How to boost conversion using e-commerce SEO

This guest blog post is from BigCommerce, an e-commerce platform that powers the online stores of hundreds of Affirm partners.

Did you know 93.5% of global internet users have made at least one online purchase? That magnitude suggests there’s never been a better time to have an e-commerce business. 

But we all know customers don’t just appear online once your business site opens. Getting organic traffic to your e-commerce site is a key to building and supporting business growth. To achieve this, apply the basics of search engine optimization (SEO). The simple steps below can help you use SEO effectively and boost conversion for your site. 

What is e-commerce SEO and why do I care?

E-commerce SEO is the task of making your online store rank high on SERPs (search engine results pages). This allows people who are searching online for products sold by your company to find you. Here's why that matters.

Search is a crucial source of website traffic. What’s the first thing people do when they want to buy something online? Research. The most common aid for research is Google. When users type a keyword related to your business or a product, you want them to find your site on Google’s results page.

SEO can reduce costs while increasing revenue. Since SEO helps you drive organic traffic to your site, it’s a cost-efficient way to connect with prospective buyers who are interested in your business or products.

How to get started with e-commerce SEO 

One of the first tasks you carry out when planning SEO for your e-commerce site is keyword research. This should be the foundation of your SEO campaigns. The goal of keyword research is to find out what terms your target audience is searching for and what steps you need to take to rank for those terms. 

If you don’t complete thorough keyword research, then two situations usually occur: 

  1. You’ll target keywords that are too difficult to rank for, and you won’t make it to the first Google results page. 

  2. You’ll rank for keywords that don’t get a lot of traffic. 

The following three strategies will help you find valuable, commonly searched keywords that match your targeted audiences’ intent. 

Competitor research

Figuring out which keywords your competitors are ranking highly for (or trying to rank for) can clarify your choices for keywords you want to target. 

You might have already had a list of keywords that you were interested in ranking for and didn’t include any keywords that competitors are going after. Researching your competitors’ keyword strategies can help you shape your campaigns. 

Marketing analytics software products like Ahrefs and SEMrush offer competitor analysis tools that help identify keyword gaps on your pages that your competitors are already ranking for. 

It is important to note that even though your competitors may be ranking for several keywords that you aren’t, the keyword difficulty score might be very high, thus preventing you from ranking. 

Use competitor research as a guide for your keyword strategies. 

Long-tail keywords

You may think that ranking high for general keywords such as “men’s pants” will get you the most traffic. But in reality, generic keywords that have tens of thousands of searches in Google every month generally do not get you the right kind of traffic.

However, a long-tail keyword such as “affordable men’s track pants size L” will get you traffic that is ready to buy. Being specific can make a difference.

This page from the National Sleep Foundation is a good example of long-form content that targets long-tail keywords such as "best online mattress company" and "best rated online mattress.” 

The right keyword for conversion

Not only is it essential to narrow down your target keywords, but it’s also necessary to target those keywords that will get you more customers who are ready to buy.

This post from Luxury Travel Expert, for example, targets keywords such as “best hotels in Singapore” and “top luxury hotels in Singapore” with a conversion focus on Singapore hotels. That means that the keywords this page is aiming to rank for are the same search terms that travelers who are ready to book a hotel in Singapore are using.

3 on-page SEO strategies to increase conversion

On-page SEO refers to target keyword placement on your webpages. This helps search engines figure out what your pages are about.

Once you’ve done your keyword research, here are three main on-page SEO strategies you can implement for your e-commerce site:

Category pages

To make your site customer-friendly, you’ll want to include category pages that make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. 

Here are some on-page SEO tips for category pages:

  • Optimize your category page URLs to describe what the page is about. 

Example: www.sleepybeds.com/toddler-beds/

  • Perform keyword research and optimize the titles of your category pages.

Example: Toddler Beds: Bunk Beds, Single Beds, Double Beds | sleepybeds.com

  • Optimize your headings, tags, images, and text within the category page. For example if you have a clothing company and one of your categories is “Men’s Shoes,” make sure to have an H1 tag as “Men’s Shoes.” For your category images, optimize for size and SEO. Use high-quality images with ALT text that matches the product and is descriptive. 

Product pages

E-commerce product pages must be user-friendly, easy to navigate, easy to crawl by search engines, and optimized for conversion. Product pages that create an excellent customer experience can lift conversion.

Here are some on-page SEO tips for product pages:

  • Optimize your product page URLs similar to category page URLs (see above). 

  • Optimize the titles of each product by combining the description of the item with keywords that people search for. See how Bliss World, a skincare company, includes product names and unique descriptions in all of their title tags. 

  • Use FAQs and detailed content to improve search engine ranking. This will also enable you to reduce bounce rates because you answer many of potential customers’ questions. See how Gardens Alive uses FAQs and long-form content in this way.

Blog content

In addition to your category and product pages, you can drive traffic by creating content on topics related to what you sell. You could write high-quality content on your blog and get many backlinks to it, but if you don’t optimize your posts for on-page SEO, you may miss out on a lot of potential traffic.

Here are some on-page SEO tips for blog content:

  • Structure your permalinks correctly. This means you have to customize your URLs using your target keyword instead of using the default URLs that many blogs generate. You can also utilize categorical containers to help classify and distinguish content. For example, like this

Illustration for blog post on SEO e-commerce
  • Write high-quality, original, long-form content. These pieces are more valuable than shorter pieces of content because you can get more detailed, which gives search engines more to discover.

Make a plan for link building

A final SEO best practice for e-commerce sites is link building. It’s the process of getting links to your online content from other websites (preferably high-authority websites). Done well, a link building strategy can help you increase the search rankings of your linked pages, which in turn increases your organic and referral traffic. 

So how do you build links for your site? You should never buy links to your website because search engines find this spammy. Instead, identify businesses that are established, have high domain authorities, and are creating content that your pages could support or add value to. 

Once you have a list of websites of where you would like your links placed, reach out to those organizations and pitch your ideas. Make sure to state how your links bring value to their websites. 

Here are a few link-building tactics to explore: 

  1. Unique asset pitching: You have content that would support and enhance the website you’ve selected for link placement. Content can include data, infographics, how-to guides, or even videos. 

  2. Broken link substitutions: Often there are broken links on high-quality pages. Kindly reach out to the webmaster and pitch your up-to-date resource as an alternative. 

  3. Non-linking brand mentions: It is common to find content about your brand without attributing links. Send an email to the author and ask for your branded mention to be linked to your website. 

As an e-commerce store owner, you will benefit from understanding basic SEO and what you can do to improve it. Increasing your visibility on search engines can get you more relevant traffic to your website, which can ultimately drive more revenue.