How do you get on Amazon A9’s good side or ensure that eBay’s Cassini gives you a leg up in search? Ecommerce SEO either brings shoppers to your product listings or makes it difficult for them to find you. On sites like Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten, better SEO equals more views and, when done right, more sales. Here are the basics of ecommerce SEO as well as some tips and notes to help ensure your product listings get the visibility they deserve.
How SEO works in ecommerce
When a shopper goes on Amazon, they’re often looking for a general type of product. They will start by either searching for keywords that seem important to them or by using filters to narrow down the products listed. The content of each product page helps that channel understand which products are relevant to the user’s search… and which are not.
If you have a website, you likely already know a bit about SEO. Marketplaces and other shopping channels work according to similar rules. However there are several different rules and best practices. You’re listing a specific product on a specific channel, after all! That channel will have its own requirements, and its users will have certain expectations.
Here are the most important steps for success in search.
First step: SEO keywords
Most channels won’t have a specific tool for helping sellers find keywords. Instead that data might be found on third-party sites, apps, and add-ons like keywordtool.io or seoreviewtools.com. Many of these sites will be paid tools, so it’s up to each business to decide how valuable keyword information is, and how much they’re willing to pay. One of the most helpful tools out there is Google Keyword Planner. While this can’t tell you exact data for Amazon, it can show what users are searching for - and that’s a great place to start.
What makes a good keyword?
While search numbers and competition are important, it’s also key to step back and consider what the user actually needs to know. What is the problem they are trying to solve? Certain foods might not only be organic, they may also be vegan or sustainably produced. A given microphone might also be labelled as a great podcasting mic or a mic for streaming. These keywords should make their way into your SEO. Ranking for a general term is always helpful, but it will also bring a number of irrelevant traffic. Ranking for specific, niche words will help bring the right people straight to you and also help them quickly connect their needs to your product.
Be sure to get real-world proof of your keywords. Jump on those target channels and start searching for your chosen keywords. What kind of terms are suggested, which existing product titles are inspiring, and what is ranking well? This is the experience your customer will have in the real world, so take advantage of it.
Backend keywords On Amazon, you’ll also get to use backend keywords within the Amazon Seller Account. These are keywords that can be used in the backend to better describe products and function much like HTML tags or meta-tags - which might sound familiar from previous SEO best practices. These are particularly useful for keywords or search phrases you might not want to explicitly say on the product page but are still linked to the product and its uses.
Step two: product titles
Product titles are always key to ecommerce rankings. Much like website SEO, titles tell a search engine what words best describe what is on the page. That’s why every product page should have a title that really reflects the product and shows off its best, most relevant qualities.
The rules for product titles are also similar to page titles: always put the most important information first. One popular format looks like this: brand + model + style/variant (color, size, patterns, key ingredients, and other selling points). Lengths can vary by channel, but 70-80 characters is a good rule of thumb. Otherwise the title will likely be cut off. Plus, no one wants to read an over-long title!
One note: it’s important to mix SEO with user-friendliness. In particular, keyword stuffing should be avoided as it isn’t necessary and makes for a monotonous, unreadable title. Instead emphasize the information the user will want to know while considering the relevant keywords. Once you fully understand the user’s needs and lingo, title creation should become much more natural.
Subtitles on eBay Some sites, like eBay, also allow subtitles. These can be used to supplement the information of the title. However, on eBay in particular they will cost a little extra to use. Some studies have shown that the use of subtitles on these channels do lead to increased sales, so it might just be worth testing.
Step three: product description
The description adds further information for the search engine to consider when analyzing the product page. For optimal ecommerce SEO, there are two clear goals you’ll want to achieve: create a description populated with all of the relevant keywords and answer all of the right questions.
The closer the product description aligns with the user’s needs, the more likely it is to result in a sale. Unlike the title, which is quite short, the description will let you get into spelling variations, related terms, and all of the different ways a person might describe the product and category. It’s also your chance to answer every question a user could have.
A good product description might include:
- Information featured in the title like brand and model number
- Color, size, quantity, or patterns
- Relevant SEO keywords
- Year produced
- Included parts
- Alternative spellings or terms
- Popular real-world uses and benefits
- Unique selling points like where the product is made or how
- Answers to common questions
Don't forget images! There’s also one thing you’ll need to focus on besides just the keywords and information: images. If you own the product listing and are able to add unique, high-quality images, this is absolutely key to converting shoppers. People are able to process information through images several times faster than through text. They’re also more likely to recall information that is presented visually.
Deeper optimizations for product descriptions In website SEO, headers are very important. The title is generally the “H1,” which is the most important, followed by headers within the page, “H2s.” Within the product description, be sure to utilize these H2s to address key themes and keywords. This could mean there are sections covering the product’s material, the ideal users, popular use cases, and other considerations the shopper might have.
It’s also important to see how your product actually emerges in search. Test out the target keywords and compare your product to the top-ranking alternatives. Is your product similar, or is it actually dissimilar to the top ranking results, meaning there might be a better keyword to focus on? What kind of content makes the top-ranking products more desirable, and are they using keywords or variations that your products do not have?
Why performance - and not just keywords - is key for ranking
Search engines are much smarter than they once were, and search engine operators know that user cues are more important than any keyword. This is why, even if a page is completely optimized in terms of ecommerce SEO, it can still rank poorly if other indicators are negative.
Other than content and copy, here are a few more ranking indicators you’ll need to stay on top of:
- Conversation rates
- Ratings and reviews - when possible, most sites, like Amazon, will further prioritize reviews from verified buyers.
- Price - high prices often compel users not to buy. As a result, the website might pre-judge that a higher-priced product will not be compelling to shoppers and should therefore not appear at the top of search results.
- Shipping rates - search engines know that shipping fees will make a product more or less appealing to shoppers, therefore influencing the likelihood of a sale.
- Return options
- Participation in premium services such as Amazon Prime or eBay Plus
- Time it takes for seller to respond to questions
- Number of returns or abandoned carts
Some of these are more easily controlled than others, but all are closely related to the product, the way it is presented, and the way your business handles interactions with customers.
Don’t neglect your seller page
When a shopper clicks from a product page to the seller’s page, they’re looking for some kind of information. Maybe they want to know exactly where the company is based, or they want proof that it’s a reputable seller. For this reason, it’s important to include all basic information like addresses or phone numbers as well what makes your products unique.
What do you sell, and why is it different from other sellers? What keywords are associated with the business and brand?
The page should also include clean logos and be as optimized and interesting as any product page. In the end, the shopper is making a deal not with the product but with the seller, and all seller pages should be considered great opportunities rather than an afterthought.