SEO is important for every eCommerce company, but what works best for businesses that sell products is different than other types of SEO.
eCommerce SEO is a specific type of Search Engine Optimization that foregoes all the many other strategies that work for local businesses or people who sell services.
It’s also the type of SEO we specialize in at IWD, which is why we put together this list of tips for eCommerce companies to follow in 2023.
10 SEO Tips That Will Drive Traffic to Your eCommerce Store
And there’s the really important thing about these 10 eCommerce SEO tips.
It’s not just that we know firsthand that they work.
It’s that they’re also not the SEO tips you usually find on most lists for eCommerce companies. Yes, things like site speed and backlinks are important, but you’ll find those on just about every similar listicle out there.
These 10 are far less common but EXTREMELY powerful.
1. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Without a doubt, one of the biggest mistakes we hear of eCommerce companies making when they invest in SEO is starting from scratch.
They brainstorm ideas
They try to think outside the box.
They get creative.
And then they don’t get any results.
It’s not that there’s no place in SEO for creativity and trying new things.
But as we explained in the above video, breaking from the pack is a luxury you can only afford once you’re leading it – or at least near the front.
So, until you’re seeing a steady stream of organic traffic to your eCommerce website and a reliable ROI, stick to what’s already working for your competition. They went to a lot of time and trouble (and probably suffered through a lot of trial-and-error) in order to figure out what really works. It would be a shame if you didn’t take advantage of all that hard work.
Just run your competitors through their website analysis tools to see which pages get them the most traffic and with which keywords.
Then, all you have to do is build similar pages focusing on these keywords. Obviously, if you can think up ways to improve on them, even better (and there’s your chance to be creative).
2. Leave Your Company Name Out of the Title Tag
Another common mistake we’ve seen a lot of eCommerce companies make is including their business name in all of their Title tags.
To be fair, this sometimes makes sense.
Big brand names like Amazon and Nike do this, but there’s also reason to believe that this helps improve their clickthrough rate. When people see brand names they know, they’re simply more likely to click. In these cases, including them is a really smart move.
However, plenty of big brand names don't include them on every single page of their site.
But if you don’t have this kind of brand recognition (yet), including your company’s name in your eCommerce website’s Title tag is probably a waste of the 60-70 characters you’re allotted.
Fortunately, there’s once again a really easy way to figure out if your company’s name is going to have this desired effect on your clickthrough rate.
Go to your Search Console and look for instances of people searching for your company name. People searching for your company name + a keyword counts here, too.
If this is happening, are people clicking on pages other than your homepage?
If so, it’s clearly a brand name that helps to drive traffic, so keeping it in your Title tags is probably a good idea.
However, if this isn’t happening, all your eCommerce company’s name is doing is taking up space in your Title tag that you could be using for including other keywords people search for or text that would attract more clicks (e.g., “Free Shipping”, “Lifetime Warranty”), etc.
Experiment with both alternatives to rapidly improve your eCommerce company’s organic traffic.
3. Get as Specific as Possible with Your Category Pages
In eCommerce SEO, the company that can get most granular with their category and subcategory pages will win.
As we discuss in the video, if your competitor has 1,000 products listed under “Men’s Shoes”, you can beat them in Google by having more granular subcategories like:
- Men’s Dress Shoes
- Men’s Casual Shoes
- Men’s Sport Shoes
Shoppers want to click on pages that are built around the exact thing they’re searching for. Specificity is of the utmost importance here. So, the more subcategories you can create for specific keywords, the more traffic you’ll get.
Look how crazy-specific Land's End gets with dozens and dozens of different category pages:
Do the same and win lots of traffic for your eCommerce website.
4. Look for Keywords You Get Impressions for But No Clicks
What if you knew that Google was primed and ready to send you traffic?
What if you knew that you would rank immediately for a given keyword if you just created a specific page for it?
That would be great, right?
Well, it can totally happen if you start your keyword research process with Google Search Console.
Assuming your eCommerce website is at least a year old and has a decent amount of traffic, Search Console is an absolute TREASURE TROVE for keyword research.
For quick wins, look for examples of where you have high impressions for a search query but not a lot of clicks.
What this is telling you is that Google recognizes your website as an authority related to this type of query and is even trying to give you traffic (hence, the high number of impressions). You just don’t have the page to attract clicks.
Yet again, the answer here is simple.
Search for any of these queries to see the exact kinds of pages that people DO click on. And now, just create your own.
Because Google is already giving you impressions for these queries, you’ll have a head start on making the first page.
This is an exercise you should get in the habit of carrying out every six months or so – at least at the beginning of any new content marketing strategies.
5. Optimize Your Product Descriptions (One Very Important Way)
Obviously, your eCommerce website needs product descriptions that accurately describe your items in detail, so customers understand what they are and why they should buy them.
But I’d also encourage you to take the opportunity to include keywords that resonate with the rest of your website, too.
