A Simple (But Complete) Guide To Ecommerce SEO

David McSweeney
David is the blog editor here at Ahrefs, the owner of Top5SEO and a white hat SEO evangelist. SEO case studies make him a lot happier than they should, and he has a tendency to overuse ellipses...
    Follow our step-by-step, noob friendly guide to Ecommerce SEO to increase your store's Google traffic.

    Ecommerce is BIG business.

    How big? Well, in the US alone, total Ecommerce sales in 2014 smashed past $300 billion — a growth of 310% in just 10 years:

    usa-ecommerce-value

    But lots of cash means LOTS of competition. One estimate puts the number of English language Ecommerce sites in Alexa’s top 1m at a whopping 110,000.

    And naturally all of these sites are competing for the top search positions in their niche.

    So how can you ensure that YOUR Ecommerce site will be the one that rises to the top?

    Well, fortunately there is some good news:

    The SEO of most Ecommerce sites SUCKS.

    Which means that with the right knowledge and some hard work, you can easily make improvements that will give you an advantage over your competitors and quickly increase your search traffic.

    In this guide I'll cover everything you need to know to get your Ecommerce site fully optimised, including:

    • Keyword research
    • On-Page SEO
    • Technical SEO
    • Link building

    And to illustrate the processes I'll be using real world examples on 3 case study sites.

    Let's get started!

    Part 1: Keyword Research For Ecommerce Sites

    The starting point for any SEO campaign should be keyword research and Ecommerce SEO is no different.

    Without proper keyword research you’ll be flying blind - relying on ‘gut feeling’ to drive your campaign.

    So where do you start?

    Editor's note
    In this section I'll be using UK fashion retailer Spoiled Brat for the examples.

    spoiledbrat

    Thinking ‘Outside The Box’

    Clearly, there are certain ‘main’ keywords you’ll want to rank for. Your products, your brands, your categories etc.

    And of course it’s essential that you optimise your store for those phrases.

    But here’s the drag:

    Your competitors will be targeting those exact same keywords.

    And if they have a stronger link profile, then they’re probably going to outrank you.

    So to kick off this section I’m going to show you how to find some super cool low competition keywords.

    Keywords that:

    • Have good volume
    • Are likely to convert into customers
    • Your competitors are NOT targeting
    • You can rank for quickly

    We’re going to do that by taking off our Ecommerce hat and putting on our blogging/affiliate marketing hat.

    1. Steal This Keyword Research Trick From Affiliate Marketers

    The most successful affiliate marketers have a process that looks like this:

    1. Identify a common problem
    2. Create content targeting people with that problem
    3. Recommend a solution in the content (either a product or service)

    It’s a simple formula that converts like crazy.

    And the good news:

    It works just as well for Ecommerce sites.

    Here’s a quick example.

    Find High Converting Keywords Using This Simple Formula

    Let’s say you were into gaming and wanted to buy a brand new laptop. But you weren’t particularly technical, so had no idea which laptop or specs to go for.

    What would you search for?

    Perhaps ‘best laptop for gaming’?

    Turns out that particular keyword has quite a high difficulty score (38). But it definitely has good volume.

    kd

    Indeed this ‘best X for Y’ formula (where X is your product line and Y is the problem/need) works in most niches.

    Let’s see if we can find some good ‘best X for Y’ keywords for Spoiled Brat.

    We can do that by simply picking one of their product lines (dresses) and searching Ahrefs Keywords Explorer.

    Below I have searched for ‘best dresses for’ without the quotes. We’ll let Keywords Explorer come up with the ‘Y’ (problem) parts for us.

    dresses

    And straight away I have some cool keywords and an idea for content that would fit the first 3 (highlighted) perfectly:

    'A Complete Guide To Choosing The Best Dress For Your Body Type'

    The post title targets the first phrase ('best dresses for body type'), then we can split the article into sections to target the other keywords (specific body shapes).

    So we could have headings like:

    • ‘Best Dresses For Apple Shape’
    • ‘Best Dresses For Pear Shape’ etc.

