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The Ultimate Guide to SEO for E-commerce Websites

There’s no question that ranking higher than your competitors on Google is a must. But, what if you don’t know the SEO tips and tricks that will get your e-commerce site to the top? If you’re missing out on clicks, you’re probably also missing out on sales.

Whether you’re just getting started with a new website or improving an existing site, this complete guide provides useful tactical suggestions for stepping up your SEO game.

These days, reaching the first page isn’t enough. You must rank #1.

In 2011, Search Engine Watch reported that a research study by Optify discovered that “websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent; number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent; and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent.”

Another study by Gabe Donnini at Marketing Land last year supported Optify’s findings. It showed that “the share of impressions coming from the first position is almost double that for the second position, truly illustrating the value the first spot holds.”

What does this mean in layman’s terms? If you don’t have a strong SEO strategy in place, you are losing out on brand impressions, clicks, and sales.

Do you want to know how to rank your e-commerce site? Read this step-by-step guide, and you’ll be on your way to becoming an SEO savvy business owner or marketer.

Part 1: Research

Before you begin any SEO work (on-site or off-site), you need to start with research – keyword research and competitor research.


Research is the most important piece of SEO. Targeting the wrong keywords can ruin your campaign by generating low quality traffic and few conversions, and no business wants that!

A: Keyword Research

There are three primary areas you need to focus on when conducting keyword research:

1. Find keywords for your homepage and product pages

When it comes to optimizing the most important pages of your website, you should consider relevancy, search volume, and ranking difficulty.

I suggest going for keywords that are highly relevant to your brand or products, that have a high exact match search volume (local, not global) in Google’s free AdWords Keyword tool, and that have a low difficulty score from Moz’s keyword tool.

search terms

Be careful to not choose keywords that are too broad or too competitive. If the match is too broad, you likely will end up with a high bounce rate and low conversion rate because of people clicking through to your site and not finding what they are looking for. Additionally, if you go after keywords with high competition, it will take a long time to achieve high rankings (if ever).

For example, if you manufacture “all natural” coffee filters, you should not go after broad keywords like “coffee,” “natural coffee,” or “organic coffee,” as these are not specific keywords for people who are looking for coffee filters. Also, those keywords have high competition, and your site probably won’t rank for them against large coffee manufacturers.

2. Pinpoint keywords for blog topics

Creating blog content can assist in ranking your e-commerce business for additional keywords that might not have a place on your main website. Plus, you can capitalize on long-tail keywords with your blog.

What are long-tail keywords anyway? These are unique searches that people use to find things online. They consist of more than one word.

For example, it might sound like a good idea to try to rank for “coffee” if you sell coffee beans; however, the data shows that “popular” search terms like “coffee” make up “less than 30% of the searches performed on the web.” This is where long-tail keywords come into play.

popular keywords vs longtail traffic

According to Moz, “The remaining 70% lie in what’s called the ‘long tail’ of search. The long tail contains hundreds of millions of unique searches that might be conducted a few times in any given day, but, when taken together, they comprise the majority of the world’s demand for information through search engines.”

With this in mind, go after long-tail keywords that have a high exact match search volume (local, not global) and low difficulty score. After you have exhausted that list, you can start targeting lower volume keywords that still are highly relevant.

Note: You should never stuff any of your web pages or your blog posts with keywords. When writing for your blog, focus on developing great content on topics that people will want to read and share.

In essence, always write for people, not search engines. Google’s algorithm now rewards sites that create great content and penalizes sites that keyword stuff or use other tactics that can be seen as manipulative.

3. Avoid keyword cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages of the same website are trying to rank for the same keyword.

In a post on On Page SEO, Sean Work from KISSmetrics notes “The problem with this is that it’s confusing to the search engines. You end up forcing them to choose which page is more important for that particular keyword out of the group of webpages. This weakens your ability to obtain traffic for that keyword.”

So, what does this mean? It means you should not even write a blog post using a keyword that you focused on for one of the pages on the main portion of your website.

In order to avoid keyword cannibalization, list each page of your website on a spreadsheet with the keywords you are trying to rank for. If you sort the keyword column, you should not see any doubling of exact keywords.

B: Competitor Research

After you’ve done keyword research, you’re half way there! Now it’s time to conduct competitor research. You should consider:

1. Which keywords are your main competitors going for?

Compile a list of keywords your competitors appear to be using with their SEO strategy. Also, you should look to see if they have a higher Domain Authority (DA) than you? Do their web pages have higher Page Authorities (PA) than you?

Luckily, Moz makes this really easy for you. You can find the information by installing the free Moz toolbar.

In the Page Elements tab, you’ll see meta data as well as header tags. It will look like this:

webpage analysis

In the Link Data tab, you will see Page Authority and ranking information:

moz page analysis

If your competitors have significantly higher DA’s or PA’s than you, it may be a good idea to focus on other keywords, as competing against them will be very difficult. Try to go for easier wins, if you can!

To determine the DA or PA of any website or webpage, simply install the free Moz toolbar for Chrome or Firefox.

