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Advanced eCommerce SEO Checklist – Ultimate Guide

by GK August 22, 2017

44% of the eCommerce customers conduct thorough research before making a purchase, and their exploration typically starts with a simple Google Search. It’s no surprise that 37.5% of the traffic on eCommerce websites arrives straight from the search engines such as Google, Bing, and others. Interestingly, the traffic from search engines accounts for 23.6% of the eCommerce sales.

Although it’s an established fact that SEO helps eCommerce websites to thrive, most online store owners seem to have very little to no interest in SEO for eCommerce sites. They find lingering on paid Ads from search engines, social media, and other sources more appealing.

I have no doubts about the efficacy of premium Ads, but the importance of search engines in eCommerce is also significant. You can’t just bank on paid Ads for an extended period. To get a sale via paid Ads, you are required to pay a significant fraction of the sales value to the advertisers, which reduces your profit margin in each of the sales.

So how do you get users to find your store? How to make them know about ‘yourstore.com’, which is selling the products they are looking for? In short, how to get traffic to your eCommerce site without diminishing the profit margin?

The answer is eCommerce search engine optimization, aka eCommerce SEO. You see, an eCommerce website gets traffic from mainly three types of channels:

  • Inorganic
  • Direct
  • Organic

Direct traffic means the visitors know about your store, as they landed on your store directly after typing your domain address. It might also be possible that the source of referral is not known.

Inorganic traffic accounts for the visitors who were referred to your website by your paid Ads on various channels, that is, acquiring traffic by spending some money.

However, inorganic sources can’t help you for long without diminishing your bottom line. A paid Ad is extremely focused, and it only promotes a targeted product. You can’t run paid Ads for every other product in your store without going bankrupt. They are great for a certain period, but you can’t spend all your revenue in paid promotions.

That’s where organic traffic comes into play. Using the best eCommerce SEO practices, you turn the search engines to your site and persuade them to send relevant traffic to your website organically without running any paid Ad.

Here, we will discuss SEO strategy for eCommerce websites and find out eCommerce SEO tips that you can apply as your eCommerce SEO checklist to generate free organic traffic, improve your search rankings, and boost your sales without spending on Ads.

An SEO plan for the eCommerce website is the ultimate way to ensure that your business remains in business for a long time, and your website shows as a prominent listing in the SERPs for relevant search queries from potential customers. So, let’s begin with our eCommerce search engine optimization without any delay.

Key Tactics to Include in Your E-Commerce SEO Strategy

This eCommerce SEO checklist will assist you in preparing a roadmap for trailing the best eCommerce SEO practices and give an understanding of the steps you need to take to make your online store search engine friendly. Let’s begin with the first item in our checklist now.

1. E-Commerce Keyword Research

Whether you are preparing an SEO plan for an eCommerce website or a blogging site, Keywords remain as crucial elements in all kinds of websites. Unfortunately, even mature webmasters can make 90% of the SEO mistakes in keyword research itself and end up targeting the wrong keywords, which might get a good volume of traffic, but no sales. In a parallel universe, you might even end up targeting the right keywords, but only to find in the later stages that they are too competitive to rank for.

Neither of the circumstances would do any good to your eCommerce SEO. So, how to do keyword research for eCommerce? If you want to avoid either of the situations, the thumb rule is selecting the keywords that are easy to rank for, have significant search volume, and align perfectly with your primary business objectives.

Besides, you need to combine “Search Intent/Commercial viability/ Purchase intent” of a searcher in your keyword research. For example,

If a user makes a Google search with the keyword “new iPhone”, you can never be sure enough if the particular user wants to purchase the latest iPhone. It might be possible that he/she just is looking for information about the latest iPhone model, looking for repair services, or merely searching for online reviews of the product.

Had the user employed the keywords such as “buy new iPhone” or “New iPhone Price”, it would have been clear that the search intent is about purchasing a new iPhone.

How to find the right keywords?

