How to do eCommerce Keyword Research: Strategies, Implementation, and Optimization
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It's not a secret how websites are found during Google searches. Any old article about SEO (search engine optimization) will let you know that pages are ranked by the keyword volume and their relevance.
What's important to note is that the world has changed, and algorithms are more intuitive than they used to be. About a decade ago, you could fill a page with nothing but a primary keyword and still rank pretty high.
That's not the case anymore (thankfully).
If you want your brand to get more hits on product pages (and thus more sales), you'll have to employ a cohesive set of strategies revolving around eCommerce keyword research and keyword implementation.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about how to do an effective study on keywords and lay out some strategies that'll adapt and overcome the constantly changing search engine algorithm.
Overview of Keyword Research
What is Keyword Research?
Keyword research is the collection of data and analytics on certain words relating to a specific subject. For example, if you own a business that sells couches, your research will revolve around furniture-related keywords.
Why is it Important?
Doing your research is crucial if you want to increase discovery on the web. It doesn't matter how informative or well-written a product page is; if it's not search engine optimized and chock full of algorithm-friendly keywords, fewer people will see it.
High-ranking hits equate to more conversions and an overall increase in profits. You'll also find a steady stream of traffic on your brand's site which opens the door for tons of other opportunities.
Before you can get into the nitty gritty of keyword research, you have to understand the term "search intent."
Like we said before: we’re long past the days when the sheer volume of a single keyword could score you a high Google ranking. Now, if you want to find yourself at the top of search engines, you have to meet a criterion that fits the algorithm.
Whether it's the answer to a question, product, or service, consumers always have a preconceived idea of what they want. And so, search intent comes into play. Users who type something into the search bar are looking for something specific. High-ranking pages meet their requirements best.
Understanding your customer base's search intent is crucial to your success. You'll have to implement different words into your pages that are associated with the primary keyword, such as synonyms, descriptions, and actions.
This is why you've got to do your search; to find the most effective groupset of words that will get you to the top.
Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of reworking and optimizing a page to create organic traffic. After completing the keyword research process and choosing keywords, it's time to put them into your product pages.
An SEO website has adequate keyword volume, relevant search terms, and shows up in an organic search.
Steps to Developing a Keyword Research Strategy
When it comes time to market a product, findability is a top priority.
ECommerce can get a bit tricky, especially if you have a lot of competitors. If you're in an aggressive market, your keyword research could spell life or death for your brand. To avoid falling into obscurity and losing profits, you'll need to lay out a cohesive plan of action.
Choosing a Main Keyword
Your main keyword, or primary keyword, is the foundation of your webpage. Everything else is built upon this single word, so choose wisely.
Okay, so you don't have to feel that much pressure.
While it is the most important word on the page, choosing isn't all that difficult. If you're selling a laptop, your primary keyword is "laptop." If you're selling insulated cups, your primary keywords are insulated cups.
See? It's as simple as that.
Your primary keyword should be the most abundant word on the page, though not too abundant. According to this article on keyword density, a keyword shouldn't appear more than once every 200 words.
If you "overstuff" your article, you might get penalized by Google.
A good rule of thumb is to use the primary keyword in the main heading, the description, a few times throughout (depending on length), and any final thoughts.
Researching Search Intent
Now that you've got your primary keyword, it's time to do some in-depth research.
You can first search for the top-ranking competitors and make a checklist of any keywords they use. This will be your starting ground as you can create a "skyscraper" page or a page that builds off of others. The advantage of skyscraping is that you can take what's already pre-established and optimize it.
Next, you'll want to utilize a keyword research tool (or a few).
Keyword Research Tools
Investing in a keyword research tool is one of the most efficient things you can invest in. Sure, you could take some competitor keywords and run, but you'll miss out on many helpful analytics.
Here are a few of the best SEO tools out there:
Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google that allows you to monitor your web page's status in searches, fix potential errors, and maintain your presence in the engine.
While this tool won't help you SEO-proof your page, it can help you track how well your website is doing once it's up and running. These insights can provide you feedback on what's working and what you need to improve.
Google Keyword Planner
For companies on a budget (or for anyone really), Google Keyword Planner is your best friend. Not only does it help you discover up-to-date keywords based on your needs, but it's another completely free option.
You can get valuable data such as how many average monthly searches a keyword gets, which keywords go best with your brand, and a list of suggestions based on the products or services you sell.
