March 29, 2020
Ecommerce SEO Tutorial to Get More Free Search Traffic

Ecommerce SEO Tutorial to Get More Free Search Traffic has nailed their eCommerce SEO
generating over $1,000 in revenue per second. And while a lot of their traffic and sales
come from searches within their own platform, SimilarWeb estimates that search contributes
30% of their overall traffic and Ahrefs’ Site Explorer estimates 706 million search
visitors each month. But Amazon didn’t become an overnight success. In fact, their search traffic has grown immensely
year after year. So in this video, I’m going to walk you
through a complete eCommerce SEO tutorial, step-by-step for more rank and more bank. Stay tuned. [music] What’s up SEOs? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that
helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. Today, we’re going to be talking about eCommerce
SEO and how you can rank your product and category pages. So here’s what our agenda looks like today. First, we’ll tackle a couple must-dos for
all online shops. Next, we’ll break down keyword research
for ecommerce. Then we’ll hit on-page SEO, get technical,
tackle link building specifically for product and category pages, and finish it off with
a bit on content marketing for eCommerce. Let’s get to it. So there are two absolute musts that I think
all eCommerce sites should do. The first is to make sure that you secure
your website with HTTPs. The main reasons for this is to keep your
customers information encrypted. And I’m not just talking about credit card
details, but names, addresses, and other personal information that you wouldn’t want to have
compromised. And it’s important that all of your pages
are set up correctly because you don’t want Chrome returning a privacy error screen like
this or other warnings like this. And Google has officially stated that HTTPS
will be used as a ranking signal, even though it may not be the strongest ranking factor
according to our on-page SEO study. The second must-do is to run a site audit
to identify your technical SEO issues. Ecommerce properties are one of the easiest
types of websites to unintentionally create a whole mess of indexation and cannibalization
issues because of the sheer size. For this tutorial, I’ll be using Kleinfeld
Bridal shop as our example site, which sells wedding dresses and other bridal apparel. So I’ll go to Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool
and set up a simple SEO audit. The only change I’ll be making to the default
settings is to run the audit on the domain without subdomains and then click next. And next again to go to the crawl settings. And for the sake of a simple SEO audit, I’ll
leave everything to default, but I’ll turn on “Execute Javascript.” Finally, I’ll turn off the scheduled audits
and just run this once. Now, while the audit is running, let’s move
onto keyword research. In this step, you’ll need to choose a keyword
to target for every product and category page. Yes, it is a ton of work, but it’s something
that should be done or outsourced. Now, when it comes to selecting keywords,
there are two different types of pages I want to focus on. And those are category pages and product pages. So first, you’ll need to get a complete
inventory of your product and category pages. Depending on the CMS you use, whether that’s
Shopify, Magento, Open Cart, Woocommerce, or whatever, you may be able to export these
pages directly from your backend. Or you can go to your Sitemap if you have
one created. So for the bridal site, I’ll just add /sitemap.xml
to the end of the URL and you’ll see a full list of all of the pages that they want search
engines to crawl. From here, you’ll want to prioritize these
by the highest revenue generating pages or the pages that generate the most traffic for
your business. Now, for each of your pages, you’ll want
to look for a head term as well as long-tail variations. In general, a head term would be a more popular
keyword with a higher search volume. Long-tail would likely have lower search volume
but are modified variations to the head term. You can find these by going to Ahrefs Keywords
Explorer and type in a seed keyword that’s broadly related to your niche. So I’ll type in “wedding.” Next, you can go to the “having same terms”
report, and you’ll see a bunch of irrelevant keywords like “wedding invitations.” So you can make it relevant by using the “include”
search box. Here, I’ll type in a few keywords like dress,
dresses, shoes, and accessories which should represent some of your parent categories that
broadly match the type of wedding related products that we sell. And I’ll set the dropdown to show keyword
ideas that have “any” of these keywords in it. And you can see a whole bunch of great keyword
ideas here, some of which would be perfect category pages, others that are perfect sub
categories to that parent, and the rare one that’s irrelevant. So you can match up the best keywords with
the current structure of your site based on the types of products that you sell. Based on these results, you’ll likely want
to focus on a broader term like “wedding dresses” as the parent category, then add
sub categories like guest dresses, plus size, cheap, beach, and vintage underneath the parent. Keyword selection for product pages is a bit
different. For example, if you sell a branded product
like Gucci shoes or an iPhone 8 Plus, then you’d want to include the brand name and/or
model numbers, since they will likely hold search volume because of brand recognition
and reputation. And if you’re on the other side of the spectrum
where you’re selling unbranded products or products from unknown names, then you may