Focus on defining at least the following three types of keywords as per your niche, target customer base, and business objectives:

Primary Keywords: Find small-tail keywords that define your niche and let you maintain a unique brand identity. Use these keywords in prominent locations such as domain name, the home page, social media handles, etc. For example, if your niche is electronics, you can experiment with the keywords that resonate with the electronics niche.

Secondary keywords: Find as many small-tail keywords linked directly with your primary products. You would be using these in the categories of your eCommerce store. For example, the electronics niche can have categories such as mobile phones, television, Wi-Fi devices, laptops, desktops, gaming consoles, etc.

Tertiary, long-tail keywords: Find as many long-tail keywords for each secondary keyword you have just found. These long-tail keywords can go in your product page titles, Meta descriptions, and other web page content.

Targeting long-tail keywords should be your ultimate focus in SEO for eCommerce sites, as they can include all four factors discussed above in your keywords. For example, it’s tough to rank for small tail keywords like “new iPhone price”, but if you refine the same with added location or time filters, it would be easier to rank. Something such as “new iPhone price 2020”, “new iPhone in Florida” etc.

You should target such long-tail keywords for your eCommerce search engine optimization. They have a fair search volume and it’s easier to rank for them, in contrast to maiden or short-tail keywords. You can target maiden keywords in your paid Ads.

Note:

Don’t just select the trending or less competitive keywords. The best eCommerce SEO tactics consider the viability, purchase intent, and relevance with primary and secondary business objectives. You need keywords that bring quality traffic, not some hopeless load on the webserver.

Where to find your keywords?

The following three ways can help you to find primary, secondary, and tertiary keywords for your niche:

Check for keywords on online marketplaces

Online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Alibaba, and BestBuy, etc. are the easiest destinations for customers to find online products. Customers use online marketplaces to not just purchase online products but compare prices and conduct product research.

There is no doubt that websites like Amazon have done some great job with their SEO eCommerce optimization for attracting online customers or product researchers. You can discover some great keywords on multiple touchpoints of these marketplace websites:

Keywords in search autosuggestions

Amazon’s search box with its awesome search autosuggestion is a go-to for long-tail keywords. Just type a keyword in the search box and it will suggest you as many long-tail combinations. For example, search for ‘N95 Mask’ and see the magic:

• Keywords in search autosuggestions

You get dozens of long-tail keywords trending on one of the biggest go-to platforms for online shopping.

Keywords in categories of the marketplaces

Categories on marketplaces can suggest some direct recommendations for creating the same on your website, too. You can check these categories and use the ones relevant to your niche.

Furthermore, categories on marketplaces might seem too broad for your niche. In such a case, each of these categories also expands into subcategories and sub-subcategories.

 

You can repeat the same process for all your products that are common with the marketplace website. You will have hundreds of refined keywords to use on your website in various positions such as product page URLs, Product pages, Category names, Category pages, Meta descriptions, etc.

Steal keywords from immediate competitors

As fishy as it may sounds, stalking your immediate competitors is actually a perfectly fine strategy. Just type one of your primary keywords on Google’s search box. For example, “N95 Mask”:

 

If you noticed, we haven’t even started with our competition research yet and have uncovered some more keywords in the search autosuggestions itself. Make a note of these keywords.

Now, hit enter and check the populated search results. You can do two things here:

  • Scroll down to the bottom and see the keywords in the “Searches related to n95 mask” section. You will find some more keywords there.
 
  • Scroll up, choose a link from the search results, visit the website, and parse its prominent pages, categories, product pages, for potential keywords. Same as we did for online marketplaces. Repeat the same for other immediate competitors you find on the SERP.

Note:

Don’t copy the keywords blindly. It’s not always necessarily what works for them would work for you, too. N numbers of factors can affect Google’s search ranking and SEO in eCommerce. It might be possible that your competitors have better domain authority (DA) than your website.

