Online marketing for your retail store might seem simple: You want to draw more customers to your store’s website. But this objective requires knowledge of ecommerce SEO, or search engine optimization. The good news is, SEO is a skill you can learn, and you’ll be fitting it into your online marketing campaign in no time.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. And, it’s a major part of marketing your business because almost everyone using the internet is also using a search engine, the most popular being Google. The basic idea of SEO is that you can learn how Google’s algorithm works in order to get more people to find your site.

Proper SEO helps prove to search engines, like Google, that your site is a legitimate option to show its users. It’s completely free, but the results can work like great paid ad placement: If you do it right, your website will show up on the first page of Google and maybe even the first overall result.

One of the biggest concepts in SEO is the use of keywords and keyphrases. These are the terms or words that searchers will use when looking for companies like yours. For example, “best sunglasses under $100” is an especially viable keyphrase for an online retailer of sunglasses. If you use this keyphrase on your site, searchers will see you in the results when they Google that phrase.

Why does SEO matter in eCommerce and retail?

SEO is one of the best ways to get more traffic to your online retail store. It lets you target certain words and phrases, so you’ll show up when users look up these phrases. Because you don’t need to pay to use SEO techniques, it’s like a free ad.

SEO can also create a snowball effect for your online store. The more people who click your store, the better you’ll rank on Google, and the better your SEO methods will work. This is why retail SEO is the main focus of so many marketing campaigns.

How SEO fits into your ecommerce marketing strategy

The name of the game is getting visitors to your site, and SEO does that well. If a customer is wondering about the legitimacy of an ecommerce store, they often rely on Google results. Specifically, lots of searchers will consider the stores found on the first page of Google the best stores in a given industry or category. Showing up on that first page gives you a distinct advantage over your competitors.

Many experts cite the importance of retail SEO in your ecommerce marketing strategies. It helps existing strategies work better and it opens the door to future strategies.

How to use SEO in your online store

So where does ecommerce SEO fit into your online store? SEO methods can be used in your product descriptions, an About Us page, a blog you host on your site, and your homepage. Whenever you have written content on your site, ensure that it uses some SEO strategies. Google will look at your whole website when it determines how high you should show up on their list, so simply using SEO on just one page of your site probably isn’t going to work.

The best way to incorporate SEO? Start a blog on your page. This is the tried-and-true method of some of the largest online retailers across the globe. There is a lot of room for success if you do it right.

How to research keywords

You might be wondering how you’re supposed to know the different keywords and phrases to use on your site. After all, you’ll be targeting specific phrases.

There are a few ways to do keyword research for your online retail store:

  • Use a specialized SEO tool
  • See what your competitors are doing
  • Use the autocomplete feature on Google
  • Look at Google’s “related searches” tab

Many of those methods are a matter of “easier said than done,” which is why online retailers tend to stick with specialized SEO tools. You might consider using an automated website builder that incorporates these ecommerce SEO tools to give you the best results and save you time.

For certain industries, you might be able to just guess what customers are going to search. Often, the obvious choices fall into the category of “short-tail keywords,” or just a word or two. These are searches for things like “bicycle” or “best white wine.” Because these search terms are so obvious and universal, there’s a lot of competition for them, and it can be really tough to rank for them.

ecommerce SEO requires keyword research -- check to see where your keyphrase ranks on search engines

Another option is to target really specific searches, called “long-tail keywords.” An example of a long-tail keyword would be “leather patterned handbag under $300” — something specific that a majority of people wouldn’t be looking up. This means fewer competitors will target the same phrase. If you can take over the results for this long-tail keyphrase, then you’ll be the top result on Google for that specific search.

How content marketing with SEO can boost your eCommerce store

For many online retailers, content marketing comes naturally. A lot of tips for building a solid content marketing strategy revolve around knowing the industry and your product well — which, as the business owner, you undoubtedly do.

Using SEO in these strategies is just another part of that product and industry knowledge. The best way to incorporate SEO is to do what you normally do, then tack on SEO at the end.

What does this mean? If you’re putting together an article about a new pair of shoes that you’re releasing, write the article as you normally would, drawing on your expertise and proven marketing strategies. In the end, put together your SEO keyphrases and insert them where they make sense in the article. If your content marketing plan is already working, don’t let SEO change it completely. SEO is there to help your plan, not to create a brand new one.

The benefit of adding SEO to your already established content marketing strategy is that you’ll see bigger and more immediate results. Traffic will increase to your store and your sales should go up along with it.

For example, let’s say you currently have a 4% conversion rate. This means that 4% of people who visit your online store ultimately make a purchase. Imagine you don’t use any SEO and get 1,000 visitors a month. When your SEO plan starts working, you might see 5,000 visitors a month. Even if your conversion rate doesn’t go up, you’re still getting five times the sales every month.

The beauty of SEO is that it will probably increase your conversion rate, too. Customers will find you through a specific search on Google. This means that more of them will be ready to buy a particular product and they’re just looking for the right store.