E-Commerce SEO is all about optimising your e-commerce store for search engine criteria so that your business gets found. For any online business, but for an e-commerce business, in particular, getting found on Google is the first and most important step.
If people cannot find you online, how can they even consider buying from you?
The one sustainable, long-term and free method to ensure your business gets found is through proper keyword research.
In this post, we discuss how you can get started with optimizing your e-commerce store for SEO with keyword research.
What is E-Commerce SEO & why is it Important?
E-commerce SEO is all about search engine optimization for e-commerce businesses. This is an essential though often overlooked piece of the puzzle for setting up and growing your e-commerce store if you want to be successful.
E-commerce SEO is about allowing your e-commerce store to be found by Google and other search engines when people type keywords into the search bar.
This is a sustainable method to grow your business because, with the right keywords, every month, thousands of people could be searching for relevant keywords bringing in potentially thousands of people to your site, some of who will actually buy.
As such, keyword research, when done properly, is a free, recurring customer acquisition tool.
When someone types in a search term in Google that relates to what it is you sell, you want your business to rank on the first page, and ideally, in the top few positions on the first page.
Being ranked as such will mean more people click on your site. And if you’ve correctly optimized your site for the right keywords, there is a greater chance people will buy.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research specifically relates to those words that are a good fit for what your business is about, but also align with what customers are searching for monthly.
Done properly, keyword research can help to optimize your e-commerce SEO.
Keywords are the search terms people use that are relevant to your niche.
There are two types of keywords, namely, shot-tail keywords and long-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are typically keywords under three words. These keywords are the most directly related keywords for a niche that someone might use to search.
Given they are one or two words long, they are usually very competitive and very hard to rank for.
- Running shoes
- Yoga pants
It is great if you can rank for the right short-tail keywords in your space as it means you could get a lot of traffic, and a lot of traffic that may be inclined to buy.
However, given most of the short-tail keywords will be competitive, it may be more appropriate to target longer-tail keywords.
It is easier to rank highly for longer-tail keywords because these may be less common search terms in Google, and as such, less competitive.
However, at the same time, longer-tail keywords can provide a better insight into intent which is extremely important with ranking high in Google for keywords that will not only get you traffic but will also convert that traffic into customers.
Let’s say, for example, your e-commerce store sells jewellery for women, including wedding rings. An obvious keyword that you may go for in the first instance is “woman jewellery” and you may look to rank for this.
However, given the competitiveness of this term as shown, a longer-tail keyword that you could aim to target is “the wedding ring” given its more attractive characteristics as shown below.
Another reason you might want to do this is that it is a more targeted and precise keyword that shows clear intent; perhaps a boyfriend is looking to buy a wedding ring for his fiancé, for example.
This longer keyword would be much easier to rank for and will be a lot less competitive so assuming there is evidence that it is searched frequently, it would be a great keyword to aim for.
Long-tail keywords are a great way to optimize e-commerce SEO.
The other factor to consider with keywords that many people ignore to their detriment is search intent.
Search intent relates to the intention behind why a user searches for a particular term.
There are a number of different types of search intent that users can have:
- Informational intent – these are people who are looking for information, perhaps researching a product or service
- Navigational intent – these are people who are looking to get somewhere
- Commercial intent – these are the important users when it comes to e-commerce as it represents users who are looking to buy
When doing keyword research for your e-commerce or online business, you should focus on keywords that have commercial intent, in other words, search terms that indicate users are looking to buy.
Further on we will explain how you can find such gold when doing your keyword research.
How to do Keyword Research to Improve E-Commerce SEO
There is a process we at Syntellio have found to be very useful and effective when we do keyword research for e-commerce businesses so as to improve your e-commerce SEO. By following this system, you will ensure you cover the key points so you target the right keywords for your business, so you rank highly for them as well.
1.Identify your Customer Persona
The starting point for any keyword research campaign should be to identify the target customer you are trying to attract. This is known as a customer persona (also known as a buyer persona). Only once you know who the audience is you are trying to attract, can you complete the following steps effectively.
Properly identifying your customer persona can really help to strengthen your e-commerce SEO.
As such, you need to think about a number of factors relating to your target audience:
- What kind of person are they?
- What is their age/sex demographic?
- Where are they based?
- What do they do as a job?
- What is their disposable income per month?
- What is important to them regarding your niche?
An example profile that gives you a sense of where you are trying to get to here for an e-commerce store that sells sports footwear for men could be:
“My customers are single men between the ages 25-34, based in urban areas of America who are professionals, have about $500 of monthly disposable income, and like to wear comfortable but effective footwear for when they are working out three times a week in the gym”.
There may be other questions to consider depending on the niche you are in but these are good starting point questions.
This data and information is the cornerstone of the approach so you should ensure you work hard to build this out as thoroughly as you can.