    With 3 or 4 product recommendations underneath each section.

    To make the post kick-ass, we would also want to explain why certain shapes of dresses suit certain body types. We don't just want this just to be a list of products. We want to make this a definitive guide, which is more likely to:

    • a) Rank for the phrase
    • b) Engage/educate the visitor
    • c) Convert into a sale
    Bonus Tip
    You can also use Google's autosuggest to find these kind of keywords. Just start typing "best X for" and you'll get some cool suggestions straight from Google.

    autosuggest

    2. Pinch Cool Keywords From Bloggers

    Now I mentioned above that we’ll be looking for keywords that your competitors are not targeting.

    But actually, that's not quite correct as bloggers (and affiliate sites) are also your competitors.

    Perhaps not in terms of business, but definitely in terms of search traffic. Which means they can be a great place to look for keyword ideas.

    Let’s do a quick Google search for ‘fashion blog UK’ to find a blogger.

    uk-fashion-blogs

    We’ll ignore the list posts at the top, grab the first actual blog result, and paste it into Ahrefs Site Explorer.

    Site Explorer > Enter domain > Explore

    site-explorer

    Looks like she’s ranking for a ton of keywords.

    Let’s take a look at them by running the ‘Organic keywords’ report.

    Site Explorer > Organic search > Organic keywords

    organic-keywords

    By default, we’ll see the keywords that are driving the most traffic to the site. Nothing particularly interesting for us there, so let’s get more specific.

    We’ll set the ‘Difficulty’ filter to maximum 20 and enter ‘dresses’ into the ‘Search in results’ box. We’ll also order the report by ‘Volume’.

    filters

    And scrolling down we can see a couple of keywords that look interesting.

    keywords

    There’s reasonable search volume and a very low difficulty score. But most importantly, those keywords are a great fit for Spoiled Brat’s range.

    Now let’s Google the keyword to take a look at the search results.

    party-dresses-results

    Positions 1 and 2 are category pages on one site (newlook.com). That’s a good sign as category pages tend to be pretty weak.

    Checking the stats in Ahrefs Site Explorer confirms this.

    drur

    The site has good domain authority, but the individual page is not very strong.

    Which means that if we can create something cool and build some solid links, we should be able to rank for that keyword.

    Awesome!

    But wait...

    Before we start writing we have a little more research to do.

    We’ll run the ‘Organic keywords’ report for that page and take a look at all the keywords it ranks for.

    all-keywords

    And right away we can see that the ‘main’ keyword we should be optimising for is ‘party dresses for teenagers’.

    We can then look to sprinkle the other keywords into our content to make it super relevant.

    So what’s next?

    Well we could set up a category page for that keyword in the main store.

    But, in my opinion we’d be much better creating a high quality piece of editorial content in the blog.

    Something like:

    ‘10 Must Have Party Dresses For Teenagers’

    And naturally, the 10 dresses would all be products from the site.

    Tip
    The great thing about posts like this is they can be updated every few months as products/ranges change. That’s going to help keep the page fresh - something Google definitely likes to see.

    So that's 2 methods for finding cool keywords that your competitors may not be targeting already. Next up, some quick wins.

    3. Target 'Opportunity Keywords' For Quick Wins

    What's an opportunity keyword?

    It's a keyword phrase that:

    • You are already ranking for in positions 11-20
    • Has good search volume
    • Has a relatively low difficulty score

    Which means with a little work you can get your site onto the first page and quickly increase your search traffic.

    How To Find Opportunity Keywords

    You can find opportunity keywords by running the 'Organic keywords' report in Ahrefs Site Explorer and setting a few search filters.

    In the example below, I have set the following parameters:

    • Position: 11-20
    • Volume: 1,000 to max
    • Difficulty: min to 20
    opportunity-keywords

    Ahrefs found 25 pages matching my criteria.

    The first result (highlighted) shows that this page currently ranks at position 11 for the keyword 'lavish alice'.

    lavish-alice

    As that keyword gets 27,100 searches per month, moving up a few spots would quickly increase traffic.

