This ecommerce SEO tutorial walks you through the 5 core steps to rank your online shop in Google and get free traffic to your product and category pages.
Rather than providing a list of random ecommerce tips, Sam Oh teaches a step-by-step process that will help you get more organic traffic to your online shop with search engine optimization.
Whether you’re looking to gain traction for your Shopify, Magento, Woocommerce, or OpenCart store, these tips will help you rank your money pages in Google search for passive and consistent traffic.
As mentioned in the video, if you want to hit the ground running with your content marketing efforts, then watch this SEO tutorial, which is very helpful for blogging.
Take a walk through this complete eCommerce SEO tutorial!
Amazon.com has nailed their eCommerce SEO
generating over $1,000 in revenue per second.
And while a lot of their traffic and sales
come from searches within their own platform,
SimilarWeb estimates that search contributes
30% of their overall traffic and Ahrefs’
Site Explorer estimates 706 million search
visitors each month.
But Amazon didn’t become an overnight success.
In fact, their search traffic has grown immensely
year after year.
So in this video, I’m going to walk you
through a complete eCommerce SEO tutorial,
step-by-step for more rank and more bank.
What’s up SEOs?
Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that
helps you grow your search traffic, research
your competitors and dominate your niche.
Today, we’re going to be talking about eCommerce
SEO and how you can rank your product and
So here’s what our agenda looks like today.
First, we’ll tackle a couple must-dos for
all online shops.
Next, we’ll break down keyword research
Then we’ll hit on-page SEO, get technical,
tackle link building specifically for product
and category pages, and finish it off with
a bit on content marketing for eCommerce.
Let’s get to it.
So there are two absolute musts that I think
all eCommerce sites should do.
The first is to make sure that you secure
your website with HTTPs.
The main reasons for this is to keep your
customers information encrypted.
And I’m not just talking about credit card
details, but names, addresses, and other personal
information that you wouldn’t want to have
And it’s important that all of your pages
are set up correctly because you don’t want
Chrome returning a privacy error screen like
this or other warnings like this.
And Google has officially stated that HTTPS
will be used as a ranking signal, even though
it may not be the strongest ranking factor
according to our on-page SEO study.
The second must-do is to run a site audit
to identify your technical SEO issues.
Ecommerce properties are one of the easiest
types of websites to unintentionally create
a whole mess of indexation and cannibalization
issues because of the sheer size.
Lets look at this website as an example.
For this tutorial, I’ll be using Kleinfeld
Bridal shop as our example site, which sells
wedding dresses and other bridal apparel.
So I’ll go to Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool
and set up a simple SEO audit.
The only change I’ll be making to the default
settings is to run the audit on the domain
without subdomains and then click next.
And next again to go to the crawl settings.
And for the sake of a simple SEO audit, I’ll
leave everything to default, but I'll turn
Finally, I’ll turn off the scheduled audits
and just run this once.
Now, while the audit is running, let’s move
onto keyword research.
In this step, you’ll need to choose a keyword
to target for every product and category page.
Yes, it is a ton of work, but it’s something
that should be done or outsourced.
Now, when it comes to selecting keywords,
there are two different types of pages I want
to focus on.
And those are category pages and product pages.
So first, you’ll need to get a complete
inventory of your product and category pages.
Depending on the CMS you use, whether that’s
Shopify, Magento, Open Cart, Woocommerce,
or whatever, you may be able to export these
pages directly from your backend.
Or you can go to your Sitemap if you have
So for the bridal site, I’ll just add /sitemap.xml
to the end of the URL and you’ll see a full
list of all of the pages that they want search
engines to crawl.
From here, you’ll want to prioritize these
by the highest revenue generating pages or
the pages that generate the most traffic for
Now, for each of your pages, you’ll want
to look for a head term as well as long-tail
In general, a head term would be a more popular
keyword with a higher search volume.
Long-tail would likely have lower search volume
but are modified variations to the head term.
You can find these by going to Ahrefs Keywords
Explorer and type in a seed keyword that’s
broadly related to your niche.
So I’ll type in “wedding.”
Next, you can go to the “having same terms”
report, and you’ll see a bunch of irrelevant
keywords like “wedding invitations.”
So you can make it relevant by using the “include”
Here, I’ll type in a few keywords like dress,
dresses, shoes, and accessories which should
represent some of your parent categories that
broadly match the type of wedding related
Explore great keyword ideas.
products that we sell.
And I’ll set the dropdown to show keyword
ideas that have “any” of these keywords
And you can see a whole bunch of great keyword
ideas here, some of which would be perfect
category pages, others that are perfect sub
categories to that parent, and the rare one
So you can match up the best keywords with
the current structure of your site based on
the types of products that you sell.