want to stick with more descriptive terms that people are searching for. For example, if you look at these shoes from
Nordstrom, you’ll see that they’ve named it “Gabe Pump,” which no one seems to
be searching for. On the other hand, there are around 350 monthly
searches for “vince camuto pumps,” which could act as a head term for the product page
with some variations or modifiers like using colors, the type of toe or heel, or simply
by prefixing the title with “women’s.” If you look at Amazon’s product pages for
Vince Camuto pumps, you’ll see that they’ve put a little bit more thought into their keyword
research and on-page optimization. They’re using the designer’s name, a modifier
keyword, the brand line, and the type of shoe which is both descriptive as well as keyword rich. A good way to find product keywords is to
search for your brand name as your seed in Keywords Explorer. Then, go to the “Having Same Terms” report
and type in the type of product that you sell. In this case, we’re talking about pumps,
so I’ll type in ‘pump.’ Another way to find product and category page
ideas is to analyze your competitors’ top pages. Looking at the top pages report for David’s
Bridal, one of Kleinfeld Bridal’s competitors, you’ll see that some of their top keywords
for their most popular pages in search include “mother of the bride dresses,” “prom
dresses,” and “bridesmaid dresses.” And all 3 of these happen to be categories
that our example site is not yet serving. From here, you can click on the keywords dropdown
and look for the long-tail variations on these head terms. Here, you’ll see that even though their
top keyword is “mother of the bride dresses,” that they still rank high for variations like
“mother of the groom dresses” and this one that uses “long” as a modifier. Now, before you actually select a keyword,
there is one massively important step that you must take. And that’s to ensure that the search intent
for the keyword matches the page you intend to use it on. Looking back at our list of keyword ideas,
you can analyze search intent by clicking on the SERP dropdown beside any of the keywords. So looking at the SERP for “wedding guest
dresses,” you can see that they’re all category pages, so you’d want to stick with
the same format because the search intent shows that people are looking for a list of
different dresses that they can browse through. Looking at the SERP for “meghan markle wedding
dress,” you can see that these are all blog posts, so serving search intent with a product
or category page probably wouldn’t be in your best interest. Taking 10 seconds to analyze the current SERPs
can save you a ton of time to ensure you’re not targeting the wrong keyword. I could go on with more keyword research techniques,
but this should be more than enough to give you a solid list of keywords. So, let’s move on to on-page optimization. First is to optimize your meta titles, descriptions,
and H1 tags. Now, most eCommerce sites use templated versions,
especially those with thousands of different products, which makes sense from a time perspective,
but it isn’t exactly ideal from a search perspective. It’s a bit ugly and none of these really
entice a click from my point of view. In fact, these 3 pages might seem like duplicate
content issues, but they are indeed completely different products. With this, you can go with
somewhat of a hybrid approach. So rather than using the type of wedding dress
for the meta title as they have here, you can use the title of the product, which you
should be able to easily formulate if you do your keyword research. As for the description, it looks like they
wrote unique meta descriptions for each product, but they look like they’re the same simply
because they prefix the description with a template. In this case, they could simply move that
part of the template to the end or remove it, so as people start reading the meta description,
they’ll know that they are indeed different products. The h1 tag is pretty simple. Just use the category title or product name. And again, if you’ve done everything correctly
up to this point, then these should fall in place quite nicely. The next on-page tip is to optimize your URLs. There are certainly different ways to do this,
but my preference is to keep them as clean as possible. Remember this hierarchy we talked about? You can use these to formulate the structure
for your category pages. So, for example, you might have as the parent. Then you can add your sub category by adding
plus size as a new subfolder. And if you happen to have a plus size product,
the URL can look like this with the product name as the final part of your URL. Other sites often follow the same category
structure, but you’ll also see sites that have product pages as,
which is also fine and a good way to avoid duplicate content by having the same product
in multiple categories. We’ll get into the more advanced URL features
like filter queries and parameters in the technical SEO section. The next part of on-page optimization are
writing unique product and category descriptions. So, product pages, they often lack content. Sometimes they don’t even have any at all
aside from the title of the product. I won’t go too in-depth, but here are a
few copywriting tips: Include your head keyword target in the description;
Sprinkle in long-tail variations and synonyms that hold semantic relationships with the head term. For a wedding dress product page, you may
include keywords like bridal, gown, the designer’s name, etc. Make sure they’re well-written and readable
for visitors; Tell visitors things that they may actually