2.Find Customer Topics
Once you’ve identified the customer persona or target customers, the next step is to get customer topics that would be relevant to that person. In order to do this, we would look to visit the websites and publications we think our target customer would visit.
Make a list of between five to ten websites, blogs and news outlets that you think your target customer would visit routinely to get their information relating to your niche.
The example below shows how we quickly generated a list of sites for fans of photography cameras.
If you are your own target customer this should be easy, as these sites should already be well known to you.
Once identified, go through each website and have a look for the keywords that come across in the headings of those sites. You could also review the blogs of those sites to discover some of the key topics that come up repeatedly on the sites, indicating that the audience likes to learn about those topics more often.
Using the photography example, by just visiting one site, we have already come away with some key terms relating to the niche such as DSLR, Camera Rig, Photo Bag, and Tripod, for example, which we can build on later.
The objective here is to create a list of as many initial keywords and phrases (let’s call them our “customer topics”) as possible. Don’t put a huge amount of thought into this process at this stage; just write down what you see.
3.Research your Competitors
Your competitors will have worked hard to optimize their e-commerce SEO.
If you have other competitors you could also research them to see what keywords they are ranking for. Be careful though as just because they are your competitors, it doesn’t mean they have the perfect list of keywords all ready.
Also, they may be appealing to a subsector of your niche or may have not done keywords research properly, if at all.
Also, if they are larger and more established competitors, then the chances are that they already rank high in Google for the main keywords.
However at this stage, jot down the keywords that come across broadening your initial list, and increasing the overall “customer topics” of interest.
4.Generate Keyword Ideas
This step is important and marks the beginning of the filtering stage. This is where we actually generate keywords that are deemed to be relevant.
The first step is to use the list of prospective keywords you have just started with in the last sections, in other words, we start with our “customer topics” we have developed. The idea is to build on those keywords and find alternatives. This is also where we use root, short-tail keywords and find the golden nuggets, also known as longer-tail keywords.
Using the “customer topics” you have identified as your starting point, we will use a number of free tools to build on these.
Firstly, type in one of the main “customer topic” words from section three into Google but do not press ‘enter’. Google will give you suggestions (Google suggest) as to longer phrases that people typically search for, related to the main words you’ve typed. Jot these down.
Similarly, you could also scroll to the bottom of your Google search for your “customer topics” to see what the ‘searches related to…’ say. These are similar searches that Google has found people also search for relating to the main prospective keywords. Jot these down as well.
Go through this exercise for all the “customer topic” words you identified from the last section.
Next, we will turn to Quora. This is a question and answer platform where people from around the world go to ask questions and receive answers on all sorts of topics.
What you will do is again, use the “customer topic” keywords from section three and type them into the search bar. Then look to see the range of questions people are asking around this topic. Jot these down and do this for all of your “customer topic” words you identified in section three.
You may have up to 50 or more words here. But don’t worry, in the next section we will whittle this down to a manageable group of keywords you can effectively use for your business.
5.Analyse Commercial Intent
Even though the words identified thus far are all good and relevant keywords that your target customer is likely to use relating to your niche, that is not the full story.
E-commerce SEO is only effective if in addition to having your e-commerce found, customers also buy.
Beyond having a list of keywords that your target customers use, you need to identify with keywords that have commercial intent  behind them and this is one thing that many people doing keyword research forget about.
We touched on the importance of intent-based keywords earlier and we will go in further detail here so you can understand what you should be looking for.
You don’t just want to rank in Google for a bunch of keywords; you want people to buy based on keywords they find you for.
In other words, you want to identify the keywords for your niche and your target customers that are the ones off the back of searching for which customers actually buy.
So begin with your revised list of “customer topics”, in other words, your keywords ideas developed in section four.
The first thing we will do is to search each keyword in Google to see how many Ad Words advertisements appear on the page following the search.
Ad Words is Google’s advertising platform and in search results, Google shows ads at the top and at the bottom of the results pages.
The higher the number of ads you see per keyword, the more it indicates that advertising money is put behind those keywords, which suggests there are people who buy off the back of this. So count the number of ads on the first results page for a specific keyword.
Then we go to Google Keyword Planner to see how much advertisers are bidding for your keywords. This is information Google shows advertisers so they can get their ads shown based on their budget.
Google Keyword Planner can be difficult to navigate to but Ahrefs has put together a great guide to getting to it step-by-step.
Type in your keyword again in Google Keyword Planner and scroll down to see what the bid range is. There is a low and high bid range. We would suggest you either use the low bid range throughout for all keywords, or the average bid range. However, keep the type of bid consistent for all keywords, as we will use this as a metric to compare different keywords.
Obviously, the higher a bid for a keyword, the more lucrative that term is as more customers have been found by Google to buy for that keyword when it is searched. Clearly, the term for DSLR cameras we have used is not actually that expensive to bid for.
In going through this exercise, we will have a better idea of customer intent after their searches.
