Ben Garry, content specialist at Impression, explains how ecommerce sites can use keyword research to ensure their pages rank as well as possible.
Keyword research is essential for ecommerce sites because it tells you what your customers are searching for.
Without keyword research, the language of your category pages and product descriptions is, at best, an educated guess. But with data to tell you how people are searching, you can adjust your pages to have the best possible chance of ranking well for searches in your industry.
What’s the goal of ecommerce keyword research?
Ecommerce keyword research is all about finding keywords that will lead to new customers finding your site and making a purchase.
For example, the phrase ‘buy running trainers’ is suitable for ecommerce, as users are looking to complete the stated action. Ranking for ‘best running trainers’ will be much harder because non-ecommerce review and comparison sites dominate.
Ecommerce keyword research helps you to filter through the list of potential keywords and focus your time by targeting those most likely to bring you a good return.
Keyword research tools
The best keyword research tools require payment. SEMRush, Ahrefs and Moz are all excellent, but free trials are limited. If you have the budget, however, I strongly recommend investing in one of these. My top pick is Ahrefs, though all three provide a suite of helpful functionality.
There are some decent free options out there, as well. Google’s Keyword Planner stands out as one that’s accessible to anyone with Ads campaigns. Google Search Console – free to anyone with a website – is the best tool for finding out where you’re already ranking.
There are other free tools around. Answer the Public and People Also Ask are helpful for blog content. Google Trends and Google Suggest (i.e. typing into the search bar to see what autocomplete suggestions come up) also give insights into how real people research.
Digging into individual pages
The most efficient way to carry out keyword research is to import lists of potential phrases into the paid tools to see which are the most popular. From there, you can decide which pages on your site are best placed to target them.
Whether your tools are paid or free, you can do a lot of research on a page by page basis. If you’re not sure where to start, start with your biggest revenue earners or profit margins and work down.
Search Console is the best place to begin keyword research, particularly if a page is already driving traffic. Add a page filter in the Search Results report to focus on a specific URL, and see what comes up.
You can plug these terms and your own ideas for common phrases into your keyword research tool of choice (Google Ads or a paid tool, ideally) to see monthly search volumes and related ideas. Monthly impressions in Search Console will also give you an idea of how popular a term is.
Scoping out new pages
Scoping out new categories or products requires a similar process. Start with some of your own ideas of what someone might search for to find them, and enter them into a keyword research tool to see what the popularity is like.
Then, comb through the related keyword ideas to see if there’s something that you hadn’t thought of.
The best way to succeed in keyword research is to keep an open mind. Don’t assume you know how your customers are going to search. You might be right most of the time, but you’re missing out on potential sales every time you’re wrong in your assumptions.
Remember, look for keywords that signal a commercial intent on the part of the customer. If you’re not sure whether your target audience uses a particular term, search for it yourself and see what comes up. If you see your competitors, the chances are good that you should also be targeting that phrase.
When you’ve found keywords for your focus page, be it new or existing, update its title and description (sometimes called SEO Title, or similar) to include the target phrase, while still looking natural and appealing.
You should also work your chosen keywords into the page’s written content, but be careful in doing so. Always ideal to write for humans, not search engines, but bear in mind that humans will also be looking for phrases that tell them they’re in the right place.
There’s more to SEO, but starting with keyword research and aiming to deliver what your customers are looking for is the best place to start.