2. Where are they getting their links?

One really important thing to remember is to pull a list of the places your competitors are getting their inbound links.

To get this list, you can use a tool like Open Site Explorer:

 moz open site explorer

You can attempt to get a link from these sites as well through blogger outreach, press outreach, or setting up your own company pages. Don’t worry; there is more information on blogger and media outreach later in this guide!

Before reaching out to the sites on the list, first delete any site that has a low DA score. Getting an inbound link from a site with a low DA score actually can hurt your rankings as Google may suspect that a bad site is linking to you because you also have a bad site. Good to know, right?

3. What is their site architecture like?

Look at the site architecture of competing sites. What is their navigation like? How deep do their links go? E-commerce stores should pay special attention to the architecture for:

  • Popular products in a particular category
  • Related products
  • Top rated products
  • Recently viewed products

Once you have an idea of how the biggest companies within your industry organize their architecture, you can decide if you want to go the same route, follow the same route with modifications, or take a completely different route.

According to Moz in 2011, “most SEOs argue that pages buried very deeply in the architecture might not receive enough link juice to be visible in search engine rankings. Certainly, it remains true that by promoting content ‘up’ the architecture, you can improve its overall rank.”

So, if you see major competitors with deep navigational architecture, you should not copy them simply because they are a big brand.

4. From a strategy perspective, how can you differentiate your website?

This question ties in closely with what we’ve just discussed about site architecture. What can you do for your site that will make it different and better than your competitors? Can you improve the navigational architecture? How can you make your site more social? Will you add a blog if your competitors don’t have one? Make a list of actions you can take to ensure your site is better for consumers than theirs.

Part 2: Identifying Current Problems

After you have conducted your keyword and competitor research, it’s time to begin auditing your site for problems that need to be fixed. The top things we recommend focusing on in the auditing stage are:

A: Quickly Find Site Errors

I like to use Screaming Frog to find any website errors. Screaming Frog is free to use and will “spider your websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps from an SEO perspective.” Then, it will provide you with a summary of data including errors, redirects, duplicate pages, missing header tags, and so on. Awesome!

The top errors you will want to correct quickly include:

  • Redirecting any 404 pages to actual content
  • Changing 302 redirects to 301 redirects
  • Updating duplicate content pages, meta titles, and meta descriptions

Screaming Frog will help you identify the above and many, many other site errors that will help improve your SEO and overall usability and conversion rate.

B: Determine Your Website Speed

Once you have taken care of the big errors, it’s time to focus on website speed.

Visitors will not hang around and wait for a slow website to load. Your customers will click back to Google to find a faster website, which is likely to be a competitor!

In fact, research shows that 40% of people abandon a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load! Don’t lose customers because your site is slow.

every second counts

This is why it’s mega-important for your website to load quickly. If you need a way to test your website speed, use a free tool like Pingdom.

 pingdom website speed test

If it takes more than 3 seconds for your website to load, you can increase the speed by buying more server space, using a different CMS (for example, Magento is notoriously slow, whereas WooCommerce is known for being fast), or reducing image and file sizes.

In the example above, you can see that Mashable loads in under 2 seconds!

For more tips on increasing site speed, check out this post by Neil Patel.

Part 3: On-Page Optimization

While off-page search engine optimization (that is, link building) is important, on-page optimization is just as important. On-page optimization includes all of the actions you take within your own web pages to help your site rank better.

Think of on-page optimization as the low-hanging fruit in the SEO game. You can control this, which is great.

When it comes to on-page optimization, there are eight key targets you need to focus on:

  • Keyword Optimization
  • Site Structure
  • Internal Linking
  • Usability
  • Mobile Version of Website
  • Customer Reviews
  • Rich Snippets
  • Social Media Integration

A: Keyword Optimization

As mentioned earlier in this guide, you want to optimize your page and blog posts on your site for one keyword. In order to optimize a page, you need to ensure that page has the keyword in strategic locations, including:

  • The page title
  • Headers
  • Subheaders
  • Paragraph copy
  • Product descriptions
  • Image file names
  • Image alt tags
  • Meta title and description
  • URLs

When creating URLs, be sure they are user friendly. This means they should include real words (your keyword) and not a lot of numbers and gibberish.

Also, remember that your meta title and descriptions should not sound like gibberish or be packed with keywords either. They should read like an ad because the higher your click-through rate (CTR), the higher Google will place you in its results. Makes sense, right?

For example, when I search for “conference promotional products,” here are two listings that come up on the first page:

8 conf

9 conf

Which of these two descriptions would get YOU to click? The keyword stuffed one or the one that entices you with a benefit (that is, learning how promotional products can create a lasting impact on your company)? Once you break it down like this, on-page optimization begins to make a lot more sense.

B: Site Structure

If you’re building a website from the ground up or executing a re-design, information architecture is a must. We’ve talked a bit about architecture, but let’s dive in a bit deeper.

As you know, great architecture can dramatically affect your website’s usability, rankings, and conversions. In addition, proper planning will make expanding your product lines in the future a breeze. This is especially true with e-commerce websites because of the sheer size of the website.

