Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has proven to be the most effective way for businesses to increase visibility in search engine result pages, which ultimately leads to increased traffic and conversions performed on your eCommerce website. So what is the magic SEO recipe that leads to increased success? Take a look at our in-depth SEO guide to get a head start on your efforts. 

 

Table of Contents: 

Identify and Prioritize What to Optimize

Keyword Research

eCommerce Site Architecture

Technical SEO for eCommerce

Local SEO for eCommerce

Link Building for eCommerce

Measuring SEO Success

 

Identify and Prioritize What to Optimize 

Prior to going through the whole SEO process, many eCommerce businesses are not sure what page to start with. We’ll outline a quick process for identifying which pages you should focus on and how to prioritize your SEO efforts around product changes with the business such as new products, retiring old products, seasonal changes, etc.          

URL Selection For Optimization

There are several ways to identify and prioritize URLs to optimize.

We are not going to outline a step-by-step process but rather a guide for you or your team to reference. Every industry is different and makes putting a step-by-step process difficult or impossible to put together. Ultimately, you need to rely on multiple teams within the organization, data and your best judgment when determining which pages to optimize month to month and how.

For larger sites and those running on Shopify, keep in mind how pages are being organized and canonicalized on the backend to know which page(s) you need to optimize. 

Example: Shopify, by default, adds collections onto the URL depending on which collection you were in previous to that product. This makes the URL look something like:

/collections/(collection name)/products/(name of product)

However, the canonical points to a simplified URL:

/products/(name of product)

Make sure that you’ve only optimized the page(s) being indexed or you are trying to index instead of trying to optimize the same product in all of the different collections you might find it in.

Page URL: collections/anniversary-wine-boxes/products/family-vintage-anniversary-wine-box 

Page URL: collections/all-products/products/family-vintage-anniversary-wine-box

Before You Begin Optimizing…

The first thing you should do before optimizing any website is get a current snapshot of all the pages on the site by performing a web crawl. For smaller sites, there are tools to do this like ScreamingFrog and RavenTools. 

For larger sites, leverage tools like DeepCrawl or Botify, which can crawl and pull this information back but may take 12-24 hours to crawl the entire site.    

DeepCrawl Tool  

If possible, crawl the site during slower hours while running at slower crawl speeds. 

EX: (Screaming Frog > Configuration > Speed –> check “Limit URL/s” and choose 0.5 Max URL/s).

In addition to site crawlers, use the sitemap to get the most important URLs on the website. You should be able to find this by using the address: domain.com/sitemap.xml (i.e. https://www.rei.com/sitemap-core-collection.xml). most important 

In Screaming Frog choose “Mode > List” then choose “upload” and select “Download XML Sitemap”. 

Paste the URL for the sitemap and hit okay and start running. 

If you aren’t using an Enterprise SEO tool like Conductor, BrightEdge or SEOClarity, then you can save the crawl information in a spreadsheet or Google Sheet. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of the pages that have already been optimized (include the date the page was optimized).

Phase One: Category and Subcategory Pages

Most SEO optimizations will start out the same way – by optimizing the category pages since these usually drive the most traffic and revenue to the site. 

Category and Subcategory Pages

Some businesses have sites that are small enough to completely optimize all category and subcategory pages in a few weeks, while others may have so many pages it could take months to work through them all. The biggest challenge is to know what to focus on to make the biggest impact.  

Which pages should I start with?

There are several ways to prioritize category and subcategory pages. Here are a few ways:

  • Alphabetically (seriously)
  • Pages with most traffic first or the opposite 
  • Pages already ranking in positions 11-20 (pulled using a tools like SEMRush or AHREFs) 
  • Pages ranking in positions 5-10 (pulled using Google Search Console data) 
  • Top selling
  • Top converting
  • Any combination of the above

If you are still unsure of where to start, I’d recommend starting with every category page because they have the highest chance to rank and give you a quick win to show the value of SEO, if you have to build the case. Then move to subcategory pages. 

Phase Two: Everything Else

Depending on the website, the next step varies widely. Questions to answer that will help you decide include:

  • Do we have too many product pages to get to?
  • Should we focus on just the top products and then move on to other pages?
  • Is there an automated way to optimize product and other pages? 
  • Are there any pages ranking on the fringe of the first page of Google that are not category pages?
  • Are there any high-value/low-competition keywords that haven’t been assigned to a page and optimized that could be?
  • Are there any “low value” pages that don’t generate much traffic and revenue but can be experimented with? 

Look at the list of URLs on the Site Optimization document and see what hasn’t been touched yet. Group them in terms of similar keywords or ideas to help improve the efficiency of writing title tags and meta descriptions. 

Other Helpful Ideas For Prioritizing Pages 

Page Two Ranking URLs

These URLs are ones that rank for highly relevant keywords in positions 11-20. These pages are one page away from the first page of Google and have the highest chance of driving traffic to the site with some work. 

Run an SEMRush report on the domain and identify these pages. Keep in mind that some pages that rank for a keyword on page two also rank for another URL on PAGE ONE. Don’t cannibalize those URLs that rank on page one. Your judgment is crucial to the efficacy of this strategy. 

Don’t pick “page two” URLs just because they are on the fringe of ranking. If they are on the fringe for a keyword with a search volume of less than 50 or 100, you probably won’t move the needle much.

