March 21, 2024
A 6 Minute Read

The Best SEO Strategy for E-commerce

Having the right SEO strategy is crucial for attracting revenue-generating organic traffic. It might take some time but the ROI is worth it.
Jodie C Ball

The Best SEO Strategy for E-commerce

Having the right SEO strategy is crucial for attracting revenue-generating organic traffic. The monetary rewards for an SEO-job-well-done can be wildly astronomical, especially if you’re DIYing your way through a strategy. Even though this might take some time and elbow grease, the return on investment is worth it.


Over the past decade, I’ve seen many shopify, bigcommerce, woo-commerce stores, etc. organize themselves in a way that’s internally easy to manage (or even just a plain old jumbled mess), but doesn’t always deliver the best experience for the user shopping for something specific. 

Let’s stop and think about the goal of Google’s algorithm for organic search: Google’s goal is to emulate the preferences of a typical user who is searching a given keyword. In doing so, Google pushes the most “loved” sites to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs). 

For new pages that might fit the bill for a given keyword, Google uses on-page copy & technical elements to understand what the page is about, behavior metrics to see if users like using the page, and external websites that link back to the page for both additional context and as kind of a “vote of confidence” vouching for the page as a of measure of trustworthiness.

Those pieces of the puzzle that speak to the content and context of the page turn into what keywords your page might rank for. Popularity metrics like behavior metrics and backlinks help Google understand where your page should rank for each keyword.

The Strategy
So now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how to fill each of those cups for an ecommerce business from the bottom up.

  1. Building Robust, User-Friendly Category Pages

    Your category pages are the aisles of your online store, guiding customers to their desired products. To make these pages robust and user-friendly, ensure they are structured with a clear hierarchy and easy navigation. This includes having a sensible number of SKUs on each page. Compare your SKU count with your competitors' and aim for a number that offers variety.

    Ease of use contributes greatly to behavior metrics (popularity!). Things like average page-depth can play a large role in how google views your site, but you also don’t want to frustrate users with too many clicks to get to their desired page. This is where “time on page” or “engagement” metrics come into play. Essentially, you want users to spend time on each page, and also click further down your hierarchy toward converting.

    Your SKU count helps cater to users’ subjectivity for a given keyword. If you sell shoes, and the user is googling “Patent leather red pumps” they probably have a pretty clear idea in their mind of what they want to buy. But, consider that at this stage there’s no way to know if they’re looking for an open toe, peep toe, pointed toe, 4 inch heel, 3.5 inch heel, kitten heel, etc. 

    So your category pages should get pretty “narrow” in terms of the types of products showcased – and yes that means a whole lot more tagging and organizing – to cater to the customer. It’s no doubt a lot of work, but its worth it to do this work upfront while you’re building from the ground up. This organizational infrastructure will help your store to scale. Do it before you’ve got zappos level inventory that needs to be retrofitted into a better organizational structure and takes months to go through.
  2. Category pages should have H1 Tags and Paragraph Text

    The H1 tag is one of the first elements that search engines examine to understand the content of a page. H1 just means your main header text. Make sure your H1 tags are clear, relevant and specific to the page, and incorporate key phrases that potential customers might use in their searches for each page in particular.

    Beyond the H1 tags, there should be an introductory paragraph text on your category pages. They play a vital role in providing text for search engines to latch onto, but it should also be engaging, informative, and optimized with relevant keywords without resorting to keyword stuffing. Placing this optimized content at the top of the page ensures that both users and search engines can quickly grasp the theme of your category, aiding in better indexing and user engagement.

    PS: Don’t forget about your title tags, meta descriptions and open graphs for each page too. You can find instructions for where to edit SEO elements on each page type for every major e-commerce platform here.
  3. Implementing Intuitive Filtering with SEO-Friendly URLs

    Intuitive filtering is a game-changer for user experience. By allowing users to refine their searches within a category, you cater to their specific needs, thereby increasing the chances of conversion. From an SEO perspective, if you can ensure that each filter creates a unique URL, you’ll create additional hyper-relevant pages that purchase-ready users can land on for more conversions. These unique URLs should employ self-referencing canonical tags, which tell search engines that the page should be indexed. This setup not only enhances user experience but also allows these filtered pages to rank for specific and bottom-of-the-funnel keywords.

    A word to the wise

    Many e-commerce platforms do not create self-referencing-canonicals for filters and this could require a web developer. It probably won’t cost much to have this done, but if you’re trying to start lean, you can probably get away with some sub-sub-sub-categories in the interim.

    The point is: the more specific a page can be, the easier it becomes to optimize for super specific keywords (longtail keywords). Users that google super specific keywords are more likely to make a purchase sooner rather than later.
  4. Backlinks
    Once you’ve set up scalable infrastructure for your site, filled it with SKUs and optimized your text, you should seek out some good quality backlinks to give your pages credibility. This can be done organically through PR campaigns, paid placements, earned placements, or influencer campaigns.

    Unfortunately, backlinking is pretty nuanced and a topic of its own, but just remember that backlinks are used by the algorithm for both credibility AND context to figure out what keywords your page should rank for – meaning the context where your backlink is placed is key. Not only does surrounding text matter (anchor text doesn’t matter as much anymore), but making sure the site and article also make sense for the page that’s receiving the backlink. And remember: quality over quantity is the name of the game.

Optimizing your e-commerce category pages is not just about improving search rankings; it's about creating a seamless, enjoyable experience that guides visitors toward making a purchase and caters to their needs. By focusing on user-friendly design, strategic keyword use, intuitive filtering, and engagement-boosting elements, these category pages will serve your bottom line for years to come. 

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