Ecommerce SEO Rules and Trends for Thriving Online Stores

Written by
Kseniia Kyslova
Reviewed by
Valerii Khomenko
May 25, 2023
38 min read

Ecommerce SEO refers to the search engine optimization of online stores. It constitutes an industry-specific blend of on-page, technical, and off-page SEO tactics. Its primary objective is to make your site more discoverable in organic search results.

The practice of SEO for online stores is closely tied to the technical elements involved in website development, which shape the site’s structure. The earlier you add SEO to your ecommerce marketing mix, the fewer mistakes you’ll have to fix on your website later on. 

It’s also important to prioritize keyword research and align it with user intent, implement on-page optimization best practices, and proactively engage in link building from the outset. This will help you reap the fruits of SEO faster.

The right way to do ecommerce SEO

Ecommerce SEO strategies for a huge brand selling across several countries and a smaller retailer targeting a single city will differ quite a bit. This is due to their distinct goals, competitors, and audiences. Both websites, however, will share the same key ecommerce SEO best practices as the foundation of their strategies. Let’s look at the five major aspects of doing SEO for ecommerce websites and discuss how to approach them.

In the next few sections, we’ll cover:

  1. Strategic keyword research and clustering
  2. Site structure and technical SEO
  3. On-page SEO and content for online stores
  4. Link building for ecommerce sites
  5. International and local SEO for ecommerce

1. Strategic keyword research and clustering

The Process of researching keywords for SEO starts with brainstorming seed keywords. For a huge ecommerce store with over 100,000 products, this could be a challenging step. Here, you can start with your list of products but the rest of the process will be much more complicated. You’ll need to collect and sift through a number of keyword options, pick the most promising ones, and then strategically assign them to your product, category, and blog pages for optimal mapping.

This is exactly what The HOTH did to boost traffic for their client. The company applied keyword research techniques, including targeting keywords with ranking potential and competitive gap analysis, and combined it with creating consistent content and link-building. This helped The HOTH increase their client’s (online store) traffic by 2400%. So, the keyword research stage proves to be one of the most important and indispensable in SEO for ecommerce.

Embrace initial keyword research

Keyword research is way more manageable when you break it down into a few simple steps.

Step 1: Get a full list of your products and analyze their SEO potential

Start by compiling the full list of products that you’ll be selling. Closely cooperate with the product team to make sure your list is ready and complete.

You’ll need to assess your list shortly after. Some brainstormed keywords may not have SEO potential, and you’ll need to check the essential parameters of each keyword to find out which ones will and won’t work. 
This is where SE Ranking’s Keywords Research bulk analysis feature will come in handy. With it, you can upload all your selected keywords in one go and get a complete report on their metrics. 

Bulk keyword analysis with SE Ranking

The data obtained from Keywords will later shape your website structure. It will help you decide which topics should be formed into sections, categories, and subcategories. 

Pay attention to the search volume and keyword difficulty parameters. Keywords with search volumes greater than 0 can be further clustered and distributed across site pages. 

Enter a search term and find untapped keyword opportunities to make your site more visible in search.

Step 2: Expand your list by describing your products

After analyzing the keywords of your main products, continue brainstorming more keywords. By analyzing different characteristics of your products, you can determine how to expand the initial site structure and form various filter pages. 

Speed up this process by using the following keyword generation patterns: brand + category name, characteristic + category name—for example, Levi’s jeans, low-rise jeans, etc. 

Naturally, you’ll need to check metrics of each keyword combination, just as you did before with seed product keywords. Some will show potential, while others will be rendered ineffective.

Just take a look at the following example:

  • Apple + s666 + red = 100 searches
  • Apple + Z555 + blue = 0 searches

After launching a batch keyword analysis and determining the search volume of the generated queries, you’ll have the info needed to decide which filter pages should be created and opened for indexing. 

Important note: Only allow the indexing of pages with search potential. 

To enhance the site structure even more, you can make use of the patterns provided above by adding another relevant product characteristic to the keyword combination. 

