If you’re getting started with a website for your home-based e-commerce business, you’re probably wondering what you should be paying attention to as far as the SEO for it goes.
A lot of beginning home-based e-commerce business owners will sell on platforms like Etsy, but it’s really important to have your own site that you own and control, and that you can work on to get your own organic traffic with SEO. That lets people who have never heard of your business find you, and it’s an important part of building your brand awareness.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which basically means that you do certain things to make sure that search engines like Google or Bing can easily find your website when people search for the things that you sell.
Table of Contents
- Keyword research for SEO.
- On-Page optimization.
- Off-page optimization.
- Technical SEO.
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links that will pay me a small commission if they’re used to purchase something. To see the entire affiliate policy click here.
Google is the largest search engine in the world, so for this article I’ll use it as the main example of how search engines work.
There’s a lot that goes into SEO for Google, and I hope that this article will give you a basic understanding of the things that you should be paying attention to so that your website ranks higher.
There’s always more to learn, and SEO changes as search engines change, but read on for the basics.
Keyword research for SEO.
The most important part of SEO is your keywords, because they help the search engines understand your website and send the right traffic to it. Finding the right keywords is going to be key to having your website traffic grow.
Why are keywords important for e-commerce SEO?
When people think of SEO they usually think of keywords and keyword research. Keywords are the words that people type into search engines and that the search engine looks for on the pages of websites. Matching keywords that people search for with terms and ideas that are found on website pages is the main way that search engines find results to show on the search engine results pages (SERP).
Search engines are just computer programs that look for the most accurate websites to show people based on what they typed in.
They try to bring back the best results so that the person doing the search is happy with the result, and looking for matches to whatever’s typed into the search bar is one way that they do that.
Finding keywords that people are searching for, but that aren’t so competitive that your small e-commerce website will never be found is really important.
Keywords research tools for Google SEO.
There are a lot of Google keyword research tools that you can use to find good keywords, but it’s also possible to just use your common sense and some basic keyword research tools to get an idea of which keywords are good.
One of these tools is the Google Ads Manager, which is free to use if you have a Google Ads account.
You can sign up for an account pretty easily, then use the keyword finder in the tools section without even running ads.
Something to remember if you use the ads data is that the search numbers it gives you isn’t actual traffic, it’s an estimate of how many ad impressions you could get if you target that keyword in a Google ads campaign.
But even though the numbers aren’t search data, you can get an idea of the times the keywords are searched by people by comparing the numbers between keywords.
A paid tool that you can use to pull the Google Ads data into your Chrome browser is the Keywords Everywhere browser extension.
It’s a low-cost tool that’s totally worth it, and since it’s credit-based you probably will only have to pay a small fee once a year or less. I use it all the time and they give you so many credits I hardly ever have to renew it.
To get the extension, go to your apps on a Chrome or Firefox browser and search for Keywords Everywhere.
There are also a lot of paid tools for Google SEO, but they tend to be expensive, so if you want to try one like Moz, Semrush, or Ahrefs, see if there’s a free trial and do as much research as you can during that time!
What kinds of keywords to use for e-commerce sites?
For e-commerce sites, you’ll need to find keywords that are more “buying intent” than informational. In other words, you want to be found in the SERPs for things that people type in when they want to buy something. That’s a buying intent, but the problem is that those keywords can be really competitive.
For e-commerce websites, you’ll be competing for search placement with sites like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and all of the other retail sites that are online.
You want to find keywords that you can use to rank above those sites, but that can be really difficult to do.
You should try using long-tail keywords, which are more specific than short-tail keywords.
(For an explanation of what these are and why they’re called that, click here for an article on Moz.)
Short-tails are things like “Women’s jewelry,” since they’re less specific and probably have a lot more results that come back.
A long-tail keyword would be something like “Bohemian style turquoise earrings for women,” since that will narrow down the results and is a lot more specific than”women’s jewelry.”
Using long-tail keywords is a way to tell the search engines what your pages and listings are about, and it helps you to be found for buying-intent keywords.
It can also help you jump ahead of larger sites if they don’t have the association with those keywords, so long-tails can help you to find SERPs that are less competitive.
