What Is Ecommerce SEO?

woman holds a credit card while shopping online.
Imagine walking into a store where the shelves are stocked with everything you need, signs point you in the right direction and every product shines with an irresistible appeal.

That’s what ecommerce SEO does for your online store. It sets up your products to be found easily by shoppers searching online.

But ecommerce sites face unique challenges versus their B2B counterparts. So you might be wondering if and how SEO works on an ecommerce site.

The good news is that SEO is for every website — it addresses the specific needs of an ecommerce site to help increase its visibility in the search results and boost conversions.

In this article, I’ll go over the basics of SEO ecommerce, why it’s important and how to get started. By implementing the ideas in this list, you can help ensure people don’t just find you, but they stick around long enough to shop.

What Is Ecommerce SEO?

Ecommerce search engine optimization is the process of optimizing an online store to improve its visibility and organic rankings in the search engine results pages.

This is in contrast with digital ads, for example, where you pay to play in the search engine results.

With ecommerce SEO, the focus is predominantly adapting the website strategy to the transactional (sales) intent of people’s search engine queries, and to an audience that’s ready to buy.

Ecommerce SEO techniques include a mix of on-page, technical and off-page optimizations.

Keep in mind that each website and business is unique, and that SEO is a complex process that involves hundreds of interdependent variables.

Therefore, SEO best practices do exist for ecommerce sites, and we also customize strategies for each individual ecommerce site.

Why Is Ecommerce SEO Important?

If you’re in the business of ecommerce, you are likely no stranger to paying for digital ads.

But what would happen if you turned your ads off tomorrow? The answer is you’d disappear from the search results, never to be seen again.

That is, unless you invested in SEO.

SEO helps you claim more real estate on the search engine results pages (SERPs). And it helps you drive longer term traffic to your website. (See: What Is a Whole-SERP Strategy?)

Google search engine results page for the query "women's flat shoes."
Google search engine results page for the query “women’s flat shoes”

Ecommerce SEO Makes You Less Dependent on Ads

Without SEO:

  1. Online stores may become virtually invisible on SERPs.
  2. Ecommerce sites lose significant traffic to competitors.
  3. Potential sales are left on the table and growth stagnates.

Don’t get me wrong, pay-per-click ads are almost a necessity in the ecommerce world. Ecommerce brands are expected to spend about $38 billion on digital ads by the end of 2024.

But imagine if you could build up your organic search traffic as well, so you weren’t *so* reliant on digital ads.

Ecommerce SEO Is More Than Product Descriptions

Also consider the different ways you could engage with your target audience when you’re not just driving them to product pages, but other helpful resources.

Remember: SEO is designed to support every stage in the customer journey.

Just see one article in Nordstrom’s content strategy, below:

Nordstrom’s “A Guide to Different Types of Flats” listing in the Google Search results.
Nordstrom’s “A Guide to Different Types of Flats” listing in the Google Search results
Nordstrom’s “A Guide to Different Types of Flats” guide.
Nordstrom’s “A Guide to Different Types of Flats” guide

Ecommerce SEO Is About the User Experience

Once people get to your ecommerce website, you want the experience to be as smooth as possible.

There are already enough hurdles to jump through to get a person to put an item in their cart, and then actually check out with that item. (Considering that shopping cart abandonment hovers at around 70%.)

A poor user experience can cost you conversions. Consider the ski brand Rossignol, which was able to realize a 94% year-on-year lift in conversions by making its site faster.

SEO works to not only draw traffic in, but guide you in how to structure your website for a better user experience.

How Do You Do Ecommerce SEO? 12 Steps

Ecommerce sites stand to benefit from some of the same tried-and-true SEO strategies that benefit any type of site.

But there are also some special SEO tactics reserved just for ecommerce sites.

While there are countless SEO strategies to apply to ecommerce websites, here are 12 to get right:

  1. SEO siloing
  2. Core web vitals
  3. HTTPS
  4. A mobile-friendly site
  5. Long-tail keywords
  6. Helpful, quality content
  7. On-page SEO
  8. Structured data
  9. Handling duplicate content
  10. Handling out-of-stock items
  11. Google Merchant
  12. Reviews

1. SEO Siloing

If you walked into a library and none of the books were categorized, finding the right information would be a disaster. Similarly, you want your site’s content neatly organized for visitors.