With usability in mind, use a tool like LucidChart to create a chart of your website’s information architecture.

Focus on creating a “flat architecture” for your website, meaning design that requires as few clicks as possible to go from your home page to your product page. This way, the maximum amount of “link juice,” or authority, will pass from your home page to your product page via internal links.

website architecture

Then, take your findings from the keyword research you did at the beginning, and base your architecture on your targeted keywords in a way that still provides your customers and search engines a logical path from the home page to product pages.

For example, if you run an online pet food store, your site structure could look like this:

pet food

Of course, these examples are very simple, and your website may be more complex. If you get totally stumped, reach out to the SEO community through a consultant, bloggers, or the Q&A section to ensure you get it right the first time. There also are other in-depth information architecture guides that can be found here, here and here.

The layout illustrated above obviously has links from the home page down to the product page. It’s also helpful to link between pages and categories to distribute “link juice” to pages that have a higher priority for ranking. I’m sure you’re starting to get the picture now!

C: Internal Linking

The next step is internal linking. You might not have heard of this before, but I’m sure you know what it is. This is when you link pages of your website to other pages within your website.

Internal linking allows you to establish your own anchor text, which can help you with ranking for your top keywords.

site structure

However, when it comes to internal linking, you should be sure to use it somewhat sparingly. If you pack all of your pages with internal links, Google will think you are trying to do something suspicious. Google is smart and the algorithm will pick this up. Rather, you should place internal links only where it is natural to do so.

Additionally, don’t add a lot of links with the same exact anchor text. Google looks for anchor text variety from both inbound and internal links.

Finally, once you have completed your website, you should create and submit a sitemap to Google so it can crawl your entire website and index each page.

D: Usability

Usability is super-important for SEO and for making your site visitors happy. If your e-commerce site has great usability, your customers will start visiting your site repeatedly, which is the goal!

Great user experience means a website is easy to use, fun, and helpful. Great user experience also means your users will spend more time on your site.

Part of your usability testing should include making sure there are as few steps as possible in the checkout process, ensuring the checkout process works seamlessly, giving your visitor quick ways to contact you, making it simple for visitors to navigate to other important information, and guaranteeing your site loads quickly.

I often recommend using a live chat widget. This works well to lift conversion rates and also increases the average time on site per session, which is great for SEO purposes.

olark chat

If you’re looking for a live chat tool, check out Olark.

E: Mobile Version of Website

Do you know how hot mobile shopping is becoming? Many people are not only browsing the web, but also making purchases through mobile devices, which means it’s really important to have a mobile-friendly version of your site.

Need some convincing? Check out these stats:

  • 31% of mobile Internet users “mostly” go online using their phones (Pew, 2012)
  • 61% of customers who visit a mobile unfriendly site are likely to go to a competitor’s site (IAB)
  • 58% of mobile users expect mobile sites to load as quickly or faster than desktop sites (Google, 2011)

Many companies have had issues with the mobile versions of their websites. Because they produced duplicate content, it creates SEO problems and affects Google’s algorithm for your ranking.

With the advent of responsive website design, you can code a site so that it works on any device (desktop, tablet, mobile phone) without creating multiple sites. This is great news for e-commerce sites.

If you do not have a web developer on your staff, you can purchase and customize a responsive design template from or any number of other template sites.

Themeforest has a particularly good selection of e-commerce templates.

F: Customer Reviews

Of course, a staple for any e-commerce site is customer reviews for each product.

According to Internet Retailer, you can increase your e-commerce conversion rate by 14-76% by adding product reviews to your online store. Jupiter Research also found that 77% of consumers read reviews before purchasing online.

In addition to increasing conversions, customer reviews also positively impact your SEO because more reviews = more content, and frequent reviews = fresh content, which Google loves to see.

To obtain more customer reviews, you can use a reward-based plugin like WooTheme’s Review for Discount option.

You also can send an email out a few days after you know a customer has received a product asking if they need any assistance, and, if not, would they please leave a review. Simple tricks like this will really help your SEO!

G: Rich Snippets

If you’ve used Google recently, you’ve probably noticed results looking like this:

14 rich snippet

Or this…

15 rich snippet

These are “rich snippets” and they have a huge impact on a website’s rankings.

There are types of rich snippets for authors, business information, events, music albums, people, products, recipes, reviews, and videos.

Rich snippets are HTML coded bits that tell search engines what searchers should be able to understand about your website before even clicking through to see it.

When people see results in Google with images, they’re more likely to click and convert into a customer.

To install rich snippets, follow these instructions:

  1. Get into your HTML of each page that you want rich snippets on.
  2. Add the microdata for the desired rich snippet. Read this guide from HubSpot to learn how to get the appropriate code. Then, publish the changes.
  3. Test to make sure it works here:

H: Social Media Integration

An e-commerce site wouldn’t be complete without social media! Social media signals (growing your community, engaging with customers, and sharing content) impact your SEO.

ranking factors

Having a lot of social signals tells Google that people find your website and brand valuable.