What's more, it's pretty easy to use. It's all user-driven, meaning you're a hundred percent in control of your research. Google Keyword Planner is one of the most effective methods of generating organic search traffic.
Google Adwords, or Google Ads, is an advertising platform for companies to market their goods around the internet. While this is a comprehensive tool that runs much deeper than just eCommerce keyword research, there are numerous features that help users find your brand through the use of keywords, as well as other means.
A Paid SEO Service
If you're looking to do more than just scratch the surface, it might be a good idea to use a paid SEO service to help you with your strategy.
These services will go beyond what you can do with the free tools provided by Google; they'll give an in-depth analysis of your page and its performance in relation to similarly ranking pages and high-ranking pages. Furthermore, they'll typically help you develop your SEO strategy with various software and solutions specific to your needs.
Each service is different and has its own unique features, so you'll have to do some scouring to find the right fit for you. And even though many of these services aren't free, they're generally inexpensive and quite efficient at what they do.
Types of Keywords
We've discussed the primary keyword, but there are a few others you should take note of:
- Long-tail keywords
- Short-tail keywords
- Audience targeting keywords
Long-tail keywords are specific groups of keywords tailored toward people ready to buy a product.
For instance, a person trying to buy a particular model and make of a car is past general search terms like "van" and "truck." Now, they're looking for the car by brand, and so they're using long-tail keywords to find precisely what they want.
This type of keyword doesn't focus on appealing to search volume; it's more of a way to identify an online store or product page for people who are already aware.
The short-tailed keyword is a more broad keyword. These terms have a high search volume each month and are generalistic/generic.
Despite an oversaturation of these common keywords, they're still essential for any eCommerce SEO strategy. Without them, your page will only be available to a small circle of people already aware of your brand.
Audience Targeting Keywords
There are many sub-categories of audience-targeting keywords, but the gist of it is that they are meant to target your business's customers.
There are geo-targeting keywords, which are keywords meant to target audiences based on location.
Customer-targeting keywords target demographics such as age, gender, career, etc.
Product-defining keywords describe your product in a way that meets the needs of your audience.
And so on.
Audience targeting keywords are a pretty broad subject, and which ones you employ will be contingent on your own keyword strategy.
Organizing Relevant Keywords
Relevant search terms should be organized in a way that prioritizes search volume, relevance, and search phrase ranking.
The top of the list and the most frequent word is probably your primary keyword. From here, you'll need to create a catalog of related keywords that include the main keyword within them. They may also be a variation of the main keyword.
Next, you'll have to get into the minds of your consumer base and break down their search intent.
What would you be looking for in a product page or an online store if you were a prospective customer?
Choose short-tail keywords and product-descriptive keywords that allow your page to be found with a bit more specificity.
Finally, your long-tail keywords are specific to your brand and help people who are ready to buy your products find your online store.
Optimizing Your Website
Once you've done your research and have a definitive list based on search volume and relevance, it's time to start implementation.
Your online store will only be found if it's what your customers want to see, so you've got to choose which keywords you use wisely. Just because a word has a high search volume and is associated with your primary keyword doesn't mean you should overload your web page with it or even use it at all.
If you solely use keywords with a huge search volume, there's a good chance your page will get lost in a sea of overused search terms. Likewise, using only specific keywords won't be found because they'll have low search volume.
It's about finding the middle ground and asking yourself a list of questions to identify which keywords are best suited for your eCommerce website.
- Who is doing these searches?
- Why are they doing these searches? (search intent)
- What questions are they asking?
- What words are they using?
- What else are they searching for?
- When are these searches being done?
- Where are these searches coming from?
Answering these questions can help you determine which keywords to use and how much you should use them. Moderation and variety are the best way to rank high on search engines.
To elevate your keyword research a step further, you'll have to take each of your chosen keywords and run them through an optimization tool to see how they perform every month. Make sure to consider competitor pages, search volume, and search intent to determine if your keywords will meet your brand's quota.
Maintaining Your Website
Just because you rank high, that doesn't mean you'll stay up there. There are a few measures you've got to take to remain on top of the results.
Once your web pages are up, keep a close eye on them and analyze their monthly performance. Track data and other analytics through the previously mentioned keyword tools and make a note of any discrepancies or trends.
