E-commerce SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Online Store

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover e-commerce SEO, how it can help your business, and steps to improve your site’s performance in search results.

[Featured Image] A digital marketer works on e-commerce SEO at a desktop computer.

What is e-commerce SEO?

E-commerce SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of improving the performance of your digital store in online search results to attract more visitors without using paid ads. An effective e-commerce SEO strategy can help your store and product pages appear at the top of a search engine result page (SERP) when potential customers search for products like yours. 

For example, if you sell gardening supplies, you could optimize the product page for search queries (also called keywords) like “gardening gloves” or “gardening soil.” In so doing, you could increase the chances of potential customers finding your page, clicking on it, and making a purchase.

Improving your e-commerce site’s SEO is important for ranking higher in search engine results and increasing your brand’s visibility, enhancing the buying experience, inspiring site visitors’ trust, boosting sales, and more. 

The pandemic has had a significant impact on e-commerce. According to Signifyd’s 2022 State of Commerce report, e-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2022 were up 125 percent over Q1 of 2020. In addition, 55 percent of surveyed consumers said they will likely continue the e-commerce purchase habits they adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic [1].  

There are several ways to improve your e-commerce site’s performance, including: 

  • Building the site around your target customer’s purchase intent 

  • Improving product pages, product descriptions, and product images 

  • Adding written content to your site that supports customers in making a purchase decision 

Read more: What Is SEO Marketing? + How to Improve Your SEO

How to create your e-commerce SEO strategy

In this section, you will begin building an e-commerce SEO strategy for your online store. Monitor SEO results regularly and update your strategy accordingly. 

1. Conduct an e-commerce SEO audit.

This is an important first step for any SEO strategy as it will help determine where your e-commerce site stands among competitors, its search result performance, and areas for improvement. Some areas to examine include: 

  • Your site’s internal search engine. Check that when visitors type in search queries to find information or products on your site, the search yields relevant URLs. 

  • Content quality. Does the content reflect your brand values and offer site visitors unique and relevant information?  

  • Backlinks. Do you have high-quality, authoritative sites linking back to your content? 

2. Gather a list of keywords.

For an e-commerce site, be sure to prioritize certain types of keywords, including: 

  • Product-focused keywords that capture potential customers’ interests in products like yours. Examples include: “maxi dresses” and “dog food.”

  • Transactional keywords that contain words indicating a high purchase intent, such as “buy maxi dress” or “purchase dog food.”

  • Long-tail keywords that fewer people are searching for online but tend to attract targeted traffic, such as “blue bamboo maxi dresses” or “best organic dog food.” 

3. Investigate your competitors’ sites. 

Along with auditing your e-commerce site, you’ll need to examine your SEO competitors. An SEO competitor is a site or page that ranks at the top of a Google search results page for your target keywords. These competing sites may or may not be the same businesses that sell products like yours. In addition, you will have different SEO competitors for different keywords. 

There are several ways to analyze these web pages, including:

  • Using an SEO tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs to discover additional keywords their content is ranking for 

  • Evaluating the quality of the content 

  • Looking for content gaps, such as unmet customer needs or unanswered questions 

  • Reviewing product pages for opportunities to present your products more favorably  

4. Improve site architecture. 

Site architecture refers to the hierarchical structure of a website’s pages. When your site is easy to navigate, visitors can find the information and products they seek. In addition, search engines like Google can crawl the site and understand the relationship between pages. 

To improve site architecture, start by simplifying the site’s structure and organizing it, so visitors have to click no more than three times to get from the home page to a product page. 

Then, create a sitemap (a document listing all the crawlable pages on your site) and submit it to Google through your Google Search Console. This will help the search engine understand what your e-commerce website is about and which pages are the most important. 

5. Improve title tags and meta-descriptions.

Meta descriptions and title tags are part of technical SEO and work alongside site architecture to help Google understand what your website is about. These two elements are usually located in a website’s backend or admin panel where you can edit the information about a page. 

For each page: 

  • Craft a title tag that includes the keyword you want the page to rank for and clearly describes each page's content in 50 to 60 characters.

  • Craft a page description that contains the keyword, summarizes the page, and conveys the page’s unique value in up to 160 characters.

 

6. Improve on-page SEO.

On-page SEO refers to a website’s content and how it’s composed. For an e-commerce site, the content might include product pages, product demos, blog posts, customer reviews, and FAQs.  

While each page type will function differently, there are a few SEO tactics that can improve the quality and function of them all: 

  • Create unique content that satisfies searcher intent and is authoritative within your industry. 