You can begin growing your social signals quickly by adding social buttons to your product pages, blog posts, and homepage.

According to Jayson DeMers at Forbes, “A branded social presence can help build word of mouth that gets you customers, mentions, and links.”

Perhaps the #1 social media channel you need to set up and engage on is Google+. Forbes says, “Google has been explicit that social signals play a role in its algorithm. Twitter and Facebook matter some, but many of the search results from both networks are restricted. Therefore, the network that carries the most weight is Google+.”

Part 4: Further Testing

After you have worked on your on-page SEO (including usability), it’s important to put a testing and optimization strategy in place.

You should:

  • Use analytics to see which keywords are converting the highest
  • Use PPC campaigns to find high-converting keywords you should add to your SEO strategy
  • Test meta titles and descriptions to increase click-throughs
  • A/B test page content to increase conversions from web traffic

Having a strong testing strategy in place will help your results continue to improve. Without constant iteration, your rankings could drop and you could be losing out on leads or sales due to a poor conversion rate.

Part 5: Adding Blog Content

As mentioned in Part 1: Research, keyword research is crucial to any SEO strategy. Since each page of your site should be optimized for only one keyword, there will be plenty of important keywords that don’t make it onto a page of your site.

The way to rank for those keywords is through a blog. With a blog, you can optimize each post for a keyword that you aren’t targeting with the main pages of your site.

As with your website pages, your blog posts need to be high quality and reader-friendly. You should hire an experienced, professional writer who not only understands your industry, but also has a basic knowledge of SEO.

If your posts are keyword stuffed or low quality, your customers will not read them and they certainly won’t share them. Also, as you know, Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing and you won’t earn any social signal points either.

When you’re creating blog content, consider packaging together various posts on the same theme into a downloadable eBook or guide.

Kyle Lacy, Senior Manager of Content Marketing and Research for ExactTarget says, “The contents of an eBook can be easily published in their entirety or as teaser content to drive more interaction, downloads, and overall interest in your eBook. Basically, when it comes to content marketing, your goal shouldn’t be to generate a ton of content, but rather use the content you create effectively.”

As an example, if you are an e-commerce business that sells jewelry, you might write a series of posts on how to select the perfect diamond for an engagement ring, how to finance the cost for the ring, and you might even include creative, romantic tips for a memorable proposal. Then, you could package those posts together into a downloadable eBook or guide.

The eBook or guide could be downloaded after buyers entered their email address into a lead generation form or landing page.

Later, you could send them a series of sales and marketing emails prompting the potential buyer to purchase the engagement ring from your store.

While you’re putting together this type of content marketing and email campaign, remember when it comes to writing any web content, always be thinking about quality!

Part 6: Link Building

Similar to content, you will want to concentrate on earning quality inbound links, when it comes to link building.

Not only will Google penalize your site if a lot of low quality sites are linking to you, but also the referral traffic won’t do anything positive for your business.

A low quality inbound link would be one from a low authority website. (Remember: you can use Moz’s toolbar to quickly see the authority level of any domain, as we discussed earlier!)

You usually can tell a low quality site just by looking at it. They tend to be full of ads and contain poorly written, keyword stuffed content.

Speaking of which, content farms (sites that accept guest posts from anyone about anything) usually will provide you with a low quality link. Google does not like content farms so stay away from them if you can!

Instead, focus on earning links from really good, high authority sites by offering something of value to them in exchange for a link.

You can do this by offering a high-quality guest post, providing a quote for a story, co-authoring a research study, putting together a great infographic, and so on.

Try using a free service like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to find press opportunities.

Here are a few types of links best suited for e-commerce websites:

A quick note about broken link building: while it is an effective means for generating inbound links, it should be low on the prioritization checklist.

According to Dana Lookadoo, president of Yo! Yo! SEO:

“Broken link building is not a primary focus on a new SEO project, usually. An SEO audit would uncover needs, and from there a prioritization action list would be developed. Information architecture issues usually get priority and then a clean-up of any issues that affect the site’s authority and trust in the eyes on the search engines. Once the on-site SEO and content strategy are solid, then broken link building outreach can be considered as part of the off-site [link building] efforts.”

As you’re working through the above list of link building tasks, keep in mind that when it comes to link building, you should NOT:

  • Use the same anchor text repeatedly – go for variety
  • Link to the same page repeatedly – link to the most relevant page
  • Get links from low authority websites

Of course you won’t always be able to control the anchor text or which page is looked to, but that’s okay. This probably will lead to variety naturally.

If you have a close relationship with the website owner, you could kindly request specific anchor text, but otherwise you should just say thank you and not bug that person to change the anchor text or link. It’s better to establish positive relationships with high authority sites than to argue over one link, which alone will not hurt your SEO.

Part 7: Local Business Tips

Are you a local business? If you are a brick-and-mortar business, you will want to ensure you have your name, address, and phone number (NAP) for all locations showing on your website. You must use the same NAP formatting across all websites.

Additionally, you should submit your business to all of the major directories and as many niche directories as makes sense. (They must be relevant to your business.) You also should use location based keywords in your descriptions where appropriate.