Keywords aren’t the only thing you need to think about, though, there’s also other kinds of optimization that you need to pay attention to.
On-page optimization includes the things that you do on the website pages themselves, including your text, photos, where you put the keywords, and how you link between pages, among other things. Search engines look at on-page optimization to see if the website has high-quality content, since they don’t want to show people bad results.
There are a few places on the page where you should put your keywords, including the title tag, in the text on the page, and possibly the url and meta description.
You should also try to write a high-quality description for products that includes other keywords that will give Google context about your listings.
The more information that you add, the easier it will be for search engines to figure out what your listings and site are about, and they’ll be able to show them for a lot of related searches.
Your site will be found for a lot of searches that are related to the main topics, not just for the keywords that you planned to be found for.
Connecting your website to Google Search Console will give you information about the search terms that were used to find your website, and they’re usually not what you planned for.
Google will find you for a lot of related searches if you write thorough descriptions that include relevant keywords in a natural way.
I also mentioned linking between pages, and that’s another way to optimize your site for search engines.
Linking from page to page basically shows the search engine that comes to crawl your page that there are other pages that are related to it, and it shows it where they are.
Anything that you can do to help the search engine understand and find other pages on your site is good for on-page SEO!
Off-page SEO means anything that you do that isn’t directly on your website, but that sends Google signals about how trustworthy and high-quality your website is. Google uses EEAT (Expertise, Experience, Authority and Trustworthiness) to decide which sites to rank higher in search results, and there are a few things that you can do to show search engines that your site has all of those things.
One thing that Google looks at to decide whether your site is worth showing in the SERPs is how many QUALITY sites are linking to it.
Sites that link back to your site are basically giving your website a vote of approval, so the more good sites that link to your site the better.
However, you don’t want to go buy links or pay someone to get your backlinks, because Google will punish your website for artificial or spammy backlinks.
If you write good content and work on getting backlinks naturally by doing social media to promote your website, you’ll develop a decent number of backlinks over time.
Another way to do it is to do interviews, contribute to other blogs or podcasts, and basically spread your brand name around in ways that will end up with people naturally linking to your site.
Another thing to do is to sign up to HARO (Help A Reporter Out,) which is a service where reporters who are looking for quotes for articles can get people to contribute.
Be careful with this, though, because a lot of people have discovered HARO and will use it to get free samples but never write anything about your business!
The important thing about backlinks is that you do need them, but you shouldn’t build them in an artificial or spammy way.
The technical side of SEO are things like how fast your website is, whether it’s responsive for mobile, and more things that you shouldn’t worry about too much as long as your site is set up on a reputable platform.
Most beginners should just focus on writing good content and using keywords that will make your site find-able without having to deal with a huge amount of competition.
Technical SEO is important, but as long as you’re using a website platform like Shopify or WordPress with a good theme, it’s probably going to be fine.
Wait until you have some content up and running and check your site in Google Search Console to check for any problems.
Don’t stress out about the technical side of it too much as you’re getting started.
Plus, depending on what website builder you’re using, you might not be able to do a lot about the technical side of your site, it depends on how much control the service gives you.
My website is on a website builder that gives me very little control over the technical side of it, and my site speed is terrible based on what Search Console tells me.
I still get found for a lot of searches and I get steady traffic from Google because I have a lot of content on it on my listings and my blog.
Concentrate on providing good content first, and worry about the technical SEO side of it later.
Website SEO takes time and effort, but it’s not as hard as people think it is. Patience is key, since Google can take 8-10 months to show a website consistently in search results.
The biggest mistake that people make when they set up a website is to set it up then let it sit there and expect Google to send them traffic without doing anything.
I have my Vlog that I put together when I set my website up initially in the class, along with explanations of how Google works and what it looks for to rank websites.
Since Google changes consistently, it’s important to keep up, and it’s also important to come at Google SEO from the angle of e-commerce, which is different from websites where people don’t sell things in a few important ways.
Start your website now, because the time that it takes to get it set up and found by search engines is longer than you think, and you don’t want to wait until you need immediate results!
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