want to know. Don’t try and meet a word count quota. Just keep it short, sweet, and on point. And last, use user generated content via. product reviews to add further context. The final on-page tip is to use schema markup. By adding schema markup, you can have your
product pages show up in search like this. Beyond looking more visually appealing, structured
markup has led to increases in click-through-rate by 30%. I won’t get into a coding tutorial, but
you can check out the best practices on or use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper,
which makes an intimidating task, super simple. After you’ve marked up your products, then
you can enter in the URL of your page or paste the source code into Google’s structured
data testing tool. So for this page, you can see that they’re
using both breadcrumbs and product markup. One important thing to note is that if you
decide to markup products within your category page, then according to Google, all of them
should be marked. Schema markup isn’t a must, but it’s certainly
a good way to standout in the SERPs and increase your CTR. Alright, we’re onto our technical SEO section. Now, technical SEO is super important for
ecommerce sites simply because it’s a lot easier to create duplicate content, cannibalization,
and other issues that often go unnoticed. We’ve already talked about general navigation
in terms of URL structures, but as an ecommerce store, you need to take special care with
faceted navigation. And by faceted navigation, I’m talking about
parameters that are added to the URL via. filters that don’t exactly have a semantic
relationship. For example, if I’m looking on Amazon for
an iPhone and then I choose a 5 to 5.4 inch display size, only in gold color, and from
this random seller, they don’t really have a semantic relationship when all combined together. While these filters are great for user experience,
they often lead to issues with duplicate content which comes with other problems like how your
link equity is distributed among your other pages. And for bigger sites, crawl budget becomes
something to be aware of. So there are 2 main issues that we need to solve. Number one is duplicate content, which will
affect how your link equity is distributed. And number two, wasted crawl budget. And the most effective way for beginners and
intermediates is to set a canonical URL for different facets that you don’t want to
be indexed as a separate URL. And if you look at the source code for that
Amazon category page, you’ll see that it’s something that they set here. But this doesn’t solve our crawl budget issue. So the way you can do that is to add nofollow
internal links on facets that you don’t want to be followed. And you can see that our example bridal site
does that here on certain filters. It’s absolutely vital that you take care
of faceted navigation since Google has explicitly said that it contributes to having many
low-value-add URLs, affecting crawl budget. You can check if you have issues with faceted
navigation simply by taking one of your URLs with some filters that you don’t want to be indexed
and then pasting it in as a Google search. Next is to fix other duplicate content issues. Now, if we go back to Site Audit we can head
over to the “Content Quality” report in the left sidebar, and you’ll see a nice
cluster map of near duplicate pages. The green ones have canonicals matching, and
the red duplicates have mismatching canonicals. And in almost all cases, the green ones can
be left alone, but the red ones will need some tender love and care. If I click on one of the red ones, then you’ll
see the duplicate pages that do not share the same canonical URL. And if I open up a couple of pages, you’ll
see that the pages are indeed the same, but have different canonical URLs based on the
page number. But they’re using the parameter, pp, which
stands for per page causing a potential SEO issue. So in this case, they can nofollow the internal
links to the number of results per page filter, noindex the pages that contain that filter,
or add some additional conditions in the backend to fix this issue. But there would likely need to be more fixes
throughout the site since these kinds of issues tend to go deep. You can click on the URL that you want to
examine, then click on “inlinks” within Site Audit, and you’ll be able to see all
of the internal links pointing at this page. There are a lot of options that you need to
weigh out and since I have minimal knowledge about this site as a whole, there would need
to be further analysis before making a big move like this. There are other kinds of duplicate content issues. A common one you’ll see on ecommerce sites
is having the exact same product page within different categories. For example, you might have a URL that looks
like this, which is in your new-releases section. But that same product might fall into your
dresses category, creating two identical pages. In this case, you could either use the canonical
tag or if it’s no longer relevant, you can delete the page and redirect it to the correct URL. Finally is to find and fix keyword cannibalization
issues and we have a great video and blog post on that, which includes a free template
that you can download and watch after this video. Because right now, we’re going to hit link
building for ecommerce which is a real struggle for many of us ecommerce site owners. Building links to your product and category
pages is hard in comparison to getting links to blog posts. So let’s talk about a few tactics that you
can use that will help you get more links to your revenue generating pages. The first is to find sites that link to your
competitors’ homepages. And the reason why I’m going for homepage
