E-commerce SEO: The Beginner’s Guide

Understanding how customers search for the products you sell will help you create and optimise pages that will rank for those terms.

Although it might seem simple enough, it can be difficult to avoid technical difficulties along the way.

To increase the amount of free traffic to your online store, use this guide to help you navigate the e-commerce SEO minefield.

Chapter 1. Technical SEO

Although it may seem the most difficult to begin with, technical SEO is essential for e-commerce sites. There are a few things to keep in mind, but mostly it’s because of problems with faceted navigation. Let’s go over each one.

HTTP

A secure protocol called HTTPS is used to transmit data between websites and users. It stops hackers from stealing private data that customers frequently give to online retailers, like their name, address, and credit card information.

Since 2014, it has also been a minor Google ranking factor.

If your store uses HTTPS, you’ll be able to tell because the address bar will display a “lock” icon:

The majority of well-known e-commerce platforms come standard with HTTPS, so most users shouldn’t have any concerns. If it is, however, be sure to fix it.

Site structure

The organization and linking of the pages on your website is referred to as site structure.

Most online shops arrange their pages roughly along these lines:

These two factors explain why this structure makes sense:

It’s simple to use; users only need a few clicks to find what they’re looking for.

Google can “follow” internal links from page to page, making it easier for Google to find your pages.

Generally speaking, creating your main category pages is simple enough. Make them your main selling items, please.

For instance, if you sell audio gear, it might include turntables, headphones, and speakers.

You can target popular search terms like “wired headphones” and “wireless headphones” on your subcategory pages. The next chapter will teach you how to locate these search terms.

Faceted navigation

Visitors can filter the products on category and subcategory pages with faceted navigation.

Despite being beneficial for visitors, filter combinations frequently result in new parameterized URLs, which can seriously harm SEO.As an illustration, if you specify that you want red Sony wired headphones, the URL might look something like this: /headphones/?color=red&brand=sony&type=wired.

There are thousands of possible combinations even if you only have a few filters. This implies that Google may end up crawling and possibly indexing thousands of new URLs.That’s not ideal because it could:Reduce the ranking power of important pages – Filter combinations frequently result in the creation of multiple URLs with identical content. The duplicate pages will each receive a portion of the ranking signals unless Google realises this (which doesn’t always happen).Stop Google from crawling critical pages because it has limited resources that it can devote to your website’s crawling. It might not have the resources to crawl all crucial pages if it has to crawl a lot of junk.These problems can be resolved in a number of ways. The best option is typically to canonicalize faceted URLs to their master category or subcategory for beginners and intermediates.Some SEO platforms for e-commerce already do this. Install the Ahrefs SEO Toolbar, visit a few faceted URLs, and look at the “Indexability” tab to see if this is the case for your website. It’s likely that this is not a problem on your site if the canonical URL is not faceted.

Chapter 2. Keyword research

You can better understand how people search for your products by doing keyword research. This information can be used to develop product pages and subcategories that satisfy searcher demand. Let’s examine how to carry this out.

Finding subcategory keywords

The types of goods you sell in a category are displayed on subcategory pages.

For instance, there might be wired and wireless headphones under the category of headphones.

Many of the subcategories that make sense for your store are probably already known to you. However, since there are numerous ways that people can search, it is advantageous for SEO to make subcategories that correspond to those terms.

Here’s how to use Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to generate ideas for subcategories:

Add a few general keywords associated with your category.

Click the Matching terms report link.

Look for the products you sell.

Here are some concepts for subcategories of headphones:

Just keep in mind that this isn’t solely about search volumes. Use logical terms and common sense when selecting subcategories.

For instance, “audio technica open ear headphones” is too specific to be a useful subcategory. Unless you sell more than a few pairs of “bone conduction headphones,” the same is true.

Listed below is a quick guide to selecting subcategories for SEO:

For the other categories, repeat the procedure.

Finding product page keywords

If you sell branded goods, you don’t really need to do product keyword research because customers will look for the goods themselves.

For instance, there are an estimated 857K searches for “AirPods pro” each month in the United States:

If you sell these headphones, the keyword is already targeted on your product page.

However, if you’re selling unbranded goods or goods with obscure brand names, you might want to locate and target more descriptive search terms.

Let’s say, for illustration, that you sell a set of cat ear headphones. It might be preferable to target a relevant keyword that people actually search for, such as “cat ear headphones,” unless they are specifically looking for the brand or model.

Chapter 3. On-page SEO

On-page The procedure of optimising the content on your page is known as SEO. It includes improvements to the code behind the scenes and the content you see. Let’s go over some optimizations and factors to think about for e-commerce websites.