    Great. But, how exactly do we do that?

    Checking The Competition

    The first thing we need to do is check to see what we're up against.

    You may have noticed that the KD score (keyword difficulty) for the phrase was actually 0.

    lavish-alice-kd

    That means (in theory) it should be pretty straight forward to break into the first few spots.

    To confirm that is the case, we'll run a Google search for the keyword to see what's ranking.

    lavish-alice-search

    The first 2 sites are the brand and their Twitter page. Not much chance of outranking them, but can we outrank the site at position 3?

    To find out I'm going to grab the URLs of all the pages that are currently ranking above Spoiled Brat. Then I'm going to analyse them all at once using Ahrefs Batch Analysis tool.

    Tools > Batch Analysis > Enter domains > Start analysis

    Here are the results.

    batch-analysis

    I've chopped out things like social metrics in the screenshot as all I'm really interested in here is:

    • The Domain Rating of the site
    • The number of referring domains pointing to the URL

    The bad news: all of the sites have a higher Domain Rating than Spoiled Brat.

    The good news: with the exception of the brand itself (and one link pointing to the site at #7) none of the pages have any backlinks.

    Which means we have a great shot at ranking in the top spots for this keyword.

    Boosting The Opportunity Keyword

    So now we know we can rank, we want to go ahead and try and boost this opportunity keyword.

    You've probably guessed already, but the main thing we'll want to do is build some backlinks to the page. I would also recommend adding some internal links to give it as much power as possible

    But in this case, there's something else we can try.

    And this is where Ecommerce SEO becomes all out warfare.

    Turns out when I Googled the phrase, Spoiled Brat is now sitting at position 8.

    serps

    And what's really interesting to me is the title of the site at position 7:

    '20% OFF At Lavish Alice - UNiDAYS'

    Grabs your attention doesn't it?

    And in the search game, attention = clicks.

    So my recommendation would be to change Spoiled Brat's title to something like:

    'Lavish Alice SALE Now On: Save up to 25%'

    They would of course need to make sure that at least one item had a 25% discount. If they can, then I bet that title would increase their CTR (click-through rate) from search.

    So even if the site didn't move up at all, it would probably still get more traffic. But...

    Improving the CTR should also improve the ranking.

    A win/win.

    4. Find Competitor Keywords You're Missing Out On

    Finally we'll look at a way of picking up keyword ideas from your competitors.

    We'll do that by looking for 'content gaps'. That's keywords your competitors are ranking for, which your site is not.

    Step 1: Identify Your Competitors

    The first thing is to figure out who our closest competitors are in search.

    We can do that by running the 'Competing domains' report in Ahrefs Site Explorer.

    Site Explorer > Organic search > Competing domains

    The report will show us the websites which have the largest overlap in keyword rankings with our site.

    competing-domains

    The central column (highlighted) shows the number of overlapping keywords for each domain.

    Step 2: Find Content Gaps

    Next I'll pick out 3 of those domains and head over to the 'Content gap' tool. I have set the report to show me keywords where at least 2 of the competing sites rank.

    Site Explorer > Organic search > Content gap > Enter domains > Show keywords

    content-gap

    Unfiltered, we'll get back a ton of keywords.

    But in this case I want to find keywords that should be relatively straight forward to rank for. So I'll set the following filters:

    • Volume: 1,000 to max
    • Difficulty: 0 to 10
    • Words: 4-10

    By setting the words to 4+ I'll get some solid long tail keywords that should be easier to rank for than shorter phrases.

    And it looks like we have some nice suggestions:

    keywords1

    Pick out the keywords which are most relevant to your store and add them to a spreadsheet.

    Step 3: Create Content On Your Site To Plug The Gaps

    The Content Gap report should give you plenty of ideas for new keywords to target.

    Your job is to create some cool content targeting each phrase and start plugging those gaps!

    Now let's take a look at on-page SEO for Ecommerce sites.

