SEO for eCommerce

SMS Text

eCommerce sites are some of the largest in the world.  With thousands or even millions of products come thousands or millions of links, which means that implementing and managing a SEO strategy for an eCommerce site is extremely difficult and time consuming.

Having optimized content on product description pages is one of the most important SEO factors for eCommerce because they contain the most valuable content though out the entire site.    The product description page is where the customer finds pictures, product specifications, reviews, and pricing options to eventually make a buying decision.

Beware of duplicate content problems that may arise from other companies, who are selling the same product, using your product description content on their sites.  If you allow other sites to sell your products make sure that there are multiple unique product descriptions and keywords that they can use.   Finally, never use manufacturer product description because almost everyone uses it.

Using SEO friendly navigation and internal link networks are vital for search engine spiders to crawl your site, especially with eCommerce sites that have thousands or millions of products and links.  Use the sidebar on the homepage to link category landing pages and make sure that the site map has an organized structure that lists all the main product categories.  Internally linking product description pages together through “recommended product” links or “those who searched this also like this” links is an effective way to pass link juice throughout the site.

Another SEO practice that needs to be looked at is the use of long, crazy URLs.  There are countless numbers of eCommerce sites that use URLs that do not use keywords and are not SEO friendly.  For example, this fictitious site,, uses a URL that looks something like this for a product page that sells military style cargo shorts, “ – productid=9876/, when it should look something like this, “ -military-cargo-shorts/.  Using keywords in the URL will add benefit to SEO.

 Internal Search Engines

Utilize the internal search engine to support SEO efforts.  So many sites have beyond mediocre search engines where customers will search for product and nothing shows up.  But, when navigating through the sites pages, that product is listed.  eCommerce sites need to be able to produce search queries for product names, models, SKUs  and relative items.  Investing in powerful internal search engines is a necessity for a successful eCommerce site.

Unlike tracking external search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, which generally only list keywords for which you rank,  internal search metrics provide you with much more valuable information.  Internal search engines can help you understand which keywords customers are actually using which will help with targeted external SEO and PPC.  This internal search data will also show which keywords are converting into sales and which keywords are causing people to leave the site.

 User Experience

User experience is crucial to a successful eCommerce site.  After looking through sites such as, and, there are a few user experience factors that these successful eCommerce sites have in common.  In this fast paced world we all live in, no one wants to click through three pages of garbage to finally see the price of a product, thus, upfront pricing and product descriptions are necessary for conversions.  Product sorting options are also great for a user, for example, showing highest or lowest priced items, best-selling items, newest items or relevant items at the top of the on-site search query.

One important factor for eCommerce sites and user experience is site speed and performance.  Fast page loading times are clearly related to increased search traffic and improved conversion rates.  Google has started considering site speed and page load time as a new organic search ranking factor.  So, we can determine that faster sites are clearly correlated with increased search rankings and positive user experience.

Creatively designed Rich Snippets, while not necessarily increasing search rankings, improves the presentation of pages in the search results, increases click though rates and increases the user experience. For example, which search result would you rather click on: One that lists your search topic and a review or one that includes reviews, availability, price and a photo? That’s a rhetorical question.

Social Media should not be overlooked.  Google does take Likes, Shares and Retweets into consideration when determining search rankings.  Adding Facebook Like, Share and Twitter Tweet buttons to the product description pages will allow users to link to the site through social media.  Interacting with your customers in social media is an amazing way to increase brand awareness and conversions.

SEO for eCommerce is highly competitive and constantly evolving.  Innovating and learning from others to better understand the search engines and consumer behavior is critical to the success of any eCommerce site.


Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their businesses. He’s currently the VP of Marketing at When I Work, the top rated employee scheduling software. In addition to his role at When I Work Sujan co-founded and wrote the book on Growth Hacking titled 100 Days of Growth.
Sujan Patel
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • Pramesh Kumar

    Well spoken, Some of it seems basic information thou. Can you give me examples of some sites that have very good site structure for E-commerce and are SEO rich as i like to call it =)

  • Casey Camilleri

    Thanks for the great article on eCommerce SEO. I’ve been doing small business/local SEO for the past year and there are little areas to each type of SEO that one can do. All great tips for ways to optimize for eCommerce!

  • David @ RD Legal Funding

    I think that designing rich snippets is one of the most important factors when doing on page optimization for any website. You can have a first page ranking for a competitive keyword-but if your snippet is dull, your click through rate will suffer-which will eventually lead to a decrease in organic ranking.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Optimizing an e-commerce site with thousands of products can be a huge undertaking. That’s why it should be done in phases. Look at analytics and find the best performing pages and optimize those first.

  • Kami G.

    Thank you for this article – love the part of not using the vendor’s description, makes allot of sense that everyone will be using it too.

  • Elle

    “This internal search data will also show which keywords are causing people to leave the site’, this is a great hint for me. Thanks. I never know a keyword could drive the people to leave.

  • Shehjar Tikoo

    Thanks for bringing up the issue of internal site search and the immense learning that can be derived from analytics based on it. Its just amazing how much data a product like Unbxd Search can analyse and present to marketers who’re interested in making decision based on internal search data as well as SEO.

  • Downtown eCommerce Partners

    @ Elle, I was thinking the same thing. So focused on finding the write keyword to grab a hold of someones attention that I never realized that it is critical to see which words also detract readers. Great tips on optimizing eCommerce sites. Definitely a business that just keeps changing and growing.

  • Emilio Espinoza Jr

    Hi Sujan,

    Great article..

    I work as an in-house SEO analyst for an online pet supply ecommerce company. You nailed it.. It is amazing how many ecommerce sites use manufacturer product details. As you mention in your article if an ecommerce site wants better exposure in the search engines, the best way to accomplish that is by creating your own product content.

    I’ll be the first to admit, we currently use, how do you put it “crazy long URLs” .. lol

    We are in the process of making an adjustment to the our website URL structure and also considering the fact of replacing our existing shopping cart. Sometimes its not that the ecommerce websites have a bad URL structure it could be possible that they have outgrown their current shopping cart and is necessary to start looking for something that will accommodate their growth. In our case we have a shopping cart which is not performing to our expectations, this is of course because our site has grown to a level where a new shopping cart experience is necessary.

    Again your article is great and provides great points as far as what one needs to do to make a better shopping experience.



    Thanks for the topic. It will really help the people who are working on e-commerce site

  • FauxEnGlow

    What are your thoughts on this?
    I’m working for a site that sells very high end jewelry. I’m talking stuff in the high hundreds to around a few thousand dollars AND stuff that ranges 20 to 60k. My boss is very very concerned about getting the SEO right but I don’t think this boss really understands SEO. My opinion is that SEO is of lesser significance to creating a brand, doing PPC, and especially retargeting advertising. What do you think?

    I just don’t think there is enough search traffic for these specific high end pieces. People that buy them typically go to stores. If they use our site it will be because we have a trendy brand, good social media presence, and online advertising targeting brands like Chanel, Hermes, etc. aimed at competing with NetAPorter, etc.
    Any thoughts, opniions, advice are greatly appreciated.

  • Mike

    Each time we recommend customers to make product pages unique (descriptions) they think we are crazy – how can we re-write 1000+ pages?