The popularity of online shopping has given smaller companies the opportunity to compete alongside bigger brands. Startup companies no longer need to plea for shelf space in big box stores or shell out a lot of money for their own brick and mortar outlet to sell products to consumers.
There have been many stories of merchants who operate exclusively online yet they were able to turn their business into a massive, global success. Reality TV star Kylie Jenner is an example of an entrepreneur who turned her makeup line Kylie Cosmetics from a Shopify store into a billion-dollar company.
The success of this direct to consumer model has inspired many people to try their hand at online selling as well. However, without a popular celebrity family to back you up, how can you compete in the oversaturated eCommerce marketplace? This is where SEO and keyword research come in.
Why are keywords important for SEO?
SEO is short for the term Search Engine Optimisation, which is the process of increasing the visibility of websites and webpages in search engine results pages through careful maintenance and marketing. It is essential for eCommerce stores to understand how SEO works in order to maximize its benefits.
While there are many different strategies to appear highly in rankings, one of the foremost and most effective methods is to use relevant keywords in an appropriate manner. Keywords are words people key into search engines when trying to find information online. By incorporating these keywords on your website, you will make it easier for search engines to find you and display your website in search results.
These days, you cannot just stuff your web pages with keywords repeatedly as this may just penalize your website. This is because major search engines including Google, Yahoo!, and Bing prioritize pages that are relevant, useful, and contain quality content. This means that you have to make sure that you are choosing the correct keywords so that you will reach your target consumers.
Finding the right keywords suitable to your website is not rocket science. As long as you know your product well and your target consumers, it will be easier for you to pick out the right keywords. There are also keyword research tools that you can use for this process.
Types of keywords for eCommerce
If you own an eCommerce shop, your goal is to rank higher in the products that you sell. If you sell hiking boots, you would want to appear in the first couple of pages whenever someone types in “hiking boots” on a search bar. That does not mean, however, that you should stop at that keyword.
To better understand what types of keywords would benefit you, here are the most common types of keywords eCommerce stores typically use and prioritize.
As the term suggests, product-defining keywords describe the product that your store is selling and at the same time, reflect the first words customers think of when wanting to buy a product. This is probably the most obvious type of keyword that eCommerce stores use.
“Black leather pants”
Many SEO experts might tell you that product-defining keywords are a waste of time for new businesses because these are typically short-tail keywords. Short tail keywords, also known as head terms, are only one to three words in length and while they bring high search volume, the competition for these keywords is also very high. For a new store, this can be a challenge and you might find it impossible to rank high especially if your products are common like clothes, food, or accessories.
However, product-defining keywords are still quite useful especially if you’re selling a product with a unique attribute or perhaps you are launching a one-of-a-kind product that gained buzz in social media, Kickstarter, or other crowdfunding websites. If your product is trending and unique like “flavored edible straws” or “gluten-free cronuts”, then targeting these keywords can still be helpful.
One way to maximize product-defining keywords is to turn them into long-tail keywords. For example, if you are selling face masks, look for unique features in your product to make it more specific. Instead of just using the keyword “face mask”, you can use the long tail keyword “collagen face sheet mask” which is more precise. While this long-tail keyword may have a lower search volume, it can have a higher conversion rate because you are targeting specific customers looking for that type of product.
The brand name of your product can also be used as a product-defining keyword. However, if you are a new brand, this might not help you very much because chances are, the volume of people who will organically search for your brand name will below.
Using competitor keywords is a smart way to bring consumers searching for your competitor’s product to your website instead. Examples of competing products are Apple vs. Samsung or Nike vs Adidas. If you are a new eCommerce store, you might not have a direct competitor on the onset. Therefore, conduct research on what are the most popular brands in your market segment.
Instead of using your own brand name, which might not be recognizable to consumers, use the popular brand in your industry to drive traffic to your page. For example, if you are selling a brand-new line of leggings for women, use a popular leggings brand like “Lululemon” and incorporate it into a long-tail keyword like “affordable leggings like lululemon” or “best lululemon leggings dupes”.
If you don’t have an extensive idea of who your competitors are and what they are doing, utilizing keyword research tools such as Ahrefs or SEMrush can be quite useful. These platforms can give you information on what keywords your competitors are ranking highly for and you can check whether you are targeting similar keywords. For many eCommerce stores, this can definitely boost their rankings, which could result in more sales.
Knowing to whom you’re selling to or who your product is for can be a big advantage when it comes to improving your SEO. In the online world, you cannot just be vague by saying that your products are for everyone. You have to be particular if your product is for men, women, or kids.
For instance, instead of just using “winter jackets” as a keyword, you can add “for children” at the end so that the keyword “winter jackets for children” becomes more specific. You can segment this further by defining the age range of your customers. For example, instead of just using in “winter jackets for children”, you can define whether your product is for a newborn, 6-month old, or a toddler.
You can also be more specific depending on the lifestyle of the user. For example, if your store is selling leather shoes, you can specify whether these are leather shoes for office work, for prom, for nurses, for soldiers, etc. If you’re selling trainers, you can specify whether it is for running, football, or basketball. When choosing a keyword, always think from the perspective of the consumer and evaluate how your product can answer their needs.
Keywords new eCommerce stores should target first
There is really no hard and fast rule on what keywords a business should target first. However, the decision will usually be determined by the size of the brand. While more established brands could try targeting keywords with more competition, new eCommerce stores would do better from targeting keywords with less competition.
It will be quicker and easier for new businesses to see results if they target easier keywords compared to harder, high competition keywords. Targeting long-tail keywords that are more specific to their products is also a smart move. Another tactic for new eCommerce stores is to test and try out different combinations to see what keywords will work best for their business.
Optimizing for SEO success
The different SEO strategies, methods, and techniques to make a website stand out to have become very dynamic. While there is no single formula to guarantee SEO success, understanding and utilizing industry best practices when it comes to keyword research will definitely help in improving your website’s visibility.