Don’t expect to find high search volume queries from these generated keywords. But it can still be beneficial to open very specific filter pages with low search volume queries for indexing. Since they are extremely precise, they may have a higher conversion rate.

Proceed with keyword list clustering

After collecting the keywords for your keyword list, it is recommended to divide it into small chunks of closely related keywords known as keyword clusters. This clustering process helps you decide which keywords should be assigned to the same page or on separate pages. 

To facilitate this clustering process, you can use another SE Ranking tool called Keyword Grouper. It automatically groups keywords with similar search intent, as recognized by Google, which sees them as equal or close in meaning. It also often ranks the same pages for these keywords. Just upload your keyword list to the Keyword Grouper and get clustered results within minutes.

Keyword grouper jeans keyword cluster

The next step involves mapping the keyword clusters to your pages. It is important to match the type of content on every particular page with the search intent of its target keywords. 

The most common way of clustering is grouping keywords based on their semantic similarity. For example, you can build a category page around a cluster with different combinations of the phrase “high-waisted jeans.” On the other hand, your product page can incorporate a specific keyword from the cluster along with a brand name, such as “Levis’ high-waisted jeans.” 

Make use of competitive analysis

At this point, you’ll have a list of target keywords obtained from the Keyword Research tool and organized into clusters using the Keyword Grouper. To further enhance your keyword list, analyze the competition.

Mind that analyzing just any competitor’s site won’t do much. A better strategy is to find your direct competitors who offer a similar range of products to your store and focus your research on them.

Here’s how you can find the right competitor(s) to analyze.

Step 1: Identify your direct competitors

Create a project with SE Ranking and upload the keywords you collected earlier to start tracking their rankings. Then go to My competitors —> Visibility rating. Here, you can check the SEO visibility of your own site and find a list of websites targeting the same keywords.

Visibility Rating by SE Ranking

Select sites with the most similar product ranges to yours. If you still want to analyze a competitor that offers a much larger range of products than you, you don’t necessarily have to analyze their entire website. A smarter approach might be to highlight the overlapping categories (their URLs) and analyze any common segments.

Step 2: Analyze pre-selected competitors

To extend your initial target keyword list using your competitors’ keywords, you’ll need to closely analyze the keywords they’re ranking for. SE Ranking’s Competitive Research tool can help you with this. It lets you sift through any website’s keywords and identify pages and keywords that bring in the most traffic. Just enter your competitor’s domain name in the tool, and you’ll get a comprehensive report.

Organic keyword lists of a site

In the Keywords section of the Organic traffic research module, you’ll find keywords for which your competitor appears in organic search results. It lets you analyze their keywords by a range of parameters so you can borrow useful keywords that may be missing on your list.

After you’re done with the analysis of one competitor, you can analyze another one. Their keyword lists will likely overlap to some extent, so to extract each competitor’s unique keywords, go to the Competitor comparison section within the Organic traffic research module.

In the Competitor comparison section, you can add one or two more competitors, and the tool will compare their keyword lists. You’ll get keywords that are unique for each competitor’s domain, and separate from those that overlap. 

Keyword gaps jeans keywords

For example, in the screenshot above, you can see that has 8,803 keywords that aren’t targeted by the other two websites. To look through them, select this domain in the table and apply the Unique filter. If you filter the table by search volume and keyword difficulty, you’ll find some low-hanging fruits:

  • light color jeans”—a keyword with 880 searches per month and a difficulty score of 5
  • petite curvy jeans”—a keyword with 880 searches per month and a difficulty score of 4

Both keywords would be a good addition to your list, assuming your site sells these types of jeans. You can use these keywords to optimize one of your subcategories or filtering results pages.

Factor in seasonal keywords
Most businesses depend on seasonal fluctuations to generate profits. Depending on the time of year, the number of visitors to the site changes and so does the income. You’ll want to use the seasonality indicator to prioritize the right keywords and correctly analyze the results of your marketing activities.

There are two types of seasonal traffic:

  • Cyclical traffic: This fluctuates periodically. This includes the change in season, on “Black Friday”, etc.
  • Event-driven traffic: This is connected to certain events or trends. It could be a new iPhone model release, a sudden change in weather, or fashion for spinners.