No, I’m not advocating for keyword stuffing.
The goal isn’t to keep using the same term over and over again in hopes that this will attract more attention from Google.
However, I see way too many eCommerce companies seemingly using the bare minimum amount of content on their product pages. I'm talking about 2-3 sentences and that's it.
That doesn't work to help them rank their product pages and it doesn't help the SEO for their overall eCommerce sites, either.
Check out your average Amazon product page for evidence of how this can work.
You’ll notice that all of the important “eCommerce” content is at the top, most of it above the fold. That’s where you’ll see the name of the product, its images, bullet points that list its top features, and, of course, that all-important Buy button.
But if you scroll down, you’ll often see that there’s a load of extra content. And, sure, all of further describes the product.
See how much copy is included toward the bottom of this page? Above is the conversion copy, but these words down here help this product page rank, too:
And this strategy helps pull in a lot more traffic (without many backlinks, either):
This approach could also help build the keyword profile for your entire eCommerce site, too.
And you can apply this strategy to your website's category pages, too.
Again, check out this page from Land's End for a prime example of category pages that are loaded with content you can use to improve your eCommerce site's SEO.
Notice how they use this content - way down where no one is realistically going to see it - to include lots of interlinks, too.
Product descriptions are ALWAYS important for eCommerce companies, but we really think they're going to play a major role in SEO this year. We cover this in a bit more detail in our new blog post and vlog, which you can find here: "SEO Trends of 2023."
6. Blog, Blog, and Then Blog Some More
But driving organic traffic to your eCommerce website isn’t just about product pages.
You should also leverage the potential of a high-performing blog for improving your SEO, too.
Again, this is no secret to business owners who sell services g, but the tactic often falls by the wayside among eCommerce companies.
And that’s a pity because blogs can become a real powerful competitive edge.
Think about it: there are only ever so many products you can add to your eCommerce website. Even with the optimization tips we covered in the last section, you’re still limited to a certain number of keywords you can cover.
When it comes to “information keywords”, your product pages won’t cut it. Someone Googling, “What is [your product]?” won’t click on a page that’s clearly trying to sell them something. They want a blog post that will give them a well-informed answer.
But adding a blog to your eCommerce website isn’t just about handing out free information. While that can certainly help brand awareness, the real goal of blogging for an eCommerce company is proving to Google that you are an authority in your industry. The better you prove that, the more traffic your category and product pages will get.
That means more sales.
And THAT is always the goal.
(Also, check out our recent blog and vlog about how you can use ChatGPT for SEO and creating blogs)
7. Understand the Intentions Behind Your Keywords
While it’s a good idea to look at keywords that show high search volumes, you also need to look at WHY certain pages get these kinds of numbers when targeting these queries.
In other words, you have to research the search intent behind these keywords.
Because if you don’t create the kinds of pages they want, they won’t click on them.
So, you won’t get any traffic from them, much less profits.
Luckily, this is a fairly easy problem to solve.
SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush will actually give indicators right next to each keyword that tells you what kind of search intent these tools associate with them.
Here's what that looks like in Semrush:
You can also just do this manually, which is actually what I recommend in this video on using Ahrefs.
That’s how important it is to understand what people want when they search for specific queries. Build the exact same type of webpages you see on the first page of Google (whether that be blogs, category pages, product pages, etc.) for your eCommerce website and you’ll dramatically increase your chances of ranking.
8. Be Strategic About Your Content
Similarly, you need to think about what outcome you’re hoping for when you produce new content for your eCommerce website – mainly blogs.
Obviously, it would be ideal if you could always publish blog posts that attracted traffic and won backlinks.
But that’s not always possible, which is why you need to consider which one you want for each post in your content strategy.
Think about it.
When you create a blog post with the aim of driving traffic to your eCommerce website, the driving idea is some version of, “What do my customers want to read about?”
But how many of those customers have websites that they can then use to provide you backlinks with, too?
Even if your eCommerce company is B2B, are those customers likely to have websites that would link back to yours?
And if they did, would that actually help your eCommerce website? Would their site be relevant to your industry?
If not, the potential blog post may still be a great idea for attracting traffic but probably not for attracting backlinks. That’s fine, by the way. It’s just smart to understand that distinction before proceeding with content creation.
Likewise, you may want to create content that you know is going to work well for attracting backlinks from relevant sites in your industry, even though it may not drive huge numbers from potential customers.
Take this kind of strategic approach and you can attract traffic and backlinks AND adjust your expectations for each.
Note: if yours is a B2B company, we talk about content and other approaches in this post on "B2B eCommerce Strategies" that we recommend to our clients.
9. Fall in Love with Listicles
Speaking of your blogs, listicles should be your eCommerce company’s best friend.
Out of all the types of blogs you can create, listicles have BY FAR the best potential to actually drive conversions.
