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Mastering E-commerce SEO: A Data Driven Guide

by Andreas Voniatis Founder. Fractional SEO Consultant.

Mastering E-commerce SEO: A Data Driven Guide

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the success of any online store heavily relies on being on the 1st page of Google search results especially, with a whopping 42% of shoppers using search engines when looking for products. 

Despite the mighty 236% rise of social media influencers, it’s no wonder that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a massive aspect of an e-commerce business’s success in terms of driving revenue generating traffic to your website and converting those visitors into loyal customers.

Unlike many other comprehensive guides, this guide will delve into the advanced world of data driven e-commerce SEO, equipping you with the knowledge and strategies necessary to optimise your online store and achieve remarkable growth. This guide will cover:

What is eCommerce SEO?

E-commerce SEO refers to optimising an online store’s website and product pages to improve its visibility in search engine results. The ultimate goal of e-commerce SEO is to attract organic (non-paid) traffic from search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo and increase the chances of converting those visitors into paying customers i.e. revenue generating traffic

Unlike conventional SEO, e-commerce SEO has its own challenges such as exposing the faceted navigation (the product category filters) in a search engine friendly manner. Keyword research and many of the SEO challenges with associated solutions can also be quantified and prioritized by e-commerce revenue. That is the difference between ecommerce SEO and normal SEO.


By appreciating the challenges of ecommerce SEO  and implementing effective specific practices, online store owners can increase their store’s organic search visibility, drive more targeted website traffic, improve rankings for product-related search queries, and ultimately boost sales.

Popular eCommerce CMS

An e-commerce CMS, or Content Management System, is a software platform enabling non-tech marketers (such as owners, managers, copywriters) to build and manage online stores. They provide a user-friendly wysiwyg interface and tools to create, customise, and organise an e-commerce website’s content, products, and functionalities without extensive coding knowledge. Here are some of the most common and easy-to-use platforms out there.


eCommerce CMS Best for Pricing Payment Gateways
Shopify All types of online stores Basic Plan starts at $29/month 100+ payment gateways, including Shopify Payments, PayPal, Stripe, and many more.
BigCommerce Scalable and growing businesses Standard Plan starts at $29.95/month 65+ payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, Square, Authorize.net, and many more.
WooCommerce WordPress-powered websites Free (open-source), but requires hosting and other associated costs Supports numerous payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net, Square, and many more through WooCommerce plugins.
Wix Small to medium-sized online stores Business Basic Plan starts at $23/month 40+ payment gateways, including PayPal, Stripe, Square, and others through Wix Payments.


Shopify is renowned for its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features, making it suitable for all types of online stores. You can easily add, organise, and categorise your products using Shopify’s product management system. Plus, the platform supports multiple product variants, inventory tracking, and customisable product details. Read our more tailored guide to Shopify SEO here.



Founded in 2009, by Australians Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani, BigCommerce is known for its scalability, allowing businesses of all sizes to grow and expand their online presence. It provides a user-friendly interface and comprehensive tools to help businesses succeed from launch.



As an open-source plugin for WordPress websites, WooCommerce provides flexibility and customisation options. While the plugin itself is free, users need to consider associated costs such as hosting and domain.



Known for its intuitive website builder, Wix offers comprehensive e-commerce functionality and is suitable for small to medium-sized online stores. Wix provides a wide range of professionally designed templates for various industries and niches, allowing users to create visually appealing e-comm websites.


Popular eCommerce Keywords (and how to find them)

Keyword research for ecommerce helps online stores identify and target the keywords that potential customers use to search for products or services with their associated revenue. Although Google has hidden the association of organic revenue with keywords with the introduction of “not provided” in 2011, much of this can be inferred from joining Google Analytics (GA4), and Google Search Console (GSC) using Python.

Unlike Paid search and social, organic can also target low Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) keywords such as those where ecommerce target audiences are in the research phases of their search journey i.e. just looking for product related ideas or inspiration but quite ready to buy. Organic has the advantage of being able to expose you ecommerce store to this search traffic so that:

  • More buyers: Being visible for research search traffic pushes or accelerates more of your target audience into the buyer phases of your search funnels because you’re helping them realise that there are solutions and your store sells them!
  • Higher ROAS from paid media: Your audience is pre-exposed to your brand so that when they are buyer ready and search on Google or social media, they’re more likely to click on your ads and convert, more than those that had never seen you before.


