Keyword research is an essential part of search engine optimization (SEO). It involves finding and using words and phrases that are used by potential customers in their search queries. For e-commerce websites, keyword research can be especially important. In order to compete in the highly competitive world of online retail, it’s essential to use the right keywords in your content. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started.
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Step 1: Write down your ideal keywords
The first step in a keyword research strategy is brainstorming what keywords you want on your site. This means thinking about the products and services you offer, as well as any related topics that might be of interest to your customers. Write down all the terms you can think of, even if they don’t seem related at first glance. Try to think outside the box and come up with words that are not usually associated with e-commerce websites, but still might be relevant to your business.
A few things to consider when choosing what keywords you would like to target:
Is your business mostly local, or do you generate a lot of e-commerce sales?
If 75% or more of your sales come from local traffic, it is best to continue to push your local dominance. But if you want to expand your e-commerce business then you should focus on how to grow traffic on a national level.
What are your top-selling products and brands?
I always use this in my keyword research for clients. Look to see what is already generating the most revenue and then create keywords to continue to grow it. For example, I had a client who sold toys but when you looked deeper into the selling, what she was really selling was wooden toys and sustainable toys. That was her niche, but she wasn't calling it out. As you can see from the SEMrush data below- trying to rank for toys is very difficult, but once you go deeper into the niche with sustainable toys and wooden toys, it becomes much more achievable.
Step 2: Research Your Competitors
Once you have a list of keywords, it’s time to do a competitive analysis. I make a list of 3 competitors: one that is local and similar to my business, one that is a slightly larger chain who sells similar products, and the third is the mega-brand or big dog in the same retail space. Take a look at their websites and see what kind of keywords they are using in their content and product descriptions. This will give you an idea of what is working for them and what isn’t—and help you come up with new ideas for your own website.
A free and easy way to conduct competitive research is to simply google the search terms you are looking to rank for. For the local business, you will want to add "near me" to the end of the search. For example, toy store near me.
In order to see real search results, and not searches that are influenced by your past browser history, make sure that you search in Google Incognito Mode, which you can easily do by selecting Ctrl+Shift+N
I prefer to use SEMrush to complete my competitive analysis, but as we will discuss in the next section, there are many tools available. The items that I pull to complete a competitive analysis are as follows:
Domain Authority Score
Average monthly users (both total and organic traffic)
Number of keywords ranking in: the top 100, top 25, top 10, and top 3
Number of backlinks
Keyword intent: especially what % of ranking keywords are transactional
% of branded traffic
Top referring domains
When you pull these metrics together for your top three competitors you can start to create a comprehensive digital marketing strategy,
Step 3: Utilize SEO Tools
There are many SEO tools available online that can help you find relevant keywords for your website. These tools can analyze existing content on your website and suggest related terms that could increase rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are also tools that allow you to analyze competitor sites and find out which words they are targeting—this will give you an edge when it comes to optimizing for search engines.
Some offer free trials and some are very inexpensive. Here are the top tools that SEO strategists use the most.
I suggest testing out a free trial for each tool and seeing which user experience you work best with.
Step 4: Prioritize What Pages to Update
If you own an e-commerce site, you probably have a lot of pages to manage. As a small business owner, its not realistic to constantly update and optimize each page on your website. I am a big fan of the 80/20 rule, meaning, 80% of your busines is usually driven by 20% of your website's pages. So let's start with those.
The best way to find your top 80% of pages is in Google Analytics. If you don't have an account, sign up for one immediately.
I like to look at three month's of data to see which pages are the most visited. This usually takes out any traffic anomalies that may have occurred. If you are extra cautious like me, you may want to briefly check a few different time periods to make sure the results are relatively consistent.
To pull your top pages, go to Google Analytics- Behavior- Site Content- All Pages. Then choose a custom date range to reflect whatever time period you would like to pull.
As you can see from my website, almost 40% of my traffic comes from my online business coaching page. If i focus on that page, along with my merchandising packaging and home page ( the / symbol means its your homepage), then I am pretty much covering all my grounds..
Need help with Google Analytics? I also offer Google analytics consulting as part of my hourly business coaching services.
Step 5: Monitor & Refine Your Strategy
So you've identified your keywords and have added them to your priority pages- now you're done, right? Nope! In fact, this is where a lot of the work begins. The key to being successful in SEO, just like in e-commerce, is to be flexible and adaptable. Make sure you are tracking your keyword progress on at least a monthly basis, and adapt to what you are seeing.
So what does that mean?
For the toy store example above. Let's say my client updated her website with wooden toys and sustainable toys. After about 2 months she noticed that she was now ranked #5 for sustainable toys and #75 for wooden toys. What should she do?
Well, I say that she starts to double down on her sustainable toy story. Remember, your goal with SEO is to get your keywords in the top 3 position. Even though sustainable toys receives a lot less traffic than wooden toys, she will get a lot more traffic if she ranks in the top 3 of that keyword rather than being on page #10 for wooden toys.
You also want to make sure that your increase is traffic is also driving an increase in conversion.
If you start to triple your traffic, but your sales remain the same, well then we aren't following the right keywords.
Don't get me wrong, if your traffic increases, your conversion probably will go down, but they should balance each other out enough that your sales increase in total. Some of the metrics that I review for my clients on a monthly basis are:
Total traffic increase and organic traffic increase
Keyword conversion rate
% increase of new users
Total time spent on page by search type
I also count, and you should too, how many keywords are ranking in the top 100, 25, 10, and 3 positions. But don't let this only metric be your end game- focus on the metrics that bring you money like conversion and sales $.
So don't be afraid to change your strategy! In fact, be afraid NOT to change it. Keep tracking of your progress and always be on the lookout for new keyword targets.
Keyword research is essential for any successful e-commerce website - but it doesn't always come easily! By following this simple 5-step process outlined above, small business owners should be able to identify effective key phrases that will help drive more targeted traffic towards their site - ultimately increasing sales opportunities! With a bit of planning, patience, and strategic analysis any small business owner should be able to optimize their SEO efforts - resulting in greater visibility online! Good luck!