By properly defining seasonality patterns, you’ll be able to:

  • Outline business development priorities over time.
  • Plan your marketing strategy and budget.
  • Better analyze the reasons for changes in site traffic.
  • Predict the level of demand, income, and business expenses more accurately.

To determine the seasonality of keywords, use the following tools:

1. Google Trends: This tool allows you to analyze the fluctuations in popularity of certain keywords compared to all other keywords within a specific region and time period. In this extensive guide on Google Trends, you can learn more about how to leverage the tool.

2. SE Ranking’s Keyword Research tool: Alongside other crucial keyword metrics, you’ll find the Search Volume block, which displays how the search volume changed over the last year.

Seasonality trends SE Ranking

Next, you’ll need to build a seasonality map. To do this, set up the search volume data for your selected keywords so they span over a 12-month period. 

Use the formula below to calculate keyword seasonality: 

Seasonality = Keyword search volume in a particular month / Average annual keyword search volume

Here’s an example of seasonality being calculated in a spreadsheet:

Seasonality map in a spreadsheet

To simplify and accelerate the process, build a seasonality map for keyword clusters rather than for keywords. Use the formula given above, but instead of using the search volume of a single keyword, use the total search volume of all the keywords that belong to the same cluster. 

Building a seasonality map will allow you to correctly prioritize the categories of your ecommerce site and get more income during peak seasons.

2. Site structure and technical SEO

eBay, Amazon, and other major marketplaces have set the standard for online stores. They have hierarchical catalogs with the following architecture: homepage > category > subcategory > (subcategoryN) > product detail page.

Beyond that, they offer filtering and sorting features on category pages and an internal search bar that’s accessible from any page. These features add something called faceted navigation to sites, which helps users quickly find the products they want.

Ebay site structure

Most online stores use a similar structure, but their technical implementation can vary. Similar site structures are built in different ways and not all of them are SEO-friendly. Let’s go over the key principles for structuring sites in accordance with best practices for online store SEO.

Catalog structure:

  • Hierarchy levels. The catalog hierarchy should have no more than three to four levels. This ensures that users can access any product in a few clicks and search bots can crawl all low-level pages.
  • Catalog URLs. Search engine-friendly URLs should include names of directories and follow the pattern: domain-name/category-name/subcategory-name/product-name. If some products on your site belong to multiple categories, don’t create similar product detail pages on different URLs. Instead, set up universal category-free URLs for products that look like this: domain-name/product-name.
  • Listing changes. Set category names in stone to avoid trouble with redirects after category name changes and keep product detail pages live for as long as possible. If an item goes out of stock temporarily, add a Back in Stock Alert sign-up form alongside links to similar products to the page. If you’re not going to restock the item, add a noindex tag first to prevent organic traffic from reaching this page. Once the page no longer gets impressions or organic visits, you can redirect it to a similar product or to its parent category page. 

Internal linking:

  • Link hubs or menus. The pages linked from the header typically end up being the most linked-to pages on your site. These should be your product category pages. If you also provide a link to the shopping cart and account login page from the site header, block these pages from bots to save your site’s crawling budget.
  • Topic siloing. Every page in the catalog hierarchy should link to the parent category page to create topic silos for every product category. Product pages and subcategory pages should link to other pages of the same level within one topic silo. This interlinks pages optimized for related keywords and doesn’t link together unrelated pages.
  • Link distribution. Every page should have some internal incoming and outgoing links. This ensures that your site does not have orphan pages or dead ends that cause crawling issues.
  • Internal links to related products. Product pages are often at bottom of a sitemap. As the most important pages on a website, they require all the help they can get. Use your product descriptions as an opportunity to link to other products on your site that are a perfect match for this product. Use them as an upsell, complement, or just another great add-on. To scale this up, many eCommerce platforms have related products dynamically inserted by using a plugin. Tools like these are handy, so you should have them on your radar.
Related products in ecommerce
  • Breadcrumbs. One of the easiest ways to ensure that every page is linking to its parent page is by adding breadcrumb navigation. Breadcrumbs are essential for search engines to correctly distribute link equity and for showing users where the pages are sitting in the site’s hierarchy. If your website uses category-free URLs for product pages, implement path-based breadcrumbs that reflect the actual path (pages) a user visited before landing on a particular product page. They will look like this: Home > Previous page > Previous page > Current page.
  • Pagination. By adding pagination to your category pages, avoid creating deep and orphaned pages in your site structure. To prevent this issue, use numbered pagination that includes links from the first page to all other pages. It’s also a good idea to add a <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow”> meta tag to these pages. By including “noindex”, you prevent search engines from indexing these pages (as pagination might generate tons of low-quality pages) while “follow” allows search bots to visit the product pages.  