All of this is very important because Google blends local and organic search rankings. According to Dr. Pete at Moz, there is an “opportunity for sites that might be weak on organic ranking factors” to be “decently optimized for local” nevertheless.

He also claims “there’s potential opportunity for some of the lower-ranking organic results to get promoted above other organic results by improving their local ranking factors.”

search results

If you want to find the directories your competitors are in, try Whitespark Local Citation Finder.

Part 8: Best SEO Tools

Whether you are part of an SEO team or a solo strategist, there are plenty of SEO tools on the market to help you optimize your rankings. And I’m going to tell you about our favorite tools that we use.

Here are my favorite SEO tools:

Using a combination of these tools will help you streamline your SEO process and can provide the data necessary for helping you make smart decisions that lead to better rankings. The actual work is still up to you.

Get It Done!

There are many reasons you should optimize your site for search engines, but the bottom line is to increase sales.

When SEO is done right, you will see an increase in quality traffic, which will lead to more conversions and repeat visitors.

Before you get started, understand this: SEO work isn’t a one-time deal. Google and the other major search engines are updating their algorithms constantly in order to bring the best results to searchers. Because of this, you’ll need to stay on top of the updates and adjust your strategy accordingly.

There is no doubt that SEO work requires a lot of time and dedication, but the benefits are worth it, and I hope that this guide helps you get your SEO strategy in place to boost your sales from your e-commerce site!

About the Author: is the CEO of TOFU Marketing, an internet marketing agency that helps startup companies hack their growth. You can request a free consultation with him here.

  1. Chris, I run SEO training workshops in multiple states here in Australia. I set aside 30 minutes or so each morning for reading and research, and while most of the articles I read are ‘good’, they certainly are not ‘great’. None in the past months have warranted a comment… yours is the first!

    Thank you for a well thought out, well planned, step by step guide. Your notes are spot on. I’m just glad you’re not in Australia and giving this quality of info away free!

    Keep it coming.

    • Hey Paul,

      Wow! Thank you very much. I really appreciate the compliment.
      We’ll definitely be contributing more on the KISSmetrics blog, if possible.
      You’re welcome to check out the posts on my blog at

      Thanks again,


    • I’d totally agree with the points you’re making. the more detail provided in these e-commerce SEO guides the better, so many SEOs are quite vague when describing exactly what they recommend.

      Well written article.

  2. hey Chris

    this guide rocks, how many days did it took you to create it?

    I never gave keyword cannibalization thought, until recently when I noticed how a post I wrote out-ranks one which I wanted to prioritize in the SERPs… just because I’ve added the same keyword on both pages… and the “weak” article gets the traffic I should be getting for the other post…

    I thought I’d increase my chance to get top ranks with both posts, but only one qualified 

    I guess we can know all the SEO theory in the world, only proper testing and personal experiments will prove what works, and what doesn’t; that’s one reason why I love SEO, as it’s constantly evolving and you have to be one step ahead competitors… and in eCommerce this is even more important.


    • Hey John,

      Thank you! It took a few weeks to create.

      Yeah, keyword cannibalization is tricky. That’s too bad about your weaker article getting the traffic your other post deserves. What’s the article? I’ll check it out!

      The constant evolution of SEO is definitely exciting- especially when your competitors don’t know what they’re doing ;)


    • cotton bazaar Apr 27, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      sir please tell me some SEO tools to bring site on top in google

  3. Thank you Chris.

    Hi Chris. This is a wonderfully succinct and nicely articulated article. I usually give up on ‘How to do SEO’ articles after the first paragraph as their jargon-stuffed content loses me completely. If you’re writing an entry-level advice article that is only likely to be understood by SEO experts it kind of misses the point. You score highly for me on two levels – firstly the usefulness of the advice offered, and secondly is your ability to impart that advice using layman’s terms.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your work.

    • Hey Rick,

      I appreciate the feedback! Our goal with the article was to do exactly that- give actionable information in a way that’s easily understood. Very excited that you think we hit the mark.

      Is there anything you’d like us to write about in our next article?

  4. Regarding magento for e-commerce, despite being a ‘slow’ system to learn or run, it is still better and more preferred choice for larger sites due to its strengths. While oscommerce or prestashop are great alternatives if you are starting, if you do decide to go for resource intrnsive platform such as magento, it is good idea to check these for speed and SEO
    a) choose dedicated server and confirm reliable support – never run on shared hostings
    b) many e-commerce platforms have built in optimization for speeding things – such as code compression – using them can significantly improve site performance which in turn helps in SEO
    c) there are several paid/free plugins or modules to improve speed and reliability – test ones suitable for your site.

  5. Asokan Nirmalarajah Aug 06, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    One of the most comprehensive and insightful guides I have come across so far – and I’ve read a few. Mad props, Chris! ;)

  6. Vijay Sitaram Aug 06, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the post.

    What happens when making a site more SEO friendly reduces usability and adds more distractions for visitors.