I suggest you take a note of all the relevant keywords we have discovered till now and proceed with refining them using the steps explained in the following section:

C. Validate your keywords and uncover more of them using SEO tools

The above two were unconventional ways to discover keywords. However, you still need SEO tools to solidify your keywords with proper data and analytics. With eCommerce SEO optimization tools, you can build confidence in your keywords and understand if they would work equally well on your website, too.

My recommendations are two crucial tools, as they would assist you to not only validate your existing keywords but also uncover new keywords with proper analytics.

SEMrush and Google Keyword planner

SEMrush is the best competition-based keywords discovery tool. It has an ‘Organic Research tool’ that you can use for generating a detailed keyword profile of any of your competitors with just a click. You just need to enter your competitor’s domain name in the search field-

 

Scroll down and explore “Organic Research” to discover the competitor’s keyword profile-

 

Besides, you can also find out who are other major competitors in the market competing for the same keywords as you.

 

You can click and discover each of the competitors on the list. Repeat the steps, and you can get detailed keywords profiles as per your niche.

The next tool, Google’s Keyword planner, completes your keyword research with solid analytics. For each of the keywords that you have found until now using various methods, the tool can generate multiple keyword variations for them, that too with organic search intent.

 

You can pick the variation ideas and analyze search volume analytics, with average monthly searches for each of them.

2. Ecommerce Site Architecture

When you have the correct keywords to focus on, it’s an ideal opportunity to place them in great use. Start with improving your site’s key design and architecture for SEO.

An eCommerce website structure speaks of how you set up your navigation stream, categories, product pages, and other landing pages. Taking a shot at your website structure will advance your web store for SEO as well as for the users of the site. To upgrade the same, introduce the most significant aspects of your website to your users and make the navigation to them as smooth as could reasonably be expected.

Make the design basic yet versatile enough to accommodate changes seamlessly Minimize the number of clicks or taps needed to arrive at your prominent web pages Put your primary, secondary, and long-tail keywords in important pages as talked about before

Note: On the off chance that you are utilizing a decent eCommerce software or multi-vendor marketplace software, you will figure everything out of the box. You simply need to deal with your keywords to get the best outcomes and best eCommerce website structure. So, pick your eCommerce solutions cautiously.

As per On-page SEO for eCommerce is concerned, streamlining the site design and keywords arrangements will cover 90% of the tasks. The remainder undertakings can be finished by composing SEO-friendly web-page content on the website pages. It might incorporate:

In-body content of your Home-Page and each Category Page with appropriate meta description. Content on the Product Page, including the product descriptions and users-generated content. Images Alt text, Meta Tags, and Descriptions for each picture, including product pictures, banners, and description images. Dedicated Metadata and meta description for each URL on your site. Modifying your robot.txt file for the proposed site map.

In short, avoid the following kind of site architecture:

And, go for the following architectures:

3. On-Page SEO Strategy for E-Commerce Sites

Since now you have your keywords, it’s an ideal opportunity to place them into great use. There are three significant fragments on your eCommerce store pages that require your special consideration:

  • Title Tag
  • Description Tag
  • Content for Category Page and Product SEO

A. Title Tag Optimization

On every page of your website (homepage, category page, or product page) use the relevant primary keywords of the respective pages in the title tag. For example, a product page for “Cat Food”.

Let’s say your primary keyword here is “cat food”. Use “cat food” in the title tag of this product page.

Furthermore, don’t just leave your primary keyword alone on such a page. Instead, use the primary keyword with traction-friendly modifiers. You can augment with modifiers such as ‘cheap’, ‘organic’, ‘deals, ‘location, etc. For example, cat food in New York, Discount on cat food, 50% cat food, organic cat food, etc.

This will make your primary keywords even efficient, as you will have combinations of quality keywords that can form better long-tail variations. You will face lesser or no competition while using long-tail keywords. It will increase your prospects of ranking higher in the SERPs relevant to these special keywords.