Faceted navigation:

  • Filtering results. Depending on your needs and website architecture, you can make either clean static URLs or parameterized URLs. Note that some filtering results pages create duplicate content, which should be blocked from bots. To avoid duplicates, use the rel=”canonical” tag and set it to the category page where users can apply filters. You can also use JavaScript to add uncrawlable faceted navigation by dynamically rendering the content. But if you discover any separate semantic groups for creating filter pages, allow search bots to crawl those pages because they have traffic potential.
Filtering results
  • Internal search results. Some SEO specialists think that a site’s internal search results pages offer little value for users from Google Search. Some even think that because they result in parameterized URLs with thin or duplicate content, they should be closed from being crawled and indexed. Still, these result pages can work well for larger websites that aggregate thousands of products. Their search results pages can even get a big percentage of their site traffic.
Search results
  • Sorting results. Sorted pages are duplicates of the parent category pages. They present and order the same list of products in different ways. These pages should be blocked from indexing.

Performance optimization

  • Page load speed and user experience. The Core Web Vitals (LCP, FID, and CLS) metrics became a ranking factor in 2021. Now they are a part of the Page Experience algorithm. They reflect page loading performance, interactivity, and visual stability, each of which influences users’ first impressions of your site. Regularly check your site’s performance using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. Strive to get as close to the recommended values as possible. 
Page Speed Insights
  • Mobile-friendly design. Mobile optimization is another component of the page experience algorithm. And since the popularity of mobile shopping is growing, mobile optimization remains a top priority for online stores. Given Google’s mobile-first indexing strategy, your site should load quickly (less than 2.5–3 seconds), perfectly adapt to screens of different devices, and offer a seamless mobile experience for navigation, sign-in/up, and checkout. 

Crawling and indexing:

  • XML sitemap. You should create a sitemap to show bots which of your online store’s pages you want them to index. Your sitemap.xml file should be less than 50MB in size and contain no more than 50,000 URLs. If you have more pages, you should create separate sitemap.xml files for different categories or for different page types (categories and PDPs), and an umbrella sitemap index file pointing to them.
  • Indexing restrictions. All types of pages that contain sensitive data or don’t add value to Google search results should be blocked from the search bots. Use the ‘noindex’ directive in robots meta tag or X-Robots Tag on these pages to prevent them from being indexed.
  • Crawl optimization. Your robots.txt file should contain the disallow directives to prevent bots from processing endless parameterized URLs, unimportant pages, and duplicate content. Still, crawlers might ignore your robots.txt file, especially if there are internal links or backlinks to restricted pages. If you have 100,000 pages or more, you can also use 304 status codes to allow bots to skip pages that haven’t been updated since their last crawl. 
  • Canonical pages. If you have duplicate pages, such as product variations on different URLs (color, size, etc.) or the same products listed in different categories, consolidate them. Do this by adding <a> tags with rel=canonical attributes linking to the original page. This will show Google which page you want indexed and ranked. 
  • Website security. To establish credibility and make customers feel more confident about browsing your online store, sharing their personal details, and making payments, use HTTPS protocol. A security certificate (SSL) is required to confirm that the website belongs to your organization and uses encryption for data exchange. 