That may not mean A TON of purchase but definitely more than you’re likely to get from other types of blogs (which usually don’t convert any visitors at all).
Furthermore, depending on what you’re selling on your eCommerce store, listicles can also open up brand-new revenue source by creating lists that include items you can make commissions from through affiliate marketing.
This also explains why they drive so many conversions compared to other types of blogs. These searchers aren’t asking WHAT your product is or HOW it works or WHY they need it. They clearly already know these things, which is why they’ve moved on to searching for queries like:
- “Best [your product]”
- “Top [Your Product]”
- “Most [Your Product]”
Depending on your industry, plenty of other options probably exist, too, like, “Most Comfortable [Your Product], “Most Affordable [Your Product]”, “Greenest [Your Product]”, etc.
Listicles can be great interlinking opportunities for your eCommerce site, as well, which is great for SEO. Generally, whenever you mention the type of products you sell, you should be linking to the relevant category page. If you mention a specific product, you should link to that product.
Listicles give you another opportunity to do this, but you can also link to these listicles from other blog posts when you talk about your products. Just work in a keyword that’s more specific than the broader versions you would use for your category and product pages.
Best of all, these queries tend to be high in search volumes, as well. So, you can drive lots of traffic to your site and get some decent conversions at the same time.
A listicle ranking in the top spot that we made for one of our clients:
And remember: your listicles don’t need to ONLY be about the products you sell on your eCommerce website. Think about other types of products that are relevant to your industry and make lists for them, too.
Those types of listicles will give you another opportunity to make affiliate income, but they could also lead to backlinks from the companies you link to in your posts. Obviously, they’d want to call attention to the fact that their product is one of the “Best, Top, etc.” according to your company.
In fact, you can even reach out to those businesses to let them know that their amazing product has made your list.
There are just two small caveats I need to mention before you go running off and post nothing but listicles to your eCommerce website.
Creating Listicles Will Often Mean Giving Your Competitors Attention (and Links)
The first is that you may need to give your competitors some of the spotlight if you want to use a listicle.
For example, say you use your eCommerce site to sell your company’s flashlights.
Well, if you want to do “The Best Flashlights in 2023”, you’re going to need to list more than just your own. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be much of a listicle.
The only way to do that is to include options from your competition.
Now, you can add “NOFOLLOW” tags to the links you use to make sure you’re not giving any valuable backlinks to your competitors, but it’s still possible that your website’s visitors could end up buying from your competition because of those links.
In our experience, these listicles are still worth it. You can still list your product first, so you stand the best chance of getting the most clicks. Sure, you probably have to say some nice things about your competitors (less the listicle look TOO bias), but you can always
Plus, you can always check the outbound links people are clicking to leave your site in Google Analytics. If you notice one of your competitors seems to be ESPECIALLY popular on a listicle, there’s no law against replacing them with someone else.
Or, even better, if they sell their products on Amazon, just link to them there. That way, they don’t get ANY type of link from your site, and, again, you can add an affiliate link and make some money from any conversions that occur.
Keep in mind that not every listicle needs to be the “Best [Your Product] of 2023.”
You can also do “Buying Guides”, “Gift Lists”, and other types of listicles that only list one of each type of a certain category of product.
For example, if you sell flashlights, you could do “10 Items You Need for Your First Camping Trip.” So, you can include your flashlight as one of those items, but then include a tent, sleeping bag, etc. from other noncompetitor companies.
Okay, now for caveat number 2:
Your eCommerce Website Still Needs Other Blogs for Improved SEO
After you start seeing sales come in from your listicles (and maybe some affiliate revenue, too), it’s going to be VERY tempting to just publish nothing but these particular blog posts on your website.
The problem is that you still need lots of other blogs to support these listicles with interlinks and to continue building your authority with Google as a trusted source of knowledge for your particular industry.
If your eCommerce website just becomes a glorified review site with random listicles, those early conversions may turn into more trouble than they’re worth.
At the very least, only do a listicle every other post you publish, but I’d recommend limiting them to only every three you post – every five is probably better still.
10. Don’t Forget About YouTube
Finally, YouTube has become an absolutely fantastic opportunity to “skip the line” and end up at the very top of Google.
I say “skip the line” because while we’ve covered how great blog posts can be for the SEO of your eCommerce website, there’s also probably A LOT of competition out there on the first (and maybe even second) page of Google for the keywords you want to target.
But if these result pages include videos, you’ll see a lot less competition for those spots, even though plenty of them are right at the top of Google.
It works for us!
Follow these eCommerce SEO Tips in 2023 Starting Today
As we mentioned at the beginning, these aren't just any SEO tips.
They're not just an eCommerce SEO tips, either.
These are the tips that we KNOW work and that we KNOW very few eCommerce companies utilize.
So, start leveraging them right away and you'll soon have the rankings your competitors covet and the profits you've always wanted.
And if you need any help or have any questions, you can always contact our eCommerce experts.