In a world of technology where everyone turns to search engines to answer any and all questions they have, you need to be doing SEO for your e-commerce business. In fact, you can’t afford to not be doing it. You might be wondering, though, where do I even start? In this blog, we’ll carefully walk through the steps that you can follow to obtain keyword research and do SEO for your e-commerce business effectively.
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the compilation of search terms related to your products, services, industry, and brand. Search terms, or keywords, are any phrases that you type into a search engine. These keywords can be short or long in length, choppy fragments or full-length questions typed out or done through the growing number of voice searches. Simply put, your keyword research should be able to answer the questions your target audience is searching for. Keyword research that is centered on what your target audiences are searching for, will let you know if you are properly aligned with your potential customers. You might describe your product one way internally, but keyword research will help you understand if your customers use different phrases or terms to find your products. For example, if your company sells custom photo print solutions, you might think one of your go-to terms would be wood hanger board prints.
While some might search using this term, they might have to refine their search further since they are actually looking for a “print on wood panel” or “photos printed on wood slats”, or something like “photos on wood planks”.
Depending on what a potential customer is looking for, the keywords they use could show very different products based on users not knowing how to find a solution. Keyword research helps you to see and understand what people are putting in search engines to find your product so that you can then take that information and implement it on your site to help them find what they’re looking for. It is important to understand the keyword landscape in order to match customer shopping intent with the right terms. In the examples above, shopping results are mixed with the kind of products it returns for keywords that can look similar on paper.
How to Choose Keywords for Product, Category, and Any Page of Your Site
Once you have started plugging terms into the Keyword Planner and building a list of potential keywords to target, you need to start putting similar keywords into groups or clusters. These groups of terms should be similar to one another and be synonymous with each other. A good example of this is the following:
In the example above, the Women’s Tops section shows similar terms bundled together. While the other two sections include a bunch of terms that are not closely tied together. The Pants section has terms like cargo pants, slacks, formal, dress pants, etc. While these are all geared toward women, dress pants and slacks are very different products and should be in a group with other closely related terms. The same goes for the Socks section. In addition to organizing your keywords, you need to consider some additional things such as search volume, keyword fit, competition, and shopper intent.
Search volume is one of the most important metrics you should take into account when evaluating keywords. The biggest challenge is balancing high search volume terms with lower search volume terms in order to find a good mix of keywords that not only have the potential to bring traffic to the site but generate revenue.
What is search volume?
Search volume indicates the number of users, on average, that are actively searching that specific phrase per month. This metric can be viewed by using the Google Keyword Planner. You can get keyword ideas or see how keywords you added to the tool are searched every month.
Note: You have to be running ads or using the hack in this post to be able to see actual search volume, historical data, and forecasts for future performance. Otherwise, you will see a very broad range for the search volume like this:
If no one is searching for the keyword you have chosen to optimize, you will likely not see the traffic, the number of conversions, and the revenue needed to grow your organic search channel. While this is one of the most important metrics to consider when evaluating which keyword to optimize for, we didn’t give you a specific number to use as a benchmark. Why? Because there is no way to provide search volume recommendations without diving into industry specifics. In some industries, 10,000 searches per month are nothing and in others 1,000 a month can be a lot depending on average order value (AOV), lifetime value of a customer, and the number of competitors in the space, among other metrics. As you perform keyword research, you will be able to better gauge what is considered a high-volume and low-volume keyword for your industry based on similar terms that show up under the keyword ideas section.
How to Find Search Volume for Specific Keywords
Users can access keyword search volumes through the Google Keyword Planner tool found within your company’s Google Ads account.
All you have to do is type in the keyword you are interested in to find search volume. You can sort and filter by average monthly search if you are not interested in looking at searches below a certain threshold. Taking this information to the next level, users can review seasonal keyword variations through the mapping feature in Google Keyword Planner. For example, meal prep terms drop down in October, November, and December and then spike in January.
If you sell an item that performs well in specific seasons, such as swimwear or holiday decor, then you will not be surprised to see the peaks and valleys throughout the year. Understanding these natural ebbs and flows can help you better plan your SEO efforts to support your business goals.