Keeping your ecommerce site structure under control

The main source of technical SEO issues on ecommerce sites is often attributed to incorrect website structure. Poorly designed URL structure, internal linking, and wrong directives for crawlers can negatively impact tons of pages at a time, but they are difficult to analyze and fix without aid from special tools. The best way to monitor your site’s technical health is to run an automatic technical audit of your site from time to time. For example, you can use SE Ranking’s Website Audit tool to check your site for 120+ technical SEO issues in just a matter of minutes. 

Website Audit report

The report will reveal all problems, which will be flagged, prioritized, explained, and accompanied by lists of affected pages. With this tool, you’ll be able to find and fix all technical SEO bugs before they can harm your site’s rankings and traffic.

Score your website in 2 minutes.

Enter any website URL to get a detailed report on tech issues and suggested solutions.

As a measure of control over your site’s technical health, you can also check reports in Google Search Console. For example, you can look at the Page Indexing report to see how Google is indexing your pages.

It will also show you the number of Indexed and Not indexed pages, providing you with a full list of both page types. This makes it easier to study the reasons why pages are not being indexed.

Pages Indexed GSC

3. On-page SEO and content for online stores

To propel your product detail pages and category pages to the top of SERPs, you should prioritize perfecting your on-page optimization strategy. Without proper metadata, content, and Schema markup, you can’t compete in today’s search environment.

Titles, descriptions, H1

Optimizing metadata and headers matters a ton for rankings. Your site’s title and description tags, and H1s should contain target keywords. They should also follow these two rules:

  • Metadata and H1 on every page should be unique across the site.
  • The title and H1 used on the same page shouldn’t be identical.

Adding unique titles and descriptions to thousands of product and category pages is nearly impossible without automation. To achieve this, you can leverage various tools and plugins that offer dynamic optimization capabilities. These tools allow you to create a set of metadata templates for different site segments and then automatically pool keywords, product features, brand names, and other variables. 

Alternatively, you can automate this yourself using Spreadsheets, where you can make bulk changes using patterns (regex) and keywords, and then use plugins like WP All-import to upload everything in bulk.

Example of a Title and Description generation template for category pages:

Title: [Category name] – [Brand]

Description: Buy [Category name] with free shipping to [Country or City name] ✓ High quality ✓ Affordable prices ☎ [telephone number] Call!

H1: [Category name]

Example of a Title and Description generation template for product pages:

Title: [Product name] – [Brand]

Description: Buy ⚡ [Product name]” ⚡ in the store [Brand] ⭐ Fast delivery ❗ Official warranty ☎ [telephone number] Call!

H1: [Product name]

Category page content

You can automatically generate a list of products to make the main content of your category page. You’ll need to define how many products to show and what information to pull in from the product pages. Speaking of an optimal number of products per category, having about 30 products per category with at least 10–15 of them being unique would be fine. 

You also have the option to optimize your category pages by implementing the following practices: 

  • A short, unique category description text. You can add a short description to the top or bottom of every category page. But don’t overdo it, as this could lead to page cannibalization.  
Category Page Description
  • Unique product preview texts with keywords. Every product listed on the category page should have a name and a short description. These texts will represent the main content of the page. You can go the extra mile to make them unique, and then include category-related keywords in them. 
Product review texts

Side navigation on your category pages also contributes to on-page SEO. If you structure your site in the right way, you’ll have unique subcategories listed on the side menu and their names will be optimized for relevant keywords. Still, if your catalog is small, you’ll do well without subcategories.

Product page content

A good product page should describe the key features of the product and showcase what it looks like. Basic product information, including photos, are often provided by manufacturers. You can incorporate this info into your product pages’ main content. 

You might worry that your pages will be identical to thousands of other sites. But there is no need to spend tons of money on hiring copywriters and photographers to create unique product pages. Google, as well as users, understand that it is common for ecommerce websites to include similar information if they offer the same products. 

So, which types of content should your product pages include?

