The keyword research guide for eCommerce sites
Keywords matter, they have always mattered and will most likely matter into the future too. Using the right keywords is the key to achieving great results for your eCommerce website.
Keyword research refers to the practice that SEO experts use to find search terms and alternatives that people enter into the search engines to look for a subject that allows them to optimise their sites for better rankings.
Simply put, keyword research is when a person wants to find words that people search for around a certain topic.
Keyword research is very important and the foundation of all eCommerce SEO campaigns. That being said, you need to ensure that you don’t overload your product pages (keyword stuffing) as Google may perceive it as spam or black-hat-SEO, which you definitely don’t want.
This is where keyword density comes into play. Keyword density is a term that refers to the number of times your keyword appears on a page.
For instance, if you have a blog that has a copy of 400 words, a good keyword density is about 2.5% for your main keyword and about 1.25% for secondary keywords. That means your main keyword will appear 10 times in that 400-word copy and your secondary keywords will appear 5 times.
Even though keyword density is not as important as it used to be, it still plays an important role.
As a rule, for eCommerce SEO, you should include your primary keyword in the following:
- Page URL
- Meta tag
- Meta description
- Alt text (Image alternative attribute)
- Headings or h-tags .ie H1, H2 etc.
However, I wouldn't force the keyword if it doesn't sound natural. Remember, it has to be both user-friendly and search-engine-friendly.
Keyword research is important because, without it, it is nearly impossible to optimise your category and product pages. In the best scenario, you may be able to guess some keywords and rank for a couple of products but it’s guaranteed that you are not going to rank #1 or #2 or anywhere near the first pages.
Now, let’s look at a few different ways in which you can conduct your keyword research for your eCommerce site.
For the sake of those who cannot afford to pay for premium keyword research tools, we are only going to cover free tools. However, we are still going to at least mention the premium tools that are great for keyword and competitor research. (Find relevant links at the bottom of this guide).
1. Understanding keyword research
Let’s first start by breaking down keyword research into search volume, keyword relevance, buyer intent, and keyword difficulty. This will allow you to better understand the results that come up and how to choose the best possible keywords for your eCommerce site.
Search volume is a metric that helps you understand how many times a term is being searched for within a specific timeframe.
Let’s use Google Keyword Planner and do a search for the term ‘eCommerce’. As you can see, this keyword has an average monthly volume search of 1,900. That means every month, on average, people search 1,900 times for this term.
Keyword relevance is how relevant is the keyword that you found to the products that you sell. If you use a keyword that is similar to what you sell, not exactly what you sell, but you still decide to use it because it has a high search volume then you are just misleading your customers and that will just make them leave your site.
This will result in a higher bounce rate, and Google doesn’t like that. Google will mark your page as misleading and will give you a worse ranking.
Buyer intent is quite self-explanatory and refers to how ready is an online customer to purchase a product or service. The higher that number is, the better.
Keyword difficulty is a metric that helps you understand the level of difficulty to rank for a specific term. The higher that number is, the harder it will be for you to rank for that keyword but also more profitable that product or service most likely is.
There are many great tools that you can use to do your keyword research and find out more about keyword difficulty.
Some of the best keyword research tools are the following, but not limited to those:
- Moz keyword explorer
However, further below we are going to use an awesome free alternative tool called Ubersuggest.
2. Competitor research using Ubersuggest
A great way to start your keyword research is by researching and analysing the keywords your competitors use.
Software tools like SEMrush are great for this task and provide you with lists of keywords that your competitors use on their website which you can download as CSV files.
For this example, we are going to use Ubersuggest to complete competitor research.
Let's assume, you are an integrated eCommerce provider and Aphix Software is your competitor.
All you have to do is copy and paste your competitor's website URL into Ubersuggest's search box and pick the country you wish to find results for as shown in the screenshot below.
After a couple of seconds, Ubersuggests provides you with some very useful information. To view what Aphix Software in this instance is ranking for, all you have to do is scroll down and go to the SEO Keywords sections as shown below.