An ecommerce website needs to be organized in a manner that is easy for search engines to crawl and understand, and especially easy for users to find what they are looking for.

A user-centric structure goes beyond looks—it ensures every tap leads somewhere worthwhile.

Internal links guiding shoppers like friendly store clerks and clear calls-to-action make sure they don’t have to guess what to do next.

For more, read: What Is SEO Siloing? And see Google’s help file: Help Google understand your ecommerce website structure.

2. Core Web Vitals

Core web vitals (CWV) are a set of recommendations from Google on how to create a better website experience by optimizing key functions of the website – like a health checkup for websites.

CWV measures things like loading performance, ease of interactivity and visual stability during page load time. All of these impact the shopping experience.

We’re living in the age of instant gratification, and patience isn’t exactly our strongest virtue. A sluggish website can cause visitors to bounce faster than you can say “abandoned cart.”

For more, see: Core Web Vitals for SEO: An Overview.

3. HTTPS

It’s almost unheard of these days for an ecommerce site to not have implemented HTTPS, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s a ranking signal in Google’s algorithm.

For more, read: HTTPS for Users and Ranking.

4. A Mobile-Friendly Site

It’s estimated that about 58% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. And, of course, there’s Google’s mobile-first index to contend with.
The necessity of having mobile-friendly ecommerce platforms cannot be overstated. In short, you can’t ignore this important step.

For more, read: The Mobile-Friendly Site.

5. Long-Tail Keywords

Ecommerce is highly competitive, and in many cases, businesses are competing against giants like Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc.

Targeting long-tail keywords with quality, educational content can help businesses that may not have as many resources to compete against the competition.

Focusing on lower volume search terms may seem counterintuitive, but it’s about quality over quantity. These specific phrases can attract highly relevant traffic.
To weave this strategy into your content plan, think like your customer. If someone is looking for “handcrafted vegan leather women’s boots,” that shopper has passed window-shopping mode; they’re ready for action.

For more, see: How to Beat the Giants in the Search Results in 9 Simple Steps.

6. Quality, Helpful Content

Helping your target audience consider your products and guiding them to a decision is critical in ecommerce.

A lot goes into this, taking into consideration things like E-E-A-T, quality content and helpful content.

Writing unique product descriptions is a big factor here. Each product description must tell a story, while weaving in keywords naturally.

Imagine being able to describe a pair of sneakers so vividly that readers can almost feel them on their feet; that’s the level we’re aiming for.

This isn’t just about avoiding duplicate content, but about making every word count towards convincing potential customers they need this item.

7. On-Page SEO

Optimizing category, subcategory and product pages on your site is a foundational SEO tactic for ecommerce. There is a lot you can do here, including adding helpful, optimized content.

For example, title tags and meta descriptions may seem like small fry compared to other elements on your site but think again.

These snippets are essentially your “shop window display” in the SERPs. A solid title tag could mean the difference between someone scrolling past or stopping by.

For more, see: The Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist and What Are Meta Tags? Why Are They Important? How Do You Do Them?

8. Structured Data

Structured data helps clarify to search engines what the page is about. This helps with relevance when they are determining a match to a query.

Plus, structured data creates rich results in the SERPs, which can attract more attention to your listing versus the competition.

For more, check out What Is Structured Data and Why Is It Important for SEO? And Google’s help file: Include structured data relevant to ecommerce.

9. Handling Duplicate Content

Ecommerce sites are notorious for duplicate content issues.

Whether it’s using generic product descriptions form the manufacturer, getting filter parameters added to URLs, faceted navigation, multiple categories and product pages, or something else, handling duplicate content should be a routine SEO task.

For more, read Is Duplicate Content Bad for Search Engine Rankings?

10. Handling Out-of-Stock Items

One important function of ecommerce SEO is handling out-of-date and out-of-stock products.

For items temporarily out of stock, keep the pages live but update them with information about restocking dates or alternative product recommendations; this way, you can retain page rankings and engage potential customers.

Permanently discontinued products require a different approach. Rather than leaving these pages to result in 404 errors — which can be detrimental for the user experience — put into place 301 redirects towards related products or categories that offer value to potential customers.