To “level-up” this strategy, you could look at URLs that rank in positions 4-10 since the CTR of positions 1-3 are exponentially higher than the rest of the page. Use a free tool like Google Search Console to get that data quickly. Make sure you have added Search Console to your site and have waited a few days to collect data. Once you have data you can go to the Performance section and select Total Clicks, Average CTR and Average Position.

Click on the Filter icon below the graph chart to the top right of the keyword table. Filter by: Query, Clicks and CTR 

Once you select the filters you can filter down even more. Sort the information by Highest clicks and review the keywords that rank in positions 4-10 and work to improve the CTR on these terms. 

Riskless URLs

URLs that receive no landing page traffic (as found in Google, Adobe or other Analytics tools) and have little to lose. Select these pages to optimize. Keep in mind that the best way to optimize these pages could be to “deoptimize” them. They may have lost rankings (or never ranked) due to the oversaturation of a keywords being used on the page. 

Best Sellers

Through Google Analytics, Shopify, or any ecommerce platform, identify product pages that are best sellers (most revenue, highest conversion rates, etc.). Export this list (most platforms have an export option). If the client’s website is seasonal, select the relevant date range (should be ahead of the season). If they do not have a way of exporting, add the Link Klipper extension to Chrome, view the relevant category page, select the view that allows the most products on a single page, and run the extension.

Once you’ve downloaded all the links, they’ll be downloaded into a CSV file. Here’s what that will look like:

Newest Pages

Select the newest pages. These pages likely haven’t been optimized and could benefit from a boost. Likely requires little effort. Make sure you are communicating with the product team so you know what products are going to launch on the site to stay ahead of optimizations prior to the new products launching. 

What do I do once I optimize the entire website?

First of all, throw yourself a party. You did it! Good job!

Once you’ve optimized the entire website, go back to the start and look at the first pages you optimized. It should be enough time since you’ve optimized those pages to see what kind of impact your optimizations are having. Are there pages that you optimized that didn’t rank for the keyword you optimized? Or aren’t ranking at all? Reoptimize and try again. 

You could do things like select a new keyword with less competition to focus on to see if you can get more movement with that keyword. Google is always tweaking their algorithm as they test how the 200+ ranking factors play into which sites rank and more importantly, how users respond to the content that ranks on page one. 

Ongoing keyword research is useful to understand how consumers research and buy products since new products coming to the market can impact “what” users will search for. For example, Google trends show traditional web searches for “women’s booties” is trending above the term “women’s ankle boots”. 

However, Google shopping is the other way around. The term “women’s booties” is not trending as much as “women’s ankle boots”. 

Once you have identified and prioritized URLs on your site, the next step to improving your web presence through SEO is to conduct focused keyword research. This research will be the foundation in which all future SEO efforts will revolve and rely on. 

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 phrase 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

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 into 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 from 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 use 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 amount 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.  

Shoppers Intentions

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 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.  

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  Extremely competitive  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 shows 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 architecture 

eCommerce Site Architecture

What is Site Architecture?

Simply put, site architecture refers to the structure of a website. Good site architecture is well organized and easy to navigate.On a website with good site architecture, you will often find categories with subcategories underneath them. 

Ecommerce websites often have more pages than other websites, so it’s especially important for you to consider how you can make your site architecture as easy to navigate as possible. Not only will this save you time down the road, but it will create a positive experience for site visitors, which is sure to lead to success.

Let’s break this down. If you are searching for dresses for your daughter on Presley Couture’s website you will be able to quickly navigate to the proper section due to proper site architecture implementation. 

Your navigation path broken down will look something like this: 

This seems simple enough and it is for smaller sites. However, 

Why Does it Need to be Simple and Scalable?

As your business grows, your products and website will have to grow, as well. Perhaps you start your business with around 10 products available on your site. As you grow, you will slowly start adding more and more products to be purchased. 

When you are dealing with thousands of potential categories, subcategory, and faceted navigation pages it can become extremely complex once you start adding in things like Features, Brands, Uses, Age, Weight, Color, etc. 

This is where having a scalable website becomes very important. As you add more products, instead of completely changing the structure of your website to accommodate the changes, you can simply file them away under a subcategory, or perhaps make a new category where the products can live on your site. Remember, simplicity is key to helping you grow in organic search.  

A good example of this is REI. Even though they have numerous categories and subcategories on their website, they have identified the key elements that are impactful for the business and have created simplified navigation and filtered pages that are very specific to their audience’s needs. 

On-Page SEO for eCommerce

On-page SEO simply put is the tactic of optimizing specific web pages to rank higher and attract more relevant traffic in organic search results. Optimization can occur through a variety of tactics that we will break down below.

Title Tags

Title tags are an HTML element that details the main focus of your web page. Title tags can be found on search engine result pages (SERPs) as the main clickable element. Title tags are essential for SEO and social sharing. 

How to Optimize Your Title Tags

To optimize your title tags, the first step is to use your keyword research to select the proper keyword to optimize for. Once you have selected the keyword, you can then add modifiers to your title tag to help show up for long-tail searches. 

Let’s give an example of a keyword modifier. If your keyword is “Turkish towels”, instead of making your title tag: “Turkish Towels Sold at Modern Home Decor.” you should consider adding a word or two that people would naturally use when they search for Turkish towels. 

