How to optimize your ecommerce website
Ariane Alyerunga

Ariane Alyerunga

July 21, 2020

For any e-commerce website, appearing at the top of search results is a top priority. Although pay per click (PPC) can put you above organic traffic, the long term cost of such an endeavor may be unsustainable. You need to earn the number one spot organically, and SEO is the best way to do this. In this guide, you will learn how to implement SEO for e-commerce websites and the best ways to optimize your site for the best performance.


Why you need SEO

Search Engine Optimization is a fundamental requirement for e-commerce websites. Your products need to rank above your rivals, and they must appear the right way for potential customers to consider visiting your site. When e-commerce optimization is done correctly, it helps your website rank highly, and ensures your pages provide the most compelling answers to pertinent user questions.

Optimizing your e-commerce website can provide a continuous, cost-free source of high-converting leads for your website. This means you won’t need to spend so much on other forms of advertising.

In a study conducted in 2017 to assess how e-commerce platforms generate traffic for their websites, analysts found that nearly 40% is derived from organic search. Search engine optimization will help you grow your organic traffic and improve your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERP). With a growing number of internet users relying on Google to conduct product research, the need for optimized e-commerce websites and product pages cannot be overstated.


Keyword research for e-commerce websites

The foundation for any productive SEO optimization strategy starts with keyword research. Finding and targeting the right keywords for your business is vital to your SEO efforts. Turning your attention to the wrong target keyword may harm your impressions or draw low-converting visitors to your platform. Both of these are bad for business.


How to do keyword research

The first stage of e-commerce SEO requires that you list your category and product pages, then identify and map the keywords to target on a page-by-page basis.

Product-centered keywords

For e-commerce keyword research, you’ll want to focus on product-driven keywords and incorporate them into your homepage, blog posts, and product categories. You must also target keywords that show a medium-high search volume, provided that they are relevant to your brand and not too competitive.

Buyer Intent

Search intent is classified into 3 main categories:

Informational: when the user is interested in specific information. It may be simple, like “what is the time in Nairobi,” and provide instant results. It could also be complicated, like “the most effective link building strategies,” and require a thorough explanation.

Navigational: this kind of search reflects the intent to find a specific application, website, or service. Common examples of navigational searches include “Amazon,” LinkedIn login, and so on.

Commercial: search intent may be classified as commercial when the user looks for a specific product but has not yet committed to making a purchase. Examples of searches that belong to this category include “best smartphone cases,” “best graphic design software,” etc.

Transactional: here, the user displays a clear intention to buy something. The searcher has already decided to purchase a specific tool or product. Examples “buy a MacBook Air,” “Buy a Nikon d500,” and “buy shoes online.” You’ll want to target more transactional keywords than informational keywords. Since your priority is to rank for keywords that lead people to make purchases, transactional keywords will ensure a high conversion rate.


How to find them

Leverage buyer intent – the reason behind the consumer’s keywords when conducting research online. It will show you their position in the buyer cycle. For instance, a person searching for a relatively broad key phrase such as “women’s jeans is likely at the research stage (top of the funnel), which means they’re still evaluating the options available and haven’t committed to making a purchase. Someone looking for men’s casual jeans, size 35 strongly suggests they are willing to make a purchase, owing to the specific, detailed nature of their query (also described as a long-tailed keyword). This is transactional or commercial intent, and it is what your SEO keyword research should target.

Your product descriptions are essential too

You need to provide a detailed description of your product and what it does from the consumer’s point of view. Think, “what would I want to know if I were interested in buying this product.”

Tools to help you find e-commerce keywords

Employing keyword research tools will ease the process of finding keyword ideas for your e-commerce website. Here are some of the most popular tools in the SEO community.


SEMRush keyword magic tool.

The SEMRush keyword magic tool offers access to a vast database with over 17 billion keywords. It is particularly suited to finding long-tail keywords. You should add long-tail keywords to your list because they are less competitive than broad terms, and in many cases, they offer a high click-through because they’re used by searchers with transactional intent.

With long-tail keywords, you can steadily build authority and begin ranking for profitable keywords that have high search volume. Ranking for the competitive keywords won’t be easy since many e-commerce giants are competing for them.

SEM rush keyword overview.

This tool provides a comprehensive evaluation of a keyword’s value and its search volume (both global and national). It shows the number of possible Search engine results features, search volume, and competitiveness. It also provides related keyword variations and keyword questions.

Amazon suggest: amazon can be an effective way to find ideas for long-tail keywords. All you need to do is type one of your primary product-related keywords into the search bar, and before you hit the search button, Amazon will provide a list of long-tail suggestions.