  • Product descriptions. Every product detail page should have an informative and accurate product description with no strict rule on wordcount. This description should include the target keyword, or at least its long-tail variation, synonym, and LSI words. You can automate the process of filling in standard product features, like color, on your product pages.
Product description
  • Product images. Product pages should contain unique, high-quality images in several dimensions to meet Google’s requirements for generating rich snippets and carousels. Images should have titles and alt tags as well as an optimal file size, name, and format. Your alt tags, which are crucial for SEO, should include the product name along with its main characteristics or your target keyword. In many cases, your focus keyword will align with your product name.
Product image
  • User-generated content. Product detail pages should contain customer review sections. This is one of the most useful on-page widgets. Every product review left by a customer updates the page and adds unique and relevant content to it. If you add structured data to user reviews, ratings and reviews will be shown in search results and improve the visibility of your snippets.
User-generated content
  • Video. After Amazon allowed sellers to upload videos to product detail pages, more and more independent retailers began to create media-rich pages. They enhanced product pages with short unboxing videos or videos showcasing products in action, leading to improved user signals for search engines. By using video content, you can engage better with visitors, retain them on your pages longer, and ultimately improve conversion rates. 

If you have thousands of products and want to speed up your content creation process, consider using AI tools that can auto-generate product descriptions and images. SE Ranking’s AI Writer, for example, is powered by GPT-3 technology. It can generate content in 11 different tones of voice to appeal to different audiences. It even includes your target keywords in the copy.

AI content tools help tremendously in creating scalable content production pipelines. With them, your content managers can curate and validate texts that are automatically generated instead of texts that are written manually. In this way, AI tools can produce high-quality content more efficiently.

Structured data

Online store owners can see the clear benefits of adding structured data to their product detail pages. They commonly use Schema markup, specifically the Product and Offer types. These markup types offer plenty of properties including price, availability, rating, review, etc. Google relies on this data to pool products from your site into the following SERP features:

  • Popular products. An interactive SERP feature that lists trending products. It allows users to extend the list of the items shown, apply filters, and look through detailed information about product prices, ratings, reviews, and availability in stores directly on the search results page.
Popular products in Google SERP
  • Rich results. An enhanced standalone rich snippet that shows product pictures, starred ratings, the number of reviews, prices, availability, shipping options, etc., all pulled from one site.
Rich results in Google SERP
  • Rich images. Images from the search result of Google Images can be marked with a product badge. This shows users whether the item is in stock or out of stock. They can also click the product badge to view it in the store.
Rich images in Google SERP

Getting Product rich results on Google requires you to go the extra mile in your SEO efforts. But implementing product structured data has become considerably easier than it was a few years ago. With a wide selection of plugins available for ecommerce platforms, you can easily find a suitable tool to manage Schema markup on your site.

Content cannibalization

It can be difficult for online stores to avoid creating a content overlap between different pages. For example, you might have a category, a sub-category, and several product pages related to women’s dresses, coupled with any number of blog posts about dress outfits. 

These dress-related pages may occasionally end up competing against one other for the same keywords. This can result in keyword cannibalization, which typically isn’t good, and can result in the following negative consequences: 

  1. Ranking volatility. Your pages may frequently change positions or even pop in and out of search results for a particular keyword.
  2. Unexpectedly low rankings. This is when none of the pages achieve high rankings despite having tons of content and backlinks. This can happen because Google struggles to determine which page is suitable for a given search query. The search algorithm may perceive little distinction between the pages, become confused about which page holds higher authority on your site, or question which page better matches with users’ search intent. 

To address low rankings issues in particular, you should strive to:

  • Have unique metadata and H1 headings for all page and product descriptions with unique elements. Make sure the pages target different primary keywords.
  • Link product and blog pages back to the category pages to pass authority to them and demonstrate to algorithms that your category pages hold authority for this range of products.
  • Distinguish between informational and transactional keywords to prevent your blog content from competing for the same keywords as your category pages.

Keyword cannibalization can also happen for the technical reasons that we touched upon earlier in this article’s Site structure and On-Page SEO sections. Keyword cannibalization can occur if you don’t set up basic redirects, such as redirecting from the www version of your site to non-www or vice versa. It can also arise due to duplicate content that fails to point to canonical pages. 