These statistics will be indicative of how well your brand is doing and signify when you need to make changes.
Your product pages should be liquid, meaning you're always changing and optimizing them. Implement new keywords relatively often to adapt to new movements, but make sure to maintain primary phrases in order to retain recognizability and integrity. A page that looks completely different each month is bad for customer retention and loyalty.
The ability to take data-driven feedback and turn that into an ever-evolving website means your brand can stay relevant for an indefinite amount of time.
Tips for Ranking High in Search Engine Results
Ranking high on search engines may seem easy on paper, but once you get down to it, it's not so simple. There are layers and layers of complexity to keyword marketing, and it can be quite a daunting task (especially when you have a lot of competitors!)
Here are a few tips to help your brand flourish and make the most out of its keyword research:
Don't Be Afraid of Falling into a Niche
While appealing to a niche doesn't seem like it would be very effective at being found by the masses, it's quite reliable.
If your product is meant for only a small group of people and doesn't have a large search volume each month, you will rank high no matter what. That means using search terms relevant to that niche will help your target audience find you with ease.
If you think your brand has the potential to expand outside of this circle, then there's no harm in using a combination of niche-associated keywords and generic, short-tail keywords that apply to everyone. This way, you can stay within your niche while simultaneously running a brand expansion campaign.
Optimize Each Web Page Individually
In order to make the most out of your search engine research, optimize each product page individually and use particular keywords relevant to the product. If you use the same keywords repeatedly without regard to which page you're using them on, your eCommerce site is bound to fall off the charts.
Individual page optimization implies a little extra work, but it'll be worth it once you have multiple high-ranking pages on search engines.
Instead of just focusing on the macro (your company site overall), try committing to high-quality web pages and putting care into each product.
Implementing hyperlinks in some of your keywords to other product pages can be a great way to help underperforming pages get a boost from your more popular products.
This strategy will evenly distribute traffic amongst your website and ensure a steady rate of growth (as opposed to a more turbulent, unpredictable path).
Have an Educational Blog on Your Site
Adding an informative blog on your website is a great way to bring in traffic and direct it towards whatever you're selling. Each blog post will have its own groupset of keywords that bring in your target audience through the prospect of telling them something they want to know.
People who desire a product, but may not be aware that they want it, will often ask a question on Google. If you can answer their question with an informative article and then provide a solution (your product), they're more likely to trust you as a source and buy from you.
Linking various products and other articles in your blog should create a high volume of traffic on your site, which will help you score a high ranking on all of your brand's web pages. It is essentially a way to bolster your keyword marketing strategy and reinforce it with a network of customers.
Maximizing High-Priority Keywords
The best application of high-priority keywords is using them in titles and headings.
The reason you should utilize headings is that they're often considered more heavily by search engines when determining rank. That's simply because titles and headings offer important bits of information that describe what a segment is about and why a reader might be interested in the content it contains.
Organic Keywords Equals Organic Traffic
You could take some nonsensical or incredibly complex keywords, make them into a product page, and then rank pretty high in search engines. The problem is that no one uses these terms to search for your product.
People use search engines to simplify what they're looking for. They don't use long strings of text, nor do they use high-level vocabulary.
This means that you don't have to go crazy with your keywords and try to stand out from everyone else through a "shock factor" of sorts.
You'll receive organic traffic if you use organic keywords (keywords the average person would use when doing a search).
Avoid Keywords You Have No Chance Ranking in
We all have to admit defeat sometimes and know our limits. There will often be searches you could never dream of ranking in due to the heavy competition, and attempting to do so would be futile.
It's these keywords that you should probably avoid, as implementing them wouldn't do you any favors. If you're a smaller business, sticking to your niche might be more beneficial. The competition won't be as steep, and there's more room for growth.
This doesn't mean you'll never be able to rank in those unattainable searches; sometimes, you've got to evaluate your circumstances and build up to them.
SEO keyword research is cardinal to all eCommerce functions and something all brands should divert a decent amount of their energy into doing.
It's simply because search engine algorithms aren't as dull as they used to be and now require high performance from target keywords. While this makes being found a bit harder, search engines are much better at converting traffic into customers. It is also an effective measure at combating the overflowing of new content constantly being introduced.
Once you've got the practice down and you nail the implementation, you're guaranteed an exponential boost in brand recognition and overall profits.