Keyword Fit for Products
Google’s algorithm is constantly improving its understanding of how keywords fit together and how they relate in order to best match keywords to highly relevant searches. However, as good as Google is, you still need to make it as easy as possible for Google to know exactly what your products are and what they are not. While search volume is one of the most important metrics, you must not forget to consider whether the keywords selected to fit the products and information on the page you are optimizing. A high search volume keyword that does not align with what the site offers, will not be impactful to the business. Keep in mind, even keywords that are slightly off from the products you sell will not produce the needed conversions. So before you commit to optimizing for off-product keywords, consider looking for keywords that are the perfect product fit. For example, if you are an eCommerce site that sells wooden wine bottle gift boxes and you come across a keyword like “wine bottle gift”. Even though you sell the box, the search intent behind the wine bottle gift is focused on selling wine bottles as the gift, not a wooden gift box.
While you may be able to extend this keyword into a category or blog post since articles can rank, you will likely not see a large number of conversions.
Plus, it is extremely difficult to fit keywords into the content naturally when it doesn’t fit with the product or information on the page. Not only is the keyword misaligned, but it will also confuse the user once they click over to the page and will have a negative impact on your organic visibility. So what does this mean for you? Selecting the proper keyword, even if it means a lower search volume, will yield more effective results. Once you have mapped specific keywords for each page and product you sell, you can then proceed to optimize the page(s) you have created a list of terms for.
The idea behind shopper intent is similar to product and keyword fit as just discussed. You are trying to understand what a user is looking for when they search for a keyword. Obviously the more broad the harder it is to know what a user is wanting but as they narrow down it is critical your products match the intent of the user. Ranking number one for your highest converting keyword? Ideal. Ranking number one for a high-volume keyword that produces zero conversions? Less than ideal. Before you proceed with optimizing your high-volume, product-aligned keywords, you should also consider whether your keyword will attract converting customers or bored browsers. Distinguishing a shopper’s intent is easy when you consult the Google Keyword Planner. You can filter your keywords by competition rating.
What does competition really tell you? It highlights how many people are actively bidding on that keyword when they promote Google Ads. If there is high competition for a keyword, then you can assume there is money or conversions to be made. Ecommerce websites should focus on optimizing for medium and high competition keywords. This will help align your keyword optimizations with revenue-generating queries. Companies can also review “Top of Page Bid.” Why? This will tell you the approximate cost advertisers will spend when they click on a Google Ad. When it comes to determining shoppers intent, the higher the bid typically means the higher the intent to buy. Review the Top of Page Bid and compare them with the keywords on your list.
Take note that there are some words and phrases that suggest the intent to buy is high, which impacts the price of the estimated bid. As you can see in this example, the keyword “Bengal Stripe Dress Shirt” has a suggested bid of $0.78.
That could indicate many people searching for that keyword probably aren’t ready to make a purchase. They might be looking to see what a Bengal stripe dress shirt is. Or they might be curious about different ways to style a dress shirt. On the other hand, a similar keyword like “buy dress shirts online” has a suggested bid that’s double the amount.
This is just an indication of intent and there are many other factors that go into keyword selection but it can be a good starting point for understanding shopper intent behind the keywords you are considering optimizing your pages for. Another factor should be competition.
Let’s break down how hard it will be to rank on the first page of Google. That’s why you are here after all! If your site does not have the authority to rank for extremely competitive search terms you will potentially spend a lot of time, money, and resources trying to rank for term(s) that could take years to achieve. A perfect example of this is www.wearfigs.com. When you do a search for the keyword “scrubs” FIGS is not even on the first page in the organic listings.
They show up everywhere in PPC and Google Shopping ads. They even show up in the “Searches related to scrubs” section of Google but are still on page two of Google. Even though Figs has grown substantially over the last couple of years if they have focused a lot of resources in trying to rank for the term “scrubs” they would be frustrated with the results. Pro Tip: Something you can do when trying to find how competitive a keyword is is to put the keyword into quotes to see the exact number of sites that have the keyword somewhere in the content on the page. If you do that for the term “women’s scrubs” for example, there are about 345,000 results for that exact keyword.