B. Description tag optimization

With Google’s new algorithms, Meta descriptions may not have stayed as relevant as they used to be, but you can still use them for optimizing your click-through rates (CTR). There is an indirect connection between the description tag and On-page SEO for eCommerce:

A page with a high click-through gives positive signals to the search engines for ranking. Hence, instead of SEO writing, following a copywriting approach for your description tags would be a better way to use description tags for your benefits.

That is, employ the description tags for explaining about your web pages to the users and getting their attention. Use the opportunity to attract the users to click on your web pages shown on the SERPs. You can employ traction-friendly keywords, convey about offers, deals, discounts, or anything that persuades a user to click on your link on the SERPs. Something like in this link on Google’s SERP:

Nevertheless, you still need to avoid keyword stuffing, as you can still hurt your eCommerce SEO optimization by stuffing keywords in the description tags.

C. Product Page Optimization

The way around on-page SEO of your product pages or Product SEO is utilizing your keywords in native as well as in variations, while likewise maintaining a decent word count of at least 1000+ words. Utilize your primary, secondary, and long-tail keywords in various header tags with trigger words, as explained for the title tag optimization.

Anyhow, be prompted that a decent product page content is composed of information for search engines as well as the target users. Keep up an ideal mix of helpful data for your users and important keywords for the web crawlers, too.

The most ideal approach is utilizing the first half (initial 500 words) for product description as SEO content for eCommerce, and the second half for user-focused content, for example, user reviews, FAQs, etc.

Caption: Product Description

Caption: FAQ

Caption: User-generated content (reviews)

This is will ensure that you have a pretty long product-page that appeals to the search engines with keywords, and also informs the users in the best ways possible without compromising on the SEO grounds.

Note: Avoid keyword stuffing, use your target keywords in a density as per the length of your product page, divide the page into several sections, and also use keywords in respective H2, H3 tags.

4. Technical SEO Audits for E-Commerce Websites

When you are finished with your key on-page SEO for eCommerce, check where you stand before the web crawlers. For that, you have to quantify certain measurements and play out a profound review of your website. An eCommerce SEO audit will assist you in achieving three significant objectives:

Analysis: You will have a general image of the status of on-page SEO for an eCommerce site and its present position in the competition. Roadmap: You can make a rundown of undertaking to be cultivated to improve your on-page SEO before you can move to off-page SEO. Confirmation: You will get a confirmation in the event that you are moving in the correct direction at this stage.

Here are the things you can do for achieving a complete eCommerce SEO audit of your website:

D. Crawl your website:

Use tools like Google’s search console or Beam Us Up to crawl your website and uncover crucial aspects such as:

  • Broken links on the website
  • Missing Metadata on different pages
  • Duplicate web page content on the site

E. Perform 301 redirects on other versions of your site:

Having multiple variations of your URL will only confuse the search crawlers and flag duplicate content issues, which will hurt your eCommerce SEO optimization.

Make sure that you are using only one version of your website domain. If you have been using other versions of your website’s URL, you need to ensure that you have applied 301 redirects on all of them, and have kept only one version for crawling. For example, you might have other versions of your URL such as-

http://yourdomain.com http://www.yourdomain.com https://yourdomain.com https://www.yourdomain.com

Pick your primary URL and place 301 redirects from other versions to it. Especially, when you are moving from HTTP to HTTPS, you need to redirect all your HTTP URLs to the new HTTPS version.

F. Home Page audit:

Check your home page for SEO errors. Ensure it has appropriate H1, H2, and H3 titles followed alongside keyword-rich Meta descriptions and other metadata as explained in this article.

G. Unique content:

Ensure your site doesn’t have copied or duplicate content. Keep your content on all the site pages Unique. In the event that you have no other choice except for utilizing a portion of the content over and over on various pages, for instance, product descriptions of different variations of similar products, you can utilize Canonical Tags to tell the search crawlers which page to crawl and which ones to exclude.