Modifiers to consider including:

  • Material – i.e. – cotton, linen, etc. 
  • Features – high-quality, beach towel, bathroom, linen, etc.  
  • Color – white, gray, multicolor, etc. 
  • Patterns – striped,, etc. 
  • Style – i.e. – fringed, bohemian, Moroccan, etc. 

Look at what Google is showing in the image and product results to see what modifiers people are searching for to give you an idea of what to include in the title tags of your product, category, subcategory, and faceted pages. 

As a general rule of thumb, I suggest a title tag length of 55-60 characters. Anything beyond 60 characters might get truncated or cut off in the search results. Try to stick to this character limit and include the most important keywords at the beginning of the title tag. 

Description Tags

Description tags are a piece of HTML code that briefly describes what a user will find on your web page. These descriptions are commonly found SERPs and play a huge role in improving click-through rates. 

Optimizing your descriptions to include keywords and effective modifiers will greatly influence a user to click and learn more. 

So what is the difference between your title tag and description? Your description is longer, so it gives you more room to pitch your products and services. 

Some phrases to consider including in your description:

  • Free shipping on all products!
  • Check out our exclusive deals on ____.
  • Find a large selection of ____.
  • Save 20% off ___ when you purchase today.

Highlight why they need to consider shopping with you and use things that will encourage a user to click through to your site. Description tags are not a ranking factor by themselves so adding in keywords into the tag you won’t get any boost in rankings. However, having a good CTR will impact your SEO since Google uses CTR as a factor. I suggest you keep your description tags to 155 characters or less. Google tests description length and will sometimes show a longer description tag, however, it is best to keep it at the 150-155 character limit. 

Product and Category Page Content

Invest time in writing 1,000+ word articles. Did you know longer content ranks best in Google? 

Long-form content applies to the eCommerce vertical as well. The truth is, Google wants to understand what your page is about so they can better serve their search audience. In-depth content provides an extra layer of expertise and trust for your customers. They have a better idea of what they are purchasing and will have a better experience with their purchase in the long-run. 

So should every web page be 1,000 words? Let’s be a little more realistic. 

Focus on providing extraordinary descriptions that answer all your user’s questions. Use as much content on that page that will answer a user’s questions succinctly and effectively.  I don’t have a general rule for how much content is needed on a page. Some SEO’s suggest at least 250-300 words of text on category and subcategory pages for example. While the more content the better in most cases, I simply suggest having some content on that page. See how much content the top ranking sites have on their page and use that as a general gauge for content length. Focus more on quality content than quantity and making it a good user experience. 

For starters, focus on your top 25 products and category pages, then focus on improving additional product and category pages. 

For example, this product page for the Airpods Pro boasts 1,304 words.

Distribute Keywords Throughout the Content 

Ideally, you will optimize your content before it gets added to the site but let’s be honest, product teams usually push out new products and then the SEO team has to go through and rework or optimize it for SEO purposes. While not ideal, it is better to go back and optimize it after the fact.  

After your product team has completed writing in-depth category, subcategory, and product descriptions, it is crucial the SEO team or individual optimizes the content by including your target keyword(s) a few times within the content. 

Do not keyword stuff and add the keyword into the content just to get it in there. You are merely adding keywords into the text to help Google better understand what your page is all about. 

If your target keyword is “women’s scrubs” for example, then you will want to make sure to include the keyword (or variation of the keyword) within your content a few times. 

Google will place more weight on keywords that appear at the top of the webpage, so optimize your content to place your keywords at the top of the page or within the first 100 words on the page if possible. 

In the example above, Scrubs and Beyond have created a short paragraph (287 words of text to be exact) discussing the styles, features and benefits of their scrubs (a.k.a – nursing uniforms) for women in the medical field. 

What is All This Talk About Synonyms, LSI Keywords, Semantic Keyword, and NLP Stuff 

Whatever the terminology is these days, incorporating Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), Natural Language Processing (NLP), or semantic keywords and phrases that are closely tied to the main keyword, will help you increase exposure and visibility. The main point is, Google has been leveraging technology to better understand the relationship between words and phrases. 

For example, there are very different meanings to the word “hot” based on its context -e.g. – hot oven, hot food (it’s spicy versus burn your mouth hot), hot costumes (when referring to the attractiveness of a person or thing), etc. In order for Google to know what information show they are working to understand the relationship between words and how they all relate to each other. 

Here are some examples of Google searches: 

Search for hot costumes for Halloween: 

Versus “hot food” type searches 

Versus “hot oven” related terms 

Google is working continuously to understand the relationship between phrases based on how a user searches for things or how they refine their searches in order to pull back the most relevant results for a keyword search. 

Now that we have explained what LSI/NLP/Semantic keywords are, let’s show you how to find and incorporate them into your keyword research.  Let’s look at how this could apply to an eCommerce business. 

Browse Google to See What Shows Up 

Type in your target keyword in Google and take a look at the results that appear in the search results. For example, if you are optimizing your eCommerce category page for children’s athletic clothing think about (NLP/Semantic language) related to kids and clothing. You might want to consider using the following related keywords to help Google: athletic wear, activewear, athletic clothing, sports apparel, sportswear, etc. All or most of these phrases are being used by sites to describe their clothing line: 

Next, take a look at the category or product pages showing up in the search results:

Kohl’s is using terms like activewear and athleticwear interchangeably in the content on the page. They also use terms like performance clothing to help Google understand that they are relevant to the search “boys athletic clothing”.  

