Managing an eCommerce site can be difficult. With so many pages to look after, update and optimise, it can be tricky to know where to start.

Whilst there is a lot of general SEO advice out there, we wanted to provide some specific eCommerce SEO tips, designed to maximise the optimisation of your online store, to help you drive more organic traffic for more conversions.

Here are ten eCommerce specific SEO tips that will help you to optimise your site and start seeing some serious results:

1 – Start with the right foundations

Just as a house is planned so that it makes logical sense when you move between the rooms so too should a website hierarchy be planned in a way that makes sense to users.

This is something that is easiest to get right at the start of your website build but by no means is something that can’t be fixed later.

Your hierarchy should be driven by keyword research but should also consider user behaviour.

The key here is to make sure that all your key categories are within 3 clicks from the homepage, with the most important and highest volume categories as close to the root as possible.

By designing a hierarchy that makes sense both to user and bots, you are aiding your site’s ability to get indexed and improving users’ experience.

Want to know more about pleasing both bots and humans for SEO purposes? Download the free ebook:

SEO essentials for eCommerce (download now)

2 – eCommerce SEO success is in the long tail

Unless your site is selling an incredibly niche product, it’s likely that you have a lot of organic competition.  

A search for “dresses” for example returns over 3,910,000,000 alone. Unless you are an established website it is going to be difficult to compete in that space.

That’s where long tail keywords come in. 

Long tail keywords are searches that generally contain 3+ words and are much more specific than your generic “dresses” search. This means there is much less competition for these searches and thus they are easier to compete for.

One of the best ways to find potential long tail search variations is to go directly to Google and look either in the “searches related to” section or the drop-down options in the search bar itself.

ecommerce seo services

The example above shows four non-branded longtail keywords that you can research and decide whether they are right for your business.

Another way to discover long tail opportunities is to use your own sites internal site search data to see what exactly people are looking for on your site.

From here you can make variations of category pages to cater to these searches.

Then watch your search rankings grow!

3 – Beware of keyword cannibalisation

Often when a site is being built, little attention is paid to the keywords that each page is targeting.

This can often lead to you competing with yourself for high-value keywords and missing out on often more profitable, long tail variations of a keyword.

The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you know what page is optimised for what. 

Also, be sure to follow the general rule that pages closer to the root should target shorter, more generic, high volume keywords and pages further away should target longer, more specific, low volume keywords.

By following this approach, you can be reasonably sure that you will avoid keyword cannibalisation, with the bonus of the more specific pages helping to build topical authority for those more generic pages.

4 – Keep URLs short and clean

URLs on any site, but especially ecommerce sites, can get out of hand quickly if strict rules are not in place.

There are a few rules that should be followed when creating URLs.

  • URLs should make sense to humans and bots
  • URLs should contain the target keyword within them.
  • URLs should still resolve if a portion of the URL string up to a forward slash is removed.
  • Hyphens should separate words.
  • Special characters should be avoided.
  • Stop words (and, but, a, of etc) should be removed

By doing this, your URLs become more informative and easier to understand. It also makes the application of breadcrumb (another ecommerce essential!) easier to implement.

 Learn how to create a perfect URL for SEO in the free ebook:

SEO essentials for eCommerce (download now)

5 – Index your faceted navigation

Whilst some would argue against this, in the right setting and done well this can be a great way to rank for different keyword variations without having to create new pages for each version.

ecommerce seo company

Start by performing keyword research on the different variations of your products.

E.g. if you have a category for desks look at the different search volume for variations in colour or material like ‘oak desk’ or ‘white desk’.

If there is search volume for these, don’t remove them from the search results but instead, allow them to be indexed. This allows you to increase your presence for longtail keywords, without having to create an excessive amount of category pages.

This works best when the URLs created by the addition of parameters are clear and readable as opposed to a random string of numbers, letters and special characters.

6 – Canonicals are your friend

Duplication is your enemy.

Unlike in the above example, most of the time, the URL strings created by your navigation are not ones you want to be indexed. They also dilute the authority of the main page and create duplications.