Finding Popular eCommerce Keywords

There are many tools out there you can use to conduct keyword research; however, by far, the most effective tools are Google Search Console (GSC) joined with Google Analytics (GA4) and SEMRush. Let’s look at the keyword research strategy used for each platform. 

Google Search Console (GSC) joined with Google Analytics (GA4)

GSC is 1st party data (data your competitors doesn’t have access to), provides insights into the keywords for which your website is already visible and ranking for. The data is located under the “Performance” section and review the “Queries” report showing the search queries that brought users to your site along with audiences views of your search listings (impressions),  traffic (clicks), click through rate (CTR) and ranking (positions).

Using Python for SEO, there’s a number of ways to extract high revenue keywords:

  • Revenue per keyword: Use the GSC API to get all of the keywords in the last 12 months for each URL and then join these with GA4 landing page data for the same time period to get the annual average order value (AOV), conversion rate and revenue per click values for organic search. This will help guide you on which products to prioritise in your site architecture.
  • Growth keywords: Modeling the impression distribution by rank position will help you discover which keywords exhibit abnormally high search impressions – even if you’re not currently ranking for (or never have!) ranked Google Page 1 for those keywords.

SEMRush for competitor ecommerce keywords

SEMRush is a SEO tool that offers 3rd party data insights on competitor keywords and traffic. Enter your website or your competitor’s domain name SEMRush’s “Keyword Overview” tool and you’ll get a list of related keywords along with their search volumes. 

While this data is inferred such that the volumes should be viewed with some reservation, SEMRush data is consistent and can therefore be overlaid with 1 or more other competitors to common ecommerce keywords that yield revenue generating traffic.

Mapping these keywords to the facet URLs using GA4 data will help you see the revenue value of these competitor keywords and determine which of those product filter selections to expose to search engines.


Overcoming Ecommerce Technical Optimisation Challenges 

That is Maximising Content Discoverability, Search Result Inclusion & Position Potential in Google SERPs.

Now that you’ve done your keyword research, you’ll know which product categories and item content to expose, create and optimise. When it comes to maximising content discoverability, the goal is to ensure that your ecommerce content is easily:

  • Discoverable by search engines, This involves implementing proper site architecture, XML sitemaps and ensuring that all relevant pages are accessible to search engine crawlers.
  • Indexable for inclusion in search results. This includes avoiding duplicate content issues, implementing proper meta tags, optimising robots.txt files, and using canonical tags to consolidate similar content.
  • Consolidates the maximum link equity possible to maximse its position potential in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Link equity refers to the value passed from one page to another through hyperlinks. Technical optimisation aims to consolidate and maximise this link equity by strategically linking important pages internally, ensuring they receive enough internal inbound links from other pages on your site.

Let’s delve into some fundamental points related to ecommerce technical optimisation for these purposes.


Connecting Technical Issues with Revenue Impact

Ecommerce technical issues and optimisations shouldn’t be seen in isolation but rather connected to their revenue impact and desired outcomes. While listing the number of instances for ecommerce technical issues is all too common in ecommerce site audits, all this does is prevent store operator clients with problems, and not the solutions they’re paying for!

Using Python, ecommerce tech SEO can be improved by:

  1. Joining URLs with tech SEO issues with GA4 revenue data by landing page URL.
  2. The URLs can be segmented eithe by content or PLP type to show which categories to are then prioritised for optimisation.

As shown below:

Shoppers Prefer Product Category Pages (PLPs)

Shopping audiences often prefer browsing and exploring product category pages (also known as Product Listing Pages PLPs) rather than individual product items as they offer a curated selection and allow users to compare multiple options within a specific category i.e. people like a choice.

The considerations are:

  • Link Equity Preservation: Deciding which product items and categories should be indexable to preserve link equity is central, so carry out your keyword research to find out the revenue values beforehand. The ones you decide to expose could then be featured in your HTML sitemaps, menu navigation elements and in the faceted navigation as static links.
  • Number of items per page: A balance needs to be struck between too little and too many items per PLPs. Too little, your web pages will load fast but may not be enough for your store visitors, too many and you’ll risk pages taking too long to load.
  • Targeted Headings: While pre-filtered pages can be made available to search engines, users rely on main headings to see whether they’ve landed on the PLP they want. All too often, these are often unoptimised i.e. not reflecting the product filter variations in the main headings which prevent it from ranking let alone being indexed.
  • Search Intent: It’s commonplace for ecommerce stores to be organised according to their product category, unfortunately humans are less logical. For example, search for trench coats invariably is a search for ‘womens trench coats’ as evidenced by Google’s SERPs learned from their search logs on Google users. SEOs have the additional challenge of ensuring their PLPs are aligned and optimised to this search intent.

