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Ecommerce SEO guide

By 09/05/2023May 17th, 20232 Comments

Optimise ecommerce websites for SEO in 2024

Search engine optimisation (SEO) has emerged as a fundamental component rather than an optional add-on in digital marketing. This is particularly pertinent in the fiercely competitive landscape of ecommerce. An adeptly executed SEO strategy can distinguish between a thriving online presence and fading into obscurity.

As seasoned SEO experts with tons of experience, we’ve observed the transformational power of SEO and ecommerce SEO firsthand.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

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What is ecommerce SEO?

E-commerce SEO, or search engine optimisation for e-commerce, is a specific subset of SEO strategies and tactics focused on improving the visibility of online stores in search engine results pages (SERPs). It involves optimising various elements of an e-commerce website to attract organic (non-paid) traffic from search engines like Google.

The ultimate goal of e-commerce SEO is to increase website traffic with high purchase intent, thereby driving conversions and revenue. However, the process to reach this goal is multifaceted and includes several key components.

  1. Keyword Research and Optimisation: This involves identifying the keywords that potential customers might use when looking for products you sell. Once these keywords are identified, they’re used strategically throughout the site, including in product descriptions, meta tags, image ALT tags, URLs, and other content.
  2. Website Structure Optimisation: An e-commerce website needs a logical and user-friendly structure. This includes an intuitive navigation menu, a clear hierarchy of pages, and a simple checkout process. A well-structured site improves user experience and makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index the site.
  3. On-Page SEO: This refers to optimising individual pages on the website. For an e-commerce site, this usually involves optimising product and category pages. On-page SEO includes creating unique, keyword-rich content; using header tags (H1, H2, etc.) correctly; optimising image ALT tags and meta descriptions; and more.
  4. Technical SEO: This involves optimising the website’s technical aspects to improve its visibility in search engines. For an e-commerce site, technical SEO includes improving site speed, ensuring the website is mobile-friendly, using secure connections (HTTPS), creating an XML sitemap, implementing schema markup, and more.
  5. Off-Page SEO: Refers to actions taken outside the website to improve its search engine rankings. For e-commerce sites, this often involves building high-quality backlinks from reputable websites, generating positive customer reviews, and maintaining an active social media presence.
  6. Local SEO: If the e-commerce business also has physical stores, local SEO strategies can help improve visibility in local search results. This can involve optimising the website for local keywords, managing local business listings, and encouraging customer reviews on local review platforms.
  7. Product Reviews: We can’t stress how much product reviews influence purchases. Do you read reviews on Amazon or Argos? We do! And boy, do they help make up our minds. Look at this laptop. 162 reviews for a fantastic machine and most of the reviews are positive, with a few with silly remarks about delivery. Would we buy it based on these reviews, hell yes!

In essence, e-commerce SEO is a comprehensive approach to making an online store more visible in search engine results, driving more organic traffic, and ultimately increasing sales.

It’s an ongoing process that requires continual monitoring, analysis, and adjustments to stay ahead of the competition and align with the ever-changing search engine algorithms.

Mastering SEO keywords

Keyword optimisation is a crucial part of your ecom SEO strategy. Understanding the search volume of keywords and the level of competition can help you craft a robust, targeted strategy.

Incorporate long-tail keywords specific to your products naturally into your page content, meta descriptions, and headers. These keywords are typically less competitive and can improve your chances of ranking higher in Google searches.

Remember, the goal isn’t just driving more traffic to your site; it’s about driving relevant traffic. Understanding user intent when selecting your keywords is crucial.

Ecommerce web design

If you need an ecommerce website designed, please get in touch.

The importance of website structure in ecommerce SEO

Understanding and optimising your ecommerce website’s structure is the cornerstone of effective SEO. A well-organised, logically structured site significantly benefits user experience (UX) and search engine crawlers, leading to improved organic search performance. Here, we’ll delve into why website structure is critical and how to optimise it for maximum SEO benefits.

The role of website structure in UX and SEO

Improved user experience

A well-structured website makes navigation intuitive, making it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. This can lead to a more enjoyable user experience, increased time on site, lower bounce rates, and more conversions—all of which can indirectly boost your SEO performance.

For an ecommerce website, this might mean having a straightforward, easy-to-use navigation menu with logically grouped categories and subcategories. Product pages should be easily accessible from category pages, and breadcrumbs should be used to show users their navigation path. Also, consider including features like a search bar and filters to help users find specific products.

Easier crawling and indexing

Search engines use bots (often called spiders or crawlers) to discover, crawl, and index web pages. A logically structured website makes it easier for these bots to understand and index your site, which can improve your visibility in search engine results.

For example, a simple, flat website architecture, where each page is only a few clicks away from the homepage—can help ensure all pages are easily discoverable by search engine bots. Also, having a well-maintained XML sitemap can aid search engines in understanding your site structure and finding new pages.

Optimising your ecommerce website structure for SEO

Logical hierarchy

Start by planning a logical, hierarchical structure for your ecommerce website. At the top level, you should have your homepage. The next level should be your main category pages, subcategory pages (if applicable), and product pages. Each level should be accessible through intuitive navigation.