H. Analyze the backlink profile:

You can utilize an SEO tool like Ahrefs to dissect your backlink profile. You have to find three significant things from this review:

  • Quality of your Anchor texts
  • Quality of your backlinks
  • Broken backlinks

When you have a total profile of the above aspects, work your way around too:

  • Turn your anchor texts SEO-friendly
  • Disavow bad backlinks
  • Fix the broken links

I. Analyze mobile-friendliness:

The mobile-friendliness of your site assumes a significant part of Google SEO. Mobile friendly and responsive website pages consistently rank better than the pages planned remembering just desktop users in mind. So, assure all your website pages are offering the best client experience to your mobile clients. You can utilize free tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool to check your mobile-friendliness score and get helpful suggestions

J. Analyze site speed:

Ensure your site loads as quickly as possible on a wide range of devices. A slower stacking site can never rank well, not in any event in Google’s SERPs. If your pages are taking more than 5-6 seconds to load, deal with diminishing the loading time to as low as 3-4 seconds. There are many online tools to check your site speed. You can use PageSpeed Insights and get various recommendations, too. You can also view the recommendations of Make the Web Faster.

5. Local SEO for Ecommerce Retailers

This step might not be useful for every online retailer, but you can make decent use of local SEO in eCommerce to attract customers if you also own a physical retail store. Besides, even if you run an online-only business, having local traffic is useful.

To have a decent local SEO, you need to complete two major steps:

  • Create your Google My Business profile
  • Build links and citations from for local business

Claiming your Google My Business profile.

Create a Google My Business profile, which will put your business in Google Local Business database. Doing so will ensure that your website or local business profile shows up in the Google SERPs for all relevant local searches made in your target area.

For example, ‘cat food in New York’. For this keyword, Google shows all local businesses selling cat food in its local listings. It will show website information, office or retail address, hours of operation, pictures, reviews and Google map directions, etc.

Building local citations and getting local links

Same as building backlinks, local citations are important for ranking high up in the local business results. You can approach for getting backlinks from other local websites such as local news sites, local magazines sites, press releases, and local classified listings, etc. These citations will tell Google that your business is popular in the area.

The same method can also help you in localizing your SEO for other regional markets. For example, if you operate in multiple regions but based at only one location, acquiring local backlinks from respective local websites can help you rank well in the regional markets, too.

For that, you might need to create separate sites for different regions. For example, yoursite.co.uk, yoursite.com.us, yoursite.com.au, etc.

6. Content Marketing

Content is one of the most persuasive elements in eCommerce SEO optimization. It can possibly represent the moment of truth for your business. If utilized cautiously, you can rank well in a limited capacity in a very short time. In any case, if you don’t abide by rules of content marketing and SEO, you may need to manage deadly consequences for your website and a monstrous drop in your current search rankings.

To use content marketing at its best, you must follow certain rules, to begin with:

  • Do away with duplicate content anywhere on your website.
  • If necessary, use canonical tags around duplicate content.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Keep keyword placements organic and maintain the contextual relevance in all cases.
  • Start blogging via an integrated blog into your store.
  • Blogging will help you to guide a lot of quality traffic from your blog to the store.

While integrating the blog, avoid adding it on a sub-domain (blog.yourstore.com). Instead, integrate your blog in a sub-folder (yourstore.com/blog). Doing so will help your domain name to acquire good Domain Authority (DA) as your blog becomes popular.

To build good domain authority, you can start with link building from relevant websites with good DA. You can guest post on these relevant websites to get quality backlinks. At all costs, avoid guest posting on irrelevant sites, as it will only degrade your Google SEO. If you have had backlinks from irrelevant sites, disavow them immediately.

Conduct an SEO audit as explained above in the article, identify and fix all the broken links and bad links to your site or the blog. Using tools like Ahrefs, Google Analytics, and Uber Suggest would make the eCommerce SEO audit on your back-link profile easier and help you to right best SEO content for eCommerce.

Last but not the least, you need to improve your blog’s loading time. If it takes more than 3 seconds to load, optimize it.