    Part 2: On-Page SEO For Ecommerce Sites

    Editor's note
    To illustrate this section, I'm going to walk through the on-site changes we implemented to increase Australian toy retailer Toy Universe's search traffic by 116% (in just 4 months).

    toyuniverse

    Australian based toy retailer ToyUniverse’s organic traffic has been growing steadily for the past few years.

    For example search traffic for January 2015 was up 20% on January 2014.

    january2015-traffic

    Nothing wrong with that — it’s a nice increase.

    But compare that to the increase between January 2015 and January 2016:

    january2016-traffic

    116%! Now, that’s the kind of growth we like to see!

    More importantly, this doubling in traffic, lead to a doubling in sales.

    Christmas quarter revenue was up by 35%. More significantly for us though revenue has doubled in January with a week left — that’s unheard of in toys as the 1st quarter is usually quiet and it’s hard to get growth in this period.
    Magda De Berg
    Magda De Berg Toy Universe

    This growth was the result of SEO work undertaken on the site between September and December 2015.

    Sidenote.
    The reason for comparing year on year is to mitigate the seasonal ‘spike’ — it would be statistically irrelevant to say that traffic increased 542% between August and December (which it did). As you can see from the screen shot below, there is a lot more traffic around in December in the toy niche than there is in January, but note that again the growth is almost double.

    december2015-traffic

    So that’s the results… now let’s see how they got there!

    To make the steps taken as easy to follow as possible, we’ll split each individual action into 3 sections:

    The Problem — the SEO issue we uncovered
    What We Did — the action we took to rectify/improve it
    Why We Did It — why this is important to Ecommerce SEO

    Switching To HTTPS

    The first change was simple; switching the entire domain from HTTP to HTTPS.

    https

    The Problem

    The front end of the store was running on HTTP.

    What We Did

    Implemented HTTPS site wide.

    Why We Did It

    There were 2 reasons for this change:

    1. As Ecommerce stores will generally have a number of forms which collect personal details from users. So it's good practice to make sure ALL information is encrypted (not just credit card details).
    2. Google has confirmed that there is a (slight) rankings boost for sites serving content over HTTPs.
    The Takeaway
    If you are running an Ecommerce store, then you should implement HTTPS sitewide — read this guide to make sure you do it right!

    Optimising Category Pages

    Category pages are key hub pages in any Ecommerce store. When optimised correctly they can bring in good traffic for top level keywords.

    Unfortunately Toy Universe’s category pages were poorly optimised and leaving traffic on the table!

    Here's what we did.

    Optimising Category Title Tags

    The Problem

    Title tags were either too short or too long, with no consistency.

    What We Did

    Simplified category title tags into a templated format and added purchase intent keywords (buy/online)

    <title>Buy {category name} {+ option of 1 or 2 relevant keywords} online at Toy Universe Australia</title>

    Why We Did It

    Simplifying the format makes implementing changes quick and easy. I also ensures consistency in search results.

    Adding purchase intent keywords to your titles can bring in long tail traffic from searchers who are likely to be in ‘buying mode’.

    Adding Unique Content To Category Pages

    The Problem

    Category pages were lacking unique content.

    What We Did

    Added category descriptions/introductions above products.
    category-description

    Why We Did It

    Adding a unique description to each category ensures Google has some content to index. This reduces the risk of thin content penalties.

    Optimising Products

    It can be tempting to populate an Ecommerce store as quickly as possible - throwing products up with little regard for SEO.

    At the very least, this lowers the likelihood of individual products ranking in search. In some cases it might even result in site-wide penalties.

    As with categories, the individual product pages on Toy Universe were far from optimised.

    Optimising Product Descriptions

    The Problem

    A large percentage of product descriptions were either very thin (perhaps a dozen or so words), or were manufacturer’s descriptions/copied from elsewhere on the web (duplicate content).

    What We Did

    • All new products added to the site have original descriptions written for them before uploading.
    • Between 20 and 30 existing products have been updated each day with a new, original description. This was done ‘top down’, starting with the best selling products to get the biggest ‘bang for buck’. So far around 90% of the products on the site have been updated.
    • For consistency and to speed up creation, all product descriptions were written in the following format:

    product-descriptions

    Why We Did It

    When Google rolled out the first iteration of Panda in 2011 it crushed thousands of Ecommerce businesses overnight.

