Seven out of 10 online experiences begin with a search engine and 80% of people start a product search online.

Even if a purchase happens in-store, there’s a good chance the shopper began their search online through a search engine since 63% of all shopping begins online.

Focusing on optimizing your product pages and e-commerce site will help you show up higher in the search results and stand out against the competition. This can drive huge amounts of traffic and expose your brand to new customers worldwide.

employee productivity during the pandemic employee productivity during the pandemic

What is SEO for E-Commerce?

Search engine optimization is a strategy e-commerce brands can use to get their website to rank high in search results and attract organic traffic. The best part is that if someone is searching for “red ladies sandals”, they are probably quite far through the sales funnel and ready to buy.

The difference between SEO and SEM

While SEO may take time upfront, it offers multiple long-term benefits. It continues to drive traffic long after optimization and it helps you learn more about your ideal customer. It can also save you money in the long run since a successful SEO strategy means you won’t need to spend as much on paid advertising.  

SEO vs SEM ecommerce SEO vs SEM ecommerce

Why SEO matters for e-commerce

It’s predicted that 95% of purchases will be made online in 2040. The competition will be fierce, and brands will need to do everything they can to stand out. Many brands have seen a jump in organic traffic over the past two years, with an average net increase of 23%

This is what makes SEO for e-commerce crucial: 

5 crucial elements that can make or break SEO for e-commerce


5 critical elements for e-commerce seo 5 critical elements for e-commerce seo

1. E-commerce keyword research

E-commerce keyword research reveals the search terms your customers are using to find products like yours. It’s important to implement words and phrases that real-life people are typing into a search engine like Google rather than the words you and your team use to describe your products. Here are some tips to get e-commerce keyword research right: 

a) Understand your target audience

Whom are you selling to? Is it Gen X, Gen Y, or millennials? Are they into sports or music (or both)? What is their average spend? 

To learn more about the keywords your audience is using, you first need to understand your audience. Start by defining and creating buyer personas using demographic and psychographic information. 

This can include attributes such as: 

Not sure how to find this information? Dive into your analytics to identify where the largest chunk of customers are coming from, how much they spend with you, and their past purchasing behavior.

Then, conduct customer surveys, ask questions via email, and read reviews to learn more about your customers' interests and attributes. 

This is also a good starting point to discover the actual words customers use when talking about your products.

Keywords for ecommerce Keywords for ecommerce

For example, the above reviews for Allbirds’ Tree Lounger shoes all include the word “comfortable”, which the brand can use to describe its product and attract people who are searching for “comfortable shoes”.

b) Understand your customers’ search intent 

Search intent is the reason consumers are running a search. There’s a big difference between someone who’s searching “how to get a good night’s sleep” and someone who’s searching for a “memory foam mattress”. But, if you sell mattresses, both searchers could be potential customers. 

Search intent often falls into four different categories: 

Informational: searchers looking for an answer to a specific question or general information (e.g. “how to get a good night’s sleep”) 

Navigational: searchers intending to find a specific site or page (e.g. “Dream’s opening times”)

Commercial: searchers looking to investigate brands or services (e.g. “Dream’s website”)

Transactional: searchers intending to complete an action or purchase (e.g. “Dream’s kingsize mattress price”) 

c) Research the right keywords 

Using the information from your buyer personas and search intent research, you can start to narrow down and list out relevant keywords. 

For example, if you sell bamboo water bottles and want to capture shoppers with a variety of search intent, you might list out keywords that cover those actions, including: 

These keywords will help you map out what pages you need to create on your site or what keywords you need to add to existing, relevant pages. Use a keyword research tool to expand your list of keywords – simply type in one keyword and it will provide several similar options that you can also use. 

d) Target the right keywords

There are millions of keyword combinations you can use to define your products and services, but successful SEO means choosing the right keywords. To do this, take into account the following: 

e) How to pick the right keywords

At this point, you’ll have a fairly sizable list of potential keywords. Now it’s time to choose the right ones. Here are some ways you can make sure you’re selecting the best-fit keywords for your target market: 

Google Trends: Find out the search interest for particular keywords based on Geography, the time of year, and “related keywords”

google trends memory foam mattress google trends memory foam mattress

2. Site Audit

Audits help you take stock of the current state of your site and identify any keyword gaps. Run an SEO audit to ensure that all your e-commerce pages (or, if you have too many pages, at least the high-performing ones) are optimized. 

You might learn that shoppers aren’t using the key phrase you thought they were using for your products–they might be using “ceramic pots” instead of “ceramic pans”, for example. 

Unlocking data like bounce rates and the pages with the highest volumes of traffic will provide insight into which pages are performing well in the search results and which could do with a bit more attention. 

The audit should help you identify pages that: 

During the audit, you should also ensure your site is indexable and crawlable by search engines, and check for redirects, broken links, and duplicate pages. 

How you can perform a site audit:



3. Fixing SEO gaps

Search engines regularly tweak their algorithms (the latest was a product reviews update in May 2022). It’s crucial to stay on top of these changes and practice frequent audits if you want to stay ahead of the game. 

Identifying problem pages or pages that could be improved with a few well-placed keywords will bolster the rest of your site, increasing your rankings across the board. 

Once you’ve identified the problem pages on your site, you can start to fill in the gaps. For example, you can identify the low-performing pages and check that: 

Simply refreshing these elements and ensuring the keyword is present in all the major hotspots can instantly boost the performance of a page. This is known as “on-page SEO” and makes up just half of Google’s ranking factors. 