Consistent and SEO-friendly URLs

Your website’s URL structure should reflect its hierarchy and be consistent. An SEO-friendly URL is descriptive and concise, includes relevant keywords, and uses hyphens to separate words. For example, a URL like clearly shows the hierarchy and is SEO-friendly.

Breadcrumb navigation

Breadcrumb navigation is a secondary navigation system that shows a user’s location in a site’s structure. It enhances user experience by providing a clear path to higher-level pages and helps search engines understand the site’s structure. Ensure your breadcrumb navigation includes relevant keywords for additional SEO benefits.

Internal Linking

A strategic internal linking structure can significantly enhance your SEO. By linking relevant pages together, you can help distribute link equity throughout your site, boost the SEO value of deep pages, and encourage users to spend more time on your site.

Remember, a logical and well-structured ecommerce website enhances user experience and improves your site’s crawl ability, vital for ecom SEO success. By considering the structure of your site from the outset, you can build a solid foundation for your ecommerce SEO efforts.

On-page SEO

Homepage optimisation

The homepage of your ecommerce site is akin to the window display of a brick-and-mortar store. It’s typically the first point of contact for users, making it crucial to optimise the homepage title tag and meta description effectively.

Your homepage title tag should be concise, accurate, and represent your business effectively. It should include your primary keyword and, if applicable, your location to boost local SEO. While the meta description may not directly influence rankings, enticing users must click on your listing. It should be compelling and incorporate relevant keywords.

Product page optimisation

Product pages are the core of any ecommerce site. These pages should be strategically optimised to rank for specific search terms. This includes optimising elements such as:

  1. Product Descriptions: These should be detailed, unique, and naturally incorporate long-tail keywords. Avoid using standard manufacturers’ descriptions to evade duplicate content issues.
  2. Images: High-quality images are critical. Use image ALT tags to describe the idea and include relevant keywords.
  3. Reviews and Ratings: Encourage customer reviews to enhance trust, promote conversions, and provide fresh, user-generated content that search engines value.
  4. Schema Markup: Implement structured data to provide search engines with more information about your product, leading to rich snippets in search results and potentially enhancing click-through rates.

Category page optimisation

Category pages are the lifeblood of ecommerce websites. They act as the primary gateway to your product offerings, guiding visitors towards purchasing. Therefore, optimising your category pages for SEO is a critical task that can significantly enhance your site’s visibility, usability, and conversion rates.

Here’s how you can optimise your category pages for SEO:

1. Keyword optimisation

Your category pages should target broad, high-volume keywords that represent the product types you sell. For example, if you’re selling clothing, your category pages might be “Men’s Clothing”, “Women’s Clothing”, “Kids’ Clothing”, etc.

The targeted keyword should be included in crucial areas such as:

  • The URL of the category page.
  • The title tag and meta description.
  • The page’s heading (H1 tag).
  • The introductory text of the page.

2. Unique, value-adding content

Each category page should contain unique, value-adding content that describes the products within the category and provides helpful information to the user. This content should naturally incorporate the targeted keywords.

Avoid thin or duplicated content across your category pages, as it can harm your SEO. Instead, aim to provide meaningful content that adds value to the user and helps search engines understand the page’s context.

3. User-friendly navigation

Your category pages should be easily accessible from your homepage or main menu. Use precise, logical categorisation that helps users quickly find their desired information.

Breadcrumb navigation can also benefit category pages, as it helps users understand their location within your site and navigate back to higher-level pages easily.

4. Product listings

How you list products on your category pages can also impact your SEO. Here are some tips:

  • Use high-quality, optimised images for each product listing. The alt text for each image should include the product name and relevant keywords.
  • Include clear, concise product names and descriptions in each listing. These should incorporate relevant keywords where appropriate.
  • Include user ratings or reviews for each product, if possible. These can enhance trust and provide unique, user-generated content.

5. Pagination and Canonical Tags

If your category includes many products spread across multiple pages, handling pagination correctly for SEO is essential. Use the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags to indicate the relationship between paginated pages.

Also, consider using the canonical tag to specify the main version of the category page, especially if you have filter options that create multiple URLs with similar content. This can help prevent duplicate content issues.

6. Schema markup

Applying schema markup to your category pages can help search engines better understand your content and provide more detailed results in SERPs. For example, you might use the Product schema to provide detailed information about the products on your category page. If you use WordPress for your ecommerce store, please consider Schema Pro, the best Schema plugin for WordPress. See the Schema Pro review here.

In conclusion, category pages are a pivotal element of ecommerce websites. They connect users to the products they’re interested in, acting as a critical step in their purchase journey. Optimising your category pages for SEO can enhance their visibility in search engines, improve user experience, and ultimately drive more sales.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves optimising the technical aspects of your website to improve its visibility in search engines. It’s an often overlooked yet critical component of a comprehensive SEO strategy for your ecommerce site.