links is because this is much more common and easier to get for ecommerce sites over
links to product pages. Using the link intersect tool, you can enter
in your competitors’ domain and see which sites link to them and try and get an understanding
of why they’re linking to them. If you’re not sure who your competitors
are, then you can go to the Competing Domains report within Site Explorer and look for sites
that have a lot of common keywords, or just skim through the visual graphic here and look
for lots of green. So you would take these 3 domains here and
paste them into the link intersect tool, which I’ve already preset. And then in the bottom, you can enter in your domain Next, I’m going to switch all of these dropdowns
to URL mode. Finally, I’m going to switch this filter
to show pages that link to any of these pages and I’ll run the search. And you can see that there are nearly 5,500
sites that are linking to these competitors, but not to Kleinfeld Bridal. Now, some of these links will be irrelevant,
but you’ll also be able to see that they have links from Vogue. Then you’ll see a bunch of links from what
looks like a wedding magazine who are perpetually giving them editorial links. These are the kinds of people you’d want
to network with! Another link building strategy is to get featured
on manufacturers’ “where to buy” page. You can do a Google search for something like this: The manufacturer whose product you stock then
intitle:(”where to buy” OR “stockists”). Sometimes you’ll find directory listings
like this, and other times, you’ll be able to contact the manufacturer who would be more
than willing to list your online shop there. You can also do this in Site Explorer. Just enter in the domain of one of your competitors,
so I’ll put in Then go to the backlinks profile. Next, type something in the “include”
search box like “where to buy.” And you can see here that there are some decent
opportunities to get some editorial links. The next link building strategy is to search for people who have done reviews on your competitor’s products. Now, the wedding dress industry probably wouldn’t be the best for this search since they have high ticket items. So let’s use Tata Harper as an example, who sells natural beauty products. You can do a Google search for intitle:”tata harper” intitle:review. And you can see that there are a good number
of results including YouTube results. You can also do this in Content Explorer. I’ll just type in “Tata Harper” as a
phrase match and set the search parameter to title. And you’ll see a nice list of pages that
weeds out a lot of the junk pages that you’d normally have to filter through in Google
and in YouTube. A big plus to using Content Explorer is that
you can see all of the SEO metrics to know which site owners and authors are
worth building relationships with. Now that we have a list of prospects, you
just need to reach out to them. You can say something like: Hi [name], Sam here with Sam’s Natural
Beauty and Healthcare Products. I saw your review on Tata Harper’s organic cleanser. Thought you might be interested in doing a
review on our [similar product]. Cosmopolitan rated it as the top natural cleanser
in 2018 and Forbes has called us “a skin care company to be reckoned with.” I liked the thoroughness of your Tata Harper
article and thought you might be a good fit to provide an objective review on our “Organicks” line. Let me know if you’re interested and I’d
be happy to send you some samples and a few gifts for you and your family. Cheers,
Sam Now, if they choose to write a review, this
is will naturally lead to a link back to your site and/or product page. The last one is a bit different, but it has massive
potential to rank for highly competitive phrases. The caveat is that it’s extremely difficult
to execute. Do you remember #thedress? Basically, a woman saw this dress as blue
and her friend or family member saw it as gold. They posted it on Tumblr and the story went viral. But what store did they buy this dress from? And of course people would go out of their
way to find out. And it was a small-ish store in the UK called
“Romans Originals.” Once people found out, guess what happened? Authority sites like the Huffington Post,
Forbes, BBC, and Mashable started linking to their product page and home page. And look at their spike of referring domains! Now, ranking for hashtag, the dress, isn’t
going to bring much value for them alone. But look at their “Best by Links” report
to see what they did. They started redirecting all of their viral
links to their /dresses category page. And if we look at the overview page of their
dresses category page, you’ll see that they had a massive spike in Google traffic to their
pages when they redirected those pages. Now, creating a viral hit like this is no
easy task. But if you or your team are able to come up
with something creative, you can use a similar post-viral strategy. So, get the links from virality, milk every
link you can until the buzz fades, then redirect those pages to a relevant page that can bump
your rankings. The last and final piece to the eCommerce
SEO puzzle is to do content marketing. And by content marketing, I’m referring
to blogging, creating infographics, and tools that will be helpful to your prospective customers. As I mentioned earlier, content attracts a
lot more links and a lot more easily than product or category pages. Now, rather than rehashing what I’ve already
said, I highly recommend watching our SEO tutorial, which you can view by clicking the
card and I’ll leave a link to it in the description below. So keep grinding away, get results, and I’ll
see you in the next tutorial.

