SEO for eCommerce : Driving Traffic to Your Online Store

Did you know that 95% of all purchases are expected to be made online by 2040? (Nasdaq)

There’s never been a more important time to optimise your eCommerce site and focus all efforts on becoming mobile first. 

The truth is, there’s always a wealth of opportunity when it comes to marketing online, within every sector, product and brand. 

Keyword Research for eCommerce

Before we can start to look at site hierarchy and site structure, keyword research needs to take priority. 

All categorisation of structure, and often products, needs to come from a detailed keyword research task. 

It’s vital to understand your target user behaviour, what they’re searching and how they search. 

Strategies can differ vastly depending on search intent, user intent and the methods in which they search. For example, are you targeting a younger demographic, who tend to use more long tail searches as they’re using devices such as voice search? Or are you looking to target your customers locally, so you need to look at localised search volume and local based search terms? 

You will also need to take into account the stage of the funnel which your customers are in by their search terms. If you’re looking to optimise for high volume terms such as ‘best leggings for running’, then you’ll need to execute a strategy by which this user will enter the funnel at the informational stage of their journey, before leading to the running leggings you have on offer. 

All of these factors play a huge part of SEO across all industries, but ecommerce more than any other. So it’s key to perform in-depth keyword research and map out which page your user should be landing on based on the outcome. 

Site Hierarchy for eCommerce

Whether you’re looking to optimise a small shopify platform which is selling >15 items, or if you work for one of the largest supermarket stores, categorisation is key. 

Within eCommerce SEO, there’s the opportunity not only to rank at brand and category level, but product level too. 

Optimising for all stages of your website hierarchy will allow for granularity for some of the most specific products. As well as understanding your users behaviour at all entry points of their user journey.

You need to start by using the keyword research.

Map out a range of core search terms against your product offering, and you’ll begin to understand the hierarchy of your website. 

In most cases, this is fairly straightforward and many will say they never even needed the keyword research to do so. But it’s important to understand and define your customer base and how they search before executing such a core task for the site.

Using Filters in eCommerce Categories

Once you’ve defined the categorisation of your site, it’s important to remember that users will require the need to filter their results pages. For SEO, this can often become a bit tricky. But it’s important to set core rules and use these throughout the entire site, especially when handling such a large site with thousands of products. 

These ‘rules’ will most likely differ from site to site, depending on the size of your ecom store; as well as search volume surrounding your products. 

Although, as a general rule of thumb, you should ensure a category plus ONE filter is indexable. Of course, if you feel like your business and ecommerce store is an exception to this, then you could look at tweaking for your own needs. But, most importantly, if we didn’t allude to these rules, we could be faced with a never ending network of category pages, with endless filters. 

Internal Linking and Canonicalisation

Internal linking for any site is essential.

Arguably more so for ecommerce, and for to help improve your user experience. 

Following your site hierarchy, it’s important each parent category will link into further sub-categories where necessary. Breadcrumbs are a great way to ensure you’re not only linking into deeper categories, but also back up into their parent categories too. Natural in-text links are a perfect opportunity to create the perfect linking structure too, as this is where you’ll most likely be optimising your on page content for core terms. 

As with the filtering rule above, we would have to set rules in place to ensure these are adhered to. Firstly, all category pages with >1 filter, should either be canonicalised or contain a noindex tag, to show search engines this page should not be indexed.

Secondly, when looking into your sites canonical tags, this is where things can become a little more complicated. 

Many eCommerce sites will have multiple product pages relating to these same products, yet they’re all competing for the same terms. For example, if you’re looking to sell a variety of branded trainers, in over 10 different colours, there may be a higher potential in canonicalising back to the main colour, and creating different colour variants on the main page for a greater user experience. 

Optimising Product Pages

Optimising product pages is crucial. 

Many sites generate their product pages with content from incoming product feeds and using a templated structure. With large ecommerce sites, this is a great way to simply manage product data and stock. Although, you need to ensure you have control of making changes to these pages where needed. 

Often, with these product databases, we can find errors in files, so fixing these issues is crucial.

It’s also important to be able to optimise each product page to its best potential. Whether you need to internally link to similar products, add keyword optimisations on these pages or simply expand the content to give a more detailed description. Having control of these pages is vital. 

Understanding your product offering and the structure of your ecommerce platform is key to your SEO strategy. Whether your products are similar or widely differentiated, you need a clear understanding of your business goals and KPIs moving forward. 

Every website is different, as is every SEO strategy. 

If you’re looking for more information or if you’d like to start the conversation about your ecommerce strategy, contact me today. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking for some further resources on SEO for ecommerce, at the Women In Tech SEO Event back in March, the incredible Kristina Azarenko shared a range of great insights on the importance of SEO for eCommerce and her 8-step approach. 

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