  1. Website speed: Page load speed impacts user experience and is a known ranking factor for Google. Consider techniques like minifying CSS and JavaScript, optimising images, and leveraging browser caching to improve your site’s load speed. If you use WordPress, 2 main tools are the best for website speed. In no particular order, they are NitroPack or Seraphinite Accelerator. You can read their respective reviews here for NitroPack and here for Seraphinite Accelerator.
  2. Mobile friendliness: With the rise of mobile browsing, ensuring your ecommerce site is mobile-friendly is an absolute must. Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means it primarily uses the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking.
  3. HTTPS: Secure connections using HTTPS are a must for any ecommerce site. They provide a safer experience for your visitors, especially during transactions, and they’re also a ranking signal for Google. Pretty much all payment gateways now insist on an SSL. This can be a shared SSL, a free SSL or an SSL with a dedicated IP. All are fine.
  4. XML sitemap: An XML sitemap helps search engines better understand the structure of your site and find new pages faster. Make sure your sitemap is up-to-date and submitted to the major search engines.
  5. Schema markup: As mentioned earlier, schema markup can help search engines better understand your content, potentially leading to richer search results and improved click-through rates.
  6. URL structure: URLs should be SEO-friendly, meaning they are readable and concise, include target keywords, and accurately describe the page content.

Off-page SEO & local SEO

Link building, a critical part of off-page SEO, is another powerful strategy to improve your ecommerce website’s ranking. Building a solid portfolio of backlinks from high-authority, relevant websites can significantly boost your site’s credibility and rankings in search engine results.

  1. Content Marketing: Creating high-quality, shareable content is a great way to earn natural backlinks. This could be in the form of blog posts, infographics, videos, or research reports.
  2. Guest Blogging: Contributing content to reputable, industry-relevant blogs can help you earn quality backlinks and increase your brand’s exposure.
  3. Influencer Partnerships: Collaborating with influencers in your industry can be a great way to earn links and reach a broader audience.
  4. Social Media: While social media links are typical “nofollow” (meaning they don’t directly influence rankings….. so they say!!!!😂), an active social media presence can still drive traffic to your site and increase the visibility of your content, leading to more natural backlinks. Actively engage with your followers on social media platforms and share your latest products, promotions, and helpful content. Make sure to integrate social sharing buttons on your product pages to make it easy for users to share your products with their networks.
  5. Business Citations: Places like Yell and Yelp are classified as citations. They are an excellent place to get a link to your e-commerce website. There are hundreds of country-specific business citations, so do your research. Alternatively, you could use the best citation builder out there, Bright Local. They do a simply stunning job. All you have to do is give them all your business information. Read our review here.
  6. Google Business / Bing Places for Business: If you have a brick-and-mortar store and an ecom site, GMB and BPFB will be essential. Although not counted in any link aggregators, it validates you are a real business and gives authority. You can also sync your catalogue to your GMB and Google Shopping in the merchant centre.

Ecommerce SEO

If you need an ecommerce SEO company to rank better on Google, please get in touch.

The role of user reviews and ratings

The importance of user reviews and ratings cannot be understated in ecommerce SEO. They instil trust and credibility in your products and contribute to your site’s rich, unique, and fresh content. Reviews often naturally include keywords, helping your product pages rank for long-tail searches.

Encourage your customers to leave reviews after their purchases. You can automate this process by setting up follow-up emails that nudge buyers to review their bought products. Negative reviews, while not desirable, can also serve as constructive feedback for improving your products and customer service.

Monitoring your SEO efforts

Finally, it’s important to remember that SEO is not a one-and-done deal. It’s an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring, tweaking, and updating. Regularly track your site’s performance using Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Monitor your keyword rankings, organic traffic, bounce rate, page load speed, and other key SEO metrics.

Other tools for monitoring keyword ranking and tracking progress are invaluable, SEO tools like ProRank Tracker and Wincher. You can read their respective reviews here for PRT & here for Wincher.

Optimising an ecommerce website for SEO is a comprehensive, ongoing process that involves multiple elements, from website structure and keyword optimisation to technical SEO and link building.

When executed correctly, it can significantly boost your site’s visibility in search results, drive more targeted traffic, and ultimately increase sales. It’s a substantial investment of time and resources, but the potential returns make it well worth the effort.

Final Thoughts: The Road to Ecommerce SEO Success

The journey to ecommerce SEO success is a continuous one. It requires a solid understanding of SEO principles, strategic planning, and consistent effort. But the rewards, in the form of increased visibility, traffic, and sales, are worth the investment.

In an increasingly competitive ecommerce landscape, it’s more important than ever to stay abreast of the latest SEO trends and continually optimise your site. With a solid commitment to SEO best practices and an unwavering focus on providing an exceptional user experience, you can help your ecommerce site reach its full potential.

Remember, the ultimate goal of your ecommerce SEO efforts is to serve your users better. By providing them with a seamless, engaging, and satisfying online shopping experience, you’ll win in the SERPs and win your customers’ hearts and loyalty.

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  • Sam S says:

    I found this post on social media as I have been looking for a guide to do my e-commerce website SEO. This beats Neil Patel’s guide, Crazyegg, and Backlino’s. You guys have really done your research here and dug deep into e-commerce sites. Great job! I have bookmarked you and hope for some more gold nuggets.

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