Facet Navigation Content Issues

Facet navigation is a valuable feature that allows users to refine their product searches by applying filters based on specific attributes. However, facet navigation can present challenges that need to be addressed.

Facet navigation often generates dynamic URLs that can appear similar or duplicate to search engines. For example, when the user selects a style type say ‘zodiac’, the site will append the filter selection to the URL ‘&style.type=zodiac’ and the product items displayed on the page will reflect the users selection. 

The issue is the main heading (<h1>) hasn’t changed to reflect the selection and the URL looks exactly the same to search engines which prevents these URLs from being included in the search results let alone being ranked. Search engines will perceive the content as duplicate or thin. 

Ecommerce Tech SEOs may turn to a number of indexing solutions such canonical tags, meta robots noindex and x-robots tags to realign these dynamic URLs, or making the selections into static, unique, indexable pages. The data will say which.


Orphan Pages

Orphan pages refer to website landing pages that are not eventually discoverable to search engines from the home page owing to a lack of internal links from other pages. 

Although not completely impossible to index, by not being part of the site’s HTML link graph, these pages are incapable of inheriting PageRank/link equity which means they’re not maximisnig their position potential in the SERPs.

The solution is to find these orphans and add internal links to these URLs to maximise their discoverability and rankings such that they are:

  1. Maximising relevance and availability.
  2. Descriptive about the destination pages.
  3. Making use of all the content opportunities.
  4. Not excessive to appear spammy.
  5. Data driven to prioritise ecommerce revenue balanced with shopper search demand.

Handling Out of Stock and Expired Products

Expired and out-of-stock products will result in 404 or soft 200 pages which won’t impress store visitors looking to buy from you nor search engines. There are a couple of considerations on handling these pages whether it’s keep these in search engine index or permanently retire them:

  1. Will this product category or item come back in stock?
  2. Are there any related, substitute or complimentary products?
  3. Are these pages still getting crawled by search engines?
  4. Do these expired pages have backlinks?


Ecommerce Pagination 

Often in ecommerce, product categories will have many more product items than can be optimally displayed on a single page such that the store visitor is offered plenty of choice. Display too many product items, the page not only starts to resemble a link farm to search engines but also adversely affects the browser loading times for users. 

Pagination helps ecommerce operators offload excess numbers of products from the first page to the other pages that pertain to the same category. Much of the thinking and best practice SEO towards pagingation has changed over the years, but here is what’s recommended:


  • URL Uniqueness: the paginated page URL has to be unique and change as navigate paginated pages, whether via dynamic parameterised or permanent static URLs.
  • Discoverability and Indexability: Avoid blocking search engine crawl using robots.txt and blocking indexing via robots tags. Instead self-canonicalise, make use of the data no snippet tag and navigation schema on the “real” inner links of the page. 
  • NoIndex, Follow on paginated URLs is virtually the same as noindex, nofollow – so avoid that.
  • rel=prev/next: (introduced in 2011) markup and deprecated by Google in 2019, these should be kept for other search engines.
  • Infinite Scroll: Avoid it in general as it can’t handle very large numbers of results and can lead to “scrolling fatigue” because of unclear result size.
  • Standing out: John Mu made it clear that Paginated pages should stand out on their own i.e. these URLs need to appear unique to search engines to be indexed.


The ultimate consideration must be how many products per category view are enough and do the product items URLs need to be discoverable? As usual, the answers are in the data.


Navigation menus as link farms

Managing menu link volume involves balancing increasing access to PLP landing pages and avoiding a cluttered or “link farm” appearance. As usual the main consideration are prioritise important high revenue PLP category pages balanced with PLPs that Google expects of a brand operating in your space – even if they don’t generate as much revenue per click. Some tricks could be employed JavaScript which must be deployed with skill and judgement.