Based on these results, you’ll likely want
to focus on a broader term like “wedding
dresses” as the parent category, then add
sub categories like guest dresses, plus size,
cheap, beach, and vintage underneath the parent.
Keyword selection for product pages is a bit
For example, if you sell a branded product
like Gucci shoes or an iPhone 8 Plus, then
you’d want to include the brand name and/or
model numbers, since they will likely hold
search volume because of brand recognition
And if you’re on the other side of the spectrum
where you’re selling unbranded products
or products from unknown names, then you may
want to stick with more descriptive terms
that people are searching for.
For example, if you look at these shoes from
Nordstrom, you’ll see that they’ve named
it “Gabe Pump,” which no one seems to
be searching for.
On the other hand, there are around 350 monthly
searches for “vince camuto pumps,” which
could act as a head term for the product page
with some variations or modifiers like using
colors, the type of toe or heel, or simply
by prefixing the title with “women’s.”
If you look at Amazon’s product pages for
Vince Camuto pumps, you’ll see that they’ve
put a little bit more thought into their keyword
research and on-page optimization.
They’re using the designer’s name, a modifier
keyword, the brand line, and the type of shoe
which is both descriptive as well as keyword rich.
A good way to find product keywords is to
search for your brand name as your seed in
Then, go to the “Having Same Terms” report
and type in the type of product that you sell.
In this case, we’re talking about pumps,
so I’ll type in ‘pump.’
Another way to find product and category page
ideas is to analyze your competitors’ top
Looking at the top pages report for David’s
Bridal, one of Kleinfeld Bridal’s competitors,
you’ll see that some of their top keywords
for their most popular pages in search include
“mother of the bride dresses,” “prom
dresses,” and “bridesmaid dresses.”
And all 3 of these happen to be categories
that our example site is not yet serving.
From here, you can click on the keywords dropdown
and look for the long-tail variations on these
Here, you’ll see that even though their
top keyword is “mother of the bride dresses,”
that they still rank high for variations like
“mother of the groom dresses” and this
one that uses “long” as a modifier.
Now, before you actually select a keyword,
there is one massively important step that you
And that’s to ensure that the search intent
for the keyword matches the page you intend
to use it on.
Looking back at our list of keyword ideas,
you can analyze search intent by clicking
on the SERP dropdown beside any of the keywords.
So looking at the SERP for “wedding guest
dresses,” you can see that they’re all
category pages, so you’d want to stick with
the same format because the search intent
shows that people are looking for a list of
different dresses that they can browse through.
Looking at the SERP for "meghan markle wedding
dress," you can see that these are all blog
posts, so serving search intent with a product
or category page probably wouldn't be in your
Taking 10 seconds to analyze the current SERPs
can save you a ton of time to ensure you’re
not targeting the wrong keyword.
I could go on with more keyword research techniques,
but this should be more than enough to give
you a solid list of keywords.
So, let’s move on to on-page optimization.
First is to optimize your meta titles, descriptions,
and H1 tags.
Now, most eCommerce sites use templated versions,
especially those with thousands of different
products, which makes sense from a time perspective,
but it isn’t exactly ideal from a search perspective.
It’s a bit ugly and none of these really
entice a click from my point of view.
In fact, these 3 pages might seem like duplicate
content issues, but they are indeed completely
With this, you can go with
somewhat of a hybrid approach.
So rather than using the type of wedding dress
for the meta title as they have here, you
can use the title of the product, which you
should be able to easily formulate if you
do your keyword research.
As for the description, it looks like they
wrote unique meta descriptions for each product,
Structure your wesite for a better website rankings.
but they look like they’re the same simply
because they prefix the description with a template.
In this case, they could simply move that
part of the template to the end or remove
it, so as people start reading the meta description,
they’ll know that they are indeed different
The h1 tag is pretty simple.
Just use the category title or product name.
And again, if you’ve done everything correctly
up to this point, then these should fall in
place quite nicely.
The next on-page tip is to optimize your URLs.
There are certainly different ways to do this,
but my preference is to keep them as clean
Remember this hierarchy we talked about?
You can use these to formulate the structure
for your category pages.
So, for example, you might have
domain.com/wedding-dresses/ as the parent.
Then you can add your sub category by adding
plus size as a new subfolder.
And if you happen to have a plus size product,
the URL can look like this with the product
name as the final part of your URL.
Other sites often follow the same category
structure, but you’ll also see sites that
have product pages as domain.com/product-name,
which is also fine and a good way to avoid
duplicate content by having the same product
in multiple categories.
We’ll get into the more advanced URL features
like filter queries and parameters in the
technical SEO section.
The next part of on-page optimization are
writing unique product and category descriptions.
So, product pages, they often lack content.
Sometimes they don’t even have any at all
aside from the title of the product.