In this situation there are three remedies:

  • Canonicals
  • Applying a no index tag to the filter URLs
  • Directing Google on how to handle them within search console

Canonicals, if managed well, are the best way to handle these.

This would work by assigning the main page, generally the page without any kind of filtering, and then canonicalising all the filtered URLs to this one variant.

7 – Don’t use the manufacturer’s product description

Often when you get a new product from a manufacturer its comes with a generic description and the temptation is to take the easy route and use it.

Don’t.

If there is one thing that search engines loathe it’s duplicate content and using that description will hinder your chances of organic success.

Each product should have its own unique content that is informative and helpful.

On the other hand, if you have thousands of products this can seem like a daunting task.

Start with the most popular and/or highly searched for products and then as you add more products update these. Over time you should end up with a site free of duplication.

Want to know more about writing your own personal product description for SEO?

8 – Don’t just remove products

When a product is no longer available on a website, our initial response can be to simply remove the page.

Don’t do this.

seo for ecommerce

By removing the page and creating a new 404, we are hindering both bots and user’s experiences.

Based on the status of the product there are a couple of solutions.

  1. If the product is gone for good, then the page should be 301 redirected to either the category page or a similar product.
  2. If the product is just temporarily out of stock, then the page itself should be changed to let customers know when the product will be back in stock and allow them to sign up for a notification for when this happens.
  3. The other situation when someone may remove a product is when that product is seasonal. In this case, don’t remove the page, just update the copy to say when the product will be back and remove all navigations links to that page.

This means when the season kicks off again you have a page ready to go, that has retained its authority from previous years.

9 – Brand pages

In a lot of industries, there are key brands that consumers know and trust which also have high search volume.

Ranking well for these can bring in additional customers who previously may have gone straight to the brand to buy.

The best way to do this is to ensure that you have dedicated brand pages for each brand and that these pages contain all the products provided by that brand.

The page should also contain relevant information available to you.

It’s a bonus if you can work with the brand themselves, allowing you to secure additional content that will help your page rank well as well as that all-important backlink from the brand’s website.

10 – Markup is key

Not taking advantage of the different forms of structured data available to you is one of the biggest mistakes you can make for an ecommerce site.

Properly marking up your products makes it easier for users and search engines to find them and gives you additional impact in the search result, increasing your CTR.

There are 4 kinds of markup you should make a priority to have on your site:

  • Product: This is the minimum that you should have on your product pages as they are one of the first indications to search engines what that page is about. This will allow the results that the page appears to be much more specific and relevant to the user.
  • Pricing: One of the key factors that determine where a consumer buys from is the price. If this is something that you compete on it is worth having it marked up in the search.

seo ecommerce

  • Review: Reviews overall are a great conversion tool, but marking these reviews up so that they appear within the search results is a good way to increase CTR.
  • Availability: Another factor similar to reviews and pricing is availability mark up and can also have a big impact on CTR.

When all these features are used together it can make for a powerful search result, with a great payoff for your company.

Round up

By following these ten eCommerce SEO tips you will start to see some serious improvements in your organic search performance.

From increasing your visibility in the search results through structured data markups to optimising for a much great number of keywords through longtail optimisation, your opportunity to drive more traffic to your website will increase significantly.

We’d love to hear from you if you have any more great eCommerce SEO tips or tactics that have worked for you so leave us a comment below!

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Caitlin Draper-Wheeler

Caitlin Draper-Wheeler

Caitlin Draper-Wheeler is an award-winning SEO specialist living and working in Auckland, New Zealand. She has recently joined leading Auckland SEO Agency, Digital Hothouse and whilst she is relatively new to SEO (3 years and counting!), she has crammed a lot in so far. Caitlin has worked with some of New Zealand’s biggest brands across sectors including retail, telecommunications and entertainment. Outside of work, Caitlin loves the outdoors and enjoys getting out on the water in the summer or tramping some of New Zealand’s amazing countryside. Connect with Caitlin on LinkedIn or with Digital Hothouse on Twitter and keep up to date with all the latest digital marketing news and trends in NZ and across the world.