Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in E-Commerce

Everywhere there is a search bar on websites where users can enter search terms, and submitting the search query results in a response with a list of results, it is possible to optimize the order of these results.

How to achieve greater visibility. That's precisely what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is about. This concerns both website operators and, to a similar extent, data suppliers in e-commerce: the website operator wants their users to find the desired results as precisely as possible. In the case of Google, the goal is to be on the first page for the best visibility. In the case of an online shop or marketplace, the aim is for a potential buyer to easily find and purchase the desired product. Many contenders typically vie for these positions on the first result pages. Methods that enable securing a high position and significant visibility in the results list are referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

What procedures are there for search engine optimization (SEO) in e-commerce?

In general, search engine optimization is divided into technical and content-related procedures. Both are also present in e-commerce, although they are slightly different from general search engine optimization. In technical search engine optimization, the focus is on optimizing the speed of websites, avoiding duplicated content by setting canonical tags and informing the search engine about the original location of content on the website. In the international context, activities such as HREFLANG are undertaken to offer Google language versions specific to a country. Tags are integrated into pages, and elements are configured to support the content optimization of pages, where titles, headlines, overview texts, product descriptions, etc., are formulated to come as close as possible to the search intent. In e-commerce, this corresponds to the search intent of buyers.

For online shops, which typically have a search bar and search technology, technical search engine optimization involves interpreting the entered search string as accurately as possible and subsequently showing relevant results. Of course, another factor comes into play at this point: if products need to be sold quickly, they may be displayed higher in the results list. If products generate a higher gross profit, they may also be displayed higher than products that are frequently returned. Tools like Elasticsearch allow such criteria to be mapped and provided with relevance structures. This way, the optimal balance between the interests of a seller and a buyer in e-commerce can be achieved. The basis for this is well-detailed product data, which is no different for a D2C shop than for an online retailer or marketplace. Excellent product data, including images and documents, is the foundation for successful e-commerce.

In terms of content, online shops need to be optimized just like websites, with the advantage of dealing with a large quantity. Online marketplaces, which aggregate many offers, are particularly favored by general search engines like Google. Manufacturers must therefore ensure the best possible visibility for their products on online marketplaces and webshops. The criteria for this are highly diverse. Manufacturers usually have to enter the data into systems themselves or submit Excel lists with product data. It is important to adhere to the guidelines of the retailers. For example, if Retailer A allows 120 characters for a product headline and Retailer B allows 150 characters, the manufacturer needs infrastructure to fulfill this requirement optimally. If, in this situation, you choose 120 characters because it is the lowest common denominator, you disadvantage yourself in the online shop of Retailer B. Other manufacturers will use fewer abbreviations and more keywords in the headline, thereby achieving higher overall visibility. For this reason, when dealing with many products, you should store your product data in as small units as possible in a Product Information Management (PIM) system. This way, you can easily compose them into headlines of the desired length. This is just one important difference between E-Commerce SEO and SEO for general search engines. More on this in the next section.

What distinguishes search engine optimization for marketplaces and online shops from that for Google?

As mentioned in the previous section, search engine optimization for marketplaces and online shops requires a stronger relativization of product data and other content. There are simply many more online shops and marketplaces than relevant general search engines. In addition, the data must be transmitted in much smaller units and well-structured. While submitting a sitemap to Google requires only the URL of a page and a few attributes, an online retailer may want dozens of attributes in exactly their scaling. For example, imagine a company capturing the material composition of a piece of clothing in a product development system and transferring "97% cotton, 3% elastane" in multiple languages to its PIM. What do you do if the clothing retailer suddenly wants individual cells per material? – If the retailer has a corresponding importance, it becomes a project. Therefore, all data should be stored in as small units as possible in a PIM.

The most significant difference, however, is the need to submit data in very small units, and then individual requirements must also be considered. It can be somewhat easier when it comes to assets. The relevance structures of searches are usually based on Booleans. It's about whether there is an asset of a certain type or not:

  • Is there a cover image – yes or no?
  • Is there a feature image – an image explaining the features of a product – yes or no?
  • Were at least five photos provided – yes or no?
  • Is there a product video – yes or no?
  • Is there a user manual – yes or no?
  • Is there a specific certificate – yes or no?

A Media Asset Management System like EIKONA Media's TESSA DAM, which seamlessly integrates with a PIM system like Akeneo's Product Information Management, helps meet these requirements.

Because all data should be customized – as the retailer wishes – when submitting it. This can be in the form of an ETIM standard export or in an Excel following the retailer's format specifications, down to an online data capture system for product data where CSV files need to be loaded, and you adjust the data until it can be imported. There is still something quite different in this case compared to Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo: you can usually talk to retailers or marketplaces. Help is provided in case of difficulties, and you can inquire about the relevance of specific criteria. You still won't get exact answers like with Google, but the hints are much clearer. And here's a special tip from us: Even if you have to submit ETIM data, which is a general standard, ask the (wholesale) retailer if there might be something better you could submit.

What measures are necessary for SEO in e-commerce?

In addition to the general measures required for websites, companies with a large number of products need to store data in PIM (Product Information Management) systems. This allows them to be stored in very small units to deliver them precisely to the requirements of a target system. Initially, efforts should be made to pass on the data fully filled out and structurally adapted to the requirements of the online store. In a second stage, more substantial content optimization should take place. For example, while filling in the bullet points at Amazon in the first stage with seemingly meaningful attributes, the second stage should involve analyzing what successful competitors write in these attributes and developing corresponding content. In a third stage, you should test how you can surpass the competitor's position. If your content is cleanly stored in small units in the PIM, it is possible to recombine them as needed and enrich them with appropriate keywords to achieve the desired performance.

How do I find keywords? Are there keyword tools for e-commerce?

For SEO on Google or Bing, there are tools like Sistrix or Xovi that allow you to analyze the keyword structure of competitors on the first results page. With these tools, it is possible to revise the content of pages ranking on the second page of Google search results to advance to the first results page. Strategically, it is not enough to just follow the competitor, but as a first step, this is immensely important. For e-commerce, there are tools for Amazon, such as Amalytix, Amalyze, or Perpetua. However, tools that focus on optimizing advertising activities provide more specific information about keywords. An example of such a tool is metoda or adference. Whenever there is a self-service advertising business on the platform, you can use it to identify keywords. Otherwise, you should examine the keywords used by the main competitors of a product on its product detail page. Usually, the title has the most weight. Does the product have higher information density? Does our product also appear with a specific color selection? - You should test the anticipated online store with the keywords relevant to your product range for customers and see which products are at the top.


More revenue in e-commerce through search engine optimization

Search engine optimization is essential and possible not only on your own website but also in other areas, such as online shops or online marketplaces. Here, search engine optimization can bring a noticeable increase in revenue. For this, a thorough breakdown of product data into meaningful small units is required.