You should also keep keyword cannibalization in mind when checking your site’s positions with rank tracking tools. These tools will display the position of the page that ranks the highest for a particular keyword. But you still need to figure out if it is the correct page. With SE Ranking, you can specify which URL you want to rank for which keyword. If a different URL ranks for the same keyword, the tool will highlight its positions in red to help you spot the cannibalization issue as soon as it occurs.

Keyword cannibalization spotted in Rank Tracker

You might have noticed that marketplaces often rank in top positions even with poorly optimized pages. This happens because these ecommerce domains have high authority, which was established by the millions of backlinks directing link equity towards them. For example, if you analyze the Overstock website in Backlink Checker, which is a tool for link-building analysis, you’ll see that it has seven million backlinks and 148k referring domains on its backlink profile.

Backlink Checker Overview

If you want to outrank marketplaces and other huge stores like this one, you should support your on-page and technical SEO with ecommerce link building

Check which domains link out to any website and get ideas for enhancing your backlink profile.

When evaluating another website’s backlink profile, pay attention to the quality of referring domains. To choose link-building opportunities, you should analyze various metrics, including the amount of organic traffic these sites get, the number of keywords they rank for, their Domain Trust (DT), the number of external links, the anchor texts they use, and other relevant factors. 

Backlink Checker Referring Domains section

Building links to an online store won’t be easy, but there are some proven techniques that an increase the likelihood of other sites referring to your pages:

  • The homepage of your store has the greatest potential for link-building. It can get backlinks through organic brand mentions or as a result of PR campaigns. To expand your backlink profile, you should monitor all brand mentions and request website owners to add links to your site.
  • Blog posts that entertain or educate your would-be customers can also help you build links. These pages are perfect for building contextual backlinks from other blogs, and you can strategically place keyword-rich anchor texts. 
  • Discount programs and promotions that your store offers are a fair reason for your customers, brand ambassadors, or deal & coupon aggregators to share a link to your site. Every successful seasonal marketing campaign can generate hundreds of links. You should create dedicated pages to accommodate these links and make them evergreen. 
  • Product and category pages are difficult to build links to unless you have WOW products in your inventory. Fun, bizarre, and ridiculous products may not sell well but can spur people’s curiosity and generate backlinks from social and entertainment media. Try to add them to your list and spread the word about them. Additionally, you can interlink these pages with your best-selling products from the same category to boost the visibility and conversion potential of these pages. Another option is to get backlinks to your blog posts and strategically link them to your category pages, channeling the flow of link equity in the right direction.

5. International and local SEO for ecommerce

Depending on the scale and niche of your store, you’ll either want to target a wide and international audience or a small and local one, which will ultimately determine whether you need to incorporate international or local SEO tactics.

International SEO

If you sell goods in several countries, you’ll have to create multiple language versions of your website. This will affect every aspect of the site, including product listings, keywords, content, site structure, and features. 

Multilingual site by Ikea

Optimizing an international site is similar to optimizing several independent sites. Here are the most common challenges you’ll run into:

  • Content localization. Rather than simply translating all pages, it’s more effective to localize them and optimize them for each region. Conduct separate keyword research for each local version of your site and incorporate relevant search queries into your translated content, then optimize meta tags and other important page elements with these keywords. Consider factors such as currencies, logistics, regulations, cultural differences, and local trends. 
  • Differentiated site structure. You’ll have to handle several domains ( and, sub-domains ( and, or sub-folders ( and
  • Bidirectional links between versions. Establish interlinking between pages in different languages using hreflang attribute within the head section of each HTML file. This attribute indicates the language of the linked page, helping Google show every user the appropriate version of your page based on their language and region settings.

You also have the option to customize the content displayed to different users. For instance, you can use the user’s IP address, language, or the search engine location that they had previously chosen to decide which language version to serve to them. If the user’s IP shows that they are located in France, you can serve them the French version of your website. This can be tricky, so only do it with caution. 

