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

Written by Coursera Staff • 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 search engine optimization (SEO) is taking steps to improve the performance of your digital store in unpaid online search results—also known as organic 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 or services 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.” This would 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. 

You can improve your e-commerce site’s performance in several ways, 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 

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 visitors unique and relevant information?  

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

  • Site functionality. Performing a technical audit of your site for site errors, slow loading speeds, and other technical SEO issues is essential for higher ranking. 

2. Gather a list of keywords.

For an e-commerce site, 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 indicate high purchase intent are, for example, “buy maxi dress” or “purchase dog food.”

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

3. Investigate your competitors’ sites. 

Along with auditing your e-commerce site, 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 as yours, but they take up prime real estate on the SERP. In addition, you’ll have different SEO competitors for different keywords. 

You can analyze these web pages in a variety of ways, including:

  • Using an SEO tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs to discover additional keywords their content ranks 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 favourably.  

4. Improve site architecture. 

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

To improve site architecture:

  • Start by simplifying and organizing the structure so visitors have to click at most 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).

  • Submit your sitemap 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 and potential customers 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—ideally between 150 and 160 characters.

6. Improve on-page SEO.

On-page SEO refers to a website’s content and composition. For an e-commerce site, this 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 you use target keywords strategically. 

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

  • Use headings and subheadings so readers can quickly scan the content and Google better understand the page’s focal points. 

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 the relevant anchor text, also called link text, that hyperlinks display when linking to another webpage. 

  • Ensure every page has at least one internal link pointing to it. 

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 and 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. 

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 its SEO settings, including internal links, meta descriptions, title tags, and 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.

Consider your budget, specific e-commerce SEO needs, and business goals when vetting services. Look for a company or consultant with knowledge of your industry and the type of products you sell. 


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, or becoming an e-commerce SEO expert and providing this service to other companies. 

Online courses can be great ways 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

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