As you can see, Aphix Software ranks #1 for keywords such as 'eCommerce integration', 'Aphix Software', and 'eCommerce ERP integration'. If you click on 'VIEW ALL SEO KEYWORDS THIS DOMAIN RANKS FOR', you will see all the keywords Aphix ranks for. Similarly, you can take your industry competitor website's URL and follow the same process.
Once you have a list of all the keywords your competitors rank for, then you can continue with your actual keyword research.
This ensures that you will immediately gather all the keywords that your competitors use that allows them to rank for their products that you sell too. This saves you time from gathering and analysing all the results you get from your keyword research as this step has already been completed by your competitors.
That being said, completing your own keyword research is essential. It will ensure that you don’t miss out on any keywords that your competitors may not be using. You can even find LSI or long tail keywords and phrases to add a bit of variation to your keywords and we will come to those later.
Amazon is by far the greatest eCommerce marketplace in the world and is a gold mine when it comes to eCommerce SEO and targeted keywords with high buyer intent.
You may be wondering what does Amazon have to do with your keyword research? It’s pretty simple. If you make a product search, it’s very likely that Amazon’s products will show up as one of the first few options. This means that Amazon, obviously, has already done their keyword research and use keywords that will ensure them high rankings.
You may also be wondering why use Amazon? It’s for the simple reason that if you have an eCommerce site, it’s very likely that Amazon already sells products similar to yours and your competitors. Unless, of course, if you sell something unique that Amazon doesn’t sell yet, which is rarely the case.
Now, let’s do our actual keyword research. All you have to do in order to find keywords on Amazon is to use the smart search and start typing words that describe your product.
Let’s assume, you sell laptops. As soon as you start typing the word ‘laptop’, a drop-down list of keywords shows up including similar keywords that you also want to rank for. These keywords are also known as latent semantic indexing keywords (LSI).
The keywords Amazon suggests are, in most cases, very targeted. These suggestions may also be a group of words that are called long-tail keywords.
Long-tail words should always be a part of your keyword research and refer to keywords that consist of 3 or more words. Such keywords are great to use on your eCommerce website because they not only tend to convert better than shorter keywords but they are also easier to rank for as they are less competitive too.
In the screenshot above, you can see a few long-tail keywords such as laptop screen cleaner, laptop cleaning kit etc.
It may be obvious but an important part of your keyword research is the recording of your findings. That’s why you should not forget to record all the keywords that you want to rank for. We recommend that you create a google sheet or an excel spreadsheet and write down all short or long-tail keywords that you wish to use on your eCommerce site.
Repeat the process as many times as needed to find all relevant keywords for all of your products in order to fully optimise them.
In some cases, Amazon will also suggest categories above the keyword suggestions. These categories are great keywords to use for your own category pages.
You can also click on the hamburger icon on the top right, to view all of Amazon’s main category pages.
Keywords for category pages are obviously not as important as for your product pages, but they are still quite important as customers use these category pages to quickly find and compare similar product specs and prices.
Naturally, Amazon’s categories may be too broad for your site. That’s why you should click on a category that is similar to yours and get a better sense of that department’s breakdown.
For this example, we clicked on the electronics & computers category.
Alternatively, you can check out all of Amazon’s product directory to view all their categories and subcategories on one single page.
You can do this by clicking on the category icon on the top left of Amazon’s homepage and then scrolling down to the ‘full shop directory’
This will allow you to search in great detail through the list and find appropriate and category-focused keywords that match the products that you sell on your eCommerce site.
For instance, let’s just say that your eCommerce website sells health & beauty products. You have to click on the ‘beauty’ category and view all their subcategories. As you can see, on the left of the page you have the different subcategories as shown in the screenshot below.
These are the keywords that have already been researched well before they were used by Amazon and are great keywords to consider using for your own beauty category pages if you have any.
Note: It’s worth mentioning that if your category is unique in any way, then ensure to include that unique feature in your keyword.
For instance, you could turn a ‘fragrance’ category into an ‘organic fragrance’ category. That means your keywords are going to be less broad, less competitive and more targeted than the common versions of the same term and your site would rank high for people searching for ‘organic fragrances’.
