E-Commerce

SEO

Grow Business Visibility

E-Commerce SEO (Search Engine Optimization) helps increase traffic to your website. If you convert this traffic into sales, you can greatly increase business revenue.

Online trading is huge in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics made up 25% of all retail sales in 2023. We can see this area has had year-on-year growth since 2006 and a peak during the pandemic with nearly half of all sales placed online in the UK.

With young people today growing up with smartphoned and online shopping widely accepted, this is a figure that could grow even further in the future.

UK Internet Sales as a percentage

 

Whilst e-commerce SEO is primarily involved in generating online visits, it can also help generate sales in-store.

Once your website is attracting visitors, it can provide a significant boost to your bricks and mortar store if you have one. People will find your shop online and you can benefit from in-store visits and telephone enquiries regarding your products or service.

Most e-commerce websites have a basic structure. Understanding this structure can help when it comes to SEO and how different pages can rank.

E-commerce Structure 

Most e-commerce websites have:

  • A Home Page
  • Categories or Collection Pages
  • Product Pages
  • A Checkout

This is very simple, you may land on a home page, navigate to a particular category, choose a product and checkout.

It is very similar to a supermarket when you consider the structure or layout.

Here we have a shop, the shop has aisles or lanes with collections of products, here you will find a product, add it to your trolley and go to the till. Comparisons with a normal in-store experience are as follows:

So if you are familiar with the layout of a supermarket, you are already familiar with the structure of most e-commerce websites.

 

 Structure of a Shop Compared to a Website

Traditional StoreWebsite
Store Front EntranceHome Page or Landing Page
AisleCategory Page
ProductsProduct Page
Shopping TrolleyCart or Basket
TillCheckout

Store Front Compared to Homepage

Everybody knows a local shop, in the UK most people will know Asda, it’s similar to Walmart in the USA.

Before you go in you pretty much know what to expect. You may not pay too much attention to the offers or banners scattered around the entrance if you know what you came for. You have to pass through the entrance to reach a product and put it in your trolley.

Website home pages work very similarly. If you know you want to purchase a product from Amazon, you may type Amazon into a search engine and land on the home page, similar to a store entrance, and from here you will navigate to a product.

But let us say you are walking down a street and see a shop you have never visited before and you walk in. To your surprise there is a leak in the roof, the lights are blinking and the aisle seems to be hidden around a corner. You could be justified in walking straight back out.

It is like this for websites too, 1st impressions count. If a user lands on your home page and it takes 10 seconds to load, and they can’t see where they need to go, they will bounce straight back to the search results.

When a customer does this we call it a “Bounce”. And yes, this is a metric we can measure.

 

Optimising an E-commerce Home Page

To optimise your home page for SEO we should 1st pay attention to the meta title of your site, does it contain your brand name and a target keyword you want to rank for that page?

Users only takes a user seconds to start developing an impression of your site, they may not even have scrolled past the fold for this impression to start materialising so if we want users to navigate we need a positive 1st impression.

Pages that are linked to from the home page receive increased link equity so we should be putting links to our most important pages or products on the home page.

The header needs to look professional and any banners need to fit in with the style of the website. Any errors here and you will be at a disadvantage compared to stores that influence a positive 1st impression.

Banners are also often used on websites, but did you know only 1% of people click on a banner? Images that are second or third place on a slider will also get very minimal clicks of this 1%, so don’t expect a slider to gain massive amounts of clicks.

People are task orientated and items on the banner may not be what they have come to shop for. Here we need to use statistics and look at trends, what are people who land on your home page searching for? If your offering does not align with what they seek, you will increase the chances of them leaving quickly.

Unlocking this data can help improve the Click Through Rate (CTR) to deeper pages of the website and send a positive signal to the search engines. This is because the user has not bounced off the site but clicked through to investigate further pages.

If you have a large number of positive reviews, this can be used to help enforce a positive opinion straight away and help reduce the bounce rate. So on our home page, we need to enforce positive signals on our customers and encourage them to investigate the site further.

 

 

The Aisle Comapred To A Collection

Once you are in the shop you may want to find some beans. So you look for the aisle with “Tinned Foods”. From here you will browse the aisle and look for the exact tin of beans you want, you may even try a new brand of beans, maybe they look nicer, cheaper or placed on special offer.

On a website when we are on a collection page we can filter all the beans by price, popularity, and ratings. He we ponder what tin of beans to potentially purchase.

 

Optimising Collection pages

If you have a Shopify website your collection pages are where you group similar types of products. On Magento, these are called category pages.

