Keyword optimization is one of the most important foundations of any ecommerce SEO strategy. Choosing the right keywords and effectively optimizing your online store for them can help drive targeted organic traffic, increase conversions, and boost revenue. This in-depth guide covers everything ecommerce merchants need to know about keyword research in 2022.
Why Keyword Research is Crucial for Ecommerce Sites
Thorough keyword research provides ecommerce sites with clear insights into what terms potential customers are using to search for products online. By understanding consumer search intent and optimizing content for relevant buyer keywords, merchants can:
- Improve product page rankings for critical ecommerce search queries. According to OptinMonster, pages ranking on the first page of Google results account for 92% of all traffic.
- Drive more qualified organic traffic. A SiteScape survey found that 7 out of 10 consumers prefer to find product information from a search engine.
- Increase click-through rates. SearchEngineLand reports that keyword optimization can improve CTRs by as much as 7.5X.
- Boost conversion rates. Investing in keyword optimization uplifts conversion rates an average of 17%, based on statistics from Wordstream.
- Target lower cost-per-click traffic. On average, organic keywords cost 59X less than paid search ads.
Clearly, comprehensive keyword optimization is critical for cost-effectively driving revenue growth. But choosing the right keywords is just the first step…
Types of Ecommerce Keywords to Focus On
Not all keywords are created equal when it comes to driving qualified traffic and conversions for ecommerce merchants. To build an effective keyword strategy, you need to identify and target keywords across these essential categories:
Broad Match Keywords
These are more general keywords like "running shoes" or "sofa" that indicate a broad product interest.
- Pros: Very high monthly search volume, easier to rank for than ultra-specific keywords.
- Cons: More expensive cost-per-click, attracts searchers at early research stages so lower conversion rates.
- Best for: Building initial brand awareness and traffic. Limit use for retailers with extensive product catalogs.
Long-tail keywords contain 3-5+ words and are more specific like "most comfortable running shoes under $100" or "small grey fabric sofa".
- Pros: Highly targeted, inform search with buying intent, easier to rank for, converts better.
- Cons: Lower average monthly search volume per term.
- Best for: Driving qualified visitors closer to conversion. Focus majority of efforts here.
Branded keywords include your brand name, like "Nike running shoes" or "Wayfair sofas".
- Pros: Builds brand loyalty, converts highly for branded search traffic.
- Cons: Limits you to existing brand recognition.
- Best for: Reinforcing brand authority and capturing existing brand demand.
Analyze the terms ranking competitors already rank well for, and target relevant ones on your own site.
- Pros: Proven high-converting keywords, identifies gaps/opportunities.
- Cons: Requires extra competitor research, competitors may already dominate.
- Best for: Uncovering proven keywords that convert in your niche.
How Search Intent Impacts Keywords
All keywords aren‘t equal when it comes to driving results. To choose keywords correctly, you need to consider the searcher‘s intent:
Informational keywords indicate the searcher is still researching or learning about a topic, like "how to choose running shoes" or "most durable sofa materials".
These should not be a primary keyword focus as they indicate early research stage intent.
Transactional keywords signal a user is ready to make a purchase, like "shop for running shoes online" or "buy grey fabric sofa".
Prioritize targeting more transactional keywords as they convert better. Informational keywords should only supplement your strategy.
The Key Steps of Ecommerce Keyword Research
Effective keyword research involves much more than just tossing some seed keywords into a tool. Follow this step-by-step process:
Step 1: Brainstorm Seed Keywords
Start with a core list of 10-20 broad match keywords directly related to your products. This provides a base for expansion into longer tail variations.
Step 2: Expand Keyword Variations
Use keyword research tools to discover long-tail keyword variations of your seeds. Look at suggested keywords and search autocomplete.
Step 3: Analyze Keyword Metrics
Look at monthly search volume, historical trends, competitiveness, CPC data and search difficulty for each keyword.
Step 4: Organize Keywords
Group keywords into categories like products, services, informational, transactional, geo-targeted etc.
Step 5: Prioritize Keywords
Based on metrics and search intent, determine higher priority keywords to focus on first. Lower competition long tails take priority over super competitive broad terms.
Step 6: Ongoing Keyword Tracking
Continuously track keyword performance in search and analytics. Adjust priorities and add new keywords.
Following this process turns keyword research into an always-on activity powering your entire ecommerce SEO strategy over the long-term.
Expert Tips for Ecommerce Keyword Research
Beyond the basics, here are some pro tips for superior keyword research:
- Expand long-tail keywords first instead of wasting time on competitive broad keywords with low ROI. Long tails drive conversions.
- Always check historical keyword metrics using keyword tools to account for seasonality and avoid following passing fads.
- Analyze keyword difficulty in addition to volume. Target "just right" keywords with enough search volume but low enough difficulty to have a chance at ranking.
- Group keywords into themes to identify clusters around topics and products to create content and link building opportunities.
- Use negative match keywords like "buy shoes" to filter our broad informational keywords from keyword research tools.
- Check local search keywords to optimize for geographic long tails based on your locations and target markets.
On-Page Optimization for Keyword Success
Once you‘ve compiled your keyword list, on-page optimization is crucial for driving rankings. Focus on optimizing:
- Page titles – Include a primary keyword in your SEO title tag for each page.
- Headings – Work keyword phrases into H1 and H2 tags to emphasize page relevancy.
- Content – Naturally use keywords in your body content without over-optimizing. Keyword density of 2-3% recommended.
- Image filenames & alt text – Include keywords here for image SEO.
- URL structures – Format your URLs with hyphens-between-words to include keywords where logical.
Tracking Keyword Performance
Ongoing tracking provides insight into how your keyword optimization is working:
- Keyword rankings – Monitor rankings monthly for target keyword lists using tools like SEMrush.
- Organic traffic – Keep an eye on overall organic traffic trends in Google Analytics.
- Top keywords – Identify which keywords are driving the most traffic based on Analytics source/medium reports.
- Goal conversions – See which keywords show highest conversion rates in Analytics to uncover your "money" keywords.
- New keyword opportunities – Analyze search queries in Analytics to find new keywords your site could potentially rank for.
Analyzing this data helps you double down on what already works while also expanding your lists.
Key Takeaways for Ecommerce Keyword Research
- Keyword optimization is crucial for driving qualified organic traffic and growth for online stores.
- Research buyer keywords and understand user search intent before choosing keywords.
- Target long-tail, transactional keywords over competitive broad match terms.
- Organize keywords into categories and track performance over time.
- On-page optimization for keywords needs to be ongoing across titles, content, tags and more.
Following a data-driven methodology will set your ecommerce site up for keyword success. Use this guide as a framework for developing your own optimized keyword strategy.