eg. – the same t-shirt in 10 different colors/sizes all use “rel” back to the “original” t-shirt)

2, schema – i dont know how many hours spent reading blog posts but still not sure – i work with ecommerce sites, and usually they write blog. How and WHAT markups should I use?
a simple example – ecommerce site, selling lets say hairdryer, and write a post about how to dry your hair…how the hell can i change the html to use some markup? :D

ps – i saw your interview with Rand – you were cute :P

Hi AlbinoCombino!

1) Yes. Canonicals can be used to help solve duplication across products with different attributes. We have noticed that Google is honoring the canonical less and less, however – so it might not be the best solution.

2) Not every page requires schema. For blog articles on an ecommerce store, I would just stick to writing unique, useful content. Use schema on your category and product pages.

P.S. Thanks, lol.


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