The easiest way to conceptualise a collection page is to think of it as a box containing things. Say we have a box with a label on it called “shoes” when you open the box we want to see products, ideally shoes.

Lots of companies can create collection pages and fail to mention any keywords within the collection. We need to align what the page title is and the products inside this category.

In this example, we have a page called Jackets. Now this a very competitive term with 18k searches per month in the UK. It’s obvious a user who searches for a “jacket” online is not searching for a “Hi-Vis Jacket. So the page title should be changed to “Hi-Vis Jackets” to match the product offering in terms of keywords.

 

Jackets on a website

 

So we need to do keyword research on creating our category pages and choose a keyword to target. This keyword must match the products you have in the category.

In this further example, a company have chosen a good keyword for the category in “Hi-Vis Jackets” but if we look at the products they are all named storm coats.

Not every product needs to have “Hi Vis Jacket” in its title, but we do need the category to contain the keywords or semantic keywords. A better idea here would have been to target the keyword “Storm Coats” as the page title. Another option would be to drop the Hi-Vis keyword in a few of the products so that it matches the collection title.

Storm Jackets on a website

 

These examples are the most basic form of e-commerce collection optomisation. They simply relate to keywords and anybody can optomise their category pages with this knowledge. You do not need to go all out where it becomes spammy, but make sure you have the target keyword on the page and in some products.

You can also analyse competitors, see if they have the target keyword or closely related words on their pages more then you do.

 

 

The Product Compared to A Product Page

In our supermarket we may now pick up a tin of beans, maybe we will inspect its nutritional value, have a closer look at the picture, do they look nice, does it have a use-by date?

On our product page, we may perform the same actions. We may look closer at the products and check out the various images. We will read about the products, their specifications or values. Can I return the item? How long does it take to deliver? Does it have reviews?

We will digest a lot of information about the product before making our decision, especially if we have never bought it before or are unsure exactly what we are getting.

E-commerce can be better than supermarkets for bundling items in certain scenarios. If I wanted to know what bread would go best with these beans in the shop, it may be an awkward question to ask. But in e-commerce, we can tell you and point you towards maybe special recipes you could use the beans for.

 

Optimising E-commerce Product Pages

On our product pages, we want to have a clear description. It is not good enough to just copy the text that a supplier has given you.

The aim is to rank high for the product so if someone searches the product specifically, we have the best chance of ranking high in the search engines.

If you have experience with the product you should give as much information as possible. Include specifications, information on delivery, reviews, images and rich content such as videos if possible.

You can quickly search for the item on Google and see who ranks top and ask yourself, how can I make my page better? Then set at at doing just this.

Price can also play a part here. If a user searches for a particular item and finds it for £100 and then searches Google and finds you are selling it for £300, the chances are they will click back to the previous site.

The price you set for a product does not impact SEO as in, search engines don’t look to show the cheapest, but it does affect it indirectly.

If you sell a product for cheaper then your competitors the customer is less likely to bounce off the page and will investigate further. People may also share links to the product online saying “Hey, look how much cheaper x item is here” and the page will receive backlinks and reviews.

We should also take care with product names. If you have a product called “Hi Vis Jacket #236252426”, what are the chances of somebody searching for this? Somebody may have found the exact product online, copied the title and then searched online for it.

But if you could call the product “Hi Vis Jacket with pockets” for example, you are targeting a more generic search term. The amount of people who search these terms may be low, but still greater than the product name with hashtags and numbers.

Considerations should take place around the naming of your products. Here keyword research becomes important, do you want to compete with everybody for this specific search or do you have any flexibility about the naming of products and the keywords you intend to target?

Sometimes adding a few lines of text or simply removing certain words can be the difference between placements on a product level.

 

The Checkout

In a shop when you get to the till with your tin of beans you may notice some other small value items around the cashier’s till. You will expect to be able to pay in cash or card and be familiar with the transaction process.

 

Optimising Your Checkout

Similarly, on an e-commerce website, you may notice some smaller value items before you checkout, maybe an optional delivery service or cheap add-on.

Here you will also expect to be served with a variety of payment options, credit card, debit card, PayPal, or maybe credit options from a range of companies.

Checkouts are not optomized for SEO but they can be optomised for conversions. We do not want the checkout to be unusal in any way or contain any hidden charges or suprises for us here.

Traditionally if you own a high street shop and are asked to name your average customer, it can be quite difficult.