6.Finalise & Filter Keywords (based on competition and difficulty)
For the final stage, we need to determine the search volume for each keyword. In other words, how many times per month are your keywords searched.
Clearly, we are interested in keywords that are searched a lot of times. If a keyword is only searched 100 or 200 times a month, this is not high enough to build a business as you would have to factor in conversion rates etc. as well, and as a result, there may only be a handful of people that you and your competition could consider to be real customers.
To really improve your e-commerce SEO overall, the effects of large amounts of traffic will only really be seen if you choose keywords that have high search volumes.
In Google Keyword Planner, we can get a rough sense of how often per month keywords are searched and you should note this down with your list so far of prospective keywords.
You can also use a free tool such as Keyword Surfer, which is a Google Chrome extension. However, this is by country so if your customers will be in a particular country, make sure you set to this and this gives more accurate search information.
The final thing we need to look for is how competitive keywords are. Google Keyword Planner also gives us this information.
Trying to rank for highly competitive keywords doesn’t make sense as a strategy as you will have to do a lot of work. There is no need to do this if you can target other keywords, especially longer-tail keywords that are less competitive to rank for.
Having done all the above, we can now go through the list of keywords for the factors identified above and filter them based on commercial intent, competitiveness and search volume to come up with a final list of keywords.
You may still have a long list. If so, prioritise the top10-20 keywords that you think are the best for your niche and your business.
For our example term of ‘best professional dslr camera’ we can see that this is not that great a keyword. Only up to 1,000 people search for this per month, which is fine but not great. The competition for the term is high and the bid range is lower suggesting there is not much customer intent there. In this case, we would move on to do the same analysis with other keywords.
You can always return to the long list but given you will have to create content and material around the keywords, it is a good idea to have a manageable list to work with.
How to Use Keyword’s for your E-Commerce Business to Improve E-Commerce SEO
Now that you have your list of keywords that have been properly researched, it is important to know how to use them properly.
You should aim to prioritise the one or two keywords that you mainly want to rank for that are most synonymous to your niche. Then you can use other keywords as appropriate.
Where to use Keywords
There are a number of pages on your e-commerce site that you will want to optimize for these keywords.
It is important to realise that you should not be stuffing pages with the keywords. More does not mean better and actually, the Google algorithm can mean that your site gets banned from Google if you resort to keywords stuffing.
The most obvious example of where you should be optimizing for your keywords is the homepage of your e-commerce store. Beyond this, the product pages on your e-commerce store are the other pages that you should optimise for.
You are likely to have a lot of product pages for each category of product. Use the right keywords that show the context and make the user experience better when using keywords.
On the product pages, you are likely to have a lot of images to describe your products and give customers an understanding of the product.
The ‘alternative text’ is used to make the user experience easier for people with disabilities, for example, blindness. As such, you can use keywords in the alternative text that describes an image.
These tactics will all help to improve your e-commerce SEO, hence, grow your business.
Ranking for Keywords on a Blog
We advise all e-commerce store owners to have a blog. One of the reasons for this is that it allows you to explain more about your niche to customers and build customer awareness and loyalty.
In so doing, it also gives you the opportunity to use keywords more strategically across a range of topic areas.
In your blog posts, you can use the keywords in your titles and headings, in the meta descriptions to the post, as well in the image alternative texts as mentioned before.
So start your blog today if you haven’t already done so and start to think about topics of interest to your audience. Then use the keywords you know your target customers are searching for with intent in order to get your e-commerce store to rank in Google.
The Automatic Effect of Online Reviews on Keyword Research
Keyword research across your e-commerce store can be strengthened not only by you using keywords on your store, but also by your customers talking about your business in their online reviews through customer feedback.
Customer feedback or online reviews are also known as user-generated marketing. In other words, marketing created for businesses by users.
In people talking about your business in reviews, they can easily refer to your business, your products and your wider niche, further strengthening the search engine presence of your business.
At Syntellio, we help businesses collect more online reviews. Being a third-party review collection platform, we link back to your site further increasing your SEO for search engines.
The process of identifying and using keywords is not straightforward. It requires you to follow a clear process but the start of this is understanding your target customers.
However, keywords research is a key component of improving e-commerce SEO.
Though short-tail keywords are more popular and get more monthly searches it does not mean they are the right ones for you to target. In fact, it is the longer-tail keywords that can present as more of an opportunity for your business.
The commercial intent of keywords is extremely important to ensure that customers are not only searching, but also searching with the intention of buying from you.
Using keywords strategically and in the correct way on your e-commerce store is important. If you resort to keywords stuffing, your e-commerce store can get de-indexed and removed from Google search altogether.
However, use keywords in the right way and you can find your site ranking highly in Google, perhaps even in the first space spot, which can bring paying customers who are ready to buy straight to your door.
Are you using keyword research for your e-commerce store? What results are you getting? Let us know in the comments.