Keyword research is the foundation of every SEO strategy, especially when it comes to onsite SEO. Done well, it provides direction for what type of content you should be optimizing for. On the other hand, a good keyword with a badly executed strategy won’t help you make sales in your ecommerce store.
Keyword Research for SEOWhen doing keyword research for ecommerce (or otherwise), there are two major ways to go about it:
- Starting from nothing with your own research.
- Spying on the competition.
Search VolumeThere are several free keyword research tools, though this author swears by the paid tool, Ahrefs. Use your tool of choice to determine search volume. A high exact match search volume means there are a lot of users searching for a given term. That said, high search volume might also indicate high competition for ranking. You have to be realistic when comparing search volume to ranking difficulty in terms of your website’s domain authority. A basic rule of thumb for choosing keywords is that anything over 20 monthly searches is worth at least considering.
Ranking DifficultyA high ranking difficulty score means that it will be hard to compete with existing search results. Ultimately, it comes down to your website’s domain authority in your specific niche. Ahrefs provides a useful tool for determining where you stand when it comes to domain authority (they refer to it as “domain rating”), based on your existing backlinks. In general, for a new website, you’ll want to stay on the lower end of keyword difficulty. Like the now-defunct Klout score, it becomes exponentially harder to come up in relevant search for terms as their difficulty approaches 100. The same can be said for growing domain authority, which is also measured on a logarithmic scale.
Search RelevanceEven if you find a keyword with high search volume that you’re confident you’ll be able to rank for, you must consider its relevance to your website and what you’re selling. To put this into context, consider the value of 10 qualified prospects driven by search over 1,000 unqualified visitors who will never actually buy anything and who bounce immediately when your website fails to deliver on what they were hoping to find due to a relevance mismatch.
Which Ecommerce Pages to OptimizeFor an ecommerce store, your home page and product pages are the highest priority for keyword optimization but certainly not the only pages worth these efforts. Don’t miss the opportunity to optimize category pages, blog posts, and even image files/ALT tags for your target keywords.
Determining Where You Rank in Relevant SearchBefore you can make informed decisions with regards to your keyword strategy, you must first establish benchmarks. Doing this can be useful for guiding your efforts around creating new content versus updating old content.
Using Keyword Rank Tracking Tools to Benchmark SuccessAlready started to build your ecommerce website and have made attempts to incorporate keywords? Then make sure that you’re incorporating some type of keyword ranking tracker to determine where you stand in relevant search. Again, Ahrefs can accomplish this task for you alongside other already-mentioned functions with their Rank Tracker feature. But you can also rely on free data readily available by connecting your website to Google Search Console. The Performance report is where you’ll want to look to determine which keywords you’re ranking for and their average position in search. Make sure to manually add your keywords in addition to those suggested within the report. Regularly checking on your rankings can provide a trigger for improving content that starts dropping in terms of average ranking positions. Dropping rankings act as an early warning that updates are needed to preserve your spot on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Spy on the CompetitionAfter determining where your website is ranking, check to see how your competition is ranking. This will help you to determine how much work you’ll have to do to come out on top and to get ideas to focus your own keyword research efforts. This is especially important for ecommerce because not ranking first directly translates to losing out on conversions. If you’re in second place on the SERPs and your competitor is first, you could stand to lose about half the potential traffic for that query. A few things to look out for during your competitor research process:
- The specific keywords they’re going after.
- The page authority required to rank where they’re ranking.
- Their domain authority, a measure of the power of a domain (based heavily on high-authority/niche-related backlinks).
- Where their backlinks are coming from, which can give you ideas for guest posting and other collaboration opportunities.