But in today’s world, e-commerce companies have access to advanced analytics. We can tell what percentage of people are men or women who use the website, the age ranges they fall into, how much each age range spends, what time they purchase, how long it took to make a purchase decision, what their interests are, what device they browse your website on and so much more.

By taking all this information we can design a website that appeals to your visitors and helps you convert customers. If your website appeals to users, they will stick around and maybe return, all positive signals to the search engines.

If we can convert customers, they may return if they have a positive experience and use a branded search for a particular product. We do not want to let a poor checkout reduce the chances of repeat visits and purchases.

 

The Not So Secret Sauce

Okay so now we have walked you through the familiar routine of a purchase and some easy to understand optomisation tips, but we want to know about e-commerce SEO and how to gain visibility.

The answer is simply, to make each area better.

Make your home page, category pages, product pages, cart and checkout better. Better for users.

Make them easier to use, more fun, more engaging, more informative, and more accessible. And once you have done that, do it again and again and again.

SEO is iterative. The process never stops, you have to constantly strive to make your e-commerce website better.

By doing this users will find the website a much more agreeable experience. In return, you will be rewarded by the search engines and increased brand recognition.

Now of course SEO has many elements to consider, but good SEO can also be benficial for the user experience.

How Much is E-commerce SEO

E-commerce SEO is free in the sense that you are rewarded with a placement in the SERP and do not have to pay for that placement.

But to improve your e-commerce SEO you will need people of knowledge, SEO experts, web developers and designers.

You can do it all yourself if you have the ability or internal human resources. If not you will generally pay for e-commerce seo services from a company such as the Ethical Web Agency to  improve your website and your organic potential.

 

E-commerce SEO Techniques

Some techniques such as keyword research, understanding user intent, image optimization, website speed, accessibility, usability, technical fixes, site security and content quality impact how well your site will perform in the search engines to different degrees.

One important factor to consider is the search intent of users who visit your website. If you can understand what a user is seeking to achieve by visitng a certain page, you can optomise it to deliver on this proposition.

 

Understanding Search Intent

One key element of e-commerce SEO is user intent or search intent. If a person searches online for “The Best Beans” we can assume they are looking for information on the best beans. Simple.

Accordingly, Google and other search engines will show the page they believe satisfies this search query. This is an informational search, we know the intent of the user to gather information.

If a person searches for “buy beans”, we know this is a transactional query. A user is looking to buy beans now and the search results will be different.

So for your e-commerce store, you want to focus on transactional or commercial keywords. You could create an informative page discussing beans which could be great for users, but is there any intent to purchase?

You could increase your traffic substantially but if you are not paying attention to intent, these customers may not be in a purchase mindset.

There is a balance to be found here when creating content on your website. With an e-commerce store a big focus will be on products, but you still need more covering topics and informative pages for end users.

There are many ways to measure user intent but one common method is to look at them as:

 

Navigational Keywords

Navigational keywords are search terms where a user is looking to navigate to a particular page. This of terms such as “Hotmail login” or “Google Maps”.

The user will expect to find the page they were looking for with relative ease, click on the result and land on the exact page they were seeking.

As long as our pages are indexed, we expect the search engines to be able to identify that a user is looking for a particular page and they do a good job in most cases of presenting the correct page to the end user.

 

Informational Keywords

Informational keywords are search terms where a user is looking for information on a subject. “How long does it take to lose weight” or “Does Botox hurt”.

Here a user is seeking information and are seeking to educate themselves. This gathering of information may be a precursor to a future purchase decision or simply an information-gathering exercise for a multitude of reasons.

 

Commercial Keywords

Commercial keywords such as “best football boots” or “fast laptop computers” indicate a person is looking for an item with a commercial aspect.

These are products or services and a user is actively seeking information on their way to making a purchase. They could be at the top of the funnel or near the bottom. If you have an e-commerce store, these keywords, along with transactional keywords can help your store generate sales.

 

Transactional Keywords

Transactional terms such as “Football boots for sale” or “order pizza” indicate the customer is looking to make a purchase.

They don’t want information on the best football boots or how to make a perfect pizza, they want to buy.

 

Target Different Intents

Ideally, your website will target searches that have different user intent and grow traffic and sales this way.

If you have a website that sells football or soccer boots, you can have a blog post talking about “the best football boots”. A user may land on this page and follow a link to a different page with your collection of recommended football boots.

A different user may have typed into Google “football boots for sale” and also found this collection page. Their journey to the page has been direct and not through an informational page. They might have done this elsewhere or just decided not to bother and jump straight in with a purchase.