Even though Amazon is a great marketplace for finding category and product page keywords, It’s most definitely not the only one.
That’s why it is highly recommended that you look at other industry competitors and the keywords that they use to describe their products and categories. This will ensure that your keyword research is a lot more thorough and effective.
4. Google Suggest
If you have used Google search before, you most likely have noticed the Google search autocomplete feature.
For instance, let’s just search for integrated eCommerce. Once you start typing in the search box, Google immediately suggests similar or relevant queries as shown below:
These suggestions can be great long-tail keywords that you can use for your products. As mentioned above, long-tail keywords are less competitive but more targeted which is great if someone is looking for your product.
Moreover, at the bottom of the page, Google provides you with additional search keyword ideas related to the keywords ‘integrated eCommerce’.
These results can be great, especially if you have a few keyword ideas of your own already in mind similar to the one’s Google provides you with.
5. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool created by Google that allows you to do keyword research and provides you with relevant long-tail keywords and related keywords as well as data for any search that you make.
Honestly, Google Keyword Planner may not be the greatest tool out there, but it is a decent keyword tool that is also free. The best thing about it though if the fact that all the data comes straight from Google.
Even though this tool is specifically for Google Ads, it can still be utilised to find keywords and data around those keywords.
Its drawback is that it is not great at generating unique keyword ideas the same way other keyword research tools do.
It normally gives you extremely similar keywords. However, if you drill down the list that comes up, then you may be able to find some great keywords as alternatives.
That being said, I would recommend using Google Keyword Planner to check search volumes and commercial intent which we covered above and are a crucial part of your keyword research strategy.
Ubersuggest is a free online tool that helps you find keywords and long-tail keywords in a matter of seconds. It also does many other things such as site audit, keyword analysis, traffic analysis etc.
However, we are only going to cover the keyword research part for now in this guide.
In this example, let’s search for the term ‘eCommerce’. Ubersuggest gives you a list with keyword ideas similar to what you search for as well as data about each keyword.
In the screenshot you see below, the keyword ‘eCommerce’ has:
- volume search of 27,100 (VOL)
- cost per click (CPC) of £11.30
- paid difficulty (PD) 50
- organic keyword difficulty (SD) 54
We should also note that this information is for the UK only. However, Ubersuggest allows you to pick the target country you wish.
The higher the SD (search difficulty) is, the harder it will be to rank for that keyword organically.
Once you understand these 4 terms and get to know how to follow the process, you can then better conduct your keyword research and decide on which keywords to use.
Note: these steps are obviously not the only way that allows you to do your keyword research, but it is an easy and effective way of doing it which is also pretty good if you are on a budget.
There are many analysis tools that you can use. Some are good and some are bad. Some are free and some are paid. Ultimately, the decision is yours to make depending on your budget, free time, and knowledge.
Undeniably, a lot of eCommerce website owners struggle with SEO and their ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is primarily due to their inexperience and lack of knowledge around SEO for eCommerce websites and is totally understandable. Not everyone is a Digital Marketing expert.
However, everyone should be willing to learn and improve their skills if they want to thrive in a very competitive industry such as eCommerce. At first, keyword research and ranking may sound hard to understand and learn about. In fact, it can be intimidating even for those who have a better understanding of the subject. But, it’s something that you can learn and improve on.
SEO keeps evolving and so should everyone around it. Knowing how to conduct your own keyword research will definitely help you find keywords that you can rank for that can increase your site’s traffic and conversion’s rate and it should be an on-going process.
Regardless of your choices regarding keyword research, there is still a decision that you can make after reading this guide and that’s choosing the right digital platform to build your eCommerce on.
If you are just starting out or have and existing eCommerce site that’s not up to scratch, then take a look at the Aphix digital ordering platform and more specifically the Aphix Webshop which has superior built-in SEO features.
It’s an award-winning, cloud-based, ERP integrated eCommerce solution that can be the founding block on which to launch your own fully optimised and scalable eCommerce website.