The world of e-commerce can be a difficult one to navigate for people who are used to optimizing traditional informational sites. You generally don’t have as much text to work with to implement keywords and you might be looking at dozens or even hundreds of individual product pages that require your attention.

Creating E-Commerce Goals

Like any major digital initiative, it’s best to have a concrete endgame in mind, and the same applies to e-commerce SEO. In the eyes of Adam Bastock, eCommerce SEO Consultant at Abastock, the key goal for all SEO is being “… present and useful at every stage of the customer journey. This means going far beyond looking at just product level keywords, but really understanding your customers’ problems and what they’re trying to solve.”

A good way to tackle this is by trying to work backward regarding your product and looking at how it fits into your customer’s life. If you start there and try to write content designed to answer their questions, you are able to meet customer needs before they even identify them. As an example, if a company sells yoga mats, appropriate content for them would be:

  • What yoga is
  • The history of the practice
  • How yoga can improve daily life
  • How to care for the mats

It is key not to solely build around obvious keywords like “yoga mat,” as there are thousands of searches that can happen before a person decides what they want to buy.

Working Towards Optimization

What we’ve just illustrated is keyword research, which is fundamental for any SEO strategy. While informal practices like these are a good way to determine the general range of keywords you need, it’s also important to see what keywords customers are already looking for and how other sites have optimized for them.

Lennart Meijer, co-founder of The Other Straw, explains, “It is vital to use a variety of keyword tools to gather as much data as possible (I find both Ahrefs and SEMRush great tools for keyword research). It is also important to look at the monthly search volume and what the actual traffic potential is for the top pages. This will help you get a realistic point of view on the actual traffic that you could get by targeting specific keywords.”

A dream keyword from this perspective is making sure that you focus on keywords with high search volume and low competition, particularly with new businesses. Competitor analysis will be a valuable tool in this regard. Even if looking at your customer intent reveals one keyword, it may not be practical to target it right away if your competition has already optimized for it.

With your ideal keywords in place, the next step is making sure that you’ve refined your pages enough that they appear in searches. Haley Anhut, Marketing Manager at CleanOrigin, notes a blindspot many companies fail to account for:

Product description pages (PDPs) can sometimes fall through the cracks when there are landing pages or content pages with tons of content available to optimize. However, SEO should always be seen as a holistic approach across your entire site.” She notes that when you’re trying to start with PDP optimization, begin by looking at a proper title tag and meta description. When those are finalized, you can look into technical optimization, like page speed or schema markup.

Where Some Companies Fail

Finally, part of being in a highly-competitive field like e-commerce SEO means being able to learn from the mistakes and successes of your competitors. One common mistake that a lot of newcomers make is trying to exclusively build on highly competitive keywords. In time, it may be possible to rank for these, but only with extensive PR support to build backlinks. Another common area of failure is not creating blogs or content pages that pose genuine value for customers.

This mix of issues often means that sites ignore a large amount of potential traffic. A painting business might fail to see their desired amount of online traction if they focus on conversion keywords, such as “buy house paint.” However, there’s a huge amount of possible search value in questions that can appear in research queries, like “what house paint is best for me?” Combining this knowledge with other SEO advice is key for making sure that your e-commerce site starts getting an appropriate ranking right away.