The Basics of Ecommerce SEO

What’s the difference between SEO, SEM, PPC & Google Ads?

Most ecommerce sellers spend tons of money on paid ads to drive website traffic. In doing so, they create a never-ending loop of spending money to acquire more customers. Organic traffic is the key to sustainable ecommerce growth. 89% of consumers use search engines for research, and it’s the only way to bring cost-effective, long-term value to your business. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about ecommerce SEO.

What is ecommerce SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the amount and quality of website traffic by improving rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). By making the right changes to a website and its content, Google and other search engines will start to recognize it as more trustworthy and show it higher up in search results for relevant keywords.

For ecommerce brands, SEO is all about showing up on SERPs when customers are looking for the products they sell. If done right, it can land you tons of targeted website traffic without spending money like you would have to with a typical SEM, PPC, or Google Ads campaign.

Why does ecommerce SEO matter?

Ecommerce SEO is important because it helps brands capture more of their market share. Especially in saturated markets, showing up first on Google is a big deal; the highest-ranked page on a Google search results page has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 27.6% and is ten times likelier to receive a click than the page just a few spots below it.

Search engine traffic is either yours or your competitor’s. If it’s yours, plenty of new and interested buyers are browsing your site for products they need. If your brand doesn’t show up, they’re still going to click on one of the first links they see. It’ll just be your competitor’s. That’s why so many brands hire an ecommerce SEO agency, as  they want more of their target customers to find their products.

What goes into ecommerce SEO?

Ecommerce SEO is a balancing act; on one hand, you have to optimize your website for search engine crawlers and algorithms. On the other, you’re selling to humans at the end of the day (and Google knows this, too). To get it right, you have to create an ecommerce site that has everything your customers are looking for. You also have to get search engines to pick up on that.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization is the vital first step in any SEO strategy. Broadly, it refers to all the measures you can take to make sure your webpage is optimized for search engine crawlers and algorithms. These include:

  • Using the right keywords: Keywords are the terms that customers type into a search engine when looking for products like yours. Identifying and using relevant keywords throughout your product pages (in page titles, meta descriptions, headings, content) will signal to search engines that your website offers what customers want.
  • Creating optimized headings and content: To make sure search engine crawlers can read your content, you need to create headings (H1, H2, H3 tags) and write copy in a way that is engaging and conversion-optimized. You also want to use keywords throughout the text naturally to signal relevancy for a certain search query.
  • Adding breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs are links you see on a website that show you the pages you clicked to get to your final destination. From an SEO standpoint, they make it easier for search engine crawlers to understand your site structure and index its content.
  • Optimizing images: All the images on your site should have ALT tags that explain what is in the image (and include a keyword or two if relevant). This helps search engines better understand the context of the page’s contents.


Metadata is the descriptive information that appears in search engine results pages (SERPs). It includes things like page titles (big blue links your customers click on from SERPs) and meta descriptions (small gray text underneath), which provide a brief summary of what customers will see when they click on your link.

Most of the time, Google rewrites your meta description to match the context of the search query (which is why keyword optimization in your content is so important). However, adding your target keyword to each title tag and meta description will improve the chances of ranking higher.

SEO-optimized URLs are another critical component of metadata. For most ecommerce sites, the URLs should be organized in a hierarchy that breaks down the different categories and subcategories your customers can browse.

For example, if you’re selling shoes on your website, instead of having a URL like “” for your product, it would be better to include the product name and category (“”) and build out your site structure like that.

Technical SEO

A huge part of ecommerce SEO is technical SEO, or the process of tweaking your website’s architecture and making sure it can be easily crawled and indexed by search engines. Technical SEO includes things like:

  • Setting up an XML sitemap
  • Ensuring quick page loading speeds (Google’s PageSpeed Insights helps with this)
  • Using a secure, HTTPS protocol
  • Making sure all pages are crawlable (not hidden behind passwords or JavaScript)
  • Ensuring all internal links are working properly

Most technical SEO fixes are quick and straightforward. They’re quick wins that, if you haven’t ever looked too closely at, could give you an immediate boost in SERP rankings.

User Experience

User experience (UX) plays a pivotal role in your SEO performance because it’s closely tied to your conversion rate. Google knows when users are clicking on your site and clicking away right after. And its algorithm knows when customers are converting. A lot goes into UX, but the basic principles are:

  • Customers shouldn’t have a problem looking for the products they need
  • Your product pages should be well-organized and include relevant information
  • Your menus and internal links should have a logical connection to each other
  • Supplementary content (e.g., buying guides and articles) should be easy to find
  • User-generated reviews should be easy to find
  • Your checkout process shouldn’t require too many steps
  • Customer service should be easily accessible (adding an AI chatbot can lower your bounce rate and boost your SEO rankings)

Most importantly, your site should perform just as well on mobile as it does on a desktop or laptop. Your images, content, and checkout process should be designed to respond to touchscreen interfaces.

Link Building

The last (and most complicated) piece of the puzzle is link building. A backlink is any link coming into your website from another site. They signal a certain level of trustworthiness to search engine crawlers and algorithms, and link building is the long-term process of earning these links from other websites.

Google’s algorithm values high-quality links (links from authoritative and trusted sites) more than those from low-quality sources. A link from a product feature in the New York Times, for instance, would be much more valuable than one from a blog post on a small, general website.

Building high-quality links takes time and effort; you have to reach out, build relationships with other websites, and create content that is worth linking to. It’s also an ongoing process, and the moment you start building links, your competitors are doing the same thing, so you can’t be complacent.


Ecommerce SEO is a complicated mix of technical, creative, and marketing savvy. If you understand the basics and are willing to put in the work, it can be a powerful tool for your website. By understanding the basics outlined in this guide, you’ll be off to a good start when it comes to growing revenue for your ecommerce business.

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