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

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about how ecommerce SEO helps you rank higher in search engine results, boost your brand's visibility, enhance the buying experience, and more.

[Featured image] Woman working on website at computer

E-commerce SEO (search engine optimisation) 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 optimise the product page for search queries (also called keywords) like "gardening gloves" or "compost." Doing so could increase the chances of potential customers finding your page, clicking on it, and making a purchase.

By improving your e-commerce site's SEO, you might:

  • Rank higher in search engine results 

  • Increase your brand's visibility

  • Enhance the buying experience

  • Inspire your site visitors' trust

  • Boost sales

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 would 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 website 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 essential first step for any SEO strategy as it will help determine where your e-commerce website stands among competitors, its search result performance, and areas for improvement. Some considerations to examine include: 

  • Your site's internal search engine: When visitors type in search queries to find information or products on your website, does the search yield relevant URLs?

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

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

  • Page speed. Check the loading time of the pages that comprise your site to identify any speed issues that may be costing you conversions.


Large image files can slow websites down when they're loading. One way to reduce page loading time and improve the user experience is to compress images without reducing their quality. Use image editing software programs like Adobe Photoshop or Canva to compress images for use your e-commerce site.


2. Gather a list of keywords.

For an e-commerce website, be sure to prioritise 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' websites. 

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

You can use several approaches to analyse 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 favourably

4. Improve website architecture. 

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

To improve website architecture, start by simplifying and organizing the structure, 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 website) 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 URLs.

Adding keywords to your URLs can improve search rankings. Refer to your list of keywords, including broad and subcategory keywords, product keywords, and transactional keywords, and add them to the URLs of pages where they best fit. For example, if a product page is focused on women's running shoes, this keyword should be included in the URL for that page (i.e., www.myexamplewebsite.com/products/womens-running-shoes).

What to avoid when creating URLs:

It's best to exclude the words "a," "and," "the," and "of," unless they are part of your main keyword. Also, avoid creating URLs over 60 characters. Keep them as short as possible.


6. Improve title tags and meta-descriptions.

Meta descriptions and title tags are part of technical SEO and work alongside website architecture to help Google understand what your website is about. These two elements often reside 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, summarises the page, and conveys the page's unique value in up to 160 characters.

7. Improve on-page SEO.

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

While each page type will function differently, several SEO tactics 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 readers can easily scan the content.


At the same time that you use priority keywords strategically throughout your site, be sure to avoid keyword stuffing. Keyword stuff refers to the act of including the same keywords (or variants) over and over again throughout your site, so that they become overused and repetitive. Keyword stuffing can make your site copy difficult to read and cause search engines to penalise your site.


8. 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 website. 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. 


Adding outbound links to your e-commerce site may help its search rankings. Outbound links, are links to sites other than your own. While it may seem counter-intuitive to send traffic away from your e-commerce site, choosing relevant and authoritative content from other sources to reference in your text could help search engines and readers better understand your site's content.


9. 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 website sends traffic to your website, users, and Google, recognise your site pages as valuable. 

Ways to acquire backlinks include: 

  • Guest-presenting on a podcast to introduce 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 websites. 

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 website 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 various functions—to help you discover keywords, monitor your website'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: 

  • SEMRush: perform competitor research, keyword research, content and social media marketing, and more.

  • Ahrefs: perform competitor and keyword research, conduct a site audit, explore content ideas, track your rankings, more more.

  • Google Search Console: measure your site's search traffic and performance, optimise content, submit site maps and URLs, and more.


  • Google Analytics: monitor the performance of your marketing, content, and products; analyse data, run ads, and more.

  • Ubersuggest: analyse competitors' SEO, gain insight into winning strategies and content ideas, and more.

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. 

SEO consultants

As of April 2024, LinkedIn lists around 14,000 consultants and 140,000 companies 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.  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, or becoming an e-commerce SEO expert and providing this service to other companies. 

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 website's SEO, conduct effective email marketing campaigns, and more in the Google Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Professional Certificate

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 24, 2023.

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