    We have an e-commerce store that sells wiper blades direct to car owners and the navigation is a simple drop down selector – choose your make, model and year and you’re directed to the product page. We’ve been getting a lot of advice that says the big problem with this is that google cannot properly index our pages and that we should add some more ‘traditional’ style category pages etc. However this just makes things confusing for users.

    Also, with wiper blades, there are many cases where products are the same, but the fit different cars. So there is very little in the way of unique content. Unfortunately we get penalised for having duplicate content.

    We’re frustrated that we’ve built the site to be extremely usable but now have to make changes that will reduce usability just for the sake of ranking well. How do we make sure the two don’t cancel each other out?



    • Chris Kilbourn Aug 07, 2013 at 9:40 am

      Hey Vijay,

      Making a website more SEO friendly doesn’t necessarily reduce usability. It just depends on the situation. Sometimes, it actually increases usability.
      Additionally, great usability can make the website more SEO friendly.

      For your duplicate content issue, the best plan may be to write about how they fit different cars. I’m not sure how many products you have. This may not be feasible if you have 1,000+ products.

      What’s your website? I may be able to look into it for you.

      • Vijay Sitaram Aug 09, 2013 at 3:40 am

        Hi Chris,

        Our site is Wipertech:

        We’ve got about 2200 wiper kits which fit about 1000 cars so its a big ask to write unique content. Plus it adds little value to the user.

        I guess the reason we don’t like the idea of adding category pages for instance, is that is not useful for the user. You have a car, maybe two and you need a fast way to get to that/those product page(s). There is very little point for a user in having a “Ford” category page for instance.

        There are many improvements we can make of course, but when it comes to site navigation/architecture and duplicate content I’m not sure what we can do to improve SEO without sacrificing usability.

        If you can look through it that’d be great :)



  7. Superb article.

    Shall be geeing shared with all of our merchants.

    Thank you

    Marketing Manager
    VPASP Shopping Cart

  8. Colin Bhimsen Aug 07, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    SEO is vital for E-commerce website success. Without quality content, architecture, link building, businesses will pay extensively for online marketing.

  9. Nice..I especialle enjoyed reading about site architecture, we changede ours a year ago, and it is still having a huge impact on our rankings, we rank 1,2,3 on very important keywords i the 3 largest cities in denmark!

  10. Mihai Aperghis Aug 08, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Holy awesome in-depth guide, Batman!

    I was actually in the middle of an e-commerce SEO audit for a client when I stumbled across this. It’s really awesome to have everything e-commerce SEO related, insta-bookmarked it for future reference :D

    If possible, since it’s a pretty long post, bold out some important words/phrases so viewers can “get the gist” even if they just skim through the article.

    Also, another neat post, mostly for e-commerce link building ideas, that I’ve used recently:

    Thanks again Chris for putting this together!

  11. Hey Mihai,

    Awesome. I’m glad you found it helpful, Robin! :)
    Bolding key points is a very good idea. I’ll definitely make sure to do that in my next post.

    That post on Moz is fantastic! Thanks for sharing. I’m sure many of these readers would also find it helpful.

  12. Hey Chris! I think SEOquake is a good addition to your list of SEO tools. Awesome post!

    • Hey Spook SEO Aug 10, 2013 at 8:35 am

      Thanks! I haven’t used SEOquake much in the past, but think this would be a great addition to our list of tools. Appreciate the recommendation!

  13. Sounds cool! I’m glad that it helps.

  14. Chris, My local SEO expert is trying to convince me to go over to a wordpress based website and says its one of his top tips for seo and my site as a whole would rank better. Is this just a sales line or do you believe it has any merit.


    • Hey Adam,

      It totally depends on your current website. If your current website looks great, is user friendly, and is easy for Google to crawl, there wouldn’t be much of a benefit converting into a WordPress based website.

      WordPress based websites are not specifically favored by Google.

      If you’d like, I’d be happy to take a look for you. My email is



  15. Definitely an interesting and rewarding article to read. I will recommend it to all my customers who want to try doing their SEO themselves or to convince all those who don’t really care about SEO.

  16. This is one of the best article that I have ever read. Well done! Great work! Please add me to your subscriber list.

  17. I’ve read through a lot of SEO and ecommerce marketing guides recently and this is by far the one I’ve found most useful.

  18. Hi Chris

    After re-reading your article, I just wanted to ask your opinion about how to internally link to and what to call a blog on an ecommerce site.

    I was just wondering if calling it a blog and linking to it from the site menu using the word ‘blog’ might be seen by the search engines as making a token effort at creating a blog for SEO purposes and therefore devalue it?

    Just because a lot of sites seem to do it this way so engines might see it as a lazy ‘stereotypical’ attempt to add content.

    Could there be another way e.g linking to individual articles in the blog from different pages on the site instead of all through one ‘blog’ link

    I hpe this makes sense! Your opinion would be appreciated as these are just my own thoughts.

    Brilliant article.

    • Hey John,

      Great question- there’s a lot of noise out in the SEO blogosphere and SEO’s typically become worried about anything that resembles spam.

      Call it a blog and add it to your navigation if you think it would be good for user experience. Google won’t penalize you for calling a blog what it is- a blog.