    The algorithm was merciless — thin content was thin content. Whether that content resided on a content farm with thousands of low quality pages, or an Ecommerce store using manufacturer’s descriptions, the result was the same — rankings tanked.

    Like this:

    panda

    Things haven’t changed in the past 5 years.

    Which means that if you are running an Ecommerce store, you need to make sure that you are writing unique descriptions for EVERY product on your site.

    Of course, notwithstanding the SEO benefit — a well written description will sell more products!

    Consider
    I see lots of Ecommerce stores who also sell on Amazon using the same product descriptions on both platforms. Which version do you think is going to rank?

    Optimising Product Title Tags

    The Problem

    Product title tags suffered from the same problem as category title tags. They were either too short, or too long with no consistency.

    What We Did

    Again, we simplified product title tags into a templated format and added purchase intent keywords (buy/online)

    <title>Buy {product name} {+ option of 1 or 2 relevant keywords} online at Toy Universe</title>

    Why We Did It

    As before, simplifying the format makes changes quick and easy to make, while adding the purchase intent keywords can bring in long tail traffic from searchers in ‘buying mode’.

    Optimising Product Meta Descriptions

    The Problem

    Product pages did not include custom meta descriptions.

    What We Did

    Created custom meta descriptions for each product.

    Why We Did It

    While not directly influencing rankings, a well written meta description can lead to improved click-through rate (CTR) from search results.

    And as CTR is generally accepted to be a ranking factor, it can be said that optimised meta descriptions are in fact an indirect ranking factor.

    Additionally, custom meta descriptions are particularly important for Ecommerce sites, as they present an opportunity to ‘sell’ from the search results.

    Include USPs such as:

    • ‘Free Shipping’
    • ‘Best price online’
    • 'Next day delivery'
    • 'No quibble returns'

    To pull in extra clicks and sales.

    Pro Tip
    Split test different meta description formats (for example including the product price) to maximise click-throughs.

    Optimising Product Images

    The Problem

    Product images were uncompressed — resulting in large files which were slow to load.

    What We Did

    Compressed product images to reduce file sizes and improve loading times.

    Why We Did It

    Speeding up loading time is good for user experience. And better user experience = more sales.

    In our study of on-page ranking factors, we also found that faster load times correlate with higher search rankings.

    03-page-speed

    Fixing Errors With Structured Data

    The Problem

    Schema markup was in place for products. But it was returning errors.

    google-structured-data-errors

    What We Did

    Correctly implemented schema markup for products and validated with Google’s structured data testing tool.

    structured-data-1

    Why We Did It

    While Google claim that structured data does not directly influence rankings, properly implemeted rich snippets help a listing to stand out in the search results.

    toyuniverse-search-result

    This can lead to an increase in click-throughs from search.

    And just because Google doesn’t use structured data as a ranking signal today, doesn’t mean they might not start using it tomorrow!

    Other Changes

    Here are some other key changes that were made to improve the on-site SEO.

    Moving Blog To Main Site

    The Problem

    Toy Universe’s blog was hosted on blogger (under the sub domain blog.toyuniverse.com.au) and was not integrated into the main site.

    old-blog-1-621x425

    What We Did

    Integrated the blog into the main site at URL toyuniverse.com.au/blog.

    new-blog-680x382

    Why We Did It

    There are conflicting views in the SEO community on the subdomain v subfolder debate (and its impact on SEO). However in this Moz Q&A thread from February 2014, Rand Fishkin offered the following advice:

    I would still strongly urge folks to keep all content on a single subdomain. We recently were able to test this using a subdomain on Moz itself (when moving our beginner’s guide to SEO from guides.moz.com to the current URL http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo). The results were astounding — rankings rose dramatically across the board for every keyword we tracked to the pages.

    I’ve had the opportunity to see many dozens of other sites do the same, almost always with similarly positive results (assuming they’re moving from a subdomain without much other content/link signals to the subdomain that has those signals).

