Does SEO for eCommerce matter?
Yes. Yes it does. Most successful eCommerce brands generate a whole bunch of business and traffic from their social media channels, their word of mouth, and other marketing strategies like email marketing and influencer marketing. But, most of those avenues are kind of useless unless you’re ranking decently on Google. Ignoring SEO in your online store means you’ll miss out on a heap of opportunities.
Optimising your online store for search
In 2018, Google found 51% of online shoppers use google to find their next online purchase. Optimising your online store for search is so important, if you like making sales. Like normal websites, there are a few key SEO basics you can implement to optimise your online store. Keyword-optimise your website content, jump on the content marketing bandwagon, and start building links to position your website as an authoritative site.
eCommerce Keyword Research
So, we’re going to get to the bit about optimising your product and category descriptions in a minute. First comes keyword research, so you know what to optimise for. Honestly, your keyword research informs almost every SEO effort you make on your eCommerce website. Your keywords should inform your URLs, your page names, your title tags, meta descriptions, your content marketing strategy… all of it.
Heaps of keyword research ‘how-tos’ you’ll find are based on informational queries. There are three different kinds of google searches: informational — how do i do keyword research, transactional — black doc martens, or navigational — directions to Sonder Digital Marketing. A strong majority of us are optimising for those informational queries and in your content marketing, you will as well. But, in your online store and particularly in your product and category descriptions — you’re going for those transactional queries.
With all kinds of keyword research, long tail keywords convert better than their shorter counterparts and they’re less competitive. You don’t want to avoid the most-searched, highly competitive keyword, but you do want to be sure to use long tail keywords and the less competitive terms as well.
There are a few different ways to find the perfect keywords for your pages. First up, look at your already high-ranking competitors — what have they optimised for? This gives you a good kind of base point to start from. Then, use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or even just Google’s keyword planner. If you are using a more robust tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz, they’ll usually have different search engine options. Obviously, check out Google’s search volumes first. But, you can then learn more about what you’re targeting by checking Amazon’s searches too.
See, even though most searchers will be Googling to find the product, those queries will be mixed in with searchers looking for information on the product as well. In this case, there are a lot of searches for stores in cities, types of dr martens, and dr marten sales. So, users are making all three different kinds of searches for this product. Checking Amazon’s searches as well, means you’ll get to see those targeted, purely transactional queries.
Now there are way fewer searches, but we have a much clearer idea of what boot shoppers are searching for.
Product Descriptions & Category Descriptions for Online Stores
Now, your keyword list is ready to go, you’ve got the informational queries you’re targeting and the transactional queries. Now, it’s time to write your product descriptions and category descriptions. If you’re doing this retroactively, ie: your online store is already set up but you’re optimising now, it’s easiest to start with categories. This way, you can make your way through the products from there — plus, category descriptions are more important.
Start with your category pages
Category pages are the most important pages SEO-wise. There are two main categories you can place online shopping searches into: specific and general. That probably sounds a bit vague, but, people will essentially either know exactly what they want down to the model number, or they’ll be looking broadly for a product… The brand, colour, model, and features might not matter at this point.
Maybe they’ve saved up for doc martens 1460 specifically. So, they’re googling that to find all links selling those boots specifically. Or, they’ll know that they want doc martens… or even just black leather boots. The latter is more common, so your category pages will therefore generate more traffic and more sales.
How to write product descriptions & category descriptions
These are kind of similar. The difference mostly is that where products will chop and change kind of often, your categories usually won’t. It means you want to make sure your category descriptions are really well written and optimised perfectly. If you’re going to prioritise one over the other — choose category descriptions. I’d love to give you a definitive template or formula for these descriptions…. Unfortunately, no one can agree on what’s best. But, we can give you a general idea.
Content helps you rank, so to make your category or product page rank, it’ll need to have content on it. You can have an introductory sentence up the top with your keywords in it, explaining what the page is about. But if that’s only 100 words, some would argue it’s not enough content (100-200 words is the average amount of content on these pages). Other SEOs argue you should still aim for a minimum of 300 words of content on the page. But web designers think having a 300 word introduction is no good for UX and no one wants to read it.
The way to find the best of both worlds is usually, to have your keyword-optimised description up top, capping it at 100 words. And then pop your 200 at the bottom, adding more context or a story about the page. It means shoppers aren’t going to be turned away by a wall of text when they just wanted pretty pictures of products. And you’re still appeasing the Google gods.
Your CTR or your Click Through Rate is super important. Ranking on Google is only half of what you need to do. Next you need to get your pages clicked on.
Your URL affects how you rank and your CTR, the latter is slightly less important when it comes to URLs. All URLs should be breadcrumbed. That means the first breadcrumb is your domain: sonder.com.au. Then, let’s say we’re a shoe company now, so our category might be women’s shoes. That’d be sonder.com.au/womens-shoes. Then we’re selling docs in that category. So it’d become sonder.com.au/womens-shoes/dr-martens. This is the best way to structure your links for both SEO and your CTR.
A bit of a misconception with title tags and meta descriptions is that they affect your SEO. They don’t affect it directly. But, they do affect your CTR which affects the traffic travelling to your website, which does affect your SEO. But, stuffing a bunch of keywords in your title tag won’t help your SEO. Both of these need to be optimised for humans over Google.
Website Title Tag Formula:
Primary Keyword – Page – Website Name
Dr Martens – Women’s Shoes – Sonder
This is a simple way to do it and it communicates entirely what the page is about without looking dodgy, spammy, or scammy. In eCommerce though, there are a few things you can replace that ‘Page’ element with. Terms like FREE SHIPPING, 30% OFF SITEWIDE — those kinds of deals get attention and they get clicks.
Your meta description will probably be pretty similar to your category or product description. Like title tags though, slipping in those ‘FREE SHIPPING’ or ‘30% OFF SITEWIDE’ mentions won’t hurt. The meta description tells the user what the page is about so make sure it’s descriptive and doesn’t just look like a list of keywords.
eCommerce Content Marketing
Content marketing is so good for getting your pages to rank. Especially in eCommerce, it’s a strategy you should 100% be utilising. Lucky for you, eCommerce offers so many opportunities when it comes to content marketing. Product tutorials, neat things you can do with your products, user generated content, listicles — the list goes on. You can check out our Introduction to Content Marketing to get some ideas. Or, check out what these brands are doing.
Go-To is a skincare brand that’s kind of elite in their content, and they did have a leg up. Being founded by Zoe Foster Blake, a former Beauty Editor at Vogue, Zoe has a small army of girls who’d dunk their heads in acid if she told them to. But the content is genuinely second to none. It’s info-packed, helpful, and subtly promotes their own products — the perfect recipe for a perfect content marketing strategy.
Moo offers print media services via an online store and they create amazing, relevant content. They’ve taken a different kind of approach to content marketing. Their blog isn’t just a blog about their products. It’s like a full-blown publication. They interview designers, offer business and marketing tips, and showcase designs and designers. Plus, all of their hints and tips are actually useful and actionable.
Sephora knows how to make the absolute most of Instagram. And their IGTV is nothing short of content marketing gold. They use IGTV to do mini tutorials that also showcase products they sell. Users get to see new products demonstrated in front of them for free, from the comfort of their own phone.