Whether you’re a huge ecommerce brand, or a new challenger brand, focusing on SEO will help you maximise your site’s profitability.
Making your ecommerce website more visible in organic search will help increase clicks and traffic to your site. Ultimately, this increases the opportunity to convert prospects into paying customers. But how do you make your website more visible online and maximise organic search?
You need to start by understanding the search terms your target audience are using to search for your products online. This will help to direct your organic strategy. In this article, our SEO Manager, Amy, explores some of the tactics you can use to explore the potential keywords your audience are using in search engines, and understand how to best target them.
Keyword research for ecommerce sites
Keyword research is the process of discovering the search terms and phrases people are using most frequently to search for your website and products online.
There are lots of tools you can use to find which keywords people are using, and how many searches these keywords have per month on average. Some of our favourites include Keyword Planner, SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool, and Keywords Everywhere. These tools allow you to take an initial keyword, or group of keywords, and expand this to find new keywords related to them.
Another great way to find keyword opportunities is by looking at competitor sites. Using a tool like Google Keyword Planner, you can input a competitor site to discover the keywords they target and rank for. Alternatively, Sistrix can help you discover topics you hadn’t thought to explore.
Ultimately, the main goal with keyword research is to collate an extensive list of terms that covers the full range of products you sell on your site. This list should also include the different variations your audience uses, so you can better understand what they’re searching for and link these to your products and other key areas of your website, such as blogs.
Keyword clustering for ecommerce sites
Once you have your full keyword set, you need to cluster your keywords based on semantic similarity. This means grouping keywords that satisfy the same search intent and stage of the user journey.
For example, if we’re working with a pet supplies store, we may find that users searching for ‘dog bowl’, ‘dog food bowl’ and ‘dog water bowl’ are all shopping for the same product – a dog bowl. Google will consequently display the same (or very similar) search results. Google’s machine learning model has advanced over the years to be able to understand ‘semantic search’ – or how different words/strings of language are related.
It’s important you’re aware of all the different keyword variations your audience are using to search for the same product or information online. Optimising for these different keyword variations on one page helps you improve your chances of ranking for a wider variety of keywords. It also reduces the risk of creating lots of very similar pages that could compete against each other in search.
So, how do you categorise keywords into semantically similar groups?
Start by using analysis from search engine results pages (SERPs) to define keywords with similar intent. From this, you can also see which keywords serve the same (or very similar) results, and which keywords have a different intent—and therefore different results.
You should use this analysis to categorise your keywords into logical groups:
- Categorise keywords into top-level categories. In our pet shop example, this may be ‘dog’, ‘cat’, or ‘hamster’.
- Add a subcategory level to give more context to the keywords. This could be ‘dog beds’, ‘dog bowls, ‘dog toys’, etc.
- If it’s relevant, add a third level of sub-categorisation for further context to the keyword set. For example, within the dog bowls subcategory, you may have ‘raised dog bowls’, ‘travel dog bowls’, ‘slow feeder dog bowls’, etc.
Keyword mapping for ecommerce sites
The last step in creating your keyword universe is to map out your keyword clusters to new or existing pages on your site. This allows you to connect the dots by linking your target keyword list to pages on your site.
Each keyword cluster should be mapped to the page that you’re intending to rank for, for these keywords. This page should be relevant to the keyword set and match the user’s search intent. Think about what users are expecting to see/read when they search for this term, and what competitor sites show. It might be that you don’t yet have these pages on your site, which is useful for identifying content gaps.
Finally, pull through your site’s existing ranking for all keywords, so you can see how the website is already performing for each category and topic.
Using insights to inform your SEO strategy
Now you have created your keyword universe, you can use insights to inform the site structure and ongoing content strategy.
Let’s start with building the content strategy. Once you have a list of pages that need creating or optimising, you can prioritise which to work on first based on factors like current page performance, search volume, competitiveness, and business priority.
When working through these pages, you should be using the mapped keywords to ensure all on-page elements are optimised.
You can also use the keyword universe to discover content gaps. Often, subcategory keyword clusters are overlooked as sites are only focussing on the overarching topic. For example, within the ‘dog bowls’ category, we know that there are a lot of different search intents that cannot be satisfied by one ‘dog bowl’ landing page.
These subcategory keyword topics can be a gold mine, often still offering a high amount of search volume, but also a more specific user intent, and less competition. For instance, people might be looking for the best dog bowls for fast eaters, or they might be looking at the best dog bowls for travelling. As you can see, these searches both fall within the ‘dog bowls’ category, but the user is looking for completely different content.
Finally, you can use insights from your keyword universe to create a well organised and logical site structure. By understanding the top-level categories and topics that sit beneath these categories, you can build a hierarchical site structure reflecting the user journey. In the pet shop example, we may have top-level categories for dogs, cats, hamsters, and so on. We then know the main topics that sit beneath each, e.g., dog beds, dog bowls, dog leads, and the subtopics that sit beneath each of these e.g., raised dog bowls, travel dog bowls, slow feeder dog bowls. So, using insight from the keyword universe, you can clearly begin to visualise a well organised site structure.
Find out what SEO can do for you
Want to learn more about SEO and how to improve the performance of your ecommerce website? Get in touch with the TrunkBBI SEO team using the form below. Alternatively, call us on 0161 711 1000 to find out how we can maximise your organic search and drive growth for your business.