Another person may have typed in “(your company name) football boots” and used a navigational search.

When we bundle all these search intent terms together, we can explode the potential keywords a website can pick up traffic for and cover more bases.

Content Clustering and Topical Authority

When we set an approach to building our visibility for our e-commerce store, another technique is to use content clusters.

A content cluster is a collection of pages based around a topic. You may have heard of the phrase topical authority. This simply means how much you know about a particular subject.

Einstein for example would have great topical authority on gravity, or Ferrari would have great topical authority on cars.

Well, it’s the same with websites, if you can express your knowledge on a particular topic, you will gain topical authority on a subject.

If you have a niche website and you only sell beans, we want to grow our topical authority and also target different search intents. We do this by creating a content or keyword cluster.

Let’s look at how we can set up a cluster around our beans topic.

We will 1st create something called a pillar page. This is the main page on a topic and it will link out to sub-pages where users can keep on reading and expand their knowledge

Pillar page:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Beans

Subpages:

  • Health benefits of beans
  • Cooking with beans
  • Different types of beans and their uses
  • How to grow beans
  • Are beans good for you
  • The most expensive beans
  • Do beans make you fart
  • How to make a sauce for beans
  • How to slow-cook beans

Do beans make you fart is optional of course, but at 1000 searches per month it is a credible page, maybe you could link to a variety of beans that is not flatulence-enducing.

Now you may have noticed all these pages are informational in nature. A user may search for one of these topics and when Google is deciding what page to show it will think, your site knows a lot about beans. Look at all the information on the topic you have created.

You have in fact created topical authority by showcasing your knowledge on the subject.

You can link to your bean products from these pages also. The informational pages may be shared online and products that are linked from these pages will benefit from internal link juice flowing to the page. Again, this helps it along in the search engines.

Say we have a collection page called “beans and pulses”, you can link to this collection from these pages. Or when you are talking about a particular type of bean, you can link to the product directly.

Clusters can work in both e-commerce and service environments. If you have a furniture store and you sell 5000 different items you may think it is not feasible to create these clusters for every single category. If you sell curtains, wardrobes, sofas, TVs, kitchenware, garden tools and TVs how are you going to make clusters for all these categories?

This is a strategic decision the Ethical Web Agency can help you with. Have you noticed how when you search for a particular product online frequently you are provided with a website that focuses on a particular product?

If you search for wallpaper, the chances are you will be presented with a website dedicated to wallpaper only. This is because they have gained topical authority. They have lots of information on their website dedicated to wallpaper, they are experts in the field.

You may also get household brand names showing in the search results too if they have a reputation for a product. This is in part because people will search directly for them via a brand and product search. The search engines recognise these direct searches as an indicator of proficiency in the topic at hand.

E-Commerce Tools

Here at the Ethical Web Agency, we use a variety of tools to help our clients achieve top rankings in search engines. SEO tools help us with auditing websites and also provide key insights.

Nothing beats the human eye and experience, but they help us speed up the process and make informative decisions based on data.

There are hundreds of tools and software platforms you can subscribe to that help with e-commerce seo, but here are some of the best tools we use at the Ethical Web Agency.

 

Sem Rush Logo

Semrush

Semrush is a fantastic SEO suite. It has a multitude of features including site auditing, social media planning, link-building tools and position tracking.

If we have a product called “red beans” we can track its position in the search engines. It may be on page 2 and we want to push the product to page 1 or in the top positions.

We will perform updates to the page and track its movements in the search engines. The changes we make may be enough to push it up the search engines and by tracking its position we can monitor its performance month to month.

Semrush also has a fantastic organic keyword research tool that can help websites identify keywords to target and the intent behind these keywords.

 

Semrush Features

 

  • Position Tracking
  • Organic Traffic Insights
  • Backlink Toxicity Checker
  • Onpage SEO Tool
  • Site Auditing
  • Social Media Tracker
  • PPC Keyword Tool
  • Domain Overview
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Advertising Research
  • Content Marketing Toolkit
  • Brand Management
  • Keyword Research
  • User Intent Feature
  • Traffic Analytics

Ahrefs logo

Ahrefs

As your e-commerce website grows it will acquire links. Ahrefs is considered the best tool to use to monitor incoming links to your website.

You can also check on competitor links. If your page is ranking in 3rd place on Google and it has superior content than the competitor in 1st place, it is always a good practice to compare your page’s internal links against competitors.

