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Guides & Advice

Effective SEO strategies for ecommerce

By Jon Hunter / August 21st 2017

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Most SEO campaigns are a mix of business analysis, technical competence, sharp relevant content, as well as outreach that encourages people to link to your site. When creating an effective SEO strategy for an ecommerce site, there are a number of specific factors to consider to encourage your potential customers to buy your products. This often means the balance and execution of these components will differ from other types of search campaigns.

In this feature, we examine some of the essential elements to think about to help you get an SEO strategy for ecommerce on point.

How are your audience searching?

Finding out how your target audience search for the products you sell online is a good place to start when creating your ecommerce SEO strategy. This allows you to specifically target the way your potential customers search. But it depends on what you’re selling.

A user’s search patterns can vary depending on the product they’re searching for. Their search might be:

  • Specific – Like when searching for a “full suspension mountain bike” or a “medium size fitted T-shirt”.
  • Generic – For instance, searching for a “fridge freezer” or “cheap car insurance”.
  • By brand name – Like searching for branded sportswear, such as “Nike Air trainers”, or a “Ford Focus Zetec” car.

By knowing how your customers conduct a product search you can refine your SEO to match their search phrases and search patterns and start to build your strategy.

What is the user intent?

Finding out the intent of your users is also important when creating your strategy. User intent is basically what a user intends to do when they conduct a search online. They might carry out research, make product comparisons or buy a product. How your audience search can fall into each of these three stages:

  • Research phase – The user conducts a search to research the product and learn about its features and benefits.

This could be a generic search to research a type of washing machine.

  • Comparison phase – The user conducts a search to compare the product across several sites, looking at differences such as price and delivery speed.

This could be a specific search to compare a particular type of smart phone.

  • Buying phase – The user conducts a search for the product with the intent of buying it right away.

This could be a search by brand name to buy branded clothing, such as a Misguided strapless dress.

By understanding the user intent of your audience and how they’re searching for the products you sell, you can know what approach you should take to your SEO. This includes knowing what search terms to target and what pages on your site to prioritise when building your keywords.

Building a bottom-up strategy

When it comes to building keywords to create an ecommerce SEO strategy, you should focus on using a bottom-up approach. A typical ecommerce website has four or five page levels – a homepage, category page, sub category page, and products page. A bottom-up strategy flips this around so that you prioritise keywords on your product pages first and those on your home page last. This is because when a user is conducting a search, they are:

  • Most likely to buy a product by entering your site at the product page. This means these pages have the highest conversion rate, in terms of converting your users into customers
  • More likely to convert by entering your site from the sub category page, meaning these pages are easier to target
  • Less likely to convert from the category page. So these pages are best to use to help build up your user search data
  • Least likely to convert from entering your site at the home page, meaning these pages have the lowest conversion rate
Illustration of a person in a lift - the different floors represent different page levels on a website

Your priority of pages to build your search phrases should therefore be as follows:

  1. Product page – for highest conversion
  2. Sub category – for easier targeting
  3. Category – for building up search data
  4. Homepage – for lowest conversion

You should focus on building search phrases, such as long-tail keywords based around your products, with the aim of strengthening your product pages.

It’s important to mention, though, that every page on your site has the ability to hit keywords. This strategy is more about what pages to prioritise.

Choosing a content or links strategy

Another area to look at when defining an ecommerce SEO strategy is whether to focus on building content or links to improve your site rankings. This means either:

  • Focussing on creating on-page content, which is concerned with targeting keywords, like through blogs on your site
  • Focussing on creating links via off-page content, known as outreach, which is concerned with improving the domain authority (DA) – how Google perceives your site – such as by building links in blogs back to your website.

Deciding on whether a content-first or links-first strategy is best for your site can come down to those key factors discussed: how your audience search; their user intent; and the search phrases they use.

It’s also concerned with the value of the products you sell and whether the content or links is weakest on your site.

When to use a content-first strategy

Long-tail keywords
If your search phrases show a focus on long-tail keywords. You should aim to build up content around these phrases.

High-value products
If you sell high-value, high-cost products, like a car or white goods. Users will probably be in a research phase when searching for these items, so content that can help at a research level, like guides and advice blogs, would be effective.

Low content
If your content is the weaker area – your site has a few pieces of content but a high number of links.

When to use a links-first strategy

Industry keywords
If your search phrases are industry-focused. This could include a niche industrial area, like for machinery parts or tools, where long-tail keywords are more difficult to target.

Low-value products
If you sell low-cost, low-value products. Users searching for a cheap going out dress, for instance, will probably be in a buying phase and won’t be interested in reading blogs about the product. So it will be more beneficial to build links, rather than content.

Low links
If your links are the weaker area – your site has a few links but a high volume of content.

Building up your brand

Finally, a good ecommerce SEO strategy to consider is to build up your brand. It’s worth keeping in mind that while you can’t do anything about the presence of other brands, you can build up your own.

Illustration of two builders looking at a wall built out of bricks to spell the word Brand

You can build up your brand in different ways. For instance, you can produce content that targets your company name as a keyword. Or you can build links in your off-page content, using your company name as anchor text.

There are many ways to build up your brand outside the world of SEO too. This includes giving your brand a tone of voice. You can learn more in our blog, How do you define a brand’s tone of voice?

Building an SEO strategy for your ecommerce business 

From understanding how your audience search, to choosing to build content or links, there’s a lot to know when putting together an SEO strategy for your business. Whether you’re in healthcare, professional services or ecommerce, the techniques you use to get the best results can be very different.

We’d love to explore how our SEO strategies could deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.