On-page SEO is the primary method of directly telling readers and search engines what your page is about. Search engines look for certain on-page factors that can help them in ranking your page on search engine results pages (SERPs). On-page factors include keyword and topic relevance, meta information, the slug in the page URL, and your images, among other things.See more about SEO.
Here, we’re going to cover the basics of ecommerce keyword research, how to decode search intent, and some content optimization tips to help your pages rank for their target keywords.
1. Keyword research
A simpler way to think about keywords is as queries people use and type into search engines. Often, this replicates how we talk when asking questions—sometimes it is more of a “caveman speak” format, where you might type “buy new iPhone” versus “I want to buy the new iPhone.”
First up, let me share how there are two different types of keywords: short tail and long tail.
- Short tail keywords are two or three words in length and typically of high volume, e.g., “mens shorts,” which returns 38,000 monthly searches in ahrefs keyword explorer.
- Long tail keywords are four words or more in length and generally of lower volume, e.g., “mens shorts with pockets,” which returns 40 monthly searches in ahrefs keyword explorer.
How people use keywords in search engines to buy products
When it comes to choosing a keyword you want your page to rank for, it helps to understand the intent behind the associated search query. Search queries fall into the following categories:
- Navigational queries are searches entered with the intent of finding a particular website or webpage. For example, a user might enter “facebook” into a search bar to find Facebook’s site rather than entering the URL into a browser’s navigation bar or using a bookmark.
- Informational queries normally begin with “how to,” “what,” “why,” etc. Content that genuinely provides helpful information relevant to the query ranks for these keywords.
- Transactional queries are searches that indicate an intent to complete a transaction. This entails typing a product name directly into the search bar, e.g., “samsung galaxy.”
When it comes to the customer journey in search engines, it’s important to understand how people move from not knowing what product they are looking for or want to confidently making the choice to purchase.
Let’s start with a general product such as smartphones. If you’re a long-time smartphone user, then you may use or have considered using the current iPhone model. But what if you want to see what else is on the market before you jump to your next upgrade?
At this point, you’d turn to a search engine and type in an informational query such as “best smartphone.” You’d get a lot of buyer’s-guide-type articles listing the top 10 to 15 smartphones, and you’d most likely click the top result. After reading the article, you might come away thinking the new iPhone model doesn’t sound too bad after all, but you also like the look of the new Samsung Galaxy. Here, you’d probably like to learn how they compare on features and reliability, so you’d turn back to a search engine and search another informational query, such as “apple iphone vs samsung galaxy.” After reading one or more of the articles on the first page, you’d have a clearer idea of what smartphone is for you, and maybe you’d decide to give the new iPhone one more chance. You turn back to the search engine and type in a transactional query “buy iphone.” From there, you most likely find Apple’s site, and you complete your transaction.
How to choose a keyword
Now you know how users go through the purchase journey and how to understand the intent behind a search, so let’s now find ways to do keyword research.
Keyword research can feel overwhelming. You’ll have questions like, Where do I start, How do I find one, How do I know if my keyword is going to rank, and How long does it take? We’ll walk you through getting answers to these questions.See more about SEO.
- Where to start with keyword research. First, think about what your product is or what category it exists within. For example, Shopify is an ecommerce platform, so we want a page to rank for this search term. What’s a general term to describe your product?
- Use paid tools or free tools to get competitive insight. There are a lot of free and paid tools available, but the best free tools for Chrome are Keyword Surfer and MozBar, both available as extensions. With Keyword Surfer, you type your keywords into Google and it gives you keyword volume in the address bar and on the SERP. MozBar lets you know the domain authority and page authority of a website—essentially how reputable or strong a website is and how well trusted a page is, respectively.
- What to do with this data. Now you’ve got insight into a short tail keyword. Begin to filter down on a long tail keyword that goes with it. If you’re a new or emerging business, often these short tail keywords are competitive to rank for, so you need to find a differentiator. Remember, your business got its edge and way into the market with a unique selling proposition. It’s time to channel that into a long tail keyword, as this can help your product get found and acquire more traffic. If you’re using Keyword Surfer, click the star in the address bar to add the short tail keyword to the clipboard. Do this while going through the “Keyword ideas” list, looking for long tail keywords. Once you’re finished, click “Clipboard,” the three dots, and “Export.” Now you have this data saved in a CSV file, which you can use when creating or optimizing your page.