7. Link Building for Online Retailers

Content marketing and guest posting are some of the ways to build your backlink profile, as explained above. However, there are some other ways, too. Let’s know about them below:

A. Resource page linking

Resource pages are generally full of resources and information relevant to your industry or niche. A resource page could be anything from a mere blog post to classified listings, reviews, directories, etc.

For example, if your niche is ‘cat food’, there could be tons of bloggers or reviewers who publish a list of best cat food providers or other related SEO content for eCommerce in the cat food niche. While resource pages may not have high domain authority in many cases, but since they are highly niched in nature, backlinks from can give an immediate boost in your rankings. Besides, you may also get tons of traffic as loyal users of the resource pages generally trust their recommendations.

So, traverse the internet and make a list of all the relevant resource pages you can find in your niche. Approach them with a proper email and understand the procedure of getting your business or products listed there.  Something like this:

B. Partner up with influencers

Influencers are people who have a stronghold on the target audience of your niche. Most of them have their websites with good domain authority. These websites are ideal for getting your backlinks.

Be advised that I am not talking about collaborating with the influencers for endorsement, that’s a different aspect. Here, rather than collaborating directly, you would rather be paying an influencer to add a backlink to your site from their website. It could be from a new blog post that features your product or a simple link from any relevant page on their website.

You can have this partnership in the form of an upfront payment model, where you pay an influencer for a backlink:

Or, in the form of affiliate marketing, where influencers use referral links from your site to get paid for per products sold via their recommendations:

8. Measuring SEO Success for an E-Commerce Website

That’s it. You are all set and ready to enchant the search engines with your website.  Is it?

Well, would you not want to know if your efforts and applied eCommerce SEO tips are working?

SEO isn’t like running paid ads, where you can get a dashboard that keeps you in the loop of your expenses and ROIs upfront.

SEO is rather a gradual process and it takes some time to show the effects. Sometimes, you might not see much with your open eyes, but things keep working in the background and you notice the ROIs in terms of boosted traffic.

However, not all traffic converts into sales, and that’s where you need special tools to see the changes in terms of numbers. Not just any numbers, but deep analytics that refers to various kind of impacts on your bottom line.

Let’s check out two such tools that you can deploy for tracking critical metrics to ensure if your efforts are moving in the right directions:

A. Use an SEO tool like Ahrefs to track your search rankings

Ahrefs uses an integrated search ranking tracker and notifies you when your rankings increase or decrease over time. In fact, you can track the progress of your competitors and know their ranking statuses, too. Such tools might not be completely accurate, but they give a decent idea of your positions along with your competitors’.

B. Create an SEO dashboard in your Google Analytics account

Google Analytics is the most accurate of all the SEO tools in the market, but it’s not easier to use. While other premium tools accumulate numbers and give easier-to-comprehend representations of specific SEO related data, GA gives more of the raw data that you need to analyze and draw your conclusions.

You can track the increase and decrease in search rankings or traffic on every page on your website to track your developments in a micro-managed manner. Besides, you can track the source, engagement stats, bounce rate, etc. of every traffic that comes to your website.

E-Commerce SEO Case Studies

SEO is the key to success, and owners of all successful websites take it seriously. To get you excited about the SEO strategy for eCommerce websites and help you to take some cues from others who have been successful from their efforts on SEO, here are the links of top stories:

All of these websites have employed the methods explained in this article in one or the other forms. That is:

  • They understood the importance of a search engine in eCommerce.
  • They found the keywords to focus on.
  • They placed the right keywords on the right pages.
  • They did a thorough eCommerce SEO audit and tracked their current standings.
  • They fixed the issues found from the technical audits.
  • They update their SEO methods with new tactics for on-page and off-page SEO.
  • They always remained in the loop with the progress of the optimizations using important tools.

So, where do you stand on your SEO plan for an eCommerce website?  Have you done these optimizations yet?

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