Consult Google Keyword Planner

After you have reviewed the Google search results, type in your target keywords into Google Keyword Planner to view the suggestions Google would recommend and see if there are phrases you missed or haven’t considered. 

Incorporate Keyword Findings into Your Content

The last step is to take your findings and incorporate the additional (LSI, NLP/Semantic language) keywords in your product and category pages to help increase visibility in search. 

Intentional Internal Links

Internal linking is when you link pages on your website to other pages that are also within your website. It’s a great way to help you rank for more keywords, and when you create internal links from your highest authority pages, you can see some pretty impressive results on your site.

Another great way to generate these high-quality internal links is by taking advantage of your content marketing. Often, a blog post on your site is the easiest and most effective way to generate these internal links to drive results. 

For example, let’s say you just finished up a post for your website that has quite a few backlinks, and that you’re ranking on the top page of Google for “Benefits of Moisture-Wicking Fabric in Your Workout Clothes.” One great way to bump your ranking up is to add some keyword-rich anchor text, such as “Moisture-Wicking Fabric for Workout Clothes” or “Odor control fabric for workout clothes” linking from your post to your related category pages. Dick’s Sporting Goods just that. 

Pro Tip: Make sure you are linking to your most important related category pages with internal links outside of the navigation menu and in the body of the HTML code. Body content links hold more weight and are therefore more valuable for SEO rankings than header, sidebar, and footer navigation links. 

Technical SEO for eCommerce

SEO is so much more than targeting keywords. There is an additional technical side that is just as important to focus and optimize for; these include things like site speed, mobile-friendliness, 404 errors, user experience and working links just to name a few. 

Technical SEO is also focused on providing the best user experience in regards to information architecture. The easier your site is to navigate the better your rankings will be. 

So where should you start with technical SEO? First, you need to run an audit on the site to understand what pages crawlers can get to, what they can’t access, metadata elements like title description and header tags. All of this information will help you understand where your issues are at a quick glance. In order to run an audit, you will need to make sure you have Google Search Console set up. Once that is set up you can leverage additional tools to help in your audit which we will cover in the next section.   

Leverage Tools to Run an SEO Audit

Before we walk through the steps in an SEO audit, we wanted to share specific tools we use to help us complete this report. 

  • Google Search Console 
  • Google Analytics
  • Ahrefs
  • Screaming Frog
  • Title Tag Pixel Width Checker
  • Raven Tools
  • Deep Crawl or Botify (Typically used for large sites that have hundreds of thousands or millions of pages to crawl) 

Once you have selected a tool to run your audit then dive in and crawl the site to see where your issues are. Let’s dive in to learn how to run the audit. 

An eCommerce technical site audit should:

  1. Provide a holistic view of the quality of your current website. 
  2. Prioritize what needs to be done before you focus on off-page SEO.
  3. Highlight issues Google is running into with your site.
  4. Build a plan for how you are going to fix and clean up site issues. 

Let’s dive in!

Set Up a Site Crawl to Gather Data 

You can use Screaming Frog to crawl your site to reveal broken links, missing metadata, thin content, or duplicate content. Note that ScreamingFrog will allow you to crawl 500 pages of the site for free. Anything larger than that will require you to purchase a license. 

Start a crawl in the background and move on to the next step. The larger the site the longer your crawl will take. To start simply download ScreamingFrog > Launch the program > plug in the URL you want to crawl and click start. Make sure the Mode is set to Spider. See below for details. 

Once you have started a site crawl go through and audit some additional things while you wait for the crawl to finish.

Are Multiple Versions of Your Site Browsable? 

There are multiple ways users can try and find a website’s main page and supporting pages. They can search for things like: 

Make sure only one of these versions is browsable since a user may type in www. versus non-www when searching for the site. All of the others should be 301 redirected to the URL for preference. 

You can also use a tool like http://www.urlitor.com/ to pug in different versions to see how they have set up redirect rules. 

Always use the HTTPS version of your domain. HTTPS is the secured/encrypted version and implementing this secure version is both good for user experience and Google’s ranking algorithm. 

A secure site emits confidence and security for your customers. SEMrush has a great resource on 10 implementation mistakes that you should fix now.

Analyze Your Crawl Report Data 

Once your crawl report has finished, take the time to dive into the data. This report will highlight broken links, duplicate URLs, missing title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text. 

You may be looking at this data asking yourself, “What does this report tell me?” We will go over some basic things here. If you need a complete guide on how to use Screaming Frog data effectively, take a look at this resource

Some things to look at in the Screaming Frog report include:  

Review the status code of each URL and make sure pages are using the correct status code. Examples include:  

  • 301 redirect status for old pages that have link equity instead of using a 302 (temporary redirect). This is important for discontinued product pages and old category pages.  
  • 404 status for error pages you don’t want to be indexed. These shouldn’t be showing a 200 OK status since they don’t have any content on them and aren’t useful pages to a user. 
  • 200 OK status for pages that should be crawled and indexed by search engines. 

Review the indexability and Indexability Status code of each URL and make sure pages you want indexed are able to be indexed and not redirected, have meta robots tags,  or canonicalized. 

Review the Title tags and Title tag length columns for each URL is using a unique title tag and you don’t have a bunch of duplicates. Check the length for title tags as well to make sure they are under the 60 character limit.  

You can review other things like description tags, meta robots tags (noindex/nofollow/index/follow tags), header tags, image alt text and other elements with ScreamingFrog data quickly to see the overall health of the site and to make sure you are maximizing your crawl budget. 