20 thoughts on “Ecommerce SEO Tutorial to Get More Free Search Traffic

  1. Great video as usual Sam! Awesome tips on link building techniques for product pages. Looking forward to next week's content!

  2. Hi Sam, apply what you say in your video to finish the web address with /sitemap.xml to the competition page and return "This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below."

  3. BOOOM! Hi sam that's really amazing.. you covering every single thing in under 20-22 minutes super hard! Thank You appreciate you.

  4. Wow! Awesome video Sam. I've just landed a new e-commerce client and will definitely be referring back to your video. Thanks again!

  5. Hey Sam can you please make a video on 'How to rank classified ads websites?' where the content is not in the hands of website owner.

  6. Hey Sam, thanks for this! What are your thoughts on keyword cannibalization when it comes to e-commerce? Especially niche websites that have lots of similar products in a single collection. How would you approach this and also do content marketing?

  7. I am creating SILO structure , my is simple blog so do i need to index silo category in the yoast seo or not ?

    and do i need to optimize that SILO catagory or not ?

  8. Hi Sam, thanks for posting such a detailed guide to E-commerce SEO. I have an E-commerce site that’s in desperate need of some SEO but just didn’t know where to start. This video has helped me formulate a clear SEO plan and I am now planning a new E-commerce venture as well!

  9. Dude, if u are so smart with this seo ecommerce thing, then why the fuck u don't build your damn website and make millions of dolars like amazon and so on :)))

  10. I’m using Shopify and I remove my store name in theme because it adds on total characters of title pages and blogs. It would affect my SEO? Thanks!

  11. You are the greatest instructor and content developer ever! Thanks for all the amazing information that you share! Also, the architecture of information inside your videos is WONDERFUL and SUPER UNDERSTANDABLE! I wish I could leave more than one like! :))

  12. Sam, you're my favorite! Thanks for such a great and thorough tutorial. Do you suggest finding additional categories that your current product inventory can fit into in order to have more pages ranking? Additionally, do you know of any major differences between bigcommerce and Shopify from an SEO perspective? We recently looked at organic traffic data from a client. The two years they were using bigcommerce there traffic was almost double of what it was when they moved to Shopify. And it's never fully recovered and appears to be going down each year. We're not sure if it was the platform or the content that made the biggest difference, or something else entirely.

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