    Rand Fishkin
    Rand Fishkin Moz

    I completely agree with Rand and would always recommend using a folder structure in preference to subdomains for primary content.

    Removing Boiler Plate Text From Footer

    The Problem

    Each page on the site had a large block of ‘boiler plate text in the footer.

    boiler-plate-680x156

    What We Did

    We removed this boiler plate text from all pages except the home page.

    Why We Did It

    Large blocks of repeated text on multiple pages can lead to, or at least exacerbate, duplicate/thin content problems.

    Try and keep any repeated text in templates to a minimum.

    Recommendation
    Toy Universe were able to double their search traffic in a short period by putting in the time and effort to:

    1. create unique content for their products
    2. implement solid, sensible SEO best practices across the site

    By adopting a ‘top down’ approach and working on the most important products and categories first, they were able to maximise the SEO benefit and see some quick results for their efforts.

    Part 3: Technical SEO For Ecommerce Sites

    Editor's note
    In this section I'll be digging in to indexing issues (a common problem on Ecommerce sites) on UkSoccerShop - a UK based retailer of replica football tops.

    uksoccershop1

    UKSoccerShop are one of the UK's largest online retailers of official replica football shirts.

    Their traffic had been consistent for years, but took a worrying dip over the Summer.

    These charts from the Overview report in Ahrefs Site Explorer show a sudden fall in organic keywords and traffic in June 2016.

    traffic-drops

    This drop ties in with Google's unannounced updates in the same period. It also tallies with data from Google Analytics.

    As these Google updates were Panda/quality related, it's highly likely that the site is under a (soft) penalty.

    While there are several issues to work through, there is one major problem which is likely to be the cause of the drop. In fact it's the issue I find most often when auditing Ecommerce sites:

    Duplicate content.

    Here's what we discovered and how to fix it.

    Getting Rid Of Duplicate Content

    This kind of menu is GREAT for users:

    menu

    It makes it super easy to drill down through thousands of products and find what you are looking for.

    But from an SEO perspective…

    It can be a KILLER.

    Because if your site is not set up correctly, then it can quite quickly generate THOUSANDS of pages of extremely thin content.

    Every time we click an option it creates a separate URL:

    menu1

    And if all those URLs are indexable, then your highly reputable Ecommerce business soon becomes indistinguishable from a content farm in Google’s eyes.

    Which makes it PANDA FOOD.

    Fortunately, there is some good news — this is a fairly easy problem to fix.

    Here is the process.

    Step 1: Check The Number of Indexed Pages

    To check how many pages Google has indexed for your site, you can run a ‘site:yourdomain.com’ search in Google.

    We can see that Google currently has a whopping 179,000 pages indexed for UK Soccer Shop.

    uksoccershop

    You can also run the ‘Index Status’ report in Google Search Console.

    Below we can see Search Console is reporting a slightly lower number of indexed pages.

    search-console

    But it’s still way too high.

    So what’s going on?

    Step 2: Identify The Indexing Problems

    If we pick a category page from the site and run a ‘site:’ search for the specific URL we can quickly see what's causing our indexing issues.

    urls

    For just one category page, Google has indexed 15 different versions!

    Multiply that up across all the categories and you soon have tens of thousands of junk pages in the index.

    Step 3: Fix The Indexing Issues

    There are a few ways to deal with this, but only one that is guaranteed to work.

    I'll quickly run through each of them, but I recommend you implement method 3.

    Method 1: Set The Canonical URL

    In theory, you can add a Canonical URL tag to dynamic pages. A Canonical URL tells Google what the ‘de facto’ version of the content is and they should ignore the other versions.

    I say in theory and should, because if we view the source for that category we can see that the Canonical URL tag is correctly in place.

    canonical

    But Google is still indexing all the duplicates.

    So, that’s clearly not working.

    Next...

    Method 2: Configure URL Parameters (Google Search Console)

    The URL Parameters section of Google Search Console allows you to tell Googlebot how to deal with specific URL parameters.