Optimizing your crawl budget is extremely important, especially when your business is running an enterprise SEO strategy since technical enhancements are critical when allowing Google to crawl millions of web pages on your site. You don’t want Google crawling numerous pages of the site that you don’t care about being included in the index. ScreamingFrog will access pages of the site and help you see if this is happening so you can get it cleaned up.     

Search For Your Company 

Make sure you show up above other sites for your own brand name. Type your brand name into Google. You should be the first search result to appear. If you’re not, then work to show up in the number one spot.  

Here are some things you can do to resolve the problem:

  • Focus on building strong branded links 
  • Work to be listed in business directories
  • Create or claim your Google Business Listing
  • Ensure you are active on major social platforms

Next use the site operator feature to search for your website. For example: 

This site search will indicate how many pages on your website are actively being indexed by Google. In the example above, Lizard Skins has 238 pages being indexed. 

The number of URLs being indexed should be lower than the number found in your crawl report. If the number being indexed is higher, it can be a signal there are junk pages being indexed as product or site searches. 

These pages are typically content-free, so by making them noindexed you will free up your site’s crawl budget. Your crawl budget is the number of pages allocated to Google to crawl your site.

Review Your Search Traffic

When you are in Google Analytics, set the time frame from the beginning of your site to the current day. This view will display potential penalties or unexplained declines. 

If there was any reason for concern, you can go back to your historic notes and see whether you had issues with redirections or a change in website host. These dips can help identify some potential easy fixes. 

Dive Into Your Google Search Console 

Google Search Console provides a number of SEO tools that you can use during your Technical SEO Audit. Things like error reports, coverage issues, performance data (clicks, CTR, impressions, etc.), schema markup data, UX and site speed issues, and more. This free tool should be something you look at regularly to understand the overall health of your site. 

Let’s dive into a few things you can look at specifically so best understand how to use the data Google is gathering for you. 

Crawl Details Using the Coverage Reports 

Navigate to the Coverage section in the left-hand menu when you are logged into Google Search Console. This section will show you indexing errors that could negatively be impacting your search results. 

If you have errors, you can start looking at the data to see why pages are having a hard time being crawled and indexed. Here is an example from above: 

Alternate Pages that are using a proper canonical have grown from more than 14K to over 22K pages on a 4 week timeframe. 

If you click to learn more it will tell you this page correctly points to the canonical page, so there is nothing for you to do. 

All good right? Well you may want to dig a little to understand why there is a spike in the amount of pages showing up here over the last several weeks. By looking at the URLs you can start to see what kind of pages these are: 

By hovering over the URL you will see a little magnifying glass that will allow you to inspect that URL. When you click on the magnifying glass it will pull up a page that offers more details about how Google is crawling the page. While they have canonicalized the page properly, they are allowing Google to crawl and index this page by not utilizing meta tags like noindex/nofollow tags. 

 While they are not a problem now, they should keep an eye on these kinds of pages to see if they keep growing in number. You don’t want search engines to start spending too much time crawling these pages. That means they may not crawl the most important pages depending on how much authority their site has. If that happens, it could hurt the pages that currently rank and drive traffic to the site. 

Look at The Search Performance Report

When you go to the Performance tab take a look to see if traffic has increased or decreased over time on Google. You can see up to 16 months of data, which will allow you to look at year over year data trends to account for seasonality.

You can dig in and compare how clicks, click-through-rates (CTR), impressions and average position have changed over time to see what may be impacting site traffic. Is your CTR dropping but the average position staying the same? Is your average position dropping and causing your CTR to drop since being lower on page one of Google naturally causes your CTR to drop. 

If you see decreases in performance you can dig into the mobile usage data to see if you are having any issues with mobile-friendly pages as site traffic from mobile devices keeps growing. 

Review Mobile Usability Reports 

This report will quickly give you insights into mobile page issues. Click on the Mobile Usability link in the left-hand navigation. It is under the Enhancements section if you don’t see it right away when you log in to the tool. 

You can see if you are having any issues with the text being too small, viewports not being set, and if you have valid mobile-friendly pages. 

This free tool from Google provides some very useful data and will help as you put more effort into SEO and generating organic search traffic. 

Review Your Site Speed

Site speed is a critical factor in ranking. According to a recent study approximately 40 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. admitted they will not purchase if the website is too slow

Using Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool will help you identify specific tactics your team can perform to help improve your site speed for both mobile and desktop site speeds. 

This tool will provide you with a Mobile and Desktop score from 1 to 100 and will offer specific tactics you can do to improve site speed performance. 

Earlier this year, Google said they would be rolling this out in 2021 and they would also, “provide at least six months notice before they’re rolled out.” 

Here is what they will be looking at incorporating into their core algorithm next year as they work to improve page experiences for users.

Image Source: Google Blog  

Webmasters will need to look more closely at how their sites handle things like: 

  • Largest Contentful Paint: measures loading performance. It marks the point in the page load timeline when the page’s main content has likely loaded To provide good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. It measures load responsiveness because it quantifies the experience users feel when trying to interact with unresponsive pages provide good user experience, pages should have an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability because it helps quantify how often users experience unexpected layout shifts—a low CLS helps ensure that the page is delightful. Pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1. 

These three elements should be the biggest priority for fixing site speed issues to prepare for Google rolling out the changes as part of their core algorithm in 2021. 