      Feel free to let me know if you have other questions. My email is


  19. Hi Chris,
    Great post. I am working on an OS Commerce site and struggling to get it to rank even for the domain name. Moz & Screaming Frog are showing a huge number of 302 redirects and duplicate content issues but the web developer claims they can not fix those because ‘that is how the software in which your website is created works’. Have you any experience of OS Commerce? Is this why it will not rank?
    Thanks for the excellent article – I see so much thin content on this subject!

  20. SEO turning into content marketing and Guest blogging only , one can gain Quality Back links only investing valuable time and spreading positiveness in websites not spams. Can Anyone please suggest what specific change i do while creating SEO strategy for E-commerce site.

  21. Ravi Janardhan Oct 15, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Hi Chris,

    This is best guide I came across on SEO. I feel it’s a must read for experienced as well as for rookies.

    Thanks a ton.

  22. jacqueline mccoy Nov 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Thanks for the great post and excellent tips. With an e-commerce sites its important to have a clean and easy layout so customers can navigate round your commerce site easy and find what they are looking for.

  23. There are variety of things has been modified in SEO field as a result of currently Google goes a lot of good day by day in term of search. thus these are the some tips which might be do one thing extraordinary things.

  24. Gregory Smith Dec 01, 2013 at 8:40 am

    SEO turning into content marketing and Guest blogging only , one can gain Quality Back links only investing valuable time and spreading positiveness in websites not spams. Using Call to action Images and well designed landing pages will be returning huge effect in seo for ecommerce.

  25. Great well written article,
    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Cannot stress the importance of NOT having too many keywords on one page. Google will penalize you heavily for this.

    Any suggestions for any other free website/tools that will help you with SEO?

    Carry on the good work


  26. Let me add something to this, keyword research is a must. After Google closed down the keyword data. There is no way to get proper specifications. But “related searches” on Google might give you an hint. You have used nice visual graphics to explain better which I think explains better.

  27. @Chris Awesome post. Really you are the champ of ecommerce seo.

  28. Thanks Chris for sharing such a detailed guide with us.

  29. An excellent guide, thanks. So many businesses now jump straight into remarketing, link building and paid advertising before they’ve got the on-site content set up properly for both SEs and users. Doesn’t matter how much traffic you get, if the content isn’t up to standard, it won’t convert. Thanks again.

  30. your rankings could drop and you could be losing out on leads or sales due to a poor conversion rate.

  31. Thank you. I enjoyed reading and I learned a lot! Have a great week, everyone!

  32. I am working on an OS Commerce site.

  33. Tamara Anthony Feb 04, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    We are starting an online store but also have a physical warehouse address (not open for the public).
    We weren’t planning on adding our warehouse address to our e-commerce site, but could doing this provide us an advantage for SEO?
    Thanks for your information,

  34. Bryant Jaquez Feb 05, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Long tail:

    If you can master 1000 long tail categories, you’ll be far ahead of everyone going after the same head keywords.

  35. Awesome! :) Thanks author! I really appreciate it.

  36. Jignesh Dobariya Feb 24, 2014 at 3:45 am

    Thanks Author for this awasome article on seo for ecommerce article, this article is very usefull for me, again thanks.

  37. Good work author, good examples and screenshots

  38. Rafael Montilla Mar 01, 2014 at 4:19 am

    For me OS Commerce platform is not good for SEO.

  39. Hi Chris

    Great article and very interesting. We want to create an ecommerce store for our jewellery cleaning product. We have about 12 items to sell, so not many. I have researched into many ecommerce platforms such as Volusion, ekmpowershop, sellerdeck, shopify and more and they all have their merits but I am unsure which one is best for SEO as I feel this is the most important area to gain rankings? I have heard having it hosted with them is not the best idea and none of them have been built with SEO in mind from the ground up? Can you recommend a good ecommerce platform that has good built in SEO or would you recommend getting a site built purposely with a shopping cart plugged in so to speak?

    I would very much appreciate your comments.



  40. You posted really too great information regarding eccomerce & SEO, well i am following up your article.
    Thanks for sharing

  41. Really nice work… Thanks for sharing such a detailed guide with us.

  42. Neil Patel, I really appreciate your work, I want to say thank you very much, too

  43. Ashutosh Kumar Apr 17, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Very nice information shared. All the points are important.
    Thank you so much.

  44. Nice Post!
    Very helpful to me because I am working on a eCommerce website.


  45. Another awesome post. I was hoping it was going to be as in-depth as advanced seo guide on How would you handle duplicate content issues with large e commerce site. Should we be using no index on product pages or categories until you are able to create original content?

  46. Luke Chandler Jun 09, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I was on the fence about creating an ecommerce site because of knowing how to rank it. Basically I would rank it the same way I rank an affiliate site. The site will offer hundreds of products. Will this create a problem?

  47. What if the eCommerce store has 1000 of categories, say we are a Car Manufacturer you would have Honda > Honda S2000 > Honda S2000 (99-03) and a few different years of the car > then you’d have Honda S2000 Clutch, Honda S2000 Brakes.