I won’t go too in-depth, but here are a
few copywriting tips:
Include your head keyword target in the description;
Sprinkle in long-tail variations and synonyms
that hold semantic relationships with the head term.
For a wedding dress product page, you may
include keywords like bridal, gown, the designer’s
Make sure they’re well-written and readable
Tell visitors things that they may actually
want to know.
Don’t try and meet a word count quota.
Just keep it short, sweet, and on point.
And last, use user generated content via.
product reviews to add further context.
The final on-page tip is to use schema markup.
By adding schema markup, you can have your
product pages show up in search like this.
What is a structured markup?
Beyond looking more visually appealing, structured
markup has led to increases in click-through-rate
I won’t get into a coding tutorial, but
you can check out the best practices on schema.org
or use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper,
which makes an intimidating task, super simple.
After you’ve marked up your products, then
you can enter in the URL of your page or paste
the source code into Google’s structured
data testing tool.
So for this page, you can see that they’re
using both breadcrumbs and product markup.
One important thing to note is that if you
decide to markup products within your category
page, then according to Google, all of them
should be marked.
Schema markup isn’t a must, but it’s certainly
a good way to standout in the SERPs and increase
Alright, we’re onto our technical SEO section.
Now, technical SEO is super important for
ecommerce sites simply because it’s a lot
easier to create duplicate content, cannibalization,
and other issues that often go unnoticed.
We’ve already talked about general navigation
in terms of URL structures, but as an ecommerce
store, you need to take special care with
And by faceted navigation, I’m talking about
parameters that are added to the URL via.
filters that don’t exactly have a semantic
For example, if I’m looking on Amazon for
an iPhone and then I choose a 5 to 5.4 inch
display size, only in gold color, and from
this random seller, they don’t really have
a semantic relationship when all combined together.
While these filters are great for user experience,
they often lead to issues with duplicate content
which comes with other problems like how your
link equity is distributed among your other pages.
And for bigger sites, crawl budget becomes
something to be aware of.
So there are 2 main issues that we need to solve.
Number one is duplicate content, which will
affect how your link equity is distributed.
And number two, wasted crawl budget.
And the most effective way for beginners and
intermediates is to set a canonical URL for
different facets that you don’t want to
be indexed as a separate URL.
And if you look at the source code for that
Amazon category page, you’ll see that it’s
Make a Site Audit.
something that they set here.
But this doesn’t solve our crawl budget issue.
So the way you can do that is to add nofollow
internal links on facets that you don’t
want to be followed.
And you can see that our example bridal site
does that here on certain filters.
It’s absolutely vital that you take care
of faceted navigation since Google has explicitly
said that it contributes to having many
low-value-add URLs, affecting crawl budget.
You can check if you have issues with faceted
navigation simply by taking one of your URLs
with some filters that you don’t want to be indexed
and then pasting it in as a Google search.
Next is to fix other duplicate content issues.
Now, if we go back to Site Audit we can head
over to the “Content Quality” report in
the left sidebar, and you’ll see a nice
cluster map of near duplicate pages.
The green ones have canonicals matching, and
the red duplicates have mismatching canonicals.
And in almost all cases, the green ones can
be left alone, but the red ones will need
some tender love and care.
If I click on one of the red ones, then you’ll
see the duplicate pages that do not share
the same canonical URL.
And if I open up a couple of pages, you’ll
see that the pages are indeed the same, but
have different canonical URLs based on the
But they’re using the parameter, pp, which
stands for per page causing a potential SEO issue.
So in this case, they can nofollow the internal
links to the number of results per page filter,
noindex the pages that contain that filter,
or add some additional conditions in the backend
to fix this issue.
But there would likely need to be more fixes
throughout the site since these kinds of issues
tend to go deep.
You can click on the URL that you want to
examine, then click on “inlinks” within
Site Audit, and you’ll be able to see all
of the internal links pointing at this page.
There are a lot of options that you need to
weigh out and since I have minimal knowledge
about this site as a whole, there would need
to be further analysis before making a big
move like this.
There are other kinds of duplicate content issues.
A common one you’ll see on ecommerce sites
is having the exact same product page within
For example, you might have a URL that looks
like this, which is in your new-releases section.
But that same product might fall into your
dresses category, creating two identical pages.
In this case, you could either use the canonical
tag or if it’s no longer relevant, you can
delete the page and redirect it to the correct URL.
Finally is to find and fix keyword cannibalization
issues and we have a great video and blog
post on that, which includes a free template
that you can download and watch after this
Because right now, we’re going to hit link
building for ecommerce which is a real struggle
for many of us ecommerce site owners.
Building links to your product and category
pages is hard in comparison to getting links
to blog posts.
So let’s talk about a few tactics that you
can use that will help you get more links
to your revenue generating pages.