If you are still unsure where to start, you can always look to compress your images. Images can be quite large, so placing a focus on reducing file size will have a positive impact. 

Once you have completed reviewing the technical issues on the website, you will need to build a plan for how to go about fixing the issues. 

How to Fix Common Technical SEO Issues

Issue: Too Many Pages

If your site suffers from having thousands of pages, you may be looking at a tough SEO fix. With thousands of pages, you run the risk of having duplicate content that could further penalize your site. 

Cause:

Ecommerce sites can easily generate thousands of product pages. For example, if you sell running shoes your site may generate a unique URL for each unique color and size you have available. This can easily add up the more products you sell. 

Fix:

Analyze your current URLs and look for ways to delete, redirect, or add noindex tags to help reduce the number of URLs being indexed. Based on how your site manages duplicate content based on inventory such as color, see if there is a way to set a color as the preferred URL and utilize parameters to account for things like color. 

For product pages that do not generate consistent revenue, you can decrease the number of pages by combining the products into a single page.  

Before you delete or combine pages take a look at Google Analytics to ensure the pages are not performing or generating consistent traffic. You will have to build a case around how and when to do this since it can have a large impact on rankings and traffic to the site. 

Any page that does not bring in traffic or revenue should be reevaluated for its purpose. Non Performing pages may make up approximately 10% of your site, and others may make up 50%. 

Issue: Duplicate Content

One of the most common issues with eCommerce SEO is duplicate content, and unfortunately, it can tank your ranking results if not properly taken care of. 

The good news is with a little effort in creating unique content and implementing canonical tags, you can turn duplicate content into a thing of your past. 

Cause:

While there are several different ways for duplicate content to appear on your eCommerce site, here are the three most common. 

Multiple Product URLs

If your website creates a unique URL for every color, size, or version of your product, you can easily rack up duplicate content. 

Here’s an example:

For every selection, it might create a unique URL.

If all of the selections generate a unique URL, then you can have a lot of duplicate content to optimize. 

Fix:

A simple way to reduce duplicate copy is to add noindex tags to unnecessary filtered URL pages. 

After you have added noindex tags to non-performing pages, you can perform canonical tags. 

A canonical tag simply put is a way to tell search engines that certain pages are copies of a similar page. This code tells search crawlers the copy is not unique and should not be treated as such. 

After you have implemented noindex and canonical tags, you will have to look into creating unique content for the remaining pages. The task can seem daunting at first if your site has thousands of products, but you will find significant rewards in SERPs. 

You can make the process simple by building templates for all of your category and product pages. 

Issue: Duplicate Content Continued 

Other forms of duplicate content include: 

Company Standard Product Copy Content

All companies have an elevator pitch or boilerplate message that they use consistently to describe their products. While it is OK to use a similar copy across multiple pages, it is not alright to copy and paste on multiple pages. 

Manufactured Product Descriptions

Believe it or not, this happens more than you think. Companies that do not invest in writing unique product descriptions, and instead opt for the given manufacturer’s description run the risk of having a duplicate copy from several of your competitors. 

This happens a lot in the home decor space where manufacturers place their products on numerous sites. For example, the couch on Wayfair: 

Is also sold on sites like jossandmain.com, allmodern.com, birchlane.com, etc. 

Fix: 

The only way to clean this up is to go through and create unique content for every product that is considered a duplicate. In some cases that can be the entire site if they rely on dropshipping for selling products. Start with top-selling products or the largest category and go through and create unique content for every product. 

Issue: Thin Content 

Thin content refers to web pages with little to no content. Thin contact can significantly impact your business’ bottom line. eBay lost 33% of their organic traffic due to a thin content Panda penalty.

Cause: 

Ecommerce sites suffer from thin content because it can be daunting to create unique content for thousands of products. I mean it can be difficult to write unique content after you have written 20 pages about running shoes. 

While the task is difficult, it is extremely important for you to write at least 500+ words for all of your main product and category pages. 

Fix:

Identify the pages that have thin content. You can do this with Raven Tools or DeepCrawl to find pages that are on the thin side. 

After you have created the list of thin content pages, devise a schedule to enhance those URLs with unique content. Similar to meta descriptions, you can build basic templates to help make the process go faster. 

Issue: Slow Site Speed

Site speed is a significant signal Google uses in its ranking algorithm. And while it is important for ranking purposes, eCommerce stores note it also directly impacts their bottom line. According to a recent research study, slow load times increase shopping cart abandonment by approximately 29.8%

Cause:

Image File Size

Sites containing multiple high-resolution product images can directly impact your page load speed. 

Old Code

Ecommerce platforms can be slow due to old codes. Unlike a blogging CMS platform, like WordPress, you cannot install a plugin and immediately see results. 

Slow Hosting and Servers

A slow hosting plan can easily limit how fast your website can be. 

Fix:

Upgrade Your Hosting Plans

While it would be difficult to recommend a specific hosting plan as a blanket recommendation, you should expect to pay at least $50/month on your hosting support.

Optimize Image Size

Compressing images is critical for eCommerce businesses. Product heavy sites will see a significant boost with proper optimization. 

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Investing in a CDN is a quick and affordable way to increase your site speed. Sites built on Shopify, Magento Commerce (Cloud) and Bigcommerce have a built-in CDN they use to serve images from so you have to rely on their network from image speed. 

