Keyword Research for Ecommerce: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re new to the world of ecommerce or digital marketing in general, you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO). In a world where the majority of online traffic stems from a string of text typed into a search box, search engine optimization can be a deciding factor in the fate of your ecommerce business.

SEO encompasses many tactics, but the underlying principle is that you’re helping Google and other search engines better understand what your ecommerce site is about and what it sells. This, in return, increases your visibility by increasing the chance search engines will list your site in the search results when potential customers are looking for the products you sell.See more about SEO.

One of the foundational tactics of SEO is keyword research. SEO keyword research is the simple art of better understanding the terminology your potential customers are using to find the products you’re selling, then matching your website and marketing terminology.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of keyword research for ecommerce. The ultimate goal is to build a relevant list of keywords that you can refer back to and use as you build and optimize your site, write your product descriptions, and craft your blog posts.

Why is keyword research for ecommerce important?

Every time someone does a search, the search engine must decide which handful of results to display from hundreds of thousands of possible pages. It’s up to the search engine algorithms to determine the best and most relevant matches for every single search. This is why it’s so important to choose your keywords carefully, so that the search engines can match and display your site in the search results to the most relevant keywords searches.

Not only is it important to rank on the first page of a search engine results page for relevant search terms, but it’s equally important to rank in the top positions of the first page. To understand how big of a difference position can make, consider the graph below, which shows search result position and average traffic share:

From the graph we learn that the first three search results receive over 58% of the traffic.

Keyword research helps you:

  • Understand search demand so you can create an optimal SEO strategy
  • Create a list of relevant phrases that match your marketing goals
  • Prioritize your keyword investments to target high ROI keywords first
  • Close keyword gaps in your store

In short, the closer you are to the top of Google Search for relevant terms, the more traffic (and potential sales) you’ll receive. Depending on the search term and the volume of searches per month being made for that search term, the difference in just a few positions can represent significant revenue loss in the long term.

Ecommerce keyword research: the basics

Before you jump into doing keyword research for your online store, there are a few basic terms you’ll come across that are important to know and understand.

These terms include:

Keywords

A keyword, in the context of search engine optimization, is a particular word or phrase that acts as a shortcut to sum up the content of a page or site. Keywords are part of a webpage’s metadata, and helps search engines match a page to an appropriate search query.

Long-tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are simply keywords that contain three or more words. Long-tail keywords are important (hence them having their own name) because they catch people further along in the buying cycle and, thus, tend to have higher conversion rates.

Someone searching for “hair extensions” is likely in the early information gathering stage. However, someone searching for “20 inch brown hair extensions price” is likely further along the buying cycle and much closer to purchasing. These keywords are referred to as “high purchase intent” or “high commercial intent.” SEO often assigns one of three search intents to a keyword:

  • Navigational: when searchers are looking for a specific website
  • Informational: when searchers want to know or do something, like create a homemade recipe
  • Transactional: when a searcher wants to buy something

Search volume (average monthly searches)

Search volume is usually measured in average monthly searches. This is the total number of searches each month for each particular search phrase (keyword). Ideally, you’re looking for the keywords with the highest search volume. Ranking highly for search terms with higher search volumes means more potential traffic and conversion potential for you and your store.

Unfortunately, there is not a magic number that represents the perfect search volume for everyone. What constitutes the “right” search volume is going to be different for every site.See more about SEO.

Competition

Search volume isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Competition is equally important, if not more. There’s no point trying to rank for specific keywords you have no chance of ranking for. Competition refers to the difficulty of ranking for each particular keyword.

In an ideal situation, your strategy will have high search volume and low competition keywords. However, these gold nuggets are difficult to find and will require some hard work, patience, and maybe a little luck to find.