    Basically what if you have so many categories how would you organise them so the appropriate link juice passes through, also can you interlink each product?

    Say Brake Disc, could I link to Brake Lines etc.

    • Jack, I would suggest really laying everything out onto an excel spreadsheet. I recently categorized the videos onto one of my sites and it really helped :)

  48. Ashutosh Kumar Jul 08, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I got a new website for the eCommerce. I have done on page optimization. For the link building, what should be strategy should follow me?

    • Ashutosh, focus focus focus on promoting quality content and the rest will follow :)

  49. I’m in a process of launching my first eCommerce website for India. Neil, you nailed with this articl

  50. I’m in a process of launching my first eCommerce website for India. Neil, you nailed with this article again (Probably, I should thank Chris :) ). I’d love to go with more deeper knowledge on eCommerce SEO especially for those who are about to launch the website.
    For example, how to plan categories and pages, how to tack color/size duplication, how to use self referencing rel canonical tag effectively, better internal linking guide, silo etc.
    Any pointer or link would be great

  51. Wow! Generally Great points. And Have Got some Nice Information.

  52. Thank you ! Such a good information.

  53. Thanks Author for this awasome article on seo for ecommerce article, this article is very usefull for me and thanks again for good examples and screenshots.

  54. hi Chris,

    Thanks for the valuable post and suggesting some useful tools. But, still the E-commerce SEO is the challenging work for me.

    Thanks & Regards

  55. This is a terrific article – very indepth! I’m new to SEO but I’ve spent the weekend researching and finding many of the points in individual articles, that you laid out in one single article! This is a great reference for any SEO user!

    I have a question that I’m hoping you can point me in the right direction on. I have a site that sells different types of products. My architecture is a home page, with several text pages (shipping info, returns, etc). From the menu, I’m listing category which expands to show subcategories. When a sub category is clicked, a list of products is displayed.

    My question is what is the best SEO strategy regarding keywords? The way I’m set up now, I have a list of generic industry type keywords on the text pages and on the individual product description pages, I have only the product name as the keyword. Is there something better I can be doing? Should I have the same list of keywords on all pages on the site? Should I list all of my product names as keywords on the text pages? If you could elaborate on this (may be a great topic for new article! :)), I would greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks again for the quality work!

    – Randy

  56. Extremely useful post. Is there much discussion on setting up SSL / HTTPs and if that is a must have for now? I do know HTTPs is a whole new topic and many sites are moving to HTTPs and some are also rolling back.

  57. suprabhat Kumar Mar 16, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    i think i am late to comment on this post :) seriously great post.

  58. Thanks alot for sharing a awesome tips

  59. This guide me to consider all aspects for the search keyword for the niche and long tail , and the whole structure of the website.

    Thank you!

  60. Chris , my local SEO expert is trying to convince me to go to a web based site and says its one of his top tips for SEO and my website as a whole would be the best classification. This is only a sales line or you believe you have some merit.

  61. Seo for eCommerce websites is necessary.Without doing Seo its really difficult to achieve business objectives.This article is really helping. Thanks for sharing it.

  62. Hi,

    Very nice and informatic post. We have developed recently two ecommerce website and we will use your way to promote both site’s on internet.

    Thanking for posting such ideas.

  63. Very nice! a brief post and complete information.

  64. Hi Chris this post was mindbogglingly wonderful.

  65. Ya It’s great post. I have saved this link on my bookmark list for following When need but I need help about How will I optimize my word-press product ??? Please help me about that.

  66. wow its an amazing post.

    The post describes entire process of SEO of any website. The steps and analysis described in this post are so helpful for any one who want to do SEO for their site. Keyword research and competitor research are very important for any website. I have hired IndiaNIC Infotech Ltd for SEO service for my business website. And the company did a good job for my site.

  67. thanks for the awesome post. i haven’t used screamfrog before. but want to try and want to check my website for better optimzation TO REDUCE THE ERRORS

  68. Hi, You have mentioned excellent SEO tips in you blog. I am looking for indepth SEO course for my site.

  69. If you are looking for the right keywords how do you do it? Do you need a Software who value for you the keywords corresponding to your business?

  70. Old post, but still relevant and I agree pretty much with everything. Although i would use Ahfers to find link building opportunities.

  71. Hi Chris,

    This is a great piece of valuable information. Its not just rich content, but also very simple to understand for a non-techie like me. Hopefully I will be able to incorporate these ideas in building my upcoming e-commerce site for my designer home decor business.

    I wish you were based in Dubai to help me out with the entire process of setting up the business to driving digital marketing agenda. If there is a way, please let me know.


  72. Ganjar Nugraha Apr 14, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    E-Commerce SEO guys are always facing the the same big problem, there are the duplicate contents and the lack of quality of title and description for each product. Just my opinion.

  73. nathan barber May 16, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Thank you this information is still relevant today. I am finding when working that my clients that adding a unique description of the business wherever you can to portray your key business functions with the keywords you want to target has been a very effective strategy getting higher rankings.

    Thanks for the post, enjoyed it.

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