Backlinks are still very important and should be included in your SEO strategy. Google looks at backlinks as “votes”. Meaning, the more links you have to a page on your site the more popular the page is. As you grow in links (a.k.a votes) the more popular your pages become, which will only increase your page visibility on Google. 

When looking at building links you will want to work on getting links from numerous sources across the web to make your backlink portfolio look natural. Here is a quick list of sites to look into for your eCommerce link building strategy.  

If you are an established business then we suggest you start by looking at your current backlinks to get an idea of what that looks like. This will give you an idea of what you already have and potential areas to look at to generate additional links to your site. 

Review Your Back Links 

Take the time to review what sites are pointing back to yours. You can use tools like Ahrefs (the biggest backlink index out there), SEMRush, Moz Link Explorer, and Majestic SEO to understand your current links. Each tool gives you a little different view but for this resource, we are going to show you how Ahrefs works since we get the most data from it.. ** Ahrefs is a paid tool so if you are serious about SEO, we suggest using this tool for link data. 

 When using Ahrefs data you can tell if you have high-quality sites recommending your site or if you have spam sites that could potentially penalize you. 

You can run this report by using the Site Explorer tool. Simply input the domain or URL you want to review backlinks for and choose if you want the exact URL, prefix, the entire domain, or parts of the domain. 

Submit and you will get a list of domains that link back to your site. 

As you dig into the types of links that are coming back to the site you need to consider factors like anchor text being used, any new broken links, or a sudden drop of a lot of links and spammy sites linking back to you. I will cover some of these things below. 

Anchor text being used

In Ahrefs you will be able to see which anchor texts are being used in the Anchors section under the overview section, not the backlink section.

When looking at this section, you want to make sure there is a wide variety of keywords instead of the overuse of one term or a phrase. The only exception to this rule is your Brand name or URL. In the case of lizard skins, they are getting anchor text links to the brand name or to lizardskins.com (and variations of the domain). 

This looks natural like how users would like to a site. If your site has a lot of keyword anchor text links then you should look at ways to leverage the brand name and URL to make it more natural. In the case of Lizard Skins, if they were getting a lot of links with the anchor text such as handgrips, baseball grip tape, grip tape, batting gloves, etc. they would need to be concerned and look at ways to diversify their links. 

Identify broken backlinks

Fixing broken links is low hanging fruit. Navigating to the Backlinks tab in Ahrefs and selecting Broken will display the affected links.

The best strategy with broken links is to create a 301 redirect from the broken page to an active category, subcategory, blog page, etc. Make sure the link is redirecting to the most relevant page on your site.   

Look for spam sites 

Links from low-quality sites can negatively impact your website. Google may see spam links as being a part of a Private Blog Network or other black hat tactics. 

You can find these links by navigating to the Backlinks tab and sort the results by Domain Rating lowest to highest. 

Links noted as “N/A” and UR of 0 are low-quality links. Beyond that, you can also look for URLs with spam names.

So, you will need to work with bloggers and other businesses to acquire backlinks. Here are a few link-building website opportunities:

  • Resource Page Link Building 
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Broken Link Outreach

Resource Page Link Building 

Resource pages can take form in several different ways. Some include industry blog posts, static pages, directory listings, and several more. 

You can find resource pages through the use of simple Google commands. Just type “inurl:resources + X” in the search engine. 

After you have found a resource page that fits your business add the URL and contact it into a spreadsheet. After you have built a decent list of leads, you can perform email outreach.

Work With Influencers

Influencer marketing has become a staple in effective holistic marketing strategies. Working with influencers, people within your industry that have a large following or have high domain authority can help you with brand visibility as well as SEO. 

We will specifically breakdown how you can use influencers to positively impact your SEO efforts.

Instead of paying an influencer to promote your product on their social channels, you instead work with them to create a post with a high-quality backlink from their site to yours. This can be a blog post created to feature your product, or request a link to your product from an existing page on their site. 

The best thing you can do is work on your relationships with influencers. The more personal you are, the better outcomes you will yield in regards to SEO. 

How do you build a relationship with influencers? 

  • Comment on their blog and social media posts with genuine comments
  • Recommend them to prospects
  • Gift them free products to personally review
  • Provide loyalty to those you work with

So now you know how to build meaningful relationships, but how do you find the right influencers? You can perform a Google command similar to, “[Topic] blogs/influencers.” 

Focus on Broken Links

Fixing broken links is an easy and effective way to build links pointing back to your site. 

You can use Google Chrome extensions to help you identify any broken links that are invalid or pointing to pages that no longer exist. 

Broken links will be highlighted in red. Once you identify the links you can begin outreach to those who published the article. You can reach out using the following template:

“Hi [Name],

I was on your website today and couldn’t help but notice one of the links was broken on this page:

[URL]

The broken link is pointing here:

[URL]

I have a resource that I think would be a great addition to your article. Check it out here: 

[URL]

Thanks for being an industry leader providing exceptional advice.

Best,

[Name]

Keep in mind cold outreach can be a tough game to play. You will likely have to send several hundred emails to get a few links pointing back to your site. 

Local SEO for eCommerce

What is Local SEO and What Makes it Different?

Local SEO places an emphasis on focusing your optimization on reaching local search audiences. 

For example, if you own a hair salon in downtown LA, you will want to show up at the top of the local search pack for the keyword “LA hair salon.” Local SEO can help you get there. 