The first is to find sites that link to your
And the reason why I’m going for homepage
links is because this is much more common
and easier to get for ecommerce sites over
links to product pages.
Using the link intersect tool, you can enter
in your competitors' domain and see which
sites link to them and try and get an understanding
of why they’re linking to them.
If you’re not sure who your competitors
are, then you can go to the Competing Domains
report within Site Explorer and look for sites
that have a lot of common keywords, or just
skim through the visual graphic here and look
for lots of green.
So you would take these 3 domains here and
paste them into the link intersect tool, which
I’ve already preset.
And then in the bottom, you can enter in your domain
Next, I’m going to switch all of these dropdowns
to URL mode.
Finally, I’m going to switch this filter
to show pages that link to any of these pages
and I’ll run the search.
And you can see that there are nearly 5,500
sites that are linking to these competitors,
but not to Kleinfeld Bridal.
Now, some of these links will be irrelevant,
but you’ll also be able to see that they
have links from Vogue.
Then you’ll see a bunch of links from what
looks like a wedding magazine who are perpetually
giving them editorial links.
These are the kinds of people you’d want
to network with!
Another link building strategy is to get featured
on manufacturers’ “where to buy” page.
You can do a Google search for something like this:
The manufacturer whose product you stock then
intitle:(”where to buy” OR “stockists”).
Link building strategy.
Sometimes you’ll find directory listings
like this, and other times, you’ll be able
to contact the manufacturer who would be more
than willing to list your online shop there.
You can also do this in Site Explorer.
Just enter in the domain of one of your competitors,
so I’ll put in Davidsbridal.com.
Then go to the backlinks profile.
Next, type something in the “include”
search box like “where to buy.”
And you can see here that there are some decent
opportunities to get some editorial links.
The next link building strategy is to search for people who have done reviews on your competitor’s products.
Now, the wedding dress industry probably wouldn’t be the best for this search since
they have high ticket items. So let’s use Tata Harper as an example, who sells natural beauty products.
You can do a Google search for intitle:”tata harper” intitle:review.
And you can see that there are a good number
of results including YouTube results.
You can also do this in Content Explorer.
I’ll just type in “Tata Harper” as a
phrase match and set the search parameter
And you’ll see a nice list of pages that
weeds out a lot of the junk pages that you’d
normally have to filter through in Google
and in YouTube.
A big plus to using Content Explorer is that
you can see all of the SEO metrics to know
which site owners and authors are
worth building relationships with.
Now that we have a list of prospects, you
just need to reach out to them.
You can say something like:
Sam here with Sam’s Natural
Beauty and Healthcare Products.
I saw your review on Tata Harper’s organic cleanser.
Thought you might be interested in doing a
review on our [similar product].
Cosmopolitan rated it as the top natural cleanser
in 2018 and Forbes has called us “a skin
care company to be reckoned with.”
I liked the thoroughness of your Tata Harper
article and thought you might be a good fit
to provide an objective review on our “Organicks" line.
Let me know if you’re interested and I’d
be happy to send you some samples and a few
gifts for you and your family.
Now, if they choose to write a review, this
is will naturally lead to a link back to your
site and/or product page.
The last one is a bit different, but it has massive
potential to rank for highly competitive phrases.
Whayt happens after story goes viral?
The caveat is that it’s extremely difficult
Do you remember #thedress?
Basically, a woman saw this dress as blue
and her friend or family member saw it as
They posted it on Tumblr and the story went viral.
But what store did they buy this dress from?
And of course people would go out of their
way to find out.
And it was a small-ish store in the UK called
Once people found out, guess what happened?
Authority sites like the Huffington Post,
Forbes, BBC, and Mashable started linking
to their product page and home page.
And look at their spike of referring domains!
Now, ranking for hashtag, the dress, isn’t
going to bring much value for them alone.
But look at their “Best by Links” report
to see what they did.
They started redirecting all of their viral
links to their /dresses category page.
And if we look at the overview page of their
dresses category page, you’ll see that they
had a massive spike in Google traffic to their
pages when they redirected those pages.
Now, creating a viral hit like this is no
But if you or your team are able to come up
with something creative, you can use a similar
So, get the links from virality, milk every
link you can until the buzz fades, then redirect
those pages to a relevant page that can bump
The last and final piece to the eCommerce
SEO puzzle is to do content marketing.
And by content marketing, I’m referring
to blogging, creating infographics, and tools
that will be helpful to your prospective customers.
As I mentioned earlier, content attracts a
lot more links and a lot more easily than
product or category pages.
Now, rather than rehashing what I’ve already
said, I highly recommend watching our SEO
tutorial, which you can view by clicking the
card and I’ll leave a link to it in the
So keep grinding away, get results, and I’ll
see you in the next tutorial.