    For example, if we had a parameter ‘orderby’ we could instruct Google not to crawl any URLs containing that string.

    parameters

    But here’s the problem:

    If Google has already indexed those pages before you set the parameters, then it’s not going to be able to recrawl them. Which means they can end up staying in the index for good.

    UK Soccer Shop has had URL parameter settings in place since 2015.

    parameters1

    Everything looks good…

    But the dynamic pages are still indexed.

    Sidenote.
    The same applies to blocking parameters through robots.txt. If they’re already in the index, then they are just going to stay there.

    Which brings us to the only method that (in my experience) actually works.

    Method 3: Add A Noindex, Follow Meta Robots Tag

    This is one instruction that Google definitely won’t ignore.

    <meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow">

    Adding a noindex,follow meta robots tag to your dynamic pages will ensure they get dropped out of the index as soon as Google re-crawls them.

    Which means that you actually want Google to crawl them.

    So don’t block your dynamic pages through robots.txt or URL parameters until they have disappeared from the index.

    After that, you can block them to make sure:

    • a) they don't come back
    • b) you don't waste crawl equity
    Recommendation
    Add the meta robots tag, set to 'noindex,follow' to all dynamically generated pages on your store. For more information on how to use the meta robots tag, check out this guide from YOAST.

    Part 4: Link Building For Ecommerce Sites

    If you follow the advice above, your Ecommerce site should be well optimised and primed for ranking.

    But that's just half of the picture.

    Because in SEO, what's happening off-site is just as important as what's happening on-site.

    And to get the full benefit from your keyword research and optimisation efforts, you'll need to power up your site by building some backlinks.

    To give you some ideas for your campaign, below are links to some of the best link building guides here on Ahrefs blog.

    Sidenote.
    If you're fairly new to SEO/link building I recommend you read our 'Noob Friendly' guide first.

    The Little Things Matter In Ecommerce SEO

    No SEO wheels were reinvented here. But as I mentioned right at the start - sorting out the basics and applying some best practices, will give you an immediate advantage over the majority of your Ecommerce competitors.

    What To Do Next…

    I chose to highlight many of the points included in the case studies above as they are the mistakes I see Ecommerce stores making time and time again.

    But you might also want to run through this list of over 200 SEO best practices for lots more issues to look out for.

    And for more tips on auditing your website and identifying critical SEO issues check out my guide here.

    As always, if you have any questions or comments then please leave them below!

    David McSweeney
    David is the blog editor here at Ahrefs, the owner of Top5SEO and a white hat SEO evangelist. SEO case studies make him a lot happier than they should, and he has a tendency to overuse ellipses...

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    • AJ Saunders

      KILLER! Has given me a load to work on 🙂

    • Darren DeMatas

      Great post. I love all the insights of WHY you did things for each case study. Also agree that putting the blog in a subfolder is the way to go, but not possible with many of the SaaS based platforms.

      • thanks Darren. Yeah, unfortunately the application itself is the limiting factor in many platforms.

    • Hi Simon, this is a common problem with Ecommerce stores, but sounds like you have a particularly severe case!

      Generally my advice is to 301 redirect expired products to either an alternative product, or to the parent category. The exception would be if the product is a particularly popular landing page for search traffic — in this case I would probably leave it in place, show out of stock, and offer alternatives.

      In your case, if all products are only short term I would really be focusing my efforts into ranking the category pages as opposed to individual products. Also perhaps specific content pages based around groups of products (which can be easily updated) — for example ‘the top 10 mellow cigars’ etc and ranking them. If something does come back in to stock then I would be looking to resurrect the old URL too.

    • Salah N. AlMasri

      Thanks David for sharing these steps, but it could be more awesome if you put it for each cms platforms 😉 great job

      • thanks Salah. Yes, certain systems are worse than others for the duplication issues etc, but the solutions are generally the same

    • Aditiya Sulistiawan

      Thanks David for your detail report. It will be my reff for our new ecommerce site. Great thanks

    • Manish Singh Rajput

      Awesome post! couldn’t stop reading till the end.