You may find weaknesses in your backlink profile and valuable link opportunities that can not only bring more traffic to your website but also increase its authoritativeness.

 

 

Ahrefs Features

 

  • Organic Keyword Report
  • Site Audit
  • Site Explorer
  • Batch Analysis
  • Link Intersect Tool
  • Rank Tracker
  • Backlink Checker
  • Domain Rating Scores
  • SEO Toolbar
  • Content Gap Analysis
  • Content Marketing Toolkit
  • Competitor Analysis
  • Broken Link Checker
  • YouTube Keyword Tool
  • Set Up Alerts

Screaming Frog Logo

Screaming Frog

We use the tool to find many areas for improvement such as:

If your website has a lot of pages, this tool is crucial in helping to identify technical issues quickly and efficiently.

It also helps us find text on individual pages. Have you ever been on your website and found text such as “New from 2017”? The problem is that this was nearly a decade ago and somehow the text is still on the page. This is not something a user will appreciate as what might have once been a good idea, it now makes the product appear very old.

With screaming frog, we can crawl the website for a particular phrase or word, identify what pages the text is on and resolve the issue.

 

Screaming Frog Features

 

  • 404 pages
  • 301 redirects
  • Redirect chains
  • Duplicate Content
  • Missing Alt Text
  • Broken links
  • Broken Images
  • Duplicate meta titles
  • Duplicate descriptions
  • Sitemap Issues
  • Canonical Issues
  • Mixed Content
  • Http Pages
  • Crawl Competitors
  • Low Text to Html Ratio

Microsoft Clarity Logo

Microsoft Clarity

Microsoft Clarity records users on your website. It helps us to view user sessions and draw conclusions.
By watching how users interact with your website we can find lots of areas to improve not only how they navigate your website but identify barriers to purchase.

Just make sure to have some popcorn at the ready as if you have a busy website you will soon have 1000’s of recorded sessions to look through.

Anyone can watch session recordings, but understanding the buying process and identifying areas for improvement takes experience we can provide here at the ethical web agency.

Microsft Clarity is also completely free, so if you are not using the tool go and install it on your e-commerce website and start making your site better for visitors.

 

Microsoft Clarity Features

 

  • Session Recording
  • Heatmaps
  • Click Map
  • Event Tracking
  • Dead Clicks
  • Rage Clicks
  • Engagement Metrics
  • Scroll Depth
  • Reporting by Device
  • Conversion Funnels
  • Referral Analysis
  • User Segmentation
  • Query Filtering
  • Mobile Analytics
  • Anomaly Detection

Google Search Console Logo

Google Search Console

We use Google search console to check what search terms a particular page is picking up clicks from in Google. In the old days of SEO, people used to focus on one keyword per page, but in reality, a page can pick up clicks for a multitude of searches.

We also use other tools within GSC to check for crawling issues, and issues around page indexation and apply recommendations presented to us by Google themselves around particular pages.

Through this tool, we can also disavow any spammy links the website has picked up and respond to any manual actions, penalties and security issues picked up by Google.

Google Search Console also easily integrates with other reporting tools such as Google Analytics and Looker Studio.

 

Google Search Console Features

 

  • URL Inspection
  • Submit URLs fro indexing
  • Submit Sitemaps
  • Mobile Usability Reporting
  • Core Web Vitals
  • Disavow Links
  • Security Issues
  • International Targeting
  • Page Experience Report
  • Keyword Visibility
  • Manual Actions
  • Page Insights
  • Query Filtering
  • Structured Data Issues
  • Index Reporting

You can do Things Quickly or Properly

When you are setting up your e-commerce website and adding products, please bear this in mind. You can either do things quickly or properly.

Your supplier may have just given you a new brochure with 1000 new products and you are eager to get them on as soon as possible. You may be short on human resources so will look for shortcuts.

One option available now is to use AI. You may duplicate hundreds of pages and use AI to create your content. You may not even go that far and just decide to copy the text the supplier has sent you and copy and paste it into your e-commerce website.

This is doing things quickly. E-commerce stores that take the time to write a product description using knowledge, experience and know-how, in our experience beat competitors who take shortcuts.

For every product you have, you need to decide on a product title, analyse the competition and make your product page better than competitors.

This takes time.

Some business owners may say “We don’t sell any of them anyway, just put them on quickly”. Well, the reason they do not sell any one them may be exactly a symptom of this attitude.

When you work with the Ethical Web Agency, we do not take shortcuts as it will impact your performance, our professional pride and high standards will not allow for this. We get the job done, but properly.

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