Simple, right?

What to Focus on in Local SEO

1. Claim your Google My Business Profile

Google allows you to claim your business with its feature Google My Business. This allows you to provide your own business details into Google’s business index database. 

By simply claiming your business, you will have a better chance of showing up in local search results. 

Google My Business allows you to update your website information, address, reviews, pictures and so much more. While this is a good first step, you will also want to build local citations. 

  1. Build Local Citations

Local citations are backlinks pointing to your site from other local websites. Backlinks can come from local news, press releases, directories, and other local resources. 

A simple way to build a local citation is to claim your free Yellow Pages listing.  

Citations act as an indicator that you are a popular vendor within your local area. Similar to how backlinks help your SEO efforts, backlinks from local sites greatly help your local SEO efforts. 

  1. Work for Links on Local Websites 

Getting links on local websites is a great way to build domain authority and local search authority. Sites may include your local news, charities, or partners you work with, or your local Chamber of Commerce just to name a few. 

eCommerce Content Marketing

Learn About Your Target Market

Target marketing allows you to better focus your marketing dollars on a specific audience that is more likely to purchase your product and services. Below we will break down ways to learn about your target market.

Analyze Your Current Customers

Who are your customers? Identify common characteristics and interests in the audience. Is there a specific segment that purchases more than another? Look for patterns in spending habits. What keywords are your users typing in and purchasing?

Review Your Competition’s Targeting

Identify who your competitor is targeting and what message they are using. Are you marketing to the same audience? Does your product speak to a niche they are not marketing to? Look for opportunities your competitor is overlooking. 

Breakdown your Products

Write out all of the products you offer and list the benefits each product has to offer. Then work to identify the specific type of individual that could benefit from the product you offer. For example, if you have a face mask product that helps with acne, you can market to young adults and teenagers. 

Evaluate Your Identified Target Market

After you have decided on the target market you would like to focus on, ask yourself the following questions. 

  • Is your target audience large enough? 
  • Is your target audience too specific or too broad? 
  • Do you understand what motivates your audience?
  • Can your target market afford your products?
  • Are you marketing in a place they will see your message?

Create Content Based on Your Market and Keywords

After your audience has been identified, it is time to build content that speaks to this audience and is laden with keywords that will help you be found. 

Consult with your pre-built keyword research document to help you identify the keywords your target audience is using when they search for your products. Then build a content strategy that consistently publishes content on your site. 

These pieces of content will increase web traffic and social media shares that will help your category and product pages rank higher in search engine result pages. 

For example, the popular home decor eCommerce site potterybarn.com has a great blog featuring decor ideas, party inspiration, and more.

This is a major reason why so many other sites are linking back to them. 

Measuring SEO Success

How Long Does it Take to See an ROI?

SEO success is generally assessed on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. Why? It’s a long-term strategy that requires time and finess to generate strong ROI results. Companies can typically expect a negative ROI in the first three-six months of dedicated SEO optimization. 

Let’s breakdown what a potential SEO ROI timeline looks like:

Months 1-3

During the initial phase of SEO optimization, you will likely be setting the groundwork for more long-term success. 

Things to review:

  • Review your keyword research and ensure the pages are properly optimized for the appropriate keywords.
  • Implement site optimizations for your core revenue-generating URLs.

Results to expect:

  • You likely will not see a positive ROI or an increase in leads. It is critical to remember these changes are being set for long-term results, not overnight conversions. 

Months 4-6

During the next phase, you will begin to perform more focused optimizations for local search and link building

Things to review:

  • Ensure your Google My Business listings have been claimed and fully optimized.
  • Implement call/lead tracking software to better visualize your sales funnel. 
  • Devise a backlink and internal link strategy that will help Google search bots better understand the format of your website.

Results to expect:

  • Depending on how competitive your industry is, you will likely start to see keywords increasing in both number and rank. You will also begin to see an increase in site traffic around the end of this phase if done properly. 

Months 7-12

During these months you should be continuing to optimize for keywords in striking distance, building supportive content to ROI generating products and services, and looking to build quality links from both influencers and credible third-party sites. 

Things to review:

  • What keywords are driving traffic to your site? Are they properly optimized on both your sites and Google Ads? 
  • Do you have a content strategy that builds upon the keyword growth and increases the number of internal links?
  • Is your site experience improving? (Site speed, Mobile Friendliness, 404 errors, etc.)

Results to expect:

  • Your number of backlinks should have increased. 
  • Number of keywords and rank of keywords increased. 
  • Google should trust your site more and be able to rank your products for increased visibility.
  • You should be able to see moderate improvements that lead to an increased number of generated leads, sales and conversions.

Months 12 and Beyond

Every year it is important to perform a complete audit of what you implemented the year prior. These checks will highlight areas of growth, as well as areas you can look to improve. 

Things to review:

  • Website Performance
    • Users
    • Bounce Rate
    • Conversion Rate
  • Content
  • Technical SEO Elements
  • Local Search Performance 
  • Internal and External Link Analysis

Results to expect:

After a full-year of SEO optimization, you can expect to see your site improve in brand visibility, brand loyalty, and conversions. 

 

TJ has worked in the digital marketing space since 2006. He has worked at a number of agencies and and helped hundreds of clients grow their business through SEO, PPC, Social Media and Content Marketing. He currently lives in Lehi , UT and enjoys spending time with his family.