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An Introduction to Keyword Research For Ecommerce Businesses

Posted by Ryan Gilmore December 17, 2015

Topics: Marketing Advice

An Introduction to Keyword Research For Ecommerce Businesses

For an eCommerce business to succeed, you need to think about how you'll gain attention and attract potential customers. This is not an easy task - after all, the Web is a crowded landscape. But there are many steps that eCommerce decision-makers can take to improve their visibility and traffic.

Search engine optimization (SEO) plays a key role here. For many consumers, the first step toward buying a new product or service is research, and according to statistics compiled by HubSpot, 44% of the time that research process starts with a search. For an eCommerce firm to rank prominently in those searches, it needs to embrace SEO. To that end, keyword research is critical.

With that in mind, here's a quick introduction to keyword research for ecommerce businesses.

  

Understanding keywords

At the most basic level, keywords are very straightforward: These are the terms that describe a given web page in the most direct, straightforward fashion. When someone conducts an online search, they will enter in keywords to indicate what they are interested in, and the search engine itself will consider websites' keywords to match those searches and deliver the best results.

To put it simply: The more effectively an eCommerce firm uses the right keywords on its various site  pages, the better its SEO, and that will lead directly to a greater number of site visitors and potential customers.

Of course, choosing the right keywords and using them effectively is easier said than done. That's why online retailers need to embrace keyword research. 

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Types of keywords

Before you get started with your research, it’s important to know that there are two different types of keywords you’ll want to include on your site page: short-tail and long-tail keywords.

Here’s are the differences between each:

  • Short-tail - these are very broad terms like “athletic shoes.” Ranking for short-tail keywords is more challenging than long-tail because they’re applicable to more businesses. The plus side is that ranking well for a short-tail keyword can drive a tremendous volume of traffic to your site.
  • Long-tail - These are more specific terms like “men’s waterproof running shoes.” Ranking well for these terms is easier, but they will drive less traffic to your site. The positive here is that the traffic is often more likely to make a purchase because they’ve already know the specific type of product they need.  

Ideally your site will rank for both types of keywords, but starting with long-tail keywords will deliver a positive ROI faster than an approach focused on short-tail keywords.

A quick guide to keyword research

Keyword research is essential for any decision-maker looking to determine the best keyword and SEO strategy. Only through research can you figure out which keywords to focus on, both across your site and on specific pages.

Tools will be essential in this capacity. But before you turn to any digital assets, you should first come up with some initial keywords that are likely to suit your needs here. What words and phrases are your customers likely to search for if they're interested in your business and its offerings? As we mentioned above, be sure to think through both the short-tail and long-tail keywords your customers might use.

You can also look at the words that you've used throughout your various product pages - odds are you'll have intuitively used many of the ideal keywords here, even if you weren't worried about SEO at the time that you were designing your website. Customer reviews are also an effective SEO research tool. If you’ve already got reviews on your site, read through them to see if you can find some keyword opportunities there as well. 

Once that initial list has been created, you need to turn to a research tool, such as the Google Keyword Planner. This keyword research tool lets you see how many times a given keyword or phrase is being searched for on a monthly basis, as well as how much competition there is for a particular keyword. 

Google Keyword Planner offers a number of features that allow you to modify the settings and gain a more targeted, accurate understanding of how well or poorly a given search term performs. You'll be able to see which of the keywords you brainstormed are searched for frequently and how many other eCommerce sites are already featuring that term. 

Download The Beginner's Guide to Ecommerce Marketing

The general overriding principle you’ll want to follow here is to try to find opportunities that will deliver results quickly. That means you’ll want to focus on keywords that strike a balance between a high search volume and a low competition score. As you’re doing your research a strategy will eventually begin to present itself, and you'll know which keywords have the best chance of improving your business' SEO.

Ignoring keyword research, on the other hand, will force online business owners to resort to guesswork when developing their strategies, and that will certainly not lead to an optimized approach to SEO. Considering how competitive the eCommerce landscape is, this a risk that no online retailer should run. 

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