Title tags, meta descriptions, and H1s

For their title tags and meta descriptions, the majority of e-commerce sites use templates.

Here’s an illustration:

Writing unique copy for thousands of product and category pages is not anyone’s idea of fun, so using a templated approach makes sense. Sadly, it might result in stale, redundant copy that doesn’t encourage clicks.

A hybrid strategy that uses templates for the majority of pages and unique content for the ones that receive the most search traffic can help you solve this problem.

Here’s how to locate the Google Search Console (GSC) pages that receive the most search activity:

Click on the Search Results Report page.

Choose the “Pages” tab.

If you don’t use GSC, you can use your Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account to request a free estimate in Ahrefs’ Site Audit.

In Site Audit, choose your project.

Head over to the Page Explorer Filter for Internal Pages.

From highest to lowest, order by organic traffic

Simply use the category or product name for H1s.

URLs

URLs ought to be as uncomplicated and obvious as possible.

A straightforward template for category and subcategory pages is provided below:

domain.com/category/subcategory/

Here are a few categories and subcategories from our audio store as an illustration of how this structure is used:

domain.com/headphones/ \sdomain.com/headphones/wireless

domain.com/headphones/wired

domain.com/headphones/over-ear

domain.com/headphones/in-ear

When it comes to products, things are a little more difficult because the obvious structure will be as follows:

domain.com/category/subcategory/product

Products frequently fit into multiple categories, though, so this can result in duplicate content. In other words, the availability of the same product at different URLs.

As an illustration, since AirPods are both wireless and in-ear headphones, they will have two URLs:

domain.com/headphones/in-ear/airpods

domain.com/headphones/wireless/airpods

Use this model for product URLs to solve the issue: domain.com/product

Product and category descriptions

Pages for products and categories frequently have minimal or no content. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, adding distinctive descriptions can improve both Google and user comprehension of the page.

Here are some pointers for doing so:

Make them brief and sweet.

Ensure that they are instructive and beneficial.

cite long-tail keyword phrases

Plug a competing product or category page for your main target keyword into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and look at the top 10 rankings in the Organic keywords report to find long-tail variations and synonyms.

Here are a few notable keywords, for instance. In addition, one of the top pages for “wireless headphones” ranks for:

Bluetooth earbuds

Bluetooth earphones

Bluetooth headphones

These words will be simple and obvious to mention in the page’s description.

Chapter 4. Link building

Due to the fact that there is typically no benefit for another party to link to a product or category page, link building for e-commerce stores is challenging. There are a few tried-and-true techniques, though. To obtain links to your homepage, you can also employ other strategies. Let’s discuss a few strategies.

Product feedback technique

The product feedback technique can help you appear on lists of the best products in that category if you sell products that are unique to you.

Here is how it works:

Discover well-liked lists of the top products.

In exchange for feedback, provide the author with your product

Request that they think about adding it to their list (if they like the product)

This is an easy way to create links that lead directly to product pages because the majority of authors will link to the products they mention.

Search Google for best [product category] -brand name to find lists of the best products that don’t include yours.

To find popular lists, you can also conduct an “In title” search in Ahrefs’ Content Explorer and filter for popular pages.

As an illustration, the following list of the top smart speakers omits any mention of Sonos speakers:

Sonos could offer to send the author the product for free in exchange for feedback in order to increase the number of links pointing to one of its smart speaker product pages. If the author adores it, Sonos may approach them to see if they’d be open to including it in their article.

Unlinked mentions in reviews

Unlinked mentions are references to your brand or products online that don’t include a link to your website.

There are many different causes for them. Due to the lack of a clear or compelling pitch angle, they are frequently challenging to convert into links.

Here’s an unlinked mention of Audio-Technica as an illustration:

Unfortunately, there isn’t a strong pitch angle in this situation. That’s because there are no links to other mentioned brands and the unlinked mention is in a story about a band that sells equipment to support music education.

However, asking them to link to the official product page so readers can learn more about the product is a logical and at least marginally persuasive angle if someone reviews your product without linking to you.

Here’s how to use Content Explorer to find product reviews that contain unlinked mentions:

review and “your brand name”

In title search mode should be selected.

Your domain should be entered in the “Highlight unlinked” filter.

Select the “Only pages with highlighted domains” checkbox, then click export to export the outcomes.

Product reviews that don’t contain a link to your website are listed in the resulting CSV file.

Even a small number of reviewers adding the link will result in a few simple links to the product pages.

HARO

A service called HARO (Help a Reporter Out) connects reporters and bloggers with sources.