Local SEO

If your goal is to attract foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores or scale product delivery to people who live in a certain city or district, you’ll have to tap into local SEO. 

One of the cornerstones of local SEO is targeted keyword research. Check keywords in the target location and try to find search queries with local markers, such as “LA vegan food.” If you see that these keywords have a decent search volume and that they can even be grouped in one cluster, create separate pages for the groups as a whole. Alternatively, you can check how your local competitors are approaching their local SEO and try to parrot their tactics.

Whether you are working on local SEO or have a multilingual store, consider these two tips:

  • Create a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). Google’s business listing is the primary resource for the search engine to gather information about your location, operating details, and customer feedback. By having a verified listing on it, your store can show up in general search results, Google Local Pack, and on Google Maps. After creating your GBP, you must verify it. 
  • Keep your NAP (name, address, phone number) consistent. Contact details that you provide on various local business listings and social media profiles should be consistent and align with the NAP information that’s shown on your site. If the information about it is inconsistent across different resources, Google won’t be convinced by it and could degrade your rankings for local keywords. 

SE Ranking’s Local Marketing tool can help you easily manage multiple Google Business Profiles, fix any possible NAP errors, keep track of your local rankings across various locations, and much more. It is available under the 14-day free trial.

If you have a multilingual website, Google will show different versions of your pages on different SERPs. So to monitor your progress, you’ll have to track keyword rankings for different combinations of regions and languages. 

Project settings for multiple locations

SE Ranking allows you to create a separate project for each language version within a single account, enabling you to split your overall keyword limit between them. What’s more, each keyword added to a project can be tracked across five different locations at no additional cost.

Ecommerce SEO performance & reports

The main objective of all the best practices and tips outlined in this article is to help you drive visitors to your ecommerce site from organic search, eventually converting them into customers. To see if the SEO improvements you made actually amount to anything, track their impact on the number of visitors, sales, and revenue.

You can get a comprehensive picture of your SEO by using these tools: Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console, and SE Ranking. 

  • Google Analytics allows you to collect purchase and transactional data associated with the organic channel. To enable this feature in GA4, you will need to enable the Ecommerce purchases report and add special ecommerce events to your website using either Google tag or Google Tag Manager. The reports will be displayed under the Monetization section in GA. In the Ecommerce purchases report, you can access valuable insights such as the most viewed and purchased products, as well as how much revenue each product generates.
Ecommerce Purchases report in GA
  • Google Search Console can be your source of truth for website health in terms of organic search performance and indexation. Reports under the Indexing, Experience, and Security & Manual Actions modules will help you keep an eye on critical metrics and get insights into Google’s perception of your site. In the Performance report, you can also see how often your pages are shown in Google’s search results.
Mobile Usability report in GSC
  • SE Ranking is a go-to solution that covers a wide range of SEO needs. It offers tools and features for keyword and competitive research, keyword rank tracking, content generation, backlink monitoring, technical site audits, and SEO reporting. With its help, you can conduct thorough analyses of every aspect of your site optimization and automate your routine SEO tasks to boost efficiency.
Project Summary report in SE Ranking

Closing words

Ecommerce SEO is one of the most complicated types of optimization for organic search. Websites can have thousands of pages and require a deep understanding of technical nuances. However, you can start by keeping a few simple rules in mind.  

The first rule? Always start with keyword research! This will help you understand from the get-go how to organize your product pages, categories, and filters. You should also do competitor research, focusing specifically on product categories that overlap with yours. 

The next rule? Technical optimization is central to the SEO strategy you’ll be using for your ecommerce website. You need to make sure your site has a proper structure with well-connected pages across different structural levels. Also, make sure that duplicate content pages and pages that do not bring value are not available for indexing. Simply put, spend your crawling budget wisely. 

It’s also important to apply best practices to your content, including product descriptions, images, and the content on your category pages. 

And don’t forget about on-page SEO. Strategically optimize your headers, meta tags, and alt tags with relevant focus keywords. 

The last rule? Embrace the unique rules of link building for online stores and implement proper techniques if you have a multilingual or local website. 

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