As well as polishing up your own pages, it’s important to focus some energy on what’s known as “off-page SEO” too.

a) How to improve on-page SEO
Key phrases in meta description Key phrases in meta description

Kettler includes key phrases in its meta description, like “outdoor dining” and “weatherproof wicker sets”

Blogging is good for SEO Blogging is good for SEO

DTC paint brand Clare has a blog full of useful content

visuals for ecommerce seo visuals for ecommerce seo

Drunk Elephant uses images in step-by-step guides

ecommerce seo: write for humans ecommerce seo: write for humans

Welly’s product pages use a casual tone and showcase its fun personality

b) How to improve off-page SEO

Off-page SEO involves optimizing your site through external sources. While on-page SEO is all about adding keywords and meta descriptions to your store pages, off-page SEO involves getting links to your site to position it as an authority in the search results. 

Here are some ways you can improve your off-page SEO: 

4. Updating product pages

Product pages are the lifeblood of e-commerce sites. They mark the decisive moment when a customer will choose whether to buy your product or not. But they also serve another important function: they’re assets that help you rank on search engines. 

Using the right keywords, including the right information, and providing enough relevant visual content is crucial if you want the SERPs to show your products and want customers to convert on the product page. If there’s one thing you do in your quest for higher rankings, make sure it’s tightening up your product pages.

There are three essential elements every product page should have: 

a) Product description

Share what your product is and does, and highlight any benefits customers will get if they purchase. Ensure your product descriptions contain the right keywords and answer any questions a buyer might have about the product. For example, ‘can these cushions be machine washed?’ 

Dig into reviews, listen to customer support, and use Google’s handy ‘People Also Asked’ feature to find out what pressing questions shoppers might have about your products. 

Most importantly, focus on the benefits of your product, not just the material and size. Tell shoppers how your product will improve their lives and what problems it will help solve.

Product descriptions are important for e-commerce SEO Product descriptions are important for e-commerce SEO

Product: Go-To Skincare’s Very Lightweight Moisturizer 
What: Video showing shoppers how to use the product
Why: The video includes educational intent keywords that target people searching for “how-to” blogs and videos

b) Images and Videos

Show what your product looks like in action. This is particularly important since shoppers can’t see or touch your product before they buy. Here are some visuals you can use to show off your product: 

product pictures e-commerce seo product pictures e-commerce seo

Product: Warby Parker’s Kian glasses

What: 360-degree images and videos 

Why: The brand shows its glasses from every angle, which is important for shoppers who can’t see or touch a product before they buy 

c) Product Reviews

Highlight what previous customers think about your product to add social proof and provide reassurance to future shoppers.

Reviews also help you rank since they include the specific keywords your audience use which will help your products show up in search results when shoppers use the same phrases in the future.

product reviews e-commerce SEO product reviews e-commerce SEO

Products: Bag, suitcase
What: Customer reviews
Why: AWAY populates its product pages with positive customer reviews to ramp up the number of keywords used

5. Image SEO

One of the essential elements of e-commerce SEO is optimizing your images. Many shoppers who search for the term “swimming trunks” might head straight to the image results section so it’s crucial that you follow these best practices for images:

Google is now showing several images alongside its top search results. Lots of DTC shoppers are using Instagram to find products, so adding images to your product pages is important for showing up on Meta sites as well. Below, mattress brand Casper shows up top for the search term “types of bed frame” accompanied by four eye-catching images.

Search results with images e-commerce SEO Search results with images e-commerce SEO

Choosing the right images is only part of the equation – you should also make sure you’re optimizing them with keywords, alt tags, and descriptive file names so that they also show up in search results when shoppers use the right phrases.

The Do’s and Dont’s of e-commerce SEO



✔ Update your site and high-performing pages regularly

✔ Maintain brand consistency when you write copy

✔ Write for humans, not for search engines

✔ Use reviews on your product pages for extra keywords

✔ Add keywords to your images and videos 

✔ Run regular site audits to identify problem pages

✔ Generate backlinks from high-authority sites

✘ Give misleading information even if it benefits SEO

✘ Stuff keywords onto pages and make the copy unreadable 

✘ Duplicate the same content on multiple pages

✘ Use stock photos 

✘ Focus only on buy-ready shoppers – capture searchers at all stages of the funnel

Examples of SEO brands doing it right

Filter King: Generating half a million dollars in two months 

The results of SEO for e-commerce speak for themselves. One brand that sells air filters – not a particularly glamorous product – was able to boost organic traffic from $0 to $460k in a matter of months by using these key SEO tactics: 

SEO for ecommerce Filter King SEO for ecommerce Filter King

The current Filter King website has handy and SEO-rich resources about air filters

Casper: From unknown to top mattress brand in four years

Casper is one of the world’s best-known mattress companies. It originally started out selling just one type of mattress. Even though it’s added more products to its inventory there are still not a ton of products to choose from. Despite this, the brand managed to skyrocket from complete anonymity to a $750 million dollar business in four years using SEO tactics like: 

e-commerce SEO Casper Mattress e-commerce SEO Casper Mattress

In their FAQ section, the brand published content that answered key questions its audience was asking 


Organic traffic is the bread and butter for e-commerce stores. It’s often the highest source of traffic and consistently brings in new customers alongside your other marketing efforts. Most importantly, search traffic captures shoppers who are at every stage of the funnel and is crucial for attracting high-intent buyers who are using transactional keywords in their searches. 

The traffic coming from search engines is pre-qualified because people are actively using your chosen keywords rather than seeing a shiny photo on Instagram and clicking through. It’s important to know who your audience is and the keywords they use. You can use this information to optimize your product pages, blog posts, and other key touchpoints on your site. 

Getting started with e-commerce SEO takes some upfront effort, but maintaining and improving your rankings can be a breeze if you have the right technology on your side. Arm yourself with tools that will help uncover keywords, carry out frequent audits, and identify problem pages you can quickly fix. 

Having a firm foothold in the SEO game will help you stand out, drive consistent traffic, and ensure your brand keeps converting customers and generating profits in the long term.