In exchange for your free source registration, HARO will send you daily emails with requests like these: The blogger in this instance is looking for advice on the top headphones for the workplace.

Welp Magazine’s website (which we enter into Site Explorer) shows up as a DR 59 site with a tonne of organic traffic. Therefore, exploring the link is definitely worthwhile.

Even better, we know the blogger will include links to those they highlight because of how they phrased their request:

To cut a long story short, we could probably obtain a link from this website by sending the blogger our recommendation along with the other information they require.

Chapter 5. Advanced e-commerce SEO tips

With e-commerce SEO, everything mentioned above will get you off to a good start. However, there are other actions you can take to increase search traffic and revenue. Let’s examine a few of them.

Index faceted URLs with search demand

You probably encountered terms during keyword research that didn’t make sense for subcategories because there are numerous ways that people search for products. However, if your store uses faceted navigation, it’s likely that you already have parameterized URLs aimed at many of these terms.

For instance, 200 searches for “jabra over ear headphones” are reportedly made each month in the United States:

If you sell these goods and let customers use faceted navigation to filter for them, they’ll probably land at a URL like this:

/headphones?brand=jabra&design=over-ear

This URL is probably not indexable because the majority of e-commerce sites canonicalize faceted URLs to a master category or subcategory. Change the canonical to a self-referencing one to correct this, though.

If you apply this strategy to all faceted URLs that have high search traffic, you frequently increase search traffic without adding any new content.

Aleyda Solis has provided a cheat sheet to assist you in determining which ones to index:

Create product-led content for search

By using your products, readers can solve their problems thanks to content that is product-driven. This content can draw more potential customers from organic search by being written around keywords that people are searching for.

One blog post about repairing headphones that only function in one ear, for instance, receives an estimated 12.8K monthly search visits:

Before recommending new, robust headphones for readers who weren’t able to get things working, it clarifies how to fix common problems.

In this instance, the website suggests buying items from Amazon. However, there is no reason why you can’t endorse your products and include links to them in these articles.

You’ll need to conduct a little more keyword research to discover what people search for before you start.

Here is how it works:

Enter a few of your selling items in the Keywords Explorer tool.

Click the Matching terms report link.

Flip the “Questions” tab open.

Look for keywords referencing issues that your products can assist in resolving.

For instance, the searcher isn’t looking for new headphones, so keywords like “how to clean headphones” are useless. However, because most headphones can’t be fixed easily, buying a new pair of headphones may be the best option. Keywords like “how to fix broken headphones” may work in this case.

Add schema markup to product pages

Code known as schema markup aids search engines in comprehending and displaying your pages more effectively in search results. By including it on product pages, they can obtain rich snippets like these:

Here is an example of schema markup for a page promoting AirPods Pro:

<script type=”application/ld+json”>

{

  “@context”: “https://schema.org/”,

  “@type”: “Product”,

  “name”: “AirPods Pro”,

  “image”: “”,

  “brand”: {

    “@type”: “Brand”,

    “name”: “Apple”                        

  },

  “offers”: {

    “@type”: “Offer”,

    “url”: “”,

    “priceCurrency”: “USD”,

    “price”: “249”,

    “availability”: “https://schema.org/InStock”,

    “itemCondition”: “https://schema.org/NewCondition”

  },

  “aggregateRating”: {

    “@type”: “AggregateRating”,

    “ratingValue”: “4.9”

  }

}

</script> 

It provides Google with information about the product’s name, brand, price, review score, and availability.

You don’t have to write the code by hand; there are many free schema markup generators like this one. Schema markup can also be integrated into some e-commerce platforms.

Keep on top of technical issues

A strong technical foundation enables you to steer clear of common problems that afflict e-commerce stores. Technical SEO, however, requires ongoing work. New issues will develop over time.

Therefore, it’s crucial to keep an eye on your technical SEO health and address problems as they arise.

You can do this for nothing by using Site Audit and an Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account. It keeps an eye out for more than 100 common SEO problems, such as duplicate content, canonicalization problems, and orphan pages, which are frequently encountered on e-commerce websites.

To keep tabs on problems, you can plan daily, weekly, or monthly crawls.

Keep learning

keep learning about e-commerce SEO is not an easy process. Getting the fundamentals right is simple enough, but satisfying search demand while avoiding common technical problems is frequently trickier than it seems.

To learn more about those issues, check out these useful resources:

Definition, Illustrations, and SEO Best Practices for Faceted Navigation

Why Duplicate Content Occurs and How to Fix It

Canonical Tags: Beginner’s Guide in Plain English

What Does Crawl Budget Mean, and Should SEOs Care?

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By Michael Caine

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