    • Roxana Stingu

      Is it just me or does a 0,23% bounce rate suggest some analytics tracking issues for the Australian toy store? Seems like the problems were happening before all the SEO improvements but the data might be skewed if this is the case.

      • Roxana Stingu

        And there it is, Universal tracking added twice.

        • hmm… good spot Roxana — will ping them. However, while this will have skewed bounce rate & possibly time on site, it won’t have had any effect on sessions/organic traffic numbers which is the data we were analysing.

    • …and ecommerce website owners keep telling “It’s seo guys job and our website is great!”. Riiiight.…

    • Hi David, hope you are well great article and points. I have been implementing some of the above using Moz Pro but really like your idea of including a variation of different buyer orientated terms to hopefully target more specific and accurate buyer personas, I will try and mix this in a bit more. We talked before about an eCommerce type store I work on, would love to catch up on it with you sometime.

    • Great post David!

    • i already done that except https ..

    • Very interesting post.…

    • Do you have any recomendations of where I can find someone who has the expertise to do this sort of analysis and review of my ecomerce site?

    • Awesome tips thanks -

    • I just love articles with real life cases, thanks David! Great to see when on-page SEO alone can have such an impact.

    • Dario Callender

      I have a few questions — how long did you take on both sites to make anti-panda changes? How long after the changes were completed — the major ones at least was a ranking increase witnessed?

    • Mac TSE

      Great stuff..looking to implement an automated Title tag for my products using your advice on a template format…how is this created on Magento so it will run the spun script to create a unique title for each product? Thanks

    • Prathmesh Chillal

      Great stuff David! Thanks a lot for sharing this!
      Would love to have detailed article/SEO guide for Social Media sites.

    • Great Golf Deals

      Brilliant article and one of the most informative ecommerce seo guides i’ve ever read. We struggle with ranking for competitive product keywords even though our on-page seo is optimized and our product descriptions are more optimized and content rich than our competitors that have higher rankings but better linking profiles. I firmly believe that it’s the link profile that will make a bigger impact in ecommerce seo rankings.

    • This article is just… beyond awesome!

    • Awesome..it’s the best of article really I like it.

    • awesome post!

    • Is there a tool to help you rapidly edit the duplicate content issues? 

    • Haresh Pansuriya

      i have already done that with https ..thanks

    • Lee

      Never normally comment on this kind of stuff, but have to say. Very, very good article.

    • Shaun M.

      wow, everything about this is awesome. Great examples and easy break out into chunks of actionable items. You guys have been doing an amazing job with your blog.

    • useful write-up, choosing a keyword from Google auto result is a cool and effective idea as most of the Google users go with the auto results.

    • very useful article, can be applied to my blog which is still less visitors or reader

    • Milan Adam

      I love how specific your article is!! I have yet to see someone go into as much detail and description as you have with regards to SEO formatting and techniques. It really is shocking how many SEO websites/services out there are so poorly designed and optimized themselves! Quite ironic if you ask me!

    • one of the best ecommerce guides I’ve read in a while.

    • Any recommendations for site structure? 

      Example: how to structure category pages and sub pages..

    • on-page and off-page work is very essential for a website to promote in search engines.. meta optimization and whole website optimization comes in on-page.. there are many options in off-page optimization and depends on quality of work.. there many companies offering these services but not all that companies stand on their words..

    • Wow!

      I nice thing “pinching keywords from bloggers”

      I’ll try this for my clients if they ask me to do so.

      Thanks

    • sisindia

      Hi David, Tips are really actionable and you described them very well. However selecting keywords for eCommerce site is toughest part in this section. Buyers do prefer trusted resources for purchasing. So we need to consider those keywords that build trust & brand value in buyers mind. For example if we rank for keyword “cheap leather shoes” there are fair chances to lose brand value. If we first focus on optimizing for keywords “Quality Leather Shoes” it will benefit in long term. Website design and keyword research should be based on buyers psychology.

    • Great article…nice conversation is going on here..very useful.…explaining structure is too good and understandable.…thank you…