Keyword Research for eCommerce SEO
Keyword research is the backbone of your SEO strategy. Knowing which terms to create content for, which will drive traffic to your website at all stages of the sales funnel, is critical to developing the brand awareness required to be top of mind when consumers look to make a purchase.
For eCommerce stores looking to drive sales from organic traffic in search engines like Google and Bing, these high conversion intent keywords are generally related to ‘buy’ or ‘purchase online’ and have very explicit purchase intent. Optimising for these transactional keywords as well as for comparison keywords are essential in eCommerce keyword research.
Keyword research is more complex than ever due to increasingly search-savvy consumers and 63% of shopping experiences beginning online. Their path is not linear, utilising a range of different websites to perform research before they even think of spending their cash, and nurturing a lead with SEO becomes even more important to get your brand in front of as many eyeballs along all stages of the customer journey.
Whether you’re looking to rank on Google, Bing or any other search engine, keyword selection isn’t simple and understanding searcher behaviour is important. So, we’ve provided a handy guide to nailing your eCommerce SEO and the broad range of tools available to assist.
Types of Keywords
There are two main types of keywords to focus on for eCommerce SEO:
Comparison keywords are terms a searcher might type into search engines when looking for details about a particular product or service they are interested in, but haven’t yet decided on a brand to throw their dollars at yet. Typically, these consumers fall into the consideration phase of the marketing funnel, so targeting them with content that will help them in their decision making will get your brand top of mind when they move to the conversion stage, so targeting them early a good way to help improve conversion rates.
Let’s say I’m interested in getting a new yoyo for my yoyo-obsessed friend. I’m a yoyo novice and I want to make sure I impress them by getting something good. I start my research with “best yoyo 2020”.
Here’s a snippet of the results.
I’m given all the information I could ever need about yoyos. Google has served up a handy set of blog posts to aid in the discovery phase of my search journey.
Content created for searches in the consideration stage of the marketing funnel has two important functions for your overall SEO campaign performance:
Increases visibility of your brand, with an increase in the number of impressions that can be achieved as well as solidifying your niche authority and expertise with the searcher.
Boosts your niche authority in search engines like Bing or Google as high rankings for comparison keywords can be used to improve rankings for transactional keywords, increasing the organic traffic to our website.
Additional ‘comparison keywords’ used in my yoyo search journey might be:
Product comparisons - “ACME yoyo vs Johns P/L yoyo”
Feature comparisons - “unresponsive vs responsive yoyo”
Feature questions - “what is a blind yoyo?”
Help articles - “best yoyo tricks books”
Whichever keywords are used, the content should be positioned to provide helpful information with a relatively soft-touch sales approach. We’re looking for keywords that are going to be useful, interesting and match our users’ search intent – effectively warming them up as a lead. This brand awareness will be invaluable in eventually converting the lead, as well as assisting more broadly with lead generation through the articles’ contribution to better SEO rankings.
Transactional keywords have strong purchase intent. The consumer tends to be in the Conversion phase of the marketing funnel and has turned to a search engine like Google or Bing to find a supplier.
On my yoyo search journey, I’ve done my research and now I’m ready to buy. I start to look online for places to “buy yoyo 2020”. Notice the complete change in searcher intent by the adjustment of just one word.
Instead of a list of information, a series of product pages appear. Transactional keywords may also be extremely product specific – maybe I’ve already found the perfect yoyo for my friend and search for the “Magic YoYo Focus Z01 Bi-Metal”.
I may choose to buy it from one of these retailers or dive down even further. Shoppers are becoming increasingly savvy and using search engines to make comparisons - not just on features but on price.
So back to Google I go to get the best yoyo at the best price. In my search results I recognise yoyoshop.com.au from my previous search right at the top of search results. It’s a reasonable price, in stock and from and I can shop in Australia – sold!
While this is a simplistic example, it highlights the kinds of keywords that a typical shopper might use. ECommerce stores should not ignore the benefits of internal linking, which connects blog pages that gain traffic to your product pages. The comparison keyword you ranked for may just land you a direct sale.
Researching eCommerce Keywords
With the two main types of keywords in mind, generating a list of keywords to target is the next step. Research for eCommerce websites often has a very clear cut intentions around purchasing intent, andThere are a variety of great tools which can be used to perform keyword research and gain competitor insights.
Keyword Research Tools
Specialty: Transactional and comparison keywords
While you will need to purchase a SEMRush subscription, this keyword planner tool is a great way to generate a wide range of keywords with purchase and informational intent.
Specialty: Transactional keywords
Keyword Planner is a gold mine of a resource for transactional keywords, especially for short tail keywords with high purchase intent.
ANSWER THE PUBLIC
Specialty: Comparison keywords
Answer the Public provides a list of long tail, often query based keywords. The free version does limit the number of searches allowed per day, but if you are focusing on just a few topics then this can be a valuable tool for building out blog content.
KEYWORD TOOL DOMINATOR
Specialty: Transactional keywords
Amazon is rapidly gaining market share against Google, mostly as a result of product-based searches. Keyword Tool Dominator scrapes Amazon searches and, since Amazon is a marketplace, the keywords from this tool are guaranteed to have high purchase intent.
Competitor Insights Tools
Competitors can be a valuable source of keyword data. You will still need to pull the list of keywords they are targeting using SEMRush or Ahrefs, but there are excellent guides from both of these companies on performing competitor keyword analysis to assist with this.
Once the keywords have been generated you will be able to understand:
Which keywords your competitors are targeting
The keywords they are ranking well for that you would like to ‘steal’
Keywords you may not have thought of that could be valuable to your organisation
This data can then be added to your keyword list for targeting, and will highlight any gaps you may have across both transitional and comparison keywords.
Search Volume & Competition
Search volume as a metric is a tricky one to work with. High volume keywords will bring with them high competition, and it may take many sales to start making a return on your eCommerce SEO investment. While low volume keywords may be easier to rank for, they don’t necessarily generate a high volume of sales.
A balance needs to be struck between low and high competition keywords. Ranking well for ‘head terms’ – those with high purchase intent, high search volume and high competition should be the ultimate goal of an eCommmerce SEO campaign. But ranking for lower volume keywords that may also lead to sales while working towards head terms is a good way to start generating ROI for SEO earlier on in the campaign.
To tie this back to our yoyo example, ranking well for “ACME Widget2.0 Lime Green with Yellow Accents Buy Online Australia” might not return as much search volume as “Buy ACME Widget” because the competition is guaranteed to be lower (it is… I checked). However, it will get you every click for that search, and serve as a starting point to establishing niche authority.
Keyword Planner and SEMRush both provide details of each keywords’ competitiveness and search volume.
For SEO-focused keyword research, having a varied mix of keywords is important for achieving your overall business objective – generating sales. It’s easy to focus on transactional keywords and miss out on opportunities to show helpful, informational content that will allow you to reach customers at various stages in the buying cycle.
Cover all bases with your keyword selection. Shoppers are using Google to discover a range of different information well before looking to buy, so reaching out to them with your content. Write about a range of interest they have, and problems your product can solve. This will give you the niche authority required with Google enable you to gain rankings and win those dreamy high volume, high competition ‘head’ keywords.