  • Include clear, compelling calls to action where appropriate. 

  • Ensure target keywords are used strategically. 

  • Structure each page to lead visitors through a logical thought process.

  • Use headings and subheadings so that content can be easily scanned. 

Read more: What Is Content Marketing?

7. Improve internal linking. 

Internal linking refers to linking between pages on a website. Internal linking works alongside a site map to help visitors find information and make it easier for Google to crawl the site. Here are some internal linking strategies: 

  • Link to important product pages in the sitewide menu without overcrowding the menu with too many drop-down items. 

  • Incorporate a “customers also bought” section and link to popular or related products. 

  • Link from blog articles to product pages and vice versa. 

  • Insert links in relevant anchor text, also called link text, that hyperlinks display when linking to another webpage. 

8. Acquire relevant backlinks.  

Backlinking refers to instances when another site links to pages on your site. Think of backlinking as a vouching system. If an authoritative, high-quality site sends traffic to your site, users, as well as Google, recognize your site pages as valuable. 

Ways to acquire backlinks include: 

  • Guest presenting on a podcast to present your brand and its products.

  • Reaching out to administrators of websites in your niche to request backlinks. Offer an incentive such as improving their existing content with yours or proposing guest blog ideas for content you want to write for them.

  • Post your most backlink-worthy content to social media and ask your audience to add links to their sites. 

Placeholder

specialization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Become an SEO Expert. Master search engine optimization tools and strategies

4.7

(9,676 ratings)

125,248 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 5 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Search Algorithm, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Mathematical Optimization, Semantics, Social Media, Keyword Research, Marketing, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing

E-commerce SEO best practices 

As you grow your e-commerce business and continually improve the SEO of your online store, keep these best practices in mind:

Schedule regular time to improve SEO. 

As your site expands to accommodate more content and products, take time to maintain your site’s SEO settings, including internal links, meta descriptions and title tags, and the content itself. Set up a sustainable schedule, such as monthly or quarterly, to perform this maintenance. 

Select the right SEO tools for your business. 

SEO tools are available—at different price points and offering different functions—to help you discover keywords, monitor your site’s performance, research competitors’ SEO, and more. Reserve time to discover which tools might work best for your e-commerce business. Here are a few: 

Vet e-commerce SEO services.  

There may come a time in your business when you need to outsource e-commerce SEO support to keep pace with your business’s evolving needs. It’s a good idea to weigh your options, from finding an e-commerce SEO consultant to hiring an entire e-commerce SEO company to take on this responsibility. 

As of September 2022, LinkedIn lists around 12,000 consultants and 4,800 organizations that specialize in e-commerce SEO or offer it as part of their services. Consider your budget, specific e-commerce SEO needs, and business goals when vetting services. Look for a company or consultant that has knowledge of your industry and the type of products you sell. 

Placeholder

Read more: What Is an SEO Consultant and Do You Need One?

Improve your e-commerce SEO with Coursera

E-commerce SEO is a broad industry with many career possibilities, including improving e-commerce SEO for your online store, hiring a consultant or company to do it, or becoming an e-commerce SEO expert yourself and providing this service to other companies. 

Taking online courses can be a great way to learn more about e-commerce SEO and make an empowered career decision. Learn how to build e-commerce stores, improve a site’s SEO, conduct effective email marketing campaigns, and more in the Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate

Placeholder

professional certificate

Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce

This is your path to a career in digital marketing. In this program, you’ll learn in-demand skills that can have you job-ready in less than 6 months. No degree or experience required.

4.8

(4,065 ratings)

154,499 already enrolled

BEGINNER level

Average time: 6 month(s)

Learn at your own pace

Skills you'll build:

Marketing, E-Commerce, display advertising, Email Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Customer loyalty, Marketing Analytics, Customer Outreach, Website Structure, Customer Awareness, Google, Search Engine Marketing, Social Listening, Social Media Bidding, Customer Engagement, Social Media Analytics, Social Media Branding, Email Writing, Email list segmentation, Email marketing strategy, Email marketing analytics, Contact management, Digital marketing KPIs, Spreadsheet management, Presenting to stakeholders, Media planning and strategies, Fulfillment and delivery, E-commerce platforms, E-Commerce Strategy, Seasonality, Job preparedness, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Portfolio preparation, E-commerce store optimization, Building customer loyalty

Article sources

  1. Signifyd. “The State of Commerce 2022, https://brand.signifyd.com/m/69c9434baa3ccdfb/original/REPORT-State-of-Commerce-Report-2022.pdf.” Accessed August 19, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

Learn without limits