This enhances the shopping journey while safeguarding your site’s SEO performance.

Of course, sometimes 404s happen, so having a creative strategy for your 404 pages is also another way to enhance the shopping experience.

For more, see: How to Design a 404 Error Page That Saves a Sale.

11. Google Merchant Center

It’s not required, but uploading product data to Google Merchant Center may help with organic listings including rich results and Google Images.

See the Google help file: Share your product data with Google.

12. Product Reviews

Product reviews written by people with actual experience or knowledge of the product can help ecommerce websites drive more traffic and conversions.

Reviews show real experiences from real people, which can help convince others to buy.

For more, check out Google’s help file: Write high-quality reviews and be sure you understand Google’s product reviews system for ranking.

And also see our article: Is Sentiment an SEO Trust Signal?

Ecommerce sites face unique challenges, but implementing these SEO strategies will help product-focused businesses get more visibility in the search results, and more conversions on your site.

Need more traffic, visibility and conversions from your ecommerce site? Our SEO experts can help you implement strategies that will earn better results. Schedule a free consultation today.

FAQ: How can I effectively boost my online store’s visibility and conversions with ecommerce SEO?

Having a strong online presence is critical for the success of any ecommerce store. Utilizing ecommerce SEO techniques can significantly increase your store’s visibility and conversions, ultimately leading to greater sales and growth.

Here, we will explore key topics that will guide you on how to effectively boost your online store’s visibility and conversions with ecommerce SEO.

Understand your target audience: Analyzing your target audience is essential in tailoring your ecommerce SEO strategy. Identify their demographics, interests and search behavior to optimize your website accordingly.

Conduct comprehensive keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify relevant keywords, including long-tail keywords, to target in your website’s content. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your product descriptions, blog posts and meta tags.

Optimize your website’s structure: A well-structured website improves user experience and helps search engines understand your content better. Silo your webpages into a clear hierarchy that is easy to navigate for both users and search engines.

Create high-quality content: Develop unique and engaging content that educates, informs and resonates with your target audience. This can include blog articles, product descriptions, reviews, tutorials and more. Incorporate your target keywords strategically while maintaining a conversational tone.

Optimize on-page elements: Pay attention to important on-page elements such as title tags, meta descriptions and header tags. Develop compelling, keyword-rich titles and meta descriptions that entice users to click through to your website from search engine results pages (SERPs).

Build high-quality backlinks: Earn backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites to boost your store’s credibility. Focus on natural link building strategies such as guest blogging, influencer outreach and creating exceptional content that others want to share.

Enhance website loading speed: A slow website can deter users and negatively impact SEO. Optimize your website’s loading speed by compressing images, minifying CSS and JavaScript files and utilizing caching techniques. Ensure your site passes all the core web vitals thresholds to improve user experience.

Monitor and analyze performance: Regularly track your website’s SEO performance using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Analyze key metrics such as organic traffic, bounce rate and conversion rate to identify areas for improvement.

Integrate these ecommerce SEO best practices and see how they can increase visibility and conversions for your online store.

Step-by-Step Procedure:

  1. Understand your target audience and their search behavior.
  2. Conduct comprehensive keyword research using tools like SEOToolSet, SEMrush or Moz.
  3. Optimize your website’s structure and navigation to improve user experience.
  4. Create high-quality and unique content that incorporates target keywords.
  5. Optimize on-page elements, including title tags, meta descriptions and header tags.
  6. Earn high-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites.
  7. Focus on improving website loading speed (and other core web vitals metrics) through various optimization techniques.
  8. Monitor and analyze SEO performance using Google Analytics and Search Console.
  9. Collaborate with influencers or bloggers to promote your products and create brand awareness.
  10. Monitor your competitors’ SEO strategies to identify opportunities and stay competitive.
  11. Engage with your audience on social media, responding to their queries and providing valuable insights.
  12. Continuously refine and optimize your ecommerce SEO strategy based on data-driven insights.
  13. Regularly perform a website audit to identify and fix any technical SEO issues.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

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

Comments (1)
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One Reply to “What Is Ecommerce SEO?”

Fantastic blog! Engaging content and insightful perspectives make it a must-read. Keep up the great work!

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