Google keyword planner: Google’s keyword planner can be used to evaluate search volume and commercial intent. You’ll want to target medium-high competition keywords for your e-commerce site. You can view this in the Google planner dashboard by checking the competition rating, which reports how competitive the bids are for that keyword in paid search. To assess commercial intent, you’ll want to check the top of page bid. It reflects how much advertisers are spending per click for paid advertisements. The higher the bid, the more profitable the keyword is.

Google suggest: type your preferred keyword into the Google search bar, and Google will propose relevant keyword variations through autocomplete. For instance, if you were to type Search engine optimization Uganda, you would see suggestions like “search engine optimization companies in Uganda,” “Search engine optimization in Kampala,” and so on. In addition, if you scroll to the bottom of Google’s results pages, you will find suggestions based on what other people were looking for concerning your keyword.


How to map the right keywords to your pages.

The next step is to sort through your keywords and identify the most appropriate ones for your campaign. You should avoid the highly competitive keywords (the ones that everyone is trying to rank for); it will be nearly impossible to gain a foothold against your rivals, especially if they’re established players in the industry. For a new e-commerce store, your priority should be ranking for less competitive keywords on each product and category. Though finding keywords through page by page evaluation is the preferred approach, it takes a lot of time.

Consequently, it is recommended that you begin with the most critical pages on your site. Google Analytics will help you find them.


Keyword gap analysis

Keyword gap analysis is the process of finding keywords that deliver traffic to your competitors but not to your platform. In simple words, a keyword gap analysis will help you find valuable opportunities that you didn’t know about. Finding gaps in your keywords will open new opportunities for content that reaches more of your audience than before. Several tools can help you do this:

Alexa: Alexa’s competitor keyword matrix comes with a keyword gap tool that identifies gaps for your website. It uncovers terms and phrases your audience loves to use but aren’t in your content.

There is also the SEMRush keyword gap tool. This will help you identify the most appropriate keywords by comparing 5 competitors. The tool will also find keyword overlaps, common keywords, and unique keywords that only you rank for. After you’ve compiled your final list of keywords, you can incorporate them into your content.

Long-tail keywords for e-commerce websites

As mentioned earlier, long-tail keyword research is just as crucial as finding primary keywords. Though they are less competitive, they enjoy significantly higher conversion rates and are more likely to increase the quantity of targeted traffic that visits your website.

Here is an example to illustrate the difference between the two.

Primary keyword: buy shoes

long-tail keyword: buy black leather office shoes for men.

Long-tail keyword research also provides added ranking opportunities for your e-commerce website. If the long-tail keywords don’t fit into existing product and category pages, you may use them for a content marketing campaign.


Site architecture

Optimal site architecture simplifies crawl ability and usability, and both these factors improve SERP rankings. For your e-commerce site, this will mean making navigation both user friendly and search engine friendly. You’ll need to organize your website in such a way as to ensure visitors make a limited number of licks to get to any product from the homepage. The general rule here is that it should take 3 clicks or less. It will improve user experience and keep your bounce rate low. From a search engine’s point of view, it will be easier to index your website and preserve link authority, often diluted the farther a product page is from your home page.


URL optimization

Optimizing your URLs makes them easy to remember and Search engine friendly. They should be relevant, concise, and incorporate your target keyword whenever possible. You’ll want to avoid long URLs as they are hard for search engines to read.

Here’s an example:

Avoid URLs that have too many numbers. They are hard to read, memorize, and are detrimental to user experience since they don’t convey any information to the customer.

Here is an illustration of what you need to avoid:

On-page SEO for eCommerce

Title tag optimization: title tags, often referred to as page titles, have remarkable SEO potential. This arises from the fact that they inform both search engines and consumers about the content of a particular page. They appear as blue clickable headings in search engine results pages. An ideal title tag should be between 55 and 60 characters long. It should be descriptive and include your target keywords. Your platform name shouldn’t come first. Remember, search intent is king.

Meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are content that appears directly below the title tag in the search engine results pages, which means they also play a crucial role in click-through rates. So, how are they optimized?

Here are a few quick guidelines.

  • The meta description length should be about 150 characters.
  • The description should be unique to the page (don’t copy-paste). Your descriptions should be concise.
  • Explain to the customer why they should choose your site. Include offers like discounts, free shipping, and so on.

This guide has covered the basics of SEO for e-commerce, but there’s more to learn. After you’ve internalized and implemented the advice in this guide, you’ll want to study advanced content marketing strategies and off-page SEO to make your marketing campaigns more fruitful.

Ecommerce SEO can be a complicated and time-consuming endeavor, but with the knowledge shared in this post, you have a strong head start. With proper optimization, you will increase organic search traffic, click-through rates, and conversions, and all these factors will directly benefit the profitability of your e-commerce website. If you lack the time or resources to do it on your own, consider hiring a third party. Several companies that offer digital marketing in Uganda and you could consult them for help with your website. Examples include Dream star digital, Sadja websolutions, and optibrave.