Breadcrumbs causing duplicate paths

Breadcrumbs provide users with a clear and structured path to navigate to previous pages and understand their current location within the website’s hierarchy, helping them to avoid them getting lost. Breadcrumbs can also create issues if implemented in such a way that duplicate paths to a product item are presented to both users and search engines. The solution is of course to canonicalise these pathways to consolidate PageRank. The added point of optimisation is to use Schema.


Schema Markup for product visibility, higher clickthrough and backlinks

Schema markup is vital in exposing product offer strustured data in the SERPs. By implementing Schema markup for product offers and reviews, online stores can provide detailed contextualised information to search engines about their products, such as price, availability, and special offers. 

This enhanced data is displayed directly in the search results, giving users valuable insights before clicking the link. Schema markup improves the attractiveness of product listings and increases the chances and click through paths of attracting qualified traffic via additional SERP click-through. 


E-commerce Content Optimisation

Users conduct searches with specific intentions, looking through a range of products to select from that’ll fulfil their needs. E-commerce product searches encompass a mix of transactional and research intent i.e. seeking information, comparisons, and reviews (research intent). Understanding this duality is essential for e-commerce content optimisation. 

Impact of People Also Ask (PAA) & Product Listing Ads (PLA) Results in SERPs

PAA provides users with additional questions related to their product search which means additional click through for onlines stores lucky enough to be features. PLA is indicative of transactional intent which is significant clue that a product should be offered where possible.

Understanding and using these SERP features can be achieved at scale using SERP tracker APIs to extract the data and then using Python to tease out the content requirements as well as overall trends.


Optimising Title Tags & Main Headings (H1)

Consistency of title tags with main headings are essential in that what is displayed to search engines (and users in the SERPs) is also presented to users upon click-through and landing such that the title accurately reflects the page’s content i.e. the user gets products they were searching for.

To increase relevance, data mining Google Search Console (GSC) can help find additional modifiers to not only improve rankings and click through, it could also help prioritise the product items that should be shown on the PLPs. 


Images to help shoppers see and believe

Images help shoppers see what they’re buying and are therefore a critical element of the online shopping experience. They can also takeaway from organic performance through increased loading times and thus reduce conversion rates.

There are some easy SEO wins to be had in optimising the dimensions of the images, the formats, colour saturation and the way the media is delivered from server to the shoppers browsers.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) which is the measure of unexpectedly shifting page elements while the shopper’s browser is loading, can also be minimised by configuring the animation activity of chatbots and CSS overlays for newsletter subscriptions.


Mobile Optimisation

With Google’s mobile-first indexing since 2020, mobile optimisation and responsive design has become crucial for e-commerce websites as search engines prioritise mobile-friendly content in their search results.

For online stores that means adjusting font sizes, optimising button sizes, their placement, and organising content to maximise readability, and of course speeds on mobile connections. But also, keep in mind how title tags are displayed in the SERPs, how product image and text context render on mobile screens also.


Building backlinks can be challenging, especially for e-commerce websites that do not have the same level of brand recognition as iconic brands. Product PLPs and items content from non brands will often tend to attract zero backlinks compared to blog content. That’s because product pages are commercially focused on selling specific products or services, which may not naturally generate as much interest or external linking from other websites.

However, a review of the data shows that startup ecommerce stores can naturally accrue inbound backlinks from being featured in Rich Snippets and benefitting indirectly Digital PR campaigns. The trick is to show link graph behaviour that mimics the type of backlink growth that Google sees on iconic brands.

The Bottom Line

In this comprehensive guide to e-commerce SEO, we explored various aspects of optimising an e-commerce website for search engines. We started by discussing the importance of keyword research and understanding the audience’s intent in e-commerce searches. Then, we delved into the technical aspects, such as ensuring content discoverability, addressing facet navigation and orphan page issues, and optimising internal linking. 

As you can see, SEO is vital if you want to grow your e-commerce business through organic traffic. A clear SEO plan is necessary as many aspects must be considered. It can take many hours of trial and error to understand SEO’s implications, and this, combined with the ever-changing algorithms of the search engines, further exacerbates the process. 

If you have an e-commerce business and need a helping hand with all of SEO’s complexities, you can contact the ecommerce SEO experts at Artios. We offer data-driven SEO results and guarantee a 200% ROI. 


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