Use this guide to quickly understand how competitive a keyword is:
|# of Pages Ranking for the Exact Phrase
|Level of Difficulty to Rank
|What That Means for Me
|Between 1,000 – 30,000K results
|Fairly easy to rank for this term
|By creating a great resource on this topic and building a couple of decent links, you should start ranking for this keyword within 2-4 weeks. Page one rankings are possible in 3-6 months but may require additional links.
|Between 100K – 350K results
|Competitive keyword to rank for
|You are going to be competing with enterprise level sites on page one and will need some time to be able to rank unless your site is authoritative. Focus on longer tail terms in the short term until you can create enough links and supporting content to get you to rank. You are likely 12-24+ months to get similar terms ranking for this cluster of terms.
|Between 500K – 1 million+ results
|If you are Amazon (or a similar site in size or authority) then go for it. Otherwise, you are going to struggle to get any kind of traction with this term and it is better to focus on much longer tail keywords. If there are over 1 million results for this keyword you better have a lot of authority on the topic.
*** This is just a quick guide, but something to consider when looking at keywords to try and rank for. Also, I don’t ever suggest focusing on a single keyword and working to rank for that. Ranking fluctuations happen all the time and even if you get to page one you could fall off page one from an algorithm change and lose all of that traffic and revenue. To avoid that you need to diversify and rank for numerous terms to maintain some visibility if you drop for certain keywords. Key Takeaway: This should be a large factor to consider when optimizing for various keywords since this can cripple your SEO efforts in trying to rank organically and drive traffic to your eCommerce site. Fortunately, there are tools to help you understand keyword difficulty.
Take Advantage of SEMRush’s “Keyword Difficulty” Tool
There are other tools that can help you understand the competitiveness of keywords. SEMRush offers a keyword difficulty tool that will indicate how competitive a search query is to rank for. All you have to do is type a specific keyword into the SEMRush Keyword Magic Tool search bar. It will show you the Average “Keyword Difficulty” of numerous searches related to the keyword you looked up. For example, the term scrubs show an average KD of 76.17%, which is very high.
The “Keyword Difficulty %” is built into the tool and shown in the KD % column. SEMRush uses a scale of 1-100%.
The higher the difficulty % the harder it is to outrank your competitors in the top 20 positions of Google for that keyword.
Review Keyword Targeting
Keyword targeting is the practice of reviewing the top 10 sites that rank for a keyword to see if they are properly optimized for the keyword selected. Performing keyword targeting research can prove extremely effective if the high-performing sites have not taken the time to properly optimize for the high-yield keyword. Applying focus to keyword optimization can give you a better chance of outranking your competitors.
Once you have defined which pages you are going to optimize for, done some keyword research and analyzed the competitive landscape, you need to figure out how these keyword groups will be supported on the site. You should look into the site’s architecture
Doing keyword research and making it a big part of your SEO strategy will make a huge difference. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or like you need some help with your SEO, our team at Stryde can help! Schedule a free consultation with us today and let’s see what we can do for your business!
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Looking for more SEO tips to help you grow your e-commerce business? Check out these posts:
- Getting Started With SEO – How To Identify & Prioritize What To Optimize
- What Should Your Ecommerce Site Architecture & On Page Optimizations Look Like For Maximum SEO Value
- How To Tackle Technical SEO For Your Ecommerce Business
- Local SEO For Your Business That Sells Through Ecommerce & Retail Locations
- Getting Started With Link Building For Your Ecommerce Business
- How To Measure Ecommerce SEO Success
Greg is the founder and CEO of Stryde and a seasoned digital marketer who has worked with thousands of businesses, large and small, to generate more revenue via online marketing strategy and execution. Greg has written hundreds of blog posts as well as spoken at many events about online marketing strategy. You can follow Greg on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.