E-Commerce

How to Do Ecommerce Keyword Research that Boosts SEO


Ecommerce keyword research is an essential part of any successful search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Optimizing your ecommerce site for the right keywords can help boost traffic and drive conversion.

Of course, keyword research is only one aspect of ecommerce SEO (which we took a closer look at in our last blog post). Ultimately, it’s all part of the larger goal of increasing the visibility of your site on search engine results pages (SERPs), against the backdrop of a “noisy” ecommerce landscape.

In this article, we’ll show you how to do keyword research for ecommerce so that you can target the right keywords that will put your brand on the map.

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Why keyword research is important

For one, the effectiveness of many aspects of your SEO strategy hinges on your ability to target the right keywords.

From on-page SEO to content marketing, your optimization efforts will largely surround incorporating relevant keywords into your site pages. After all, keywords function as an indicator of a page’s content, as well as its relevance and value to both search engines and people alike.

Therefore, finding the right keywords is crucial—a process that requires a thorough understanding of your brand, products and target audience, as well as their search behavior.

Why ecommerce keyword research is important

For one, the effectiveness of many aspects of your SEO strategy hinges on your ability to target the right keywords.

From on-page SEO to content marketing, your optimization efforts will largely surround incorporating relevant keywords into your site pages. After all, keywords function as an indicator of a page’s content, as well as its relevance and value to both search engines and people alike.

Therefore, finding the right keywords is crucial—a process that requires a thorough understanding of your brand, products and target audience, as well as their search behaviour.

Brainstorming keywords for ecommerce

Since this the first step, you’d want to cast your net wide and consider as many keywords as possible. But where should you start? One way is to use your existing ecommerce site to gather keyword ideas.

Map product pages to keywords

Begin with a list of all your product and category pages. If you’ve yet to launch your ecommerce site, try using a competitor’s, ideally one that’s similar in size to your brand.

Going down the list, map keywords to each of these pages. For ecommerce sites with a large number of product pages, this can be a time-consuming process. You can speed this up by optimizing for your most important pages (e.g. highest conversion rate, highest revenue) first.

As you go about this, aim to identify both primary keywords (i.e. more generic keywords), as well as more specific, product-focused keywords. Looking at the top organic keywords for each page might give you a better idea.

Find out what your target audience is searching

Another way to start brainstorming for keywords is to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and think of what search terms they might use when looking for your products. This is most effective when you have a well-defined target audience or buyer persona in mind.

Person performing a Google search
The goal is to ensure that your target audience can find your brand with the search queries they use.

Besides relying on pure brain power, there are a couple of keyword research tools that can help. We’ve covered a few comprehensive ones in this blog post. However, a simple way to identify long-tail keywords (i.e. more specific keywords) is to look at the list of suggestions provided by the search engine for any keyword enter.

For example, if you search for “wireless earbuds” on Google or Amazon, its autocomplete feature will suggest several highly relevant keywords based on what users have been searching for (e.g. “wireless earbuds for iphone”, “wireless earbuds for small ears”).

That said, it’s important to bear in mind that these suggestions are influenced by your past searches and the location you’re searching from. Should you be targeting customers in another region, you’d need to opt for a more robust keyword research tool.

Expand on primary keywords

It’s relatively easy to identify a bunch of primary keywords. That said, these generic keywords are typically much harder to rank for given how common they are.

Instead, use these primary keywords as a springboard for more keyword ideas. With most keyword research tools, you’d be able to explore long-tail keyword variations or related keywords, which may eventually be easier targets.

These tools can be very helpful as they automate the tedious task of expanding on your primary keyword, such as considering its synonyms and how it’s phrased, while only presenting to you the most common ones.

Refining your keywords for ecommerce

Refined diamond
Refine your list of keywords based on factors like its search volume and search intent.

Now that you’ve come up with a long list of relevant keywords, your next step would be to whittle the list down to about 3 to 5 main keywords per product category. Here are some things you’d want to take into account when refining your list of keywords:

Search volume and ranking difficulty

One of the challenges of selecting keywords lies in striking a balance between a high search volume and low ranking difficulty.

Search volume is typically a measure of the average number of monthly searches for a given keyword. Therefore, a higher search volume suggests more potential traffic to your ecommerce site should you rank well on the SERPs.

On the other hand, ranking difficulty (also known as keyword difficulty) is an indicator of how hard it is to seize a top spot on the SERP. If your ecommerce site is just starting out, it may be overly ambitious of you to target a highly competitive keyword for which you may have almost no change of ranking for.

More often that not, long-tail keywords offer a good balance between the two—they are far more specific and easier to rank for. While they may have a lower search volume, they tend to see more conversions since people searching for a specific product are likely have a higher intent to purchase.

At the same time, it’s important to bear in mind that there’s no one ideal benchmark for search volume and keyword difficulty—these are very much dependent on your niche, as well as the tool you use. You’d need to figure out what works best for your ecommerce site.

Search intent

Search intent is an indicator of the user’s purpose behind a search query. For the uninitiated, this article by Yoast serves as a good introduction to search intent and SEO.

When it comes to ecommerce, you’d want to focus on keywords with a transactional or commercial intent. This would allow you to target people who are either looking to buy something or in the process of researching for their ideal purchase.

More specifically, consider tailoring your product pages to keywords with a transactional intent. You can incorporate commercial intent keywords into your ecommerce site by featuring them in blog posts, such as round-up articles.

Competitor research

In order for you to stand a chance against the competition, you need to have a good understanding of the keywords they’re ranking for. The best way to achieve this is to perform a keyword gap analysis, which would help to shed light on keyword opportunities for your ecommerce site.

Cyclists competing in a race
Competitor research is an important step as it allows you to uncover keyword opportunities.

By looking at the keywords your competitors are ranking for, you can get a sense of the keywords that are most important to your industry or niche. In fact, it might allow you to discover keywords you may not have already considered.

If your competitors are ranking for keywords that you aren’t, make sure to include those that have a substantial search volume—but only if they align with your brand and products. In particular, you’d want to focus on long-tail keywords as they present the biggest opportunities for ranking.

Adding keywords to your ecommerce site

Now that you’ve shortlisted both your primary and long-tail keywords, you’d have a better idea of what your niche is. The next step would be to start building your brand’s authority in this specific area.

There are a few things to consider when incorporating these keywords into your ecommerce site.

For a start, you’d need think of where it’s best to add each keyword. For example, it may be easier to build content around a question-based keyword like “how to pick the best wireless earbuds” through a blog post.

Having done your competitor research, you’d also have a rough gauge of the optimal number of keywords to include within each page. Then there’s also the challenge of how to include them in your copy elegantly—you’re writing for humans, not search engines after all. Always write with your target audience in mind, but make sure to keep track of your keywords as you go.

Avoid keyword stuffing at all cost. Ultimately, you’d want to make sure your content remains valuable and relevant to your target audience. Your content should never stray from your brand and all that it stands for at the expense of SEO.

Conclusion

Keyword research is the first and one of the most important steps of your ecommerce site’s SEO strategy. We’ve looked at the two main parts of the ecommerce keyword research process: brainstorming and refining.

Now, your job is to incorporate these steps into your existing workflow and figure out what works best for your ecommerce site.

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